In the Spotlight

July 26th marked the 25-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – a landmark law that spurred improvements for disabled people and increased awareness of the challenges they face. But as SSN scholar David Pettinicchio explains, many improvements are still needed, including steps to reduce wage discrepancies and new efforts to ensure full enforcement.

Katrina Kimport
University of California, San Francisco

Dozens of states are debating and passing new laws restricting access to abortion or imposing elaborate routines on patients and doctors. Kimport’s research looks at how women scheduled for abortions respond to viewing ultrasounds, and finds results at odds with what clashing advocates presume. 

Recently SSN’s newly launched Los Angeles Unified chapter co-sponsored a nationally live-streamed forum as part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Marcus Hunter, co-director of the chapter, welcomed a stellar array of participants to this in-depth discussion of the best ways to encourage learning and open new opportunities for African American students.

Hana E. Brown
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Wake Forest University

The economy is improving, yet states such as Missouri and Maryland are considering cuts to welfare programs that especially help African American citizens. Fascinating work by Hana Brown suggests that, when racial conflicts flare, legislators use welfare cuts to mollify white constituents. 

The 2015 Supreme Court decision on gay marriage ratified a shift in American public opinion. At a pivotal moment three years ago, the state of Maine – with many older voters – became one of the first to Iegalize gay marriage by popular referendum. To explain how this happened, Amy Fried and Rob Glover underline the power of empathetic messages invoking widely shared family values, courageously delivered by straight as well as gay Mainers invoking personal stories.

Late June brings decisions from the Supreme Court – and June 2015 will long be remembered for blockbuster pronouncements.  Writing for the media or cited in analyses by journalists, SSN scholars are weighing in on the implications of the Court’s rulings for the future of American society, public policy, and politics. 

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