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May 20, 2024

Structural Mobility and the American Dream: Push and Pull Factors

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

You are probably familiar with the concept of the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone who works hard in the United States has the chance to experience upward mobility. What factors make this more or less possible?

First, some history (which I write about in my book Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility). The phrase “American Dream” was first used—ironically enough—during the Great Depression, when the dream was largely out of reach for most Americans (more on this in a moment).

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April 29, 2024

From “Fist-Pumps” to Fatherhood: The Evolution of Masculinity on “Jersey Shore” and “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation”

Monica-Radu Professional Headshot-2024By Monica Radu

In the world of reality television, few shows have captured the evolution of masculinity quite like "Jersey Shore" (2009-2012) and its 10-years-later counterpart, "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation" (2018-present). What began as a whirlwind of partying, drama, and stereotypical displays of masculinity has since transformed into a nuanced portrayal of manhood, showcasing growth, maturity, and emotional depth among the male cast members. This transformation also reflects shifts in cultural attitudes towards masculinity, as viewers witness the cast members navigating changing societal expectations and redefining what it means to be a man in contemporary culture.

The original version of "Jersey Shore" was notorious for its portrayal of toxic masculinity, with male cast members engaging in behaviors characterized by aggression, dominance, and hypersexuality. Toxic masculinity refers to a set of socially constructed attitudes, behaviors, and norms associated with traditional masculinity that are harmful to both men and society. These norms often emphasize qualities such as dominance, aggression, and the devaluation of traits traditionally associated with femininity. Toxic masculinity perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes and expectations about how men “should” behave, leading to behaviors that can be harmful to themselves and others, such as violence and the repression of emotions. It also contributes to the marginalization of individuals who do not conform to traditional gendered expectations.

Continue reading "From “Fist-Pumps” to Fatherhood: The Evolution of Masculinity on “Jersey Shore” and “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation”" »

April 22, 2024

Jail and Prison Education Programs

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

In sociology, we read a lot about the criminal justice system, deviance, and policing. We also learn about education, the hidden curriculum, tracking, and similar topics. It’s a challenge to talk about the interconnections between the criminal justice and education systems in our Introduction to Sociology classes.

There has been some good research on policing in schools—what some call the school-to-prison pipeline. Aaron Kupchik’s Homeroom Securityfor example, focused his work on “school resource officers” as a failed policy on preventing or limiting student crime, while increasing the chances that students will enter the criminal justice system. Yet we still need to expand opportunities for education for incarcerated citizens.

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April 15, 2024

Animals and Inequality

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

When our cat was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, our vet very gently let us know that one option would be not to offer further treatment besides palliative care to keep her comfortable. She acknowledged that if her cancer could be treated, that it would be costly, and that there would be no shame if it was not an option for us.

This came as a shock, considering a week before this conversation we thought we had a perfectly healthy 11-year-old cat. As it turns out, the type of cancer she has is aggressive but treatable, and we requested a referral to a veterinary oncologist. During this consultation, the oncologist carefully detailed that the cancer wasn’t curable but could be treated, and laid out the costs of providing such treatment. She also let us know that if the cost of treatment was out of reach, or if we decided we couldn’t or didn’t want to proceed, that was a perfectly reasonable option.

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April 08, 2024

The Changing Status of Phone Calls

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I recently disconnected my landline. I feel the need to explain why I had a landline for so long: when I first moved to my home,  cell reception was unreliable in my location. I also had the same phone number for nearly 20 years, so it seemed like keeping a landline made sense for a while.

In recent years, cell towers were installed on my street and the landline became more of a nuisance, mostly used by robo-callers and scammers, until I set it to only ring if a number from an approved list was calling. When the phone would ring throughout the house, it became jarring, even intrusive. So, when the price doubled for the landline, it was time to cut the cord.

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April 01, 2024

Challenging Stereotypes in Unscripted Love Tales: A Reality Check through Symbolic Interactionism

Monica-Radu Professional Headshot-2024By Dr. Monica Radu, Associate Professor of Sociology Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work, & Sociology, Southeast Missouri State University, [email protected]

The rise of reality TV has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences worldwide, including sociologists (like myself) who find themselves drawn to the intriguing social dynamics portrayed on these shows. So, what's the fuss all about? Why do sociologists, in particular, enjoy the reality TV craze?

Many reality shows serve as unintentional social experiments, placing individuals in unfamiliar and often challenging situations. Sociologists are keen to study how participants navigate these scenarios, unraveling insights into human decision-making, adaptation to change, and the impact of external pressures on behavior.

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March 25, 2024

How the Moynihan Report Birthed Parental Engagement Policy in Schools

Alyssa Lyons author photoBy Alyssa Lyons

While parental engagement has become a popular buzzword in political circles in recent years, the language of “parental involvement” didn’t appear in U.S. federal educational policy until 1965 with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Not without coincidence, this was the same year that academic and social scientist Daniel Patrick Moynihan published the Moynihan Report: The Negro Family, the Case for National Action. An incendiary racist, classist, homophobic, and sexist document, the Moynihan Report claimed that racial inequalities in wealth and education between Blacks and whites were the result of a broken and fractured Black family structure where Black matriarchs managed the household. Moynihan further suggested that establishing a stable Black family structure was central in alleviating poverty and inequalities.

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