Category: Recent Publications

Recent publications by faculty, students, and alumni.

[Article] Anna Zhelnina – The Apathy Syndrome: How We Are Trained Not to Care about Politics

Anna Zhelnina (PhD Candidate)

The Apathy Syndrome: How We Are Trained Not to Care about Politics.” Social Problems. Online first (July, 2019).


The role of emotions in social movements and mobilization has been an important focus of recent research, but the emotional mechanisms producing apathy and non-participation remain under studied. This article explores the thinking and feeling processes involved in the production of apolitical attitudes, paying particular attention to their social and cultural context. Cultural norms of appropriateness and emotional expression can hinder or boost the emotions involved in the mobilizing processes. Based on 60 interviews with young people in two Russian cities, collected during and in the aftermath of the anti-regime protests of 2011–12, I explore the apathy syndrome—a combination of emotional mechanisms and cultural norms that produce political apathy. Personal frustrating experiences develop into long-term cynicism and disbelief in the efficacy of collective action, a process exacerbated by the transmission of apathy in families and educational institutions, as well as by cultural norms of appropriate emotions. Cultural clichés and dissociation from others help people cope with the trap and justify inaction.

[Article] Van C. Tran – The Mere Mention of Asians in Affirmative Action

Van C. Tran (Faculty)

The Mere Mention of Asians in Affirmative Action.” Sociological Science *co-authored with Jennifer Lee (Sept. 2019)


Presumed competent, U.S. Asians evince exceptional educational outcomes but lack the cultural pedigree of elite whites that safeguard them from bias in the labor market. In spite of their nonwhite minority status, Asians also lack the legacy of disadvantage of blacks that make them eligible beneficiaries of affirmative action. Their labor market disadvantage coupled with their exclusion from affirmative action programs place Asians in a unique bind: do they support policies that give preferences to blacks but exclude them? Given their self- and group interests, this bind should make Asians unlikely to do so. We assess whether this is the case by comparing their attitudes to those of whites, blacks, and Hispanics. Drawing on a novel three-way framing experiment embedded in the 2016 National Asian American Survey, we document how the “mere mention of Asians” in affirmative action frames affects support for the preferential hiring and promotion of blacks. Support shifts in different ways among all groups depending on the mere mention of Asians as either victims of affirmative action alongside whites or as victims of discrimination alongside blacks. Moreover, among Asians, support for affirmative action differs significantly by immigrant generation: first-generation Asians express the weakest support.

[Article] Calvin John Smiley – Release in the Era of BLM: The Nexus of Black Lives Matter and Prisoner Reentry

Calvin John Smiley (Alum, 2014) 

Release in the Era of BLM: The Nexus of Black Lives Matter and Prisoner Reentry.” The Prison Journal 99(4), 396-149.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is a challenge and resistance to White Supremacy and state-sanctioned violence. The proliferation of social media and smart technology has allowed the recording, documenting, and archiving of police misconduct and brutality against Black bodies. Furthermore, BLM is critical of various institutions that create disparities, including the criminal justice system. This article examines the nexus of BLM and prisoner reentry. Using qualitative research conducted in the weeks and months following the death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012, a collective of formerly incarcerated and recently released Black men discussed and analyzed this death and its impact on the Black community. Here, these individuals shared their ideas surrounding punishment and justice as well as reflected on their own past, present, and future roles in their community.

Keywords Black Lives MatterTrayvon Martinprisoner reentryresistancejustice