447 posts categorized "Social Problems, Politics, and Social Change"

October 18, 2021

Climate Change, Work and the Economy

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

One of the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more people are now working from home, some permanently. While the initial purpose of working from home was to avoid the spread of infection, it also may have some environmental benefits too.

At my university, there is a big push towards sustainability and there is now even a Chief Sustainability Officer working with the president. In addition to liquidating fossil fuel investments, the university has been encouraging alternative means of transportation and telecommuting when possible. So far this semester, aside from in-person classes, all of my meetings have been video conferences, and the decision of several people in leadership positions has been to keep this going even after the threat of COVID-19 ends. This has saved me hours of Los Angeles’s infamous traffic.

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September 27, 2021

Pizza and Neighborhood Change

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

There are many unforgettable aspects of my first week as a college student. Number one by far: my first slice of St. Mark’s Pizza, located at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Mark’s Place in lower Manhattan.

Surely you’ve heard about the uniqueness of New York-style pizza: huge slices, thin crust, and in the case of St. Mark’s, lots of cheese. As a student, I would get a slice from St. Mark’s almost once a week. At the time it was relatively cheap—maybe $2?—and so satisfying when money was tight.

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September 06, 2021

Eating in Everyday Life

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

My 13-year-old has suddenly stopped eating meat. This came as a surprise to my wife and me, considering his voracious appetite and penchant for eating a variety of meats. It wasn’t long ago he was eager to participate in the chicken sandwich wars, comparing offerings from popular fast-food establishments. We live in Buffalo, which I consider a meat-centric place. After all, this is home of the chicken wing, and lesser-known meat treats that Western New Yorkers are proud to be associated with, like beef on weck sandwiches. Many a fund raiser in our region rely on chicken dinners sold in the parking lots of churches, schools, and fire halls.

My wife and I both come from meat and potato families. In my childhood, dinner was usually comprised of meat, a starch, and a vegetable. I remember eating pork chops, chicken, beef tacos, steak, and subs with cold cuts. My mom’s family is Italian. Our family Sunday dinners were pasta with meatballs and sausage. My kids have grown up eating breaded chicken cutlets that my dad makes, and my mom’s meatballs. Growing up Catholic, meat was only something to avoid only on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. What family traditions have shaped the way you eat? What religious customs can you think of that influence how people eat?

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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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July 19, 2021

Who is Afraid of CRT?

Myron strong

By Myron Strong

Sociologists Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons recently wrote article for the Brookings Institution noting that the term “critical race theory” (CRT) has been mentioned 1,300 times in less than four months on Fox News. They attribute this to critical race theory becoming a new boogie man for people unwilling to acknowledge our country’s racist history and how it impacts the present.

This boogie man is getting bigger in some of the media and state governments who spread misinformation and propaganda. This plays on the fears of many whites who have not been given the tools to process change, and lack the proper understanding of the historical context for the circumstances of people of color.

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July 05, 2021

Emerging From the COVID Cocoon

Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

Should I sit inside or pool side? Wear a mask or not? Hug people? Fist bump? Elbow bump? These are some of the questions I am mulling more than a week before attending a Fourth of July party. This is a significant event because it marks my return to visiting friends since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

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June 07, 2021

The Power of Religion: Christian Nationalism and Trump Support

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos, Sociology Doctoral Student, Rutgers University

Religion has always captivated sociologists. Émile Durkheim, who is often credited with being one of the “founders” of sociology, wrote extensively about religion in his 1912 book Elementary Forms of Religious Life in which he aimed to explain the role of religion in society. Writing from a functionalist perspective, Durkheim posited that religion served an important function.

Religion, he argued, serves the purpose of producing societal cohesion and expressing our “collective consciousness,” or our shared beliefs and ideas as a group. As such, societal participation in religion can have significant impacts on both social and individual life outcomes.

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May 26, 2021

Child Poverty: Past, Present, and Future

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Children in the U.S. have been more likely to be in poverty than any other age group since 1973. Before this time, those 65 and older experienced far higher rates of poverty than they do now. Today Americans aged 65 and older are the least likely to live below the poverty line, although their rates were similar to 18-64-year-olds in 2019 (the most recent year for which data are available).

Poverty rates by age

Source: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/visualizations/2020/demo/p60-270/Figure11.pdf

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May 03, 2021

John Fetterman, Working Class Hero?

Todd Schoepflin Colby King author photoBy Todd Schoepflin & Colby King

John Fetterman is currently the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, and before that served as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, from 2005 to 2019. He is running for a Pennsylvania senate seat in 2022. His website describes him as “a different kind of Democrat,” one who “doesn’t look like a typical politician.” In media outlets, much is made of his size (he’s 6'8") and his tattoos (dates of homicides in Braddock when he was mayor are tattooed on his right arm). For example, one article about Fetterman is titled “Unconventional in his size and rise”. He’s twice appeared on The Colbert Report, been profiled in GQ, and had his clothing style analyzed in an article about the politics of workwear. His home (once an indoor Chevy car dealership) has received attention, and his family life has also been in the spotlight.

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