Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Trends

Using data to help readers gain a new perspective on our world.

Aging Women, Living Poorer

Sociologist Stacy Torres examines why higher poverty rates persist among older women compared with older men and finds that women continue to face significant economic disadvantages in old age, partly due to a lifetime of unpaid, work-interrupting care giving responsibilities. Read More

Choosing Single Motherhood

Scholar Micere Keels explores the rise of college-educated women of color having children outside of marriage. Read More

C-Section Epidemic

How can we explain the exponential increase of the cesarean section in the U.S. in recent decades? Drawing from 130 in-depth interviews with women, obstetricians, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses, sociologist Theresa Morris explains the epidemic that affects the lives, health, and families of every woman in America. Read More

Privatization and Racial Inequality

Sociologists Vincent J. Roscigno and George Wilson discuss workplace “reforms” that undermine public sector workers’ rights. Read More

How Parents Grade Schools

Scholars Sean Kelly and Laura Northrop discuss recent changes in perceptions of school quality. They find that Americans are not positive about the overall quality of elementary and secondary schools in the United States, while beliefs about school-to-school differences in quality are often exaggerated. Read More

Inequality and the Growth of Bad Jobs

The share of jobs that are low-skill declined by 15% from 1960 to 2005, yet low-wage jobs have made up an increasing share of total job growth over that period. Scholar Matt Vidal discusses how the manufacturing-based, nationally bound economy of the postwar years allowed employers to pay decent wages for low-skill jobs, but in today’s postindustrial, internationalized economy, wage-based competition has returned with a vengeance. Read More

The Rise of the “Illegal Alien”

As media outlets move away from the term "illegal immigrant," Edwin F. Ackerman uses media analysis to track the rise of the term--and others--since the 1920s. Read More

Race and the Same-Sex Marriage Divide

When it comes to same-sex marriage, one might expect black Americans to be on board--if it's a civil rights question, why shouldn't they be? Marcus Anthony Hunter looks at some of the tangled past behind blacks' reluctance to accept gay marriage. Read More

Aging Trends in Homeless Populations

Longitudinal data suggests that the single adult homeless population is going through a demographic transition, where the overall population is aging but there are indications that a younger cohort may be emerging. Scholars Dennis P. Culhane, Stephen Metraux, Thomas Byrne, Magdi Stino, and Jay Bainbridge argue that interventions at both ends of this transition: housing the aging and increasingly infirm elements of this population while diverting at-risk younger populations from homelessness, have the potential to make a lasting reduction in this population. Read More

The Gun Control Paradox

The massacre of 26 people in a Connecticut school, most of them young children, led to renewed calls for legislation to provide better control of … Read More