52 works that inspired sociologists this year… well, one sociologist, anyway

Neal Caren’s list of the 52 most cited works in sociology journals in 2013 on Scatterplot was a little disappointing… to me, anyway.  This isn’t a critique of Caren; I love reading his analyses of the field.  But, it made me think about how to properly measure what work inspires sociologists?  Caren uses citation counts as a measure of inspiration, though he jokingly comments on his own post that “we are unable to identify the mechanism by which works are cited.”  And when we do that, a few things quickly become apparent: (1) of the 75 authors present on the list, 13 are women (made increasingly frustrating by recent research documenting a gender citation gap), (2) most are getting a bit dated (are we no longer producing important work?), (3) certain research topics are more heavily represented, while others seem virtually ignored.

Measuring the impact of a given piece of research is difficult to do.  Citation counts are a sort of quick and dirty method, but as some have pointed out, many of these citations are better described as gratuitous than engaged.  It’s more difficult to measure the quality of a citation.  It’s the sort of thing that passes a “I know it when I see it” test, but is harder to imagine systematically studying. I know that on the rare occasion that my own work is cited, I’m much more interested in how it was cited than simply that it was cited.  Some of those that made the list seem likely candidates for tangential citations—superficial references made to a work without any significant discussion of precisely how the present research utilizes, builds on, critiques, makes use of, etc. the work in question.  And, certainly, I’d love to write something worthy of gratuitous citation.  But is this what inspires?  Some of Caren’s list is work that inspires me—but some of it misses the mark… or my mark, at any rate.

I was considering coming up with some other method of measuring how “inspirational” different publications were and decided that I’d simply make my own list.  Following are 52 of the books, articles, and more that have inspired me in the past year.  The citations are organized haphazardly, neglecting some, avoiding others, and with more than a bit of haste.  I did endeavor to include some older works on the list, but the list is decidedly biased toward my own areas of interest and expertise, and my methodological, theoretical, and interdisciplinary leanings.  I also included many that are (or probably will be) well cited, but others have avoided as many citations as they deserve (in my humble opinion).  Others deal with topics that might make them unlikely to be cited a great deal, but deal centrally with challenges many sociologists face (methodological, research, analytical, theoretical, and in answer to the ever-present “who cares?” question).  And others are simply fascinating studies that come up with clever sources of data, are beautifully written, and help us to question many of our most deeply-held assumptions.

  1. Kondo, Dorinne K. 1990. Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  2. Smith, Dorothy. 1987. The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
  3. Gamson, Joshua. 1999. Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  4. Bernstein, Elizabeth. 2007. Temporarily Yours: Intimacy, Authenticity, and the Commerce of Sex. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  5. Schalet, Amy. 2010. “Sexual Subjectivity Revisited: The Significance of Relationships in Dutch and American Girls’ Experiences of Sexuality.” Gender & Society 24(3): 304-329.
  6. Sobieraj, Sarah. 2011. Soundbitten: The Perils of Media-Centered Activism. New York: NYU Press.
  7. Barrie Thorne. 1993. Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  8. Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. 1985. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology From The Open Hearth To The Microwave. New York: Basic Books.
  9. David Halperin. 2012. How to be Gay. Cambridge: Belknap Press.
  10. Townsend, Nicholas. 2002. The Package Deal: Marriage, Work, and Fatherhood in Men’s Lives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  11. Pugh, Allison. 2009. Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  12. Gerson, Kathleen. 2011. The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family. New York: Oxford University Press.
  13. Whitehead, Jaye Cee. 2011. The Nuptial Deal: Same-Sex Marriage and Neo-Liberal Governance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  14. Acosta, Katie. 2008. “Lesbianas in the Borderlands: Shifting Identities and Imagined Communities.” Gender & Society 22(5): 639-659.
  15. Luker, Kristen. 2007. When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex—and Sex Education—Since the Sixties. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  16. Messner, Michael. 2000. “Barbie Girls versus Sea Monsters: Children Constructing Gender.” Gender & Society 14(6): 765-784.
  17. Ferguson, Ann Arnet. 2001. Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  18. Gutmann, Matthew. 2007. Fixing Men: Sex, Birth Control, and AIDS in Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  19. Martin, Patricia Yancey. 2003. “‘Said and Done’ versus ‘Saying and Doing’: Gendering Practices, Practicing Gender at Work.” Gender & Society 17(3): 342-366.
  20. Bernstein, Mary and Verta Taylor. The Marrying Kind?: Debating Same-Sex Marriage within the Lesbian and Gay Movement. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  21. Ward, Jane. 2008. “Dude-Sex: White Masculinities and ‘Authentic’ Heterosexuality Among Dudes Who Have Sex With Dudes.” Sexualities 11(4): 414-434.
  22. Lorber, Judith. 1993. “Believing is Seeing: Biology as Ideology.” Gender & Society 7(4): 568-581.
  23. Michael Kimmel. 1996. Manhood in America: A Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press.
  24. Schilt, Kristen. 2011. Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  25. Eliasoph, Nina. 1990. “Political Culture and the Presentation of a Political Self.” Theory and Society 19(4): 465-494.
  26. Seidman, Steven. 1996. Queer Theory/Sociology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
  27. Neal, Mark Anthony. 2013. Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities. New York: NYU Press.
  28. Ridgeway, Cecilia and Shelley Correll. 2004. “Unpacking the Gender System: A Theoretical Perspective on Gender Beliefs and Social Relations.” Gender & Society 18(4): 510-531.
  29. Risman, Barbara. 2004. “Gender as Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism.” Gender & Society 18(4): 429-450.
  30. Joan Acker. 2006. “Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations.” Gender & Society 20(4): 441-464.
  31. Ocampo, Anthony. 2012. “Making Masculinity: Negotiations of Gender Presentation among Latino Gay Men.” Latino Studies 10(4): 448-472.
  32. Meadow, Tey. 2011. “‘Deep Down Where the Music Plays’: How Parents Account for Childhood Gender Variance.” Sexualities 14(6): 725-747.
  33. DeVault, Marjorie. 1994. Feeding the Family: The Social Organization of Caring as Gendered Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  34. Wilkins, Amy. 2009. “Masculinity Dilemmas: Sexuality and Intimacy Talk among Christians and Goths.” Signs 34(2): 343-368.
  35. Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. 2010. “Cultivating Questions for a Sociology of Gardens.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 39(5): 498-516.
  36. Willis, Paul. 1979. “Shop Floor Culture, Masculinity, and the Wage Form.” Pp. 185-198 in Working-Class Culture: Studies in History and Theory, edited by J. Clarke, C. Critcher, and R. Johnson. London: Hutchinson.
  37. Moore, Mignon. 2011. Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships, and Motherhood among Black Women. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  38. Jeffrey Escoffier (2003). “Gay-for-Pay: Straight Men and the Making of Gay Pornography.” Qualitative Sociology 26(4): 531-555.
  39. Altman, Dennis. 2002. Global Sex. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  40. Jones, Nikki. 2009. Between Good and Ghetto: African-American Girls and Inner-City Violence. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  41. Hays, Sharon. 1996. The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  42. Bettie, Julie. 2003. Women without Class: Girls, Race, and Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  43. Wingfield, Adia Harvey. 2009. “Racializing the Glass Escalator: Reconsidering Men’s Experiences with Women’s Work.” Gender & Society 23(1): 5-26.
  44. Schwalbe, Michael, Sandra Godwin, Daphne Holden, Douglas Schrock, Shealy Thompson, Michele Wolkomir. 2000. “Generic Processes in the Reproduction of Inequality: An Interactionist Analysis.” Social Forces 79(2): 419-452.
  45. Connell, R.W. 2002. Gender. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  46. Green, Adam Isaiah. 2008. “The Social Organization of Desire: The Sexual Fields Approach.” Sociological Theory 26(1): 25-50.
  47. Pascoe, C.J. 2007. Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  48. Stacey, Judith. 2011. Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China. New York: NYU Press.
  49. Rios, Victor. 2011. Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys. New York: NYU Press.
  50. Stein, Arlene. 2005. “Make Room for Daddy: Anxious Masculinity and Emergent Homophobias in Neopatriarchal Politics.” Gender & Society 19(5): 601-620.
  51. Westbrook, Laurel and Kristen Schilt. (forthcoming). “Doing Gender, Determining Gender: Transgender People, Gender Panics, and the Maintenance of the Sex/Gender/Sexuality System.” Gender & Society.
  52. Muñoz, José Esteban. 1999. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

There was not enough room on this list to include all the work I love.  But, this was some of the work that I found difficult to put down this year as I taught, re-read, cited, or read it for the first time.  If Caren’s list taught me anything, it’s that more than one list ought to be in circulation.

I’m also planning a post on some of my favorite sociological blog posts (by others) in the past year to celebrate the blogging community as well.

2 thoughts on “52 works that inspired sociologists this year… well, one sociologist, anyway

  1. Pingback: Making the next 52 weeks count | rogue cheerios

  2. Pingback: 52 works that inspired sociologists this year.....

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