7 posts from April 2020

April 29, 2020

What's that I Feel? Role Strain!

author photoBy Jennell Paris

Professor of Anthropology, Messiah College

Most of the time I feel fairly comfortable in the roles that correspond with my social statuses. I know what to do, as a daughter, or a church member, or a U.S. citizen.

As a professor these days, I'm feeling something unpleasant. I can't find the right word for it: overwhelmed, verklempt, disoriented, stumped? Whatever it is, it's not good. The word I'm after is not a mental health term like depression or anxiety. It's sociological: role strain, when the expectations or duties of a role become overwhelming or confused.

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April 27, 2020

Stay at Home and Formal Social Control

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The COVID-19 crisis has led to an unprecedented experience for many people around the world: formal orders to stay at home and the closure of businesses deemed non-essential. The closure of businesses has created an economic crisis too, as more than 25 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits between mid-March and mid-April.

Protesters have held rallies to end these orders, arguing, among other things, that the orders are an overreach of government and that their individual rights are being taken away. This post is not about whether the stay at home orders or the protesters are right or wrong—it is about reactions to formal social control.

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April 20, 2020

I Miss People

Jennell Paris author photoBy Jenell Paris

Professor of Anthropology, Messiah College

Editor’s note: Many of us are going through a similar transition as the author describes below. What can we learn about the importance of social interaction through this experience? Is it similar to or different from yours? How might situations like the one we are experiencing now create more family conflict? How might social isolation impact older adults and those who live alone differently?

“Stay Home.” I am, and I will. I thought I knew what I was in for -- kids off school for a good while and my college classes shifted online. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I’d miss people, including the ones I don’t like, and the ones I don’t even know. This became clear as soon as I started spending day after day with my cats.

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April 09, 2020

Fear, Race and the “Yellow Peril”

Myron strong author photoBy Myron Strong

As the globe grapples with COVID-19, violent attacks on Asians and Asian Americans continue to climb. There are continuing horror stories coming from the United States, Europe, and Australia: stories of people irrationally screaming profanities, telling them to go back to China and news reports of Asian and Asian Americans violently attacked. As a matter of fact, NBC news reported that there were over 650 racist attacks against Asian Americans last week alone.

The anti-Asian racism demonstrates how history can inform our understanding and interpretation of the outbreak in China. The messages attached to the COVID-19 virus have a history.

Continue reading "Fear, Race and the “Yellow Peril”" »

April 08, 2020

Boy Rides Dog and Other Impacts of COVID-19

author photoBy Janis Prince Inniss

A boy of about seven years stood with one foot on each side of a little dog and slowly sat on him for about five seconds. The dog does not seem to have been injured from his stint as a pony, probably because the child is relatively light and because this pose was only held for a short time.

Stunning as this sight was, I guess such are the pastimes of bored children as week one of being at home came to an end. I saw this scene from what I refer to as my sociology window: It’s a window in the front of my home, facing the street—about 10 feet from the sidewalk—with nothing obstructing my view of all that occurs on either side on most of the block.

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April 06, 2020

Race, Class, and “Hybrid” Masculinities

Jessica poling author photoBy Jessica Poling

In 1995, gender theorist R.W. Connell wrote her seminal book, Masculinities. In this book, Connell expands our understanding of gender by focusing on gender relations (rather than roles) with a specific focus on masculinity. Connell argues that rather than a universal quality among men, masculinity refers to a practice with the goal of embodying the dominant, male position in the gender hierarchy. In this perspective, masculinity is not an innate quality of men but rather a practice that aims to achieve some hierarchical relationship in reference to the female “other.”

Moreover, Connell argues that a multitude of masculinities exist, but that they are not all the same. While masculinity is always defined in opposition to the feminine, not all masculinities occupy a dominant position. Connell refers to the dominant masculinity as “hegemonic masculinity,” borrowing Gramsci’s original term which described how social groups claim power through dominant ideologies in addition to politics and economics.

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April 01, 2020

Ideology and the Grocery Store

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

In recent weeks, grocery shortages have been common around the country as people stock up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have had a hard time finding staples like garlic, potatoes, and dry beans at my usual local grocery store. What can the concept of ideology teach us about the run on food and paper products?

Ideology is a system of beliefs that appear normal and natural to a particular group. Rather than a fancy way of saying “idea,” ideology is a grouping of ideas that seem unquestionable and are often taken for granted. These systems of beliefs that we live within often seem to be “human nature” and beyond the need to think about critically.

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