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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Recent Work

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.

Cover page of The Declining Use of Race in College Admissions Decisions

The Declining Use of Race in College Admissions Decisions

(2007)

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.

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

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

(2006)

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.

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

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

(2005)

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.

Cover page of Compensatory Sponsorship in Higher Education

Compensatory Sponsorship in Higher Education

(2005)

In this paper, I evaluate the extent to which colleges and universities of varying degrees of selectivity engaged in racial, ethnic and socioeconomic affirmative action for cohorts of students who graduated in 1972, 1982 and 1992. I find that a much wider range of institutions engage in affirmative action for African American students than previous analysts reported, and that a growing number of institutions extend the benefits of affirmative action to Hispanic students. Colleges and universities are less enthusiastic about engaging in affirmative action for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. To understand why postsecondary institutions might prefer students from particular minority groups over otherwise comparable white students, I introduce the concept of compensatory sponsorship (buidling on Turner’s ideal type of sponsored mobility). In a contest system perceived by many to unfairly disdavantage some competititors, college personnel engage in affirmative action both to right a perceived wrong and to preserve the legitimacy of the contest. The beneficiaries of compensatory sponsorship, however, are determined by historical and social forces that constrain how postsecondary institutions recruit, admit and fund potential matriculants.

Cover page of Bias Crime in Sacramento, 1995-2002

Bias Crime in Sacramento, 1995-2002

(2004)

This report presents the findings of a research project on bias crime in Sacramento, California. The project was a collaboration between UCD Sociology Professor Ryken Grattet and four undergraduate sociology majors at UCD. The report describes the characteristics of bias crime in Sacramento and compares bias crime in the city with the State of California as a whole. The data presented in the report come from the Sacramento Police Department and the California Department of Justice. The report also contains a methodological discussion of the weaknesses of these data sources.

Cover page of Real and Imagined Barriers to College Entry: Perceptions of Cost

Real and Imagined Barriers to College Entry: Perceptions of Cost

(2004)

Patterns of postsecondary attendance in the United States continue to be stratified by socioeconomic background and race/ethnicity. We suggest that inequalities in knowledge of the costs of going to college contribute to persistent patterns of stratification. We hypothesize that disadvantaged parents who believe their child will attend college are less certain of the costs of college attendance. As a result, they are less able or willing to provide an estimate of the costs of college attendance, more likely to over-estimate those costs if they do provide an estimate, and make larger errors in estimation than comparable middle class or white parents. Using nationally representative data, we find mixed support for these hypotheses. Socioeconomically disadvantaged parents and minority parents are less likely to provide estimates of college tuition and, when they provide estimates, tend to make larger errors. On average, though, parents provide upwardly biased estimates of cost that are uniform across race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. We discuss implications of these findings for sociological theory and for inequality in postsecondary education.