Sociological and Anthropological Research in Transition: Trans-disciplinary Collaboration, Qualitative/quantitative Rapprochement

A Selected Bibliography

ALA/ACRL/Anthropology and Sociology Section Annual Program
Chicago IL, July 9, 2000

Compiled by Pauline Manaka, Sally Willson Weimer, Gwyneth Crowley, and Lynn Hattendorf

Data Web Sites


Abzug, Rikki. September 1999. "Nonprofits in Organizational Sociology’s Research Traditions: An Empirical Study." Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Vol. 28 (3) pp. 330-338.

Neoinstitutional, population ecology, & resource dependence research traditions enjoy enduring popularity in the US organization science & sociological literature. Such research traditions are advanced through empirical studies of organizations – nonprofit, public, & for-profit. Noting some nonprofit lineage of the aforementioned traditions, an attempt is made to measure the use of sectors’ organizations in the advancement of generalized organization theory. To do this, three research questions about the current uses of research traditions & organizational samples are explored, by sector, in journals of organization theory, based on a search of the sociofile & ABI/Inform databases. A brief discussion of findings & implications follows. 3 Tables, 14 References. Adapted from the source document.**

Ballantine, Jeanne. 3 August 1995. “Teaching the Elephant to Dance: A Parable about the Scholarship of Learning.” Sociological Focus. Vol. 28. pp. 207-221.

This presidential address to the 1995 meeting of the North Central Sociological Assoc (NCSA) critiques the structured & restrictive traditions guiding research & teaching in academic settings, & proposes more effective, beneficial, & satisfying forms of role definition & responsibility. Although universities have undergone a broad range of changes in recent decades, they remain reluctant to recognize or utilize the potential for new kinds of learning & scholarship created by such changes. Academic life has been traditionally divided into research & teaching, & academics have been expected to contribute equally in both areas; however these definitions may be too constricting. Results of a 1994 NCSA mail survey of faculty (N = 162 respondents) suggest that academics commonly experience tension between their desired role emphasis & the balance expected of them by the university. It is argued that a more collaborative model of scholarship would allow both individuals & universities to maximize the skills of particular individuals. Furthermore, the historical dichotomy of teaching & research should be dissolved, & hiring & reward practices should be aimed at maximizing the strengths of individual candidates. 7 Figures; 8 References. T. Sevier.**

Bell, Carolyn Shaw. 1996. “Data on race, ethnicity and gender: caveats for the user.” International Labour Review. Vol. 135 no5, pp. 535-51.

Major census and other data–mainly U.S.–are used to illustrate the likely pitfalls in data sets. Changes in the definition and fashion of racial or ethnic categories blur the picture that is provided by data, and, although classification by sex is simple, gender awareness requires greater detail for a finer analysis of data on household composition, paid and unpaid work, occupation, employment status, and poverty. Moreover, the composition of the labor force is unknown. Overall, the analysis of gender, racial, and ethnic issues in existing data must start with examining the small print annexes that provide the details of data collections and then questioning the most basic definitions of racial and ethnic categories and of families and individuals. It is far too easy for an analyst of contemporary events to overlook misidentification and unknown characteristics when working with sociodemographic variables. Familiarity with these issues should at least reduce the extent to which social scientists collect flawed data and discourage policy makers from formulating programs and legislation that are based on false premises.

Browner, C. H. June 1999. “On the Medicalization of Medical Anthropology.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly (New Series) Vol. 13 (2) pp. 135-140.

Problems with the medicalization of medical anthropology are identified, e.g. the increased numbers of medical anthropologists who quickly accept biological illness classifications. C. H. Browner & N. Press’s (e.g. 1997) work on the effects of offering fetus screening to women on their pregnancy decisions are reviewed. It is contended that a medicalized medical anthropology has created several substantive & methodological problems (e.g. defining holistic studies of biomedical issues & distancing from research subjects, respectively). Moreover, it is asserted that these trends have problematized collaboration between researchers & medical faculty by undermining medical anthropologists’ control. Nevertheless, it is concluded that Americans’ obsession with their health will provide a strong demand for medical anthropologists. 20 References. J. W. Parker.**

Card, Josephina J. Fall 1996. “Development of the Sociometrics Data Library on Families, Aging, Substance Abuse, and AIDS.” Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 14, (3), 305-309.

Discusses the structure, current design advantages, & future potential of the Sociometrics Corp. in Los Altos, CA, a preparer-provider of social science data. Following a brief review of the challenges facing preparer-providers of large databases, it is argued that Sociometrics has overcome these problems & contributed to the advancement of research in each of its archival groups: adolescent pregnancy & pregnancy prevention, the US family, maternal drug abuse, social research on aging, & acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)/sexually transmitted diseases. Data have been obtained through a rigorous screening process grounded in the criteria of technical quality, substantive utility, policy relevance, & potential for secondary analysis. Further, utilization of technological innovations have contributed to the quality of documentation & the system’s powerful search capabilities. Data extract capabilities allow users to create personalized subsets of information that can be easily reviewed & accessed on most microcomputers. Sociometrics has been successful in making its existence, contents, & products known throughout the social scientific community while providing a reasonably priced product. 1 Table. T. Sevier.**

Caulkins, D Douglas; Jonathan G. Andelson, Vicki Bentley-Condit, and Kathryn Kamp. August 1999. “A Discovery-Mode Teaching Using the Electronic Human Relations Area Files for Cross-Cultural Comparison.” Cross-Cultural Research, Vol. 33, (3), 278-297.

To promote active, discovery-mode learning, described is the use of the SilverPlatter Cross-Cultural Data Base & the electronic Human Relations Area Files in a variety of courses, from introductory to advanced, in the fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, & ecological anthropology. The Probability Sample Files of 60 cultures have been used both as the central focus of the class & as a supplementary focus. After describing several of these classes, some decisions that must be made in designing a course using one or both of these databases are outlined. Both the benefits & drawbacks of this teaching approach are discussed. 39 References. **

Chute, Douglas L. Winter 1993. “The Classroom 2000 Project: A Personal View of What the Past Tells Us about the Future.” Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 11, (4), pp. 477-486.

Describes the Classroom 2000 project at Drexel U, PA, designed to capitalize on previous software development efforts & to implement technologies that can effectively contribute to new classroom teaching, learning, & research strategies. The objective is to promote excellence in science education, to establish collaborative & distance learning capabilities, & to further develop faculty use & curriculum integration of appropriate technologies. Focus is on one of the largest courses on campus, MacLaboratory for Psychology, which was selected to serve as a pilot project & model system. Considered are what makes successful viable teaching software & what has contributed to notable failures in concept, implementation, or delivery. 1 Figure, 13 References. Adapted from the source document. **

Davidson, Tim, and Jeannette R. Davidson. Winter 1995. “Cost-Containment, Computers and Confidentiality.” Clinical Social Work Journal, Vol. 23, (4), pp. 453-464.

The profession of social work has clear standards to follow in protecting confidentiality when a client discloses information in a psychotherapy session. These standards are examined in relation to an increasing disregard for privacy as staff of managed care for mental health services & employee assistance programs gather & store information in computer databases, with the overall objective of cost containment. Ethical principles are discussed & suggestions made for safeguarding the client’s right to privacy. 15 References. Adapted from the source document. **

Dee, Thomas S, William Evans N., and Sheila E. Murray Summer 1999. “Data watch: research data in the economics of education.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 13, (3), pp. 205-216.

With states and school districts embarking on a variety of ambitious educational reforms and experiments, reliable data sources that generate sound empirical evaluations of these activities are becoming increasingly important. Three broad types of data sets, covering educational institutions, educational outcomes at the individual level, and school reforms and experiments are discussed. These sets include databases constructed by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, and the database of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research:, which contains the Census of Government’s Financial and Employment data from 1962 to 1987. The content of the data sets, its availability, and the research associated with it are discussed.

Featherstone, Mike. January-March, 2000. “Archiving Cultures.” The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 51 (1) pp. 161-184.

Argues that, to understand the legitimacy of a culture, its relation to the archives, i.e., the site for the accumulation of records, must be investigated. Archive reason is concerned with the particularity & singularity of the event. Increasingly, the focus has shifted from archiving the lives of the good & the great to recording the details of mundane everyday life. The problem then becomes not what to put into the archives but what to leave out. Some of the implications of these questions were considered by Georg Simmel in his argument that there has been a buildup & overload in the production & circulation of objective culture that has exceeded the individual’s subjective capacity to assimilate & order. In this way, the individual is confronted with irresolvable dilemmas over selectivity, with each particular choice amounting to a wager that inevitably closes off others. Related questions about the difficulties of handling cultural completeness were also addressed by Jorge Luis Borges. Yet neither thinker could have anticipated the full implications of the electronic archive: the development of new technologies for storing, searching, & communicating information through the Internet via databases & hypertext links. The electronic archive offers new possibilities for speed, mobility, & completeness of access to cultures that have become digitized, raising fundamental questions about ownership, intellectual property rights, censorship, & democratic access. It is contended that the new electronic archives will change not only the form in which culture is produced & recorded, but also the wider conditions under which it is enacted & lived. 67 References. Adapted from the source document.**

Garson, G. David. 1996. “Social Science and Computers: Toward the Year 2000.” Advances in Social Science and Computers, Vol. 4 pp. 307-323.

Discusses developments in computing of import to social science as seen from 1994: growth of the Internet & social-science-specific Internet sites; online databases; the National Science Foundation Digital Library Initiative; online professional publishing; the World Wide Web & image data; & distribution of data on CD-ROM. The central role of social scientists in study of social issues of computing & telecommunications is also discussed. The applicability of the term “information revolution” is considered. 1 Reference. Adapted from the source document. **

Green, Michael “Working Practices.” In McGuigan, Jim (ed.), 1997. Cultural Methodologies, London: Sage, pp. 193-209.

Reflects on the conditions of possibility for conducting cultural studies in the British academy in light of recent transformations in the higher educational system. Currently, three models exist for conducting cultural research: as an individual endeavor; as collaboration between students & faculty; & as a team project. A fourth model of research as a pragmatic enterprise is being developed in response to new demands of the higher educational system. This kind of research will be a part-time activity, undertaken while students are also earning money, teaching, networking, & living a personal life. In this research model, several points are made to assist postgraduate students in completing their dissertation projects. This fourth model of research is particularly germane to cultural studies because it is in a more tenuous position than the more established disciplines. 8 References. D. Ryfe. **

Haines, David W. September 1999. Letting “the System” Do the Work. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 35, (3), pp. 306-324.

A review of a multiyear computerization project at a government agency reveals how technological changes both empower & vitiate the people & processes they are designed to improve. Although the transformation of this agency’s data-processing operations resulted in increased knowledge, productivity, & staff skills, the implementation of the changes affected different kinds of staff in distinct ways, particularly those who controlled the technology, those who used the technology to construct database tracking systems, & those who consumed the information provided in those databases. In particular, the technological changes engendered a greater visibility of work processes, thus sharply challenging the existing organizational hierarchy, which, in turn, undermined much of the potential of the changes. 66 References. Adapted from the source document.**

Hofstede, Geert. February 1998. “Case for Comparing Apples with Oranges: International Differences in Values.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 39, (1), pp. 16-31.

Outlines a framework for comparing values across nations, drawing from classic & recent cross-cultural research databases (e.g., 1967-1973 IBM data on employee attitudes in 72 countries). A distinction is made between measuring values as desirable & desired, where the former focuses on ideology & the latter relates to pragmatic issues & actual behavior. Analyses confirm four standard analytic issues first identified in Alex Inkeles & D. J. Levinson’s (1969) study of sociocultural systems & a fifth identified by M. H. Bond (1987); these issues are proposed to be common to most societies but must be approached according to individual values systems: (1) the discrepancy between human values from one end of the power structure to the other, (2) individualism vs. collectivism, (3) masculinity vs. femininity in gender roles, (4) uncertainty avoiding vs. the uncertainty tolerant, & (5) long- vs. short-term orientation toward economic growth. 1 Table, 28 References. D. Bajo. **

McCarty, Dennis, Thomas G. McGuire, Henrick J. Harwood, and Timothy Field. May 1998. “Using State Information Systems for Drug Abuse Services Research.” American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 41, (8), pp. 1090-1106.

The authors’ work with the ME, MA, & OH substance abuse information systems demonstrates how services researchers can investigate the organization, use, & cost-effectiveness of publicly funded substance abuse treatment services. Challenges of working with state databases are addressed in terms of access, handling, interpretation, & collaboration with policymakers & treatment providers. 2 Tables, 2 Appendixes, 20 References. Adapted from the source document.**

Meyer, Marshall W. September 1999. “Notes from a Border Discipline: Has the Border Become the Center?” Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 28, (5), pp. 507-510.

The importance of injecting the role of values, institutions, & social structures into business management courses is discussed from the perspective of an organizational sociologist teaching in a management school. The managerial focus of classic works in organizational sociology is discussed, along with reasons for the field’s separation from managerial concerns in the 1970s. It is argued that recent trends toward a renewal of the link between organizational sociology & managerial research are being spurred by the emerging subdiscipline of economic sociology, as well as the access to business enjoyed by sociologists affiliated with management schools. Sociological studies of management behavior require unrestrained access to the people & databases of large firms, which has not always been available to sociologists. The importance of sociological studies of the culture of business is discussed, along with the challenges facing the sociological perspective in management schools, which have traditionally preferred models over hypothesis testing. J. Lindroth.**

Milam, John. Winter 1999. Using the National Datasets for Faculty Studies. Air Professional File. Number 70, ED431357.

This paper examines 17 national datasets that are available for policy studies and research about college faculty. The datasets include 11 containing faculty information, two about student enrollment, two about degrees awarded, and two about institutional activity. Each of the following datasets is individually described: (1) National Science Foundation-National Institutes of Health Survey of Graduate Students and Post-doctorates in Science and Engineering; (2) Survey of Earned Doctorates; (3) Survey of Doctorate Recipients; (4) National Survey of Recent College Graduates; (5) National Survey of College Graduates; (6) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Survey of Earned Degrees; (7) NCES IPEDS Survey of Salaries, Tenure, and Fringe Benefits of full-time Instructional Faculty; (8) NCES IPEDS Fall Staff Survey; (9) College and University Personnel Association National Faculty Salary Survey by Discipline and Rank; (10) Oklahoma State Faculty Salary Survey; (11) National Study of Post-secondary Faculty; (12) Higher Education Research Institute Faculty Survey; (13) Doctoral Program Rankings, 1995; (14) American Association of University Professors Faculty Compensation Survey; (15) NCES IPEDS Fall Enrollment Survey; (16) NCES IPEDS Institutional Characteristics Survey; and (17) NCES IPEDS Finance Survey. World Wide Web addresses are provided for datasets when available. (DB) (From the ERIC database, sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Education)

Patterson, David A. April 1996. “An Electronic Social Work Knowledge Base: A Strategy for Global Information Sharing.” International Social Work, Vol. 39, (2), pp. 149-161.

Proposes the establishment of a social work international informational resource linkage (SWIIRL) that would electronically link social workers across the globe through the Internet, & discusses the conceptual design & potential problems of such a system. It is argued that SWIIRL would considerably augment the productivity of the social work profession by providing rapid exchange of vital information, facilitating relationships among researchers & academics at varied locations, & enhancing the compilation of all-available data & theory. The development of a global electronic journal would reduce the temporal distance between authorship & publication, & thereby ensure timely research & discussion of emerging social concerns & issues. Electronic bulletin boards would enable rapid global communication between social workers practicing in similar fields, while an electronic data archive & hypertext library would facilitate the retrieval of information from a massive range of contexts. It is suggested that the accommodation of language differences & funding issues are the primary obstacles hindering the establishment of SWIIRL, but that these problems can be overcome through the improvement of language translation software & international cooperation between social work organizations to secure financial backing. 25 References. T. Sevier.**

Recheis, W, G W Weber, K Schafer, R Knapp, H Seidler, and D zur Nedden. August 1999. “Virtual reality and anthropology.” European Journal of Radiology. Vol. 31, (2), pp. 88-96.

Since the discovery of the Tyrolean Iceman in 1991 advanced imaging and post processing techniques were successfully applied in anthropology. Specific techniques include spiral computed tomography and 3-dimensional reconstructions including stereolithographic and fused deposition modeling of volume data sets. The Iceman’s skull was the first to be reproduced using stereolithography, before this method was successfully applied in preoperative planning. With the advent of high-end graphics workstations and biomedical image processing software packages, 3-dimensional reconstructions were established as a routine tool for analyzing volume data sets. These techniques opened totally new insights in the field of physical anthropology. Computed tomography became the ideal research tool to access the internal structures of various precious fossils without damaging or even touching them, Many of the most precious specimens from the species Australopithecus (1.8-3.5 Myears). Homo heidelbergensis (200-600 kyears) or Homo neanderthalensis (40-100 kyears) were scanned during the last 5 years. Often the fossils are filled with a stone matrix or other materials. During the postprocessing routines highly advanced algorithms were used to remove virtually these encrustations. Thus it was possible to visualize the morphological structures that lie beneath the matrix. Some specimens were partially destroyed, so the missing parts were reconstructed on computer screen in order to get estimations of the brain volume and endocranial morphology, both major fields of interest in physical anthropology. Moreover the computerized form of the data allows new descriptions of Morphologic structures by the means of ‘geometric morphometrics’. Some of the results may change aspects and interpretations in human evolution. The introduction of new imaging and post processing techniques created a new field of research: Virtual Anthropology. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. [References: 27]

Swigert, Victoria L., Stephen C. Ainlay, and Royce A. Singleton. July 1993. “The Social Science Research Center at an Undergraduate College: Lessons from the Worcester Area Project on Aging.” Teaching Sociology Vol. 21, (3) , pp. 298-305.

The Worcester (Mass) Area Project on Aging, of the College of the Holy Cross, differs from other undergraduate research centers in its emphasis on basic research & its exclusive focus on an annual survey of the local elderly population; it differs fundamentally from graduate-level area studies programs in its involvement of undergraduates in research. Here, based on experience gained during the two-year pilot period of the project, lessons are drawn regarding difficulties in combining teaching & research at an undergraduate college. Focus is on problems of student recruitment, time constraints, the breadth of student involvement, students’ preparation in methods & statistics, & the educational value of faculty-student collaboration. 10 References. Adapted from the source document. **

Wagner, Jon. February 1998. “Pairing General Purpose Computer Programs to Analyze Qualitative Data: An Illustration Based on MS Word and FileMaker Pro”. CAM: The Cultural Anthropology Methods Journal, Vol. 10, (1), pp. 4-9.

Contends that general-purpose computer programs can be used to create qualitative data analysis software, combining a standard word-processing program (Microsoft Word) with a common database program (FileMaker Pro) to create the analytical mechanism. It is asserted that the software amalgam facilitates text coding & retrieving functions; moreover, the ability of computer operating systems to simultaneously run multiple programs & the improvement of database programs to handle text & graphics makes the software amalgam a viable alternative. A tutorial for designing templates for secondary data groups, coding primary chunks of text in the secondary data group, sorting & finding primary data, & evaluating coded chunks of text is presented. Advantages of the combined-program approach include revision of extant databases, capacity to search text for specific words, & ability to locate primary documents from secondary chunks of text. The alternative approach is compared with extant qualitative data analysis programs. 2 Figures, 18 References. J. W. Parker.**

** Abstract published with permission of Sociological Abstracts/CSA

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