Dr. Ken Hou-Lin and Dr. Harel Shapira’s 10 Tips for Landing an R1 Job

by Samantha Simon

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Dr. Ken Hou Lin

Dr. Harel Shapira

Dr. Harel Shapira

As part of the First Year Proseminar Series, Dr. Ken Hou-Lin and Dr. Harel Shapira met with a group ofSociology graduate students to shed some light on the daunting process of finding and landing a research position at R1 institutions. Both Ken and Harel recently navigated the R1 job market and currently serve on search committees. Thus, they are both in unique positions to provide some very valuable insight to graduate students in all levels of the program. For those who were not able to make the proseminar, here are the top 10 pieces of advice that Ken and Harel shared with students:

  1. Offer something to institutions that no one else has and that other people want. What can you do that other people cannot? What are the skills that only you have or that you can do better than everyone else? Does your work have a “wow” factor? These are key questions to ask as you consider putting yourself on the job market. You need to show that your work is interesting, but you also need to demonstrate how it connects with a set of ideas and arguments that push knowledge forward.
  2. Be able to show progress and the beginning stages of a successful career trajectory. R1 institutions hire a candidate based on their potential for future success, so it is imperative that you are able to convince a search committee that you are worth investing in now because of your potential for success later.
  3. Be cautious about putting yourself on the job market more than twice. By the third time, you risk being perceived as a less viable candidate.
  4. Make sure you are the strongest candidate you can be when you do decide to put yourself on the job market. If spending one more year in your graduate program will allow you to publish more or show progress in some way, it may be worth it.
  5. Find your niche within the field of Sociology and become thoroughly informed in that subfield. You will then have a sense of what the world  that you want to contribute to intellectually looks like. This will also help search committees understand what kind of Sociologist you are (i.e. do you study gender, political sociology, etc.?).
  6. During job talks, you must find a way to connect with people who are not a part of your subfield and be able to explain to them why your work is important. When you are invited to do a job talk, it means the people who are in your field think you have potential, but you must also win over the others.
  7. Get to the data immediately when doing job talks. Your first or second slide should be about your data. It is important to show your audience what your contribution to the field is and how you have distinguished yourself through the kind of data you have collected. You can come back to literature and framing later in the talk.
  8. Go to conferences as much as you can. The more one-on-one interactions you have with others in the field, the better. Later on, when you are applying to jobs, if someone you met is on a search committee and can put an experience and a face with your application, it can make a big difference.
  9. Do not get discouraged if you do not land an R1 job right after graduate school. It is important to keep a long-term perspective on your career. If you want a career in research, you should always have that long-term goal on your mind and you should plan that way even if you do not get the job you really wanted. If you do not land an R1 job immediately, think of it as a temporary set back, and continue to produce innovative work.
  10. Do some research on the differences in pay between Sociology jobs. Although Sociologists tend not to discuss salary, you should consider this to be an important factor. There are very real economic differences between subfields or skill sets, and being informed will help you think about what you really want.

 

 

 

 

Advancing Meaningful Practices in Higher Education

by Shantel Buggs and Brandon Robinson
DDFirstBiennialLast Friday, we had the opportunity to attend the inaugural biennial conference for the Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center (DDNRC) entitled “Advancing Meaningful Difficult Dialogues Practices in Higher Education: A New Imperative of Democracy?” The mission of the DDNRC is to advance innovative practices in higher education that promote respectful, transformative dialogue on controversial topics and complex social issues, thereby reflecting a commitment to pluralism, academic freedom, and strengthening a democratically engaged society. A central goal of this year’s conference was to propel academic communities to have productive engagements with difficult dialogues.

Dr. Silvia Hurtado, the opening keynote speaker, focused on the following central concern: if we are not the society that we aspire to be, how do we get there? She suggested that while “problems” are complex, we have the capacity to be change agents. However, there are prevailing norms that we must face as educators and members of academic communities: 1) people’s mindsets that they come into college with, 2) traditional notions of teaching and learning, and 3) first-years in college ask fewer questions in the classroom than they did in high school. HurtadoSlide

Hurtado emphasized that we need engaging forms of pedagogy in order to challenge these academic norms and to move students from their own embedded worldviews. One interesting pedagogical approach mentioned by Dr. Silvia Hurtado is for educators to learn that they are not the only authority in the classroom. Students are teachers as well, and peers can be an authority on a topic for one another. However, as educators, we must be good facilitators, which does not mean being neutral. It does mean that we must develop skills of active listening and embrace conflict and different voices in order to make progress. It should be noted, however, that choosing which educators get to de-center themselves as the authority in the classroom is fraught with various forms of privilege. Certain marginalized bodies are often already questioned as having authority, so this pedagogical approach may be difficult or not conducive for certain people’s classrooms. Despite this, new forms of teaching and learning outside of traditional forms of lecturing are needed in order to truly engage in difficult dialogues and to transform the mindsets of students in order to make them better global citizens.

SylviaHurtado
Following the keynote, we broke out into smaller workshop groups in order to have conversations about what distinguishes a “difficult dialogue” program from a one that promotes and/or encourages “respect for difference(s).” Much of the conversation focused on the fact that difficult dialogues are not value-neutral and that it is imperative to push students and educators beyond a notion of “respect as tolerance”, instead aiming toward “real” action and social change. In thinking about what goals should be set for a difficult dialogue and how these goals could be identified or measured, some of the more interesting suggestions involved some directly observable goals (such as the ability to facilitate a dialogue in class or to identify strategies of facilitiation and demonstrate active listening). Others were more business-minded (such as measuring the numbers of department heads, faculty, and campus leadership groups that participate in difficult dialogue training) or philosophical (such as seeing a student develop a better understanding of structural oppression and inequality and/or an awareness of their positionality in the world). These workshops were a great opportunity to learn about the kinds of courses/programs going on at other schools and how they prioritized social justice within them.

DifficultDialogues2The workshop groups prepared us for the interactive theater session that led to an interesting discussion about which classrooms and which professors can actually engage in difficult dialogues. The interactive skit was about four undergraduate students who had witnessed a religious demonstration and saw people praying on campus. They entered a classroom discussing religion, protests, praying, the First Amendment, and other issues that undergraduates are likely to encounter and discuss. However, the classroom was an English course, so when it was time for class to start, the professor tried to shut down the lively debate. The skit ended with the professor telling students that it was his job to teach them about dangling modifiers, and that he did not feel like religious controversies should be discussed in his classroom. This performance raised several important questions: When should professors engage in difficult dialogues with their students? Should these issues only be discussed in certain classroom settings? For example, should religion only be discussed in a religion course, but not in an English course?

During the Q&A following the theater performance, many people felt that the professor had valid concerns about addressing these issues in his classroom. Many professors worry about tenure; engaging in these difficult dialogues could create barriers to their ability to get promoted. Likewise, students may give professors bad evaluations if they begin engaging in difficult dialogues that students perceive to have nothing to do with the topic of the class. As the conversation continued, it became evident that there are structural constraints in place that make it hard for some professors to engage in difficult dialogues in the classroom or in the larger academic community. Based on the reactions of some of those present at the session, these constraints must be addressed before institutions put greater pressure on professors to do the work of trying to “change mindsets.”
Overall, we walked away from Friday’s experience with important questions to consider, some awesome books, and new theoretical lenses through which to assess our roles in the classroom and in the academy. As stated in the keynote, the key to changing mindsets is disequilibrium. Disequilibirium relies upon new and unfamiliar experiences that cause us to abandon routine and encourage active thinking; if we – as sociologists – are committed to learning as a “social act”, we must be committed to creating opportunities for disequilibrium and to developing an “empowered, informed, and responsible learner.”

To learn more about the DDNRC, you can visit http://www.difficultdialoguesuaa.org/ or check out their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DifficultDialogues.org. Also see Indigenous Solutions to Intellectual Violence – Stop Talking and Listen.

Shantel Gabrieal Buggs is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, studying race, gender, sexuality, and popular culture. Her dissertation will explore the online-dating experiences of mixed-race women in Central Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @Future_Dr_Buggs.
Brandon Andrew Robinson is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include sexualities, queer spatialities, and intersectionality. His dissertation will be exploring the lives of LGBTQ homeless youth.

Amanda Stevenson on the Twitter chatter surrounding Texas HB2 and Wendy Davis’ Fillibuster

TXPep

by Eric Enrique Borja

On September 12th, Amanda Stevenson was kind enough to discuss the work behind her recent paper in Contraception entitled, “Finding the Twitter users who stood with Wendy.” In the paper, Amanda examines Twitter chatter surrounding the Texas omnibus abortion restriction bill (Texas HB2) before, during and after Wendy Davis’ filibuster in summer 2013.  The implications of Amanda’s results and conclusions are eloquently outlined both in the article published in Contraception, and her op-ed piece “Twitter analysis shows not all Texans want abortion rights limited,” which was published in the Houston Chronicle.

In this post I will only briefly go over some of the major takeaways from Amanda’s talk.  I highly encourage you to read Amanda Stevenson’s articles for the full story.

1) “The Citizen’s Filibuster”

Amanda discussed one of the first major events in summer 2013, now referred to as the Citizen’s Filibuster. On June 20th, a special session of the Texas legislature was held. On the agenda was a pair of bills that would ban abortions after 20  weeks of pregnancy, restrict access to medication abortions and require abortion clinics to become ambulatory surgical care centers. In response to the special session abortion-rights groups such as: NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Planned Parenthood, and the Lilith Fund, quickly organized a “citizen’s filibuster.” TXPepMap

Approximately 700 people were organized in a flash, and the citizen’s filibuster was successful. Amanda showed that social media was important prior to Wendy Davis’ filibuster because it was instrumental in mobilizing people across the state of Texas.

2) Social media provided the primary coverage of Wendy Davis’ Filibuster

If it weren’t for the success of the Citizen’s Filibuster, Wendy Davis would have never had the opportunity to stage her filibuster. And if it were up to mainstream media outlets, the world would have never known what Wendy Davis had accomplished that day. Amanda discussed how mainstream media outlets failed to cover the filibuster. Therefore, social media became the primary source of coverage on Davis’ filibuster – with YouTube providing live streams for the world to see.

3) Social media data is generated through a selection process

Given the protocols that govern Twitter’s API, and the issues of access to technology, the kind of data a researcher pulls from social media is highly selective. Amanda was careful to point out that this does not mean social media data is useless, but that when you are interpreting your results you must be careful with what you think you are explaining. For Amanda, social media data is great at analyzing discussions that occur in social media, but falls short in accurately capturing public opinion. Interpreting social media data is like interpreting any kind of data a sociologist may collect; you have to take into consideration what and how much your data actually captures.

4) Hashtags can be a way to classify opinions

standwithwendy

Trying to understand what people are attempting to convey through a tweet is a hard problem to resolve. One way this can be resolved, as illustrated by Amanda’s study, is to categorize tweets thematically using hashtags. For example, the hashtag “#standwithwendy” was a popular hashtag used through Davis’ filibuster. Users typically tag their tweets with hashtags to categorize them.

5) Social location estimates are inconclusive

In general, users do not GPS-enable their tweets. It’s been found that it is primarily younger males in urban areas who do. Therefore, to not further limit her sample, Amanda generated location estimates for users in her sample. Amanda writes, “For each account whose tweets had GPS data, I collected 100 tweets from the Twitter REST API v1.1. For all accounts, I collected location data from user profiles in the form of text strings.” By combining GPS data from GPS-enabled tweets and whatever location data she could garner from geocoded text string, Amanda was able to generate location estimates for more users than if she had solely relied on GPS data.

What impresses me the most about Amanda’s work is that she is careful (both in her talk and her paper) not to overreach in her conclusions.  Moreover, her work is a great example of a project that elegantly employs qualitative and quantitative methodologies, something I aspire to achieve in my own work on social media. We all look forward to seeing more as Amanda’s dissertation develops.

Sociology Centennial

UT Austin Sociology Centennial Celebration

The Sociology department at the University of Texas at Austin turned 100 this year, an event worthy of celebration.  Many thanks to University of Virginia President, Dr. Teresa Sullivan (former Longhorn Vice Provost and proud Sociologist) for her talk on the future of Sociology and her help in launching our next 100 years. A video of our first 100 years can be found here.

Why should I bother with social media?

Our social media savvy tweeters dominated at ASA and keep our blog lively with new posts weekly.  This article from ASA answers the question: Why bother with social media at all?

Bv0dL79IEAAsHmvBlogger Marc Smith’s Twitter Analysis Graph from the ASA annual conference.

Blogger Philip N. Cohen’s Family Inequality blog post on the twitter graph.

Why should I bother? (link to ASA article)

The shortest, simplest answer to the question “why should I bother?” is “You don’t have to.” Really, you don’t have to be on television if CNN calls. You don’t need a Twitter account. But, there are some reasons you might want to do these things.

Here are just a few.

Using social media can facilitate:

1. Establishing yourself as an expert

2. Conceptualizing and developing ideas

3. Developing a reputation for your thoughts, ideas and interactions

4. Building relationships

Media Sociology Blog – ASA pre-conference summary

UTAustinSOC party at ASA bringing together old friends and new

Brandon Andrew Robinson Writes for the HuffPost

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Fourth year doctoral student, Brandon Andrew Robinson, writes for the HuffPost. Robinson’s piece is entitled, “Online Foreplay and Bringing Sexy Back.”

Excerpt from the piece:

Although the actual offline sexual encounters may not go according to the ways people discuss online, online foreplay can help lessen some of the fear or embarrassment of discussing sexuality, HIV, sexual practices and other aspects of one’s sex life. In a time of managing sexual risks, finding pleasurable and sexy approaches to discussing and experiencing one’s sexuality is important in order to counterbalance the now-common fear-driven approach to thinking and talking about sex.

To read the rest, follow this link: Online Foreplay and Bringing Sexy Back

 

#BlackTwitter/#BlackPolitics: the Lifeblood of a Community

black twitter

by Eric Enrique Borja

This post is based on a larger paper I wrote for AFR/LAS 381: Black Radical Traditions.

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In a stirring introduction to the multi-disk collection Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966, the scholar, musician, and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon wrote that the “struggle for freedom” revealed “culture to be not luxury, not leisure, not entertainment, but the lifeblood of a community.” It was, she added, “the first time that I know the power of song to be an instrument for the articulation of our community concerns.”

- Ruth Feldstein, “I Don’t Trust You Anymore”: Nina Simone, Culture, and Black Activism in the 1960s.

hashtags like #DangerousBlackKids #solidarityisforwhitewomen #girlslikeus and more prompt INTERNATIONAL convos about real issues.

– Tweet by Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh)

Over the past four years unprecedented large-scale movements have challenged states across the globe, and social media has been an important component in their development and articulation. With the advent of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, people have the technological ability to instantaneously transcend space, time and resources (Aouraugh and Alexander 2011; Castells 2012; Earl and Kimport 2011; Eltantawy and Wiest 2011; Gerbaudo 2012; Hands 2011; Holmes 2012).

According to the World Bank, there are nearly 2.5 billion Internet users worldwide[i]. And according to Facebook’s Investor Relations site[ii] there are over a billion monthly active Facebook users. Furthermore, among African-Americans between the ages of 18-29 40% of them report using Twitter, which is much larger than the 28% of young whites who say they use it (Smith 2014).

young-african-americans-have-high-levels-of-twitter-use

The questions I explore in my research are: are we currently living in a historical moment where a new repertoire of contention is emerging? If so, how is social media changing the way we collectively contest for our interests? Therefore, my research focus has been political contention (Tilly 1986, 1995) – how “ordinary people[iii]” contend against the state for their collective interests. But it has been largely limited by how sociologists approach and define political contention. The course AFR/LAS 381: Black Radical Traditions with Dr. Minkah Makalani has expanded my understanding of political contention, reframing how I approach Tilly’s concept of a repertoire of contention.

Is Twitter the underground railroad of activism?

From Richard Iton’s (2008) book In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics & Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era to Shana L. Redmond’s (2014) book Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora, we see a reframing of what it means to collectively contend against the state. Where Iton (2008, 2013), Redmond (2014) and many other scholars (Cohen 2004; Feldstein 2005; Griffin 2013; Neptune 2007; Sweet 2011)  explore the cultural forms/protest tactics of music, literature, religion and dance, I argue the advent of social media in the 21st century has produced a new cultural form where Black politics is developed, expanded and rearticulated. I claim, in other words, that the cultural forms/protest tactics of music, literature, religion and dance constitute an old repertoire of contention, which is today being replaced by a new repertoire of contention that primarily utilizes social media, specifically hashtags (#). This is best illustrated by the social phenomenon popularly referred to as #BlackTwitter.

dangerousblackkids

#dangerousblackkids

Adopting a similar understanding of the signifier “Black” that Redmond (2014) uses,  “Black” is “a way to call attention to the overlapping projects of diaspora and racial formation that actively seek recognition in mutual struggle” (Redmond 2014:5). With this understanding of the signifier “Black” we can better understand the political potency of #BlackTwitter. In other words, the signifier “#BlackTwitter” refers to those users who are within the diaspora, and who actively articulate their political claims through the use of # such as #DangerousBlackKids, #DonLemonLogic, #girlslikeus and #solidarityisforwhitewomen, to name a few. I claim #BlackTwitter, similar to the Black anthems analyzed by Redmond (2014),  “negotiate[s] and announce[s] the ambitions and claims of those whose very bodies [throw] into crisis the normativity of rules and liberties“ (Redmond 2014: 4).

The 21 Biggest #BlackTwitter Moments of 2013

The political potency of # for Black politics resides in the new space/time (Massey 2006) it creates. Which, in turn, fundamentally shifts the process of nation-ness (Anderson 2006) and marks a new phase in the mediazation of modern culture (Thompson 1991); two fundamental shifts comparable to the structural and cultural shifts that formed the modern repertoire of contention (Anderson 2006; Della Porta and Diani 1999; McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly 2001; Swidler 1986; Tarrow 1994; Tilly 1986, 1995; Young 2002).

Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind the unique historical position of Black people when working through Tilly’s concept of a repertoire of contention. Therefore, the new space/time created by the # also provides the place where Black culture and Black politics are rearticulated, forming a community that encompasses the Black diaspora.

girlslikeus

#girlslikeus

So similar to Redmond’s Black anthems, # “constitute differently configured diasporic formations that link people to one another through and beyond race into communities organized by imaginations of freedom from and an end to hierarchies of difference,” (Redmond 2014: 14). The # used by #BlackTwitter are the spaces where such communities are created – where the nation can be rearticulated, subverted, and transcended.

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Works Cited

Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities. Brooklyn, NY: Verso.

Aouragh, Miriyam. 2011. The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution. International Journal of Communication, 1344-1358.

Castells, Manuel. 2012. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Cohen, Cathy J. 2004. “Deviance as Resistance: A New Research Agenda for the Study of Black Politics.” Du Bois Review, 1:1, 27-45.

Della Porta, Donatella and Mario Diani. 1999. Social Movements: An Introduction. Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishers.

Earl, Jennifer and Katrina Kimport. 2011. Digitally Enabled Social Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Eltantawy, Nahed and Julie B. Wiest. 2011. “Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution: Reconsidering Resource Mobilization.” International Journal of Communication, 1207-1224.

Feldstein, Ruth. 2005. “I Don’t Trust You Anymore’”: Nina Simone, Culture and Black Activism in the 1960s.” The Journal of American History, 1349-1379.

Gerbaudo, Paolo. 2012. Tweets and the Streets. London, UK: Pluto Press.

Griffin, Farah Jasmine. 2013. Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists & Progressive Politics During World War II. New York, NY: BasicCivitas Books.

Hands, Joss. 2011. @ is for Activism. London, UK: Pluto Press.

Holmes, Amy Austin. 2012. “There are Weeks When Decades Happen: Structure and Strategy in the Egyptian Revolution.” Mobilization: An International Journal 17:4, 391-410.

 Iton, Richard. 2008. In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics & Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Oxford, UK: Oxford Univerisity Press

Iton, Richard. 2013. “Still Life.” Small Axe, 40, 22-39.

Massey, Doreen. [2005] 2006. For Space. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

McAdam, Doug, Sydney Tarrow and Charles Tilly. 2001. Dynamics of Contention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Neptune, Harvey R. 2007. “Book Review: Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation.” Caribbean Studies, 37:1, 310-314.

Redmond, Shana L. 2014. Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora. New York, NY: The New York University Press.

Smith, Aaron. 2014. African Americans and Technology Use: A Demographic Portrait. Pew Research Internet Project.

Sweet, James H. 2011. Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Swidler, Ann. 1986. “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies.” American Sociological Review, 51:2, 273-286.

Tarrow, Sydney. 1994. Power in Movement. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 

Thompson, John B. 1990. Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Tilly, Charles. 1986. The Contentious French. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tilly, Charles. [1995] 2005. Popular Contention in Great Britain 1758-1834. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press

Young, Michael P. 2002. “Confessional Protest: The Religious Birth of U.S. National Social Movements.” American Sociological Review, 67:5, 660-688.


[iii] Tilly defines “ordinary people” as those who do not have access to the formal political mechanisms.

Esther Sullivan Writes for the London School of Economics American Politics and Policy Forum on Informal Homebuilding in Texas

InformalHousingPic

Esther Sullivan discusses housing informality and self-help homebuilding in Texas in her recent post for the London School of Economics American Politics and Policy blog:

Owner self-building plays a crucial role in the production of affordable housing internationally and is widely recognized as a crucial source of housing production for the world’s poor. The concept of informal development has largely been relegated to settlements in developing countries despite its role in producing owner-occupied housing in the U.S. and in Europe, where self-provided housing accounts for over 50 percent of new housing production in countries such as the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and Germany…

The little research on informal homebuilding in the U.S. focuses primarily on the ways cities restrict such housing development and regulate informal development out of metropolitan areas. While these studies hypothesize that urban housing restrictions channel poor and immigrant populations to other cities or to rural hinterlands, our research shows instead that residents maintain economic ties to central cities while settling in county lands surrounding city centers where lax regulatory climates accommodate self-built, low-cost, informal housing.

Informal housing remains largely unstudied in the regions outside the U.S.-Mexico border and the communities where this housing is developed have thus not benefited from the policy interventions … To better understand the self-help housing stock found in informally developed communities we analyzed housing processes and housing conditions in two such communities in Central Texas.

Read the entire piece in the LSE APP here: http://bit.ly/1qCKS7B

There you can find a link to the entire article:  “Informality on the urban periphery: Housing conditions and self-help strategies in Texas informal subdivisions” in Urban Studies.

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