6 posts from December 2012

December 24, 2012

Shopping and Crowds

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

I like crowds. I remember feeling emotionally overcome as part of the group when I was in the front row at a Radiohead concert in Madison Square Garden or at the greatest comeback in NFL history. Being caught up in the moment, succumbing to the mass and losing a sense of one’s own individualism was something sociologist Emile Durkheim called collective effervescence: the emotional energy binding a group and a person. He was more interested in religious rituals, but I thought of this concept when watching this YouTube video of frenzied shoppers on Black Friday:

Continue reading "Shopping and Crowds" »

December 18, 2012

Sports Heroes

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

 The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. You’ve probably heard this saying if you ever played or watched sports. I’ve been thinking of this phrase a lot lately as I follow the rapid downfall of Lance Armstrong. As most people know the seven-time winner of the Tour de France and creator of the Livestrong Foundation was found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career. As a result, he was stripped of his Tour victories, dropped by a number of sponsors such as Nike, compelled to sever all ties with Liverstrong, and even had an honorary degree he received rescinded from Tufts University.

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December 13, 2012

Primary and Secondary Groups in the Internet Age

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

I recently received an email from a student, asking me to email him PDF files of book chapters (I’m not sure which book, but maybe he wasn’t either) on several sociological topics ASAP. What made this request especially unusual is that this wasn’t my student; in fact, I had no idea who he was. Presumably he found my email address online and thought perhaps I would take the time to violate copyright laws and scan book chapters out of the kindness of my heart.

How many messages do you get from strangers? And how might your interactions differ with people based on whether you have met them or not…or other important contexts?

Continue reading "Primary and Secondary Groups in the Internet Age" »

December 10, 2012

Ecological Fallacies

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

 I’m one of those people who still reads the print newspaper. Actually, I read three of them, and am periodically aware of how they present the same news story in such different ways.  Sometimes it takes looking at a variety of different sources to see how the presentation of a new research study can be misleading thanks to word choice or conclusions that the reporter draws that the study itself actually does not make.

For instance, when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) they had some fascinating findings on abortion rate trends.

The CDC noted that “Compared with 2008, the total number and rate of reported abortions for 2009 decreased 5 percent, representing the largest single year decrease for the entire period of analysis,” and … “From 2000 to 2009, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 6 percent, 7 percent, and 8 percent, respectively, to the lowest levels for 2000–2009.”

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December 06, 2012

Sociology and Your Grades

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

My office hours have been getting busy as students get the results from midterms and term papers. People who seldom come to class suddenly appear at my door, as do highly motivated students who want to make sure they can get an A. Several sociological concepts can help us understand why grades matter on a number of levels.

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December 03, 2012


Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

Have you noticed that almost everything these days is reviewed and rated? No matter what goods or services you use it is likely that it will be judged by other consumers on some 4 or 5 star rating system or with a simple thumbs up and thumbs down. Thumbs

For example, this morning at the sound of my watch alarm I took my head off my pillow, pushed my body off my mattress, stepped onto the bedroom carpet, and opened the blinds to let in the morning sunlight. I walked into the bathroom to shower using my daily facial wash, soap, and shampoo. I dried off with a towel while the ceiling fan in the bathroom pulled the moisture out of the air. I got dressed in my typical fashion: underwear (don’t worry, that’s not a picture of me wearing them), socks, pants, shirt, and shoes. For breakfast I used a small pot to cook my oatmeal, poured a glass of orange juice, and got some filtered water for tea.  After breakfast I cleaned my teeth using my toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash, I put my books in my backpack, grabbed my water bottle and went off to work. You get the idea!

Continue reading "Overrated " »

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