Dispatches from the Field: The American Dream

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Dispatches from the Field is a collaborative project that involves sociology MA students at Columbia University in reading, writing, and editing primary source material to produce a series of chapbooks designed to engage readers directly with qualitative research data. The publication itself challenges traditional journal formats, opening the way for non-linear approaches to reading and interpreting. Much as ethnographers encounter their data, Dispatches, encourages readers to make their own paths through the publication, critically piecing together disparate voices.

This year’s edition includes a series of reflections that refer to the American Dream, or rather, a set of differing American Dreams and their elusive promises. In one interview, a retired textile worker reminisces about community life during the heyday of the former company town in which she has lived for six decades. A college student who works full-time as a waitress draws a tongue-in-cheek version of her American dream, which includes unlimited access to perfect avocados. An immigrant street vendor describes the joy of working independently. In a piece that interweaves interviews and poems, a young African-American man recently released from prison reflects on racism and the criminal justice system.

Project Team:

Series Editor: Denise Milstein

Editorial Committee, Issue 1: Addison Malone, Alibek Kissybay, Andrea Avila, Hanna Love, Isik Sarikamis, Kaitlyn Cunningham, Rachel Tjahjadi

Contributors, Issue 1: Alejandra Cueto Piazza, Dante Barber, Kea V. Saper, Sam Donahue, Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya

Robert Rauschenberg: An Oral History edited by Sara Sinclair with Peter Bearman and Mary Marshall Clark

Robert Rauschenberg: An Oral History edited by Sara Sinclair with Peter Bearman and Mary Marshall Clark

Robert Rauschenberg is a work of collaborative oral biography that tells the story of one of the twentieth century’s great artists through a series of interviews with key figures in his life—family, friends, former lovers, professional associates, studio assistants, and collaborators.

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SSM: Patterned Remittances Enhance Women’s Health-Related Autonomy by Sharon H Green, Charlotte Wang, Swethaa S Ballakrishnen, Hannah Brueckner, Peter Bearman

SSM: Patterned Remittances Enhance Women’s Health-Related Autonomy by Sharon H Green, Charlotte Wang, Swethaa S Ballakrishnen, Hannah Brueckner, Peter Bearman

Focusing on the state of Kerala in southern India, we examine the conditions under which the remittances that migrants send home have an impact on the health of women left behind. Specifically, we assess the extent to which the timing of remittance sending can support women’s autonomy, and hence improve their autonomous healthcare decision-making and mobility to health facilities.

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Working For Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart by Adam Reich and Peter Bearman

Working For Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart by Adam Reich and Peter Bearman

In Working for Respect, Adam Reich and Peter Bearman examine how workers make sense of their jobs at places like Walmart in order to consider the nature of contemporary low-wage work, as well as the obstacles and opportunities such workplaces present as sites of struggle for social and economic justice.

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AJS: How Cultural Capital Emerged in Gilded Age America: Musical Purification and Cross-Class Inclusion at the New York Philharmonic by Fabien Accominotti, Shamus Khan and Adam Storer

This article uses an INCITE-created database of subscribers to the New York Philharmonic to explore how high culture became a form of socially valuable capital in late-19th-century America. The authors find support for the classic account of high culture’s purification and exclusiveness.

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PNAS: Neural Precursors of Future Liking and its Mutual Reciprocation by Zerubavel, Noam, Mark Hoffman, Adam Reich, Kevin Ochsner and Peter Bearman

We combined fMRI and longitudinal social network data to test whether newly acquainted group members’ reward-related neural responses to images of one another’s faces predict their future interpersonal sentiment, even many months later.

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Poetics: The Semantic Structure of the Conformist and Dissenting Bible, 1660-1780 by Mark Hoffman, Jean Phillipe Cointet, Philipp Brandt, Newton Key, and Peter Bearman

We show that it is possible to induce a semantic network image of the Bible, that this structure serves as a skeletal frame for interpretation, thereby highlighting different contents as central to denominations’ religious inspirations and concerns.

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Robert Rauschenberg Oral History Collection, 2014-2017

Robert Rauschenberg Oral History Collection, 2014-2017

This oral history documents the life and legacy of renowned American Artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008). It focuses on Mr. Rauschenberg’s impact on the avant art world of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the conditions for creativity that inspired his work, comprise the framework for the project’s design.

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Afghanistan Analysts Network: Ideology in the Afghan Taliban by Anand Gopal and Alex Strick Van Linshoten

In this report the authors examine the changes as well as the continuity in the Taleban’s ideology from the 1980s to the present day. The report is the product of years of interviews, fieldwork in Afghanistan, as well as their time working with the Taliban Sources Project archive, a significant collection of documents relating to the Taleban movement.

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Sociological Science: The Course of Law: State Intervention in Southern Lynch Mob Violence 1882–1930 by Kinga Makovi, Ryan Hagen and Peter Bearman

Analyzing an inventory of more than 1,000 averted and completed lynching events in three Southern states, we model geographic and temporal patterns in the determinants of mob formation, state intervention, and intervention success.

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