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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of Sociology

UC Davis


The Department of Sociology at the University of California, Davis offers graduate and undergraduate programs leading to BA, MA, and PhD degrees. Theoretical, methodological, and substantive pluralism characterize the research and teaching interests of the 29 Davis faculty members. The department specialties include community/urban sociology; complex organizations; culture, religion, and ideology; demography and ecology; family and kinship; law, deviance, criminology and social control; political economy/development/economic sociology; political sociology; race and ethnic relations; sex and gender; social movements and collective behavior; social psychology; social stratification; work, occupations and professions. The department is home for Theory and Society: Renewal and Critique of Social Theory, an international journal of interdisciplinary social science.

Department of Sociology

There are 68 publications in this collection, published between 2002 and 2023.
Recent Work (7)

The Declining Use of Race in College Admissions Decisions

Using eighteen years of data from more than 1,300 four-year colleges and universities in the United States, we investigate the extent to which institutional characteristics and contextual factors influence the propensity of colleges to indicate that they consider race/ethnicity in their admissions decisions. Consideration of race/ethnicity in admissions declined sharply after the mid-1990s, especially at public institutions. Rather than being shaped by specific historical and political contexts, consideration of race/ethnicity in admissions appears to be a widely institutionalized practice in higher education that has been tempered by changes in the policy environment over time.

Civil Passions: Cultural Challenges of Public Spheres amidst National Identity Controversies in Hong Kong and Taiwan

This article studies how post-colonial public spheres struggle to take hold in the context of serious national identity controversies. Through an analysis of 376 political cartoons published in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the 1990s, we probe the extent to which different political camps manage to engage in civic communication. We find that within each of the two societies, multiple publics are divided by nationalistic stances without much interest for compromise. Nevertheless, in both cases, civic engagement is robust enough to sustain a shared cultural vocabulary across internal nationalistic tensions. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the unresolved national consolidation does limit the publics’ political imaginations. Hong Kong publics are conspicuously incapable of commenting on formal mechanisms between themselves and the state. Publics in Taiwan are severely limited in articulating their civic identities beyond narrowly equating themselves with the electorate. We also discuss how these limitations may be related to the contrasting strategies adopted by the Taiwanese and Hong Kong publics toward the national identity question. The paper dialogues theoretically with studies on the interactions of civil society and nationalism.

The Biomedical Legacy in Minority Health Policy-Making, 1975-2002

Through content analysis, the study traces the relative prominence of “biomedical” and “public health” approaches in congressional bills aimed at improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities over a 28-year period. It documents a surge of interest in minority health during the late 1980s and early 1990s and highlights the dominance of biomedical initiatives during this period. Drawing on historical methods and interviews with key informants, the paper explains these patterns by detailing the ways in which policy legacies shaped the interests, opportunities and ideas of interest groups and policy-makers.

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Open Access Policy Deposits (64)

Anything but Inevitable: How the Marshall Plan Became Possible

Historians typically explain the Marshall Plan (1948–52) as an effect of a bipartisan embrace of liberal internationalism, which became the dominant ideology of US foreign policy. However, predominant accounts downplay interpretive contention, historical contingencies, and counterfactual possibilities that are very much in evidence. There was no bipartisan liberal internationalist consensus immediately after World War II; indeed, there were no “liberal internationalists” until 1947. The present analysis identifies two interconnected processes behind the Plan: the emergence of a new kind of political actor, the credibly anti-Communist New Deal liberal, and the coalescence of an unlikely coalition of Trumanites, New Dealers, and congressional conservatives. Together, these processes enabled the passage of a large-scale, Keynesian-style spending initiative that excluded Russia, despite the electoral weakness of New Dealers, and the consolidation of liberal internationalist ideology in American foreign policy—with significance for today's era of renewed great power competition.

Changing times and subjective well-being in urban China 2003–2013: An age-period-cohort approach

This paper analyzes the intersection of individual lives and historical context by examining how cohort membership, historical conditions, and individual maturation influence subjective well-being in urban China. We use cross-classified multilevel models and repeated measures of happiness from seven waves of the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS 2003–2013, N = 43,308). The results indicate that individuals born between 1956 and 1961 experienced setbacks at various pivotal moments throughout their life, including education, employment, economic stability, and social connections, and this cohort reports a lower overall sense of happiness when compared to other cohorts. The effect of aging on happiness comprises a U-shaped pattern; the middle-aged are the least happy. We observe an upward trend in happiness from 2003 to 2013. These results are confirmed by using subjective socioeconomic status (SES) as an alternative measure of well-being from CGSS 2003 and CGSS 2005 (N = 11,992). This paper contributes to studies of market transition by identifying the birth cohort as an important mechanism of inequality. It also augments the life-course paradigm by highlighting the significance of timing when individual lives intersect with historical context.

Gendered disparities in Mexico-U.S. migration by class, ethnicity, and geography

BACKGROUND Men are more likely than women to migrate from Mexico to the United States. This disparity has been shown to vary by level of education, suggesting that gender may interact with other forms of social status to inform the relative risk of Mexico-U.S. migration for men and women. OBJECTIVE This study examines whether and how the gender disparity in migration from Mexico to the United States varies by class, ethnicity, and geography. METHODS Data from two waves of the Mexican Family Life Survey are used to estimate the rate of migration to the United States for men and women across class, ethnic, and geographic groups. RESULTS The gender disparity in Mexico-U.S. migration varies systematically by class, ethnicity, and geography. The gender disparity in migration is largest among those with the least education, with the least power in the workforce, in the most impoverished households, who both identify as indigenous and speak an indigenous language, and who live in the southern region of Mexico. It is smallest among those with the most education, in the least impoverished households, with the highest occupational status, who do not identify as indigenous, and who live in the northern regions of Mexico. CONCLUSIONS Social privilege equalizes the gender disparity in Mexico-U.S. migration and social disadvantage exacerbates it. This pattern may arise because social status allows women to overcome gendered constraints on mobility, or because the meaning of gender varies by social status.

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