Upcoming Events

Unequal Health: Anti-Black Racism and the Threat to America’s Health

Louis Penner

Emeritus professor of Oncology, Wayne State University/Karmanos Cancer Center
Adjunct Research Scientist, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research

Thursday, February 15, 2024
12PM ET

ISR-Thompson, Room 1430


Past Events

Fair Enough? Support for Redistribution in the Age of Inequality

Charlotte Cavaillé (Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research)

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Abstract: What explains the public’s muted response to income inequality? To answer this question, Fair Enough? proposes a new framework for studying attitudes toward redistributive social policies in times of rising inequality. These attitudes, Cavaille argues, are shaped by at least two motives. First, people support policies that increase their own expected income. Second, they support policies that move the status quo closer to what is prescribed by shared norms of fairness. In most circumstances, saying the “fair thing” is easier than reasoning according to one’s own economic interest. But there are important exceptions: when policies have large and certain pocketbook consequences, people take the self-interested position instead of the “fair” one. Combined with a new theory of fairness concerns, this simple framework helps explain puzzling attitudinal trends in post-industrial democracies including a decline in support for redistribution in Great Britain, the erosion of social solidarity in France, and a declining correlation between income and support for redistribution in the United States.

A Sound Bite on Cognition: How Hearing and Dental Health Impact Cognitive Function

Ola S. Rostant (Research Investigator, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Abstract: In this presentation, we will explore the connections between hearing and tooth loss on cognitive function. Our research draws from nationally representative data from the Health and Retirement Study. Within this study, we analyze the relationships between two highly modifiable factors that significantly influence cognitive function: hearing loss and tooth loss. While previous research has established links among these variables, the precise underlying mechanisms have remained perplexing. The primary objective of this presentation is to analyze the complex relationship between hearing, tooth loss, and cognitive function, contributing to our understanding of the unique challenges faced by the aging population.

Criminal Justice Involvement and Well-Being in Old Age

Mike Mueller-Smith (Assistant Professor of Economics, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

This project uses data from the Criminal Justice Administrative Records Systems linked with survey and administrative data sources from the U.S. Census Bureau to provide the first evidence on the looming retirement crisis stemming from the aging generations of Americans who have been increasingly impacted by criminal justice policies like mass incarceration. In this research, we (1) characterize the economic vulnerability of those with criminal histories approaching retirement, (2) measure the share of current retirees with criminal records and provide projections of how these rates among retiring cohorts will close to double over the next 20 years, and (3) leverage two recent class action lawsuits against the Social Security Administration to quantify how extending safety net assistance (financial support and health insurance) impacts this population in old age. This analysis shows that extending programs like OASDI and SSI to the aging justice-involved populations has a number of important benefits: reducing poverty; decreasing disability and mortality rates; lowering usage of costly living arrangements like nursing homes, homeless shelters, and residential treatment facilities; and strengthening co-residency among families.

Families, caregiving, and dementia

Sarah E. Patterson (Research Investigator, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Families and unpaid caregivers provide the majority of assistance to older Americans living with limitations in the U.S. Older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), in particular, experience progressive care needs and often rely on multiple family caregivers who share responsibilities. Although older adults with dementia comprise 1/10 of the population of older adults, they receive 1/3 of the family care hours provided annually. Moreover, families have become more complex in recent years – with more step ties, cohabiting relationships, and voluntary (“chosen”) kin (vs. biological/legal ties). There are concerns that social responsibility around providing care to older family members may have weakened as a result of changing families alongside an aging population. This talk will examine trends in families of older adults as well as the care received using nationally representative data. In addition, preliminary findings from focus groups with family caregivers will be presented to examine the lived experience of those providing care.

Outgroup Empathy and Opposition to Restrictive Voting Laws

Nicholas A. Valentino (Research Professor, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, March 9, 2023

State-level policies that make it harder for citizens to legally cast ballots have proliferated over the past decade, especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s election denials after his 2020 defeat. This study examines the role of outgroup empathy as a potential driver of support for restrictive voting laws and voter suppression efforts. Evidence from two national surveys indicates that outgroup empathy may boost support for race-based electoral justice, above and beyond the influence of partisanship, ideology, and a host of socio-demographic influences. As predicted, the effects of group empathy are conditional on political sophistication: Those most likely to be aware that these laws target minority group voters are also those who bring outgroup empathy to bear on their policy views. The findings suggest that group empathy—especially among the most politically sophisticated—can catalyze opposition to restrictive voting laws.

Title IX, Due Process, and the Struggle over Campus Sexual Assault

Elizabeth Armstrong (Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, January 12, 2023

This talk will examine some of the political dynamics generating the ongoing contestation over the implementation of Title IX in the realm of sexual harassment in sexual assault over the last two decades. Based on interviews and in-depth analysis of policy documents, Armstrong and her colleague Sandra Levitsky trace the processes generating increasing legalization—and even criminalization—of Title IX.

Election 2022: What Happened?

Mara Ostfeld (Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research)
Jowei Chen (Research Associate Professor, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research)
Nicholas A. Valentino (Research Professor, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Mara Ostfeld, Jowei Chen, and Nicholas A. Valentino from ISR’s Center for Political Studies discussed the outcomes of the 2022 midterm elections. The panelists presented the latest findings from the American National Election Studies (ANES), along with exit poll data, and the new legislative maps. Read a summary of the event.

Consumer Sentiment and Expectations in an Inflationary Environment

Joanne Hsu (Director, Surveys of Consumers; Research Associate Professor, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Closely followed by scholars, policymakers, and businesses, consumer sentiment and expectations over the economy have long been recognized as critical inputs for forecasting and understanding the trajectory of the economy. In this talk, Joanne Hsu discusses how consumer attitudes have evolved through the pandemic and the recent escalation in inflation, and their implications for the future of the economy.

When Skin Color is More than Skin Deep: The Social, Economic and Political Meaning of Skin Color in America

Mara Ostfeld (Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies; Assistant Research Scientist, Ford School; Associate Faculty Director, Poverty Solutions; Research Director, Center for Racial Justice)

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Skin color matters. Within and across ethnoracial groups, skin color affects life experiences, including one’s financial earnings, educational opportunities, health outcomes, exposure to discrimination, interactions with the criminal justice system, and sense of group belonging. While political coalitions in the U.S. have historically revolved around ethnoracial identities, Dr. Ostfeld draws on her book (co-authored with Nicole Yadon) to argue that skin color is an increasingly important component of how people are identifying themselves and staking positions in American racial politics.

To treat and when to treat? The role of sequential decision making and mobile technologies in health disorder research

Walter Dempsey (Research Assistant Professor, Data Science for Dynamic Intervention Decision-making Center (d3c))

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The development of smartphone and wearable sensors has led to an unprecedented opportunity to leverage these technologies to facilitate healthy behavior change. Push notifications delivered at the right time may have a huge impact; however, too many notifications may irritate and even exacerbate the situation. A critical question we face is “How do we design treatment plans that leverage mobile technologies for individuals struggling with a variety of health disorders?” Today, Walter Dempsey will discuss these types of treatment designs, known as just-in-time adaptive interventions, which are protocolized by a sequence of decision rules that specify whether and how to intervene depending on the person’s changing needs. He will discuss recent work by the Data Science for Dynamic Intervention Decision-making Center (d3c) in experimental designs and associated data analytic tools to answer questions about adaptive interventions and directions of future research.

Native Americans of the Upper Great Lakes: Sociological and Historical Perspectives on Land and Schooling Among the Anishinaabek

  • Arland Thornton (Department of Sociology, Institute for Social Research, and Native American Studies, the University of Michigan)
  • Eric Hemenway (Anishanaabe/Odawa, Director of Archives and Records, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Harbor Springs, Michigan)
  • Linda Young-DeMarco (Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan)
  • Alphonse Pitawanakwat (Odawa member of Wiikemkoong First Nation Unceded Territory, Ontario, Canada; Lecturer in American Culture and Native American Studies at the University of Michigan)
  • Lindsey Willow Smith (Citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, University of Michigan Class of 2022, History and Museum Studies B.A.)

Thursday, April 7, 2022

In this presentation a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Archive and Records Department discuss the land and schooling of the Anishinaabek—the Three Fires of the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi. Of particular focus is the spread of Euro-American schooling among the Anishinaabek from the early 1800s through 1950. We trace the establishment of schools in the early 1800s and the growth of literacy and school attainment from the 1850s through 1940. In addition to considering schooling levels and trends of the Anishinaabek at the national level, we examine state differences, and focus on one particular group, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, who today live in Waganakising—the Land of the Crooked Tree—located in the northwest portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality

Erin Cech (Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan; Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center)

Thursday, February 24, 2022

“Follow your passion” is a popular mantra for career decision-making in the United States. In this talk, Cech will discuss her research on this ubiquitous cultural narrative that she call the “passion principle.” The passion principle is rooted in tensions between postindustrial capitalism and cultural norms of self-expression and is compelling to college-educated career aspirants and workers because passion is presumed to motivate the hard work required for success while providing opportunities for meaning and self-expression. Although passion-seeking seems like a promising option for individuals hoping to avoid drudgery in their labor force participation, she argues that the passion principle has a dark side: it reinforces socio-economic disadvantages and occupational segregation among career aspirants and workers in the aggregate and helps reproduce an exploited, overworked white-collar labor force. These findings have implications for cultural notions of “good work” popular in higher education and the US workforce and raises broader questions about what it means when becoming a dedicated labor force participant feels like an act of self-fulfillment.

Exposure to Violence and Subsequent Weapons Use in Two Urban High-Risk Communities

Speakers: Eric F. Dubow (Adjunct Research Scientist, Research Center for Group Dynamics; Professor of Psychology, Bowling Green State University) and L. R. Huesmann (Amos N Tversky Collegiate Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Psychology, Professor Emeritus of Communication and Media, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, College of LSA and Research Professor Emeritus, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research)

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Researchers Dubow and Huesmann report preliminary results of data that they have collected over the last 13 years from youth and young adults in two diverse, urban, high-crime communities (Flint, MI, and Jersey City, NJ). Their findings have shown that early exposure to weapons violence (whether in the family, neighborhood, or through engaging with violent media) significantly correlates at modest levels with weapon carrying, weapon use or threats-to-use, arrests for weapons use, and criminally violent acts 10 years later. Violence exposure was significantly linked to beliefs about the acceptability of behaving aggressively. They argue that youth who observe more violence with weapons, whether in the family, among peers, in the neighborhood, or through the media or video games become infected from the exposure with a social-cognitive-emotional disease (evidenced particularly by normative beliefs approving of gun violence) that increases their own risk of behaving violently with weapons later in life.

Detecting white supremacist speech on social media

Libby Hemphill (Director, Resource Center for Minority Data at ICPSR; Associate Professor at UMSI)

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Social media have been repeatedly shown to harbor white supremacist networks, enabling far-right extremists to find one another, recruit and radicalize new members, and normalize their hate. In order to address the problem of white supremacist speech on social media, platforms must first be able to identify it.

In this talk, Libby Hemphill presents research to understand what white supremacist speech looks like, especially how it’s different from general or commonplace speech, and to determine whether white supremacists try to adapt to avoid detection from social media platforms’ current content moderation systems.

Unprecedented: The Expansion of the Social Safety Net During the COVID Era and Its Impacts on Poverty and Hardship

H. Luke Shaefer (Director of Poverty Solutions; Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Polic; Professor of Public Policy; Professor of Social Work; Faculty Associate at PSC & SRC)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A major economic crisis accompanied the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in response the federal government mounted the largest and most comprehensive expansion of the social safety net in modern times. In this talk, H. Luke Shaefer will review research on the impacts of this safety net expansion, and where the nation goes from here.

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