Sociological Science: Recent Research

Bringing Anomie Back In: Exceptional Events and Excess Suicide

Mark Anthony Hoffman, Peter S. Bearman

Sociological Science, April 20, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a10



In this article we show that imitation is not the mechanism behind the observed increase in suicides subsequent to highly publicized celebrity suicides. Instead, we show that most celebrity suicides are exceptional events and because of that have similar effects on the daily suicide rate as other exciting events. This finding suggests that Durkheim was right in rejecting the Tardean hypothesis that imitation is an operative mechanism and provides substantial support for the competing hypothesis that disruptive and/or exciting events (whether favorable or unfavorable) induce anomie and with it suicide.
Mark Anthony Hoffman: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.  Email: [email protected]

Peter S. Bearman: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.   Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Hoffman, Mark A., and Peter S. Bearman. 2015. “Bringing Anomie Back In: Exceptional Events and Excess Suicide.” Sociological Science 2: 186-210.
  • Received: Novemver 12, 2014
  • Accepted: November 27, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a10


Robust Science: Passive Smoking and Scientific Collaboration with the Tobacco Industry in the 1970s

Uri Shwed

Sociological Science, April 1, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a9



The first lesson from the history of research on smoking hazards is that scientists should be wary of collaboration with interested industries. This lesson, which is influential in the literature on science–industry relationships, comes from a historiography focused on the carcinogenicity debate of the 1950s and 1960s and the passive smoking debate of the 1980s and 1990s. Few studies have examined research in the 1970s. This article fills this lacuna using novel bibliometrical methods augmented with a qualitative analysis of the associations between periods and literary camps, as expressed in scientific texts. The mixed-methods approach identifies the temporal dynamics of the literature on smoking hazards to reveal that the well-documented attempts of the tobacco industry to stall and hamper science had unanticipated consequences. Specifically, an industry–science collaboration to develop a less hazardous cigarette put scholars on the path to discovering the hazards of passive smoking. The analyses supply a narrative that has room for actors’ complex interests and actions and demonstrates that such complexity may only be revealed in research whose outcomes are never known in advance.
Uri Shwed: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev.  Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Shwed, Uri. 2015. “Robust Science: Passive Smoking and Scientific Collaboration with the Tobacco Industry in the 1970s.” Sociological Science 2:158-185.
  • Received: August 17, 2014
  • Accepted: November 2, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a9


The Buffering Hypothesis: Growing Diversity and Declining Black-White Segregation in America’s Cities, Suburbs, and Small Towns?

Domenico Parisi, Daniel T. Lichter, Michael C. Taquino

Sociological Science, March 25, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a8



The conventional wisdom is that racial diversity promotes positive race relations and reduces racial residential segregation between blacks and whites. We use data from the 1990–2010 decennial censuses and 2007–2011 ACS to test this so-called “buffering hypothesis.” We identify cities, suburbs, and small towns that are virtually all white, all black, all Asian, all Hispanic, and everything in between. The results show that the most racially diverse places—those with all four racial groups (white, black, Hispanic, and Asian) present—had the lowest black-white levels of segregation in 2010. Black-white segregation also declined most rapidly in the most racially diverse places and in places that experienced the largest recent increases in diversity. Support for the buffering hypothesis, however, is counterbalanced by continuing high segregation across cities and communities and by rapid white depopulation in the most rapidly diversifying communities. We argue for a new, spatially inclusive perspective on racial residential segregation.
Domenico Parisi: Department of Sociology, Mississippi State University.  Email: [email protected]

Daniel T. Lichter: Policy Analysis & Management and Sociology, Cornell University.  Email: [email protected]

Michael C. Taquino: National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center, Mississippi State University. Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Parisi, Domenico, Daniel T. Lichter and Michael C. Taquino. 2015. “The Buffering Hypothesis: Growing Diversity and Declining Black-White Segregation in America’s Cities, Suburbs, and Small Towns?” Sociological Science 2:125-157.
  • Received: December 2, 2014
  • Accepted: December 22, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a8


Individual Religiosity and Orientation towards Science: Reformulating Relationships

David R. Johnson, Christopher P. Scheitle, Elaine Howard Ecklund

Sociological Science, March 11, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a7



The religion-science relationship has been the focus of a growing body of research. Such analyses have often suffered from poorly specified concepts related to religion and to science. At the individual level, scholars often assume that an individual’s religiosity will affect her orientation towards science. But an orientation towards science consists of several sub-concepts, each of which may have a unique relationship, or lack thereof, with religiosity. We use observed measures from the 2008 General Social Survey to build latent variables representing science orientation sub-concepts and assess their relationships using structural equation modeling. We find that religiosity has no significant association with interest in or knowledge of science. Religiosity does, however, have a significant negative association with confidence in science. This suggests that the lack of faith in science held by religious individuals is not a product of interest or ignorance, but is instead based on theological or institutional reservations.
David  R. Johnson: Department of Sociology, Rice University. E-mail: [email protected]

Christopher P. Scheitle: Department of Sociology, St john’s University.  Email: [email protected]

Elaine Howard Ecklund: Department of Sociology, Rice University. Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Johnson, David R., Christopher P. Scheitle and Elaine Howard Ecklund. 2015. “Individual Religiosity and Orientation towards Science: Reformulating Relationships.” Sociological Science 2: 106-124.
  • Received: November 18, 2014
  • Accepted: December 1, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a7


Is the Effect of Parental Education on Offspring Biased or Moderated by Genotype?

Dalton Conley, Benjamin W. Domingue, David Cesarini, Christopher Dawes, Cornelius A. Rietveld, Jason D. Boardman

Sociological Science, February 25, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a6



Parental education is the strongest measured predictor of offspring education, and thus many scholars see the parent–child correlation in educational attainment as an important measure of social mobility. But if social changes or policy interventions are going to have dynastic effects, we need to know what accounts for this intergenerational association, that is, whether it is primarily environmental or genetic in origin. Thus, to understand whether the estimated social influence of parental education on offspring education is biased owing to genetic inheritance (or moderated by it), we exploit the findings from a recent large genome-wide association study of educational attainment to construct a genetic score designed to predict educational attainment. Using data from two independent samples, we find that our genetic score significantly predicts years of schooling in both between-family and within-family analyses. We report three findings that should be of interest to scholars in the stratification and education fields. First, raw parent–child correlations in education may reflect one-sixth genetic transmission and five-sixths social inheritance. Second, conditional on a child’s genetic score, a parental genetic score has no statistically significant relationship to the child’s educational attainment. Third, the effects of offspring genotype do not seem to be moderated by measured sociodemographic variables at the parental level (but parent–child genetic interaction effects are significant). These results are consistent with the existence of two separate systems of ascription: genetic inheritance (a random lottery within families) and social inheritance (across-family ascription). We caution, however, that at the presently attainable levels of explanatory power, these results are preliminary and may change when better-powered genetic risk scores are developed.
Dalton Conley: Department of Sociology, New York University. E-mail: [email protected]

Benjamin W. Domingue: Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder

David Cesarini: Center for Experimental Social Science, Department of Economics, New York University

Christopher Dawes: Wilff Family Department of Politics, New York University

Cornelius A. Rietveld: Erasmus School of Economics and Erasmus University Rotterdam Institute for Behavior and Biology, Erasmus University.

Jason D. Boardman: Institute of Behavioral Science and Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder.


  • Citation: Conley, Dalton, Benjamin W. Domingue, David Cesarini, Christopher Dawes, Cornelius A. Rietveld and Jason D. Boardman. 2015. “Is the Effect of Parental Education on Offspring Biased or Moderated by Genotype?” Sociological Science 2: 82-105.
  • Received: November 25, 2014
  • Accepted: December 26, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a6


Gender Differences in the Formation of a Field of Study Choice Set

Sigal Alon, Thomas A. DiPrete

Sociological Science, February 18, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a5



Women now surpass men in overall rates of college graduation in many industrialized countries, but sex segregation in fields of study persists. In a world where gender norms have changed but gender stereotypes remain strong, we argue that men’s and women’s attitudes and orientations toward fields of study in college are less constrained by gendered institutions than is the ranking of these fields. Accordingly, the sex segregation in the broader choice set of majors considered by college applicants may be lower than the sex segregation in their first preference field of study selection. With unique data on the broader set of fields considered by applicants to elite Israeli universities, we find support for this theory. The factors that drive the gender gap in the choice of field of study, in particular labor market earnings, risk aversion, and the sex composition of fields, are weaker in the broad set of choices than in the first choice. The result is less segregation in considered majors than in the first choice and, more broadly, different gender patterns in the decision process for the set of considered majors and for the first choice. We consider the theoretical implications of these results.
Sigal Alon: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University.  Email: [email protected]

Thomas A. DiPrete: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.    Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Alon, Sigal, and Thomas A. Diprete. 2015. “Gender Differences in the Formation of a Field Study Choice Set.” Sociological Science 2: 50-81.
  • Received: July 9, 2014
  • Accepted: September 16, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a5