If You’re Going to San Francisco…

Dear Readers!

First, a bit of housekeeping. I’ve been officially recruited onto the Scatterplot blogging team. So, for the time being, substantive posts about sociology and related topics will likely be posted over there (e.g. this piece on clarifying the debate over replication in the social sciences). I’ll save this blog for more personal updates and shameless self-promotion.

Speaking of which… I’m very excited for this year’s ASA in SF! If you want to hear what I’m up to or say hi, you can find me at two fantastic events. The first is the Junior Theorists Symposium, which I’m co-organizing with Jordanna Matlon. We’ll be posting the paper abstracts and further details next week, and I’ll make sure to link them here. Please RSVP if you’d like to attend! JTS will be held at the University of California, Berkeley on Friday, August 15 (the day before ASA proper begins in earnest). Old announcement with details here.

The second is a panel on “Credit and Inequality: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.” Greta Krippner and I will be presenting our first paper from a new collaboration on the politics of pricing in insurance and credit. This paper looks at the fascinating legal and legislative contention in the 1980s over the use of gender in risk-based pricing of life and auto insurance.* The panel is Sunday, 2:30-4:10pm.

Hope to see you all there!

* Ok, I admit, few people would normally use “fascinating” to describe any aspect of “insurance pricing.” But believe me, it’s a really rich space to see the workings out of various logics of fairness, discrimination, and the meaning of “individual treatment” in the context of statistical models of risk – questions that rate to be ever more relevant as more and more aspects of our lives are connected to predictive algorithms.

Do Economists Make Policies?

Elizabeth Popp Berman and I just received the good news that the final version of our paper on how economists influence policymaking was posted at Socioeconomic Review. We hope those interested in the political power of economic ideas, experts, and tools will find it useful. Abstract:

Economics is often described as the most politically influential social science and yet economic advice is often largely irrelevant to prominent policy debates. We draw on literatures in political science, sociology and science and technology studies to explain this apparent contradiction. Existing research suggests that the influence of economics is mediated by local circumstances and meso-level social structures, and that much of it flows through indirect channels. We elaborate three sites of analysis useful for unpacking these influences: the broad professional authority of economics, the institutional position of economists in government, and the role of economics in the cognitive infrastructure of policymaking, including the diffusion of economic styles of reasoning and the establishment of economic policy devices for seeing and deciding.

Let us know what you think!