There is a new sociologist on the block: he does not have a Ph.D., does not teach at a university, and as far as I know, may have never even taken a sociology course. In fact, he attended a technical secondary school where he graduated with a chemical technician’s diploma and worked for a time in a chemistry lab (as well as working temporarily as a bouncer). Who is this new sociologist? He’s an Argentinian named Jorge Mario Bergogli or, as he is commonly referred to, Pope Francis.
While looking for videos to share with my Urban Sociology course this past term, I came across a mini-documentary from 2012 on Vice that chronicles the rise of a cultural phenomenon that centers around extremely pointy boots.
Men from the rural town of Matehuala, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico began augmenting their boots to make them pointier with an up-curved slant. While the boots initially were only slightly pointier, the trend expanded and some points increased as high as six feet tall. According to the documentary, the boot trend coincided with the rise of Tribal Guarachero; a mix of pre-hispanic, indigenous, and Afro-Caribbean sounds, and electronica. According to an NPR piece on the pointy boots, men from Matehuala use the boots in dance competitions and the phenomenon grew from there.
Of course, I had to look up sociologists! The good news is that we only have a 5.9 percent chance of being automated. Whew!
Many sociology graduates use their skills to work in marketing or other types of jobs that require survey research. What are the chances of those types of jobs becoming automated? A bit higher, at 23.1 percent. Sociology graduates often go into social work or counseling of some type. Those in mental health and substance abuse fields have only have a 0.3 percent of being automated.
Colby King is an Assistant Professor of Sociology; Jakari Griffith is an Assistant Professor of Management
Recently, Pittsburgh Pirates star center fielder Andrew McCutchen shared a great essay on The Players’ Tribune in which he reflects on his path to the pros. In the essay, he responds to the drama surrounding the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team, which won the Little League World Series and then had their title taken away for having players on the team who lived outside of their geographic area. The emphasis of his essay is a critique of what McCutchen, who was raised by a poor family in Fort Meade, Florida, sees as a broader problem: the cost and difficulties that talented kids from poor families face as they hope to be discovered by scouts.
When I first started teaching, there was one phrase I told myself I would never use in class: “When I was your age . . .” As I am now undeniably in the category of “middle age,” and having been teaching in college classrooms for nearly 20 years, I must come clean and admit that I find myself using that phrase more often than I’d like. My only defense, and I realize it’s somewhat lame, is that things are changing so quickly. Life really was very different when I was in college and sometimes I just can’t help but marvel at these changes aloud.
The transformations that I find most fascinating and sometimes mind-boggling revolve around globalization and technology—two things that seem to go hand-in-hand. Although there is no singularly agreed upon definition, globalization is often understood as the process through which products, people, ideas, culture, and capital, are transferred around the world creating a system of global integration. Whereas in the past some nations or societies could stand alone and be self-sufficient, today all nations and almost all people are part of an interdependent global order.
In the entertainment industry, the first two months of the year are unofficially known as awards season. There are more awards shows than most of us know about, culminating with the Academy Awards at the end of February. While it may seem that awards shows are trivial or just entertainment, we can learn several sociological lessons from these events.
I have been to several concerts within the past year and have noticed that there are always at least a few people who use their phones to take videos during the concert, even if there is an explicit “no photography” rule in effect.
For audience members, these video-takers are very distracting. They are holding up a lighted object, often partly blocking the views of those behind them. From the perspective of the performers, not only can they be distracting, but for those who don’t want unauthorized images or videos of their work posted online, there can be copyright issues to consider.
At a recent show, I saw at least two people taking videos in my immediate vicinity, despite being told that all cell phones must be turned off so they would not interfere with the electrical equipment at the tiny venue (maximum capacity 155). It’s hard not to look at a smart phone while it’s taking a video right in front of you in a darkened room. At this concert, the “videographer” was zooming in and out of the stage, and shaking the phone to add his own effects to the music. It created a blurry, shaking, pulsating light in front of me.
Sociologists explore the ways in which societies experience and produce fear. Frank Furedi and Barry Glassner both wrote books with nearly similar titles in the late 1990s on the culture of fear. Within the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer has written about how fears of media itself distract from other issues, such as poverty and inequality.
Societies spend a lot of resources on issues that are not as much of a threat to most people than other issues, as in the case of Ebola or the Flu, as Sternheimer wrote in a recent post. One of those is much more likely to affect more people—and kill more people—and it’s not the first disease mentioned. Sociologists explore how and why fears are manufactured, as well as who benefits from the construction of fears, particularly fears of things that are unlikely to harm most people.
With a title like Kung Fu Sociology you are probably wondering what this post is about. Here are some possibilities to consider:
- The contributions of sociologists from Asia and the Far East
- An analysis of the sociological dimensions of martial arts training
- A sociological review of the Kung Fu Panda movies
- A reflection of a quote from a recently deceased French sociologist
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