Open Source Academic Publication and Those Frustrating Paywalls!

Rex over at Savage Minds has another editorial about the need for Open Access in academic publishing. This is a movement across academic landscape, in which publishers are asking how they can produce well-edited articles which maintain a legitimacy within academia. As Kerim points out, the standard responses of the conservative old-time academic journals is, well, conservative. Meaning, that they do not want to take the financial risks associated with moving on-line. As is pointed out by Rex, Cultural Anthropology has taken the jump, and gone Open Access. American Anthropologist remains behind paywalls, as described in a recent editorial there which, amazingly, is not behind a paywall.   really only readily accessible primarily to those of us own the cultural capital of university library passwords. The rest of the world is left out.

Obviously, going on-line means that someone needs to pay. Various journals are using endowments, charging author “page charges,” and using advertising revenue. Then there is of course academic writing at places like Savage Minds who get their funding from who-knows-where, though my guess is that the editors are ponying up the annual $300 or so that it costs to host a website themselves, while also donating their labor and time. Funny thing is, I don’t find the quality of editing, etc., at Savage Minds to be that different from what is hidden behind the paywalls. If Savage Minds can do it, why can’t American Anthropologist which has the backing of the hoary old American Anthropological Association? True they do not provide precisely the same service to the world of anthropology that American Anthropologist does, but I do not find their contribution to be the many multiples of importance more than is implied by American Anthropologists’ defense of their paywall.

Rex, Kerim, and the others at Savage Minds occasionally ask rhetorically what the academic publishing world will look like in ten years. My guess is that the journals that are by hook and crook able to make their material Open Access will be far more important. There are hundreds of millions of people around the world, especially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where university systems are expanding rapidly.  They will be coming into universities as undergraduates and graduates in the next 10 years, and not all of them will go to universities that buy passwords to get past the paywalls. And guess where those hundreds of millions will go? They will go to the Open Source journals. Open Source is the future. Journals that do not figure out how to get there will be left behind, unread, and worst of all, uncited.

PS.  Authors are also not cooperating.  Have a look at the accumulating uploads at sites like, and research gate.  Much of that which traditional publishers are attempting to paywall, are slipping out into the wild west of the internet.

Max Weber on the Politics of Wives

One of the weaknesses of Classical Social Theory is that it deals poorly with the nature of gender and the family (for exceptions see Mary Wollstonecraft and Harriett Martineau). In two places in his essay “Politics as Vocation,” though Max Weber brings up the subject of wives. The first reference is near the beginning of the essay where he defines the term “politics.” He admits that there are a range of politics which encompass “independent leadership functions.”

     What is our understanding of politics? The term “politics” is a very wide one and encompasses many kinds of independent leadership functions. One talks of foreign currency politics of private banks, of the interest rate politics of the Reichsbank regarding bills of exchange, of union politics during a strike, a city or town’s school politics, and a club president’s politics of leadership. Finally, one talks even of the clever politics of a wife when she attempts to lead her husband. (p. 135)

After reaching this conclusion, he changes the subject, and only brings it up again 50 pages later when discussing the nature of relationships, and the fact that different ethical codes apply to different relationships. Thus, you do not have the same moral requirements for business relationships, or that with your wife.

     Is it possible that one can put together the same set of moral requirements for erotic and business relationships, family and ministerial relations, and for the relationship with your wife, the greengrocer, the son, the competitor, the friend, or the defendant at the same time? (p. 185)


In developing his argument in this fashion, Weber is leading up to a startling conclusion: Ethics is dependent on profession—a principal reflected in two places, first in the Holy Upanishads of India in which the duties of each caste are spelled out, and secondly in the ethic of “The Calling” developed by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation.

Reference: Weber, Max (1919) in Weber’s Rationalism and Modern Society, translated and edited by Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters. 2015 Palsgrave MacMillan

A sample chapter from our book Weber’s Rationalism is here.

Tony-Cover of Weber book

RIP Sociology, or the Most Successful Discipline of the Twentieth Century?

Last December, Julie lamented the decline of Sociology as a discipline in an essay provocatively titled “RIP Sociology.” As Julie noted in her post, it seems that the discipline no longer had the vim and verve she remembers from her undergraduate and graduate days of only 10 or 20 years ago. She laments with Les Back the dominance of “the audit culture” in sociology which avoids big questions in favor of some arbitrary metric, and in particular refuses to ask students to wrestle with big problems, or engage the broader society with a sociological imagination. At the end of her essay, Julie noted that this seems to be highlighted by a “hardening” of disciplinary boundaries, as the remaining sociologists hunker down, and resist the contamination of collaboration with people from outside the discipline.

Well, I have some good-bad news for Julie. This battle is already over, and in a strange way Sociology won big time. The fact of the matter is that Sociology is one of the big winners of the twentieth century. Today, it is unimaginable to operate a university, or any other institution, without the intellectual gifts that sociology bequeathed society. Everytime you see a pie chart, view the results of a questionnaire, or discuss the “unintended consequences” of a social policy, you are discussing sociology.

Indeed, the techniques of the “audit culture” that Julie and Les Back lament are nothing but an outgrowth of the statistical techniques Emile Durkheim (and others) wrote about in books like Suicide. The statistical techniques used to analyze social data were by and large developed by sociology, and the related social sciences. Their use today is so taken-for-granted that no government report would be written without discussions of correlations, and statistical significance.

Theoretically, sociology is doing better—terms from Marx, Weber, Merton, Bourdieu and others are taken advantage in day-to-day discourse. Bureaucracy is an epithet because Weber identified the phenomenon in the first place. Merton told us about self-fulfilling prophecies, while popularizing a term that in the sociology of science that is on Google Scholar’s landing page (“On the Shoulders of Giants”). Weber’s definition of the state (monopoly over the legitimate use of force…), and identification of the “Protestant work ethic” are at the heart of many policy discussions.

Gender and sexuality have emerged as social categories during the last fifty years largely in response to findings of sociologists. Then there are terms like social capital, and cultural capital. And Social Class. And ideology. And marketing. There is no shortage of sociological imagination in society today—in fact these terms are so common-sensically trite that it seems fair to say that the sociological imagination is the imagination of modern society. And on and on—to the point where one President Ronald Reagan was a sociology major, one of the most important senators of the 20th century, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a sociology professor, and even the daughter of one President, and sister of another, Dorothy Bush Koch. And that’s just on the right. The sociological imagination permeates the political left. Sociology: we won the twentieth century! The world is aware of sociology! Declare victory!

Just how successful is sociology? Well it is so successful that the practice of sociology is now taken for granted in departments like Communications Studies, Literary Criticism, Business, Social Work, Social History, Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, Criminal Justice, Culture Studies, Peace Studies, International Relations and so forth. Many of these programs are just versions of Sociology—and they need faculty too. But alas, you would never know that Sociology is so successful on the university campuses from which it emerged, where sociology departments scramble with everyone else to preserve themselves. They even struggle with the many daughter disciplines, often in an unseemly fashion.

And what are they teaching? Primarily applied sociology, with a little theory development thrown in. Even the computer scientists who designed social media are practicing sociologists, at least according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. And on and on

Can sociologists really complain about so much success?

Next blog: The other successful disciplines of the twentieth century: Psychology and Cultural Anthropology.

Academic Meetings, Graduation Season, and a Bit from Rousseau

Meetings are rituals, and rituals need symbols, and decorations. I’ve been to a lot of meetings in my time as an academic where I sat bored and confused, but still fulfilled my function as a decoration, and clap on cue. And to a large extent, that is what such ritual is about: clapping on cue about that to which you are brain dead.

Perhaps Rousseau was thinking of such academic meetings when he wrote in the 19th century “On this showing, the human species is divided into so many herds of cattle, each with its ruler, who keeps guard over them for the purpose of devouring them” (Rousseau).

Which of course starts me thinking about the many times I do indeed act like a herded cow, and so do my fellow academics. The most obvious place I am such a decoration is in May graduation ceremonies. I march into a stadium to a lively tune in an ungainly outfit, and then with the other faculty who all react in unison. March, clap, stand, and sit all in unison moving rhythmically just like the her do cattle waiting to obediently rush down a chute, at the end of which we might, ro all we know, be devoured. We then sit—decorations for the larger ceremony, just like the potted plants on stage. In fact, when I sat on a stage recently in Chico State’s graduation ceremony, there were literal potted plants on either side of the stage, bookending the potted plants in the robes. The redeeming value of the whole thing was the excitement and joy that many of our students and their families felt.

But potted plants are found at many ceremonies besides graduations, and usually take less obvious forms. The most common place for such potted plants—Honoratioren, in Max Weber’s German—are at meetings.

Honoratioren are invited for their notability and prestige, are there to make such rituals work, for the professional who Congress make sure that everyone lines up when they are supposed to, and then mutter “aye” on cue. Weber says Honoratioren manipulated in such ways “voting sheep,” content and sated notables who herded by “leaders” toward a new pasture (or restaurant).[1]

We potted plants are needed by the politicians (peacocks if we keep to our decorative metaphor), to legitimate foregone decisions that preserve the pre-existing social order and its privileges. The person chairing the meeting with such gravity (and plumage) needs us Honoratiorien to make “tough” decisions, even if we don’t really make decisions better than do the other potted plants at the other ends of the stage. We potted plants show up at a meeting, look busy, and ratify what we are supposed to. If you are at a university, you are then rewarded with cheese squares and olives, and then maybe even get a free dinner. Indeed, if you are really honored, you get a nice dinner at a nice restaurant, which might even cost $25.00. Or if you are in a legislative body, or corporate board of directors, the meeting is held in Las Vegas, Hawaii, or some other luxury place where the vanity of the Honoratioren is most easily plied with drink, food, song, and sex.

Being so plied indeed is part of the job of an Honoratioren, where you grimly hold onto an ethic that one hard-bitten politician explained was “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women, take their money and then vote against them you’ve got no business being up here.”

Oh yes, and then at the end of the meeting, the peacocks tell us how we all made difficult decisions, and are profusely thanked for our critical participation. Because yes indeed, we did not give into the sin of vanity.

The funny thing is that often not even the political peacocks really run the meetings. The ones who often really run the show are the functionaries, clerks, secretaries, and others who organize the meetings, demurely pour the coffee, serve the cookies, and present us with information to “consider.” They pre-package such information in a fashion that means that there is one logical “evidence-based” decision to take; thus there is only one single conclusion for us to mumble “Moo” about. To do otherwise would be, we are told, be quite foolish, and beneath our accumulated dignity as Honoratioren.

The lower-level staff, those who Weber described the “technocratic functionaries” serve the coffee and shove files under our noses, to whom peacocks chairing the meeting effectively defer when asking them to explain, “the numbers.” The numbers inevitably spill out in their calculable and predictable beauty, and the authority of the only evidence-based decision—as determined by the person who compiled the numbers—suddenly tumbles out. The peacock chairing the meeting nods sagely, and we potted plants nod even more sagely as if our opinion mattered. We vote “aye” and then clap. The coffee-pouring technocrats who organize “the files,” and so readily serve up more legitimacy for the, ahem, evidence-based decision-making (we Honoratioren only make decisions with evidence!), smile wanly.

This is necessary because we Honoratioren are the esteemed people of a community to whom others habitually defer, despite the fact that really, we don’t know that much about what we are doing; and are really only “dilletantes” when it comes to the nuts and bolts of the bureaucratic sausage factory where real decisions are made.

Where do you find Honoratioren? Traditionally they are from the right families and include wealthy business people, gentry, and performers of past glories. Today they include movie stars, sports figures, rock stars, and high tech Silicon Valley tycoons—i.e. the “better strata” of a community. I guess it is even me with all my seniority at the university now; a minor Honoratioren who gets trips to exotic conferences in southern California, where I dine on those cheese squares and olives, and then top it off with that $25.00 meal at a fine restaurant (without alcohol!).

But the real habitat for Honoratioren are the boards, commissions, and so forth which ostensibly run corporations and government. Such Honoratioren may indeed be dilletantes, but that is really beside the point. As long as their egos are stroked, and vanity appealed to, they (we?) lend the air of legitimacy to what really is pre-prepared. Weber’s (and Rousseau’s) “herding bovine” metaphor is a good on—and of course raises the question of why do we unanimously vote “aye,” why not instead say “moo?”



Weber’s Rationalism and Modern Society, edited and translated by Tony Waters, and Dagmar Waters, Palgrave MacMillan, 2015 (forthcoming).


“Politics as Vocation” is One of Bill Clinton’s Very Favorite Books—But Our New Translation Doesn’t Have a Book Blurb!

Tony-Cover of Weber book

Earlier this year, my wife and I published a book Weber’s Rationalism, which included four new translations of Weber’s essays, including “Politics as Vocation.” President Bill Clinton lists on his web-site “Politics as Vocation” as being one 21 of his favorite all-time books, right up there with Yeats Poems, The Imitation of Christ, and his wife Hillary’s book Living History. I am of course intrigued about why one of the master politicians of this era thought so highly of Weber’s essay, and wrote to him via his web site. What would Bill Clinton think about how Weber wrote about the dangerous vanity of politicians, the assumption that politicians are always violent, while admitting that indeed, there are ways for the “true human” to be a good politician—“In Spite of it All!”

So I wrote Clinton at his office in New York to tell him about our new translation, to inquire about the possibility of getting a book blurb—admittedly an audacious request. Such favors, as Weber notes, are primarily for “table companions,” political Honoratioren,” and the other who whirl around the politician basking in power. I knew this well from translating Weber. But still it was a small request, and I hoped for at least a polite “no thanks” from one of his staffers.

Then this week, the reason why I did not get a response to my emails—not even a courteous “no thanks” from a staffer—became more apparent. I do not pay to play. News stories of the last week highlight how much the Clintons ask to speak or consult. I don’t pay, so I guess, so no response. (Actually I do pay sometimes—earlier this year I paid $35 to publish a cartoon!) Anyway, should have listened more closely to the cynical Max Weber inside of me!

But despite it all, I do indeed have some nice book blurbs, two from important Weber scholars, and a third one from an important political scientist. They all highly recommend our translation, and they did so simply as an academic courtesy to the publisher.

Speaking of academic courtesy, here is a commentary that the Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Schmidt, once wrote about Weber’s essay, “Politics as Vocation”—he gave it as a speech to the Kant Congress in 1981 (in German).

A sample chapter from our book Weber’s Rationalism is here.

My Mass Grave Rediscovered!

In 1994-1995 I helped finance and dig a mass grave on the Rwanda-Tanzania border.   This happened because the refugee assistance agency I worked (TCRS) removed bodies from the Kagera River from June 1994-June 1995. Tanzanians were hired to first clean up the bodies that were there from earlier months when the genocide was occurring, and after that to make a “net” to catch any other bodies which might float down the river from whatever source.  The “Body Project” during this time took 917 bodies (or so) out of the river. 311 came out in June-July, 1994, which is when the genocide was still going on. But then 606 more victims came down the river after the genocide was “over” and caught in the net we made. These were fresh bodies who often arrived with their hands tied behind their back, and a bullet in the head. We asked one of the Rwandan border guards from the new government who the floaters might be, and he said they were either victims of the genocide committed by the former government, or perhaps had committed suicide. It was clear from what he said that there was to be no blame for the new government.

We tried to imagine the gymnastics involved with tying your hands behind your back, shooting yourself in the head, and then jumping in the river. Somehow it didn’t compute.

Anyway, we made reports to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who passed the reports up to Geneva, where there was finally some view that perhaps things were not as peaceful as the new Rwandan government asserted. This was important at the time because the international community very much wanted the refugees to return to Rwanda so that they would not have to pay to succor them in the large Tanzanian refugee camps established in 1994.

Which caused us to wonder: Who was sending us these bodies, and what were they trying to say to us and the world? Here is what I wrote in January 1995 after a particularly busy December when 80 new victims came floating down the river:

So who is sending bodies to TCRS’s “body project” so faithfully? Is it the new Rwandan government? A revitalized Interahamwe militia [from the old government]? Both? I still do not know. However, my own conclusion after six months of collecting and burying 700 bodies is that both sides like the polarizing effects that bodies in the river creates among the 400,000 Hutu refugees in nearby Ngara refugee camps. The Hutu militants of course want the population to remain the refugee camps so they can organize a resistance movement. The Rwandan government on the other hand is avoiding the politically untenable consequences of…the millions of Hutus outside Rwanda returning. Seemingly, the bodies in the river serve both parties. Certainly, this would explain the ambivalence both sides have for the continuing appearance of bodies in the Kagera River.

Bob 2

In the strange world I lived in at the time, 917 bodies did not seem all that much—after all the death toll from the genocide and its aftermath is typically estimated at 800,000. At many of these sites in Rwanda, there are today massive memorials, and a national holiday when respects are made there. Forensic anthropologists sometimes go to evaluate how the victims, who were killed by the former Rwandan government. They evaluate how they died, and seek to identify victims, most of whom were from the minority Tutsi group who were the target of the genocide.

TCRS made a memorial too—a monument with words in four languages (English, French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda) which was dedicated in 1996 just before I left Tanzania, and then forgotten. After all, our memorial was a couple of kilometers inside Tanzania, and the victims probably included a lot of victims from the new (and current) government of Rwanda. So our memorial had weeds grow up around it. No memorial services, and no archaeologists. No on has ever contact me, either, even though I published about it in my 2001 book Bureaucratizing the Good Samaritan. As for victims, only one has ever been identified—Ngirabatware son of Rubashurwelere whose Rwandan i.d. was sticking out of his pocket, and given to me in August 1994 still smelling of his death. For what it is worth, he is a Hutu, not Tutsi.

Bob 1

Our memorial was rediscovered in 2009, according to press reports, and there are plans to create a memorial there as well, according to later reports.  So my mass grave was lost and found in a period of 14 years. In the process, though, the memorial has become a “genocide” memorial—which means that the fact that so many of the victims were post-genocide execution victims, and arrived in Tanzania after the genocide ended is forgotten.

As for Ngirabatware, the Hutu victim we buried, I have never heard from his family, despite publishing his name in my book (p. 195).   He was born in 1957 and is from Cyabinbungu prefecture. He had four daughters born between 1980 and 1992. Maybe they are still in Rwanda wondering what happened to their father.

The Tattooed Professor Takes on the Big U and Wins

Kevin, The Tattooed Professor from the Harvard University of East Des Moines posted a quick rebuttal to Professor Mark Bauerlein’s New York Times op-ed complaining about the skills of students. Bauerlein teaches at elite Emory University in Atlanta, and Kevin’s rebuttal is worth reading. Bauerlein’s article, which is written without much broader context beyond the hallowed halls of Emory is not nearly as original as what hte tattooed professor wrote—Bauerlien’s article is mainly a “whatever happened to today’s youth” diatribe. I.e. the sort of thing that should not go beyond a faculty bull session, much less appear in the New York Times.

Speaking of various Harvard Universities and undergraduate achievement in the hallowed halls of academia, I think the most original, and under-cited thing I’ve ever read is William Perry’s article “Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts” which was written about an undergraduate who managed to score an A- on a Harvard Exam without ever showing up to class. But that’s another story for another blog. In the meantime, I highly recommend Perry’s article to both Kevin and Bauerlein. Kevin who teaches four classes per semester and cranked out his response within 24 hours, will probably have time to read it, because he is accustomed to “time management.” The guy from the Big U, I’m not so sure—he’s probably too busy with his research commitments, New York Times op ed, and “conferencing” to read something about a truly creative undergraduate from the Harvard University of Cambridge.

The Three Gifts of Tenure

Scarlet Letter

I will say it up front. Tenure is cool, and the opposite, “contingent” employment, really sucks. I was an adjunct for about two years in the 1990s, and I know from first hand experience that it sucked. Why?

Well there were a couple of reasons. First, was that I was constantly on the job market, since I did not know where my income was coming from the following semester. This is a condition that college teachers share with many workers in the modern economy, on the funny assumption that the more scared you are of catastrophe, the harder you will work.

But scared teachers do not develop their repertoire, either in teaching or research. Delivering a 15 week class takes 3-4 semesters to “get right,” meaning to get the rhythm of what you need to say, how it fits together, what assignments fit in best. And of course the jokes need to be right—and that takes practice, too. Three to four times, and it starts becoming easy—and 10-12 times it becomes boring, as your “lecture” notes yellow and turn stale.

A second gift of tenure is the capacity to develop a research program—you can only do this if you have a reasonable confidence of continued income. Research programs, whether they are your own, or your graduate students, take several years to manage and develop. Books? About five years. Articles, a little less.  Such projects do not fit in well to semester-to-semester contracts.

And the third gift of tenure is that it puts you on an equal footing with your “boss.” This is important because, well, not all bosses, are that great at supervising teachers, whether they are tenured or not—just ask the adjuncts who are indeed supervised by Department Chairs elected by the tenured faculty.

This part of the gift of tenure has two different causes. First is the fact that teaching is inherently difficult to supervise—a supervisor cannot really “supervise” more than a fraction of their work, nor can they use a clock, or other mechanism to monitor anything of significance in the classroom. This is something that those who supervise teaching should know, but often do not acknowledge.  Or rather they invent proxies like “Student Evaluation of Teaching,” which ask students about their experience, or ask you what you have printed on your syllabus, as if that is really what happens in class.

The second part of the “chair” problem is that the chairs and deans who hire adjunct faculty are not necessarily very good managers of adjuncts—they are hired by tenured faculty to serve (not manage) tenured faculty. Supervising adjuncts is for them just a side gig—the real action is with those who elected them, i.e. the tenure track faculty. As a result many are not necessarily very good at managing “contingent employees.” What does it mean to be lousy at supervising adjuncts?

–Not let the adjunct know what they will be teaching or take away an assigned class and give it to a tenured person at last minute

–Say or do anything which lets contingent employees believe that they might not have a job next semester/year.

–Change up preps unexpectedly–or change class sizes erratically

–Use anecdotal student gossip to write reviews, whether it comes in hushed tones in the office, through written reviews, informal discussion with tenured faculty, or

–Publish a job ad with the classes taught by contingent employees in them.

–Otherwise keep the adjunct off-balance regarding their professional status.

And then of course there is the problem of pay, which like it or not is central what we do. The stories of adjuncts on welfare are of course legion. Not every campus does it, but paying $2,000-$3000 per class for a full-time adjunct (with ten courses being a full-load) is a recipe for penury, short-term employment, and high employee turnover. And what can I say? Quick turnover of teachers is harmful to teaching quality—and in the university world, “quick” means every 5-6 years. After all, how can you prepare a “full quiver” of classes in a shorter time? Student success suffers from teachers who are not treated as highly skilled professionals, and have a tougher time developing as a professional as a result.

And this says nothing of a research program which oddly enough, some adjuncts still put together on the side.

My Appreciation for Tenure

I’ve been on tenure track since 1998, and had tenure since 2003.  This has indeed been a blessing, particularly when I compare my working conditions to my adjunct colleagues who are under constant threat of lay-off. What has it permitted me to do?

Accept new course preps, and explore new fields without fear of short-term failure, which in the adjunct world means a few students complaining to a dean or chair about you. Sometimes this happened, mostly it didn’t—but even when it does, I can be confident that the comments will not be taken out of context.

Re-establish the Asian Studies major, for which I was a “voluntary advisor” for three years. This is something I am enormously proud of—and would not have done without the freedom of tenure protections.  I was also able to participate in “General Education Reform” in a fashion which I hoped reflected abstract academic goals for student achievement, rather than the narrow “butts in seats” metrics of standard university administration by “full-time equivalent students (FTES).”

Publish six books, an write a number of articles, one of which received a comeuppance letter from the politically connected United States Ambassador to Tanzania. Because I was tenure track, I got an “attaboy” from my Chair at the time. Imagine if I had been contingent—I would have been afraid that such a high government official could get me fired, or at least put in the pathway of “I’m sorry it looks like there are no classes for you next semester.”

In short, my employment guarantee gives me the freedom to experiment without fear to my livelihood. Do some of my colleagues take advantage of this? Probably—but the fact of the matter is that the freedom my tenure gives me exists only in such a context. If I didn’t have an employment guarantee I would be back to sending out my c.v. every semester and keeping my head low in hopes that I could put together a living, rather than developing a scholarly career.

I’m Sorry, Next Semester We Do Not Have Any Classes For You!

The opposite of tenure, lack of employment security, though actually drags the institution of higher education down further. To understand this, I need only listen to the whispered fears of my adjunct colleagues. They fear trying new things, requesting professional courtesies I take for granted, requesting justified raises, attending conferences, taking on new preps, or pushing back when more students are pushed at them.  Indeed the ability of administrators to push more students at the adjuncts is why they typically teach teach larger sections than their tenured colleagues. Adjuncts are also hesitant about expressing themselves frankly in meetings. Many fear becoming involved in the union not because of what the union does, but because they fear administrators will deliver the dreaded and vague message, “next semester we do not have any classes for you.”

This post is an adaptation of “I’m Sorry, Next Semester We Do Not Have Any Classes for You!” which was posted in January 2015 here at

Big data, Small Data, and Everything In-between

The New York Times this morning had a nice story “How Not to Drown in Numbers” about big and small data written by social scientists who’ve worked for Google and Facebook, respectively. The article is good news for both qualitative and quantitative social scientists, and all of us in-between. Numbers are indeed important, but they are not everything. Interpreting data is still about the capacity to reason and interpret data—it is just that there is a lot more of it out there than before the internet age. In other words, there will be no shortage of work in coming decades for sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists or others among us!