By Kayuet Liu

Associate Professor, UCLA Sociology

Affiliate, California Center for Population Research

Medical science presumes biological risks drive disease patterns, but they have a hard time explaining many epidemiological patterns. Social network processes may be the key.

For example: diagnoses of autism – which is supposedly the most genetically determined of all neuropsychiatric disorders – have increased rapidly in the past 3 decades. Yet it takes multiple generations for the human gene pool to demonstrate any fundamental changes. My collaborators and I have researched other factors that might be responsible for the increase, and found that living close to someone with autism increased the chance of an autism diagnosis. After ruling out explanations such as viral transmission and the sorting of similar people into neighborhoods[1], we think that parents learn about autism and diagnostic resources from their neighbors, which has led to an increase in diagnoses.

If the number of autism diagnoses (not the underlying condition) has increased because we learn about it from our neighbors, a proper model of the social processes should be able to predict when and where they will be diagnosed. This is a quintessential test of the potential spread of autism diagnosis through social networks. We built a “synthetic” population of all parents in California that resemble the real population and check if the chance for them to meet another parent with a child with autism matters[2]. Indeed, while a traditional approach would have put the main cluster of autism in San Francisco due to a high concentration of parents at risk (e.g., giving birth when they are older), our model including social interactions correctly put it in Los Angeles. So social, rather than biological, factors are responsible for the spatial patterns of autism.

An unintended consequence of the autism epidemic is the current wave of vaccine hesitancy. My former graduate student Ashley Gromis (now a post-doc at Princeton) and I are now using a large computational model to figure out how much more likely we are to see an outbreak of measles due to geographic pockets of vaccination exemptions. What we found is that effective vaccination rates in these pockets actually decrease by a few percentage points. A few percentage points may seem not much, but our results show that it is enough to put the whole community, including areas with high vaccination rates, at risk. Thus we need interventions not only to maintain vaccination levels, but also to make sure the exemptions do not concentrate in certain areas.

 

Dr. Ka-Yuet Liu conducts research on social networks and health, micro-macro links, and the diffusion of non-contagious conditions. Dr. Liu argues that networks are crucial to solving epidemiological puzzles.  Her research has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Social Forces, International Journal of Epidemiology, and other journals. Dr. Liu teaches courses on quantitative research methods and network analysis. 

 

[1] Liu K, King M, & Bearman PS (2010) “Social Influence and the Autism Epidemic.” American Journal of Sociology 115(5):1387-1434.

[2] Liu K & Bearman PS (2015) “Focal Points, Endogenous Processes, and Exogenous Shocks in the Autism Epidemic.” Sociological Methods & Research 44(2):272-305.

Featured in photo: Tom Worger, Bill Worger, and Bantu Holomisa, future leader of the United Democratic Movement, at a wedding in Gazini, Eastern Cape, 2002

Dr. Bill Worger, Professor of History at UCLA, is working on some really interesting projects.  Recently, we caught up with Professor Worger to chat about teaching online classes, a research initiative that digitizes anti-apartheid posters, and comic books.

LASS:     Where are you from and where did you go to school?

BW:        I grew up in New Zealand, first generation New Zealander. I became a teenager in the 1960s when most African and most Asian countries were becoming newly independent states, and I got fascinated in studying their history.

LASS:     Where did you go to school and why did you study what you studied?

BW:        I went to the University of Auckland, and I think something that was unique about the University of Auckland in the 1960s compared to practically every other university in New Zealand or in Canada or Australia or another part of the so-called “white Commonwealth,” was that there were three professors of history: one of them did New Zealand history; one did Africa; one did Southeast Asia. I didn’t grow up as a person who was going to spend my whole life studying Europe and the United States.

LASS:     Now fast forward to UCLA, what do you do here at UCLA and what do you study here?

BW:        I came to UCLA in 1989 to teach African history in general and South African history specifically. Looking back, I first came to the United States for my PhD in 1975. Most New Zealanders were expected to go overseas and most went to Britain and became part of the expat colonial community. I decided to come to the States. After my PhD which I received in ’82 from Yale, I taught at the University of Michigan, I taught at Stanford University, and then I came to UCLA, which had arguably one of the best African history programs in the nation and has had that since the 1960s.

LASS:     What are you currently teaching right now that excites you?

BW:        I’m teaching two courses: one course is History 10B, the history of Africa since 1800, which I’m teaching as an online class to 420 students, most of them first- or second-year students who need a GE. I’m finding that fascinating because of the various work that they do, such as exploring all the resources we have on campus by, for example, doing a field work assignment which asks them to take selfies with an Africa-related item at the botanical gardens, at the Fowler Art Museum, and at the map collection in the library. They are finding out that they’re discovering the campus thoroughly for the first time in their lives. The other class I am teaching is a graduating senior research seminar where I’m asking the students to use two series of comics. One, Mighty Man, was published surreptitiously by the South African government in the 1970s to persuade residents of Soweto to fight crime and support apartheid; the other, the Black Panther, has a lengthy storyline published in 1989 which focuses on the struggle against apartheid. I want my students to see the ways in which popular culture is developed and the ways in which publications such as comics represent history, reflect it, and affect it.

LASS:     That’s amazing. Can you tell me more about the initiative that you started with the comics and how you’ve worked with the UCLA libraries to share them with the world?

BW:        I first went to South Africa in 1977, probably two months after Stephen Biko, a major leader of the anti-apartheid movement, had been killed in prison by the South African authorities, although they never admitted their responsibility until 20 years later and maybe not even now. Much the material then had been banned, the African National Congress had been banned for a long time, I mean it was an incredibly authoritarian society, essentially a police state, and it was highly segregated. Different entrances to the post office. I could go in as a white person. If you were black, you had to go through a separate entry.

If you were “Coloured,” a South African legal definition of the time, there was a separate bus for you. The apartheid government defined everybody as either white or African or Indian or “Coloured.” So many different divisions in daily life. As I have taught the history of South Africa, I’ve been interested especially since the end of apartheid in 1994 when Nelson Mandela became president, to see the ways in which materials that were previously banned or pushed underground or censored or were not supposedly available in the archives can now be accessed. There’s so much that’s creeping out.

In this particular case, I became aware probably about five years ago of the existence of these comics. I’m not quite sure how I found it. But it was partly through looking at comic blogs. And I’m also a believer in collecting things off eBay. This collection became available on eBay simply because some American had collected Mighty Man, and I purchased the whole collection and have worked closely with people at YRL [Young Research Library at UCLA] to digitize it to make it available. Not only to all of us here at UCLA but to the wider public both in North America and in South Africa where they’re seeing these for the first time since most of them were destroyed literally in 1976.

http://southafricancomicbooks.blogspot.com/2015/01/afri-comics-mighty-man-series.html

“What I find is in many of these initiatives we are pursuing at UCLA that they are being very well received and accepted in South Africa, particularly by black historians, who have been still and to this present day remain marginalized by academia. But these young scholars are the people on the ground and the ones who have the community knowledge and the language skills to understand their own history.” – Professor Bill Worger

LASS:     Why is this work important?

BW:        I think it’s important work in terms of people finding out and rediscovering their history. I’ve gone to South Africa and talked to younger people, younger black students in particular, who feel that much of the history of apartheid is the history of their parents. It’s not something that affects them immediately since they are often students born after 1994 and they can’t quite understand why their parents either won’t talk about apartheid or why they have so many terrible memories. What I find is in many of these initiatives we are pursuing at UCLA that they are being very well received and accepted in South Africa, particularly by black historians, who have been still and to this present day remain marginalized by academia. But these young scholars are the people on the ground and the ones who have the community knowledge and the language skills to understand their own history.

What I feel like is that it’s important to provide these people with access, which we can do uniquely at UCLA. The materials that they themselves can access or digitize, either because they’re not in their libraries or because of the costs involved. This is part of understanding their history and learning more about it, because they’ve got a fragmented notion of their past particularly because history has been so controlled by white authorities in South Africa both during the apartheid era and even to the present day in terms of those who teach in universities.

LASS:     What types of new knowledge does this project and initiative generate?

BW:        It produces new knowledge, new sources, and new ways of talking about the past, particularly the student uprising in Soweto in 1976. There’s a fascinating television series “When We Were Black” made by black South Africans, including Professor Sifiso Ndlovu, who as a 13 year-old was one of the student protestors in 1976. This TV series in a very low-key way shows the ways in which children, high school children, were politicized by daily activities. It’s a very powerful film. Access to the Mighty Man comics (none of which remain in public circulation in South Africa) for Professor Ndlovu and his peers and students provides yet another form of evidence to show the ways in which the government was trying to manipulate young people during the apartheid era. Trying to affect their minds in visual ways particularly through the utilization of comics. This is just one project in which I’m engaged but there are so many ways in which you can delve back in, and, in a sense, disinter hidden histories.

LASS:     There’s such relevancy to that with what’s going on today, right, in popular culture and in the media and in the news. I imagine your students are able to when they learn about these materials and take these classes and participate in this research, are developing a critical way to extrapolate.

BW:        I emphasis generational empathy and understanding in a lot of my classes. What I like to ask my students to do, most of whom are in their late teens, early to mid twenties is to think about their own family histories. Think about where they are right now. In the seminar, I’m teaching on comparing Mighty Man and the Black Panther. I’ve got a fair number of students who were born in the United States, but they’re of Iranian descent. With them, I’m asking them, think about what was happening in Iran as of the 1970s or what was happening as of their parents’ generation.

Let’s say if I’m talking about South Africa in the middle of the 1870s when we get the development of an industrialized, very modern, but very repressive racial society. What would your family have been doing at that time? I’ve had students who are African American who are only a few generations removed from slavery, or the Jim Crow racism of the late 19th and 20th centuries. I’ve had students who are descendants of white slave owners in the US South. I’ve had students from other parts in the world, from Asia and the Middle East, who I have asked to think about what their families were doing as of around 1870, because I want people to reimagine themselves into these situations. It’s not just solely an objective past to be looked at, it’s something to be rethought and relived in. We use a multitude of sources.

LASS:     What type of solutions will be derived from that?

BW:        I’m old enough now to know there are never any solutions. What I emphasize to my students, and this is the most remarkable thing, which is if we really want to find social mobility in the world, in a world that’s basically unfair and obviously discriminatory in many ways, education is the way in which you can achieve some social mobility. It’s absolutely key. It’s the way no matter how oppressed you are, how discriminated, how marginalized, through education you can succeed in both changing your own position and those of your family and those who surround you. You can also change yourself in terms of how you think about anything. You can always be free in your own mind.

In a way that for so many of the people that I study in South Africa, for example, the end of apartheid has not meant the end of poverty or marginalization or discrimination. But, people in their minds have become free and that gives them a very different perspective at how they look around at other people and at the problems they have in their lives.

LASS:     In all your work, your teaching, your research, the projects that you engage in, what’s the big impact that you’re hoping to make?

BW:        It’s always incremental. It’s always the little things. I’m delighted to engage in conversations and have my students take over. I would hope that one or more of those 420 students in 10B go away with an understanding that history is not just the statistics and the facts and that there’s a solution and life gets better all the time, but there are constant struggles and everybody needs to be respected. In dealing with my South African colleagues, I understand history has to be transformed there; it has to become possessed by the people who are the majority of the country, and the people who have indigenous knowledge of the 11 or so languages there. They’re the people who are going to revolutionize history. I’ve been part of the incremental change, but it’s only a small part.

LASS:     I know prior to the turning on the recorder we talked a little bit about a new research grant that you’re applying for, that you are hoping to get funded. Tell us about that. I’m excited to learn more about that.

BW:        I told you about two research grants. One of which actually has already got funded by the Office of the UC President, which will enable me to go to South Africa with my wife, Professor Nancy Clark, who is also an historian of South Africa and where we will actually work on developing lectures based on site, at the places where events actually happened and where we will do a different history which focuses the majority of the people in the country. We hope that we can then share it with the people there and again be part, a small part, of the development of the historical profession in that country. I’m also waiting to find out about another grant that I worked on with a couple colleagues at UCLA. This is a grant to support another UC-HBCU initiative to hopefully bring to UCLA each summer, 10 students from Spelman, Howard University and North Carolina Central University, who will come to UCLA and spend their time meeting with faculty and with fellow students who are interested in what I would in term the engaged social sciences. That is academic study that is aimed towards improving society. A very general term, I know, but we can incrementally make the world around us a slightly better place on the basis of what we discover and what we find out in our academic work.

LASS:     With that, thank you so much. It’s there anything that I didn’t ask or I should know about?

BW:        So we have in Los Angeles probably the world’s biggest collection of political posters at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. It’s just an incredible resource in Culver City. I’m working with colleagues in South Africa and with colleagues at YRL to develop a grant so that we can digitize the approximately 1,000 anti-apartheid posters that this collection has.

These are posters that were made in the United States, they were made in the Soviet Union when it was the Soviet Union. They were made in Cuba. They were made in all parts of the world and they are posters that were created as part of the anti-apartheid struggle. None of these posters are available in South Africa because they would have been banned so they could never have been circulated.

If any of them did circulate, say surreptitiously, in South Africa the police and military would have destroyed them so they are not available there. So what I am working with, as I say, with colleagues at YRL and in South Africa is to get a grant to digitize these materials so that we can create a public archive of anti-apartheid materials that would then be accessible to young black South Africans who can see the ways in which the entire world was engaged to end apartheid and end white supremacy in their country.

It becomes a research resource for people who are interested in history, but it also becomes something whereby people understand communication and mutual interest across generations and across boundaries.

LASS:     Thank you!

UPDATE: As of June 6, 2018, Professor Worger informed us that a fellow historian from South Africa, Dr. Chitja Twala, Head of the History Department at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, had been awarded a fellowship by the Mellon Foundation that will enable him to spend three months at UCLA in 2019.  Dr. Twala will arrange the digitization of the anti-apartheid posters at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Culver City, CA. UCLA’s Young Research Library will then arrange for the uploading and archiving of these posters so that they will be freely available worldwide.

 

Dr. Bill Worger was interviewed by Mike Nguyen, an assistant editor and contributor to LA Social Science.

 

By Drew Westmoreland, MSPH, PhD

2018 Thinking Gender Coordinator

Thinking Gender, now in its 28th year, is an annual graduate student research conference organized by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) that features original student research on gender and sexuality. This year’s conference theme, Pre-existing Conditions, explored ongoing discussions around the connections between gender, health, and healthcare.

Academic graduate student research presentations—including panels and posters—have been the staples of past and present Thinking Gender conferences, highlighting research being done within UCLA and beyond. This year, however, we wanted to do something new, and we incorporated the first-ever Thinking Gender, Pre-existing Conditions Art Exhibition into our proceedings. This week-long exhibition was held in Kerckhoff Gallery from February 23rd to March 2nd and featured works that use artistic expression to further conversations about health and well-being. To celebrate this artistic exploration of health—and the successful completion of our first day of our conference—we invited presenters, faculty, students, and other guests to join us for an Art Reception and Film Screenings networking event on the evening of March 1.

We partnered with a number of UCLA organizations to extend this event’s local impact. The UCLA Art and Global Health Center kicked off the evening with a performance piece called Sexophonic Choir, which invited volunteers to vocalize lessons about sexual health. Then, they led us on an interactive art walk from the main conference venue at the UCLA Faculty Center to Kerckhoff Grand Salon and Gallery. At Kerckhoff, we were joined by our partners from the UCLA Cultural Affairs Commission who helped us curate the exhibit and connect with students across campus.

Our week-long exhibition included a photography exhibit (Guarded) by Taylor Yocom, featuring images of women and the objects they would use to defend themselves from sexual assault; a fiber art piece (No.Stop.Help.) by Sarah Fahmy about sexual assault victim blaming; public health-themed poetry (data entry and statistics) by Uyen Hoang; and abstracted photographs of body skin impressions (Suspicious Warping: Close to the Skin) by Cecily Fergeson. We also featured digital installations and experimental art pieces. One life-size, digital installation piece (inter-I) by Elí Joteva explored physical body movement through light reflections and refractions off of water. Two other pieces offered attendees an interactive experience to expand understanding of neurodiversity and mental health: Breathe, by Christina Curlee, was a video game that let players experience life with an anxiety disorder; and Kristin McWharter’s The Chameleon Spacesuit invited viewers to engage with the artist, who was clad in a robot-like costume meant to represent the challenge of interacting with the world as an autistic woman.  

Our two films showcased untold stories: one, for example, provided commentary on queer Filipino college students’ mental and physical health as a motivating factor for Alaskan Natives’ environmental justice activism.

This year’s Thinking Gender art show told stories designed to expand and challenge how people conceptualize health. From women “Guarded” and prepared to defend themselves from sexual assault, to the relative intimacy of data entry and cold perceptions of statistics, to alien feelings of being unable to express yourself emotionally (The Chameleon Spacesuit), our artists tackled topics of mental and sexual health, reproductive justice and body imagery as art and health collided.

Pieces from the first-ever Thinking Gender Visual Arts Exhibition that was on display from February 25 through March 2 at the Kerckhoff Gallery

Art walk participants collaborated on haikus that explored the question “what do women need to be healthy?” (Written by Jackie Curnick and Sheila Maingi)

UCLA Art|Sci Center Director Victoria Vesna welcomes attendees to the Thinking Gender Visual Arts Reception

Visitors enjoy viewing and interacting with visual art on display at Kerckhoff Gallery during the reception

Conference presenter Sav Schlauderaff and guest. In the background: inter-I, a digital installation by Elí Joteva

CSW Director Rachel Lee interacts with Kit Kirby, who is performing The Chameleon Spacesuit: Autism in Women and Girls

Arielle Bagood introduces her film, Queer Filipino American Students and Mental Health?

The UCLA Center for the Study of Women is an internationally recognized center for research on gender, sexuality, and women’s issues and the first organized research unit of its kind in the University of California system. Though CSW is funded by the Division of Social Sciences, it serves the entire university.  Read more about its Mission HERE.

Released by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the UCLA Labor Center

By Abel Valenzuela Jr.

Professor and Director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

Last week, UCLA Labor Center researchers Saba Waheed, Lucero Herrera, Ana Luz Gonzalez-Vasquez, Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Tia Koonse and David Leynov published our institute’s latest study, More Than a Gig, on the nascent but rapidly growing transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft. After reading the report and participating in its release, I am struck by its findings and reminded of research that I undertook almost two decades ago on day labor—at the time, a growing and ubiquitous labor market that we knew little about other than through anecdotes, newspaper accounts or personal experience. My research contributed to discussions and debates about nonstandard and informal labor markets and how worker centers might serve as important intermediaries to improve conditions for day laborers. Adding empiricism, rigorous research, and analysis to debates on day labor and precarious labor markets moved the policy discussion forward in more inclusive and thoughtful ways.

Similarly, the ride-sharing industry is well known among Angelenos as we navigate our city’s sprawl; balance the confluence of space, time and traffic; and reduce our stress by letting someone else do the driving. But up until yesterday, we knew little about the labor market conditions of the ride-sharing market. It is my hope that these findings will begin a policy dialogue about how to improve conditions for these workers.

The findings of More Than a Gig  are significant and highlight three important patterns:

First, ride-hailing is neither supplemental nor temporary, and most drivers report that it is their full-time occupation. Full-time drivers tend to be older, come from an immigrant background, use the job to support their families and principally participate in this market for its flexibility.

Second, the study finds that costs of working as an Uber or Lyft driver decrease what are already mediocre earnings as drivers pay for car maintenance; car purchases or leases; cell phone mounts; floor mats; seat covers; and even passenger amenities like bottled water, mints or cell phone chargers to improve reviews and maintain employment security.

Finally, the study highlights how drivers are structurally and legally limited by the fact that they are independent contractors. Their nonemployee status releases ride-sharing companies from any responsibility for the driver’s wages, work conditions, benefits or workplace protections and safety.

Opportunities to organize workers in this growing industry will be difficult for numerous reasons, not least of which is drivers’ invisibility as they navigate the streets of Los Angeles for work. The lack of a brick and motor workplace, worker center or commissary makes the collective organizing of workers in this market even more difficult. The demand side of this industry is mostly unregulated, though municipalities, including many in Europe, are moving to regulate the industry with surprisingly positive impacts.

Other possible policy prescriptions—including encouraging fair, accessible, and equitable uses of technology work platforms and organizing with existing taxi collectives and emerging ride-sharing worker centers—could be promising first steps in increasing ride-sharing and taxi driver solidarity and in improving the ride-hailing industry.

Download the full report HERE.

Abel Valenzuela Jr. is Professor of Urban Planning and Chicana/o Studies, Director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy. Professor Valenzuela is one of the leading national experts on day labor and has published numerous articles and technical reports on the subject. His research interests include precarious labor markets, worker centers, immigrant workers, and Los Angeles. His academic base is urban sociology, planning, and labor studies. 

 

The following interview with Changemaker Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley is the last of a two-part series.

LASS:     What do you study, and why do you study it?

LFY:        I fell in love with the study of politics. Of course, I never started that “good government job” [at the United States GAO] with the great benefits and the longevity. I decided to jump both feet into academia at the University of Maryland, College Park. In my third year at the University of Maryland, I presented my research [at the Midwest Political Science Association] on a panel with a Cornell University faculty member, Michael Jones-Correa [now at the University of Pennsylvania]. He noted that he would be in the D.C area for a fellowship year at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and he needed a research assistant.  I worked with him at the Woodrow Wilson Center my third year of graduate school, and together, we collected over 100 interviews of elites in suburban jurisdictions around Washington, D.C.

I knew there was a dissertation project in this research and data collection efforts. I left University of Maryland in the end of my third year, and began my fourth year at Cornell where I continued working with Jones-Correa on his Russell Sage Foundation project, and working on my dissertation. With the support of a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, I completed my dissertation in four and a half years.

LASS:     What did you do after you finished your doctorate?

LFY:        After finishing my PhD, I started a two-year Provost’s Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University. After my post-doc, I started a tenure track job here at UCLA, arriving to campus in January 2008.  I became the first African American female and first woman of color in the history of the political science department to obtain a tenure track position. Then, in 2015, I became the first African-American woman, and the first woman of color in the history of the political science department to earn tenure and promotion.

LFY:        In 2015, my book Racial and Ethnic Politics in American Suburbs was published by Cambridge University Press. It incorporates interviews, focus groups, archival work, as well as demographic statistics. It is a study of suburbia and it’s changing demographics; why different groups move to particular areas, how they get along with their neighbors, and how they perceive the government to respond to their needs and concerns. The second half of the book examines local government responsiveness to new spatial location patterns through three case studies: day labor, language access, and education).

LASS:     Shifting gears a little bit, tell me a little bit about your current research. We had talked a little bit earlier about the research project, before this interview. What is it? And why do you do it, and what’s its impact?

“The CMPS is opening up an opportunity for a wider group of scholars to have access to high-quality data in the study of race and ethnicity with large samples of racial and ethnic groups.” – Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley

LFY:        One of the projects that I’m working on is called the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey (CMPS). In 2016, following the Presidential election, we fielded the first 100% user content driven, multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, post-election survey of political attitudes and political behavior, but also it includes questions related to Black Lives Matter, immigration, healthcare, and a variety of other political and policy related topics. It’s the first cooperative survey with a specific focus on racial and ethnicity politics. We brought together a group of 86 contributors who purchased content on the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey. These 86 contributors were across 55 Universities and colleges, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), smaller teaching colleges, as well as large R1s, and Ivy Leagues. It is such a great group of scholars, from over 15 different disciplines participated in developing the survey instrument by purchasing content across samples of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Whites.

One of the unique characteristics of the survey is not just a high-quality national dataset with large samples across race and ethnicity, including over 10,000 respondents. But, this survey is a cooperative in the true sense of the word, meaning that for scholars, whether they purchased one minute of content, or seven minutes of content, everyone who purchased onto the survey received all of the data, 10,000 cases, 394 questions. Everybody shares all of the content, which is embargoed to the group until 2021. However, all 86 scholars can coauthor with whomever they like– both within and outside of the cooperative, so long as the CMPS contributor is a co-author on the publication or research project. We see this as a way to further grow our academic pipeline and create access and research opportunities, particularly for graduate students, post-docs and junior faculty.

The CMPS is opening up an opportunity for a wider group of scholars to have access to high-quality data in the study of race and ethnicity with large samples of racial and ethnic groups.  The cooperative changes the way social science data is collected, and it creates a broader space that’s more inclusive for a larger group of researchers to have access to high quality data for racial and ethnic groups and to grow their research projects.

LASS:     What is the impact that you are aiming for?

LFY:        One of the takeaways from the CMPS is to have a better understanding of the need for large samples of racial and ethnic groups. At the most basic level, we need to push the social sciences, to gather large samples beyond white respondents. In order to answer some of the most pressing problems of our day, a sample of 200 blacks or 200 Latinos won’t allow you to examine the data in meaningful ways to better understand the role of class, gender, sexuality, geography and so on.

Also providing both the Call for Participation and the Survey Instrument in the language of the respondent’s choice is a mode of inclusiveness and may be important towards capturing a broader group of respondents.

National Map of 2016 CMPS Respondents by Race and Ethnicity (http://cmpsurvey.org/infographics/cmps_1/)

LASS:     What are some of the solutions to challenges that your work addresses?

LFY:        What I hope to do through the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey is to create a space for data collection and research that is inclusive of a broader group of scholars who are interested in examining some of the most pressing problems in modern politics.

Our goal is to open up the space for innovation, open up space for the growth of knowledge, and we can only do that when we decide to step outside the boundaries of social science, and say, “What do we need? How can we address pressing problems in our disciplines? Participating in innovative kinds of data collection efforts can helps us publish and grow our research agendas, but those opportunities are often cut off to some scholars, simply because they cannot afford to collect high quality data to answer their research questions.

The CMPS is as an opportunity to advance our social science disciplines, and to create a more inclusive and diverse research space. There’s definitely a market for this kind of research. The problem is, we do need large samples of racial and ethnic groups to be able to tell informative and generalizable stories that impact our communities. Through the collective nature of the CMPS, we are incorporating a larger group of voices to tell those stories, and I think that’s a win-win situation.

LASS:     That’s great. Thank you for sharing your story, expertise, and experience with LA Social Science.

To read Part 1, click HERE.

Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley was interviewed by Mike Nguyen, an assistant editor and contributor to LA Social Science.

Although the academic year is winding down, Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Associate Professor of Political Science at UCLA,[1] is only getting started. In addition to her own teaching, research, and initiatives for first generation students, she is also organizing the upcoming Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey (CMPS) Summer Research Conference at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs on August 8-10, 2018. We caught up with Dr. Frasure-Yokley, in a two-part series, to learn a bit more about her passion for research and educating the next generation of policy makers and researchers.

Part 1

LASS:     Where are you from and where did you go to school?

LFY:        I grew up on Chicago’s south side where I attended Chicago Public Schools, K through 12. I went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for undergrad, and then onto the University of Chicago for a Masters in Public Policy. During my MPP program, I got an internship at the General Accounting Office, now, the Government Accountability Office in Washington, DC, and I was offered a full-time job after graduation, but I knew that my heart really was in academia. I wanted to examine politics and policy, but I wanted to have greater autonomy? I decided to continue on and apply for PhD programs, but I’m also pragmatic, so I decided to apply in the Washington, D.C area just in case I didn’t really like the PhD program. I actually deferred my job. I deferred my position in Washington, D.C, and I started at the University of Maryland, College Park for a PhD in Political Science.

“…Every week [holds] new discoveries, because we’re challenging one another to think about race, ethnicity, and gender beyond the dummy variable.” – Dr. Frasure-Yokley

LASS:     Tell me about teaching. What classes are you teaching right now, and why did you decide to teach those classes?

LFY:        Sure. I am teaching an undergraduate course called Introduction to Race, Ethnicity and Politics [REP], and we trace, in the first half of the course, the socioeconomic, political, and cultural road of various racial ethnic groups, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, whites, Asians in the country, and we look at their development in the US until the post civil rights movement, so 1965, 1970. Then, we use the lens of their historical and cultural and economic and social trajectory as a lens through which to examine various policy issues, voting rights, political behavior, public opinion, other kinds of political issues of our time.

It’s a small course, which I value in this department to be able to teach a small course and I always get to have greater interaction with students than I do in my larger courses.

Then, I’m teaching a graduate course. It is a rewarding experience to bring the intersections of not just race and ethnicity, but race, ethnicity and gender to the study of political behavior, public opinion, and ideology, these kinds of other factors that we care about in political science…the lens of the course is intersectionality. We look at all of the readings through the lens of the role of disparities and oppression of particular kinds of marginalized groups, but the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status.

LFY:        It’s my first time teaching this course, and it is a packed house. I have 17 wonderful graduate students. It’s a very large course.

LASS:     That’s a big class for the graduate level.

LFY:        It’s huge, but every week [holds] new discoveries, because we’re challenging one another to think about race, ethnicity, and gender beyond the dummy variable. Today’s course, we read two books on white womanhood and conservative politics. Mothers of Massive Resistance is one new book that challenges our notions of whiteness and white womanhood and the role that white women played in shaping the conservative right movement. It’s just a spirited class. It’s a great class. It’s a lot of work, because it’s challenging our paradigms. It’s challenging white women as the reference category. What does that mean? What do we lose by not truly theorizing about white womanhood? We fought so long in REP to have a space to theorize about black women and Latinas and Asian-American women. What have we lost by failing to theorize about white women, for example, and the intersections of class and race and place and geography for white women.

Now, I also teach the Politics of American Suburbanization, which is like an urban politics course, but I incorporate various modes of geography, instead of just thinking about the role of the nation state, and the role it played on why our geographic space looks the way it does, and why it’s stratified in the US the way it is between city and suburb, and rural areas.

LASS:     Tell me this, then. Of all the classes that you can teach, why specifically the topics that you decided to teach on. Why is that important?

LFY:        When I was in graduate school, there was not a formal space for the study of race ethnicity in politics. The field is relatively new. The majority of scholars who study race, ethnicity in politics may have opted for the field of American politics, which is a more traditional field in political science. Although we do have REP scholars who are in comparative politics or political theory, and so forth, but the majority of them are in American politics.

How do we create theories and methodologies that fit well… in terms of really positioning the role of race and ethnicity, and what that means for modern politics? It’s not a one-size fit all when you examine various racial ethnic groups. We have a race ethnicity and immigration (REI) lab where students can workshop their work at any stage of the process. We’ve been working so hard over the last 11, 12 years to create a dynamic and inclusive space for the study of race, ethnicity and politics at UCLA. Our students are thriving. We had numerous students on the job market this year, and all of our students, whose primary field is REP have been placed in both post-docs and tenure track jobs this year. Our students are getting external funding, research grants, publishing widely, and securing top jobs all around the country. We have a lot to celebrate.

Continue to Part 2.

Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley was interviewed by Mike Nguyen, an assistant editor and contributor to LA Social Science.

[1] She will soon have a courtesy joint appointment in African American Studies.

The Hollywood Diversity Report 2018 is the fifth in a series of annual reports that examines the relationship between diversity and the bottom line in the Hollywood entertainment industry. It considers the top 200 theatrical film releases in 2016 and 1,251 broadcast, cable and digital platform television shows from the 2015-16 season in order to document the degree to which women and people of color are present in front of and behind the camera. It discusses any patterns between these findings and box office receipts and audience ratings.

Consistent with the findings of earlier reports in this series, new evidence from 2015-16 suggests that America’s increasingly diverse audiences prefer diverse film and television content.

  • Films with casts that were from 21 percent to 30 percent minority enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment, while films with the most racially and ethnically homogenous casts were the poorest performers

  • Minorities accounted for the majority of ticket sales for five of the top 10 films in 2016 (ranked by global box office)

  • Films with casts that were from 21 percent to 30 percent minority were released, on average, in the most international markets in 2016
  • Films with Black and Latino leads and majority-minority casts were released, on average, in the fewest international markets in 2016
  • Median 18-49 viewer ratings (as well as median household ratings among Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans) peaked during the 2015-16 season for broadcast scripted shows featuring casts that were greater than 20 percent minority

  • For White households, ratings peaked during the 2015-16 season for broadcast scripted shows with casts greater than 40 percent minority
  • Social media engagement during the 2015-16 season peaked for broadcast scripted shows with casts that reflected the diversity of America
  • Median Black household ratings peaked for cable scripted shows with casts that were majority minority in 2015-16

  • For viewers 18-49, White, Latino, and Asian households, median ratings peaked in the cable scripted arena for shows with casts that were from 31 to 40 percent minority in 2015-16
  • Social media engagement peaked for cable scripted shows with casts that were at least 31 percent minority in 2015-16
  • The majority of the top 10 broadcast scripted shows among viewers 18-49 and Asian, Black, and Latino households, as well as half of the top 10 shows among White households, featured casts that were at least 21 percent minority in 2015-16

  • The lion’s share of the top 10 cable scripted shows among Asian, Black, and Latino households, as well as half of the top 10 shows among White households and viewers 18-49, featured casts that were at least 21 percent minority in 2015-16

Previous releases in the Hollywood Diversity Report series present evidence supporting the idea that diversity sells when it comes to industry-produced films and television shows. People of color constituted nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population in 2016, and their share is growing by nearly half a percent each year. Increasingly diverse audiences, the evidence shows, prefer film and television content populated with characters to whom they can relate and whose stories drive the narrative. Europe accounted for only about 7 percent of the world’s population[1] and 17 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP)[2] in 2016, which underscores the reality that today’s (and tomorrow’s) global market looks much more like the diversity of America than the White audiences that traditionally drove Hollywood’s greenlighting practices. In short, the previous reports in this series dispel a stubborn Hollywood myth that in order to reach the widest audiences possible, films and television shows must center White characters in their narratives and relegate racial and ethnic others to, at best, supporting roles.

This report adds to the growing body of evidence that diversity is essential for Hollywood’s bottom line. Global box office and television ratings, on average, are highest for films and television shows with relatively diverse casts. Indeed, a consideration of top 10 films and television shows underscores how important diverse audiences have become as drivers of box office and ratings, and that these highly engaged audiences prefer diverse content. But the report’s findings also reveal missed opportunities. For example, we see that Hollywood continues to produce a plurality of films and television shows with casts that are 10 percent minority or less, despite the fact that these projects are collectively among the poorest performers. It also appears as if the industry undersells the relatively small number of films with diverse leads and casts in a global market that is primed to connect with them.

 

This post contains excerpts from the Hollywood Diversity Report 2018 that was released on February 27, 2018.  To read the latest report, download it HERE.

To read the previous four annual reports, click HERE.

This research is led by Dr. Darnell Hunt, Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at UCLA.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hollywood Diversity Report research, please contact the Director of Research and Civic Engagement for the Division of Social Sciences, Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón, at acramon@ss.ucla.edu.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the report or donating to this research, please contact the Executive Director of Development for the Division of Social Sciences, Julie Strumwasser at jstrumwasser@support.ucla.edu.

[1] See: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/The_EU_in_the_world_-_population

[2] See: http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/economic-indicators/GDP_Share_of_World_Total_PPP/

By Professor Ellen Pearlstein, UCLA Information Studies and UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials

UCLA recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the rich collaboration between the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (ACCM) in Palm Springs and the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. The first class was taught in collaboration with ACCM in 2007, and the fifth class ended in 2017.

The course, which is required for graduate conservation students in the UCLA/Getty Program, includes collaborations resulting in sharing cultural, technical and analytical expertise among students, ACCM staff, guest basketry weavers, ethnobotanists, curators and community members. Over the past 10 years, a changing ACCM staff, including directors, curators, archivists, tribal board members, and the ACCM Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, have generously shared knowledge with the students about the founding of the museum and its role in the community.

In 2017, the students were joined by conservator ​Özge Gençay Üstün (pictured),
weavers ​Roseann Hamilton and Abe Sanchez (pictured),
and William Pink, curators Bryn Potter and Jan Timbrook (pictured),
Sean Milanovich from Agua Caliente, and Cara Stansberry from ACCM

Students complete thorough research, examinations, conservation treatments and re-housing of ACCM objects—primarily baskets—based on discussions with ACCM staff and guest instructors. Both technical knowledge and a clear understanding of tribal museum goals are imparted to the students, which taken together with community input invariably impact conservation decision-making.

Products of this rich collaboration include a faculty and student co-authored article, as well as both a physical and a virtual exhibit describing conservation methods achieved through collaboration, a virtual exhibit that (temporarily unavailable but described here), and a faculty-student publication describing the impact of that virtual exhibit.

In 2009, UCLA Library hosted an exhibit of ACCM items prepared by UCLA/Getty students. This image is the invitation sent out for the opening event.

Between 1983 and 2005, Pearlstein was assistant, associate and senior objects conservator at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Pearlstein served as an adjunct professor in conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts-Conservation Center at NYU between 1991-2004. In 2005, Pearlstein assumed a faculty position in the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Material. As a member of the founding faculty, she and her colleagues designed a curriculum, outfitted a laboratory, and Pearlstein began teaching graduate classes in the conservation of organic materials, ethics of working with indigenous communities, preventive conservation and managing collections. In 2008, Pearlstein joined UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, and invited students interested in library, archive, and rare book materials into her preservation and management classes.  Her research includes conservation of featherwork, effects of environmental agents; pre- and post-Hispanic qeros from the Andes; developing diversity within conservation, and curriculum development within conservation education. Pearlstein is an elected Fellow in the American Institute for Conservation and, recently, in the International Institute for Conservation, winner of the AIC Keck award, and President of the Association of North American Gradate Programs in Conservation.

 

 

CSW

By Gracen Brilmyer, Graduate Student Researcher, UCLA Center for the Study of Women; Alexandra Apolloni, Program Coordinator, UCLA Center for the Study of Women; Rachel Lee, Director, UCLA Center for the Study of Women

Eating a Tide Pod might make for a good YouTube clip, but we all know that it’s dangerous.

However, it’s not just eating  detergent that’s harmful. Many of the ingredients in common detergents and fabric softeners have not been rigorously tested for safety–and yet, we’re exposed to them through daily physical and respiratory contact.

Commonly used laundry, cleaning and personal care products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can mimic hormones and disrupt one’s metabolism, even at low levels. EDCs are present in synthetic fragrances, which can cause more immediate adverse reactions including headaches, respiratory difficulty and difficulty concentrating.

Exposure to these chemicals is actually a feminist social justice issue. Since women perform a disproportionate amount of domestic labor (such as housekeeping, laundry, etc.) and use more personal care products, they are more exposed. Additionally, environmental pollution is often concentrated near where people of lower economic status or people of color live.

There has been little effective chemical regulation in the United States, but feminist environmental and disability activists are pushing for change on this issue through organizations like Women’s Voices for the Earth, Canaries Collective, and others. Women scientists have also been innovators in this area: UCLA’s the Center for the Study of Women (CSW) is currently building on Anne Steinemann’s work on consumer product emissions, Ana Soto’s discoveries on the endocrine-disrupting potential of BPA and Claudia Miller’s research on illness caused by exposure.

CSW’s Chemical Entanglements initiative is mobilizing UCLA students and faculty to be leaders in these efforts. Chemical Entanglements is a multi-pronged initiative that involves public events; undergraduate and graduate mentorship, writing and research; and collaboration across departments and communities. We’ve created original artwork for educational materials with artist/activist Peggy Munson; we’ve gathered researchers and activists from across the country at an innovative symposium that explored new approaches to public health and education; we’ve begun to document the social and cultural histories of chemicals and the people whom they’ve harmed; and we’re surveying UCLA students to assess how much of an issue chemical sensitivity is on our campus. Ultimately, we want to change policy so that our communities can be safer and healthier, and we want to raise public awareness so that people can better protect themselves and others from exposure to toxins.

Our CSW Undergraduate Research Group is on the front lines of this work. Students Vivian Anigbogu and Sophia Sidhu have been using UCLA’s archives to document the history of scent and fragrance in manufacturing. Sophia has created an interactive timeline that traces the development of synthetic detergent and the introduction of the carcinogenic additive 1,4-Dioxane in Tide products, while Vivian has shown how the history of racism ties to the history of soap advertising. Undergraduates are also leading the way to make campus healthier. Hannah Bullock has developed a survey that we are beginning to roll out across campus. The survey will help us understand how UCLA students are impacted by chemical exposures, including, for instance, whether the smells of fragrances make it more difficult for them to concentrate while taking tests or live safely in their dorms. Our students are also developing outreach and education resources, including a short film produced by members of last year’s undergraduate group. It depicts the kinds of exposures a UCLA student might encounter on an average day.

You may be wondering, other than avoiding the temptation of a deliciously colorful tide pod, what can you do to keep yourself safe?

  • Use products that are labeled “fragrance free”
  • Avoid products that have “parfum” or “fragrance” in their ingredient list (these are prevalent in scented shampoos, lotions, deodorants, etc.)

But this kind of consumer activism can only go so far: exposure to EDCs is an issue that impacts everyone, and disproportionately impacts people who are the most marginalized and can’t afford “safer” “green” products or move to less polluted neighborhoods. Through Chemical Entanglements, we hope to build toward policy change that will support the health of people of all genders.

For more resources and information visit CSW’s Share the Air website.

Learn more about the Chemical Entanglements project.

Watch videos from the Chemical Entanglements symposium.

Participate in a survey to help CSW learn more about the impact of fragranced products on UCLA students.

UCLA

Dr. Luft co-authored a blog piece for The Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage.  This powerful piece discusses how dehumanizing discourse can prepare the way for violence over time.  The authors cite important social science research regarding the subject.  To read it, click HERE.

Aliza Luft is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCLA, and her research focuses on ethnic, racial, and religious boundary processes, gender, high-risk mobilization, and the causes and consequences of violence.