Although Congressmen are elected to represent their districts and states, they will occasionally defy majority opinion to support the rights of a minority group. Drawing on data from House Democrats that voted against the popular Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Benjamin G. Bishin and Charles Anthony Smith determine that favorable district composition, membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, and competitive elections were associated with opposition to DOMA. They conclude that the difficulty of passing legislation to protect minority rights leaves the courts as the best option for such advancement.
As the 2016 elections draw closer, discussions of how Hillary Clinton’s gender will affect her presidential prospects have grown more frequent and frenzied. Using a two-wave panel survey, Kathleen Dolan examines how gender stereotypes actually affect voters’ decisions at the polls. She finds no evidence that beliefs about women in the abstract lead voters to evaluate individual candidates differently than their male opponents. Instead, the decision to vote for a female candidate depends on whether the voter shares her political party.
From the unequal application of stop-and-frisk to the slow snow removal from wealthy areas of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has sparked a discussion about local government’s responsiveness to and treatment of different factions. Jessica Trounstine examines group levels of satisfaction with local government services. She and co-author Zoltan Hajnal find that racial minorities perceive the largest level of inequality, but when the government pursues policy to change this impression, whites become less satisfied with it.
As dividends paid to shareholders reach a new record, average wages for ordinary citizens continue to suffer. Bart Cammaerts argues that the outlandish wages paid to executives in the private as well as public sector are to the detriment of incomes of the vast majority of people who work for a living or are dependent on welfare. What this signifies is that the core-promises intrinsic to democracy are in decline or repressed. It is time for the marriage between democracy and capitalism to end.
The Internet and the online experience have become a pervasive and near-essential part of modern society. But many commentators are concerned at the apparent deficiency of online encounters and their ability to produce useful knowledge. Using what they term as a ‘netnographic’ approach Gernot Grabher and Oliver Ibert examined the content of contributions to nine virtual hybrid communities on online forums. They find that even in the absence of physical or relational proximity, these online communities are able to produce economically useful knowledge, and that they can afford unique technical opportunities and social dynamics that foster learning processes that are unattainable in face-to-face contexts.
One of the widely accepted hurdles facing female candidates is navigating the fine line between seeming tough enough to hold office and appearing unfeminine and overly aggressive. Yanna Krupnikov and Nichole Bauer examine whether voters actually punish female candidates for being “too tough.” They find that voters’ opinions of candidates from their own party were unaffected by aggressive behavior, but that they judged female opposition candidates more harshly than their male counterparts for such conduct.
Descriptive representation (being represented by someone who shares your demographic characteristics) and substantive representation (being represented by someone who shares your policy preferences) are both important components of the legislator-constituent relationship. Some have suggested that descriptive representation breeds blind loyalty to politicians, which can weaken accountability for their actions. Philip Edward Jones evaluates the effects of descriptive representation of gender on female voters. He finds that while women are not more likely approve of a politician because of her gender, they are more knowledgeable about and responsive to female senators’ records and adjust their assessments accordingly.
President Obama’s State of the Union address last month recognized that working women—and men—should not face hardship for taking care of their family responsibilities. Recent research by sociologists, Julie A. Kmec, Lindsey Trimble O’Connor and Scott Schieman suggests that workplaces have a long way to go before realizing the President’s message. In new research, they find that working mothers perceive penalties—like feeling ignored and that they are given the worst tasks—when they adjust their work schedules after having children. They suggest that policies and practices that challenge societal assumptions about ideal work are a good starting place in attempts to realize President Obama’s call to give working parents a “break.”
As technology has become an inescapable part of most workplaces, it has become ever more important to understand its impact on employees. Using data from two surveys of U.S. workers, Noelle Chesley examines the effects of both personal and job-related technology use. She finds that increased technology use, especially when it extends work into personal life, is linked with higher levels of worker distress. However, it is also associated with gains in productivity, and personal technology use at work may help employees to manage work-related stress.
The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate has been one of the most hotly debated segments of the already controversial law, but it is by no means the first time the federal government has become involved in family planning. Johannes Norling, Martha J. Bailey, and Olga Malkova examine how federally funded family planning programs begun in the 1960s and 1970s affected childhood and adult poverty rates. They find that parents’ access to affordable contraception is associated with lower poverty rates for their offspring, both during childhood and later in life.
While many hailed the election of the first black president with Barack Obama to be the beginning of a new “post-racial” age in the United States, the incarceration rates and racial wealth gap reveal how little has changed in the past six years. Crystal Belle examines different constructions of black masculinity in the age of President Obama. She argues that society must focus on dismantling patriarchy alongside institutional racism as both force black men to perform particularized visions of their identities.
In December, a Utah federal judge ruled that a state law prohibiting polygamy was unconstitutional. Mimi Schippers reflects on the ruling, arguing that plural relationships and cohabitation are not, in and of themselves, bad for gender equality. She writes the effects of polygamy on the status of women and children are variable, and that this variation hinges on who has access to multiple partners. Equal and consensual, access to multiple partners for both women and men can avoid male dominance through marriage.
There are nearly 90,000 local governments in the U.S.; each one with its own fiscal and administrative responsibilities. This ‘market’ for local governments means that individuals are often able to base their choice of where to live on differing regimes of tax and service provision, and to exercise their voice to ensure that their government responds to their service needs. But does the voice of the poor matter as much as the voice of the rich in determining service levels in the local public market? Using data for municipal governments in the U.S., Benedict S. Jimenez compares the municipal budgetary choices in poor and affluent municipalities, and shows that in highly fragmented regions some services are provided the least in poorer communities, where they are needed the most.
Sex trafficking laws assume that all underage sex workers are exploited young girls who have been forced into such work by a vicious pimp. But does this actually reflect the experience of most young, domestic sex workers? Using ethnographic research from Atlantic City and New York City, Anthony Marcus, Chris Thomas, and Amber Horning find that underage sex workers have much more agency in their relationships with pimps than many assume, and that sex trafficking discourses may serve to further alienate them from organizations to assist them. The authors call for academics and policy makers alike to set aside their ideological positions about sex work and to seek a deeper understanding of young people in commercial sex markets.
Recent years have seen growing calls for the greater representation of women in political bodies and corporate boards. But does greater representation for women lead to more power in decision making? Using data from an empirical study of group interaction around deliberation, J. Baxter Oliphant, Tali Mendelberg, and Christopher F. Karpowitz find that the rules around how decisions are made matter; when decisions are majority-based, and there are enough women to control the decision, then men begin to treat women with more respect. When decisions need to be unanimous, minority men are empowered and do not modify their behavior towards women.
With more explicit forms of racism having declined in recent decades, the implicit racial attitudes of how people feel about policies designed to help minorities, or ‘symbolic racism’, has begun to gain attention. But how do these forms of more implicit racism affect how minority political candidates are evaluated by voters? Using national election surveys carried out in 2012, David Redlawsk, Caroline Tolbert and Natasha Altema McNeely find that both positive and negative emotional responses to candidates running for office can help to condition the influence of underlying levels of racial resentment in shaping how voters evaluate them. More negative emotions, such as fear, make levels of symbolic racism worse, while more positive ones, such as hope, can help to overcome the effects of such racism.