Social Problems

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 0037-7791 / 1533-8533
Published by: Oxford University Press (OUP) (10.1093)
Total articles ≅ 6,279
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Latest articles in this journal

Alma Nidia Garza
Published: 19 October 2021
As organizations that privilege the interests and behaviors of a White middle class, universities institutionalize processes that undermine both the preparation and contributions of students from working-class backgrounds and racial/ethnic minoritized groups such as Hispanics. While studies have documented how universities carry out forms of class or racial exclusion, how racial exclusion is embedded in university class cultural practices is less understood. Understanding how class processes that are linked to racial objectives inhibit Hispanic student development is important not solely due to the group’s growing representation in college but also because such information facilitates an understanding of how universities legitimize racial hierarchies. Drawing on theories of racialized organizations and cultural reproduction, I compare how working-class Hispanic students attending a moderately selective institution and their co-ethnic counterparts attending a less selective, regional university contend with class cultural hierarchies that impact their growth and inclusion. I propose that universities engage in a practice of cultural sidelining. Students are unable to exercise elements of sidelined class cultures depending on the set of behaviors endorsed on campus. Sidelining enables organizations to draw on social class practices to carry out divergent forms of racial exclusion.
Published: 27 September 2021
A burgeoning body of scholarship addresses how low-income first generation (LIFG) college students, across racial groups, navigate communication with their families about their experiences of class-based dissonance at socioeconomically elite institutions. Yet, there is scant corollary research addressing how LIFG students of color navigate communication with their families regarding experiences of racial dissonance and racism on campuses that are both socioeconomically elite and predominantly white. This study examines disjunctures in familial perceptions and interpretations regarding race and racism consequent to intergenerational educational mobility for LIFG students of color, whose parents are unlikely to have had analogous experiences of complete occupational and residential immersion in socioeconomically elite and predominantly white institutional environments. This work highlights an important gap in the academic literature on first-generation students at the intersections of race, class, parental educational attainment level, and immigration dynamics. Without a race-conscious analytic lens, class-based understandings of LIFG college students and their families remain incomplete.
Vrinda Marwah
Published: 27 September 2021
What are the rewards of paid care work for frontline health workers? I focus on India’s women community health volunteers, the largest such workforce in the world. Appointed since 2007 and numbering one million, these women are paid per-case incentives to connect the poor and marginalized to government-run health services. Using 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Delhi and Punjab, including 80 interviews, I find that women community health volunteers (called Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHAs) experience extrinsic rewards in paid care work. ASHAs earn not only from their official wages, but also from two unofficial streams: a) a boost of income from non-ASHA work and b) commissions from private hospitals. I also find that the intrinsic rewards ASHAs report—emotional gratification, relative autonomy, and skill-building—are co-constituted with extrinsic rewards; that is, they are tied to their earnings. This calls into question the “Love versus Money” binary, used to frame much of the discussion on care work. I argue instead for a “Love of Money” framing—that is, money as a reward and money as begetting other rewards. My findings highlight the significance of globalizing the empirical research on paid care work.
James R Elliott, Kevin Loughran, Phylicia Lee Brown
Published: 24 September 2021
Flood risks are rising across the United States, putting the economic and social values of growing numbers of homes at risk. In response, the federal government is funding the purchase and demolition of housing in areas of greatest jeopardy, tacitly promoting residential resettlement as a strategy of climate adaptation, especially in cities. Despite these developments little is known about where people move when they engage in such resettlement or how answers to that question vary by the racial and economic status of their flood-prone neighborhoods. The present study begins to fill that gap. We introduce a new typology for classifying environmental resettlement along two socio-spatial dimensions of community attachment: (a) distance moved from one’s flood-prone home; and (b) average distance resettled from similarly relocated neighbors. Next, we analyze data from 1,572 homeowners who accepted government-funded buyouts across 39 neighborhood areas in Harris County, Texas – Houston’s urban core. Results indicate that homeowners from more privileged neighborhoods resettle closer to their flood-prone homes and to one another, thus helping to preserve the social and economic value of their homes; homeowners from less privileged areas end up farther away from both. Implications for understanding social inequities in government-funded urban climate adaptation are discussed.
Nikhil Deb
Published: 23 September 2021
This article analyzes the ways in which slow violence and neoliberalism intertwine in the production of social and environmental destruction, evident in the lingering devastation from the 1984 Union Carbide catastrophe in Bhopal, India. Children are born with congenital abnormalities; women are plagued with reproductive health problems; and dangerous chemicals left in the abandoned factory continue to contaminate soil and groundwater. Yet Bhopal is remembered almost exclusively for the spectacle of its immediate aftermath. Drawing on 60 interviews with Bhopal victims and activists, field observations, archives, and official and independent reports, this paper examines how the neoliberal turn in Indian governance plays a role in the creation of slow violence. The paper advances our understanding of socioenvironmental destruction by tying slow violence to a temporal change in countries' governance in the Global South. The paper underscores the significance of considering political economic dynamics in the perpetration of slow violence. It also emphasizes how the neoliberal turn, now anchored in right-wing Hindutva politics in India, further constrains the possibilities for counter-measures that would address slow violence. The paper offers significant implications for analyzing the political economy of socioenvironmental and health disparities in the wake of corporate malfeasance.
Peter Catron
Published: 19 September 2021
Citizenship acquisition is often promoted as one factor that can facilitate the economic integration of immigrants. However, not all individuals and groups experience positive benefits from naturalization. This article argues that social distance from the native-born is an important factor that influences who does and does not benefit from citizenship acquisition. Specifically, I create a new continuous measure of social distance for immigrants during the age of mass migration. I show that the relationship between social distance and the economic returns to citizenship takes an inverted U-shape. Those considered closest and furthest away in social distance to the native-born report little to no advantages to citizenship, while those in the middle report larger returns. I then focus on the Mexican population in the historical Southwest and take advantage of a unique enumeration in the complete count 1930 U.S. census that coded Mexicans as either white or Mexican. Mexicans coded as white report economic differences between citizenship statuses, while Mexicans coded as nonwhite report no difference between citizenship statuses. The results suggest that citizenship may not be beneficial to all individuals and groups, depending on where they fall in the ethnoracial hierarchy.
Tse-Chuan Yang, Seulki Kim, Stephen A Matthews
Published: 15 September 2021
We examine two mechanisms–social capital and socio-behavior–potentially linking unemployment rates to opioid-related mortality and investigate whether the mechanisms differ geographically by the pace of the opioid crisis. Applying path analysis techniques to 2015–2017 opioid-related mortality in U.S. counties (N=2,648), we find that (1) high unemployment rates are not directly associated with opioid-related mortality rates; (2) high unemployment rates are negatively associated with social capital, and low social capital contributes to high opioid-related mortality; (3) high unemployment rates increase social isolation and the prevalence of smoking, which is positively related to opioid-related mortality; and (4) the pathways are stronger among counties in the states experiencing a rapid growth in opioid-related mortality rates than among those states that are not. Our findings offer insight into how unemployment rates shape the opioid crisis and suggest that the relationship between unemployment and opioid-related mortality is complex.
Published: 12 September 2021
The role of the police in the United States is a topic of contentious debate. Central to this debate is a binary that constructs police officers as fulfilling either a protective, community-serving role, or an aggressive, crime-fighting role. The most recent iteration is reflected in the warrior-guardian construct, which conceptualizes officers as both initiators of, and defenders against, violence. This article examines how the warrior-guardian framework shapes police training, and highlights how this construct is itself gendered and racialized. I draw on one year of ethnographic field work at four police academies and 40 interviews with police officers and cadets to argue that police training is an organized effort to condition officers to conceptualize their relationship with the public as a war. Three components constitute this framing: (1) instructors construct an evil, unpredictable enemy; (2) cadets are taught to identify their enemy in gendered and racialized ways; and (3) cadets are encouraged to adopt a warrior mentality. I show that cadets are taught to view the world in a way that pits them against an enemy, pushes them to conceptualize their enemy as a man of color, and to think about violence as a moral necessity.
Sarah Whetstone
Published: 11 September 2021
Drawing on ethnography and interviews with recovering men in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, this study explores how two dominant models of American rehab are racialized — coerced treatment theorizing addiction as criminal personality—and a more medicalized, voluntaristic model rooted in the brain disease paradigm. At the “carceral rehab” of “Arcadia House,” staff assumed its majority court-mandated, poor men of color would arrive resistant to reforming their “lifestyle addictions,” justifying treatment backed by (re)incarceration. In contrast, “Healing Bridges” offered its gentler, “medical-restorative rehab” to mostly white, middle-class patients who escaped incarceration despite substantial participation in drug-related crime. While both programs mobilized the colorblind logic that “addiction doesn’t discriminate,” local disparities routed recovering men into vastly different treatments, disproportionately criminalizing the addictions of the Black poor. In a racialized binary operating across the field, Arcadia’s clients of color were viewed as sicker and more out of control than Bridges’ white patients. While Arcadia’s clients required coercive state management, Bridges’ patients were understood as already possessing the capacity for self-management—reinforcing staff’s mission to empower the non-addict within. Distinctions between coerced and voluntary treatment were naturalized and mapped onto recovering men, reproducing race at the most intimate levels of self-making.
Nicholas Vargas, G Cristina Mora, Shannon Gleeson
Published: 10 September 2021
Drawing on a unique survey dataset of Californians collected during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, this article examines how race and ideology shape perceptions of risk. Specifically, we position the pandemic as an “unsettled time” (Swidler 1986) and examine how different racialized groups made sense of the economic and health risks posed during this unprecedented period. We find that even when accounting for economic precarity and potential exposure to COVID-19, as well as for various other measures of social status, racialized minorities felt significantly more threatened by COVID-19 than did whites. Religion and political ideology mediated this relationship to some degree, but the racialized differences were substantial. Indeed, we find that even the most liberal whites reported being significantly less concerned about some COVID-19 risks than the most politically conservative of our Latinx and Black respondents. By linking the literature on race and racial stratification with research on risk and culture, we argue that whiteness facilitates a cognitive insulating effect vis-à-vis COVID-19 risks. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings and conclude by highlighting the enduring importance of racialization, including various manifestations of white privilege, when assessing the social and cultural realities of crises on the ground.
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