PhD Candidate Athena Engman on Statistical Significance in Quantitative Sociology

Athena Engman

PhD Candidate Athena Engman published an article in Quality and Quantity that examines the concept of statistical significance, its history, and the consequences of its misinterpretation. She argues that the potential consequences of the misuse of the concept of statistical significance outweigh its benefits.

Athena Engman is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. She studies epistemology, philosophy of mind, and medical sociology. Her thesis probes the experiences of organ transplant recipients.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Engman, Athena. 2013. “Is There Life After P<0.05? Statistical Significance and Quantitative Sociology.” Quality and Quantity, 47(1):257-270.

The overwhelming majority of quantitative work in sociology reports levels of statistical significance. Often, significance is reported with little or no discussion of what it actually entails philosophically, and this can be problematic when analyses are interpreted. Often, significance is understood to represent the probability of the null hypothesis (usually understood as a lack of relationship between two or more variables). This understanding is simply erroneous. The first section of this paper deals with this common misunderstanding. The second section gives a history of significance testing in the social sciences, with reference to the historical foundations of many common misinterpretations of significance testing. The third section is devoted to a discussion of the consequences of misinterpreting statistical significance for sociology. It is argued that reporting statistical significance provides sociology with very little value, and that the consequences of misinterpreting significance values outweighs the benefits of their use.

Read the full article here.

PhD Candidate Athena Engman, Professor Shyon Baumann, and Professor Josée Johnston on Ethical Food Consumption

Athena EngmanPhD Candidate Athena Engman, Professor Shyon Baumann, and Professor Josée Johnston, in collaboration with Professor Emily Huddart-Kennedy (Washington State University), published an article in Canadian Food Studies. The article analyzes how motivations for ethical food consumption vary across demographic groups and types of food. The authors find that, in Toronto, motivations to purchase organic food often came from a desire to care for others, while motivations to purchase local food were more focused on the well-being of the community and the environment.

Athena Engman is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto studying epistemology, philosophy of mind, and medical sociology. Her thesis probes the experiences of organ transplant recipients. Shyon Baumann is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. His research focuses on questions of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality. Josée Johnston is also a Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga and her general research goal is to advance knowledge in the sociological study of food and consumer culture.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the Canadian Food Studies website here.

Baumann, Shyon, Athena Engman, Emily Huddart-Kennedy, and Josée Johnston. 2017. “Organic vs. Local: Comparing Individualist and Collectivist Motivations for “Ethical” Food Consumption.” Canadian Food Studies 4(1):68-86.

We extend prior research on “ethical” food consumption by examining how motivations can vary across demographic groups and across types of ethical foods simultaneously. Based on a survey of food shoppers in Toronto, we find that parents with children under the age of 5 are most likely to report intention to purchase organic foods and to be primarily motivated by health and taste concerns. In contrast, intention to purchase local food is motivated by collectivist concerns—the environment and supporting the local economy—and is associated with educated, White, women consumers. In addition to highlighting this distinction in motivations for organic vs. local food consumption, we also argue that the predominant “individualist” and “collectivist” framing in the scholarly literature should be reformulated to accommodate an intermediate motivation. Organic food consumption is often motivated by a desire to consume for others (e.g. children) in ways that are neither straightforwardly individualist nor collectivist, but rather exemplify a caring motivation that is intermediate between the two.

Read the full article here.

 

PhD Candidate Athena Engman, Professor Shyon Baumann, and Professor Josée Johnston on Political Consumption, Conventional Politics, and High Cultural Consumption

Athena Engman

PhD Candidate Athena Engman, Professor Shyon Baumann, and Professor Josée Johnston published an article in the International Journal of Consumer Studies. The article analyzes political consumption (referring to consumption that supports a political or ethical position) and its relationship with conventional forms of politics. The authors find that, contrary to earlier arguments, political consumption has not replaced conventional political behaviour and that those who engage in the practice of political consumption are actually more likely to engage in political activism.

Athena Engman is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto studying epistemology, philosophy of mind, and medical sociology. Her thesis probes the experiences of organ transplant recipients. Shyon Baumann is a Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga. His research focuses on questions of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality. Josée Johnston is a Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga. Her general research goal is to advance knowledge in the sociological study of food and consumer culture.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Baumann, Shyon, Athena Engman, and Josée Johnston. 2015. “Political Consumption, Conventional Politics, and High Cultural Capital.” International Journal of Consumer Studies 39(5):413-421.

This article advances our knowledge of how political consumption is related to conventional forms of politics. Using survey data collected in Toronto in 2011, we examine how different kinds of political consumption are related to a range of conventional political behaviours. We find that, contrary to pessimistic views, political consumption is strongly correlated with conventional political behaviours. We do not find evidence for a crowding out or substitution effect of political consumption on conventional political behaviours. However, our findings suggest that political consumption is an individualized and relatively exclusive form of consumption, with demographic correlates that resemble other forms of high status cultural consumption and potentially limit its breadth.

Read the full article here.

Habit and the Body

Congratulations to Doctoral Candidate Athena Engman and Professor Cynthia Cranford who recently published an article on the role of physical capacity in habit formation. Thanks to SSHRC for funding the research that resulted in this publication. The article was recently highlighted by the American Sociological Association as a journal highlight when it appeared earlier this year. You can see the full article here. Below is the citation and abstract.

Athena Engman and Cynthia Cranford (2016) Habit and the Body: Lessons for Social Theories of Habit from the Experiences of People with Physical Disabilities. Sociological Theory: 34 (1): 27-44 DOI: 0.1177/0735275116632555

Habitual action has been an important concept in sociological theory insofar as it allows for a conceptualization of action that does not rely on paradigmatic loyalty to a rational decision-making subject. One insight from theories of habit that is of particular importance for understanding how habit structures experience is the idea that habits are always habits in a world: we act in a material environment that is itself constitutive of action. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which the material environment is preconfigured for action by particular forms of embodiment. Drawing on disability studies as well as an empirical consideration of the experiences of people with physical disabilities and the attendant service providers who work with them, we develop a model of habit that accounts for the variability in habit formation and maintenance that characterizes lived experience.