Recent Articles

Ron Aminzade. 2013. “The Dialectic of Nation-Building in Post-Colonial Tanzania.” The Sociological Quarterly 54: 335-366.

The contradiction between capital accumulation in a global economy and political legitimation within the nation-state has shaped the contentious politics of citizenship and exclusion in post-colonial Africa. An historical analysis of the early post-colonial, state socialist, and neoliberal eras in the African nation-state of Tanzania reveals that this contradiction generated conflicts within the country’s political elite over various public policies that defined inclusion and exclusion from the community of the nation and defined the rights of citizens and non-citizens. Political contention over these policies concerned who should be allowed access to citizenship, what rights should be granted to foreigners, and whether all citizens should be granted the same rights regardless of race. Although the institutional expression of the contradiction varied over time, a key divide was between central government administrators who prioritized economic growth in a global economy and political party leaders and members of parliament who were more focused on securing political legitimacy and electoral support within the nation-state.

Jennifer Bair and Phillip A. Hough. 2012. “The Legacies of Partial Possession: From Agrarian Struggle to Neoliberal Restructuring in Mexico and Colombia.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 53(5-6): 345-366.

How have communities in Latin America responded to neoliberal agrarian reforms? We address this question via an incorporated comparison of two regions affected by rural restructuring: La Laguna, Mexico and Viejo Caldas, Colombia. Prior to the introduction of marketled reforms, agricultural producers in both regions were heavily dependent on state support, yet in neither did they mobilize to resist neoliberal policies that were incompatible with the prevailing system of state-managed commercial agriculture. What explains this outcome? We argue that acquiescence to neoliberalism was, paradoxically, a legacy of agrarian unrest: In response to major mobilizations, historic land reforms were carried out in La Laguna and Viejo Caldas during the 1930s that created regional political economies organized around cotton and coffee, respectively. Over time, these economies evolved into regimes of “partial possession” wherein the social reproduction of rural livelihoods came to depend on specific state institutions: the Ejido Bank in Mexico and Fedecafé in Colombia. We attribute the absence of organized opposition to neoliberal reforms in La Laguna and Viejo Caldas to the conservatizing political transformation that partial possession engendered. In so doing, we highlight the importance of regional histories in shaping popular responses to neoliberal restructuring across the variegated landscape of Latin America’s countryside.

Eric Bonds. 2013. “Assessing the Oil Motive after the U.S. War in Iraq.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 25: 291-298.

Much opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq was based on the idea that it had little or nothing to do with threats to national security, but was instead motivated by a U.S. drive to control or at least influence Iraqi oil production. What then does it mean that the war has not resulted in a bonanza for U.S. oil companies? In this essay, it is argued that U.S. decision makers were keenly interested in Iraqi oil before the war. But recent events also suggest the need to update our ideas about resource wars. Additionally, these events serve as a reminder that there are important limits to U.S. power.

Eric Bonds. 2013. “Hegemony and Humanitarian Norms: The U.S. Legitimation of Toxic Violence.” Journal of World-Systems Research 19: 82-106.

Despite widespread beliefs that the United States has not used chemical weapons since the distant past of World War I, this study suggests a more complicated history by examining U.S. use of herbicides and incapacitating gases in the Vietnam War and its use of herbicides in the “War on Drugs.” This article places such use of toxic violence within a context of U.S. hegemony, by which U.S. officials have used contested forms of violence to secure geopolitical goals, but have also been pressured to comply with humanitarian norms or—when there is a gap between norms and state policy—to do legitimating work in order to maintain domestic and international consent. Based on case study analysis of archival and secondary sources, this article identifies three main techniques U.S. officials use to legitimate contested forms of violence. These techniques are defensive categorization, humanitizing discourse, and surrogacy.

Hana Brown. 2013. “Race, Legality, and the Social Policy Consequences of Anti-Immigration Mobilization.” American Sociological Review 78(2): 290-314.

With the dramatic rise in the U.S. Hispanic population, scholars have struggled to explain how race affects welfare state development beyond the Black-White divide. This article uses a comparative analysis of welfare reforms in California and Arizona to examine how anti-Hispanic stereotypes affect social policy formation. Drawing on interviews, archival materials, and newspaper content analysis, I find that animus toward Hispanics is mobilized through two collective action frames: a legality frame and a racial frame. The legality frame lauds the contributions of documented noncitizens while demonizing illegal immigrants. The racial frame celebrates the moral worth of White citizens and uses explicit racial language to deride Hispanics as undeserving. These subtle differences in racialization and worth attribution create divergent political opportunities for welfare policy. When advocates employ the legality frame, they create openings for rights claims by documented noncitizens. Use of the racial frame, however, dampens cross-racial mobilization and effective claims-making for expansive welfare policies. These findings help to explain why the relationship between race and welfare policy is less predictable for Hispanics than for Blacks. They also reveal surprising ways in which race and immigration affect contemporary politics and political mobilization.

Jonathan S. Coley. 2013. “Theorizing Issue Selection in Advocacy Organizations: An Analysis of Human Rights Activism Around Darfur and the Congo, 1998-2010.” Sociological Perspectives 56(2): 191-212.

Why do advocacy organizations focus on some issues rather than others? Issue selection is an important area of study given that advocacy organizations have limited time and resources and thus many potentially important issues go ignored. Yet issue selection remains an understudied question in the scholarly study of advocacy organizations. In this article, the author draws on historical data, interviews, and a database of statements by major human rights advocacy organizations to examine one particular historical puzzle regarding issue selection: why advocacy organizations have focused on the recent conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan rather than the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, even though more people have died in the Congo. The author finds that advocacy organizations select issues not based on their severity but based on framing, political opportunities, and organizational resources.

Kurtuluş Gemici. 2013. “Moral Economy Redux: Social Protests in Turkey after the 2001 Economic Crisis.” Mobilization 18(2): 143-160.

This article examines social protests following the collapse of an IMF-backed anti-inflation program in Turkey by people who lacked the associational bases to voice their political claims. Based on the pattern of protests following a similar economic crisis, one would expect protests by organized labor against the government. Yet it was largely shopkeepers and artisans who took to the streets in response to the 2001 crisis. I argue that the Turkish shopkeepers’ ground-level understandings of economic processes—their moral economy—were at the origins of these protests. Furthermore, I demonstrate that organized labor’s failure to mobilize resulted from the decline of associational capacity and strength of trade unions. The investigation of the Turkish shopkeeper protests shows that where capitalist production relations and a market economy threaten institutions of livelihood, moral economies can be the determining factor of a particular group’s mobilization to contest rules and relations governing economic life.

Phillip A. Hough. 2012. “A Race to the Bottom?: Globalization, Labor Repression, and Development by Dispossession in Latin America’s Banana Industry.” Global Labour Journal 3(2): 237-264.

Labor scholars and activists draw attention to the ways that the globalization of production and market activities have caused to a race to the bottom in wages and work conditions that has instilled labor discipline throughout the globe. A number of recently published reports by international labor rights organizations, however, have brought worldwide attention to the ways that direct forms of violent repression, rather than the global market alone, continue to be a key modality used to control labor in the contemporary age. This paper examines the link between globalization and labor repression through a macro-historical analysis of one particularly repressive global industry: Latin American bananas. The author finds that the violent race to the bottom dynamic characterizing this industry is a perverse institutional outcome of a historic wave of labor unrest and economic nationalism in Latin America that launched developmentalist regimes oriented to economic growth through banana production, despite the dispossession and proletarianization that these policies engender. Labor repression therefore occurs as these regimes prioritize the profitability of banana producers in an increasingly competitive global banana market over the demands of banana workers and the dispossessed.

Damon Mayrl. 2013. “Fields, Logics, and Social Movements: Prison Abolition and the Social Justice Field.” Sociological Inquiry 83(2): 286-309.

This essay argues that field analyses of social movements can be improved by incorporating more insights from Pierre Bourdieu. In particular, Bourdieu’s concepts of
logic, symbolic capital, illusio, and doxa can enrich social movement scholarship by enabling scholars to identify new objects of study, connect organizational- and individual-level effects, and shed new light on a variety of familiar features of social movements. I demonstrate this claim by delineating the contours of one such field, the “social justice field” (SJF). I argue that the SJF is a delimited, trans-movement arena of contentious politics united by the logic of the pursuit of radical social justice. Drawing upon existing scholarship, as well as my own research on the prison abolition movement, I argue that the competitive demands of the field produce characteristic effects on organizations and individual activists within the field. I conclude by considering how a Bourdieuian approach can provide fresh insights into familiar problematics within the social movements literature.

Damon Mayrl and Aliya Saperstein. 2013. “When White People Report Racial Discrimination: The Role of Region, Religion, and Politics.” Social Science Research 42(3): 742-754.

Scholarly interest in the correlates and consequences of perceived discrimination has grown exponentially in recent years, yet, despite increased legal and media attention to claims of “anti-white bias,” empirical studies predicting reports of racial discrimination by white Americans remain limited. Using data from the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study, we find that evangelical Protestantism increases the odds that whites will report experiencing racial discrimination, even after controlling for racial context and an array of social and psychological characteristics. However, this effect is limited to the South. Outside the South, political
affiliation trumps religion, yielding distinct regional profiles of discrimination reporters. These findings suggest that institutions may function as regional “carriers” for whites inclined to report racial discrimination.

Marcel Paret. 2013. “Precarious Labor Politics: Unions and the Struggles of the Insecure Working Class in the United States and South Africa.” Critical Sociology (Online First).

The growing precariousness of the working class and the declining significance of unions has given rise to precarious politics: non-union struggles by insecurely employed and lowincome groups. Under what conditions do unions incorporate these struggles as part of a broader labor movement? This article examines how unions responded to two particularly visible examples of precarious politics in the late 1990s and early 2000s: the struggles of low-wage noncitizen workers and communities in California, USA; and the struggles of poor citizen communities with high unemployment in Gauteng, South Africa. Contrary to what the legacy of unionism in each context would predict, unions became fused with precarious politics in California but were separated from them in Gauteng. This surprising divergence stemmed from the reconfiguration of unions in each place, most notably due to steady union decline in California and democratization in Gauteng. Whereas unions in California understood noncitizen workers as central to their own revitalization, the close relationship between unions and the state in Gauteng created distance from community struggles. Both cases underscore the importance of workers’ citizenship status and the role of the state for understanding how unions relate to precarious politics.

Jennifer Rosen. 2013. “The Effects of Political Institutions on Women’s Political Representation: A Comparative Analysis of 168 Countries from 1992 to 2010.” Political Research Quarterly 66(2): 306-321.

Women’s political representation exhibits substantial cross-national variation. While mechanisms shaping these variations are well understood for Western democracies, there is little consensus on how these same factors operate in less developed countries. Effects of two political institutions—electoral systems and gender quotas—are tested across 168 countries from 1992 to 2010. Findings indicate that key causal factors interact with a country’s socioeconomic development, shifting their importance and possibly even direction at various development thresholds. Generalizing broadly across countries, therefore, does not adequately represent the effects of these political institutions. Rather, different institutional changes are advised to increase women’s presence in national governments.

Youyenn Teo. 2013. “Support for Deserving Families: Inventing the Anti-welfare Familialist State in Singapore.” Social Politics. Advance Online Publication: doi:10.1093/sp/jxt004.

The (ideological) aversion many states in Asia have toward universal welfare have led to the development of various solutions that depend on the valorization of the familial. This has important implications: it tends toward limiting state expenditure on public goods; the unevenness and inequalities produced and reproduced by the state’s reliance on particular family forms—with their attendant meanings around class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality—result in particular hierarchies and principles of division within society. This paper challenges the assumption embedded in much current scholarship that it is “culture” that determines what states can and cannot do in the realm of public provisions. Instead, it interrogates how states produce and reproduce particular visions of the family through its approach toward welfare, and how this shapes and reproduces social inequalities in state-society relations.