August 23rd, 2015

ASA Awards Ceremony & Presidential Address


The Presidential Plenary featuring the formal address of ASA President Paula England will be held on Sunday, August 23, at 4:30p.m. The Awards Ceremony, conferring the 2015 major awards, will open this session. All registrants are invited to attend this plenary session and the Honorary Reception afterwards to honor President Paula England and the award recipients.


CECILIA MENJIVAR: Good afternoon! And on behalf of the ASA, welcome to the 2015 award ceremony and presidential address. My name is Cecilia Menjivar, and as current vice president of the ASA I have
the honor of being the emcee for this event. I hope you are enjoying Chicago and the 110th annual meetings of the ASA, but first please join me as we take a moment to remember the sociologists who
passed away and whose legacy we will always remember.
Thank you. We now turn to the presentation of the 2015 ASA awards by our awards master of ceremonies, Dr. Jane Sell of Texas A&M. [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The ASA dissertation award honors the best PhD dissertation among all those submitted by advisors and mentors in the discipline. Please welcome Thomas Janowski as he highlights the award
and the dynamic work of this year's recipient.
THOMAS JANOWSKI: The best dissertation award goes to Christopher Michael Muller of Harvard University for the historical origins of racial inequality in incarceration in the United States. His
dissertation focuses on three historical periods. The first essay examines a unique data set on the convict leasing program in the South in the late 1800's. It shows the conditions worse than slavery
itself, and its sources in specific counties where white farmers were not doing well. The second essay focuses on the racial disparity of arrests among African American immigrants to the north in the
early 1900s, which was due to their encounters with white immigrant police protecting their turf. And the third essay focuses on incarceration from 1980 to 2005, showing that although prison
populations grew, the racial disparity remain the same. This cast doubt on many theories of the prison boom. This dissertation has compelling theory and rigorous methods. Further, it is timely in
showing that African American distrust of the police has deep, historical roots. [APPLAUSE]
CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL MULLER: It's a great honor to receive this award from the American Sociological Association. As sociologists, we recognize this scholarship as a collective product, so I can
accept this award only on behalf of the teachers, colleagues, friends and family members who helped me along the way. I was extremely lucky to have an extraordinarily supportive dissertation
committee, whose combined expertise was uniquely suited to my subject. With deep gratitude, I thank Bruce Western, Chris Winship, Orlando Patterson and Rob Sampson. Given our time limit, I cannot
acknowledge by name all of the friends and colleagues whose ideas profoundly influenced my own, but I am confident that they know who they area.
I'd like to thank the ASA dissertation award committee, my parents for teaching me to value the things that made me interested in this profession in the first place, and my brother, Ryan, my sister,
Courtney, my partner, Kaitlyn and my extended family for their unconditional love and support. Thank you so much! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The Jessie Bernard Award is given annually in recognition of a body of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizon of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society. Please
welcome Pamela M. Paxton as she presents this year's recipient.
PAMELA PAXTON: The Jessie Bernard Award recognizes scholarly work that significantly expands the scholarship on women and society. This year, the award goes to Professor Nancy A. Naples. Nancy A.
Naples is Board of Trustees distinguished professor of Sociology and Women's Gender and Sexuality studies at the University of Connecticut. Professor Naples has produced seminal work in the areas of
feminist theory, methodology and activism, and has advanced our understanding of poor women's community activism and women's transnational activism. Professor Naples is known for exceptional
engagement in mentoring graduate students, and has been recognized repeatedly by a variety of professional societies for her scholarship, her teaching and mentoring, and for a commitment to social
justice. Professor Nancy A. Naples demonstrates how to blend scholarship, teaching, mentoring and activism into a distinguished career. The committee extends its warmest congratulations to Professor
Naples. [APPLAUSE]
NANCY NAPLES: Thank you so much! I am truly honored to be selected for this award. Many of the previous awardees have served as inspirations for me over my career, most notably Dorothy Smith, Evelyn
Nakano Glenn, Pat Hill Collins, Maggie Andersen, Barrie Thorne and Myra Marx Ferree. My deepest gratitude to my graduate school mentors Bill Kornblum, Marilyn Gittell, Judith Lorber, Cynthia
[Ovseen?] and Gaye Tuckman. And to my colleagues at the University of California, Francesca Canciones, Sandra Harding, Val [Jenis?] and Kitty Calavita.
I'm also very grateful to my colleagues in Sociology and Women's Gender and Sexuality studies at U-Conn. I'm especially appreciative to have had the opportunity to work with Anita [Hilta?] Gary, who
embodied the best of feminist mentoring and scholarship. Special thanks to my colleagues and friends in the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Pacific Sociological Association, Eastern
Sociological Society and, of course, sociologists for women and society. My gratitude to my remarkable editor, Ilene Calish, and co-editors and collaborators, Manisha Desai, Jennifer Bickham Mendez,
Mike Ryan and Salvatore [Bedelotiz?]. My deepest appreciation to my terrific graduate students, and of course to Mary [Brunstein?] and our twins, Alexandra and Samantha.
And finally, my thanks to the selection committee, and to ASA for honoring feminists' mentoring and scholarship with this award. Thank you so much! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The Public Understanding of Sociology Award is given annually to those who advance the public understanding of sociology, sociological research and scholarship. Please welcome Allison Pugh
as she presents this year's recipient.
ALLISON PUGH: I am honored to present the Public Understanding of Sociology Award to Katherine Shelley Newman, who is serving as the provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the
University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Dr. Newman has written compelling, influential books and articles about how people cope with challenges, such as poverty, violence, discrimination and global
competition. Her writings have a vast audience among elites and the lay public alike, from congressional testimony to multiple appearances in international media. But she earns this award not only
for our outstanding capacity to communicate widely what sociological thinking has to offer the central social problems of our time. Dr. Newman is also an institution builder, founding new programs in
several universities dedicated to social research on inequality that engages with social policy. Thanks to her powerful research, her impressive ability to translate it so that it connects with many
different people and her dedication to enabling more policy-relevant social science, sociology has a more significant public presence. Thank you! [APPLAUSE]
KATHERINE SHELLEY NEWMAN: Thank you! Sociology, as I've practiced it, is very much a team sport. My team has included, first and foremost, the many doctoral students who worked with me on the field
work that enabled me to contribute to the kind of sociology that is my passion. Hence, my biggest debt of gratitude goes to the dozens of sociologists who are now tenured faculty members in
institutions all across the country, but who started out their careers in my seminars and joined me on the streets of Harlem, the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods of Washington Heights, the backwaters
of rural Alabama, places like Elizabeth, New Jersey or small towns like Westside, Arkansas and Heath, Kentucky, which had been shaken by school shootings. In all of these places, my students and I
devoted countless hours to learning how the problems that we were interested in looked from the inside, from the subjective perspective of those who were on the receiving end of social change or
organizational tragedy.
C. Wright Mills, whose name is probably invoked many times for these award recipients, suggested that the sociological imagination rests at the intersection of biographic and historical knowledge. For
me, the essence of public sociology is the translation of the intersection into pros that will capture a broad audience. What I hope that audience comes away with is an appreciation for the analytic
power of this discipline that we share, and for the understanding of the forces that bear down on us all. On behalf of the many people who have helped to bring my work to the public, I thank the ASA
for this recognition. [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: This annual award honors the intellectual tradition of Oliver Cox, Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier. Please welcome Enobong Anna Hannah Branch as she presents this year's
ENOBONG ANNA HANNAH BRANCH: For almost 35 years, Howard Winant has crafted a career that demonstrates the transformative potential and the synergy of scholarship and sociological practice. In five
books, including his seminal work on racial formation theory with Michael Ohme and other works on global racism, numerous articles and chapters, he has illuminated the structural forces, creating
racial and class in equality within and between nations. His work has fundamentally shaped our understanding of how racial hierarchies reproduce racial inequality, and he has relentlessly pursued
scholarship and service of social justice. Professor Winant commitment to the melioration of racial inequality extends far beyond his research. He participates in numerous community movements for
justice at the local, national and international levels. He has been praised as an incredibly engaged and generous mentor to minority students, junior faculty of color and race scholars. For his
ground-breaking intellectual agenda, uncompromising commitment to greater racial and social justice, we are delighted to present Howard Winant with this year's Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award. Thank you!
HOWARD WINANT: I'm greatly honored to receive the Cox-Johnson-Frazier award. My entire career in sociology has been shaped by my collaboration now approaching 40 years in duration, with Michael Ohme
of U.C. Berkeley. By rights, this award belongs as much to Michael as it does to me. It's important to remember a few things about the three sociologists for whom this award is named; Oliver C. Cox,
Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier. They were among the very first blacks to achieve their degrees from mainstream, that is to say white, academic institutions in the United States. All three
were students of Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago in the 1920s. All three taught for most of their lives, most of their careers, at black colleges and universities; Frazier at Howard,
Johnson at Fisk and Cox at Lincoln University in Missouri. Without the HBCUs, these three immensely-influential scholars would never have had careers in our field, which was as segregated as
everything else in America back then. Things only began to change as the black movement gained strength during the post-World War II years. Inclusion still has not been achieved. The HBCUs that
enabled these three men's careers are still important providers of educational opportunity for blacks in this country. They're underfunded and often disrespected, as they were in the past. They
deserve our support.
In 1948, E. Franklin Frazier became president, the first black president, of the American Sociological Society, later renamed the ASA. This was a huge step at the time. Our field has come a long way
since then, but as ever, it is still shaped by the racial contradictions that define the United States and define the world. Today, we don't officially practice segregation, but we still delude
ourselves into thinking, as does most of America, that racism is a matter of the past, not the present. We still practice colorblind racism, as Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has called it. We still have work
to do. Thank you very much! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The award for Excellence in Reporting of Social Issues honors individuals for their promotion of sociological findings in a broader vision of society. Please welcome Susan Markens as she
presents this year's recipient.
SUSAN MARKENS: The ASA Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues honors individuals who are not professional sociologists for the promotion of sociological findings and their
contributions to a broader public vision of sociology. The 2015 award recipient is Bill Moyers, a leading journalist for more than four decades. Moyers has notably expanded the range and reach of
public broadcasting. He has addressed key social issues, including political scandals, economic inequality, climate change and media policy. The selection committee noted his long engagement with
providing conversations on democracy, and exploring contemporary culture in ways rich in historical and sociological context. Moyers has brought to television poets, intellectuals, filmmakers,
theologians, intellectuals and others in conversations that he's artfully crafted as at once serious and accessible. It is that inimitable Moyers stamp that we are pleased to honor today. Bill Moyers
regrets that he was unable to attend the ceremony, so and to accept this award. So we accept this award on his behalf. Thank you! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The Distinguished Career Award for the practice of Sociology honors outstanding contributions to sociological practice that have significantly advanced the utility of one or more specialty
areas in sociology. Please welcome Russell K. Chute as he presents this year's recipient.
RUSSELL K. CHUTE: Knowledge is power. This statement in one of Dr. Eleanor Lyon' federal research briefs is exemplified in her own work over 40 years, as she has made vital contributions to the
knowledge base that has helped to reduce the rate of domestic violence in America. Dr. Lyon directed the University of Connecticut's Institute for Violence Prevention and Reduction. She continues to
lead research on domestic violence and other social issues. She has consulted to federal centers on domestic violence, and she co-authored the widely-used SAGE book, Domestic Violence Advocacy.
Eleanor Lyon, who's been a leader of the ASA section on Sociological Practice, and of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology, and she received the Robert Ezra Park Award for Sociological
Practice. Please join me in applauding the work of Eleanor Lyon, recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Career Award for the practice of Sociology. [APPLAUSE]
ELEANOR LYON: Thank you very much! One of the reasons I decided to become a sociologist is because I wanted to change the world. Although my goals have become less grandiose over the years, I've had
the good fortune to be able to use my sociological training obtained in the Chicago area to contribute to change in a variety of ways. The keys have been to listen carefully and to collaborate, most
often with people from a range of other disciplines. Together, we have influenced criminal sentencing policy, the importance of understanding the strength and resilience of people who have
experienced domestic, sexual and other forms of violence, domestic and sexual violence program policies and practice in the United States and abroad, and more sociological approaches to advocacy with
victim survivors. I want to thank the ASA for increasingly recognizing the importance of public and practice-oriented sociology, and for this award. I want to thank my fellow practitioners for their
support, and the survivors, advocates and colleagues across disciplines, whose generosity, commitment and collaborative efforts have made my work with them, and this award, possible. Thank you very
much! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Award is given to honor outstanding contributions to the undergraduate and/or graduate teaching and the learning of sociology, and improve the
quality of teaching. Please welcome Eleanor Townsley as she presents this year's recipient.
ELEANOR TOWNSLEY: The blog and Website, "Sociological Images," is the 25th [INAUDIBLE] recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. Produced by Lisa Wade, Occidental College and
Gwen Sharp, Nevada State College, "Sociological Images" has become a central source for contemporary, cultural criticism from a sociological perspective. As one nominator describes, "Sociological
Images" provides a visual [INAUDIBLE] of various informative images for free use by faculty, students and interested journalists. The images are gathered collectively as a true creative [INAUDIBLE],
but they are made useful by Lisa and Gwen's sophisticated indexing and cross-referencing. Another nominator explains, they work incredibly hard and selflessly to teach us all about sociology, but
make it appear effortless to readers and students. Their brilliantly curated and enormously influential exercise in public sociology, "Sociological Images" truly does stimulate sociological
imaginations everywhere. Here's Lisa Wade for "Sociological Images." [APPLAUSE]
LISA WADE: Thank you! Thank you so much. Just over eight and a half years ago, Gwen Sharp and I started this little blog as a teaching resource for each other, and maybe our small circle of friends.
We had no idea that people would come visit it, and if I had known, I would have given it a better name. [LAUGHTER] But people did come, and the rest is history, I guess, as we started to try to do a
better job explaining why we were putting up the images that we did. So the site has always kind of been ahead of me, and I feel like I've always been playing catch-up. And today is no exception.
We're really grateful for the recognition from ASA and thrilled that sociologists find the Website useful. If what this award means is that we've made your lives a little bit less hectic and your
time in the classroom a little bit more fun and a little bit more productive, then we're thrilled to take it home. And so on behalf of Gwen Sharp and myself, I want to say thank you to everyone who
uses the site, to Jay Livingston, Philip Cohen and Martin Hart-Landsberg, our regular contributors; all of our guest posters, to my institution, Occidental College, that has been supportive and
tolerant, even when I criticized them on the site. So thank you all very, very much, it's an honor! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The Distinguished Book Award is presented annually for a single book or a monograph published in the three preceding calendar years. Please welcome Stefan Timmermans as he presents this
year's recipient.
STEFAN TIMMERMANS: Hello, Chicago! It's a party! No, we are sociologists, so it's a book about a party. [LAUGHTER] Actually, actually, it's a book about paying for the party. So ladies and gentlemen,
all kidding aside, it's a tremendous honor to announce the ASA's Distinguished Book Award. The award goes to Elizabeth Armstrong from University of Michigan and Laura Hamilton from University of
California Merced for their book, Paying for The Party: How College Maintains Inequality. This extraordinary book is a critically important ethnographic study of a group of female college students
out of Midwestern University. A study aimed at understanding sexuality ended up about status competition among the young women. Armstrong and Hamilton followed these women as they focused on sorority
life and partying at the expense of academic engagement, a party track greatly facilitated by the university to easy majors. The cost of the party track is lower quality education, and limited career
opportunities, which disproportionately affect the poorer students who don't have affluent parents to bail them out, and who leave college indebted and with few marketable skills. This book is a
major contribution to debate of whether college is worth the investment. Please join me in congratulating Elizabeth and Armstrong and Laura Hamilton for winning the Distinguished Book Award.
ELIZABETH ARMSTRONG: So Laura and I are deeply honored to receive this award. I would like to thank Elizabeth Knoll, formerly of Harvard University Press, for getting what we were trying to do and
helping us achieve our vision. And Mitchell Stevens for conversations about higher education, and virtually everything else, over many years. And also, my former colleagues at Indiana University and
those currently at the University of Michigan for providing a supportive context for scholarship. We see this book as part of a growing body of work on post-secondary education, bringing the insides
of organizational, cultural and political sociology to what is arguably one of the most consequential institutions of our society. I would like to encourage more sociologists to turn their gaze to
the post-secondary educational sector, as we have seen this past year, and years recently, the public university in the United States is under siege. A defense of public investment in post-secondary
education requires understanding the successes and also the failures of the system. Thank you very much, thanks to the ASA for this award. [APPLAUSE]
LAURA HAMILTON: I am profoundly honored to receive this award and to share it with my co-author and very good friend, Elizabeth A. Armstrong. As the saying goes, "it takes a village." We benefitted
from the wisdom and kindness of a group of scholars thinking about universities as organizations. Mitchell Stevens creating a class and Richard Arum and Jospia Roksa's Academically Adrift deeply
informed our study. The work of Amy Binder and Steven Brint was also integral. In the face of troubling changes, sociologists of post-secondary education have something important to contribute. Thank
you to the Indiana University and University of California Merced, Sociology Departments, for offering supportive environments. I'm also appreciative of my academic father, Brian Powell, who
commented on multiple drafts and advised me on professional and personal issues during the time the book was being written. Finally, my dear husband and fellow sociologist, Kyle Dodson, endured many,
many late-night conversations about the book, and ultimately gave it its perfect title. Thank you very much! [APPLAUSE]
JANE SELL: The W. E. B. DuBois Career Award of Distinguished Scholarship honors scholars who have shown outstanding commitment to the profession of sociology, and whose cumulative work has
contributed in important ways to the advancement of the discipline. Please welcome Shari Lee Dworkin as she presents this year's recipient.
SHARI LEE DWORKIN: The 2014 winner of the W. E. B. DuBois Distinguished Career Scholarship Award is John W. Meyer. He's an Emeritus professor at Stanford University. He has profoundly impacted
analyses of organizations, educational institutions and world society. Letter writers for this award consistently reported that they, quote, "know of no living American sociologist who has had a more
powerful and transformational influence on core sociological thinking and research over the past 50 years." Committee members highlight the ways in which his work has innovatively impacted not just
U.S. sociology, but sociology around the globe. They also noted his extraordinary mentorship, remarkable collegiality and lasting and cumulative impact on the field. Please congratulate John Meyer
with me at this time. [APPLAUSE]
JOHN MEYER: Thank you! Naturally, I greatly appreciate this honor from my sociological colleagues. It's a stunning thing. I suppose it honors work I've done over a number of decades. I started
graduate school exactly 60 years ago this month, at the University of Colorado. But it also celebrates the contributions of many collaborators; I've had many opportunities to work with very able
people, often students or colleagues at Stanford. I can't name and thank all these people; my co-authors amount to more than 90 people, and I think you would get bored at some point. [LAUGHTER] But I
do appreciate greatly the support and collaboration with all these able people.
On the personal side, it's also difficult. I've had supportive friendships and help from all kinds of people, and there's no way I can make a list there. I'll just leave it that I'm very happy that my
wife could be here today. Thank you! [APPLAUSE]
CECILIA MENJIVAR: Thank you Jane, and thank you to all the awards' presenters and to all of those who served on the awards committees this year. This is a terrific group of awardees, and I'm going to
ask them to stand up so that we can give them one final round of applause. [APPLAUSE]
Also, I would like to remind you that there is the honorary reception immediately after the presidential address in the international board room, south, to this direction.
It is now my pleasure to introduce our president this year, Professor Paula England. Paula was born in Rapid city, South Dakota, and grew up in Minneapolis. She received her undergraduate degree in
sociology and psychology at Whitman College, and then went to the University of Chicago to obtain her doctoral degree in Sociology. When she started college, Paula wanted a career helping people in
social work, but this was the '60s, and she was learning critiques of the system. So, as she puts it, she got interested in the roots of problems, not only in Band-Aid solutions. Also, she was
falling in love with intellectual life. In her words, she liked to "figure stuff out." In graduate school, she set out to study stratification, but personally and politically, she was becoming a
feminist. So even though she never had the opportunity to take a course on gender either at the undergraduate or at the graduate level, she extended the tools and questions she was studying in
stratification to gender. I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Paula's dissertation committee at the University of Chicago, Edward Laumann, David McFarland and Jim Davis, for allowing her to
take on this topic for her dissertation, even though none of them did work on gender. This would become the first time Paula would pioneer an area in sociology. Her now well-known scholarship
explored occupational segregation, and the gender gap in pay. One of the main insights of her work was that sexism doesn't just take the form of excluding women from powerful and more rewarded roles,
but also takes the form of devaluing any roles associated with women. Therefore, occupations pay less to both the men and the women in them, when they contain a higher percentage of women.
Around the mid-'90s, Paula felt the need for a new topic. She began exploring gender in households and relationships, and became fascinated with class gradients in outcomes like unplanned pregnancies,
contraceptive inconsistency and nonmarital births. She also became intrigued with what was going on with sexuality in new cohorts. But Paula has been a pioneer not only intellectually, but also in
her career trajectory. Her first position right out of graduate school in 1975 was at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her first year as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas
was also the first year of the existence of UT Dallas. She remained there for 15 years, and became a full professor at UT Dallas. She as part of an interdisciplinary public policy program there. Some
of her knowledge of economics, which she would later use in her scholarship, originates from seminars and lunches with colleagues at UT Dallas.
In 1990, she moved to the University of Arizona, where she stayed until 1999. During those years, she held the editorship of the ASR. In 1999, she moved to the University of Pennsylvania, where she
directed the Center for Research on Women and Gender. She then joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 2002, and in 2004, she moved to Stanford University. Since 2011, she has professor of
Sociology at New York University. Friends and colleagues remember Paula as an outstanding mentor, a steadfast supporter of graduate students and as a principled and ethical colleague. A friend of
hers remarked, in quotes, "Paula does things because she knows she should, because she knows they are the right things to do," unquote. Paula is also known for her broad and avid intellect and thirst
for knowledge. A colleague said that she sometimes calls Paula, in quotes, "a brain on legs" because Paula is always thinking hard about something intellectually exciting.
Paula has received numerous awards, honors and awards for her work, including an honorary doctorate from Whitman College, the Jessie Bernard Award for her contributions to gender scholarship, and the
Distinguished Career Award from the ASA section on the family. She was also selected as the feminist lecturer for 2009 by SWS, and is also a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social
Science. On a more personal level, colleagues and friends have noted Paula's singing abilities, and I think we had the opportunity to witness that at the welcoming ceremony two days ago. One of her
former colleagues remarked that Paula, that in the 1980s and '90s, Paula was known for doing a wonderful job of channeling Joan Baez. But right now, please join me in welcoming the 2015 president of
the American Sociological Association, Professor Paula England. [APPLAUSE]
PAULA ENGLAND: I've got Cecilia's notes up here. Maybe I'll just read this again. I kind of liked it! [LAUGHTER] My dear colleagues and friends, I chose sexualities in the social world as our meeting
theme. So I'd like to begin with a few words about why sociologists should study sex. The main reason is that sex and all the things it's intertwined with are really important to people. If you doubt
this, think of all the things people to do to attract partners. Consider the pleasures of sex. Fathom what people go through to have a baby, or to avoid having one. Recall how hard a breakup can be.
Look at the realities of sexual assault. Observe what institutions do to advance ideas of sexual propriety, or sometimes sexual rights. Ponder the attractions of romantic fiction/or otherwise. And
laugh or cry at that thing that they say drove the Internet, online porn.
We need some of you to study all of these things, because you're sociologists, and sex is deeply social. It cries out for sociological analysis. To those of you who were hip to this message and were
studying sexualities way before I was, thank you. I'm going to ask the A/V people if they could move this, or move the podium, because I can't actually see it. Is that possible? Yeah? The positioning
is such that I can't see the bottom half. So sorry! Excellent! Just a little bit farther. So now I've revealed the secret that there's actually notes out here. [LAUGHTER] Now, cool! It's not really a
teleprompt, but you know, it's just, like, PowerPoint in presenter mode. Okay. Let's move on.
Today I'm going to talk to you about two varieties of sexualities, of case studies of how class and gender structure sexualities. My first case is, sex with same-sex partners. I'll show you that men
avoid and stigmatize this much more than women do, and I'll offer some reasons why. My other case is heterosexual sex leading to an unintended pregnancy and a nonmarital birth. I'll show you that
those from disadvantaged class backgrounds are especially likely to have a nonmarital birth, and I'll suggest reasons for this.
I also have a theoretical message today. I want to urge you to be open to theories that see individuals' personal characteristics as proximate causes of what happens to them. Now, the person on the
street overemphasizes personal characteristics, and ignores their social roots. The views that I'll champion today, I'll start from the social position in which people find themselves. The social
positions I'll focus on are gender and class background, but my theoretical point holds for any kind of social position. It could be organizational membership, occupation, network position,
neighborhood, race, immigrant status, sexual orientation, or whether you're cisgender or transgender.
Being in a social position means that you face certain constraints. I'm using the term "constraint" here very broadly. It includes the things the position makes impossible or difficult for you to do,
and it also includes the flipside, the opportunities or resources that it affords you. It includes the incentives you face and the expectations people have of you because you're in this position. I'm
going to distinguish today two types of theoretical mechanisms. In the first, represented by the darkened arrows on the graph, social positions create constraints, and these constraints shape your
personal characteristics; things that you carry with you across situations, things like skills, habits, identities, world views, preferences and values. In this view, the constraints change you in
some durable, not necessarily permanent, way. My title today, Sometimes the Social Becomes Personal, summarizes the key insight of these views that see constraints to affect our outcomes by changing
our personal characteristics.
The second type of mechanism that you see on the darkened arrows now posits that social positions create constraints that shape your behavior and outcomes, but don't really change your personal
characteristics. Often these effects are more immediate. A simple example is, your occupation constrains your income, and thereby affects what you can buy.
Let's jump into my first case. Here, I'm using data from the latest national survey of family growth on young adults 18 to 35. You can see here that about the same percent of men and women say that
they had sex last year only with same-sex partners. It rounds to two percent of either women or men. The big, and statistically significant, difference is in who says they had sex with both sexes
last year. This is about three times as many women as men, over four percent of women. So overall, more women than men report having had a same-sex partner last year, but the difference comes from
women having had - more women than men having had both sexes as partners. To minimize under-reporting for some questions on sex, this survey, like some other surveys do had the interviewer hand the
respondent a computer, and then step away to afford privacy while the respondent answered.
Now, let's look at identity, what people say their sexual orientation is. About two percent of both men and women say that they're gay or lesbian. The large, and statistically significant, difference
is who says they're bisexual; six percent of women, and about two percent of men. The rest said they were heterosexual, the only other option given. A little sleuthing with the data shows that most
women who said they were bisexual also say that they've had oral sex with a woman, so in the main, this is not merely kissing on the dance floor.
Now let's look at values. The latest general social surveys asked people if sexual relations between two adults of the same sex are wrong or not. Women were a full 15 percentage points more likely
than men to give the most accepting of the four responses, saying it's not wrong at all. This is not merely the result of women being more liberal politically. It holds if you control for political
party identification. A gender difference of about this magnitude has been present for decades, and it also holds within class groups and within race groups, this gender difference.
So what explains this gender difference in behavior, identity and values? I'm going to offer a hypothesis involving the gender system; what I mean by the "gender system" is, informal gender norms as
well as any ways in which gender difference and inequality are institutionalized. My thesis is social, but it in no way precludes the existence of even large genetic effects on whether a given
individual is attracted to men, women or both. There's plenty of R-square to go around.
I'm going to reference two aspects of the gender system, and in Cecilia's introduction, she nicely set me up for this. The first tells what we're supposed to do or be as men or women. Gender
conformity entails many things, such as that men should be strong, women should be nice. It also, for both men and women, entails being straight. That is, to some extent you violate gender norms if
you do not at least appear to be straight.
A second aspect of the gender system is about which gender is more valued. Everything associated with women, traits, activities, tends to be valued less. As an example of this, I did research for
decades showing that if you compare two occupations, one filled mostly by men and one filled mostly by women, either men or women earn more if they work in the occupation filled mostly by men. And
that's true even when the occupations require the same amount of education. So both sexes face pressures to conform to gender norms, and thus, I've argued, to be straight. But I believe that men's
gender nonconformity is more controversial, precisely because the male gender is more valued. This is one reason that being a gay man is more stigmatized than being a lesbian. Bisexuality is also
less acceptable for men because in an analog to the one drop rule of racial identity, a man who isn't seen as 100 percent straight is, in some quarters, seen as gay.
What we see here in the sexual arena parallels an asymmetry in the gender revolution more generally. The gender revolution consisted mainly of women bucking gender conformity to enter spheres
previously reserved for men, not so much vice versa. So women entered male professions. Fewer men entered female occupations or became full-time homemakers. Girls now play sports in droves. Fewer
boys play with dolls. Women wear pants; it's not even seen as a male thing to do anymore. Men wearing skirts hasn't caught on so much. [LAUGHTER] It's consistent with this broader pattern that women
are more likely than men to buck gender conformity by having a same-sex partner.
Now, let's look at how what I've said fits into these two theoretical mechanisms. First, let's look at the model where constraints don't affect personal characteristics, but regulate our behavior more
directly. The "doing gender" perspective is an example of this. In this view, people's expectations of us summon our conformity, because we want to make sense cognitively to people. Other
perspectives focus on incentives, carrots and sticks. Sticks are especially likely for men or boys not perceived to be straight. Research has documented ridicule, violence, job discrimination. Queer
women can experience these things too, but they are especially visited upon men. In response, men interested in men may avoid or hide gay behavior. The difference we just saw in how much men versus
women reported same-sex partners may be partly more men than women under-reporting this behavior. And I suspect, though I can't know, that some of it is men having actually been deterred from gay
behavior by these incentives. Whether men are attracted to men or not, men and boys face incentives to look straight, and that is sometimes achieved by calling other people "fags." These expectations
and incentives need not change personal characteristics to regulate behavior.
But these very same constraints work, I believe, in a longer-term way to actually change men. Continued exposure to ridicule of gay men, for example, may create internalized heterosexist values. We
saw survey evidence that men hold these values much more than women. These constraints may also encourage durable straight identities, even among those attracted to men sometimes. Then these personal
characteristics, values and identities further encourage men to avoid gay sex and to police other men's sexuality.
Now, one reason to think that gender constraints can really change us durably is that they last a long time. If you are cisgender, that is, if you haven't transitioned out of the sex category assigned
to you at birth, then what you say your sex is is a pretty good indicator of how the gender system has been treating you your whole life.
Let's now move to my second case. Here, I'm using data from the Ad Health survey to examine links between class background and having a nonmarital birth. As an indicator of class background, I'm using
the education of a woman's mother. This is strongly correlated with father's education and family income. I may refer this going forward as class, class background, SES, advantage or privilege. The
percents you see here are regression adjusted with controls for race, immigrant status and age, using an average marginal effects approach. The remaining graphs, by the way, will use the same
approach with the same controls. Most women who have a nonmarital birth have one by age 25. And you see here that by age 25, 40 percent of the most disadvantaged women by class background had had a
nonmarital birth, compared to only 15 percent of those whose moms are college grads.
I want to focus on the role of contraception and abortion in explaining this class gradient. Research shows that disadvantaged single women and men contracept less consistently than their advantaged
counterparts. Those from more advantaged backgrounds have more social and economic motivation to delay parenthood. After high school, they typically go away to a residential college or university and
enroll full time. These total institutions encourage studying, and as we heard with one of our awards that was given, partying, but they certainly do not encourage parenthood. Also, in their 20s,
some women from privileged backgrounds have careers with real prospects going, and they have a lot to lose economically by not delaying parenthood. So disadvantaged single women have less motivation
to delay, and that might explain some intended nonmarital births. But three quarters of pregnancies to unmarried women are, by their own report, unintended. And research shows that most of the time,
disadvantaged single women don't want to get pregnant, either. And even then, when they don't, they contracept less consistently than their advantaged counterparts.
Let me show you the evidence. Here I'm using data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life Study on women 18 to 21 years old. Notice that more of those from disadvantaged backgrounds did not
contracept when they had sex last week. To make sure this isn't just the result of who wants a pregnancy more, I limited the analysis to only those cases where women said that - they said in a report
that very same week that they had a strong desire to avoid pregnancy. We can look at the same question for women in their 20s and 30s using the NSFG. Here, I limited the analysis to those who said
that they would be upset if they got pregnant now; actually it was those who said they would be very upset if they got pregnant now. Here, too, you see a class gradient; 13 percent of the women from
the most disadvantaged backgrounds did not contracept when they - at the last time they had intercourse, compared to only four percent of those whose mom was a college graduate. So the question is,
why do disadvantaged single women contracept less consistently than their advantaged counterparts when they really don't want a baby?
Surprisingly, most research suggests that lack of money is not much of a barrier to getting the pill or the shot, and certainly not condoms. And the reason for this is that most poor women have access
to contraception through either Medicaid or Planned Parenthood. Now, of course, Planned Parenthood is under attack right now, as we know. But as things are now, I think my statement holds. I believe
that one important source of the class difference in contraception is a class difference in efficacy. I'm using the term "efficacy" here as kind of an umbrella concept covering several different
aspects of being able to align your behavior with your own long-term goals. So one aspect is making concrete plans. Another is believing you can have some control over your life. If you believe that
pregnancy happens because of fate, or you don't believe that you can remember to take pills, you may not bother to try. Another aspect is self-regulation. By this I mean, can you make yourself do
things that right now feel onerous, but are necessary to your goals? Contraception takes self-regulation in the part of either the man or the woman. No one puts on a condom because it feels good, no
one undergoes a pelvic exam for fun.
To better understand inconsistent contraception, I understood a qualitative interview study of women in their 20s from diverse social backgrounds. One hint about the relevance of efficacy came from
stories they told about forgetting to take birth control pills, or forgetting to make an appointment at the clinic until the old pills were already gone. To code efficacy, I combed through the
stories they told. I looked for whether they made plans about things, I looked for whether they believed they had some control over life. One woman hit both these themes. She said, "I don't think
there's a right time for anything; it happens because it's going to happen. I'm not a person that, like, really tries to plan." I noted whether procrastination kept women from following through on
plans. Some women talked about self-regulation, although of course they didn't use those words. But they referenced how losing their temper, or their alcohol or drug use, deterred them from some of
their goals. One such woman wanted to avoid a pregnancy with her boyfriend, as she put it, "The closest thing we wanted to a baby was a cat or a dog together." But asked about how often they used
condoms - this was their method of choice - she said, "Well, sometimes we would. Most of the time we would be, like way too drunk. We would be, like, wasted out of our gores."
I found women with high and low efficacy from all class backgrounds. But on average, those from more privileged backgrounds seemed to have more efficacy. And those with higher efficacy contracepted
more consistently. This was true, even when I used only stories having nothing to do with contraception to code efficacy.
Other research sheds light on how class background may affect the development of efficacy. Poorer people have stressful, sometimes devastating things happening to them routinely. Undoubtedly, this
really hones certain survival skills that the privileged really lack. But also, it may engender a belief that planning is useless, and that habit may not be there in situations when maybe it actually
would have helped, and they could have followed through on plans. Poor youth are more likely to live in neighborhoods with high levels of violence, and this has been shown to have negative effects on
self-regulation. Economic scarcity sometimes causes sadness and depression for obvious reasons, and these affective states have been shown to zap energy needed for self-regulation. Research shows
that the middle class and upper middle class employ more time-intensive parenting strategies. I speculate that some of this time may develop self-regulation in kids. If parents bring kids' attention
back over and over again to something like homework that the kids find onerous, it may develop a habit of persistence with onerous things that may help them later. Those from more privileged
backgrounds complete more education, I suppose that's the most well-known finding in sociology, but what's less well-known is that education seems to increase people's sense that they have some
control over life, and therefore, it's worth trying. And this is true even when it doesn't increase your earnings.
Now one reason to think that these effects of class background on efficacy that I've been talking about may actually be durable, you know, the effects may last a while, is that, for better or for
worse, we're captive in our families of origin for a really long time, usually until we grow up. Given their less consistent contraception, disadvantaged women have more unintended pregnancies, so
this raises the question of whether they'll have an abortion.
Now data on abortion have real problems of under-reporting. But the best evidence suggests that disadvantaged single women are more likely than their privileged counterparts to have an abortion in any
given year. But that's mainly because they're much more likely to have a pregnancy in any given year. But faced with a given unintended pregnancy, the best evidence suggests that disadvantaged women
are less likely to abort. So to put all that more simply, among single women, those who are disadvantaged have more pregnancies and more abortion, but abort a lower percentage of their pregnancies.
Women may decide not to abort - disadvantaged women I'm referring to here - because they have less of a motivation to avoid a birth for the reasons I discussed earlier. But there's also another
reason, and this one's about lack of money.
I mentioned that studies haven't found cost to be much of a barrier to getting the birth control pill or shot. But in the case of abortion, even Planned Parenthood generally charges hundreds of
dollars for abortions, and asks for payment up front. And the Hyde Amendment, passed yearly by Congress since sometime in the '60s states that federal funds cannot be used for abortion. So with few
exceptions, a Medicaid funded abortion is available only in those 15 states that use their own state funds for this service. And the evidence is clear that lack of funding actually deters abortions
among poor women. One convincing demonstration of this used a natural experiment. In the '90s, one state funded abortions, but only each year until the amount of money they had allocated ran out.
When it ran out, there were no more of these funded abortions. Analysis shows that in the months after the money ran out, abortions went down, and that was primarily among groups typically poor
enough to qualify for the funding.
So let's talk about how what I've just said fits into the two theoretical perspectives. I just told you that low income, single women sometimes, because of lack of money and lack of government
funding, are not able to get an abortion that they would have otherwise gotten. The result is a nonmarital birth. This is seen on the arrow from constraints to outcomes. Personal characteristics have
nothing to do with it. I also argued that privileged class backgrounds provide more time-intensive parenting, and less exposure to violence and scarcity, and that all of these things affect the
development of efficacy, a personal characteristic, which then affects how well people are able to contracept when they want to avoid having a baby, and thereby affects whether you have a nonmarital
birth. So here, the social has become personal when class background affects the development of efficacy.
In my first case, reviewing how the two theoretical mechanisms fit in, I said that gender constraints lead men more than women to face expectations and incentives to appear straight. In the short run,
this just regulates their behavior, encouraging straight and even heterosexist behavior. Over time, I argued, the social becomes personal, as seeing how gay men or men suspected of being gay are
treated actually changes men's identities and values. Some men who, under a more accepting regime, might have taken on a gay or bisexual identity instead come to identify as straight, and even
internalize heterosexist values. And men who probably would have turned out straight in any case embrace more heterosexist beliefs than they would have under a more gay-accepting climate. Then they
become part of the oppressive constraints policing other men.
My two empirical cases were very different. But in each, to capture what's going on, I saw the need for both of the types of theoretical mechanisms that I introduced. The two mechanisms are not
mutually exclusive, so a theory containing both is often best, unless, of course, sometimes the evidence says one is simply not operative, then I bow to the evidence. My perception is that we
sociologists sometimes avoid explanations involving personal characteristics, not because of contrary evidence, but because something about them makes us queasy. So I want to address head on the
criticisms that I think are implicit in this "queasiness." One criticism is that theories containing personal characteristics ignore constraints, and after all, sociology is all about constraints,
isn't that the saying? But, in fact, in the views involving personal characteristics that I've advanced, constraints aren't ignored. They're just further upstream in the chain of causation. And
moreover, a theory that says that constraints can actually change who we are in a durable way is a theory that sees a lot of power in constraints; far from ignoring them.
A second critique is political. In this critique, the idea is that theories emphasizing personal characteristics will encourage trying to change disadvantaged people while leaving inequality-related
constraints intact. But in fact, the models that I've offered imply that one way to change personal characteristics is to change the constraints, because those constraints shape the characteristics.
A related objection is ethical. Some people think that when we explain an outcome by a personal characteristic that many people see as unflattering, we blame the victim. Now, to blame means to make a
moral criticism. I do not agree that empirical statements ever imply moral criticisms, and some philosophers would back me up on that. But if one is to infer blame from an empirical statement, it
seems to me that we could just as easily blame the people who have the most power over the constraints which, after all, shaped the personal characteristics.
So I've tried to make the case that models with personal characteristics do not imply blaming victims, and do not ignore constraints. But I'm well aware that they can be misread to imply exactly that.
You may have your work misread this way, not only if you study sexualities, but if you study gender or race, or crime, or education, stratification, poverty or health, or probably some other topics.
Perhaps your work has shown that class or race constraints affect the development of cognitive skills, and that's one factor affecting earnings. Perhaps your research has shown that gendered
constraints affect aspirations, and that aspirations are one component in effecting job segregation. If we wanted to be public sociologists, what can we do to avoid misreading of findings like these
involving personal characteristics? I, too, struggle with this, especially when I talk to reporters, undergraduates and really any audience of non-sociologists. To avoid misreadings, we can point out
constraints that shape personal characteristics, and we can suggest interventions that would attack the constraints. For example, we now have a number of studies we can point to that are experimental
or quasi-experimental, looking at what happens when government programs provide increased income to poor families. Several studies report changes in the personal characteristics of kids, improved
cognitive skills and less delinquency. We can also suggest interventions designed to make a personal characteristic less consequential. As an example, inter-uterine devices, IUDs, once inserted
require no action for years. If they became the default option for contraception, it would drastically reduce the amount of efficacy that's needed to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
My hope is that in your research, teaching or practice, you'll be alert to both of the ways that social positions and their constraints affect our outcomes. Sometimes constraints directly change what
we do and what happens to us. Other times, they change who we are in a durable way, and that affects the rest of our lives. Sometimes the social becomes personal, and when it does, I trust that some
of you sociologists will be on the case.
So I'd love to hear your reaction to what I've said tonight, but there's no time for that. We have a reception awaiting us. So we can have a conversation, the editors of the ASA Journal, Contexts,
have agreed to collect questions or comments. I'll answer a selection of them when I recover from the ASA meetings. I'm feeling better already. [LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE] And the exchange will appear on
their Website. [APPLAUSE]
Finally, if I can just make a couple of acknowledgements, I want to acknowledge our skilled and dedicated ASA staff. I have loved working with them, and a shout out to my awesome research assistant,
who helped me so much with this talk. I also want to honor scholars who have taken real risks to study sexualities. Finally, I'm so grateful that I had the chance to be your president this last year.
Thank you! [APPLAUSE]