Skip to Navigation

RSF Review

RSF Review

The Lens of Race

April 15, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

Ann Morning (New York University) is currently collaborating with Marcello Maneri (University of Milan-Bicocca) to investigate the ways that Americans and Italians assess group differences such as race and nationality. In her time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation, she is researching how national conceptions of culture and biology shape individuals’ beliefs about what distinguish descent-based groups from one another. As non-white immigration to the U.S. increases, are Americans’ conceptions of racial difference are coming to resemble those held by Italians and other Western Europeans?

In a new interview with the Foundation, Morning discussed the changing nature of racial perceptions in both the U.S. and Italy, and how a cross-national comparative approach to thinking and talking about race could aid policy efforts to combat racial inequality.

Q. Your current research compares perceptions of race in the US and Italy and assesses the claim that racial attitudes in the US are coming to resemble those found in Western Europe. To start with, what did you find in your interviews with students in the US? How were they most likely to talk about group differences?

Announcing the RSF Visiting Scholar Class of 2015-2016

April 9, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of sixteen leading social scientists as Visiting Scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year. During their time in residence, they will pursue research and writing projects that reflect the Foundation's commitment to strengthening the social sciences and conducting research "for the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States."

The Visiting Scholars program, now in its thirtieth year, provides a unique opportunity for scholars to pursue their research and writing while in residence at the Foundation, and is an important part of the Foundation's effort to analyze and understand the complex and shifting nature of social, political, and economic life in the United States.

Several incoming scholars will undertake research in socioeconomic and racial inequality, such as an analysis of the factors that drive racial wealth disparities, and an investigation of how increases in economic inequality have affected voter turnout in congressional elections. Others will work on projects related to the changing nature of work and the labor force, including a study of a new immigrant-driven tech economy in lower Manhattan. The incoming class of scholars also includes two working groups, one of which will examine the connections between low-income fathers’ earnings and financial support and their children’s cognitive and behavioral outcomes. The other group will use data from the Texas Twin Project, a study of over 1,000 twins, to examine the relationship between genetic and social factors in adolescent development and academic achievement.

Color-Blindness and Diversity: New Report By Former Visiting Scholar Natasha Warikoo

April 3, 2015

In a new paper co-authored with Janine de Novais, former Visting Scholar Natasha Warikoo (Harvard) explores college students' perspectives on affirmative action, analyzing how "diversity" and "color-blindness" frames shape the ways that students perceive different ethnic and racial groups on campus. The abstract states:

In this paper we bring together the literatures on frame analysis, the meaning of race and campus racial climate to analyse the race frames—lenses through which individuals understand the role of race in society—held by white students attending elite US universities. For most, the elite university experience coincides with a strengthening or emergence of the diversity frame, which emphasizes the positive benefits of cultural diversity. Still, many also hold a colour-blind frame, which sees race groups as equivalent and racial identities as insignificant. We highlight the ambivalence that these divergent frames create for student perspectives on affirmative action and interracial contact on campus. Our findings demonstrate the mutability of race frames. We also highlight the impact that institutions may have on individuals' race frames. The paper is based on in-depth interviews with forty-seven US-born white undergraduates attending Brown University and Harvard University.

The Clash of Professional Autonomy and Regulatory Compliance

April 2, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

Drawing from ten years of ethnographic research, Visiting Scholar Susan Silbey (MIT) is writing a book that examines the growing tensions between federal law and laboratory science. She is investigating the ways in which federal lab regulations and audits, often implemented in the name of safety, are perceived to threaten the autonomy of scientific practice within both the academy and other specialized industries.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Silbey discussed the factors that have given rise to breaches of regulatory compliance in academic and laboratory settings, including industry-specific hierarchies of labor, as well as larger cultural shifts in attitudes about workplace governance.

Q. In your research you have examined the 2009 UCLA laboratory tragedy that sparked the first criminal prosecution over an accident in an academic lab. What does this event, and others like it, reveal about the difficulties of ensuring regulatory compliance in academic lab settings?

New Reports Investigate the Effects of Recession on Parenting, Private Safety Net, and Public Assistance

March 30, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation recently completed a major initiative to assess the effects of the Great Recession on the economic, political, and social life of the country. Officially over in 2009, the Great Recession is now generally acknowledged to be the most devastating global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Prolonged economic stagnation is likely to transform American institutions and severely erode the life chances of many Americans. To understand these effects across a broad swath of social and economic life, the Foundation identified 15 areas of inquiry—such as retirement, education, income and wealth—and funded proposals for innovative projects from a distinguished team of scholars.

Three new Recession Briefs summarizing research from the Great Recession initiative now are available for download. These reports use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) in order to analyze the effects of the Recession on families in the U.S.:

Students Who Start School Late More Likely to Drop Out, Commit Crimes

March 23, 2015

New research by Visiting Scholar Philip J. Cook (Duke University) shows that children who started kindergarten late are more likely as teenagers to drop out of school and commit serious crimes than their peers. The study—which Cook co-authored with Songman Kang of Hanyang University in South Korea—compared North Carolina public school students born 60 days before and 60 days after the school cutoff date. He noted, “This research provides the first compelling evidence of a causal link between dropout and crime. It supports the view that crime outcomes should be considered in evaluating school reforms.”

Because earlier studies have established that children who enter school at an older age perform better academically than their younger classmates, a growing number of parents have delayed enrolling their children whose birthdays fall shortly before the cutoff date, seeking to gain academic and social advantages. According to Cook’s research, older students were also less likely to engage in delinquent behavior up until age 16.

However, his latest study found that after age 16, those outcomes were reversed. The students who had started school later were more likely to drop out and be convicted of a felony before age 20. As Cook explained, the explanation for this seeming contradiction lies in the age at which students may legally withdraw from school, which is 16 in North Carolina. Cook added, “If [students] were born before the cutoff date, they have just 19 months between their 16th birthday and graduation to be tempted to drop out. If they were born just after and enter school later, they have 31 months, and for some of them, it is an irresistible temptation.”

RSF President Sheldon Danziger and RSF Scholars to Speak at Legacies of the Great Society Conference

March 16, 2015

Later this month Russell Sage Foundation president Sheldon Danziger and former visiting scholars Jane Waldfogel and Julian Zelizer will speak at Legacies of the Great Society: War, Poverty and Voting Rights, a two-day conference hosted by the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College to be held on March 24th and 25th, 2015.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson's wave of Great Society legislation gave historic momentum to greater economic and racial equality. Much of that progress is embedded in society today, and yet the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans is the largest since the Great Depression, racial tensions continue to polarize society, and gender equality remains a struggle. Panels of scholars, practitioners, experts and advocates will assess the impact of the Vietnam War, the effects of War on Poverty programs, and the consequences—then and now—of the Voting Rights Act.

Danziger, who co-edited the RSF book Legacies of the War on Poverty with Martha J. Bailey, will present the keynote speech titled “Fighting Racial Discrimination, Poverty and Disadvantage: From Then to Now” on Tuesday, March 24th. Former RSF visiting scholars Julian Zelizer and Jane Waldfogel, who is also co-author of the forthcoming RSF book Too Many Children Left Behind, will both participate in the panel discussion “How to Conquer Poverty and Inequality Today?” on Wednesday, March 25th.

New Research Collaborations with the W.K. Kellogg and MacArthur Foundations

March 12, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has launched several research collaborations with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Over the last year, seven projects have been co-funded with the Kellogg Foundation and nine projects have been co-funded with the MacArthur Foundation.

RSF president Sheldon Danziger remarked, “I am extremely pleased that the Russell Sage Foundation has been able to collaborate with the Kellogg Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.” He added, “We receive many high-quality social science research proposals and these partnerships allow us to fund a greater number of projects than we could support with our own funds.”

Investigating the Networks that Supply Guns to Gangs

March 10, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

During his time in residence at RSF, Visiting Scholar Philip J. Cook (Duke University) is completing a series of articles based on research in four cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston) that examines the sources of guns to gang members. He argues that a better understanding of the social networks and other underground sources of guns will inform strategic interventions to disrupt supply and reduce gun violence.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Cook discussed the social costs of gun violence, and offered strategies for law enforcement to disrupt the tightly knit networks that supply guns to gangs.

Q. What are the social costs of gun violence and how are they unequally distributed across the population?

Winter 2015 Presidential Authority Awards

March 9, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in several programs, including Future of Work, Social Inequality, Cultural Contact, and Immigration programs.

Awards approved in the Future of Work program:

Living at the Minimum: Low-Wage Workers with Children During Seattle's Minimum Wage Increase
Heather D. Hill and Jennifer Romich (University of Washington)
Jointly funded with the MacArthur Foundation

Human development and social policy experts Heather Hill and Jennifer Romich will carry out an in-depth, qualitative study of Seattle workers with children before and after the implementation of the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 per hour starting in April 2015.