423 posts categorized "Karen Sternheimer"

January 29, 2024

Gender, Sexuality, and Social Exclusion

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Recently politicians have continued attempts to police gender and sexuality through the passage of laws that seek to exclude and punish. It is important to consider why the attention to other people’s gender and sexual practices are part of public and political discourses, and why some people are the target of social exclusion.

For context: while laws attempting to limit transgender rights have dominated the last decade, criminalizing same-sex relationships is not by any means new, although new laws have been passed around the world in the past few years. Human Rights Watch maintains a list of criminal codes outlawing same-sex relations around the world dating back to the nineteenth century. Many laws criminalizing LGBTQ people were passed in the middle of the twentieth century. Why?

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December 15, 2023

Beyond Deviance 101: The Problem with Norms

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

You might have learned a very basic, easy to remember definition of deviance: that deviance is the violation of a social norm. A norm is a shared expectation of how people should behave; but this definition of deviance is very limited.

I ask my students to forget this definition. Here’s why:

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October 30, 2023

Place Matters: Inequality and Geography

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

The history of the places we live matters. From the infrastructure that provides access to roads, water, sewer systems, and utilities, often built long before we live someplace, to things like nearby schools and hospitals, where we live is a window into our life chances.

In their recently published book, The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America, Kathryn J. Edin, H. Luke Shaefer, and Timothy Nelson examine the factors that lead to “deep disadvantage.” They define this as having an income of less than half of the poverty rate, health disadvantages, and limited opportunities for children (p. 4). These spaces are mostly rural, and often overlap with places of enslavement in the past (p. 10). Throughout their book, they explore the link between past injustices and the lack of opportunities in the present.

Continue reading "Place Matters: Inequality and Geography" »

October 09, 2023

The Mouth of Privilege

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Like many people, I’m not typically excited to go to the dentist, but I appreciate having the ability to do so, especially after reading Mary Otto’s book Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.

The book provides in-depth reporting on the tragic death of Deamonte Driver, a twelve-year-old boy who died after an infection in his tooth spread to his brain. Otto documents how despite the attempts of his mother to get he and his siblings dental care, their lack of private dental insurance and status as Medicaid recipients, created an inability to receive regular dental care.

Continue reading "The Mouth of Privilege" »

September 11, 2023

Co-opting Friends and Feminism on Social Media: Multi-Level Marketing

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

While I’m only an occasional user of social media, a few years ago I noticed that an acquaintance began posting much more frequently, often self-helpy posts encouraging people to seize the day, believe in themselves, and generally live their “best lives.”

Nothing wrong with positivity, I thought, but the shift was abrupt. “We’ve got this, ladies!” and TGIM! (Thank God it’s Monday) became regular slogans, along with a lot more personal (over)sharing—multiple times a day—from someone who had previously been only an occasional poster.

Continue reading "Co-opting Friends and Feminism on Social Media: Multi-Level Marketing" »

September 04, 2023

Public Transportation and Global Citizenship

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

In addition to travel itself, I enjoy travel planning. One of the first things that I usually do is figure out when to go, how to get there, and how to get around once I am there.

When planning my most recent trip to Germany and Austria, I was excited to get what I thought was a great deal on a rental car, which would amount to about $20 a day. After reading so much about rental car shortages while making plans, I was particularly excited about this, and moved on to figure out lodging for the trip, about 9 months in the future.

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August 28, 2023

Cash Only: Culture, Convenience, and Inequality

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I recently had an embarrassing tourist experience. While on a hike in the Bavarian Alps, we had a choice of how to exit the trail: through a popular gorge, which would take about 90 minutes with a fee of 6 euros per person, or through an alternate route, which would add an additional 2 hours to the hike.

We had already been hiking about 6 hours and were tired. Let’s go through the gorge, I said, knowing that we might not have the 12 euros in cash, but we had credit cards. Surely, they would work as a last resort in such a situation.

Continue reading "Cash Only: Culture, Convenience, and Inequality" »

August 23, 2023

Monetizing the Natural World, 2023 Edition

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Last year, I wrote about popular attractions in the French and Swiss Alps, focusing on how the privatization of nature makes ultra-scenic spots all but off limits for those without the means to pay to enjoy them.

I was back again this year, this time in Germany and Austria for more Alpine hiking and sight-seeing. And while not as slickly marketed as in Chamonix, France, or the Jungfrau region of Switzerland, I observed other ways in which the natural world was monetized.

Continue reading "Monetizing the Natural World, 2023 Edition" »

August 14, 2023

Selling Old Towns: Consumption and Hyperreality

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I’m a sucker for an old town when I’m traveling, and based on the crowds I regularly find on these visits, I am not alone.

Old towns hold out the promise of a walk into history and a chance to see something that we seldom get to see in our daily lives. They feel like they represent the most “authentic” aspect of a place, one that might distill the essence of what it means to visit this locale. In contrast to the mundane, everyday nature of most places, old towns seem like they offer something special.

Continue reading "Selling Old Towns: Consumption and Hyperreality" »

August 08, 2023

Beer, Identity, and Place

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I recently visited what is arguably the beer capital of the world, Munich, Germany. I’m not a beer drinker, even casually, but the cultural meanings people create surrounding beer interest me. Through many ads and signs, it was clear that part of what beer makers advertise is its connection to a particular place.

First, a brief history: Munich, called München in German, literally translates to “Monks” in English. Augustinian Monks brewed beer at least as far back as the fourteenth century, as the alcohol made safer to drink than water. Claims that the first brewery was near Munich help solidify the historical connection, and of course Oktoberfest, a two-week long festival each fall that celebrates beer (among other things) continues the tradition.

Continue reading "Beer, Identity, and Place" »

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