sociology for the public

Summer 2012

Volume: 11 | Number: 3

Michael Schudson on what we know about Rosa Parks, Michael Kimmel on the role of chance, accident, and luck in research, and Jean Beaman on the North African middle class in France. This issue also features Viewpoints on Obama’s first term and features on sex entrepreneurs in China, marriage promotion advocates, and opera fanatics.


The neurodiversity movement emerged as an extension of the disability rights movement to include the those individuals with neurological differences. Micki McGee posits that neurodiversity is also a response to the neoliberalism of the past three decades that has (1) shifted responsibility for individuals with neurological and cognitive challenges back to the family, and (2) fostered a crippling speed-up in our workplaces while simultaneously requiring new levels of sociability and flexibility that render more people debilitated or disabled. The article concludes that demands for the rights of neurologically diverse populations may challenge the very framework of liberal personhood. Read More

Judging Obama

The presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States, is not going to be judged by its symbolic significance and healthcare reform alone. Sociologists, Ho-fung Hung, Fred Block, Alejandro Portes, Beverly J. Silver, and Richard Lachmann assess Obama's first term from the perspectives of green economy, immigration reform, foreign policy, and social movements. Read More

The Rich and the Rest

Using data from the General Social Survey, sociologist Thomas J. Linneman shows that conservatives and liberals increasingly differ regarding government action to reduce income inequality. Rich liberals support government action nearly as much as poor liberals, while among rich conservatives there is very little support for government action. Read More

Rethinking Sexual Violence

Sociologist Nacy Whittier reviews the books Sex Panic and the Punitive State, At the Dark End of the Street, and Unspeakable. Each differently addresses sexual violence in relation to race, class, and criminalization. Read More

Telling Stories about Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks has usually been portrayed as a highly principled but non-political person, not the long-time civil rights activist that she was. Sociologist Michael Schudson finds several factors that account for this, including efforts of civil rights movement participants to deflect criticism of the movement as instigated by outside agitators; participants' efforts to explain their own actions to themselves; and their efforts not to present themselves immodestly as morally superior. Read More