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Sociology

Winter 2004

Prisons offer few economic benefits to small towns

Over the past three decades, many of the nation’s most depressed rural communities have vied to host new prisons, hoping that economic benefits would follow.

The trend grew in the early 1990s when an average of three 500-bed prisons opened around the country each week. Small towns courted new correctional facilities, sometimes offering free land or discounted municipal services to tempt them, believing they would get returns in new jobs and money.

But now they may be thinking differently about prisons, thanks to research led by Washington State University sociologist Gregory Hooks.

“We found no evidence that prison expansion has stimulated economic growth,” Hooks says … » More …

Summer 2004

Racial profiling in Washington—policy and perception

The likelihood of being stopped by the Washington State Patrol on state roads and highways is not affected by a driver’s race or ethnicity, according to Washington State University researchers who analyzed two million WSP contacts between May 2000 and October 2002.

The WSU report was issued last summer by political scientists Nicholas Lovrich and Mitchell Pickerill, criminal justice professors Michael Gaffney and Michael R. Smith, and sociologist Clay Mosher. Unlike studies in other states, the report indicates no evidence of biased policing in the rate of driver stops.

Washington is one of at least 14 states that have passed legislation to help eliminate “the … » More …

Spring 2005

Anna Grant—A life of firsts

Anna Harvin Grant, the first woman to earn a doctorate in sociology from Washington State University, died November 6, 2004, of heart failure. She was 81.

A nationally recognized expert in Black family life and former chair of the Department of Sociology at Morehouse College, Grant led a life of firsts.

She came to Pullman with a wave of top African American scholars who in the early 1950s were recruited to WSU’s new doctoral program in sociology. At the time the Ph.D. program was starting, several administrators with connections to predominantly Black colleges in the south put out a call to “send us your best … » More …

Summer 2009

Mixing it up

Not since white settlers surged west, overwhelming the native population, has Washington been at all diverse in its population, at least if one defines “diverse” by ethnicity rather than European country of origin. By 1890, whites represented 97 percent of Washington’s recorded populace, and that number remained static for decades. Now that mix has started to change. Just recently, the white (not Hispanic) portion of Washington’s population dropped below 80 percent, for the first time since the mid-19th century.

Annabel Kirschner, a professor in the Department of Community and Rural Sociology and an extension specialist, recently released “Increasing Diversity in Washington State 2000–2008,” the … » More …

Summer 2006

Can America compete in a 'Flat' World?

Many of you are familiar with Thomas Friedman’s argument, in The World is Flat, that technology has eliminated many barriers to competition and thus created today’s globally competitive economic environment. His dramatic examples of outsourcing show that key services, including high-level engineering and scientific tasks, can be effectively accomplished without regard to the workers’ physical location. This allows imaginative businesses to tap talent from around the globe, often at considerable savings.

Friedman, a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, uses this evidence to reach some alarming conclusions about how America will fare in the future. After establishing the central thesis that location is … » More …

Spring 2009

Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival

About twelve years ago, I drank my first cup of fair trade coffee. I didn’t spend much time thinking about the implications—it just seemed like a decent idea to pay farmers a good price for their product.  But even the simple assumption that a fair trade or organic label guarantees farmers a better income or life can be questioned. Do farmers actually receive extra profit? Are they more successful than conventional producers? Do the labels mean anything to them? In Brewing Justice, Washington State University sociologist Daniel Jaffee explores those questions, and other complications of fair trade and organic coffee production, through the experiences of … » More …

Summer 2004

Competing Devotions: Career and Family Among Women Executives

To be or not to be a devoted mother, corporate executive—or both? These are the choices and challenges facing career women more than ever. In Competing Devotions: Career and Family Among Women Executives, former Washington State University sociology professor Mary Blair-Loy examines the lifestyles of two groups of women and the decisions they made regarding the delicate balance of raising children along with—or versus—the long hours they spend behind an executive’s desk.

The first group, made up of 56 predominantly white female finance executives, was called the career-committed group. The second group, the family-committed group, was made up of 25 white women who left full-time, … » More …