May 6, 2012

Sociology research: An example

Matthew Desmond's work is a good example. He is Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. 
Abstract: Although sociologists have devoted a considerable amount of research to exploring high-risk organizations, they have not yet developed an adequate explanation as to why individuals working within such organizations place themselves in harm’s way and how organizations ensure they remain there. This article addresses this gap by analyzing how the United States Forest Service motivates wildland firefighters to participate in life- threatening activity. Drawing on ethnographic research and content analyses of official documents, it describes the process by which firefighters come to develop a specific disposition towards risk taking, a disposition through which they view firefighting as an activity void of danger, and how this disposition maintains its shape, and even grows stronger, after confronting its biggest challenge: the death of a firefighter.
That is from his paper "Making Firefighters Deployable" (2010). 
Disposable Ties and the Urban Poor (American Journal of Sociology 2012 - full article not available online) is his most recent published paper:
Sociologists long have observed that the urban poor rely on kinship networks to survive economic destitution. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among evicted tenants in high-poverty neighborhoods, this article presents a new explanation for urban survival, one that emphasizes the importance of disposable ties formed between strangers. To meet their most pressing needs, evicted families often relied more on new acquaintances than on kin. Disposable ties facilitated the flow of various resources, but often bonds were brittle and fleeting. The strategy of forming, using, and burning disposable ties allowed families caught in desperate situations to make it from one day to the next, but it also bred instability and fostered misgivings among peers.
HT: Kevin Lewis.

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