Scholarly Works, Sociology

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  • Pipelines and Power: Psychological Distress, Political Alienation, and the Breakdown of Environmental Justice in Government Agencies’ Public Participation Processes
    Bell, Shannon E.; Hughes, Michael; Tuttle, Grace; Chisholm, Russell; Gerus, Stephen; Mullins, Danielle R.; Baller, Cameron; Scarff, Kelly; Spector, Rachel; Nalamalapu, Denali (Elsevier, 2024-01-25)
    Environmental health research has demonstrated that living near industrial activity is associated with increased stress, depressive symptoms, and feelings of powerlessness. Little is known, however, about the effects of new natural gas pipelines—or the institutional processes dictating their approval and construction—on the mental health of local residents. Through our analysis of a mail survey, an online survey, and a set of semi-structured interviews, we examine how engagement with public participation processes associated with new interstate natural gas pipelines affects mental health. Our results suggest that the public participation opportunities offered by regulatory agencies during the pipeline certification process are primarily performative, and we find that many of the people who have taken part in these performative public input opportunities experience psychological distress, stress-activated physical health effects, and a loss of trust in government institutions. We argue that when people engage in public participation processes that have little or no effect on agency decision-making, it not only disempowers, but can harm those individuals and erode their trust in government institutions. Furthermore, we contend that providing the public with participation opportunities that are merely performative, with little ability to influence decision-making outcomes, is a violation of both procedural and recognition justice, two of the core tenets of environmental justice.
  • Routine citizen Internet practices and cyber victimization: a state-wide study in Virginia
    Gainey, Randy; Albanese, Jay; Vandecar-Burdin, Tancy; Hawdon, James E.; Dearden, Thomas E.; Parti, Katalin (Taylor & Francis, 2023-10-22)
    Cybercrime has become a major societal concern, and a better understanding OF cybercrime is needed to target and prevent it more effectively, minimize its consequences, and provide support for victims. Research on cybercrime victimization has exploded in the past few years, but much of it relies on convenience samples and is largely descriptive in nature. The research presented here involves the collection of data from a large sample of Virginia households in 2022 (n = 1,206). The data are analyzed to provide a partial test of routine activity theory to better understand fraud and theft via the Internet. The data provide a solid baseline for describing the extent of cyber victimization across the state. Bivariate and multivariate analyses (logistic regressions) show support for routine activity theory and provide important insights for future research. In particular, we find that certain routine Internet activities may better predict unique forms of cybervictimization than others and that length of time on the Internet is not a good indicator of exposure to motivated offenders. Further, protective guardianship mediates the effects of exposure to motivated offenders; thus, efforts to educate the public on best practices are needed. We conclude that to better assess cybercrime, victimization and engagement, better measurement and longitudinal panel data will be needed.
  • Dead-end days: The sacrifice of displaced workers on film
    King, Neal M. (University of Illinois Press, 2004)
  • “Figuring out your place at a school like this:” Intersectionality and sense of belonging among STEM and non-STEM college students
    Ovink, Sarah; Byrd, W. Carson; Nanney, Megan; Wilson, Abigail (Public Library of Science, 2024-01-10)
    Background Students’ sense of belonging in college—an individual’s feelings of contentment, mattering, importance, and “finding one’s place” in a social setting—can influence choice of major and career trajectory. We contribute to the belongingness literature through a mixed methods intersectional study of students attending a STEM-focused public university we call Meadow State University (MSU). We assess the potential for students’ intersecting social identities to differentially influence their experiences with intersectional oppression—subjection to multiple systems of oppression due to simultaneous membership in more than one marginalized group—that, in turn, may influence their college pathways. In addition, we explore whether intersectional differences affect sense of belonging differently in STEM and non-STEM majors. We employ a mixed-methods approach, informed by critical quantitative methods and in-depth interviews. We utilize quantitative institutional data measuring college satisfaction, expressed as “willingness to return” to the same university, for over 3,000 students during two academic years (2013–14 and 2016–17). Survey data explores college satisfaction as an indicator of intersectional differences in student experiences. Then, we analyze 37 in-depth interviews, collected between 2014–2016 at the same institution, to further contextualize the intersectional variation suggested by survey results. Results Willingness to return is influenced by major, as well as academic, social, and campus belonging. Moreover, the extent to which these factors affected outcomes additionally varied by race/ethnicity, gender, family income, other background factors, and the ways these factors may intersect. Important components of academic belonging included faculty-student interactions, perceptions of academic support, and a privileging of STEM degree programs and students over non-STEM students and their degree programs at MSU. Faculty responsiveness and high impact practices like internships played an important role, particularly in STEM programs. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that, particularly for students of color and those subject to intersectional oppression due to multiple marginalized identities, satisfaction with academics did not always outweigh deficiencies in other areas of campus life shaping belongingness. Conclusions Our mixed-methods approach contributes insights into how and why students’ background, individual choices, and institutional practices concurrently—and intersectionally—influence their ability to form a sense of belonging on campus. Structural changes are required to end practices that support intersecting systems of oppression by favoring White, upper-income men as the “default” STEM students in the U.S. Our research supports growing evidence that institutions must actively build models of inclusion for underrepresented and marginalized groups that address inequitable and unjust practices, providing transformative mentoring and educational guidance that attends to intersectional oppression, in order to effectively support the next generation of women and scholars of color.
  • Understanding the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Cybercrime
    Parti, Katalin; Dearden, Thomas E.; Choi, Sinyong (2023-09-15)
    Artificial intelligence is one of the newest innovations which offenders exploit to satisfy their criminal desires. Although understanding cybercrime that is associated with this relatively new technology is essential in developing proper preventive measures, little has been done to examine this area. Therefore, this paper provides an overview of the two articles featured in the special issue of the International Journal of Cybersecurity Intelligence and Cybercrime, one about deepfakes in the metaverse and the other about social engineering attacks. The articles were written by the winners of the student paper competition at the 2023 International White Hat Conference.
  • Cybercrime victimization among Virginia businesses: frequency, vulnerabilities, and consequences of cybervictimization
    Hawdon, James E.; Parti, Katalin; Dearden, Thomas E.; Vandecar-Burdin, Tancy; Albanese, Jay; Gainey, Randy (Taylor & Francis, 2023-09-04)
    The Commonwealth of Virginia, USA, is one of the most vulnerable states to cyberattacks and breaches. Analyzing data from 428 online surveys collected from Virginia businesses from multiple vendors and several unique resources, this study provides an in-depth view of the nature and extent of cybercrime victimization in Virginia, highlighting specific vulnerabilities, how the victimization occurred, the consequences of victimization, and if and to whom these breaches were reported. In addition, we describe the extent to which businesses perceive their vulnerabilities, the extent in which companies engage in behaviors that can potentially make them vulnerable, the policies and practices they have in place to reduce vulnerability, and their experiences with victimization. The results provide a quality baseline for understanding cybercrimes against businesses in Virginia.
  • We get by with family: Maternal partnership transitions and extended kin coresidence
    Williams, Heidi M. (Wiley, 2023-04)
    Objective This study examines the extent to which mothers coreside with extended kin during partnership transitions.Background Parental relationship changes are increasingly common, especially among unmarried parents. Although research shows that families often coreside out of economic necessity, extended kin coresidence as a function of maternal relationship changes has not been explored. Using life course theory, this study examines where and with whom mothers and their children live during partnership transitions.Method Data are from 2,886 mothers who participated in the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Bivariate and multinomial logistic regression, random effects, and fixed effects models were estimated to determine if mothers' coresidential relationships with extended kin were formed by changes in mothers' coresidential romantic partnership statuses.Results Mothers' partnership changes were associated with extended kin coresidence, especially among unmarried mothers. By Year 9, mothers were more likely to live "elsewhere." Mothers' parity and multipartnered fertility decreased their chances of living with extended kin.Conclusion This study indicates that maternal relationship changes provoke family instability and reliance on extended kin. Mothers' transitions contribute to "network fatigue" and homelessness.Implications Housing support for mothers may mitigate instability associated with maternal relationship transitions and protect extended kin against transitions.
  • Defending Others Online: The Influence of Observing Formal and Informal Social Control on One's Willingness to Defend Cyberhate Victims
    Costello, Matthew; Hawdon, James; Reichelmann, Ashley V.; Oksanen, Atte; Blaya, Catherine; Llorent, Vicente J.; Räsänen, Pekka; Zych, Izabela (MDPI, 2023-08-02)
    This paper examines factors correlated with online self-help—an informal form of social control vis-à-vis intervention—upon witnessing a cyberhate attack. Using online surveys from 18- to 26-year-old respondents in the United States, we explore the roles of various types of online and offline formal and informal social control mechanisms on the enactment of self-help through the use of descriptive statistics and ordinal logistic regression. The results of the multivariate analyses indicate that online collective efficacy is positively related to self-help, as is having close ties to individuals and groups offline and online. Formal online social control, however, is not significantly related to engaging in self-help. Other findings demonstrate that personal encounters with cyberhate affect the likelihood that an individual will intervene when witnessing an attack, and that individuals with high levels of empathy are more likely to intervene to assist others. This work indicates that pro-social online behavior is contagious and can potentially foster online spaces in which harmful behaviors, such as propagating cyberhate, are not condoned.
  • Practice Research Special Issue Editorial
    Zagorski-Thomas, Simon; Harrison, Anthony Kwame; Jordán González, Laura (International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 2023-07-28)
  • Artificial intelligence in farming: Challenges and opportunities for building trust
    Gardezi, Maaz; Joshi, Bhavna; Rizzo, Donna M.; Ryan, Mark; Prutzer, Edward; Brugler, Skye; Dadkhah, Ali (Wiley, 2023-05)
    Artificial intelligence (AI) represents technologies with human-like cognitive abilities to learn, perform, and make decisions. AI in precision agriculture (PA) enables farmers and farm managers to deploy highly targeted and precise farming practices based on site-specific agroclimatic field measurements. The foundational and applied development of AI has matured considerably over the last 30 years. The time is now right to engage seriously with the ethics and responsible practice of AI for the well-being of farmers and farm managers. In this paper, we identify and discuss both challenges and opportunities for improving farmers' trust in those providing AI solutions for PA. We highlight that farmers' trust can be moderated by how the benefits and risks of AI are perceived, shared, and distributed. We propose four recommendations for improving farmers' trust. First, AI developers should improve model transparency and explainability. Second, clear responsibility and accountability should be assigned to AI decisions. Third, concerns about the fairness of AI need to be overcome to improve human-machine partnerships in agriculture. Finally, regulation and voluntary compliance of data ownership, privacy, and security are needed, if AI systems are to become accepted and used by farmers.
  • What is a capable guardian to older fraud victims? Comparison of younger and older victims’ characteristics of online fraud utilizing routine activity theory
    Parti, Katalin (2023-05-18)
    Objective: The paper compares victim group characteristics: we test routine activities theory to compare the differences in online fraud vulnerabilities of victims aged 18–54 and victims of 55 and above. Methods/sample: A representative sample of US citizens 18 and above was collected in October 2020. Victims under 55 encompassed 35.3% (n = 915), victims 55 and above 12.9% (n = 334) of the total sample (n = 2,589). We utilized nonparametric statistical methods for testing whether older and younger victims’ characteristics can be derived from the same independent variables. Results: Computer time, computer familiarity, and technical guardians determine online victimization in older individuals, similarly to younger age groups. However, older victims differ in characteristics from younger victims. Seniors were less likely to apply technical guardians such as camera cover, identity theft monitoring, and credit card freeze, even after experiencing online scams. Being a single parent was a protective factor for older individuals, but having a full-time job made older individuals more prone to experience online fraud victimization compared to being retired. In addition, older victims were less likely to report scams than younger ones. Conclusion/implications: Although this research found significant differences between older and younger fraud victims’ characteristics, target suitability and capable guardianship must be further investigated and conceptualized when applying routine activities theory for online fraud against older people.
  • "If We Don't Listen to Them, We Make Them Lose More than Money:" Exploring Reasons for Underreporting and the Needs of Older Scam Victims
    Parti, Katalin; Tahir, Faika (MDPI, 2023-04-28)
    Highly manipulative online and telephone scams committed by strangers target everyone, but older individuals are especially susceptible to being victimized. This study aimed to (1) identify why older individuals decide not to report scams and, in parallel, (2) explore the needs of victims. Thirty-five interviews were conducted with Virginia residents who were 60 years or older in 2021. The interpretive phenomenological analysis of the semi-structured interviews revealed that victims are reluctant to report crimes or ask for help from their family or community because much-needed emotional, educational, and technical help is often inaccessible or inadequate. In particular, we found that family responses tend to intrude on privacy, community responses are not meaningful or are non-existent, police responses are inadequate, and prevention programs are inaccessible and not specified to meet the needs of older age groups. We recommend developing age-appropriate prevention and education programs, by applying the intergenerational group approach, and actively listening to victims’ concerns before deciding what means of help should be applied. Research implications and recommendations are presented.
  • “If We Don’t Listen to Them, We Make Them Lose More than Money”: Exploring Reasons for Underreporting and the Needs of Older Scam Victims
    Parti, Katalin; Tahir, Faika (MDPI, 2023-04-28)
    Highly manipulative online and telephone scams committed by strangers target everyone, but older individuals are especially susceptible to being victimized. This study aimed to (1) identify why older individuals decide not to report scams and, in parallel, (2) explore the needs of victims. Thirty-five interviews were conducted with Virginia residents who were 60 years or older in 2021. The interpretive phenomenological analysis of the semi-structured interviews revealed that victims are reluctant to report crimes or ask for help from their family or community because much-needed emotional, educational, and technical help is often inaccessible or inadequate. In particular, we found that family responses tend to intrude on privacy, community responses are not meaningful or are non-existent, police responses are inadequate, and prevention programs are inaccessible and not specified to meet the needs of older age groups. We recommend developing age-appropriate prevention and education programs, by applying the intergenerational group approach, and actively listening to victims’ concerns before deciding what means of help should be applied. Research implications and recommendations are presented.
  • Illiberal and Populist Political Narratives on Gender and Underreporting of Sexual Violence
    Parti, Katalin (2023-04-05)
    The paper was presented in a webinar "Gender Equity Series - Violence Against Women in Europe" organized by CEUTTSS.
  • Findings from the Spirit Squad study: Overlooked and Misread?
    Zare, Bonnie; Carey, Sonny (2021-02)
    Our qualitative study’s primary purpose was to gain insights from the Virginia Tech Spirit Squad members about their experience. We gathered students’ thoughts regarding interaction with fans, public understanding of the activity as a sport and perceptions of stereotypes. In addition, we asked about appearance management, body image and resources to seek out additional help.
  • B. R. Ambedkar as Visonary Educator
    Nagrale, Harshali; Zare, Bonnie; Wakade, Ashirwad (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023-01)
    “We are because he was.” This common phrase referring to Bhimrao Ambedkar among social justice advocates illustrates Ambedkar’s powerful leadership. An outspoken critic of rigid Brahminical structures that excluded large groups of citizens from participating in many public spaces, Ambedkar championed education for all people, including those who were historically outcast or disenfranchised. One of the most influential drafters of India’s Constitution, Ambedkar enshrined therein the principles of freedom and nondiscrimination. The Constitution laid the groundwork for reservations, India’s sole affirmative action policy. It provided for a future system that through amendments would eventually reserve seats in legislatures, government jobs, and education for scheduled castes (SCs) (formerly called untouchables) and scheduled tribes (STs) (indigenous formerly nomadic groups). Ambedkar established inclusive educational initiatives, including learn while you earn options, and overseas education scholarships for historically marginalized groups, who could not dream of accessing these opportunities prior to this time. He fought tirelessly to raise the status of women and free them from encumbrances standing in their way so that they could have all the rights and opportunities of male citizens. More than pointing people in a direction, he helped people see they could think beyond accepting miserable conditions and instead plan a way of life rooted in dignity.
  • Liberating Our Writing: Critical Narratives and Systemic Changes in Education and the Social Sciences
    Perez-Felkner, Lara; Gast, Melanie Jones; Ovink, Sarah (Taylor & Francis, 2022-11)
    We outline our evolution as Latina, Asian, and White women sociologists using a social justice lens while studying transitions to college among youth of color. During our graduate training and early academic careers, we felt pushed to center “mainstream” theories, which often failed to account for the power struggles and intersectional oppression our reading and empirical investigations uncovered. Guidance from mentors, peer reviewers, and senior scholars in our fields often left us feeling our ideas were invalid and marginalized. We detail our shared experiences in developing our critical lenses, and we present practical advice for early-career scholars navigating academic pressures while seeking to advance their academic writing for social justice. Our narratives represent a call to action for academics to center critical approaches that push our students and ourselves to speak truth to power.
  • University Diversity Projects and the Inclusivity Challenge
    Ovink, Sarah; Murrell, Ocqua (SAGE Publications, 2022-11-25)
    Growing numbers of women; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and low-income/first-in-family students attend U.S. colleges. Although sought after by universities eager to establish diverse campuses, many minoritized students still report ambivalence about inclusion at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Like many PWIs, Meadow State University (MSU) promotes commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Yet little is known about how students perceive institutions’ DEI-related efforts. The authors conducted focus groups with 144 undergraduates to identify students’ perspectives on what MSU is attempting and accomplishing in pursuing DEI goals. The authors find that MSU’s goals encompass a set of loosely connected policies, practices, and behaviors they term diversity projects. The authors reveal gaps between MSU’s intentions in providing institution-led diversity projects and respondents’ perceptions of them, highlighting their largely symbolic nature. Students advocating for an institutional responsibility for inclusion stressed requests for concrete, student-led diversity projects that fulfill expressed needs, particularly for minoritized students.
  • Resistance, Acceptance, and Quiescence: The Role of Social Networks in Predicting Responses to a New Natural Gas Pipeline
    Bell, Shannon Elizabeth; Gerus, Stephen; Mullins, Danielle R.; Hughes, Michael D. (Mary Ann Liebert, 2022-04-28)
    As a wide body of social movements scholarship demonstrates, inaction in the face of environmental injustice is far more frequent than mobilization. Using the case of the Mountain Valley Pipeline – a highly controversial natural gas pipeline that has been under construction through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and West Virginia since 2018 – we ask: what conditions predict whether a person who has experienced negative quality-of-life impacts from this pipeline will take action or resign themselves to quiescence? Through our analysis of responses to a 92-question survey questionnaire that our team mailed to residents living in ten of the counties through which the Mountain Valley Pipeline is being constructed, we find that the most powerful predictors of quiescence are variables related to social networks. Among respondents reporting negative quality-of-life impacts from the pipeline, those with neighbors supporting the pipeline were nine times more likely to be quiescent, and those who were not sure how their neighbors felt about the pipeline were five times more likely to be quiescent. Likewise, those who had joined a social media group focused on stopping the pipeline were nine times more likely to take part in resistance actions than those who had not. We situate our findings within existing scholarship on social movements, which points to the centrality of social networks for predicting social movement participation and quiescence, while also adding nuance to discussions of neoliberalism and sites of acceptance.