Decolonizing [insert your discipline here]

Reading up on decolonizing sociology — and other disciplines of the social sciences — I often come across the objection that it “would not make sense to have an African/Asian (etc.) physics”.

This objection implicitly focuses on human universals, and often is rejected on the grounds that the context is different — arguing for unique interactions between context and human universals. Thinking about this a bit, it struck me that we don’t have to argue for (potentially) unique interactions or different contexts — even if they most probably exist: an African/Asian (etc.) physics actually is not problematic as implied by the objection! Why? Because local physics would identify the same regularities! It might not be efficient to build parallel systems, but in terms of discovery it wouldn’t be as bad as normally implied.

PhD Opportunities at Utrecht

Dr. Valentina Di Stasio is recruiting two PhD students who will join her team for the project TARGETS, funded by the European Research Council (ERC StG 2021), and starting in September 2022. The projects will be embedded within the ICS, the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology, and are based at ERCOMER (European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations), Utrecht University. 

TARGETS is a multi-disciplinary and multi-method project bringing together insights from sociology, socio-legal studies, organizational and social psychology, management and organization studies, with the aim to understand the conditions under which people are recognized as targets of discrimination (both in the workplace and in the courtroom), and the strategies that members of vulnerable groups adopt to avoid becoming targets.

You can find more detailed information on the two PhD projects at these links:

Project 5 (Discrimination Attributions)

Project 6 (Coping strategies)

The deadline for applying is April 11. More information on the application procedure can be found here:


Call for Papers: Migrants’ skills wastage in the labor market: a multidisciplinary approach for policy formation

The call for our special issue on brain waste is now official:

Deadline for submissions is 31 July 2022

The topic of migrants’ skills wastage has generated a sizable but scattered body of research spanning economics, demography, sociology, law, and other social sciences over the past few years (Griesshaber and Seibel 2015; Flisi et al. 2017; Leuven and Oosterbek 2011; Pecoraro 2014; Capsada-Munsech 2017; Klink 2008; Zhou et al. 2016). While the topic is interdisciplinary by nature, recent work has been disciplinary, generating field-specific hypotheses, data, methods and applications, to the detriment of interdisciplinary links and policy debate. The risk of continuing on the current trend is that specialist disciplinary lines will not only progressively depleting the benefit of informing and generating new knowledge by studying an effectively interdisciplinary phenomenon but generate policy recommendations that only cater for a partial aspect of the problem. In an extreme scenario, they risk becoming irrelevant.

The objective of this special issue is to produce a reference resource which consolidates the existing research body, summarises key insights across several disciplines, and provide a firm foundation for continued interdisciplinary dialogue aimed at unifying knowledge for policy debate and policy formulation.

Specifically with this call for papers, we seek to consolidate research findings from different disciplines on migrants’ skills wastage. This includes the study of topics such as over-education, the international transferability of human capital, statistical or outright discrimination in the labour market and within firms, migration policy, and methodological approaches addressing the self-selection that characterises the choice to migrate and enter the labour market of the host country.

At the same time, we seek novel approaches that unite different perspectives and allow a continuation of interdisciplinary research on the topic, with the objective of providing clear information for policy use. Examples could include, but no be limited to, topics such as the spatial dimensions associated with the under-use of human capital, inter-generational and household effects of experiencing skills under-use (especially educational choices of children whose parents experience skills mismatches), the development of new databases, methodologies or variables, and migration policy considerations from both sending and receiving countries with across regions within a country.

Submission portal: Submission deadline: July 31, 2022

Zhiming Cheng
Wei Guo
Marco Pecoraro
Didier Ruedin
Massimiliano Tani

Why We Habitually Engage in Null-Hypothesis Significance Testing…

You should head over to PLOS to read this paper by Jonah Stunt et al. It’s the first qualitative study I’ve come across at PLOS, but it’s definitely worth a read to better understand why we’re still surrounded by p-values.

One thing I missed in the paper is a hint that we don’t have to engage in frequentists null-hypothesis significance testing. I realize that the authors are interested in the sociology of science here, but we have plenty of statements in the article how difficult it’d be to learn about alternative methods. It doesn’t have to be: We do have packages like rstanarm or software like JASP that do not leave much room for such excuses.

Stunt, Jonah, Leonie van Grootel, Lex Bouter, David Trafimow, Trynke Hoekstra, and Michiel de Boer. 2021. “Why We Habitually Engage in Null-Hypothesis Significance Testing: A Qualitative Study.” PLOS ONE 16(10):e0258330. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258330.