by Philip Cohen
Over the last few years I have frequently complained about our publishing system (see the academia tag on my blog for examples): it’s needlessly slow, inefficient, hierarchical, profit-driven, exploitative, and also doesn’t work well. Here’s a simple example: a junior scholar sends a perfectly reasonable sociology paper to a high-status journal. The editor commissions three anonymous reviews, and four months later the paper is rejected on the basis of a few hours of their volunteer labor. It’s not that the paper is wrong, but that its results are not novel enough, and it doesn’t break new theoretical ground – it’s just a piece of research – and doesn’t justify taking up scarce pages in the journal’s budget.
This rejection increases the value — and subscription price — of the for-profit journal (or journal published by a for-profit company on behalf of an academic association), because their high rejection rate is a key selling point.
The author will now revise the paper (some of the advice was good, but nothing to suggest the analysis or conclusions were actually wrong) and send it to another journal, where three more anonymous reviewers — probably different people, and having no access to the previous round of review and exchange — will donate a few more hours labor, each, to a different for-profit publisher. In a few months we’ll find out what happens. Repeat.
We had another great year at Work in Progress and are delighted to see our readership continuing to rise substantially through the end of our fourth year. Our inaugural post went live on Oct 12, 2011. Our number of annual unique viewers — which are in the tens of thousands — increased 50% from 2013 to 2014, and an additional 30% from 2014-15. Not bad for a sociology blog from an American Sociological Association section with around 800 members!
Here are the top 10 most viewed post from 2015, beginning with the most viewed article and listed in descending order. Enjoy and have a great new year!
1) Early Childhood Education: No Place for Men? |
2) Canaries in the Coal Mine? Saida Grundy, Zandria Robinson, and Why Calls for their Firing are a Problem for Everyone |
3) Fixing the bad jobs economy | Herbert J Gans
4) Reframing Gender Equality: Explaining the Stalled Gender Revolution |
5) Flirking (Flirting at Work to Get Ahead): Why Some Women Do It |
6) Citations are not enough: Academic promotion panels must take into account a scholar’s presence in popular media | Asit Biswas and Julian Kirchherr
7) Sociology versus Individualism |
8) Stand up and Be Counted: Why social science should stop using the qualitative / quantitative dichotomy |
9) A Luddite, An Economist and a Marxist Walk Into a Modern Factory … | M
10) The Tyranny of Leveled Workplaces | William Attwood-Charles and Juliet B. Schor
In Oct-Nov of 2014, we ran a virtual symposium on “The future of organizational sociology,” with short contributions from 14 organizational sociologists. We have now compiled all of those contributions into a single pdf document (just over 17,000 words), which can be found here.
We hope that many will find this document useful, particularly for academics teaching organizational sociology, but also non-academics wondering what organizational sociology is all about and wanting to have the views of a number of leading organizational sociologists in a single document. With any luck, the ideas in this document may also help some young PhD students who are trying to figure out a topic for their PhD thesis!
Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson recently had an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education on “How sociologists made themselves irrelevant.” He discusses how sociologists have had almost no influence on the design of policies dealing with poverty among black youth and related problems such as unemployment, gangs and incarceration, despite the fact that these topics have been core topics of sociological research for decades. He argues that the main problem is that “In the effort to keep ourselves academically pure, we’ve also become largely irrelevant in molding the most important social enterprises of our era.”
As a result, sociologists have been reticent to engage in public discourse. The main shapers of policy have been economists, who often come to radically different conclusions than sociologists, based on differing theoretical assumptions, which affect research design. For instance, sociologists find that moving people out of ghettos has strong positive effects on outcomes for black youth, while economists find that such an effect does not exist. Patterson wryly quips that the rational response to the finding that neighborhoods have no effect on youth outcomes means that scholars should advise their children move to the inner city to take advantage of low rents!
We are posting a two-part panel today on part-time and irregular work schedules in the United States, with WIP regular contributors Christine Williams and Martha Crowley responding to a recent New York Times article by WIP favorite Steven Greenhouse.
Based on her qualitative research on low-wage service work, Christine discusses how irregular work schedules operate as a mechanism to reproduce gender and racial inequality in the workplace.
Martha discusses recent efforts of women’s and labor groups to introduce legislation allowing workers to have more predictable schedules if desired. She cites evidence that irregular schedules are particularly damaging to low-wage workers and that more stable work schedules would benefit workers and employers.
The WIP team is delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Christine Williams, professor and chair of the sociology department at the University of Texas at Austin.
Christine has published leading research on discrimination, homophobia, and sexual harassment in a wide variety of workplace settings. Her most recent book is Inside Toyland: Working, Shopping, and Social Inequality (University of California Press).
Christine has already posted on WIP three times as a guest contributor, on upgrading jobs in the retail industry, gender and intersectionality, and the financial crisis and graduate research in sociology. Her first post as a regular contributor, she discusses how irregular work schedules operate as a mechanism to reproduce gender and racial inequality in the workplace.