217 posts categorized "Theory"

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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March 23, 2020

Together, Alone in the COVID-19 Pandemic

author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Yesterday I sat on my porch with my family, listening to the across-the-street neighbors sing Yiddish folk songs on their porch. With an accordion and fiddle, they nodded and smiled to people passing by, but no one stopped. We exchanged some waves and the kids yelled out occasionally. We were together in the moment, but also on our own, alone. It’s been a strange few weeks.

While our Everyday Sociology Blog comrades have all been tapping away at different aspects of how the COVID-19 has shaken the structure of our society, I would like to spend a little time on the facet of distancing in this moment.

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February 17, 2020

Theories and Hypotheses

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

What’s the difference is between a theory and a hypothesis? Which one is absolutely necessary for research, while the other is common, but not a requirement?

I’ll give you a hint: if you are a sociology major, you might have to take a class called Sociological Theory. You probably don’t have to take a class called Sociological Hypothesis (if you do, I’d like to hear more about it in the comments below, because I have never heard of such a class before).

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January 26, 2020

Lizzo and Sociocultural Constructions of the Body

author photoBy Angelique Harris

Anyone listening to the radio or pop or hip-hop streaming stations lately certainly were aware that 2019 was the summer of rapper, singer, songwriter, and flutist, Lizzo. Born Melissa Vivianne Jefferson in the late 1980s, Lizzo had been writing and producing music for several years before her music began topping the charts over the past year.

One of the key aspects of Lizzo’s work is the focus on acceptance and diversity. Her songs promote confidence (“Truth Hurts”) while celebrating race (“My Skin”) and diverse bodies (“Tempo”). For many, her frank and open discussion of her body, sexuality, and her overall musical abilities has led her to have an immense following. Her fans, dubbed “Lizzbians” include former Malcom in the Middle actor, Frankie Muniz, who tweeted a request to Lizzo, asking her to make him her “purse.”

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January 13, 2020

The Social Life of Physical Fitness

author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

I’m not what you would call a health nut. I only started going to the gym after I threw out my back. To be honest, I mostly hate it. I need to have Netflix on my phone (which is why a disproportionate number of my posts are about Netflix shows), have a few other televisions on ESPN, CNN, and HGTV above the mirrors, and a room full of people to watch. It’s then, and only then, that I can press the awareness of physical exercise out of my mind and run a few miles. Blah.

But it seems like most folks really like that kind of thing. If you think of health is a big deal right now, you’d be right. According to Forbes, the fitness industry is a $30 billion business—growing at an annual rate of 3-4% since 2010. If hashtags are a more meaningful metric for you, how about this: the Harvard Business Review, asking “How Did Self Care Become So Much Work?” noted that the hashtag #selfcare exploded on Instagram between mid-2018 to mid-2019, from 5 to 17 million posts.

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December 02, 2019

Jokes and Scripts

By Jonathan Wynn

author photoWho doesn’t like a joke? Here’s one:

Campus Adviser: What class are you having the most difficulty with?

Sociology Student: The bourgeoisie!

Ok, I can hear your groans. I like jokes. There are probably only a few sociology jokes—I found the this one on reddit—but is there a sociology of jokes?

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November 27, 2019

Millennials, Social Capital, and Decision Making

Jessica polingBy Jessica Poling

Sociology Ph.D. student, Rutgers University

In his landmark book, Distinction, Pierre Bourdieu laid out a framework that characterized social stratification as the unequal distribution of “capital” among members of a given society. Bourdieu broadly defines capital as accumulated labor that can be found in material objects (such as valuable household items), embodied within individuals (such as unique knowledge or a skill that one might possess), or institutionalized. Bourdieu argues that it is by possessing capital that individuals gain social status; however, there is a limited quantity of capital within a social sphere, consequently motivating individuals to hoard capital to gain an advantage over others.

Capital is found in three forms: economic, cultural, and social. Whereas economic capital is that which can easily be converted into money, cultural capital includes accumulated knowledge, behaviors, or skills that demonstrate cultural competency. Finally, and of interest to this post, social capital encompasses realized or potential resources connected to one’s social network.

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April 29, 2019

Connecting the Dots: Linking Theory with Research

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

As I wrote about previously, one of the main things to consider when making sure that your research topic is sociological is its connection with sociological theory. How does your study—or idea for a study—reflect or inform a theoretical perspective within the discipline?

First, let’s remind ourselves about what the difference is between a hypothesis and a theory. A hypothesis is a specific, testable “educated guess” about the relationship between two or more variables, while a theory is a system of ideas, often based on previous studies.

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April 22, 2019

The Sociology Everyone Knows: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

This month Yale economics professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller posited that the next recession could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. As I read about it, thought about how common a term it is. You, perhaps, have used this term in your everyday lives but haven’t realized that it’s a sociological term in origin. (Unless you read this Everyday Sociology blog post from almost ten years ago!)

According to Robert K. Merton, the self-fulfilling prophecy is a “false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.” The subject of an article by Robert K. Merton, he builds on the “Thomas Theorem” (coined by W.I. and Dorothy Swaine Thomas): when a situation is defined as real, it is real in its consequences. The self-fulfilling prophecy is when a prediction is stated, no matter how incorrect, the resultant series of actions will be what he calls, brilliantly, a “reign of error.” He then states that everything that happens can be used ex post facto, as proof of the initial incorrect prediction.

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