Sociological Forum

Published by Wiley

Online ISSN: 1573-7861


Print ISSN: 0884-8971


End-of-Life Treatment Preferences Among Older Adults: An Assessment of Psychosocial Influences
  • Article

December 2009


62 Reads


Sara M Moorman
We explore the content and correlates of older adults' end-of-life treatment preferences in two hypothetical terminal illness scenarios: severe physical pain with no cognitive impairment, and severe cognitive impairment with no physical pain. For each scenario, we assess whether participants would reject life-prolonging treatment, accept treatment, or do not know their preferences. Using data from the 2004 wave of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (N = 5,106), we estimate multinomial logistic regression models to evaluate whether treatment preferences are associated with direct experience with end-of-life issues, personal beliefs, health, and sociodemographic characteristics. Persons who have made formal end-of-life preparations, persons with no religious affiliation, mainline Protestants, and persons who are pessimistic about their own life expectancy are more likely to reject treatment in both scenarios. Women and persons who witnessed the painful death of a loved one are more likely to reject treatment in the cognitive impairment scenario only. Consistent with rational choice perspectives, our results suggest that individuals prefer treatments that they perceive to have highly probable desirable consequences for both self and family.

Risk as Social Context: Immigration Policy and Autism in California

June 2011


126 Reads

Motivated by the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years, research into risk factors has uncovered substantial variation in autism prevalence by race/ethnicity, SES, and geography. Less studied is the connection between autism diagnosis rates and the social and political context. In this article, we link the temporal pattern of autism diagnosis for Hispanic children in California to state and federal anti-immigrant policy, particularly ballot initiative Proposition 187, limiting access to public services for undocumented immigrants and their families. Using a population-level dataset of 1992-2003 California births linked to 1992-2006 autism case records, we show that the effects of state and federal policies toward immigrants are visible in the rise and fall of autism risk over time. The common epidemiological practice of estimating risk on pooled samples is thereby shown to obscure patterns and mis-estimate effect sizes. Finally, we illustrate how spatial variation in Hispanic autism rates reflects differential vulnerability to these policies. This study reveals not only the spillover effects of immigration policy on children's health, but also the hazards of treating individual attributes like ethnicity as risk factors without regard to the social and political environments that give them salience.

Explaining the Early Development and Health of Teen Mothers’ Children 1

December 2012


116 Reads

The transmission of social disadvantage from teenage mothers to their children is well established, but when and why do these disparities emerge in the early life course? Using nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, this study investigated the relationship between teen childbearing and children's cognition, behavior, and health from infancy through preschool. Developmental disparities between teenage mothers' children and others were largely nonexistent at 9 months but accumulated with age. Having a teenage mother predicted compromised development across several domains by age 4½. Our conceptual model expected preexisting disadvantage, ongoing resource disadvantage, and compromised parenting quality to explain the association between teen childbearing and child outcomes. Preexisting social disadvantage accounted for much of this relationship. Financial, social, and material resources in the child's household partially or fully explained each of the remaining significant relationships between teenage childbearing and child outcomes. Parenting quality explained a smaller proportion of these relationships than did resources, and these factors' influences were largely independent. Because children of teenage mothers with a modest set of resources were not predicted to have compromised development, resources provided in early childhood may have the potential to reduce developmental disparities for teenage mothers' children.

Moments of Uncertainty: Ethical Considerations and Emerging Contaminants

September 2013


48 Reads

Science on emerging environmental health threats involves numerous ethical concerns related to scientific uncertainty about conducting, interpreting, communicating, and acting upon research findings, but the connections between ethical decision making and scientific uncertainty are under-studied in sociology. Under conditions of scientific uncertainty, researcher conduct is not fully prescribed by formal ethical codes of conduct, increasing the importance of ethical reflection by researchers, conflicts over research conduct, and reliance on informal ethical standards. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with scientists, regulators, activists, industry representatives, and fire safety experts to explore ethical considerations of moments of uncertainty using a case study of flame retardants, chemicals widely used in consumer products with potential negative health and environmental impacts. We focus on the uncertainty that arises in measuring people's exposure to these chemicals through testing of their personal environments or bodies. We identify four sources of ethical concerns relevant to scientific uncertainty: 1) choosing research questions or methods, 2) interpreting scientific results, 3) communicating results to multiple publics, and 4) applying results for policy-making. This research offers lessons about professional conduct under conditions of uncertainty, ethical research practice, democratization of scientific knowledge, and science's impact on policy.

The US Health System and Immigration: An Institutional Interpretation(1)

September 2009


117 Reads

We examine the institutions that comprise the U.S. health system and their relationship to a surging immigrant population. The clash between the system and this human flow originates in the large number of immigrants who are unauthorized, poor, and uninsured and, hence, unable to access a system largely based on ability to pay. Basic concepts from sociological theory are brought to bear on the analysis of this clash and its consequences. Data from a recently completed study of health institutions in three areas of the United States are used as an empirical basis to illustrate various aspects of this complex relation. Implications of our results for theory and future health policy are discussed.

Presidential Address: Heroes, Warriors, and Burqas: A Feminist Sociologist's Reflections on September 11

September 2002


67 Reads

My presidential address looked back at the gendered imagery of American heroes and warriors, Muslim terrorists, and oppressed Islamic women as they appeared in comparatively sophisticated media sources in the first 6 months after September 11. The imagery was conventionally gendered, but the actions of women and men reported in the same sources showed multiple gendering—heterogeneity within homogeneity. Making this multiplicity of gendering visible blurs and undermines gender lines and the inequities built on them. The social constructions of heroism, masculinity, and Islamic womanhood are core parts of the gender politics of September 11, a politics deeply embedded in the current debates over the causes and consequences of terrorism and war.

Occupational pursuits of free American women: An analysis of newspaper ads, 1800–1849

December 1992


10 Reads

Recent studies have challenged a long-prevailing notion that free women held unusually high economic status in colonial America. The present study tests a corresponding idea that the 19th century afforded American women fewer occupational opportunities, with a resulting loss in freedom and status. Drawing from a large and broad sample of newspapers, we examine the distribution of occupational pursuits and changes in this distribution over time, and then compare these findings with observations from an earlier study for the 18th century. The theoretical implications of the findings are discussed in terms of the ideology of separate spheres, increasing divorce patterns, and the growth of the midwestern frontier.

Ethnocultural cleavages and the growth of church membership in the United States, 1860–1930

December 1993


10 Reads

Recent research on the expansion of overall church membership in the United States has led to conflicting conclusions as to whether religious diversity or monopoly increases participation. This investigation helps resolve the debate by distinguishing among different religious traditions. It is hypothesized that differences in participation can be traced to racial, ethnic, and doctrinal divisions, and moreover, that these divisions also provide the contingent conditions under which competition or monopoly effects operate. Using pooled cross-sectional time series, comparisons center on Catholics, Baptists, and Mainline denominations. Separate analyses are presented for white and black Baptists, and for the Northern Baptist Convention that emerged in the early 20th century as a relatively liberal Baptist denomination. The results suggest that ecumenical and liberal religious traditions did accompany religious diversity, but membership in such churches grew very slowly. In contrast, groups that faced discrimination as well as those that shielded themselves from progressive currents of modernism sustained high rates of growth. Their monopoly situations are evident in the low religious diversity of counties in which they grew (as well as by low ethnic or racial diversity) and by their increasing spatial concentration over time.

From Social Evolutionism to Biocultural Evolutionism.” Sociological Forum 5, 187-212

June 1990


23 Reads

A brief review of the evolutionism of Comte, Marx, Spencer, and Durkheim, representatives of the Masters, reveals an excessive concern with the integration of differentiation. This represents their most common feature, but neither it nor anything else adds up to a definite evolutionary theory. An antithetical convergence, with Comte excluded, refers to a varying utilization of the Darwinian mechanism, natural selection. It is not clear, however, that the masters fully grasped the meaning of natural selection, or indeed that this could be understood unequivocally. As a result they failed to convey unambiguously a fundamental interest in evolution to subsequent generations of social scientists. A period of estrangement from evolutionary theory ensued in which the focus seemed to shift from social evolution to social change. By the 1950s, sociology and anthropology experienced a revival of evolutionary interest largely in the form of a reiteration of old conceptions and problems. A critical glance at evolutionary biology reveals, next, an ambiguity in the concept of natural selection when understood as ultimate cause and mechanism of evolution. The basic significance of the evolutionistic alliance known as sociobiology lies in the latter's partial redressing of the ambiguity by way of the maximization principle. Equally important, indeed complementary, is the sociobiological appeal to the social sciences for help to discover the environmental parameters that impinge on the principle — and thus for a contribution to the development of a biocultural model. A few examples of biocultural theorizing follow that show varying degrees of systemic dependence between the biological and the cultural. The basic nomothetic thrust of the emerging biocultural model is to emphasize the adaptive paths along which cultural phenomena are likely to evolve.

Shi'i political discourse and class mobilization in the tobacco movement of 1890–1892
  • Article
  • Full-text available

September 1992


355 Reads

The political role of Shi'i religion in the tobacco movement of 1890–1892 against the Qajar state and a British company in Iran is considered. Using this historically significant event, this article pursues a dual objective. First, it makes a modest attempt to clarify the connection between ideology and class action. The utility of conceiving ideology as a discourse, a set of general principles and concepts, rituals and symbols that shape class action, is suggested. Second, after summarizing and criticizing the existing explanations of Shi'i politics in the 19th century, it offers an alternative interpretation of the oppositional role of Shi'ism in the politics of late 19th-century Iran. I argue that in the tobacco movement Shi'i Islam constituted a language for addressing the problem of British domination; it transcended class differences and provided an effective tactic for mobilizing support against a British monopoly. The merchants' capacity to act was not simply the result of their organization and resources but was enhanced by Shi'i discourse.

Gender and the residential telephone, 1890–1940: Technologies of sociability

March 1988


68 Reads

Recent work on gender and technology debunks the claim that household technologies have liberated women from domestic work. The history of telephone use in North America suggests, however, that global conclusions about gender and consumer technologies may be misleading. Although marketed primarily as a business instrument and secondarily as an instrument to facilitate housework, the telephone was, in a sense, appropriated by women for social and personal ends. This paper explores the affinity of women for the telephone, how women in the half-century before World War II used the telephone, and why. It suggests that there is a class of technologies that women have exploited for their own, gender-linked, social and personal ends.

The Reaction to Black Violent Offenders in Ontario—1892–1961: A Test of the Threat Hypothesis

December 1999


11 Reads

Ten Lashes for Assaulter of Girl: 13-Year Old Girl Victim of Negro [headline in London Free Press, 3 October 1931]. If [John] Butler had committed his crime in the southern states, he would not likely be here to stand trial. It is fortunate for him that he is under the British flag, where he can get a fair trial in a fair manner and is not subject to the punishment of the masses. "Crimes of this kind (if they continue) would break down the social system and the whole religious training of children" (sentencing magistrate).

From the attic of theAmerican Journal of Sociology: Unusual contributions to American sociology, 1895–1935

March 1989


15 Reads

This study examines articles published in theAmerican Journal of Sociology (AJS) from its inception in 1895 through 1935 in a search for contributions that have escaped the attention of most contemporary sociologists. The articles reviewed here provide a glimpse of a less well-known, and sometimes more unseemly, side of American sociological history. My primary focus is on the criticism of the emergent discipline, the extraordinary diversity of thought found in the earlyAJS, and antiquated or prescient ideas, particularly in the fields of deviance, race, and gender.

Industrial shifts, occupational recomposition, and the changing sexual division of labor in the five largest U.S. cities: 1910–1930

January 1991


9 Reads

Using data from the 1910 and 1930 Censuses of Population, this paper examines how patterns of industrial change in American's five largest cities conditioned occupational opportunities for men and women. Theoretically, cities are conceptualized as independent dimensions of the nation's stratification system. Men and women in the early part of this century, then, confronted widely varying sets of occupational possibilities depending upon where they were located with respect to the spatial division of labor in the country. Results from a shift-share analysis show that the sexual division of labor in the United States was a function of, among other things, the territorial division of labor in the country.

From Conflict To Embedment: The Individual–Society Relationship, 1920–1991

December 1997


18 Reads

Why does the perception of Americans as conformists disappear after 1970 while the idea of a need for community persists? The literatures of social criticism, self-help, and the social scientific analysis of American character reveal a change in the paradigm used to understand individual–society relationships. A model that assumed the inevitability of conflict between the individual and society has been replaced by one that sees individual selves as possible only within society. For this relational or embedded self, both conformity and alienation are ever present, and community is a matter of personal choice. Hence, conformity ceases to be an issue, and the nature of individual ties to the broader community remains problematic. Some possible causes and implications of this paradigm shift are suggested.

Power Devaluation, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Democratic National Convention of 1924

March 2001


1,200 Reads

In the early 1920s, millions of American men and women joined the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. As the movement expanded, it became heavily involved in local, state, and national politics. The Klan became the center of controversy at the Democratic National Convention of 1924. An anti-Klan faction proposed a plank to the party platform that, if accepted, would have condemned the Ku Klux Klan by name. After a raucous debate, the plank was defeated by a narrow margin. In this paper I analyze state-level variation in support for the Klan at the convention. Klan support is predicted by delegates' support for prohibition, by party competitiveness in non-Southern states, and by a three-way interaction between increasing numbers of voters, increasing numbers of manufacturing workers, and decreasing farm population within the states. The findings support predictions generated by the status politics model, political mediation theory, and the power devaluation model. I conclude the paper by discussing ways in which the central insights of the status politics model and of political mediation theory can be incorporated into the general framework of the power devaluation model.

Double Jeopardy in Hollywood: Age and Gender in the Careers of Film Actors, 1926–1999

January 2004


1,053 Reads

There have been few studies of the concept of double jeopardy as it pertains to the effects of gender and aging on occupational outcomes. This research examines the utility of this concept in the field of film acting, traditionally a gender-integrated occupation. The results confirm significant negative effects of being female and being older on the number of film roles received by actors and their average star presence. Moreover, the gendered effects of aging on the career opportunities of actors have diminished somewhat over time with respect to number of film roles but not with respect to star presence.

External Resources and the Unemployed Councils of the 1930s: Evaluating Six Propositions from Social Movement Theory

September 1993


18 Reads

This article uses six propositions developed from the resource mobilization and political opportunity structure approaches to social movements in order to highlight the importance of external resources and political environment in explaining the emergence, development, and decline of the Unemployed Councils—the major organization of the unemployed workers movement of the 1930s. The analysis emphasizes the dominance of the Communist Party on the inner life of the Councils but notes both the important exceptions to that dominance and the social functions served by that dominance. The analysis also suggests that conflicts among elites opened up the political space for short-term political concessions on the local, state, and national levels. Because Council leaders did not perceive the changing political opportunities of the New Deal, however, they were unable to consolidate these concessions nor build stable organizations among the working class. These conclusions speak to several unresolved or problematic issues in both resource mobilization and political opportunity structure approaches.

The power elite and elite-driven countermovements: The Associated Farmers of California during the 1930s

March 1995


30 Reads

The involvement of the power elite in social movements has been a neglected area of research. The investigation of elites has generally been limited to that of local elites, political parties, and philanthropic foundations, and their involvement in social movements is believed limited to resource support (either to further or deter the progress of an insurgent social movement) or the institutional obstruction or facilitation of the movement. I contend that under specific conditions, the power elite may become active mobilizers, leaders, and supporters of countermovements (movements to deter insurgent movements). These conditions arise during periods of heightened insurgent movement activity and when the efficacy of institutional channels to safeguard or advance the interests of the power elite is reduced. This is illustrated in the case of the Associated Farmers of California, Inc., a countermovement aimed at interfering with and obstructing the attempts of farmworkers to strike and unionize during the 1930s by enlisting citizens and citizen groups as anti-unionization shock troops. It also opposed New Deal policies and legislation. The mobilization of nonelites into the Associated Farmers originated in and was carried out by agricultural and industrial elite of California to advance their own interests. Citizens allied with the Associated Farmers either because of ideological alignment with their goals or dependence on their economic activities. The theoretical ramifications of this example will be explored.

The State and the Associational Order of the Economy: The Institutionalization of Cartels and Trade Associations in 1931–45 Japan

January 2001


28 Reads

The existing literature on the impact of the state on the associational order has emphasized the state's concern on the implications of the associational order to the public goods and the role of the associational order as a policy tool of the state. However, few studies have investigated what particular characters of the state shape the pattern of the associational order. Through a historical analysis, this study highlights three important factors related to the state that contributed to the the rise of the associational order in Japan during the Great Depression and World War II. First, the shift of the state preference from protecting the liberties of private enterprises toward maintaining political stability in economic crisis and controlling resource allocation in war was the ultimate driving force behind the rise of associational order. Second, the constitutional order of the Japanese state, which involves not only the organization, composition, powers, and limitation of the state's executive, legislative, and jurisdictional branches, but also the people's liberties defined by the constitution, was strongly influenced by the continental legal tradition. This structurally shaped the Japanese pattern of the associational order. Third, the institutionalized legal and economic beliefs of property rights provided ideological support to the rise of the associational order.

The Use of the Conceptual Category of Race in American Sociology, 1937–99

December 2003


68 Reads

We examine how mainstream sociology has used race as an explanatory factor by examining papers in the American Sociological Review between 1937 and 1999. We find a dramatic increase in the likelihood that sociologists will take race into account, and we suggest that methodological innovations are largely responsible for creating an environment in which it is taken for granted that analysts in many fields will control for race. This pattern of usage may reinforce an implicit conception of racial differences that we call broad but shallow, in that race is expected to matter almost everywhere, but its effect can be neutralized by the addition of a control.

The effect of female participation in the labor force on suicide: A time series analysis, 1948?1980

March 1987


72 Reads

The impact of female labor force participation (FLFP) on suicide has been debated from two opposed paradigms. From the stand-point of Gibbs and Martin's status integration theory, FLFP creates stress for both husbands and wives, and so should increase suicide due to role conflict and overload. In contrast, from the position of role accumulation/expansion theory, the benefits of FLFP such as higher incomes outweigh the costs and, hence, suicide should be decreased by FLFP. The present paper formulates a third, synthetic view on the effects of FLFP on suicide based on the cultural context surrounding FLFP. Control variables are included from the domestic integration and economic paradigms. A time series analysis finds that given the antipathy towards FLFP in the culture of the 1948–1963 period, FLFP increased both male and female rates of suicide as suggested by status integration theory. In contrast, during the 1964–1980 period, an emancipation era characterized by gender role change and cultural supports for FLFP, there was no relationship between FLFP and female suicide. However, while the role accumulation/expansionist position is supported for the case of contemporary female suicide, it is not supported for male suicide. For the contemporary male it is contended that the costs for FLFP still outweigh the benefits, a situation which contributes to male suicide potential.

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