311 posts categorized "Popular Culture and Consumption"

June 17, 2024

Rural Living and the Decluttering Movement

Michelle janning author photo Michelle janning author photoBy Michelle Janning, Professor of Sociology and co-designer of Human-Centered Design at Whitman College, and Elena Harris, professional declutterer based in Walla Walla, Washington

Does living in a rural area impact someone’s likelihood to declutter a home? Or even their desire to do so? The short answer is yes, and people have already written thoughtfully about this.

The longer—and more sociologically interesting—answer requires diving into ways that rural living may not fit into the typical categories of experiences related to how people deal with household stuff. And it also requires thinking about how a universal approach to decluttering can be limiting. In other words, it is useful to think about how decluttering is not just a project for an individual household; it calls to mind patterns that show differences between large groups of people. Decluttering is thus sociologically interesting.

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April 29, 2024

From “Fist-Pumps” to Fatherhood: The Evolution of Masculinity on “Jersey Shore” and “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation”

Monica-Radu Professional Headshot-2024By Monica Radu

In the world of reality television, few shows have captured the evolution of masculinity quite like "Jersey Shore" (2009-2012) and its 10-years-later counterpart, "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation" (2018-present). What began as a whirlwind of partying, drama, and stereotypical displays of masculinity has since transformed into a nuanced portrayal of manhood, showcasing growth, maturity, and emotional depth among the male cast members. This transformation also reflects shifts in cultural attitudes towards masculinity, as viewers witness the cast members navigating changing societal expectations and redefining what it means to be a man in contemporary culture.

The original version of "Jersey Shore" was notorious for its portrayal of toxic masculinity, with male cast members engaging in behaviors characterized by aggression, dominance, and hypersexuality. Toxic masculinity refers to a set of socially constructed attitudes, behaviors, and norms associated with traditional masculinity that are harmful to both men and society. These norms often emphasize qualities such as dominance, aggression, and the devaluation of traits traditionally associated with femininity. Toxic masculinity perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes and expectations about how men “should” behave, leading to behaviors that can be harmful to themselves and others, such as violence and the repression of emotions. It also contributes to the marginalization of individuals who do not conform to traditional gendered expectations.

Continue reading "From “Fist-Pumps” to Fatherhood: The Evolution of Masculinity on “Jersey Shore” and “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation”" »

April 08, 2024

The Changing Status of Phone Calls

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I recently disconnected my landline. I feel the need to explain why I had a landline for so long: when I first moved to my home,  cell reception was unreliable in my location. I also had the same phone number for nearly 20 years, so it seemed like keeping a landline made sense for a while.

In recent years, cell towers were installed on my street and the landline became more of a nuisance, mostly used by robo-callers and scammers, until I set it to only ring if a number from an approved list was calling. When the phone would ring throughout the house, it became jarring, even intrusive. So, when the price doubled for the landline, it was time to cut the cord.

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April 01, 2024

Challenging Stereotypes in Unscripted Love Tales: A Reality Check through Symbolic Interactionism

Monica-Radu Professional Headshot-2024By Dr. Monica Radu, Associate Professor of Sociology Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work, & Sociology, Southeast Missouri State University, [email protected]

The rise of reality TV has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences worldwide, including sociologists (like myself) who find themselves drawn to the intriguing social dynamics portrayed on these shows. So, what's the fuss all about? Why do sociologists, in particular, enjoy the reality TV craze?

Many reality shows serve as unintentional social experiments, placing individuals in unfamiliar and often challenging situations. Sociologists are keen to study how participants navigate these scenarios, unraveling insights into human decision-making, adaptation to change, and the impact of external pressures on behavior.

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March 14, 2024

"Fast Car" and Country Music

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Perhaps the highlight of the 2024 Grammys was Luke Combs’ duet with famously limelight-averse Tracy Chapman, singing Chapman’s “Fast Car.” While I had been pondering this song for over a year, it took the Grammy performance to really get a sense of what was going on here, especially with Beyoncé’s new songs promising to spark new controversy over what “country music” should be.

Combs’ version of the song is likely the one that most college-aged Everyday Sociology Blog readers know, but when most of your older professors (like me) were of a similar age, Chapman’s song was a big deal. These days, most hit songs come and go but, in 1988, the song was in heavy rotation. It was on the radio; it was in the mall.

Continue reading ""Fast Car" and Country Music" »

March 04, 2024

Sharing Popular Culture: From Syndication to Streaming

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Although I grew up in the era before streaming video was possible, let alone the dominant way that most consumers and I now watch content. (We used to call it “watching television” or “watching TV,” but that’s not always the device of choice to watch video now.) Canceling our cable was freeing a few years ago, and we realized that between YouTube and PBS Passport we were all set (we’ve had Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ over the years too). This appeals to my minimalist sensibility.

I was a child when cable television became widely available in the 1980s, and I had to convince my parents to subscribe after most of my friends’ families already had. My siblings and I had to pay for the installation and do extra chores as part of the agreement to subscribe. I think they wanted to be sure we wouldn’t spent too much time sitting in front of the TV.

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December 04, 2023

There are No Heroes Here: Killers of the Flower Moon and the Treatment of Indigenous Peoples

Rob Eschmann author photoBy Rob Eschmann, Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University

[email protected]

This post contains spoilers for the 2023 film, Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon is as good as you expect it to be, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring spectacular performances from Robert De Niro as Bill “King” Hale, Leonardo DiCaprio as Hale’s easily influenced nephew Ernest Burkhart, and Lily Gladstone as Molly Burkhart, a beleaguered yet resolute Osage woman married to Ernest. Even the story behind the film is inspiring, as Scorsese worked with the Osage Tribe leadership, employed over one hundred Osage as extras, and was intentional about avoiding the Hollywood trope of Indigenous folks in trouble, White man to the rescue.

But don’t expect to like this film. Expect unease. For three and a half uncomfortable hours my heart broke for the Osage community as I held my breath, waiting for some respite, for the calvary to show up and save the day.

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October 16, 2023

Writing an Op-ed: Lessons in Public Sociology

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

I have a book coming out in a few weeks on hospitals and their communities. One of my co-authors and I are hoping to write an op-ed that will bring some of the knowledge from the book (particularly the policies recommendations we are making) to the wider public. Sociology should always be looking for ways to reach a wider audience, and do more public sociology.  

When aiming to write an op-ed, one of the things that authors will look for a “news peg.” These are very recent events in the news that a writer can use to make a wider point about some political or social issue. When the Fyre Festival debacle occurred, for example, I was able to co-author an op-ed about the financial risks and rewards for small bands to participate in music festivals. In my local paper, when a recent controversy arose about the renovation of my small town downtown strip, I was able to write about Jane Jacobs’ more pedestrian-focused approach to urban planning.

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September 18, 2023

The Irony of Tiny Houses: Commoditizing Rebellion

Thumbnail_AliceHSBy Alice Wilson, PhD Student, University of York (UK)

Capitalism is amazingly good at devouring the things that would seek to challenge it, then packaging that same thing up and selling it back to people through its own market tendrils. It is somewhat of a superpower.

Tiny houses are one of the more recent examples of this. (I did a TEDx talk about people's motivations for living in a tiny house and what your life might be like if you lived in one.)

A tiny house is a compact living space, often ranging from 100 to 400 square feet, designed to provide all the essentials for daily living. These homes, which can be stationary or mobile (like those on trailer foundations), prioritize minimalism and efficient use of space. They've gained popularity as a response to rising housing costs and a desire for simpler living and reduced environmental footprints.

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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.

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