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Department ofSociology


McKenzie Bush

McKenzie Bush

Faculty Updates Spring 2021

See what professors have been up to this quarter!

Distinguished Lecture: Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

By Professor Enrique S. Pumar, Sociology Department Chair  

Esteemed Scholar presents on Racism in Contemporary American Society

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, the James B. Duke Distinguished University Professor at Duke University and past President of the American Sociological Association, delivered the department Distinguished Lecture on April 27, 2021, via a Zoom Webinar. His talk, attended by an audience of around 116 university students, faculty and staff, discussed how systemic racism in contemporary American society is not just institutionalized but more often is manifested through everyday interactions. Professor Bonilla-Silva’s prolific writings on race have revolutionized the fields of race and ethnic relations, color-blind racism, methodology, and the study of inequality among social scientists. He has authored such classic texts as Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality. Bonilla-Silva is one of the few sociologists to have been awarded two of the most meritorious distinctions bestowed by the American Sociological Association, the 2007 Lewis A. Coser Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting and the 2011 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award. His faculty page collects a list of his publications and awards.

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: McKenzie Bush

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

SCU Alumna Talk: “Unpredictably on Point: Reflecting on my SCU Experience

McKenzie Bush

On April 7th, SCU Alumna McKenzie Bush offered words of wisdom to current SCU students on how her SCU experience informed her post-graduate success. As Bush shared, one theme continuously emerged throughout McKenzie’s undergraduate career. In her words, “I have no idea what I am doing”. Throughout her time at Santa Clara University, McKenzie experienced trajectory whiplash as the abundance of opportunities at Santa Clara University seemed endless. Which major? Which career? Which city should one move to upon graduation? By the time she graduated, her resume and career goals were at best, comically varied and nebulous and at worst, slightly scattered and disjointed. Now in her mid-twenties, McKenzie returns to SCU to speak about how the lessons she learned at SCU prepared her to navigate the world and choose a career in law. She offers perspective on not taking yourself too seriously during these unprecedented times and how to make the most of your Santa Clara University experience.

McKenzie Bush graduated magna cum laude from Santa Clara University in 2018. Studying Political Science and Asian Studies, she spent her undergraduate career preparing for a potential career in the U.S. Foreign Service. While at Santa Clara, she worked for the U.S. Department of State in China, an international development non-profit in India, and the U.S. Department of Defense USAFRICOM. Upon graduation, McKenzie struggled to justify serving abroad when there were many pressing issues in her hometown of Denver. Instead of pursuing the Peace Corps, McKenzie joined AmeriCorps for two service terms on the Homelessness Crisis Response Team. Through her AmeriCorps experience and involvement with Court Appointed Special Advocates and Colorado Legal Services, she stumbled upon her true passion: advocacy for vulnerable populations. She will soon start a career in legal advocacy as she enters Notre Dame Law School in Fall 2021.

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: Hon. Lloyd Levine (ret.)

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

“It’s Not About Cat Videos on YouTube: CO

Lloyd Levine

VID-19 as a catalyst for closing the Digital Divide”

On April 21st, Lloyd Levine spoke to the SCU community about the importance of closing the digital divide. In his talk, Mr. Levine looked at recently collected data to assess its impact on the digital divide, as well as where the divide stands, who was left behind, and what needs to be done to close the divide permanently. As Levine shared, “access to high-speed Internet is essential for full and consequential participation in the civic, economic, and education systems of modern life. And, if we had any doubt, the past year should have erased those. But what about those without meaningful internet access? Those on the wrong side of the digital divide suffer concomitant challenges in obtaining access to information, services, educational and employment opportunities. Data shows this puts them at a significant disadvantage compared to their connected peers and neighbors. While often perceived of as a “rural problem,” the digital divide is greatest in low-income households. From 2000 through 2010 broadband adoption increased with broadband deployment. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) deployed infrastructure adoption increased. Those efforts made broadband infrastructure nearly ubiquitous in urban and suburban areas. However, from 2010 through 2019 adoption plateaued indicating access was not the impediment to wider adoption of broadband. At the same time, efforts to close the digital divide focused on providing information to low-income households. However, three independent studies – including one by this speaker – show broadband adoption has remained virtually flat during that period. Further, during that same time period – and in the face of contrary data – the digital divide was perceived as a “rural problem” with the urban disconnected languishing in relative anonymity with scant few policies implemented to address the problem.  Then, in early 2020 the pandemic hit, workplaces shuttered, and students were sent home. En masse the entire country was suddenly and painfully aware of the full extent of the digital divide.  The impact was most acutely seen in the hundreds of thousands of students across the country who were suddenly forced into distance learning but lacked broadband access and a proper computing device.”

Lloyd Levine is a former member of the California State Legislature where he served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce. Currently, Mr. Levine serves as T-Mobile for Government’s National Senior Executive for State Government Strategy for Technology and Telecommunications, and is a Senior Policy Fellow at the UC Riverside School of Public Policy.  As a Legislator, Mr. Levine established himself as one of California’s leading experts in energy, telecommunications, and technology policy. Consistently tackling some of the most challenging and significant statutory policy changes, Mr. Levine authored numerous pieces of historic legislation which became national models in many policy areas.  Mr. Levine’s desire to accelerate the deployment of broadband technology lead him to author and pass the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA), which changed the way video and telecommunications companies were regulated, bringing statutes into par with the current technologies, legislation streamlining and expediting the process of siting Cellular Telephone equipment on state property, and legislation changing the way school districts can procure technology.  Mr. Levine served as a member of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Broadband Taskforce and was a Founding Member of the Board of Directors of the California Emerging Technology Fund. Mr. Levine currently serves as a Founding Member of the Advisory Board for the UC Riverside School of Public Policy, where he and the school’s Dean, Anil Deolalikar, co-founded the Center for Technology, Policy and Society. Because of his policy expertise, and his unique perspective as a former legislator, Mr. Levine has appeared on television and radio programs across the country and has been published and cited widely in print media, with articles published in everything from daily newspapers to legal publications. Mr. Levine has also served as a panelist and keynote speaker at energy, and technology conferences around the world, and been a guest lecturer in many universities and law schools. As a Senior Policy Fellow, Mr. Levine has multiple peer reviewed articles on broadband and the digital divide, including: “COVID-19, the Digital Divide, Distance Learning: Strategies and Policies to Avert an Education Crisis,” “Broadband adoption in urban and suburban California: information-based outreach programs ineffective at closing the digital divide,” “Energy Policy and the Digital Divide: Broadband Deployment and Adoption are Insufficient to Meet the Needs of Demand Response and the Smart Grid,” and “Closing the Digital Divide: A Historic and Economic Justification for Government Intervention.” Currently, Mr. Levine is working on an edited book volume on the intersection of technology and government. Titled, “Technology vs. Government: The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object, which will be out next year. Mr. Levine currently resides in Sacramento with his wife, Emmy award-winning KCRA Anchorwoman Edie Lambert and their two children. 

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: Jenny Davis

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

“How Artifacts Afford: A Critical Lens and Operational Model”

Jenny Davis

On April 28th, Jenny Davis spoke to the SCU community about her new book with MIT Press: How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things. As Davis explained, the book “updates affordance theory by shifting the orienting question from what technologies afford to how technologies afford, for whom, and under what circumstances? This reorientation is supported by the transformation of ‘affordance’ from a singular concept to an operational model—the mechanisms and conditions framework.” According to Davis, “‘Affordance’ has been a central construct for designers and technology theorists since foundational statements on the topic from JJ Gibson and Don Norman in the 1970s and 80s. With the rise of digitization and widespread automation, this concept has entered common parlance and resurged within academic discourse and debate. The term refers to how the features of technologies enable and constrain—but do not determine— user engagement and social dynamics.” Davis explicated how “the mechanisms and conditions framework of affordance specifies how technologies request, demand, encourage, discourage, refuse, and allow social action, varying across subjects and circumstances. This model overlays affordance theory with a critical lens that attends to the politics and power encoded in socio-technical systems. In this talk, Davis will recap the mechanisms and conditions framework, apply it to mundane and momentous objects, and raise questions about the relationship between sociology and design.”

Jenny L. Davis is a sociologist at the Australian National University. Her work intersects structural social psychology and technology studies, focusing on how the social and technical intertwine. Jenny is a Chief Investigator on ANU’s Humanising Machine Intelligence Project and Lead Investigator on the Pause Project, exploring ethics in the Australian technology startup sector. Her book How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things (MIT Press 2020) addresses the social and political implications of technological design.  Website: JennyLDavis.Com Twitter: @Jenny_L_Davis 

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: Inês Vitorino Sampaio

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

“Brazilian Youth, Prosumption, and Digital Citizenship: Digital Inequalities and Mediated Tensions from the Margins”

Ines Sampaio

On May 5th, Inês Vitorino Sampaio spoke to the SCU community about digital inequalities among Brazilian youth. As she explained, “despite the equalizing opportunities provided by digital technologies, social inequalities continue to characterize Brazilian—and other Latin American—societies.  Millions of individuals still digitally excluded, often the same people living in economic precarity. In this context, the large-scale dissemination of information and digital technologies has generated emergent forms of social exclusion for youths and young people in Brazil. For economically disadvantaged children and teenagers, being “online” represents a symbolic passport to digital citizenship that requires these young people to become peripheral prosumers without being aware of their rights or the consequences of being part of presumption communities. This research examines the consequences for youths who adapt to participation on the networks by aligning their participation to marketing logic and pressure to produce content directed towards garnering “likes” and “hits.” The research compares these market-aligned youths to market-resistant youths who question the values of market forces, affirm their right to be world citizens, and resist inequalities. Discussion will illuminate the global implications of these trends, as well as culturally specific aspects of the experiences of Brazilian youth.”

 Inês Vitorino Sampaio is Full Professor of Social Communication at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC). She is also Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University (2020-2021). She received her PhD degree in Social Sciences at University of Campinas (UNICAMP). Sampaio has been in residence at Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster, a visiting scholar at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and Ceara State University (UECE). Her research examines topics including digital inclusion, youth and digital media, children’s rights in the digital age, media literacy, and internet space for participation and civic engagement. Sampaio served as Vice-president of the National Association of Postgraduate Communication in Brazil (2013-2015) and co-founded and co-directs the Childhood, Youth and Media Relations Research Lab (LabGRIM).

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: Heloisa Pait 

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

“Classes without Books: Brazilian Media and Higher Education”

Heloisa Pait

On May 12th, Heloisa Pait spoke to the SCU community about the fundamental linkages between democracy, the media, and education in Brazil. As Pait explained, “we look back on the establishment of higher education practices and institutions in Brazil in light of the often unexamined use of means of communication, and reflect on the impact of such history on the current use of new media in university classes. In Brazil, the growth in the number of higher education institutions and the establishment of graduate and research programs happened during the period of popularization of the mimeograph and the ubiquitous Xerox machines, from the 1960s to the 1980s. This modular system, probably understood elsewhere as a means to uncouple knowledge and allow for a more intimate appropriation of texts, was invested in this developing country with the aura that, in European universities, only the book had received. The canonization of the Xerox copy in Brazil has consequences today, interfering with a more flexible appropriation of digital media. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic questioned the media assumptions that university professors had about their use of the media. We present the kinds of reflections the forced conversion to distance education provoked in university professors, based on preliminary analysis of in-depth interviews with Brazilian university professors. We examine their experience with the media since their undergraduate years until the present moment, focusing on their teaching choices during the pandemic. Our goal is to uncover the meanings certain media have for university professors and how these meanings inform their attitudes towards teaching in a moment of crisis. Our hypothesis is that more flexible understanding of their personal media uses lead to more active experimentation with new media.”

Heloisa Pait, a Fulbright Alumna, obtained her PhD at the New School for Social Research and is tenured Assistant Professor of Sociology at the São Paulo State University Julio de Mesquita Filho. She received the Outstanding Author Contribution in the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards for her analysis of media use in the São Paulo street protests. In her paper “Liberalism Without a Press: 18th Century Minas Geraes and the Roots of Brazilian Development” she presents the idea of a modern oral public sphere. She is Associate Researcher at the Center for Jewish Studies of the University of São Paulo and Editor of Revista Pasmas.

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: Sara Schoonmaker

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

“Navigating Pandemic Crises: Encountering the Digital Commons”

Sara Schoonmaker

On May 19th, Sara Schoonmaker provided a timely discussion of COVID-19, technologies of surveillance, and the digital commons to the SCU community. As Schoonmaker explained: “Since the nineteenth century, sociologists have grappled with understanding the dynamics of social change. In this paper, I explore three key changes that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic. First, professional workers, students, and others who could manage it used platforms like Zoom to shift their work and social activities online to minimize exposure to the virus. At the same time, this surge of online activity expanded the opportunities for corporations and governments to engage in surveillance by collecting user data. I call this the “pandemic surveillance paradox.” This paradox posed potential threats to civil liberties, and particularly the right to privacy, since many users were unaware of the nature and extent of this data collection process. Second, free software and other privacy advocates built on their prior work to educate software and internet users about strategies to protect their privacy and encounter the digital commons. In the digital commons, all participants can access, use, modify and share software, the internet, scientific, educational and cultural resources. Third, during the pandemic, open science and open education advocates made vital contributions to the digital commons. They accelerated the scientific research process to develop vaccines and treatments for the virus, and disseminated key public health information and other educational resources. Through these diverse activities, digital commoners navigated crises arising with the COVID-19 pandemic by forging alternatives to the dominant capitalist system rooted in profit and proprietary control.” 

Sara Schoonmaker (Ph.D. Boston College) is a sociologist specializing in strategies to create and defend alternatives to the dominant forms of capitalism and consumer culture. She has published two books – High-Tech Trade Wars: U.S.-Brazilian Conflicts in the Global Economy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002) and Free Software, the Internet, and Global Communities of Resistance (Routledge, 2018). She investigates struggles between proprietary efforts to increase corporate profits from software and the Internet, and global communities of resistance seeking to promote the digital commons where users are free to access, share, remix, sell and redistribute software and the myriad cultural products it is used to create. Sara teaches Sociology at the University of Redlands.

Digital Sociology Spring Speaker Series: Noah McClain

By Laura Robinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

“Making Criminals Through Technology, Producing Privilege Around Technology: Policing, Social Status, and the Deception of Computers in New York City”

Noah McCain

On May 26th Noah McClain spoke to the SCU community about how technology intersects with the criminal justice system to intensify inequality. As McClain explained, “in New York City, some subway riders manipulate used farecards in a way that allows them to enter and ride the subway without paying by causing the turnstile computer to misread them. Also in New York City, some drivers manipulate their license plates in a way that allows them to sidestep bridge and tunnel tolls by making the plates unreadable to the automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) used to bill motorists for tolls by mail. In both cases, an information-containing object fools a computer set up to read its data. Yet these two very similar objects receive very different treatment by law enforcement: On one hand, people found with bent metrocards can be arrested for felony forgery (punishable with 2-4 years in prison) under the theory that a “forgery” is defined by the eye of the beholder – that of the turnstile computer. On the other hand, people with manipulated license plates risk no more than a small fine. The other principal difference lies in just who engages in each practice: the farecard manipulation is a practice of the urban poor – and nearly all arrestees have been Black or Hispanic - while manipulated license plates are closely associated with law enforcement officers and those who demonstrate social ties to them. These contrasting cases allow us to see how the inner workings of technology can be invoked in legal venues to frame one practice as a serious crime, but to also see how that logic can be set aside by the very same criminal justice apparatus to let a closely related activity go largely unpoliced. To understand such dichotomies and the social inequalities they reproduce, I argue, we must follow them into the technologies upon which they hinge.”

Noah McClain (PhD, New York University) is a sociologist and Chief Research Officer of Emerald Studies in Media & Communications, where he also serves as Senior Editor for Science and Technology Studies (STS). His interests span the sociologies of cities, law, inequality, complex organizations, work, policing, and security, and how these intersect with technologies high and low. He has been on the faculties of Illinois Tech, and the Bard Prison Initiative, where he was also a postdoctoral research fellow. He is a former investigator of police misconduct for the City of New York.