8 posts from May 2011

May 26, 2011

Sociological License Plates

todd_S_2010aBy Todd Schoepflinimage

I have a strange hobby. I take pictures of license plates that I find interesting. You’d probably call them personalized license plates, but I call them sociological license plates. What’s so personal about a license plate that you want everybody to see? A specialized license plate is kind of like a tattoo on your car. In my view, people customize license plates to communicate something about themselves. In that sense, I consider such license plates to be form of impression management.

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May 23, 2011

Social Problems and Anomic Suicide

KS_2010aBy Karen Sternheimer

You have probably heard news reports about the mother who drove into the Hudson river, tragically killing herself and three of her children. People speculated that her actions were caused by distress over relationship problems she had been having with her boyfriend.

We often think of suicide as primarily the result of an individual’s struggle with depression and other personal problems. Rarely do we consider some of the sociological factors that contribute to changes in suicide rates.

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May 19, 2011

Writing Sociology Papers: How Not to Plagiarize

new janisBy Janis Prince Inniss

This is the time of the semester when lots of papers are due. Are you working on one right now or about to finally get started? What’s your plan for turning in your paper on time? Will you simply copy all or most of it from some source? Of course, that is plagiarism, and if you’re my student, at a minimum you will receive an F. (Learn more about plagiarism here.)

As I wrote in a previous post, I had my first experience of a student plagiarizing when I was a teaching assistant. That was a long time ago, before so many of us had computers. Today, the availability of information on the internet makes plagiarism a matter of copy and paste; you may not even need to type the words you’re stealing.

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May 16, 2011

When Killing Isn't Murder

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

When is the intentional death of a person not considered murder? Does it have to do with the identity of those involved? Does it have to do with the number of people involved? Or something else?

When the death of Osama Bin Laden hit the news media, the thing that most got my attention was the range of reactions to this event. From the individuals involved in the situation to the reporters sharing the story and people across the country, reactions differed greatly.

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May 12, 2011

"Reality" TV, Stereotypes, and Teen Parenthood

clip_image002By Kim Cochran Kiesewetter

Instructor, Sandhills Community College

I think most people would agree that there is little to nothing “real” about reality television… which is why we enjoy is so immensely. Millionaire Matchmaker? I may or may not have subjected my poor spouse to more than one episode of that particular show’s highly uplifting material. When it comes to “reality” TV though, no one wants to watch the every day exciting-ness of most of our lives and producers of these shows are well-aware of that fact. They choose subjects that ensure that the people involved are sure to bring drama, suspense, and emotion to boot. It brings in the ratings!

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May 09, 2011

Micro Meets Macro: Walking in Your Community

KS_2010aBy Karen Sternheimer

One of the first lessons of sociology is recognizing the difference between micro and macro level phenomena. (Micro refers to small-scale, individual or small group interactions, while macro refers to large scale processes).

But how the two overlap and intersect is equally as important. Walking is a great way to understand the relationship between micro and macro level phenomena.

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May 05, 2011

Sneakers as Status Symbols

new janisBy Janis Prince Inniss

I’m in the market for new sneakers--not because the ones I have are worn out but because they’re dirty. And nobody wears dirty sneakers in my world. Do they in yours? (On whom do you see old or dirty sneakers? What does that tell you?)

Sneakers used to be…well, just shoes. Today kicks are so closely associated with hip-hop that there are at least 20 hip-hops songs associated with sneakers. (I only thought of Nelly’s “Air Force Ones” and Run DMC’s “My Adidas”.) Now sneakers are status symbols for a vast variety of the population—not only hip-hop performers and those who love that music. Once reserved for sports, sneakers are standard for casual wear and are paired by many in otherwise formal attire. But they’re all so clean! Many of them are gleaming white, in whole or in part. Matching every outfit of their owners. I don’t have several pairs, but I always own one pair for gym-going. Lately, I’ve been thinking that my gym footwear is just not up to par. And why is this the case?

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May 02, 2011

Heterosexual Norms and Friendship

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

Have you ever wondered if men and women can be “just friends”?

I started thinking about this the other day when I heard some people talking about these issues. When a woman and a man forge a friendship, especially if one or the other is already in a committed relationship with another person, why do some people think it’s weird?

The people I heard discussing a married friend were very distrustful of the ability of the friend to maintain her marriage to one man and her friendship with another. While they might have more relevant information than I do about their friend’s past commitment history, I will volunteer a sociological reason for their suspicion.

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