By Jonathan Wynn
Having taught at a few different
colleges and universities, I’ve had students who knew the real struggles of
living in poverty and near poverty. But for every one of those students, there
have been hundreds more who were unfamiliar with the anxieties of everyday
economic uncertainty. Poverty is a hard
thing to teach about—both the very macro-level issues to the more personal,
blog post last year on McDonald’s was an invitation to think about work and
compensation at a global scale (on The Big Mac Index) recent news offers us a chance to connect the dots between the big
headlines of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, news on new campaigns
against low wage pay for fast food work, and those everyday economic hardships.
In all the talk about the Affordable Care Act, I’ve seen too much about broken
websites and not enough about those unemployed and low-wage workers who need
Continue reading "Big Corporations and Big Social Programs " »
As many cities and communities face budget cuts, parks and
other cultural gathering places often seem like unnecessary extravagances. For individuals recover from the economic downturn, going to the theater, a ballet
or opera might also be far too pricey. The
city of Detroit may even auction off its art museum’s treasures in order to
cope with bankruptcy. But the arts and public places for recreation can
redefine communities, socially, culturally and economically.
Continue reading "The Power of Parks and Museums" »
By Peter Kaufman
This is a busy and stressful time to be President of
the United States: The government was until recently shutdown, he’s facing an impasse
with Congressional Republicans, the on-going violence in Syria (not to mention
the rest of the Middle East), the recent commando raids in Libya and Somalia,
the early snags of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), and the naming of
the new chief of the Federal Reserve. Despite all of this, President Obama
found time recently to weigh in on a matter that many Americans are probably
more familiar with than most of these other current events: The Washington Redskins football team mascot.
Continue reading "Redskins, Blackskins, Brownskins, Whiteskins: Race and Team Mascots" »
One of the most challenging aspects to learning about social structure is
that it is often difficult to see the ways that social institutions shape our
lives. The federal government
shutdown of 2013 helps make some aspects of social structure visible.
Social structure’s impact is clearest when these structures
change or stop working as they usually do. Take the closure of the nation’s
national parks, which show us that even nature is shaped by social structure. People
who planned vacations around visiting a national park and the businesses
supported by tourists felt the government shutdown’s impact immediately.
Continue reading "Making Social Structure Visible: America's National Parks" »
By Sally Raskoff
I recently heard a lovely eight-minute
talk by Albert Einstein about “The Common Language of Science” recorded in
Einstein spoke about how words, impressions, language and
thinking, concepts, statements, and sensory data are all intertwined although
not identical. I thought of many things we teach in sociology, including the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,
also known as the linguistic
Continue reading "Linguistic Relativity and “New” Ideas" »
By Jonathan Wynn
I remember—so long ago!—how
enthusiastic my parents were when I told them I wanted to study architecture…
Then their diminished excitement when I switched to educational psychology… And
how confused they were when I tried to tell them what sociology was. For them, the
evolution of my college major choices made it increasingly hard for them to see
a path to a career. For me, I followed the path that most challenged and
excited me the most.
What kinds of decisions are
you making when picking your major?
Continue reading "Minor Issues with Your Major" »
A title is a way of framing the meaning of a paper, a movie,
a book, a song, a job, and even a person. You might take great pains to come up
with a catchy title for a term paper (or just stick with the tried and true
“Term Paper”). What do human titles represent?
We use titles, information that precedes peoples’ names, in
order to provide meaning about that person. In public forums, titles convey
status and expertise. News programs regularly confer expertise on the people
they interview by including a title, even it is one that is only meaningful for
the story (like “witness,” “neighbor” or “resident”). Our more stable titles
reveal how we create order and meaning of others’ identities on a more regular
Continue reading "What’s in a Title?" »
By Sally Raskoff
I saw this sign on my campus
It makes people giggle when they first see it since it is
right next to a door that they could certainly access in order to exit the
building. It is an unlocked door that opens, thus it is accessible.
This sign is a reflection of social structure.
Continue reading "Signs of Structure" »