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Author: The Conversation

Concern about economic stability grows with trend of discouraged workers no longer seeking jobs

By Michael Klein, Professor of International Economic Affairs, Fletcher School, Tufts University The latest jobs report showed a lackluster gain in jobs in May that was worse than economists had predicted. While the sudden slowdown in jobs growth after many months of strong numbers is worrying and signals a weakening economy, a more long-term concern is the persistently low labor force participation rate that has not recovered in the decade since the onset of the Great Recession. I have been studying labor market issues for over much of my 30 year career as an economist. Let me explain why...

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The Cliff Effect: Getting poorer while working harder

By Susan R. Crandall, Director, Center for Social Policy, University of Massachusetts Boston Forty percent of all working-age Americans sometimes struggle to pay their monthly bills. There is no place in the country where a family supported by one minimum-wage worker with a full-time job can live and afford a 2-bedroom apartment at the average fair-market rent. Given the pressure to earn enough to make ends meet, you would think that low-paid workers would be clamoring for raises. But this is not always the case. Because so many American jobs don’t earn enough to pay for food, housing and...

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Political Math: The impact on Congress if Washington DC finally becomes the 51st state

By Dudley Poston, Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University For years, the official motto of the District of Columbia has been “Taxation without representation.” The residents of Washington, D.C. do not have representation in the U.S. House or in the Senate. People who live in the district, on average, pay higher federal and local taxes, but they have no say about how their tax dollars are spent, and no vote on issues such as health care, Social Security and foreign policy. As a sociologist researching demographic and political behavior, I do not think that this is fair. On May...

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70 years after 1984: How today compares with Orwell’s prophetic dystopian novel

By Stephen Groening, Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Washington Seventy years ago, Eric Blair, writing under a pseudonym George Orwell, published “1984,” now generally considered a classic of dystopian fiction. The novel tells the story of Winston Smith, a hapless middle-aged bureaucrat who lives in Oceania, where he is governed by constant surveillance. Even though there are no laws, there is a police force, the “Thought Police,” and the constant reminders, on posters, that “Big Brother Is Watching You.” Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, and his job is to rewrite the reports in...

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Pride and Prejudice: A century of debating gay rights and disagreements about discretion

By Laurie Marhoefer, Assistant Professor of History, University of Washington This month, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will join gay pride marches in cities big and small. In many cities, pride marches are controversial. In some – like Moscow – they are even banned. But for many people in North America, parts of Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, attending the local pride march has become an unremarkable ritual of summer. There are still good reasons to march. Few countries around the world have robust protections for gay and transgender rights. And pride marches, the LGBTQ political...

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Survey finds young black women now identify as bisexual three times higher than decade ago

By Tristan Bridges and Mignon R. Moore • Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara • Professor and Chair of Sociology, Barnard College Since 1972, social scientists have studied the General Social Survey to chart the complexities of social change in the United States. The survey, which is conducted every couple years, asks respondents their attitudes on topics ranging from race relations to drug use. In 2008, the survey started including a question on sexual identity. As sociologists who study sexuality, we’ve noticed how more and more women are reporting that they’re bisexual. But in the most recent...

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