6 posts from August 2021

August 30, 2021

“The Right Look”: Emotional and Aesthetic Labor in Ballet

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos

It is no secret that jobs are not what they used to be. While Karl Marx’s disturbing depiction of alienated and lifeless factory workers in the mid nineteenth century may still ring true to some, our working conditions have arguably only gotten worse. The so-called “gig economy,” in which steady jobs are replaced with task-based independent contract work, has taken a strong hold in our society. Corporations like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart are making immense profits by hiring only independent contract workers (rather than employees), who are ineligible for benefits and exempt from minimum wage requirements – no matter how many hours these independent contractors actually work. Their argument, of course, is that limiting independent contract work would decrease flexibility and jeopardize the quirks of modernity we all hold near and dear – like ride sharing or food delivery .  

As our economy has expanded and morphed, so has scholars’ understanding of what “labor” actually means. In 1983, Arlie Hochschild famously published The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling in which she details the advent of “emotional labor” in the growing service economy. According to Hochschild, emotional labor is the work we do (usually daily, on the job) to “induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others” (20).

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August 16, 2021

Biography and History Intersecting: Thinking Critically about Individualism

Author photo

By Karen Sternheimer

In his book The Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills described the importance of historical events as shaping individuals’ lives. This is not just to say that historical events influence our personalities or preferences, but that sociology calls upon us to consider the interplay between our seemingly private lives and the world around us. The self cannot exist apart from society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to think about the connection between the self and society, as clashes over mask mandates, shutdowns, and vaccinations highlight the tensions between individualism and the larger society that we are part of.

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August 12, 2021

Place Matters: Learning from South Central Dreams

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Who we are is shaped by the places we live, and we in turn shape these places. This is one of the resounding messages in a new book by my colleagues, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo and Manuel Pastor, South Central Dreams: Finding Home and Building Community in South LA.

When many people hear the phrase “South Central LA” they may think they know a lot about the area, even if they have never been to Los Angeles. Movies like Colors (1988), Boyz n the Hood (1991), and Menace II Society (1993) brought the collection of neighborhoods known as “South Central” to national attention, painting the area as a bleak landscape of gangs, violence, and mayhem.

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August 09, 2021

A Role Model for Humanizing the Practice of Medicine: My Love Letter to Dr. Nema

Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

Last October, I took my 90-year-old mother to her doctor's office for the seasonal flu shot. That shot is not given by the doctor, of course, but he came into the patient room to see her with great excitement! She was thrilled to see him, and there was no mistaking her grin beneath her mask. Dr. Nema (a pseudonym) told Mum how good she looked, complimented my pants, and when he saw my Saint Leo University mask, told me about some family members attending school there. Then, he invited my mother and me to return to the office the next month to have a physically distanced lunch with him.

Does this interaction with a physician seem typical to you? Do you have interactions like this with your doctor? How does this interaction square with what doctors are taught? Is Dr. Nema following prescribed physician-patient norms? Most of you, like me, find Dr. Nema’s behavior unusual among physicians regarding these questions. However, as a recipient of this style of practicing medicine, I can vouch for the benefits that this kind of behavior from a doctor can mean to a patient and the patient's family!

Continue reading "A Role Model for Humanizing the Practice of Medicine: My Love Letter to Dr. Nema" »

August 05, 2021

Unconventional Combat: Exploring Intersectionality through the Study of Military Veterans

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

When you picture a military veteran, what image comes to mind? A buff young man? An older man wearing his weathered uniform?

Michael Messner’s new book, Unconventional Combat: Intersectional Action in the Veterans’ Peace Movement, gives us insights into the lives of veterans who may not neatly fit into the public image of what a vet “looks like.” In this follow-up to his 2018 book Guys Like Me, Messner shares the often-hidden experiences of veterans: women, those who identify as gender fluid, persons of color, including Native Americans, and LGBTQ+ people, including two-spirit individuals.

These categories, of course, are not mutually exclusive, which is the main point of the book: people’s identities are intersectional, which shapes the way they navigate their relationships with institutions (such as the military) and organizations (like those formed as part of the veteran’s peace movement).

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August 02, 2021

Asian American Hate: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Gender

Myron strongBy Myron Strong

More than a year ago in my post, "Fear, Race, and the Yellow Peril," I explored many of the historical aspects of anti-Asian hate. Racialization of COVID-19 served as a catalyst for the increase of violence that has manifested in mass shootings, violent attacks, shunning, civil rights violations, verbal, and online attacks.

Equally disturbing are that most of the attacks have been directed toward women. This brings to mind dangerous stereotypes noted in the article “From Exotic to Invisible: Asian American Womens' Experiences of Discrimination,” where authors Shruti Mukkamala and Karen Suyemoto explore the consequences of the many stereotypes associated with Asian women. The authors note that Asian women are seen as docile and subservient, overly sensual or erotic ("The Geisha"), the manipulative and untrustworthy "Dragon Lady," or the hardworking, conscientious worker bee.

Continue reading "Asian American Hate: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Gender" »

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