Sociology Theses and Dissertations

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    Interaction Patterns in the Neighborhood Tavern
    (1971) Bissonette, Raymond Peter; Lejins, Peter P.; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    This study was undertaken in order to develop a systematic description and analysis of the social reality of the public drinking establishment with special reference to the neighborhood workingman's tavern. The perspective adopted was a focus on the non-pathological aspects of behavior associated with the consumption of beverage alcohol. Underlying this point of departure was the recognition that most research on drinking behavior is related to alcoholism but most drinking is not. The study had two purposes: first to attempt a descriptive analysis of social interaction in the tavern setting by translating observed behavior into relatively standard sociological concepts of norm, role, ecology, and communication. Beyond the descriptive purpose of this approach was the expectation that the organization of observations into such a conceptual scheme would enhance the scientific utility of the effort by providing for assimilability and comparability of the data with other research and theory. The second purpose was to test a new theoretical focus for its adequacy as an explanatory model. The focus is on behavior in public and semi-public places - an area falling some where between group studies on the one hand and studies of collective behavior on the other. The major component of this theoretical framework is the mechanism of involvement allocation which refers to the ways in which actors regulate the duration and intensity of their involvement in interpersonal interaction. As was anticipated much of what is unique to sociability in the tavern setting was explainable in terms of involvement allocation. Principally responsible for this is the fact that a tavern, regardless of its official definition, has the dual functions of dispensary and social event. Although the tavern is a prototypic case for involvement allocation it was concluded that this explanatory model might have wide application in interpersonal and intergroup behavior. The data were collected over a three year period by means of participant observation in a wide variety of settings. The core data represent observations taken over a two year period in four selected neighborhood taverns. The synchronic observation of these case taverns were then supplemented by spot observations taken in over one hundred other establishments. The third source of data was the published findings of similar and related studies. The contrast and comparison provided by these additional data aid considerably in verifying the raw data and their interpretation - an inherent problem in this kind of approach. The findings demonstrate that the social reality of the tavern setting consists in patterned behavior amenable to systematic description and analysis. Drinking is a never-present variable but rarely an exclusive preoccupation. A more fruitful approach in understanding the role of drinking in such a setting is to focus on its social rather than physiological consequences. As a part of the definition of the tavern, drinking is always an accepted major involvement and as such affords the individual considerable flexibility in his involvement in the social activities occurring simultaneously. Throughout the study much of what is characteristic of tavern behavior is explained in terms of the involvement allocation options offered by the tavern's dual function as dispensary and social event.
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    Gender-Specific Significance of Family Transitions on Well-being and Work Attitudes
    (2022) Hara, Yuko; Chen, Feinian; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Marriage and parenthood are major life events for many individuals. Marriage is linked with improved health partly through spousal influence on health-related behaviors including diet. Previous theoretical and qualitative research suggests a link between family transitions and meal patterns. Yet empirical research using a nationally representative sample to examine the association is scarce. And the issues of whether spousal influence on health-related behaviors can be extended to other types of romantic relationships, such as cohabitation, as well as whether the transition to parenthood is linked with changes in meal patterns, have not been adequately researched. Additionally, research examining whether the health benefits that marriage brings can be universally found for both genders across countries is limited. Family life events carry other consequences, too. Prior research also suggests that family life often has a negative impact on attitudes toward paid work, particularly for women. Past research, however, primarily relied on small sample interview data or cross-sectional data, leaving unclear how work attitudes change during adulthood. This dissertation examines the impact of different family life events such as marriage, cohabitation, and parenthood on changes in subjective well-being, health-related behavior (meal patterns), and attitudes towards work by gender. I focus on adults in their prime work and family life stages in the U.S. and Japan. By using fixed effects models and panel data, I aimed to estimate the average effect of family life events within individuals over time. I found that entering a romantic union reduces meal skipping, but the type of union matters differently for men and women. I also found that the transition to parenthood discourages women’s regular meal patterns, suggesting family ties do not necessarily facilitate healthy behaviors. In the highly gendered social context of Japan, contrary to previous findings from Western industrialized countries, I found no evidence indicating that marriage is associated with self-rated health for women. Additionally, I found that the transition to parenthood is negatively linked with men’s self-rated health. In terms of work attitudes, even when controlling for various job characteristics, I found that both marriage and parenthood are negatively associated with enthusiasm toward work achievement, only for women in Japan. These findings highlight the importance of country context and reveal that entry into marriage triggers shifts in women’s work attitudes even before having children.
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    (2022) Duan, Haoshu; Chen, Feinian; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of three papers that investigate the long-term family caregiving patterns among Chinese and American older adults. Family caregiving has long been an essential fabric of long-term care services. Due to the prolonged life expectancy and the declined family size, older adults today are more likely to care for multiple family members for longer years than the previous cohorts. However, studies on caregiving predominately focus on singular care experiences over a short period time. As older adults transition into and out of multiple care roles, the overall caregiving patterns are overlooked. Leveraging two rich longitudinal datasets (the China Health and Retirement Study and the Health and Retirement Study), this dissertation aims to fill this current research gap by developing long-term family caregiving typologies. The first paper develops a care typology for Chinese older adults, and thoroughly assesses how gender, hukou status, living arrangement, and significant life transitions are associated with the long-term caregiving patterns. In the second paper, using linear mixed-effects models, I continue exploring the positive and negative health consequences of each caregiving pattern among Chinese older adults. The third paper focuses on developing a long-term family caregiving pattern for American older adults. In addition to prolonged life expectancies and the decline in family size, the U.S. has experienced complex transitions in family structures over the past few decades, leading to more diverse family networks and international relations in later life. After establishing the long-term care typology, the third paper pays closer attention to the variations of family caregiving patterns across the War Babies cohort, Early Baby Boomer, and the Middle/Late Baby Boomer cohort. Moreover, I explore how gender, race, and socioeconomic status are linked with these patterns. In the context of global aging, this dissertation highlights the heterogeneity in the family caregiving experiences and identifies the most vulnerable demographic groups who shoulder the heaviest care burden over time. In the end, the findings from the dissertation provide guidance for the investment and design of long-term care services in rapidly aging contexts.
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    The Socioeconomic Associations with Women's Partnership Formation and Dissolution in Russia, Germany, and the United States
    (2021) Zvavitch, Polina; Rendall, Michael S; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of three studies that evaluate how women form partnerships, leave partnerships, and the economic outcomes of those partnerships. These demographic transitions and outcomes are evaluated in three country contexts with differing political, welfare regimes, social history. I use longitudinal data from Russia to analyze marital status differences and trends in in poverty risk. Contrary to assumptions that unmarried mothers will have higher risks of poverty over time as welfare policy weakens, unmarried mothers and married mothers’ risks of poverty came close to converging in the late 2000s. Second, I use German data to examine educational assortative mating in East and West Germany. I use the Revealed Preference Model (RPM). First, from bivariate analysis of the SOEP, I find that among the people who are partnering, they are doing so mostly homogamously in the East and the West. Highly educated women in the East are still less likely to partner somebody of a lower education status. The RPM estimated parameters then showed that in West Germany and East Germany alike, educationally hypergamous partnerships were most preferable. Though the availability of higher educated partners in East and West Germany are different, the preference for hypergamy remains. Finally, I move on to the United States to estimate the divorce risk of partners of various education levels. I use the Survey of Income and Program Participation, providing accurate representation of the contemporary U.S. The model estimates divorce risk using women’s own education, men’s own education, and their relative education levels. It reveals several persistent patterns. Women’s divorce risk decreases monotonically as education increases, so highly educated women have the lowest rate of divorce. Men’s education, however, is less of a determinant on the risk of divorce. Relative to hypergamy and homogamy, hypogamous unions (woman marrying a man of a lower education status than herself) were more likely to divorce. This study supports past research that finds the female breadwinner model the most volatile when it comes to likelihood of divorce and continued support for this trend into the 2010’s.
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    Collective Racial Emotion and Whites' Reactions to Demands for Racial Equity
    (2021) Genter, Shaun; Ray, Rashawn; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Research has shown that white people in the United States support the principle of racial equity, but oppose most practical efforts to advance it. Less is known about how whites respond to social actors who push for these efforts. Building on theories of racial policy attitudes, this research addresses the following questions: How do whites respond emotionally to actors who push for (and against) racial equity? Does the race of the actor matter? And what influence, if any, do these reactions have on subsequent policy evaluations?To begin answering these questions, I conducted three experiments (n = 1255) with self-identified white respondents recruited from Prolific Inc. In each of the studies, respondents reported their emotional reactions to an article designed to look like an online opinion piece. In the first and second studies, I varied the author’s race and whether or not the author supported or opposed race-targeted COVID-19 related economic stimulus. In the third experiment, I examined whites’ emotional reactions to Black and white advocates pushing for (or against) a presumably race-neutral policy—carbon taxing. My findings show that the author’s race does influence reactions, particularly when the policy has racial implications. Whites tended to direct more anger toward a Black advocate of the economic relief than they did when a comparable white advocate made the same claim. But whites showed more warmth toward the Black author when he argued against the relief. In both cases, the Black advocate promoted greater opposition to the policy by way of the emotional response. However, when the policy was race-neutral, the advocate’s race did not much influence emotional responses, suggesting that the response is, in part, related to the presumed effect the policy would have on reducing the social gap between Blacks and whites. The results of this research shed light on how white people react to demands for racial equity, and if the race of the messenger has any influence. It extends on previous research by focusing on emotional responses to these demands—both positive and negative—and the influence they have on policy opinions.