13 posts from January 2012

January 30, 2012

Marketing Health

imageBy Sally Raskoff

Have you seen the ads for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil? It is designed to prevent genital warts and cervical cancer caused by some types of HPV and is recommended for both females and males ages nine through twenty-six.

clip_image002I’ve been fascinated by the marketing and public discourse about this product since it first came out. When it was first developed, marketing it to parents as an anti-sexually transmitted disease (STD) vaccine was a tough sell. Parents don’t often want to think of the future sexual lives of their daughters. The ad campaign quickly became an anti-cancer message rather than one related to the future sexual activity of the child. Now we seem to be back to focusing on the sexually transmitted disease rather than just the cancer issue.

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January 26, 2012

Technology and Cultural Lag

clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

A few months ago I heard the following on a talk radio program. A boy and his family from a rural area travelled a great distance for the boy to have surgery. (I have long forgotten the nature of the surgery.) This meant that the family had to stay in a hotel to be with their son, and so apart from the emotional toll there was a significant financial cost for them beyond the direct medical expenses.

The surgery went well and the family returned home. What struck me about the story was the post surgery follow-up. The boy’s father was able to take pictures with a cell phone and send them to the doctor to make sure that his son’s incision was healing as it should. Given how much most of take and email pictures this is somewhat mundane—except for the fact that this technology was being employed in the medical area for a ”checkup.”

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January 23, 2012

Cars and Class

ksternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

As I recently wrote, cars can teach us about symbolic interactionism, a micro sociological way of thinking about how we construct meaning through interactions with others. Cars also reflect macro sociological issues, particularly in the way buying and owning a car both reflects and helps produce someone’s economic reality.

Yes, many of us often try and project a particular economic status with our car. Driving a luxury automobile, whether we can afford to or not, is a way to create an image of affluence and make a statement about who we are to others. This is a micro sociological phenomenon. How we actually purchase the car reflects larger issues of social structure.

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January 19, 2012

Gender, Power, The Real Housewives and The Help

imageBy Sally Raskoff

clip_image002The time has come to admit that I watch some of the “Real Housewives” shows, most recently, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. These shows are fascinating from a sociological perspective. 

Ostensibly, these are real people living their lives in front of the cameras, although footage is edited and crafted to be “good TV.” Recent episodes depict the trials and tribulations of wealthy women in Beverly Hills as Adrienne and Lisa balance their work lives with their personal lives, Kim and Kyle deal with sisterly issues, Camille and Brandi work through being newly single, and Taylor struggles with marital issues and (alleged) domestic abuse.

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January 17, 2012

Everyday Sociology Talk: Brian Powell on Defining Families


Karen Sternheimer interviews Brian Powell, author of Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family.

For more videos, visit http://www.youtube.com/nortonsoc

January 16, 2012

Market Citizenship and Occupying Personhood

image By Stephanie J. Nawyn

Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology, Michigan State University

As I watch the events of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement unfold and learn about the various responses to it, I am struck by the larger picture that many commentators have overlooked. Many critics of the movement, when they aren’t deriding the protestors for having no clear objectives or direction, claim that the protestors are driven by a sense of entitlement, or are “looking for handouts,” and should get a job and work hard like the rest of us.

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January 13, 2012

The Lone Star State: Symbols, Place, and Identity


clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

Do you know where this picture of the Christmas tree was snapped? Hint: look at its ornaments; they’re all stars. And look at the building in the background…no, this is not Washington, D.C. The correct answer is Austin, Texas.

As I traveled to, and around a few cities in Texas during the holidays, I was struck by the fact that I was in Texas! Unlike some other American cities which might be substituted one for another, it is hard to forget where you are when in the so-called Lone Star State. There are quite a few emblems that appear practically everywhere.

Continue reading "The Lone Star State: Symbols, Place, and Identity" »

January 12, 2012

A Durkheimian Christmas

clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

As I set off to the mall a couple nights before Christmas, I was thinking about how I might apply sociological concepts to holiday rituals. My husband had just introduced my Mum to Festivus (you know, "for the rest of us") from the TV show Seinfeld. She had never seen that episode and because my husband sounded fairly convincing, she had no way of knowing that Festivus does not include washing cars, watering the garden or opening a gift - all of the things we had done earlier in the day.

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January 09, 2012

Sociological New Year's Resolutions

Peter_Kaufman_Bio_PicBy Peter Kaufman

The earth has just finished another trip around the sun and for many people that meant celebrations, fireworks, and New Year’s resolutions.

clip_image001New Year’s resolutions are good examples of rituals—social customs or practices that members of a group participate in to symbolize a shared value. The majority of New Year’s resolutions consist of promises we make to ourselves for self improvement. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions include: drink less alcohol, get a better education, get a better job, get fit, lose weight, manage debt, manage stress, quit smoking, save money, take a trip.

Continue reading "Sociological New Year's Resolutions" »

January 05, 2012

Everyday Sociology Talk: Robert Sampson on Communities and Crises


Robert Sampson, author of Great American City, discusses how crises impact communities differently with Karen Sternheimer.

For more videos, see www.youtube.com/nortonsoc

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