SocArXiv highlights for May, education organizations edition

Among the many interesting papers posted to SocArXiv this month, this I’m highlighting four that circle around a loose theme: education organizations. All four this month are not-yet-published drafts, including three working papers and a very interesting dissertation chapter. As always, these are papers that caught my eye but they are not peer-reviewed; read them yourself before citing.

The Performativity of Organizational Culture in a No Excuses Charter School

Jason Radford

Okay, I’ll admit I was grabbed by the title. Love the concept or hate it, we usually associate “performativity” with economics or finance, at least since Donald MacKenzie’s work. But of course the old Thomas theorem—“If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”—applies to our understanding of the world more generally. So why not the performativity of org theory? Many innovative or experimental organizations are grounded in theories, academic or otherwise, about what accounts for organizational success. In the case at hand, No Excuses charter schools were founded based on a theory that strong leaders could create organizational cultures that would produce educational success for disadvantaged students. This ethnographic case study of one No Excuses school explores how leadership attempted to implement their theory and reacted when the theory did not quite perform in the way it expected.

Engineering a Platform: Constructing Interfaces, Users, Organizational Roles, and the Division of Labor

Shreeharsh Kelkar

This intriguing paper, also ethnographic, reports on the development of edX, a MOOC platform started in 2012 as a nonprofit collaboration between Harvard and MIT. edX began as an educational organization—it saw itself as linking faculty and TAs with software developers and students—but eventually became a platform for other organizations to use, adopting the slogan “We do software so that you can do education.” In the process, edX had to create a new division of labor in which it did software development (internally framed as “boring”), while instructors at partner institutions would do the “interesting” work of content creation. Yet the supposedly neutral role of platform design still had huge pedagogical implications, even as edX came to distinguish what it did as an organization from “education”. The paper concludes by arguing that understanding platforms requires attending not just to “licenses, legal arrangements, and calculative agencies, but also to the shaping of organizational roles within the eco-system.”

The Ties that Corporatize: A Social Network Analysis of University Presidents as Vectors of Higher Education Corporatization

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Sally Hunnicutt, and Jennifer A. Johnson

This new working paper from Cottom and colleagues reports on a social network analysis of a dataset involving the career histories and education of presidents of Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) members, including a number of HBCUs, and a smaller sample of for-profit institutions. Presidents of predominantly white APLU institutions are tightly networked, while for-profit institutions and HBCUs are marginal to the network; the institutions with the highest degree centrality are Purdue, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas A&M—an observation that makes Purdue’s recent experiments with purchase of the for-profit Kaplan to run its online classes all the more interesting.

Engineering Credentials: Educational Entrepreneurship as Statecraft in the Cold-War United States

Alexander Kindel and Mitchell Stevens

Last but not least, this historical case study of Stanford’s postwar expansion of graduate science and engineering education engages the longstanding “credential society” literature by advocating for greater attention to the role of the state. While credentialing theory gives credit to educational entrepreneurs and the status projects of occupational groups in driving the expansion of credential-producing programs, this paper points to the fundamental role of the state in this process—through massive government patronage that schools like Stanford entrepreneurially tapped into to drive their own credentialing contributions.

This is self-evidently true for the fields that benefited from the federal government’s massive Cold War expansion of science funding, but struck another chord with me as well, as I recently revised a draft chapter on the origins of public policy schools. Policy schools, which only got started in the late 1960s, were themselves an entrepreneurial response on the part of universities to the massive demand for RAND-style analysis produced by federal rollout of the Planning-Programming-Budgeting System in 1965—making them another, very distinct case in which educational entrepreneurship could be better described as academic statecraft.

Okay, that’s it for this round. Interested in highlighting papers closer to your own interests? Shoot us an email at In the meanwhile, keep those papers coming!

SocArXiv highlights for April

Welcome back for a second round of monthly SocArXiv highlights. This is a way to call out a handful of the many papers that were posted in April, focusing mostly and sociology and reflecting my totally idiosyncratic tastes. Some are working papers or forthcoming articles; some are preprints of recently published work. All are freely available via OSF.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to peer review or to evaluation of the papers here. Read it yourself before you cite!

The Price of an Uncertain Promise: Fair Value Accounting and the Shaping of Bank Counterparty Risk Valuation Practices

Taylor Spears

This paper, which lies at the intersection of social studies of finance and institutionalism/field theory, is a fascinating look at how the adoption of fair value accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board affected the financial modeling practices used by banks. Consistent with MacKenzie (2011), the paper finds competing and conflicting valuation processes within and across organizations, and that the new standards tipped the balance in favor of a set of practices aligned with financial economics. The paper does a really nice job of showing how institutional and sociomaterial explanations can be complementary, and that both are needed to understand this kind of change.

Cultural Meanings and the Aggregation of Actions: The Case of Sex and Schooling in Malawi

Margaret Frye

This paper was published in ASR last year, but it went up on SocArXiv this month, so fair game. Maggie Frye does great and original work linking cultural accounts and demographic data. By moving between empirical evidence on sexual behavior and school-leaving, and student/teacher accounts of why sexual relationships cause girls to leave school, Frye produces a compelling account of how causal narratives — even inaccurate ones — influence actions in ways that have population-level effects.

Two from the sociology of science:

Men Set Their Own Cites High: Gender and Self-citation across Fields and over Time

Molly King, Carl Bergstrom, Shelley Correll, Jennifer Jacquet, Jevin West


The Matthew Effect in Science Funding

Thijs Bol, Mathijs de Vaan, and Arnout van de Rijt

The findings of these two papers may not be shocking, but both provide important new evidence of the effects they describe. The King et al. paper, published in Socius last year, shows that men cite their own work 70% more than women, and that these numbers have not changed over the last fifty years. The Bol et al. paper, published this year in PNAS, shows that early career researchers just above the funding threshold of a major European grant accumulate twice as much funding over the next eight years as those just below it. The practical takeaway, though, is that part of the gap happens because initially unfunded applicants subsequently apply for fewer grants, not only because successful applicants are more likely to be funded down the road. So women, cite your own work, and rejected grant applicants, keep on trying.

Can Cultural Consumption Increase Future Earnings? Exploring the Economic Returns to Cultural Capital

Aaron Reeves and Robert de Vries

Just yesterday a graduate student asked me if anyone had looked at whether Lauren Rivera’s finding about the cultural matching that goes on at elite firms applies to other occupational settings. I said I didn’t know of work that did (though tell me if I’m wrong!), and then I ran into this paper, forthcoming in the British Journal of Sociology. While it doesn’t look at matching per se, it does examine whether cultural consumption predicts future earnings, upward social mobility, and promotions. (Answer: yes.) This seems like an area that is ripe for interesting work and where relationships are likely to vary a great deal across industry, occupation, and location.

Okay, that’s it for this time. Keep on posting your working papers and preprints to SocArXiv and I’ll keep on sharing — at least as much as I can.

Submitted a paper for an ASA section award? Submit it to SocArXiv and be eligible for a SOAR award too

If you’ve submitted a paper to be considered for an American Sociological Association section award – including a graduate student award – consider submitting it to SocArXiv as well. Any paper that is uploaded to SocArXiv by April 30 and wins a 2018 ASA section award will, upon letting us know, receive a supplementary SOAR (Sociology Open Access Recognition) award of $250 in recognition of your achievement. Support open access, gain recognition, and win money all at the same time!

Here’s how it works: You upload your paper to SocArXiv by April 30. If it’s a published paper, check your author agreement or the Sherpa/ROMEO database to see what version, if any, you’re allowed to share. Once you find out you’ve won a section award, email to notify us. We’ll send you a check for $250, as well as publicizing your paper and officially conferring a SOAR award. That’s the whole deal.

Sharing your paper through SocArXiv is a win-win. It’s good for you, because you get the word out about your research. It’s good for social science, because more people have access to ungated information. And now, with SOAR prizes for award-winning papers, it can be good for your wallet, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens if I submitted a paper, but don’t notify SocArXiv it’s won a section award?

You will only receive a SOAR award if you let SocArXiv know at by August 31, 2018 that your paper has won an ASA section award.

  1. What if I upload my paper after I win the section award?

Any papers uploaded by April 30, 2018 are eligible. We welcome later sharing of papers, but they will not be eligible for SOAR awards.

  1. Does the version submitted to SocArXiv have to be identical with the version submitted to the ASA section?

The versions must be reasonably similar but do not need to be identical. For example, if you upload to SocArXiv a pre-copyediting version of your published paper that you have permission to share, but send the award committee the published version, you are still eligible for the award.

  1. I’d love to upload my paper, but my copyright agreement doesn’t allow me to. What do I do?

First, you may still have the right to upload some version of the paper, even if it is not the final published version. Check the Sherpa/ROMEO database for the preprint policies of many academic journals. If you really can’t share any version, you are unfortunately not eligible for a SOAR award. But keep in mind for next time that copyright agreements can often be edited or amended. You don’t have to give away your rights to your work.

  1. I am a graduate student submitting a paper for a graduate student section award. Am I still eligible?

Yes, absolutely. ASA section awards for graduate student papers are also eligible for SOAR.

  1. I am submitting my paper for an award in another disciplinary association. Am I eligible for SOAR?

At present SOAR awards are limited to papers recognized by ASA sections. However, we are always interested in building partnerships with other organizations and disciplines. Please reach out to us at if you are interested in developing a similar program for your organization.


SocArXiv highlights for March

SocArXiv has been up and running for a year and a half now, and has accepted well over 2000 papers to date. Although you can follow the SocArXiv bot on Twitter to see what’s coming down the transom, and this page provides a running feed of the latest papers and abstracts, it’s a lot to follow – last month more than 200 papers were uploaded.

Toward the end of making this firehose of research a bit more manageable, I (Beth Popp Berman, member of the SocArXiv steering committee) thought I’d start to do a little curating. The intent at this point is to do this once a month, though clearly it could be a weekly feature.

Highlighted below are a handful of intriguing papers posted to SocArXiv recently. Selection criteria are totally idiosyncratic – sociology-centric and based on what looks intriguing to me, with some eye toward broader appeal. If you’re interested in helping to curate on a monthly basis, perhaps with a focus on a particular subfield, email me at

Disclaimer: I make no claim to peer review here or even to close reading of the papers to evaluate quality; some have been published and gone through peer review while others are working papers.

So, with no further ado:

The Emotional Labor of Surveillance: Evidence from the Fast Fashion Retail Industry

Madison Van Oort

This ethnography- and interview-based paper looks at just-in-time scheduling, biometric scanners, and point-of-sale metrics as forms of worker surveillance at two major “fast fashion” retailers. It details the ways these technologies shape work practices and require new kinds of emotional labor—the “emotional labor of surveillance.” I saw Van Oort present research from this project at ASA last year and it was fascinating – there is lots of room to understand how new technology is yet again restructuring the workplace through new forms of discipline than in turn produce their own resistance.

Exposure to Opposing Views can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment on Social Media

Christopher Bail, Lisa Argyle, Taylor Brown, John Bumpus, Haohan Chen, M.B. Fallin Hunzaker, Jaemin Lee, Marcus Mann, Friedolin Merhout, Alexander Volfovsky

This large-scale experiment got a lot of attention on (surprise) social media when it was posted a couple of weeks ago. Following a survey, authors randomly assigned Democratic and Republican Twitter users to follow a bot that would periodically tweet messages from the “other side”. After a month, they surveyed respondents again, finding that Republicans became substantially more conservative after following a liberal Twitter bot, and Democrats became slightly (but insignificantly) more liberal. Make of that what you will, but it’s interesting experimental evidence.

The Rise of the Randomistas: On the Experimental Turn in International Aid

Kevin Donovan

Speaking of experiments, this paper recently published online-first in Economy and Society looks at how randomized controlled trials became a newly dominant form of knowledge in international development. Promoted as a means of securing epistemic certainty, RCTs have reconfigured both development economics and international aid itself, yet still fail to achieve the closure hoped for by their proponents. This intriguing paper, part of a not-yet-published issue on evidence-based policy, builds on the work of scholars like Monika Krause and Gil Eyal to understand how networks of expertise are produced and maintained.

Leaving the Financial Nest: Connecting Young Adults’ Financial Independence to Financial Security

Megan Doherty Bea and Youngmin Yi

As someone with an interest in student loans and their effects, I found this paper on young adults and their reliance on family support intriguing. Clearly the ability of parents to continue to assist young adults is a difficult-to-measure but important mechanism for the reproduction of inequality. Using PSID data, this paper uses group-based trajectory analysis to identify four latent classes of young adults: consistently independent, quickly independent, gradually independent, and consistently supported. The consistently independent group, with lower average socioeconomic status, reports more financial worry and has a greater chance of being in poverty. This approach seems very promising for better understanding the mechanisms through which intergenerational advantage is transmitted and reproduced.

Too Many Papers? Slowed Canonical Progress in Large Fields of Science

Johan S. G. Chu and James Evans

Finally, and appropriate to the project of sorting through lots of papers, this short working paper uses a very large dataset (57 million papers and a billion citations) to look at how scientific fields develop as the number of papers in them grows large. Increasing size leads to “ossification” of the literature rather than increased citation of new papers, suggesting that new ideas may have trouble gaining hold as readers, overwhelmed by the literature, focus on canonical texts. This intriguing evidence could be interpreted in a number of different ways, and will doubtless generate debate over which story best fits the empirical citation patterns.

There’s lots of good stuff out there – I easily could have highlighted several times this number of papers! Again, if you’re interested in helping curate interesting work on SocArXiv, please let me know – with more people, and different tastes, we could conceivably do something a little more systematic here.

New site up: Here are our most downloaded papers


Thanks to the heroic efforts of our partners at the Center for Open Science, we’re delighted that the beta version of SocArXiv is up, running, and ready to use. Over the last four months, more than 600 papers were deposited, mostly through our temporary drop service, and downloaded over 10,000 times.

Now SocArXiv is directly integrated into the Open Science Framework Preprints service, along with other new open access depositories, like bioRxiv, engrXiv, and PsyArXiv. Visit the site, where you can search, browse, and upload your own papers.

In the weeks and months to come, we’ll be expanding our scope and debuting new features. But to give you a taste of what we’ve got and what’s to come, we’re highlighting some selected research, starting with the five most downloaded papers.

  1. Gender Mistakes and Inequality, by Chris Bourg. This sociology dissertation uses an experimental design to show how people who misidentify the gender of another person, then after interacting, realize their mistake, are subsequently less likely to use sex as a basis for interaction.
  2. Law’s Public/Private Structure, by Christian Turner. This preprint (subsequently published in the Florida State University Law Review) creates a taxonomy of the legal distinction between public and private entities based on which type control 1) the creation and definition of law, and 2) prosecution.
  3. Medical Decision Making for Youth in Foster Care, by Zach Straussberger. Forthcoming in the John Marshall Law Review, this paper reports survey and interview results on the gap between who is legally allowed to made decisions on behalf of youth in foster care, and who is typically doing so.
  4. Two Years after Alice vs. CLS Bank, by Jasper L. Tran. Recently published in the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society, the paper shows that subsequent to the Alice decision, which raised the patentability standard for computer-implemented inventions, substantial majorities of challenged patents have been invalidated by the courts.
  5. Happy to Help? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Performing Acts of Kindness on the Well-Being of the Actor, by Oliver Scott Curry et al. This meta-analysis of research on whether performing acts of kindness result in a sense of well-being finds a small-to-medium positive effect across some 21 studies.

These top five papers reflect the early adoption of the site by some legal scholars. We accept papers from all social sciences as well as law. And the site allows faceted browsing and searching by subject area as well as keywords.

You can always see what’s new on the site by visiting the search page and selecting Sort by: Upload date. We’re working on new features, such as sorting by popularity. In the meantime, we’ll be highlighting more research from SocArXiv on the blog. Check it out, and add your own!

Why you should post your papers to SocArXiv



By Elizabeth Popp Berman ResearchGate. Your personal website. You have lots of options for posting your preprints online. Why should you upload them to SocArXiv?

Because you want them to reach people, and because you believe in open access to social science.

You know that posting your work online can extend its audience—to academic peers, journalists, and the wider public—by getting it out from behind journal paywalls. But papers at a personal website aren’t always picked up by academic search engines, and they lack the metadata to maximize your visibility.

And new corporate intermediaries are trying to insert themselves between your research and others’ ability to read it. Uploading to sites like Academia and ResearchGate will reach some of your colleagues. But not every researcher has (or wants) an account, and they’re not designed to provide access to the broader public.

More importantly, while they provide a free service now, these are for-profit enterprises that have to find a way to monetize the content you provide—your research. Academia, for example, recently floated the idea of asking users to pay “a small fee” for papers to be “considered” for recommendation by peers. Expanding access to knowledge is not these companies’ primary mission.

The last couple of years have seen smaller endeavors—first Mendeley, and now the Social Science Research Network (SSRN)—swallowed up by Elsevier, the 800-pound gorilla of for-profit academic publishing. With a trend toward consolidation and a drive to make money, these sites do not have the best interest of social science in mind.

SocArXiv: the open-source alternative

SocArXiv is the noncommercial, open-source alternative to this enclosure of the commons. Uploading your papers to SocArXiv provides a fast, simple way to make your work available and discoverable to the widest possible audience—while also linking you to an emerging community of social scientists and a rapidly developing set of research tools.

We won’t spam everyone (or anyone) you’ve ever met with requests to sign up. And through our link with the Open Science Framework, you’ll also be able to upload data, code, documentation, presentations, and any other files related to your research, and have the option of inviting comments and discussion of your work.

Using SocArXiv is good for you. But it’s also good for social science. Developed in collaboration with the Center for Open Science (COS), SocArXiv’s sole mission is to maximize access to social science and improve its quality. And because we’re noncommercial, we can keep service to social science at the heart of our mission.

In addition, the partnership between SocArXiv and COS means that archiving preprints is just the beginning. COS, home of the Reproducibility Project in psychology, provides free, open-access tools to support data sharing, project collaboration, and pre-registration of studies. As it grows, SocArXiv also plans to develop peer review options, support research communities, and public open-access electronic journals. Like COS, we want individual incentives for researchers to align better with good scientific practices.

How do I start?

Getting started is quick and easy. As we roll out, we have implemented a temporary process for collecting papers. Take five minutes to follow these three easy steps and help us reach a critical mass:

  1. Email from your primary email address.
  2. The subject of the email should be your paper title. The body of the email should be your abstract. Attach the paper as a pdf, Word document, or other file.
  3. Hit send.

That’s it. An Open Science Framework account will be created for you, and your paper will show up here at the temporary site. If you want, you can add tags to make it easier to find. When the full site rolls out, your paper will automatically be included.

You can upload any documents or files you have not specifically signed away rights to share. This includes conference papers, working papers, datasets and code. For most journals, you have the right to post a preprint—and sometimes the published version—of a publication. SocArXiv will track multiple versions of papers, so readers see the most up-to-date while a historical record is retained.

Concerned about journal restrictions? RoMEO maintains an extensive list of journal copyright policies that will reassure you. In sociology, for example:

  • The American Journal of Sociology allows archiving of both preprints and final published versions, as do open-access journals like Sociological Science and Socius.
  • Other ASA journals, including the American Sociological Review, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Psychology Quarterly, Sociological Methodology, Sociological Theory, Sociology of Education, allow preprint posting with a link to the published version.
  • A wide range of journals in which sociologists publish, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Criminology, Demography, Gender and Society, Journal of Marriage and Family, Politics and Society, Social Forces, Social Problems, Socio-Economic Review, Sociological Forum, Theory and Society, and many others, have similar policies.

Imagine if anyone, inside or outside academia, had access to all your research, and could reach it through a simple open web search. Social science doesn’t have to be walled off. Help us make open access a reality. Add your research to SocArXiv.

Visit for more information or to sign up for updates. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook. To make a tax-deductible contribution to SocArXiv through the University of Maryland, visit: