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Minority Men doing “Women’s Work”


While male-dominated jobs are some of the fastest shrinking in the U.S., and female-dominated jobs are some of the fastest growing, many men choose not to enter fields they view as “women’s work” — occupations like home healthcare worker or nurse practitioner. But it is not all men who stay away from female-dominated occupations. You guessed it — it’s white men. Recent research by Jill Yavorsky, Philip Cohen, and Yue Qian shows that racial minority men are more likely than white men to work in female-dominated jobs.

The researchers use 2010-2012 American Community Survey data on working men ages 25 to 54 to statistically analyze the effects of race on the gender composition of jobs. The find that all groups of racial minority men are more likely than white men to work in female-dominated jobs, and this finding remains constant even when considering differences in men’s education levels, with the exception of Asian men with advanced degrees. Notably, black men and white men represent the greatest disparity — black men have the highest probability of working in a female-dominated job, while white men have the lowest probability of doing so.

While this study can only tell us what is happening — that more minority men work in female-dominated jobs than white men — the “why” remains an open question. For one, this could be a tale of discrimination; minority men may be kept out of male-dominated fields and forced to choose female-dominated occupations. On the other hand, men of color may defy societal norms and place more value on so-called “women’s work,” like caring activities, than white men. Regardless, these findings highlight the important intersection of race and gender in the workplace.


Jill Yavorsky, Philip Cohen, and Yue Qian, “Man Up, Man Down: Race-Ethnicity and the Hierarchy of Men in Female-Dominated Work,” The Sociological Quarterly, 2016


Date         :               January 31, 2107

Author     :               Allison Nobles

Source     :               The Society Pages


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How Apparently Unpopular Racial Rhetoric Can Be Politically Effective


Journalists and academics alike have pointed to racial and xenophobic tensions in the 2016 election, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rhetorically denigrated Mexican-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and others – and got support for such attacks from elements on the extreme right. Studies suggest that only a shrinking minority of white Americans still espouse extremely negative views on race and immigration. But even if Trump’s racially charged statements do not simply reflect broader public opinion, could they nevertheless have a broad impact once his administration is installed in the White House?

My research indicates Trump’s rhetoric has the potential to activate underlying racial views and deep biases against undocumented immigrants held, sometimes subconsciously, by virtually all white Americans – young and old, Democrats and Republicans, college-educated and not. Incoming President Trump may be well-positioned to exploit white anxieties to push policies that increase rather than decrease racial and ethnic gaps; and beyond the political realm, Trump’s rhetoric could influence how Americans treat one another in schools, jobs, and neighborhoods.

A Study of How White Americans Think about Race and Immigration

In 2015 – before Trump announced his candidacy – I conducted a survey experiment that asked a nationally representative sample of about 1,350 native-born white Americans to select preferred neighbors from among hypothetical individuals with randomly varied racial backgrounds, citizenship status, jobs, English language ability, and other key social characteristics. Respondents to the survey were asked to indicate how interested they were in being friends with the various types of people, and were also asked to rate how similar they thought these individuals were to themselves. This experimental design allowed me to measure how much each of the tested characteristics contributes to white American views of immigrants and minorities. The results are striking:

  • Apart from racial and other social characteristics, undocumented immigrant status elicits the most negative reactions from white Americans. All else equal, the hypothetical undocumented immigrants in my experiment were a full 29 percentage points less likely to be selected as neighbors than native-born U.S. citizens. Such negative reactions came almost identically from self-identified Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
  • Job statuses mattered much less. Cashiers – workers in jobs that do not require a high school degree – were just five percent less likely to get a negative reaction than accountants – workers in posts requiring a college degree. Given considerable economic segregation in American life, it was surprising to find that job status differences mattered so much less than citizen versus undocumented immigrant standing.
  • Interestingly, race plays only a small independent role in shaping neighbor preferences. Black neighbors were selected by white respondents only four percentage points less often than white neighbors; and selections of Latino and Asian potential neighbors were not statistically distinguishable from selections of whites.

Although the results I found for race may seem startling given continuing U.S. racial segregation, it is important to remember that the experimental design already accounted for differences in socioeconomic status and citizenship that are often conflated with race. Outside of the experimental context, Latino-Americans are often stereotyped as undocumented – a fact that highlights the racial consequences of bias against undocumented immigrants.

Furthermore, while I found that non-white profiles were only slightly more often rejected when white respondents were asked to select potential neighbors, the racial disadvantage grew when white respondents were asked about potential friends, invoking a more intimate social tie. Furthermore, white negativity toward subjects of other races was largest when respondents were asked how similar is this person to people like you?

From Subtle Discrimination to Public Scapegoating?

An important shift has occurred over the last several decades in the racial attitudes of white Americans. Explicit discrimination has given way to subtler, under-the-surface ways of understanding racial distinctions. Although whites accepted potential non-white neighbors, they still rated non-white profiles as “less similar” to them than profiles of native-born whites, even when Blacks, Latinos, and Asians were described as native-born American citizens who spoke fluent English, or had white-collar jobs, or volunteered regularly, or were married to white spouses. This unique impact of race emerged even though at no point in the survey were participants urged to consider race in their evaluations, or told what “similarity” meant. Without any such prompting or instruction, white Americans – regardless of their age, education level, political party, or geographic location – overwhelmingly relied on racial characteristics to assess similarity, much more so than they relied on other characteristics except undocumented status.

Overall, my findings suggest that white Americans still consider race as a fundamental characteristic marking differences among people. Of course, labeling someone as racially different is not inherently biased – and it is a far cry from the explicitly prejudiced claims trumpeted by Donald Trump in 2016. However, I did find evidence of strong bias against undocumented immigrants, even those proficient in English or holding white-collar jobs.

How might the views I uncovered be publicly manipulated? When people consider certain groups to be fundamentally dissimilar, they can more easily be convinced that such “different” groups are to blame for societal problems like unemployment or crime – especially when political elites declare this to be true. In the past, American politicians have gained broad support by scapegoating minority groups. Today, Trump is trying for similar political gains by being much more explicit in the use of racially derogatory rhetoric than other recent national politicians – and especially by mounting strong verbal attacks against immigrants. The long-term effects remain to be seen, but they could be significant, because – despite the considerable racial progress America has made in modern times – Trump is tapping into very real white beliefs about racial differences and very real hostilities toward undocumented immigrants

Read more in Ariela Schachter, “From ‘Different’ to ‘Similar’: An Experimental Approach to Understanding Assimilation.” American Sociological Review (October 2016).


Date         :               January 2017

Author     :                Ariela Schacter (Washington University in St. Louis)

Source     :               Scholars Strategy Network

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The sociology and psychology of xenophobia


In votes for Brexit, and in Trump, we are hearing an indivisible claim for a national, ethnic, gender and class identity. But the claim emerges not from pride, but from shame.

‘Sheffield’, he echoed with a snort, when I said where I was from.

Someone tried to rescue him, ‘People can’t help where they come from.’

‘They can move,’ he answered.

This exchange was one of my first as an undergraduate at Cambridge University. My interlocutor had spent most of Fresher’s Week mentioning that he’d travelled to all but one continent. (Antarctica was planned for the summer.) Paris was a regular hop, but it transpired that Cambridge was the furthest he’d been outside London. He was not white, but had a professional father, and attended a top London grammar school—the kind that had Boris Johnson bestow prizes on practically every leaver.

“They can move” is not just a naïve nineteen-year old’s retort. It has been the policy position of the, now-marginal, political centre. Recurring op-eds reason that public investment in post-industrial areas is, as some put it to me in person, pissing up the wall. Instead, “they” should move to growth areas, like Cambridge. The position was apparently apolitical; it would signal the speaker ‘got’ economics.

But understanding why people in post-industrial areas haven’t moved, out of their local area, or up social classes, is necessary to explain this disproportionately white, working class group’s pro-Brexit politics. The politics set, against the consensus of economists, to end EU freedom of movement.

We have to start by recognising that most people don’t want to move. People are attached to the place they grew up in— even when they know it’s ugly, grey, and jobless. They are attached to their family—no matter how apparently ‘troubled’ it is. They identify with their region and their class—all the more when others mock it.

But let us also consider why some people are not free to move. People who move place or class (and the two often go together) tend to have subtle advantages. To move takes resources—and not just a travel fare or formal education.  Moving takes a mind for complexity, an imagination for ambition, a stomach for homesickness—and a readiness to risk rejection.

This is how, for all the discrimination they experience, immigrants and their children in England can have resources those left-behind lack. At school, ethnic minority working-class boys fare better than their white counterparts, while more diverse inner London schools do better than majority white ones. Experiences vary, especially by class, but perhaps minorities have pushier parents who didn’t leave home for nothing. Perhaps, with family abroad, they have a mental map that orientates them in a global world; tastes that readily cross cultures. So total is England’s class system, categorising people on every preference and pronunciation, you can be lucky if, by ethnic difference, you don’t fit neatly into it.

Migrant’s advantages are at the margins. But the competition isn’t only for jobs or wages. It’s also for deservingness and dignity. Jealousy never excuses xenophobia. But this potent mix of emotions —fear, inadequacy, resentment, distrust, and disgust— can help us comprehend it.

It also helps explain why the liberal response, to point out migrants’ net benefit to economic growth, fails. Why would it help to hear that many of our doctors, scientists and lawyers—professions still largely closed to those from lower classes—are not white or British? Or that the Polish builders are harder working or the Spanish sandwich-shop servers have a better attitude than native workers? It only shows them up.

Xenophobia does not flare up when migrants are failing to meet national cultural norms — it flares up when the native-born population is. Slow-burning anti-Semitism became a wild fire when Jews took up new opportunities that Germans were poorly prepared for and resisted.

Those who have the “mobility mindset” – the literal ‘get-up-and-go’ – may be accepted, even celebrated. But those who don’t, the story continues, lack character. Character, as if it were an essential property of an individual untouched by socio-economic experience. Character, as if the recent shift in its meaning—from acting morally to acting in whatever way economically successful people do—were seamless.

The reaction to this narrative, as moral as it is economic, has been to reverse it. To claim the superiority of the worst stereotypes of white working class cultures. To rebuff movement. The Conservatives, borrowing from UKIP, have successfully honed this inverse snobbery. Labour, long ambivalent about migration and social mobility, has also reverted to it.

We can hear a claim for class, as well as national-ethnic, identity in support for Brexit. But it emerges not from pride, but from shame. The jealous group, like the lover, is only more likely to see their fears, of humiliation and abandonment, come true. For it is not that the advantages of the mobile are never liberating or life-enhancing. It is that they are what inequality denies.

Rejecting mobility can never challenge the economic injustice – or the psychic injury – of class and regional inequality, because it essentialises it. It shares the conservative idea that status and skills are intrinsic, inherited properties; that people should stay in their place. The idea that some things simply ‘aren’t for the likes of us’ – things that include higher education, ownership, and environmental and human rights protection – has always been the convenient way to conserve power.

Movement has been an obligation for people seeking decent jobs and dignity, and one they cannot fulfill. Movement brings loss. But so too, in an unequal status-quo, does stasis. We deny people dignity when we deny them the ability to move – place, class, or politics: when we pat the working class on the imagined flat-cap, with false promises of bringing back the fifties.

The white working class doesn’t have true freedom of movement. But they are not the people who will benefit from its end. England’s elite power remains rooted in inherited title, property, and press ownership. It dismisses demands for public investment – and tax on unearned wealth that might pay for it – as the politics of envy. But it is envy that its politics has fed off: a conservative politics that blocks movement, not least towards a better future for the white working class.


Sophie Moullin is Elliotte Robinson Little ’25 fellow and a PhD student in sociology at Princeton University. She tweets @SophieMoullin.


Date         :            February 17, 2017

Author     :             Sophie Moullin

Source     :            Open Democracy


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Trump’s Travel Ban: The View from One Permanently on U.S. Immigration’s Watch List


Trump’s ban isn’t about national security. It’s about race, religion, and cultural exclusion

As a citizen of the Philippines who’s been detained and subjected to questioning and “secondary screening” almost every time I’ve entered the United States, I feel much sympathy for those whose freedom of movement has been violated by Donald Trump.

There’s a difference in our situations though. While my being temporarily detained on almost every occasion probably stems from my long record of arrests from leading protests in the United States against the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, Trump’s controversial travel ban has nothing to do with vetting visitors.

Visa holders, refugees, and U.S. permanent residents from the seven predominantly Muslim countries on the list are already among the people most tightly and comprehensively vetted by U.S. immigration and intelligence authorities, so it’s hard to understand how Trump’s move will bring added security.

It’s about Immigration, Stupid

What this is all about isn’t national security. It’s about keeping America Snow White and Prince Charming Christian.

It’s about immigration, in short.

And it’s the opening salvo of Trump’s determined effort to make religion a criterion for becoming part of American society. Whenever he pronounced the three words “radical Islamic terrorist” during his presidential campaign, he always put the stress on the second word, “Islamic,” and continually attacked former President Barack Obama’s refusal to dignify his demagogical effort to promote the idea that Islam promotes terrorism.

Trump’s is a politics of exclusion, and immigration policy is his most direct method of carrying this out.

He’s building a wall to keep out Mexican workers, but let’s face it: “Mexican” for him and his followers doesn’t only refer to Mexicans, but to all Latinos. When he attacks China for what he considers unfair trading practices, he’s not just talking about trade. China is also a code-word for the stereotypical crafty Asian taking advantage of the American people. Even children get it, as Asian American youngsters taunted by their peers at school would testify.

Trump’s immigration policy, security policy, and economic policy are all intertwined, and the lynchpin of the package is fear of the Other — that is, fear of those who are non-white and non-Christian. He’s both a creator and a creature of the new nativist movement that draws deep from the wellsprings of American prejudices about Latinos, Asians, Blacks, and Muslims.

It’s a movement fed by what he and his followers regard as a cataclysmic event: that in a few more years, white Americans will no longer be the majority of the population.

More Restrictions to Come

So what happens next?

Trump will surely issue more executive orders on immigration, and he’s sure to push for comprehensive immigration legislation along right-wing lines. But even if these fail or are delayed, current immigration procedures and legislation already provide him with a lot of power to practice his exclusionary politics.

Immigration policy and processes are extraordinarily susceptible to subjective assessments and informal rules, whatever the laws on books say. Anyone who’s applied for a visa to go the United States knows that they’re at the mercy of their interviewer and prey to his or her quirks, biases, and moods.

Everyone who endures this process takes it for granted that there are quotas for different categories of people, even when those quotas aren’t formally set. Race, class, and ethnicity aren’t supposed to matter in assessing one’s qualifications to migrate to the United States, but everyone knows that at the top of the preferred migrants or visitors are those from the Anglosphere, and that if you’re non-white and not from the elite, you’re way down the list of possible entrants — unless you have a skill assessed as valuable to the U.S. economic machine. And Trump wants to take away even that channel with his plan to eliminate the H1B visa that allows people with specialty occupations to work in the U.S.

Already highly discretionary in practice, immigration procedures will become even more discretionary under Trump.

Waiting for Other Shoes to Drop

My country, the Philippines, isn’t on the list of seven countries — yet.

During his presidential campaign, Trump identified the Philippines as a haven for terrorists and among the priority countries that he’d put on a blacklist. Trump’s list is highly arbitrary and flexible, depending on the occasion or his mood. But even without the Philippines being on that list, you can bet that any Filipino with a Muslim name applying to enter the U.S. will find it much harder to enter America than one with a Christian name.

With Trump’s overt anti-Muslim stance fortifying the anti-Muslim prejudices of many in the U.S. immigration bureaucracy, it’s likely that if you’re a young Muslim male from Mindanao, you’ll be pigeonholed by your interviewer as a potential security threat unless you can prove otherwise. And, as some have found, even if you do get a visa, you’re not guaranteed entry: You can be put into what’s called secondary screening , like I’ve been, and depending on the subjective judgment of your interviewer, you may be refused entry at the airport.

There are thousands of Filipino Muslims who live in the U.S., and they and their relatives go back and forth between the two countries. Their right to travel faces severe curtailment if the new immigration regime goes forward. This is why instead of saying it will respect Trump’s recent order, the Philippine government should speak out publicly against it, in order to blunt the momentum of an exclusionary regime that will eventually affect its citizens.

Indeed, so should all governments, whether out of decency, solidarity, or self-interest. After all, there’s a strong likelihood that someday soon their citizens will be blacklisted under this racist, nativist, and culturally exclusivist regime.


Walden Bello was chairman of the Philippine House of Representatives Committee on Overseas Workers from 2010 to 2015. He’s been put into secondary screening by U.S. immigration officials almost every time that he’s entered the United States owing to his record of arrests in the U.S. while opposing the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.


Date         :               February 2, 2017

Author     :                Walden Bello

Source     :               Foreign Policy in Focus


Posted in Latest Post, Political and Environmental Activisms, Social and Economic Inequalities | Leave a comment

World’s jobless to rise amid economic uncertainty, growing inequality – UN labour report


The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) released its 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook report today, which finds economic growth trends lagging behind employment needs and predicts both rising unemployment and worsening social inequality throughout 2017.

“We are facing the twin challenge of repairing the damage caused by the global economic and social crisis and creating quality jobs for the tens of millions of new labour market entrants every year,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

According to the report, global growth domestic product (GDP) growth reached a six-year low last year, well below the rate that was projected in 2015. Forecasters continue to revise their 2017 predictions downwards and uncertainty about the global economy persists, generating worry among experts that the economy will be unable to employ a sufficient number of people and that growth will not lead to inclusive and shared benefits.

Throughout 2017, global unemployment is expected to rise by 3.4 million. The increase, while a modest 5.7 to 5.8 per cent, is due to deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries – particularly those in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, unemployment is expected to fall in developed countries – especially in Northern, Southern, and Western Europe, the United States, and Canada.

In addition, the figure of 1.4 billion people who are employed in vulnerable working conditions is not expected to decrease. That number represents 42 per cent of all employment for 2017.

“Almost one in two workers in emerging countries are in vulnerable forms of employment, rising to more than four in five workers in developing countries,” said Steven Tobin, ILO Senior Economist and lead author of the report. That statistic is even worse for emerging countries. Those living in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are facing the greatest risk.

While the number of people living in poverty has been declining in recent years, rates of progress have begun to slow and are expected to continue to diminish in 2017. In developing countries, the rate of poverty is actually increasing.

Since 2009, the percentage of the working-age population willing to migrate abroad for work has risen in almost every region in the world. That trend was most prominent in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Arab States.

The report also points out a number of social inequalities that are creating barriers to growth and prosperity. Gender gaps in particular are affecting the labour market. In Northern Africa, women in the labour force are twice as likely as men to be unemployed. That gap is wider still for women in Arab States. As a result of these and other social inequalities across a wide range of demographics, the ILO estimates that the risk of social unrest or discontent is growing in almost all regions.

“Economic growth continues to disappoint and underperform – both in terms of levels and the degree of inclusion. This paints a worrisome picture for the global economy and its ability to generate enough jobs,” said Mr. Ryder. “Persistent high levels of vulnerable forms of employment combined with clear lack of progress in job quality – even in countries where aggregate figures are improving – are alarming. We need to ensure that the gains of growth are shared in an inclusive manner.”

The ILO advocates policy approaches that address root causes of secular stagnation as well as structural impediments to growth.

“Boosting economic growth in an equitable and inclusive manner requires a multi-faceted policy approach that addresses the underlying causes of secular stagnation, such as income inequality, while taking into account country specificities,” said Mr. Toobin.

Such progress, the ILO emphasized, is only possible through international cooperation. A coordinated effort to provide fiscal stimuli and public investments would go a long way to provide an immediate jump start to the global economy and could eliminate an anticipated rise in unemployment for two million people.


Date         :              January 12, 2017

Source     :               UN News Centre


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Education access problem ‘is poverty, not gender’


UN plan to eradicate gender inequality misses larger problem of low access rates linked to poverty, University of Cambridge experts warn

When the United Nations began its push to improve access to higher education in the world’s poorest countries last year, it was hailed as a historic moment by many education experts.

Never before had the UN set itself targets to increase participation in tertiary-level education. Instead, it had focused almost exclusively on making sure that children around the world had the chance to gain a decent education at a primary or secondary school, while efforts around post-18 education were centred on technical or vocational training.

By including a goal of achieving “equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university” as part of its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, there is hope that university attendance can be boosted across the globe, particularly for women.

However, the UN’s focus on eradicating gender inequality in education – a cause championed by Michelle Obama, America’s outgoing first lady, among others – may in fact cause governments to lose sight of more pernicious educational inequalities, two University of Cambridge educationalists have warned.

According to a study by Sonia Ilie and Pauline Rose, from Cambridge’s Faculty of Education, educational inequalities concerning poverty are far greater than those regarding gender.

Using data from the Young Lives project, a University of Oxford longitudinal study tracking about 12,000 children born in 1994 over their entire education, Dr Ilie and Professor Rose found that women’s participation in higher education often exceeded men’s, although the participation gap remained huge when income was considered.

For instance, only 2 per cent of Ethiopia’s poorest fifth of male 19-year-olds are in higher education, but 9 per cent of its poorest female 19-year-olds are. Meanwhile, 22 per cent of the richest 19-year-old men and 30 per cent of the richest 19-year-old women are at university.

Income was also a key factor in Vietnam, where some 8 per cent of the poorest 19-year-old men are in higher education compared with 14 per cent for women from low-income families, the Young Lives data show. In comparison, participation rates for richer 19-year-olds stood at a fairly healthy 48 per cent and 56 per cent for men and women, respectively.

“We need to keep on focusing on gender inequalities, but it is clear that the gaps in educational outcomes are far larger when you compare different income groups,” Dr Ilie told Times Higher Education.

Those educational inequalities are particularly apparent at primary school level, where income was far more important than gender in determining whether children went to school or not, said Dr Ilie, who presented her results at the Society for Research into Higher Education’s annual research conference in Wales last month.

“The push to get everyone into primary schooling has fundamentally altered the education landscape, and many more young children are going to school,” she said.

“Later on in the education system, the figures tend to favour boys, but the gender gap is starting to get a lot smaller,” she added.

Throwing the UN’s weight behind ensuring equal access to higher education for both sexes was likely to have an impact on this problem, even if it was not the most pressing challenge faced by these countries, which is poverty-related inequalities, Dr Ilie added.

“Whenever there is an explicit focus on a target like this, you see an increase in monitoring activity and governments look in more depth about what is happening,” she explained.

Offering quality universal education was particularly important for improving access to university as only 5 per cent of those not enrolled in school by the age of eight made it into higher education, the Young Lives information showed, said Dr Ilie.

“If you do not start learning very early, it is a huge missed opportunity and your chances of reaching higher education diminish hugely,” she explained.

“We also need to focus on what is happening in schools – it’s not enough to simply master basic numeracy and literacy as you need to acquire a good grasp of higher-level maths to improve your chance of getting into university,” she added.

Education targets laid out in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda, agreed in September 2015

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education
  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes
  • By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university


By            :               Jack Grove

Date         :               January 12, 2017

Source     :               Times Higher Education

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How students’ aspirations exacerbate social inequality


Q: How do differences in students’ aspirations affect social inequality in school?

A: While the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) show that Singapore outperforms most Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, including the territory of Hong Kong, in both mathematics and reading, they also show that Hong Kong clearly outperforms Singapore in terms of social equity.

Indeed, the report shows that while socio-economic status (SES) explains only 5 per cent of the variation in science performance in Hong Kong, it explains 17 per cent of the variation in Singapore.

So, parents’ social status matters much more here than in Hong Kong for academic success. This is a significant finding and one supported by recent economic literature, which explores a new potential mechanism to explain social inequalities at school, namely: students’ aspirations.

In new research, we show that an aspiration failure reinforces social inequalities at school.

Using data on 14-year-old students in France in their last year of secondary school, we first find evidence that aspirations affect test scores as well as the probability to follow an academic track in high school, meaning that aspirations do matter. This is one way in which social inequalities in aspirations can affect social inequalities in school achievements between secondary school and higher education.

Specifically, we show that social inequalities in aspirations exist even among equally achieving classmates and then disentangle several factors leading to these inequalities.

First, students from different social backgrounds do not have the same existing options on top of their mind. Low-SES students are, for instance, 7 per cent more likely to mention vocational high school as part of the existing options than their equally achieving high-SES classmates, and 12 per cent less likely to mention tracks of five years of higher education or more.

These differences in awareness of existing tracks are a source of inefficiency of aspirations, as both low- and high-SES students cannot make efficient decisions if they do not have in mind all existing options.

Second, even when they mention the same existing options, low-SES students are still 4 per cent less likely to state that academic high school is attainable than their equally achieving high-SES classmates.

As a matter of fact, they may have good reasons to aspire lower than high-SES students. Indeed, even with an equal academic capacity and school environment, students from different social backgrounds may have different budget constraints, for instance, that could make some options unattainable to them. This is true even with high school being free in France, for example, because they would have a lower probability to have access to tuition at night.

In fact, we find that low-SES students progress less well when test scores are measured than their high-SES classmates of the same initial academic level. Low-SES students are, thus, right to feel less capable. But do they assess their objective disadvantage correctly?

We provide evidence that they do not. To do so, we examine students’ self-perception of both current academic capacity and future academic progress and find evidence that low-SES students underestimate them both.

On the one hand, students exhibit excessively fatalistic views to the extent to which future academic success is determined by social background. For example, the real probability of passing the end-of-high-school exam for a reasonably good low-SES student (above the median) is 13 points lower than that for a similar high-SES student in France, but students perceive this gap to be more than two times bigger than it is. Students are thus too fatalistic with respect to the impact of social background.

On the other hand, low-SES students – in particular the high-achievers – underestimate their scholastic ability. To see this, we measure students’ scholastic self-esteem by using the “Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents” conceived by Susan Harter in 1988, including questions such as whether students feel that they are just as smart as others, or whether they feel that they do well at class work. We find that this index of scholastic self-esteem is 39 per cent smaller for low-SES students, compared with their equally achieving high-SES classmates.

More specifically, this measure explains 25 per cent of the deficit in high-achieving low-SES students mentioning a master’s degree among their attainable tracks. These findings highlight the role of social stereotypes in shaping students’ perceptions and cognition, with important consequences for educational aspirations and later outcomes.

More importantly, we show that social differences in academic aspirations cannot be explained by differences in professional aspirations. Overall, academic aspirations are not consistent with professional aspirations, suggesting that teenagers view their educational aspirations and professional aspirations quite separately.

This is especially so for low-SES students. For instance, in France, they are as likely to prefer a job that requires a master’s degree as their equally-achieving high-SES classmates, while they are 26 per cent less likely to prefer to pursue a master’s degree.

Low-SES students have a clear disadvantage from the beginning and their lower aspirations drag them down even further, even when these are not justified. This inefficiency calls for government intervention to help disadvantaged students aspire to their true potential to increase upward mobility.

The writer is an assistant professor in economics at the National University of Singapore. Her research focuses on the economics of education. This is a monthly series by the NUS Department of Economics. Each month, a panel will address a topical issue. If you have a burning question on economics, write to stopinion@sph.com.sg with “Ask NUS” in the subject field.


By            :               Nina Guyon

Date         :               January 11, 2017

Source     :               Straits Times


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New Book: The Prison School


Educational Inequality and School Discipline in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Author                   :               Lizbet Simmons

Date                       :              November 2016

Publisher                :              University of California Press


Public schools across the nation have turned to the criminal justice system as a gold standard of discipline. As public schools and offices of justice have become collaborators in punishment, rates of African American suspension and expulsion have soared, dropout rates have accelerated, and prison populations have exploded. Nowhere, perhaps, has the War on Crime been more influential in broadening racialized academic and socioeconomic disparity than in New Orleans, Louisiana, where in 2002 the criminal sheriff opened his own public school at the Orleans Parish Prison. “The Prison School,” as locals called it, enrolled low-income African American boys who had been removed from regular public schools because of nonviolent disciplinary offenses, such as tardiness and insubordination. By examining this school in the local and national context, Lizbet Simmons shows how young black males are in the liminal state of losing educational affiliation while being caught in the net of correctional control. In The Prison School, she asks how schools and prisons became so intertwined. What does this mean for students, communities, and a democratic society? And how do we unravel the ties that bind the racialized realities of school failure and mass incarceration?

“At a time of increasing public apprehension regarding the long reach of state violence into the lives of communities of color, Lizbet Simmons’ The Prison School offers us a revealing analysis of the interlocking trajectories of education and punishment.  A compelling example of the engaged scholarship we need during this period, her work is a passionate plea to root out the punitive impulse, born of racism, at the heart of public education.”—Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

The Prison School provides a rigorous, radical critique of the now taken-for-granted notion of a ‘school-to-prison pipeline.’  Lizbet Simmons’s work is a pillar contribution to a widening stream of abolitionist scholarly work and research.”—Dylan Rodríguez, author of Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime

“Written with passion and clarity that is rare for an academic text, Simmons utilizes ethnographic detail to expose how the Prison School came into being and how it operated.  For those who recognize the dangers posed by mass incarceration and who hold onto the hope that education can provide an alternative pathway for our most vulnerable youth, this book will be a wake-up call and hopefully a call to action.”—Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of California, Los Angeles

“What began as a chance encounter on the streets of New Orleans became a remarkable sociological investigation of how a public school, ostensibly serving kids struggling in their community schools, came to be housed in a prison. Simmons offers a compelling narrative of what happens when public schooling and mass incarceration become fused in logics and practices. The Prison School opens a window into historical and contemporary forces that produce racial subjugation, exclusion, and state failure with devastating consequences for young African American men coming of age in New Orleans.”—Mona Lynch, author of Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court and Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment. 

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Why the media is a key dimension of global inequality


Every day, much of humanity now holds in its hands the means to connect and be connected across the world: to family, entertainment and the broadcasts of corporations, states and, increasingly, terrorist organisations such as Islamic State.

This connected world has major implications for social progress and global justice, but so too do the media and information infrastructures on which that world depends.

The project of “networking the world” is more than two centuries old.

While it has always been the project of states, it has increasingly become the preserve of some of the world’s largest corporations including Facebook, Google and, less well known in the West, China’s Tencent and Baidu.

Profit, freedom and inequality

Just as economic models rooted in markets and consumption are expanding into ever more world regions and intruding into ever more domains of everyday life, so corporate logics are colonising media and digital platforms.

Take education as one example: concerns are developing regarding school learning materials increasingly provided not by the state but by commercial media companies such as Apple and Google.

More recently, Facebook faced civil society opposition in India when it sought to introduce its Free Basics platform as a default means of internet access for less affluent populations.

However, the same move has gone unopposed in African countries facing greater resource challenges.

Market forces have appropriated the design, regulation and pricing of the platforms we use to connect, portray the world around us, express our political allegiances and even forge our visions for the future (as explored, for instance, in tech evangelist Kevin Kelly’s work).

Profound inequalities

Particularly in the Global North but also the Global South, the information networks and communication protocols that underlie media infrastructures are designed and operated by private, corporate entities.

Direct technical authority over networks and protocols gives these entities an authority that is inherently regulatory.

Global platform companies such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple – each of which occupies a dominant market position globally – enjoy correspondingly stronger and more pervasive regulatory power. Yet these platforms have so far been driven by only one goal: profit.

The story of expanding global media networks is often told as if they spread freedom everywhere, liberally and evenly. But when we ask freedom for whom, the tale gets more complex.

There are profound inequalities in basic media access within nations and among continents. While global elites may be better connected everywhere, the same is not true of those who work for them. Media systems offer tremendous communication resources to people who can function in Western languages, are able-bodied and have the necessary buying power.

Unfortunately, in Colombia, a home internet connection costs 20% (US$48) of the minimum wage (US$217/month), putting it out of reach for a domestic worker.

Justina, a full-time domestic worker in the city of Barranquilla, told us in a recent interview that she must instead buy a $1 Tigo prepaid card at the corner store that gives her access to precarious internet for only 48 hours at at time.

The inequalities are even greater in media production. Even if a smartphone gives migrants an image of the country they hope to reach, they will most likely lack the ability to influence how their arrival will be represented.

Our media representations of the world’s problems are drawn from a very narrow pool of perspectives. Subsequently, our media systems showcase certain voices while marginalising others, especially people of colour, differently abled people, migrants, women and girls.

From Hollywood, where 96.6% of all directors are male and only 7% of films are racially balanced, to digital platforms where elites find new ways to gain a following, the media shows us a world as lived only by a few. The public conversation about access needs to consider how opportunities for content creation and visibility can be shared more widely.

It is a myth that rural communities, Indigenous people and the Global South are not interested in media and the digital world, but sadly our current media infrastructures carry little – if any – input from these large sections of humanity.

What if media infrastructure and digital platforms were designed with communities’ diverse languages, needs and resources in mind?

The results have the potential to be transformative, as when the Talea de Castro Indigenous community in southern Mexico designed Rhizomatica Administration Interface (RAI), a graphic interface for a local cellphone network responsive to local information needs, languages and modes of communication.

Much more often, however, the algorithmic mechanisms that shape what is available to users of digital platforms are driven exclusively by an advertising logic that undermines diversity and reproduces the social capital of those with power.

Two principles for reform

Media and information regulation shows a more subtle, but equally powerful inequality. National and multinational regulatory bodies from the mass media era are struggling to adapt in the age of smartphones and tablets.

Content delivery’s increasing shift to mobile devices gives corporations, not states, the dominant influence over what can be watched, when and by whom. Consequently, it is corporations, not regulators, that now set the parameters of what can be received on what device, and by what means.

The problem is that the regulation of media and digital platforms is too important to cede to a few powerful organisations that make decisions, implement policy and design online architectures behind closed doors. Instead, transparency and greater civic participation should be the guiding principles of internet governance, policy and regulatory frameworks.

Crucial to this is the internet’s capacity for surveillance – not just when we buy goods and services online, but also in ordinary social interaction.

The increasing dependence of all communication flows gives corporate networks the ability to use and reuse the resulting data to make algorithmic discriminations between consumers and citizens.

In many parts of the world and for large parts of the population, everyday life routinely involves online access to a wide variety of purveyors of news, information and popular culture, as well as search engines, social networking platforms and other content aggregators that seek to help users find, organise and make sense of it all.

While access to these resources may be offered at no financial cost to users on an advertiser-supported basis, consumers often pay a price in the form of the automated collection of information about their personal reading, viewing and listening habits. This information can be used for surveillance and censorship, or to target advertising and suggest content more likely to appeal to each user.

Such surveillance has so far been largely beyond public regulation, yet this new ability to deeply modulate how the social world appears to us has not escaped national governments’ notice, for example in China, India and the United States.

It is undeniable that the media’s rapidly changing infrastructure offers huge opportunities for those campaigning for social progress to connect, act and challenge the significant inequalities that underlie media systems themselves.

We propose two principles to guide this expanding struggle.

The first is that media cannot effectively contribute to social progress until opportunities for access and participation in the production and development of media content are more widely shared. The second is that media infrastructure is a common good whose governance and design should be much more open to democratic engagement than currently.

Ignore these principles, and the world’s visions of social progress will be less effective and far less diverse. Start to take these principles seriously, and the global struggle for social justice becomes both deeper and more open to the hopes of populations long ignored.


By: Nick Couldry and Clemencia Rodriguez
Date: November 28, 2016
Source: The Conversation


Nick Couldry Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory, London School of Economics and Political Science
Clemencia Rodriguez, Professor of Media Studies, Temple University

Posted in Latest Post, Social and Economic Inequalities, Social Media & Activisms | Leave a comment

Inequality Among Women Is Crucial to Understanding Hillary’s Loss


Working-class women who voted for Trump tell us a lot about feminism’s relationship to class politics.

Attempts to explain what the hell happened on Tuesday have been coming fast and furious. Hillary Clinton was touted by her supporters as the most qualified candidate ever to run for president. How could she have possibly lost to a buffoon who is not only a political novice but also a despicable bully, nasty racist, world-class grifter, and deranged sex criminal?

Racism was certainly an important factor. A slew of studies have found that Trump supporters rack up high scores on measures of racial resentment. Sexism, too, is part of the story. Hillary Clinton was subjected to a nonstop barrage of ugly misogynist attacks by Trump, his supporters, and users of social media. No wonder the gender gap—24 points—was the largest in the history of presidential elections. And if you still question whether racism and misogyny played a significant role in this election, the many frightening acts of violence and harassment aimed at women and people of color that have occurred in the wake of Trump’s victory should quell any remaining doubts.

But as is the case with every election, Tuesday’s outcome was multi-causal. I would like to identify an additional culprit: economic inequality, or more specifically, economic inequality among women. Women of color supported Clinton by wide margins–understandably so, because the Democrats have historically cared a lot more about their interests than the Republicans have.White women, however, flocked to Trump by a substantial margin and were crucial to his victory. Yet not all white women supported Trump: There was a yawning class divide in their vote. One widely used proxy for the working class is adults who lack a college degree. And while white women who are college-educated supported Hillary over Trump by 6 points, their white, non–college educated counterparts chose Trump by a margin of 28 points. That added up to a cavernous class gap among this group—34 points, 10 points more than that record-setting gender gap.

Class differences among women are an all but taboo subject. But scholars such as Leslie McCall have found that economic inequality among women is just as large, and has been growing just as fast, as economic inequality among men.This economic divide among women has created one of the most significant fault lines in contemporary feminism. That’s because professional-class women, who have reaped a disproportionate share of feminism’s gains, have dominated the feminist movement, and the social distance between them and their less privileged sisters is wide and growing wider. In the decades since the dawn of the second wave, educated women gained access to high-status jobs, but working-class women experienced declining wages and (because of the rise of divorce and single parenthood among the working class) shouldered an increasingly heavy burden of care. Yet mainstream feminist groups and pundits have consistently stressed the social and cultural issues that are most important to affluent women, while marginalizing the economic concerns of the female masses.

The class divisions between women came to a head in the 2016 election, when Big Feminism failed women, big-time. Mainstream feminists sold women a bill of goods, arguing that the election of a woman president would improve the lot of women as a class. Echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s dubious thesis, they claimed that leadership by women will as a matter of course produce gains for all women—though actually, the social science evidence for this claim is mixed at best. There was also a lot of talk about how having a woman president would “normalize” female power.

But if you’re a woman living paycheck to paycheck and worried sick over the ever-diminishing economic prospects for you and your children, you’re unlikely to be heavily invested in whether some lady centimillionaire will shatter the ultimate glass ceiling. Exacerbating the problem is that Clinton, the person whom feminists blithely assumed that working-class women would deeply identify with (because after all, didn’t they?) was such a painfully flawed candidate. In addition to a political record littered with betrayals of women, people of color, labor, and other key constituencies, she showed arrogance and terrible judgment by giving the Wall Street speeches and setting up her own State Department e-mail server. That was gross political malpractice.

Some of Clinton’s policy proposals were strong, especially her plans for paid family leave and expanded child care. But Clinton never found a way to craft a compelling message that persuaded people that she cared about people like them. It’s telling that she seemed far more relaxed and comfortable making speeches to Wall Street plutocrats than she ever was on a campaign trail. Also problematic was her campaign slogan, the fangurl-ish “I’m With Her.” Why not something more inclusive and democratic, like, say “She’s With Us”? In addition, in this moment of high populism, her many appearances with glitzy celebrities like Lena Dunham and Katy Perry did not help.

Indeed, Clinton’s failings as a candidate are among the reasons I’m not so sure that voter sexism determined the outcome of the election (though it surely played a role). It’s more likely that what ultimately did her in was not her gender but her failure to connect with voters. It’s easy to imagine other Democratic women, most notably the populist Democratic firebrand Elizabeth Warren, killing it this election. Unlike Hillary, Warren has the virtue of not being one of the architects of the failed policies of the past (NAFTA, Wall Street deregulation, etc.) that helped create the profound economic dislocation that so many working-class voters have suffered.

The destruction that Bill Clinton’s policies wrought in now-depressed rural areas in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania came back to haunt Hillary. The residents of those regions, who are largely white and working class, have been ravaged by the abandonment of major industries and the social and economic ills that followed in its wake: record low levels of labor-force participation, downward mobility, drug epidemics, and more. In his reporting from Rust Belt cities in southwestern Ohio and eastern Kentucky, the journalist Alec MacGillis has described “the general aura of decline that hangs over towns in which medical-supply stores and pawn shops dominate decrepit main streets, and Victorians stand crumbling, unoccupied.” The social and economic unraveling in these left-behind places is particularly acutely felt when compared to America’s coastal cities, which are soaring ahead. Rising regional inequality was surely one of the driving factors in this election, as it was for Brexit.

In these white working-class communities, it is the women who have experienced some of the worst hardships. You may have heard of that famous studythat showed that showed an unprecedented decline in longevity among white Americans who lack college degrees. But most media reports missed a crucial point: As the statistician Andrew Gelman pointed out, “Since 2005, mortality rates have increased among women in this group but not men.” And in addition to economic insecurity and rising mortality rates, working-class women have suffered from another indignity: invisibility. During the campaign, there was a blizzard of articles about the concerns of elite Republican women and white working-class men, but practically nothing about female members of the working class. Tamara Draut, one of the few journalists who bothered to talk to working-class women, zeroed in on the pain they feel about their marginalization:

In my dozens of interviews with working class women across the country, a common refrain has echoed: They feel invisible in our politics, our economy and our culture. They feel that our political leaders don’t care about their struggles or their aspirations—from the daily grind of balancing work and caregiving to the dream of giving their children a better future through college, without saddling them with crippling debt.

Since the election on Tuesday, all over social media and the mainstream media, liberals have been issuing hysterical denunciations of the white working class. But their tantrums over the “deplorables” will only help feed the monster of right-wing populist backlash. As Alec MacGillis tweeted, “Can’t overstate how much anti-big media scorn’s driving this [support for Trump].” The white working class is keenly aware that liberal elites despise them, thank you very much. And one thing elitist liberals overlook is that the white working-class racism they rightly abhor is itself exacerbated by a failing economy (studies have shown that racism flourishes during bad economic times).

If we want to end this nightmare and defeat Trumpism once and for all, we need to figure out how to win these voters back. It’s not like we have a choice. Working-class whites are approximately one-third of the electorate. The Democrats will not be able to win national elections without peeling off more of their votes. Obviously, progressives should never make appeals to these voters’ racism and sexism (leave that to the Republicans). But we do have at least one powerful basis for common ground: economics.

White working-class women appear to be more open than men are to progressive appeals (62 percent of them voted for Trump, as opposed to 72 percent of their male counterparts). That suggests that the most promising path forward would be to agitate for a robust economic agenda focused on women’s needs: a $15 minimum wage, universal child care and pre-K, paid family leave, free college, and tough laws that crack down on wage theft and guarantee fair scheduling and equal pay for women. One of the strengths of such an agenda is that its appeal is hardly limited to women. In our brave new economy, increasing numbers of men now labor under the kinds of precarious working conditions—low wages, minimal benefits, little if any security—that have traditionally characterized women’s employment. Policies like these would help the men, too. They would not be not just righteous, but politically pragmatic.

But it’s not only the Democratic Party that is badly in need of reform. The feminist movement, too, needs to reorient itself. Feminists would be well-advised to ease up on pop culture navel-gazing and corporate pseudo-feminist drivel like Lean In. They need to shift their central focus from the glass ceiling to the sticky floor, which, after all, is the place where most women dwell. And should feminism once again become a vibrant bottom-up mass movement instead of a top-down elite concern, there’s no telling how far it could go.

By: Kathleen Geier
Date: November 11, 2016
Source: The Nation

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She has written for The Washington Monthly, Salon, Reuters, and other publications.

Posted in Latest Post, Politics, Social and Economic Inequalities | Leave a comment
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