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Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Highlights

April/May 2017

Joseph Jakubek and Spencer D. Wood, “Emancipatory Empiricism: The Rural Sociology of W.E.B. Du Bois,” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, April 29, 2017, 2332649217701750, doi:10.1177/2332649217701750. Available through OnlineFirst until the journal issue is released next fall. 

In this article we work to establish W.E.B. Du Bois as a founder of the field of Rural Sociology by summarizing and analyzing some of his early rural work. We use the term emancipatory empiricism to describe his utilization of evidence to correct and challenge misperceptions of Black agrarian life. Finally, in this early work, Du Bois demonstrates his methodological mastery, much of which is typically attributed to his more familiar urban studies.

This research is important because it uncovers how race was at the center of early American sociology and that Du Bois is central, though under-studied. Du Bois' agrarian studies predate the most recognized founders of the field of rural sociology by nearly 20 years and are only infrequently recognized and seldom thoroughly engaged. This oversight has contributed to the making of rural sociology as a field that insufficiently considers the significance of race in the development of rural spaces.

March 2017

Dr. Kurtz and Dr. Upton recently submitted two research manuscripts that explore storytelling and narrative development among police officers. The application of narrative criminology remains a limited but emergent approach utilized by scholars in the social sciences to explore and understand how people make sense of their world. This approach also explores the role narratives in shaping behaviors and actions. Dr. Kurtz’s and Dr. Upton’s exploration of police storytelling provides rich content on how officers make sense of crime, their roles in the community, and their complicated work environments.

 A manuscript entitled “The Gender in Stories: How War Stories and Police Narratives Shape Masculine Police Culture” was recently published at the journal Women & Criminal Justice (online first with print version forthcoming). This peer-reviewed journal focuses on critical research that explores criminology, the criminal justice system and victimology as it relates to constructed differences between men and women. The paper examines storytelling and narrative development in police culture related to gendered aspects of policing. Officer statements indicate that women are frequently viewed through a gendered lens and that police storytelling appears an important context for understanding police culture. The types of stories explored in this paper—flow of action, war stories, and gender narratives—provide a context for understanding the (re)production of masculinity in policing. The authors have an additional paper with revise and resubmit status at another criminology journal that also explores police narratives and the unique context of stories within police culture.

 Dr. Kurtz has expanded his already rich research agenda to include greater emphasis and exploration on narrative criminology and recently presented several narrative papers at multiple conferences. The police narrative research extends much of his policing research that recently resulted in Dr. Kurtz’s involvement in Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA) Smart Suite Researcher Practitioner Fellows Academy. In addition to police narratives examined with Dr. Upton, Dr. Kurtz is exploring how families develop narratives and stories to explain and understand criminal offenses by a close family member. This intergenerational family narratives project is likely to produce years of important scholarship. Dr. Kurtz will participate with an international group of narrative scholars as part of Narrative Criminology Symposium in Oslo, Norway in June 2017.

February 2017

An award to support students as they explore the world has been established in honor of Harald Prins and Bunny McBride. At least one student will be awarded up to $5,000 this summer to travel anywhere in the world. Over the coming years, the founders of the program, Michael Wesch and Ryan Klataske, hope to expand the program to support as many as 10 students who want to travel abroad. To read more, click here.

December 2016

K-State's undergraduate Anthropology program has a long history of preparing students for advanced study and long-term success in research, teaching, governmental service, and private business and industry. This has been and continues to be accomplished through innovative classroom instruction and quality field and laboratory research experiences. A recent example is the success of alumnus, Dr. Caroline VanSickle (KSU BS 2007), Visiting Assistant Professor of anthropology at Bryn Mawr. Her paleoanthropological research is highlighted in the December 2016 issue of American Scientist. Dr. VanSickle works in collaboration with Dr. John Hawks (KSU BS 1994), also an alumnus of K-State's Anthropology program and presently Fulbright Scholar and Villas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These outstanding scholars play major roles in the National Geographic-supported Rising Star Expedition investigating newly discovered remains of the early hominin Homo naledi. Their foundational training was gained through K-State's Anthropology program and its outstanding teaching and research.

Gerad Middendorf, professor of Sociology, and Terrie Becerra, assistant professor of Sociology at East Central University, published "Attitudes of Extension Educators in Kansas and Oklahoma Regarding Climate Change" in the Journal of Extension. In this paper, part of the social science component of the project, they surveyed Extension educators in the southern Great Plains about their attitudes and beliefs regarding climate change, their interactions with constituents surrounding climate change, and challenges they face in engaging constituents on the topic of climate change. Production-oriented and sociocultural challenges in meeting constituents' information needs exist. Educators reported (a) a lack in training/capacity for addressing climate change issues and (b) needing information, especially regarding drought and extreme or unseasonable weather events and related management practices. Educators also identified a need for more educational resources, including print materials and online decision aids. Implications are relevant to educators working beyond the study area and in any agricultural production system.

 

October 2016

The City of Manhattan's Flint Hills Discovery Center seeks to inspire people to celebrate, explore, and care for the natural and cultural environment of the Flint Hills, past and present. Permanent and temporary exhibits, an immersive experience, and public programming for all ages are used to reach this goal.

Exhibits highlighting the early Native peoples of this region are enhanced through educational programs developed through matching support of an engagement incentive grant. This project, "Bringing Archaeology Home: Interpreting Central Plains Tradition Lifeways through Interactive Programming," is organized by Lauren W. Ritterbush, associate professor of anthropology/archaeology, and the education staff of the Discovery Center. The project seeks to promote public understanding of the cultural diversity of the Flint Hills over time through expanded educational programming designed to supplement the Winds of the Past gallery. 

 

September 2016

In the past 200 years there has been a global trend towards smaller families. This trend is now seen in countries in Africa and the Middle East, areas that traditionally had very high levels of fertility. In a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Associate Professor of Sociology Nicolette Manglos-Weber and her co-author Alexander Weinreb use survey data from Turkey to examine whether cultural changes in how people select marriage partners might in part explain declining fertility.

In Turkey, as in many other Middle Eastern countries, kinship groups called clans are important social structures and markers of identity. Traditionally marriage existed as a union between extended families and were often made between first cousins on the father's side. So, for example, a woman would be given in marriage to her father's brother's son, so that her children would be kept within the larger clan unit. Women were also expected to have many children for the larger development of the clan.

Yet recently ideals of women's autonomy and sexual intimacy have challenged this model, such that more and more young Turkish men and women want to choose their own partners for personal reasons. Manglos-Weber and Weinreb hypothesized that this trend may also mean those in such "own-choice" marriages are less inclined to have large families, which could explain population-level declines in fertility.

They found that women in own-choice marriages do indeed have fewer children and are also slightly more likely to use contraception. However, they also found that many of the marriages in their study were "own-choice," but were also between first or second cousins' or they were arranged, but to unrelated spouses. This suggests that young men and women in Turkey continue to negotiate the traditions of their parents even as they adopt more "modern" ways of marrying and making families. 

The lesson in the study is that cultural changes can have far-ranging impacts on how populations grow, change, or develop over time; and that such changes often take place through many small, intimate decisions about love and family.

 

June 2016

Associate Professor of Sociology, Alisa Garni, and a team of K-State graduates and students studied how immigrant workers from Central America are influencing rural Kansas' society and economy. Read more here.

 

April 2016

Harald E.L. Prins served as lead expert witness for the Penobscot Indian Nation in a federal court case in a dispute with the State of Maine and numerous river towns about tribal reservation boundaries and its fishing rights on the Upper Penobscot River.