The Society Pages: All Blogs http://thesocietypages.org/ RSS feed for all blogs on The Society Pages en-us Copyright 2007-2014 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ A Reluctant Defense of Sunscreen for Men http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/5cBlucKssoE/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/5cBlucKssoE/ Tue, 29 Jul 2014 09:00:46 CDT Lisa Wade, PhD at Sociological Images Lotion is socially constructed as feminine and so some men, attempting to avoid the prevailing insults of our time – gay, fag, bitch, pussy, douche, girl, and woman – are disinclined to use it. Eeeew, lotion! You know who you are, guys. Sunscreen is a category of lotion and so putting on sunscreen is equivalent to admitting you’re the sun’s bitch.  Men […] Lotion is socially constructed as feminine and so some men, attempting to avoid the prevailing insults of our time – gay, fag, bitch, pussy, douche, girl, and woman – are disinclined to use it.

Eeeew, lotion!

You know who you are, guys.

Sunscreen is a category of lotion and so putting on sunscreen is equivalent to admitting you’re the sun’s bitch.  Men are supposed to let the sun bake their face into a tough, craggy masculinity that says “yeah, I go outdoors and, when I do, I don’t give a shit.”

Because caring about one’s health is for pussies, some scholars argue that being male is the single strongest predictor of whether a person will take health risks.  In fact, thanks in part to the stupid idea that lotion carries girl cooties, men are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer.

So, fine dudes, here’s some sunscreen for men.  For christ’s sake.

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Thanks to @r0setayl0r and @ryesilverman for sending along the product!  Check it out on our truly humorous pointlessly gendered products Pinterest board.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Nice Work: What’s all the fuss? Pissed off people on consumerism, sex, and sexism http://thesocietypages.org/girlwpen/2014/07/28/whats-all-the-fuss-pissed-off-people-talk-about-consumerism-sex-and-sexism/ http://thesocietypages.org/girlwpen/2014/07/28/whats-all-the-fuss-pissed-off-people-talk-about-consumerism-sex-and-sexism/ Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:12:05 CDT Virginia Rutter at Girl w/ Pen It is weird. The evidence from psychology, sociology, economics, neuroscience and history point in the same direction: there’s just not much to the claims of a war between love and lust or that equality in relationships—or even housework—damages sexual desire. Such clarity begs the question, why all the hype and misinformation about sexual disappointments in […] It is weird. The evidence from psychology, sociology, economics, neuroscience and history point in the same direction: there’s just not much to the claims of a war between love and lust or that equality in relationships—or even housework—damages sexual desire. Such clarity begs the question, why all the hype and misinformation about sexual disappointments in marriage or committed relationships?

Anxiety about how we are doing sexually is not new! But still creepy after all these years. (1926 Ad from WikiCommons)

Anxiety about how we are doing sexually is not new! But still creepy after all these years. (1926 Ad from WikiCommons)

There’s a quick, cynical answer, and I heard it from most people I spoke to when writing my recent article in Psychology Today on Love and Lust. The sex hype is instrumental in fueling anxiety with “How I’m doing?” “What’s wrong with me?” “Am I keeping up with the Jones’s?”

Why do we keep seeing these claims that long-term relationships mean you aren’t having the “best possible sex”? I discussed this with Vanderbilt University sex researcher Laura Carpenter: She speculated, “Is it some version of late modern capitalism gone crazy? Think about it: We are not good capitalists or good consumers anymore if we are committed to our car, house, brand of yogurt, clothes, shoes—and in a culture all about consumerism and desire—why would you not extend that idea—have that expectation about relationships and sex?” Carpenter continued, “We don’t know what normal is. We really don’t–even if merely in statistical sense, much less in the sense of what is good for you or what people desire.”

Who cares what normal is? People hate the imposition of “normal”—but it definitely absorbs attention. When it is in the air they notice it and respond to it. It is irritating to the mind, the heart, the ego.

One (non-sociologist) friend I talked to—a straight married guy with three kids–rolled his eyes about the recent series of sex-can’t-last-in-marriage articles. “Part of the premise is that ‘happiness’ is a never-ending quest for peak experiences–sexually and romantically. Our society conditions us to believe we can achieve and maintain a state of bliss, to have a peak marriage and a peak sexual relationship for decades. That isn’t the way it is, and if that’s how you set your expectations for a relationship then you’re guaranteed to be disappointed. There are valleys and plateaus, and they are based on other things in your life—career, children.”

A D.C. colleague I met during her busy work day—it started early because it was her day to drive her kids to school—was just pissed off by the claim that career couples don’t have sex. That’s not her normal. “You might be fighting or upset or low, for us it has nothing to do with what’s happening in our sex life. I find that is much safer, there’s no keeping score. Some people would say that’s so unemotional—but I think that is what makes it fun!”

The even more cynical answer—given that stories about disappointments with married sex focus on women’s sexual desire or on women’s careers—is that it fuels anxiety about “what’s wrong with women?” It works like a dog whistle: an argument using code that, in this case, signals that women just can’t get have it all—but they are on the hook for it.

One economist pondered, “Are articles like this a way of telling women ‘don’t expect too much from your husband; settle for what you can get; if you’re accommodating and don’t push on the chores you’ll get rewarded’?” She was making reference in particular to coverage of the ASR study on egalitarianism and housework–you know, the study where sexual frequency was associated with whether the housework you did was gender normative. My PT article takes a few steps to putting the ASR study into perspective–including useful comments from study co-author Julie Brines. But here’s how the dog whistle works: the study doesn’t say that couples have lower sexual satisfaction depending on housework, just a tiny bit of difference on sexual frequency. There is no disappointment. Well, that is sort of not true. I’ve been disappointed that we are still talking about this.

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Weekly Roundup: July 28, 2014 http://thesocietypages.org/editors/2014/07/28/ru072814/ http://thesocietypages.org/editors/2014/07/28/ru072814/ Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:03:49 CDT Letta Page at The Editors' Desk Umm, you guys? Did you know July’s almost over? That’s… that’s too much to think about, really. So let’s talk about soc, baby. Features: “Of Carbon and Cash,” by Erin Hoekstra. Could reparations for environmental damage flow as easily as pollution from the Global North to the Global South? Office Hours: “Chad Lavin on Eating Anxiety,” […] RU072814Umm, you guys? Did you know July’s almost over? That’s… that’s too much to think about, really. So let’s talk about soc, baby.

Features:

Of Carbon and Cash,” by Erin Hoekstra. Could reparations for environmental damage flow as easily as pollution from the Global North to the Global South?

Office Hours:

Chad Lavin on Eating Anxiety,” with Matt Gunther. On the politics of our food choices.

There’s Research on That!

When Child Migrants Weren’t an Unwelcome Problem,” by Lisa Gulya and Stephen Suh. While politicians are busy blaming each other (slash coming up with conspiracy theories) for a recent influx of minor immigrants, research shows times when the U.S. has happily welcomed such kids.

The Editors’ Desk:

Feminist Reflections,” by Chris Uggen. Welcoming our latest Community Page!

Citings & Sightings:

The Overblown Myth of the Boomerang Generation,” by Amy August. Did the Baby Boomers birth a Boomerang Generation? Not really, says Rick Settersten.

Marriage or the Baby Carriage,” by Andrew Wiebe. Andrew Cherlin takes a look at the connections between education levels and parenthood choices.

Scholars Strategy Network:

In Dealing with Iran, the Best Option for Israel Is to Strike First—Diplomatically,” by Steven Weber. Make love not war! Or maybe just extend an olive branch? You don’t have to make out or anything. Unless you want to.

Council on Contemporary Families:

Red States, Blue States, and Divorce: Understanding the Impact of Conservative Protestantism on Regional Variation in Divorce Rates,” by Stephanie Coontz. Adding to findings from the American Journal of Sociology, Coontz looks at why divorce rates are higher in religiously conservative “red states.”

A Few From the Community Pages:

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Cuteness Inspired Aggression is Widespread http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/so5JEwAD7Fk/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/so5JEwAD7Fk/ Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:00:10 CDT Lisa Wade, PhD at Sociological Images Don’t you want to pinch it and squeeze it and bite its little face off!? You’re not alone. Rebecca Dyer and Oriana Aragon, graduate students in psychology, brought subjects into a lab, handed them a fresh sheet of bubble wrap, and exposed them to cute, funny, and neutral pictures of animals.  Those who saw the cute […] Don’t you want to pinch it and squeeze it and bite its little face off!?

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You’re not alone.

Rebecca Dyer and Oriana Aragon, graduate students in psychology, brought subjects into a lab, handed them a fresh sheet of bubble wrap, and exposed them to cute, funny, and neutral pictures of animals.  Those who saw the cute ones popped significantly more bubbles than the others.

Cute things make us aggressive!  It’s why we say things like: “I just wanna eat you up!” and why we have to restrain ourselves from giving our pets an uncomfortably tight hug.

Which one do you want to hurt the most!?

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An aggressive response to cuteness, it appears, it “completely normal.”

The authors suggest that humans non-consciously balance extreme emotions with one from the other side of the spectrum to try to maintain some control and balance.  This, Aragon explains at her website, may be why we cry when we’re really happy and laugh at funerals.

In the meantime, if this makes you want to inflict some serious squishing, know that you’re in good company.

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All pictures from Cute Overload.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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The Overblown Myth of the Boomerang Generation http://thesocietypages.org/citings/2014/07/28/the-overblown-myth-of-the-boomerang-generation/ http://thesocietypages.org/citings/2014/07/28/the-overblown-myth-of-the-boomerang-generation/ Mon, 28 Jul 2014 08:00:59 CDT Amy August at Citings and Sightings Isn’t it ironic that “much of our ‘independence,’ where it exists, is made possible by supports and resources that have been provided by others”? In an interview with the Washington Post, Oregon State’s Richard A. Settersten, Jr. calls attention to one important instance of this irony: the rigid tie between the “independence” of young people and leaving […] 2545236708_64df4bbdcc_o

They don’t come back as often as you think. Photo by Paleontour via Flickr.

Isn’t it ironic that “much of our ‘independence,’ where it exists, is made possible by supports and resources that have been provided by others”? In an interview with the Washington Post, Oregon State’s Richard A. Settersten, Jr. calls attention to one important instance of this irony: the rigid tie between the “independence” of young people and leaving the home. For Settersten, Jr., common (and paranoid) misunderstandings about “permanent” and “alarming” generational trends in living at home are problematic not simply because they are inaccurate, but because they point to a misguided ideal of “independence.”

To clarify how patterns in young adult living arrangements have varied over time, he notes:

This isn’t new. If we look back over the last century, we can see that the rush out of the parental home was a post-World War II phenomenon, and proportions have been growing since 1970…. What’s remarkable about the early adult years today is not that young people live with parents but that they live without a spouse…. Marriage and parenting now culminate the process of becoming adult rather than start it.

Settersten, Jr. also clarifies who chooses to live at home and why. He indicates that men of every age group are more likely to live with parents, mentioning their higher rates of dropping out of school, unemployment, and a higher average age of marriage as possible reasons why. Individuals of disadvantaged groups also tend to live at home at greater rates—possibly because they are more likely to live in high-cost metropolitan areas or because young people in their culture are expected to contribute to family resources. Moreover, according to Settersten, Jr.,

For many families, living at home is a strategic choice that permits young adults to attend or reduce the cost of higher education, take internships, or create a nest egg. (It may also be necessary for paying down student loans.) For them, it’s not about being locked out of the labor market, but about building a more secure economic future.

So before tossing aside the “boomerang generation” as dependent “failures to launch,” consider how peculiar it is “that we expect young people to somehow strive for complete independence when those of us who are no longer young realize that adult life is heavily conditioned by relationships with other people.” Settersten, Jr. has a point.

To learn how this notion of independence is affecting older adults, check out Stacy Torres’s article on Families as They Really Are.

For a different take on the role of the economy in millenials’ living arrangements, see this article by Lisa Wade.

If you’re a teacher, here’s a great lesson by Kia Heise to start a class conversation about living alone as a ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood.

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Red States, Blue States, and Divorce: Understanding the Impact of Conservative Protestantism on Regional Variation in Divorce Rates http://thesocietypages.org/ccf/2014/07/28/divorce-rates-variation/ http://thesocietypages.org/ccf/2014/07/28/divorce-rates-variation/ Mon, 28 Jul 2014 02:30:13 CDT Stephanie Coontz at Council on Contemporary Families Update on Research from Jennifer Glass Why are divorce rates higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states? After all, most conservatives frown upon divorce, and religious commitment is believed to strengthen marriage, not erode it. Even so, religiously conservative states Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third […] Update on Research from Jennifer Glass

Why are divorce rates higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states? After all, most conservatives frown upon divorce, and religious commitment is believed to strengthen marriage, not erode it. Even so, religiously conservative states Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates in the U.S., at 13 per 1000 people per year while New Jersey and Massachusetts, more liberal states, are two of the lowest at 6 and 7 per 1000 people per year.

Evangelicals and divorce. For a study earlier this year in the American Journal of Sociology (abstract only), Demographers Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Philip Levchak at the University of Iowa looked at the entire map of the United States, going county by county, to examine where divorces occurred in 2000 and what the characteristics of those counties were. Their work confirms that one of the strongest factors predicting divorce rates (per 1000 married couples) is the concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in that county.

DivorceFinalPrevious discussions of this puzzling paradox have focused on three alternative explanations.

Is it poverty? Some scholars argue that it has nothing to do with religious beliefs and practices, but reflects the fact that conservative religious groups are most concentrated in rural and Southern counties, which tend to have lower wages than the national average and higher rates of poverty. And research does show that such conditions do raise the risk of divorce. Yet even controlling for income and region, divorce rates tend to be especially high in areas where conservative religious groups are prominent.

Is it higher rates of marriage overall? Others believe that the higher divorce rates among religious conservatives are due to their endorsement of marriage as a good thing in and of itself and their disapproval of cohabitation as a replacement. This means that some unstable or troubled couples go ahead and marry who might simply cohabit if they lived in counties with less religious disapproval. Since cohabitations often dissolve relatively quickly but do not show up in divorce statistics, some scholars suggest that marriage in conservative religious communities is less selective of strong relationships. But in Glass and Levchak’s study, the link did not hold up. So even though conservative Protestants are much less likely to cohabit, this didn’t make a difference. There was no evidence that cohabiting would have “weeded out” the less promising unions

Is it just regional culture in religiously conservative Southern states? A third explanation offered before is that the dominance of religious conservatives in the South reflects a regional culture that also promotes relatively high rates of interpersonal violence – factors that destabilize marriage. But while high rates of violent crime do increase divorce rates, Glass and Levchak found that a careful analysis of variations nationally reveals that this explains none of the association between religious conservatism and divorce.

New answers: early marriage and low income among religious conservatives are part of the story. Unpacking these variations, Glass and Levchak found that the high divorce rate among conservative religious groups is indeed explained in large part by the earlier ages at first marriage and first birth, and the lower educational attainment and lower incomes of conservative Protestant youth. The high divorce rate among conservative religious groups is indeed explained in large part by the earlier ages at first marriage and first birth.

Explains Glass, “Restricting sexual activity to marriage and encouraging large families seem to make young people start families earlier in life, even though that may not be best for the long-term survival of those marriages.” In an earlier report to the Council on Contemporary Families, economist Evelyn Lehrer from University of Illinois at Chicago explained that every year a women postpones marriage, right up until her early 30s, lowers her chance of an eventual divorce.

But people who live in conservative religious counties have a higher risk of divorce even when they are not affiliated with a conservative religious group. There is more to the story, the researchers found, than individuals’ own conservative religious beliefs and background, although these factors do predict the likelihood of experiencing divorce. It turns out that people who simply live in counties with high proportions of religious conservatives are also more likely to divorce than their counterparts elsewhere.

Photo by Dan Bluestein via Flickr CC

Photo by Dan Bluestein via Flickr CC

Young people of every religious belief—or none—are influenced by cultural climate. Glass and Levchak believe that this comes from living in a cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support from schools or community institutions for young people to get more education and postpone marriage and children. Abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control and abortion, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of secular education (especially higher education) among the populace in religiously conservative counties work to create an environment where young people of every religious belief – or none – tend not to pursue higher education or job training, and instead to engage in early marriage and child-bearing.

What else do we know? Council on Contemporary Families senior fellows Philip Cowan and Carolyn Cowan’s research has shown that marriages started with unplanned pregnancies are at higher risk of divorce. And Lehrer’s earlier CCF report shows that delaying marriage helps to reduce risk of divorce.

Note: A version of this article was posted at www.contemporaryfamilies.org January 16, 2014.

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Marriage, divorce, remarriage, age, education (Coontz tabs edition) http://thesocietypages.org/families/2014/07/27/marriage-divorce-remarriage-age-education-coontz-tabs-edition/ http://thesocietypages.org/families/2014/07/27/marriage-divorce-remarriage-age-education-coontz-tabs-edition/ Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:24:56 CDT Philip Cohen at Families as They Really Are Stephanie Coontz has an excellent Op-Ed on the front of today’s New York Times Sunday Review, which draws out the implications for family instability of the connection between increasing gender equality on the one hand, and increasing economic inequality and insecurity on the other. The new instability is disproportionately concentrated among the population with less than a college degree. To […] Stephanie Coontz has an excellent Op-Ed on the front of today’s New York Times Sunday Review, which draws out the implications for family instability of the connection between increasing gender equality on the one hand, and increasing economic inequality and insecurity on the other. The new instability is disproportionately concentrated among the population with less than a college degree.

To help with her research, I gave Stephanie the figure below, but it didn’t make the final cut. This shows the marriage history of men and women by education and age. She wrote:

According to the sociologist Philip N. Cohen, among 40-somethings with at least a bachelor’s degree, as of 2012, 63 percent of men and 59 percent of women were in their first marriage, compared to just 43 percent of men and 42 percent of women without a bachelor’s degree.

I highlighted those numbers in the figure. Also striking is the higher percentage of divorced people among those with less than a BA degree (and higher widowhood rates). Click to enlarge:

age marriage history

Cross-posted on the Family Inequality blog.

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Sunday Fun: Confirmation Bias for Everyone! http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/Rdnv3DKTgPo/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/Rdnv3DKTgPo/ Sun, 27 Jul 2014 09:00:27 CDT Lisa Wade, PhD at Sociological Images By David Malki at Wondermark.  H/t to @annettecboehm. Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. 1By David Malki at Wondermark.  H/t to @annettecboehm.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Politics, Ruin, and Digital Space http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/26/politics-ruin-and-digital-space/ http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/26/politics-ruin-and-digital-space/ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 20:48:03 CDT Sarah Wanenchak at Cyborgology Although it was about two years ago that I wrote the post that sparked my own interest in ruined and abandoned spaces, it’s something to which, you might have noticed, I periodically return. Back in April I wrote a couple of posts that followed up and expanded on some of the ideas I had been […] image by Forsaken Fotos

image by Forsaken Fotos

Although it was about two years ago that I wrote the post that sparked my own interest in ruined and abandoned spaces, it’s something to which, you might have noticed, I periodically return.

Back in April I wrote a couple of posts that followed up and expanded on some of the ideas I had been toying with since then. Among other things, which interests me most these days about abandoned and ruined spaces is how we can understand these processes affecting the digital as well as the physical. In the latter linked post I posed some questions that I thought provided some useful goals for future thinking and writing; I still haven’t answered those questions to my satisfaction, but I do have one more than I want to add, and it’s a big one. It’s big enough that I’m a little embarrassed that it took this long to occur to me.

So let’s step back for a sec.

One of the major criticisms of ruin photography – especially photography that focuses on the ruin of urban areas – is that it captures and decontextualizes visual fragments of complex social history and presents them as an aesthetic for the privileged to enjoy: the “porn” in “ruin porn”. This social history is a tangle of race and class – among many other things – and when we look at the ruins of inner city Detroit, we’re looking at the results of viciously racist development and real estate practices, and the utter breakdown (or the natural result) of contemporary capitalism.

But many of the people looking at these things don’t have to see that. We’re visual tourists. We – people like me – don’t live there. We have our pictures and then we go back to our lives.

Aside from making a note of this problem toward the end of my original piece, I mostly left it alone. I recognized it as important, but it didn’t capture my interest so much as the questions of representation and temporality/atemporality that I was tackling, and since then I haven’t gone back to it at all, in part because it struck me as a conversation to which I didn’t have much to add.

But a few days ago, thanks to a link from my husband, I ended up at a page featuring a horrifying – and, yes, eerily beautiful – series of photographs of Forest Haven, a now-ruined “training school” in Laurel, Maryland (quite close to where I live) that was built to house people with various physical and cognitive disabilities. What happened there is what happened almost everywhere – and what still happens all the time – to institutions like it: it became a dumping ground for people no one cared about, who often had no advocates and frequently no way to protect themselves against abuse. Literally hundreds of people died there, of neglect and worse, before it was finally closed in 1991.

I should say that one of the things I appreciated about the photos was that the person who compiled them accompanied them with tremendous amounts of context. Rather than looking at them as mere aesthetic, I was able to view them as a historical record. These were people’s lives, and the loss of them. They were real.

Forest Haven is abandoned, though it was in ruin long before the last patient was removed. But that site led me to another, also local in focus, a short photo essay on New York Avenue Northeast in DC. What it recognized – and again, I appreciate it endlessly – is that these ruined spaces are not necessarily abandoned. And the reasons for that are intensely political.

When we look at ruined places, abandoned places, we’re always looking at politics, and the kinds of politics depend on a number of different variables. A place that is ruined but not abandoned implies some very disturbing things. A place that is completely abandoned but somehow not ruined suggests the unexpected. Time isn’t the only thing that twists back on itself.

In my last post on abandonment and ruin, I was dealing with digital ruin rather than physical. Among other things, I noted:

We need clear differentiations between abandonment and ruin. Abandonment – given how certain kinds of abandoned digital space can work – does not necessarily imply ruin but simply that no one is doing anything to it anymore. Abandoned digital space can be in a state of ruin but is not always. Whereas abandoned physical spaces are pretty much in a state of ruin by definition, unless they are extremely recently abandoned. However, physical spaces in a state of ruin are not always abandoned…Physical spaces are also ruined via a process that can take years, whereas the ruin of digital space can be nearly instantaneous. So we’re dealing with much greater complexity – and therefore much greater diversity of experience of a space-time – than simple ruin and abandonment.

So here’s my question: If the ruin and/or abandonment of physical space has inherent political significance, how can we use politics to approach abandoned and/or ruined digital space? Can we learn anything about the political processes at work in the construction of communal digital space, of individual sites, of fan sites, corporate sites, MMORPGS, social media, and their corresponding destruction and disuse? If we can assume that politics plays a role here in some respect, what can politics – and in particular social power – tell us?

And yes, I think we can assume that. If our lives are augmented by digital technology, if our selves – as many of the authors here have argued repeatedly – are the result of complex interactions between all these different digital parts of us, then politics must be at work here. Digital spaces are sites for resistance, for collective action, for identity play, for creation; often, for marginalized people, they represent a kind of freedom and community that was previously unattainable. And the code – as many of us have also noted – is never neutral.

If we need to understand the processes by these spaces come into being through a political lens, it stands to reason that we would need to understand their destruction – functionally or structurally – in the same way.

I should be clear: I’m not arguing that these processes are the same in digital space as in physical space. As usual, I also want to be clear about the fact that I’m very uncomfortable with sharp distinctions being drawn between these kinds of “space” at all. I’m simply arguing that they’re worth paying attention to.

How to make conceptual use of this, I don’t yet know. Sorry. In the meantime – as before – I think there’s a tremendous amount of work still to be done.

 

Sarah occupies political space on Twitter – @dynamicsymmetry

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Saturday Stat: World’s Top Military Spender http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/HkplcRJIUPQ/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/HkplcRJIUPQ/ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 09:00:57 CDT Martin Hart-Landsberg, PhD at Sociological Images According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, the United States remains the world’s top military spender. In fact, U.S. military spending equals the combined military spending of the next ten countries.  And most of those are U.S. allies. Although declining in real terms, the U.S. military budget remains substantial and a huge drain on our public […] According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, the United States remains the world’s top military spender. In fact, U.S. military spending equals the combined military spending of the next ten countries.  And most of those are U.S. allies.

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Although declining in real terms, the U.S. military budget remains substantial and a huge drain on our public resources.  As the following chart shows, military spending absorbs 57% of our federal discretionary budget.

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 Notice that many so-called non-military discretionary budget categories also include military related spending. For example: Veteran’s Benefits, International Affairs, Energy and the Environment, and Science.   We certainly seem focused on a certain kind of security.

Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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The Quantified DJ Set: Work Hard, Play Hard http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/25/the-quantified-dj-set-work-hard-play-hard/ http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/25/the-quantified-dj-set-work-hard-play-hard/ Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:00:39 CDT robinjames at Cyborgology     DJs need to know how to mix records, sure, but even the best mixer will tank if they don’t know how to read a crowd. You have to know what kinds of songs keep your crowd dancing, and what kinds of songs send them to the bar or the bathroom. Usually this involves […] Click here to view the embedded video.

 

 

DJs need to know how to mix records, sure, but even the best mixer will tank if they don’t know how to read a crowd. You have to know what kinds of songs keep your crowd dancing, and what kinds of songs send them to the bar or the bathroom. Usually this involves a combination of prior knowledge (of the venue, of who you’re opening for, the night’s theme, etc.) and actual observation of the crowd–do they look and sound like they’re into it?

Lightwave is a platform that uses WiFi enabled wristbands to track and transmit biometric data–their temperature, heartrate, and the volume of sound they hear–from individual crowdmembers to a program that analyzes and visualizes that data. Lightwave visualizes audience responses to…well, that’s one of the questions I have here: what experience is it visualizing? Is it the DJ performance? The clubbing itself? Both? It seems absolutely incorrect to say that Lightwave visualizes audience responses to music. Clubbling is a social and interactive experience, and music is just one factor in the mix, so to speak. When you’re dancing, you’re responding to other people around you, to the overall ‘vibe’ of the crowd–this is what makes it more fun than dancing to the same records alone at your house.

And the Lightwave crew seems to recognize the fundamental sociality or interactivity of clubbing. At their SXSW party this year, Lightwave used the devices to gamify the DJ set. As the video in this Fast Company article shows, the crowd was instructed that “your actions will unlock the show.” The crowd had to work to “unlock” achievements like drinks or moments of musical pleasure (i.e., drops). So, though Lightwave could theoretically be used by DJs help them do their job of reading a crowd, this sounds a lot like I, the clubgoer, now have to work for my own leisure, leisure that I’ve already paid for (in terms of cover, clothes, drinks and/or drugs). That is, Lightwave outsources the work of the DJ to the dancers.

The visualization of the data Lightwave collected at the A-Trak set is really interesting. It’s broken down by gender (pink and blue)–men and women seem to respond differently to the music–women reacted more intensely to to Tommy Trash’s Fuckwind, and men to A-trak’s remix of “Heads Will Roll.” But the crowd as a whole–represented on the grayscale bar–responded most intensely to moments of interaction, either with other clubbers or with the DJ. This begs the question: does Lightwave use biometric data to monetize interactivity in a way that parallels the way social media monetizes interaction? Does Lightwave transform the medium of music into a “social” medium (at least insofar as it brings music in line with the political economy of social media)?

 

Robin is on twitter as @doctaj.

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NEW SCHOOL UNIFORMS THIS FALL FOR OUR MAJORS http://thesocietypages.org/monte/2014/07/24/new-school-uniforms-this-fall-for-all-our-majors/ http://thesocietypages.org/monte/2014/07/24/new-school-uniforms-this-fall-for-all-our-majors/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:09:48 CDT monte at A Backstage Sociologist social science t-shirts (1)

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Happy Birthday, Sociological Images! http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/TKeWqGQ9UgM/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/TKeWqGQ9UgM/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:48:55 CDT Lisa Wade, PhD at Sociological Images We’re 7 years old today!  To celebrate, here’s a picture of seven capybaras. Thanks to everyone who has visited over the last seven years!  This is our 5,226th post and I can hardly believe it.  Ready to charge on for another! Here are some highlights from the last year. The blog never ceases to surprise! Volunteers put […] We’re 7 years old today!  To celebrate, here’s a picture of seven capybaras.

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Thanks to everyone who has visited over the last seven years!  This is our 5,226th post and I can hardly believe it.  Ready to charge on for another!

Here are some highlights from the last year. The blog never ceases to surprise!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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In Dealing with Iran, the Best Option for Israel is to Strike First—Diplomatically http://thesocietypages.org/ssn/2014/07/24/iran-israel-diplomatically/ http://thesocietypages.org/ssn/2014/07/24/iran-israel-diplomatically/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:42:43 CDT Steven Weber at Scholars Strategy Network Searching for a solution to curb Iran’s nuclear military ambitions, the United States is leading international negotiations likely to come to a head before long. As these discussions have proceeded, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken almost every opportunity to express consternation over the possibility of any agreement enshrining a nuclear détente between the […] Searching for a solution to curb Iran’s nuclear military ambitions, the United States is leading international negotiations likely to come to a head before long. As these discussions have proceeded, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken almost every opportunity to express consternation over the possibility of any agreement enshrining a nuclear détente between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has good reason for concern, because, as seen from Jerusalem, a truly comprehensive deal that would fully and irreversibly dismantle Iran’s potential to develop nuclear weapons does not seem plausible. From Netanyahu’s perspective, the partial deals appear as fool’s bargains, likely merely to postpone and complicate inevitable military action against Iran’s nuclear complex.

For anyone worried that an Israeli military strike against Iran would unleash an incalculable risk of conflicts in Middle East and world politics, this sounds like bad news. Even if a newly negotiated agreement between the United States and Iran comes packaged with some mild sweeteners for Israel, it probably would not be enough to compensate for what Israel views as an existential threat from a hostile Iranian regime. From this perspective, Israel’s best current move is to play the spoiler, to search for ways to undermine evolving diplomacy, and if that move fails, send the Israeli Air Force to bomb Iran.

I take Israeli concerns very seriously, but suggest another, better option: preemptive diplomacy rather than a preemptive military strike. Rather than try to forestall a new détente between the United States and Iran –in which America leads the way in trying to contain and divert rather than outright destroy Iran’s underlying potential to develop nuclear weapons –Israel could take the lead in forging new alliances in a changed Middle East.

Unilateral Military Strikes or New Israeli Alliances?

A unilateral Israeli military attack on Iran cutting off ongoing negotiations would be a gamble of historic proportions. Regardless of the immediate military outcome, Israel would face the greatest risk since the country’s founding of international isolation, possibly including unprecedented condemnation from the United States. The Israelis need more constructive options. One appealing possibility is to take the logic of ‘offense dominance’from military doctrine and apply it to diplomacy.

[Israel] courtesy of Edoardo Costa via flickr.com CC

[Israel] courtesy of Edoardo Costa via flickr.com CC

In what political scientists call offense-dominant environments, it is easier to capture territory than to defend it. The side that strikes first has an innate advantage. Normally, diplomacy is considered a defense-dominant approach, because it is easier to use diplomacy to protect the status quo and move incrementally than it is to use it to spur dramatic change in international relations. But there are times and places where diplomacy can be effective on offense, and the 2014 Middle East is one of them. Given the Arab Spring and Syrian War, boiling Shia-Sunni cleavages across the region, and rising tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia, it is arguably easier at this moment to create new alliances than to maintain older ones. In an offense-dominant environment, it is better to move first to define and drive the characteristics of change, than it is to wait for others to initiate and then try to defend, react, or find a niche in a new system defined by others.

So what would be a bold diplomatic move on the part of the Israelis, as bold as a military strike on Iran in terms of its potential to shift calculations in the region? One game-changing possibility is to develop new bargains with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, or both. Each country has its own concerns about re-positioning in a world shaped by a new U.S.-Iran détente.

The Emirates will need a new source of economic vibrancy, growth, and entrepreneurship to supplement and diversify its current reliance on a large Iranian diaspora community, many of whose members might refocus and return home if Iran moderates. The Qataris would also become even more interested than they are now in pursuing technological development to diversify their economy and boost the seedlings of an entrepreneurship culture. In relation to both of these countries, the Israelis could help. Their nation has a deep entrepreneurial culture, and a fertile environment for technology and innovation that is generating lots of small companies with room to grow. Economically, in short, there are grounds for deeper relations and new bargains between Israel and the Emirates and Qatar.

More broadly, Israel and these Arab countries share the characteristics of small rich countries with ambivalent yet overall positive relationships with the United States. All seek to punch above their weight in the global economy and in regional diplomacy. All worry about the development of a “Shia axis”in a region shaped by intense ruptures between Shia and Sunni Muslims. There are grounds for them to work together diplomatically as well as economically.Rather than try to forestall a new détente between the United States and Iran, Israel could take the lead in forging new alliances in a changed Middle East.

Toward a New Relationship with the United States

Whether these particular players could actually finalize deals is less important than the energetic, forward-looking diplomacy that Israel could demonstrate in this effort. Looking to forge new economic and diplomatic alliances, rather than striking out with military means alone, could crack open other regional possibilities for Israel –including a limited deal with Saudi Arabia or a deeper and more open collaboration with Jordan. Such options have been blocked for decades, but if Iran reaches a détente with the United States, Saudi and Jordanian interests will change.

War in the Middle East by Stephen Cole via flickr.com CC

War in the Middle East by Stephen Cole via flickr.com CC

Added benefits from new Israeli regional diplomatic efforts would register in Israel’s relationship with the United States, still its most important international tie. As hard as it is for some in both Washington and Jerusalem to acknowledge, the established U.S.-Israel relationship needs to adapt and change. The world polity as a whole is no longer bipolar as it was during the Cold War, and other countries no longer fall into fixed categories as enemies or friends. Military balances of power are now one of many concerns, very important but not always the most dynamic issue. In addition, the generation of American Jews who saw Israel as infallible has passed, along with a generation of Israelis who felt fully beholden to the United States. Going forward, each nation is likely to pursue its own strategies and ties, and Israel needs its own realistic and sustainable diplomatic offensives. To build new relationships with the United States and other world powers along with its regional neighbors, Israeli diplomats should strike first.

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Bedside Manners: “Science” on Saturated Fat, Cholesterol & Heart Disease http://thesocietypages.org/girlwpen/2014/07/24/science-on-saturated-fat-cholesterol-heart-disease/ http://thesocietypages.org/girlwpen/2014/07/24/science-on-saturated-fat-cholesterol-heart-disease/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:55:48 CDT Adina Nack at Girl w/ Pen This month’s column features a guest-post by Mary K. Assad, Ph.D.: she critiques recent health debates on nutrition and encourages us to question the science behind medical claims being made about heart disease.  Assad is a Lecturer in the English Department at Case Western Reserve University who studies medical rhetoric, with a focus on health communication aimed at the general […] This month’s column features a guest-post by Mary K. Assad, Ph.D.: she critiques recent health debates on nutrition and encourages us to question the science behind medical claims being made about heart disease.  Assad is a Lecturer in the English Department at Case Western Reserve University who studies medical rhetoric, with a focus on health communication aimed at the general public.

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In The Big Fat Surprise (2014), investigative journalist Nina Teicholz “lays out the scientific case for why our bodies are healthiest on a diet with ample amounts of fat and why this regime necessarily includes meat, eggs, butter, and other animal foods high in saturated fat.” She argues that current medical guidelines are based on unproven hypotheses about dangers of saturated fat.

Teicholz’s book echoes arguments of writers including Gary Taubes, who in a 2002 New York Times essay and subsequent books urges that medical recommendations for a low-fat diet have caused America’s obesity epidemic. Multiple sources have condemned low-fat approaches and urged Americans to consume more fat and fewer carbohydrates: e.g.,  Dr. Peter Attia’s Eating Academy, Mercola Products and PCC Natural Markets.

As a medical rhetorician and writing instructor, I care about how health messages aimed at the general public transform medical information into public knowledge. We learn about our bodies and health through such discourse. However, distinguishing fact from fiction within these conversations is often more challenging than deciphering the original research studies because writers with competing arguments all cite “science” as their evidence.

While researching women’s heart health for my dissertation, my professional and personal worlds collided: I learned I had high cholesterol at age 29 despite a low BMI and regular exercise. Based on my doctor’s advice (which resembled the American Heart Association’s guidelines), I drastically revised my diet and realized that “burning off” calories is not the same as preventing arterial blockages. Yet, what if my doctor’s advice was misguided? What if reducing cholesterol and saturated fat would hurt rather than help me? The Big Fat Surprise and similar texts call into question decades of medical guidelines. They aim to do more than stir controversy: they seek to persuade us to change our approaches to healthy eating and to distrust medical advice that, presumably, was based on faulty science.

However, close inspection of these texts reveals that they often misrepresent medical research when translating it for the general public. For instance, Attia asserts: “Eating cholesterol has very little impact on the cholesterol levels in your body. This is a fact, not my opinion. Anyone who tells you different is, at best, ignorant of this topic. At worst, they are a deliberate charlatan…To see an important reference on this topic, please look here .” The linked abstract states, “the relation between dietary cholesterol and the risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] is not clearly understood.” Nowhere does the source state that ingesting cholesterol has “very little impact.”  Further, this article raises the possibility that 15-25% of the general population are “hyperresponders,” meaning that dietary cholesterol affects their measured LDL cholesterol more than usual. The researchers urge the importance of examining the relationship between dietary cholesterol and CHD among this group. Attia acknowledges none of this information.

By providing a link to a medical journal, Attia points to medical authority to support his argument without acknowledging how this source complicates or contradicts his claims. This tendency to draw on medical evidence by gesturing toward research, rather than actively conversing with it, is problematic: readers may be drawn in by liberating claims (eat as much red meat as you want!) because they believe them to be scientifically supported.

Indeed, the Amazon.com summary for Teicholz’s book proclaims, “science shows that we have needlessly been avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk, and eggs for decades and that we can now, guilt-free, welcome these delicious foods back into our lives.” In a culture where we are conditioned to feel guilty for eating indulgent foods, promises of dietary freedom may be persuasive because they tap into social — and particularly female — anxieties about weight, food, choices, and guilt.

As a woman, I am conscious both of the social pressures to “watch what I eat” and the medical guidelines that advise the same. However, navigating competing claims to scientific truth requires interrogation of not only the claims but also the ‘means of persuasion’.  A rhetorical approach creates a critical distance between health messages and our decision-making processes.  When reading an article, book, or website, we must ask several key questions: What is this text trying to persuade me to believe or do?  How does it go about accomplishing this task? What evidence is offered, and how is it presented?

Over the past year, I’ve read about cholesterol from many sources but have been most persuaded by a friend who told me how a vegan diet reduced his cholesterol. In closing, then, I ask: who or what has persuaded you to make a health-related decision in your life, and what made the claim convincing?  Conversations about health need to include attention to language and persuasion. Only then can we begin to make sense of what we’re being told and determine how to respond.

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When Child Migrants Weren’t an Unwelcome Problem http://thesocietypages.org/trot/2014/07/24/when-child-migrants-werent-an-unwelcome-problem/ http://thesocietypages.org/trot/2014/07/24/when-child-migrants-werent-an-unwelcome-problem/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:22:51 CDT Lisa Gulya and Stephen Suh at There's Research on That News and images of an influx of unaccompanied child migrants have swept across the nation in recent weeks. In late June, USA Today reported that since Oct. 1, 2013, “more than 47,000 migrant kids primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador” have been caught entering country through the U.S.-Mexico border. More recently, government officials have […] News and images of an influx of unaccompanied child migrants have swept across the nation in recent weeks. In late June, USA Today reported that since Oct. 1, 2013, “more than 47,000 migrant kids primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador” have been caught entering country through the U.S.-Mexico border. More recently, government officials have estimated that this population could grow to 90,000 by the end of September. These children, many of whom have journeyed to the U.S. hoping to reunite with family, are being held in numerous southwestern detention facilities while awaiting trials to determine their fates. Most will be deported back to the countries that they fled.

Child migrants locked up and awaiting deportation, feared as future voters, pushes us to think about how the idea of “immigrant child threat” reveals the ongoing negotiation over the value of different kinds of children. So, while Clay Jenkins, a Democrat elected Dallas County judge in 2010, argues that “these are children—they are precious children,” he is expressing a contested view.

This is not the first time children have come to the U.S. based on rumors that they would be allowed to stay. Today it is cause for alarm and a desire to close borders; in the 1950s, the faulty rumors were CIA-sponsored tall tales of Communist child-eaters during Operation Peter Pan, rumors that served to get thousands of Cuban families to give up their children to foster families in Miami, never to be reunited after the Cuban Revolution.
We see how immigrant children are devalued when we compare them to another group of child migrants: transnational adoptees. Research on legislation regarding children’s citizenship argues that adoptees were granted the privilege of their adoptive parents’ citizenship while children of immigrant parents, who had arrived through official channels, could not access social citizenship rights because of their parents’ non-native status.
Society’s “value” of children changes over time and in different situations. While children were once members of household production in the 19th century—say, just another worker on the family farm—they may now be “sacralized” as priceless, if economically worthless, in the 20th century. However, as adoption scholar Laura Briggs writes on the children of deportees from the U.S., “[T]his is still a fight, a question; immigrant children are not seen as a cute, innocent, victimized population.”

For more on how immigration to the U.S. has changed over time, check out this roundtable.

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What the EPA’s Kardashian Tweet Says About Affective Labor http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/24/what-the-epas-kardashian-tweet-says-about-affective-labor/ http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/24/what-the-epas-kardashian-tweet-says-about-affective-labor/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:00:47 CDT davidbanks at Cyborgology Late Monday night it was discovered that one of the EPA’s Twitter accounts was a C-list celebrity on the popular iPhone game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood Image credit

Image credit

Late Monday night it was discovered that one of the EPA’s Twitter accounts was a C-list celebrity on the popular iPhone game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The Tweet was one of those automatically generated ones meant to announce progress in a game or the unlocking of an achievement. Its easy to imagine the scenario: an over-worked or deeply bored social media manager didn’t realize they were signed into their work account instead of their personal one and let the tweet go. Or maybe a family member borrowed their work phone. Who knows? What we do know is that the tweet immediately garnered thousands of retweets and countless more screenshots were shared on other platforms. Why is this even remotely funny? What sorts of publicly held believes does it reveal?

On the face of it, the tweet is funny in a late night show monologue sort of way: a recent event upon which dozens of jokes can be made about ineffectual government agencies, social media habits, and celebrities. Republicans have defanged the Environmental Protection Agency so much even Kim Kardashian doesn’t think they’re worth hanging around. Maybe if Climate Change came out with an iPhone app we’d pay more attention to it. [prompted laughter] Something terrible and lazy like that. But these sorts of jokes only work if there are some widely held value judgements about their ingredients. And, as we all know, there’s no shortage of value judgements on any of these things.

Powerful women like Kim Kardashian are often maligned as stupid or shallow despite their tremendous talents as savvy business owners and public figures (I don’t like the accumulation of wealth but I’d never say the people that manage to do it are necessarily stupid); social media is often disregarded as mere self-centered posturing; and environmental protection always walks the line between obnoxious tree hugging liberalism and nefarious economic sabotage. The reactions to the EPA’s tweet showed how sexism, economics, and everyday identity performance are deeply interwoven.  I should note that I was one of the people who retweeted. I even posted a screenshot to Facebook, so when I say that the reactions to the EPA tweet are deeply conservative, I’m calling myself out and recognizing the sorts of default behaviors that I’ve been taught to uphold as a straight white guy.

The tweet was eventually taken down the next day after accumulating several thousand retweets.

The tweet was eventually taken down the next day after accumulating several thousand retweets.

No specific tweet stands out as the ultimate example of conservativism and that is precisely why and how these conservative ideas are able to evade critique and rebuttal. But with each “looks like that intern got fired” it gets a little bit easier to apply unrealistic expectations to public relations teams . Its also worth mentioning that these jobs are actually not something that just gets tossed to interns, managing a social media brand is real work. And, as Jennifer Pan wrote last month, public relations is one of those professions that are both dominated by women and disparaged as not real work: “Communication and multitasking, of course, are precisely the ‘soft skills’ of emotional labor that define the post-Fordist work environment, especially within majority-women professions.”

The EPA (perhaps unfortunately?) does not have the kind of sophisticated and irreverent communications strategy that keeps us “engaged” with Taco Bell or Hot Pockets. The EPA Water twitter account is usually pretty busy convincing the public that they’re not looking to “regulate puddles.” So when evidence arises that someone at the EPA is playing a game on their phone (like so many office workers do) it looks like a slip of the mask. It comes off as an accident that reveals something true about a government agency that is regarded as superfluous if not a harmful waste to a too-large percentage of the country. We can reverse Pan’s observation that “In PR, a certain overlap of professional and personal relationships is not only likely, but ideal” and say that many people assume the ideal and project the personal (iPhone games) onto the professional (environmental protection).

Discovering evidence of someone playing an iPhone game immediately opens up the opportunity to impose our own game-playing habits on someone we’ve never met. We play games on our phones when we’re bored. A lot of that boredom is experienced at work, either because the work is tedious or because your entire job description is bullshit. Maybe both. Of course it is a uniquely American sentiment that working for the government is subject to very different expectations. Government workers should be super-efficient as their paychecks come from our involuntarily paid tax dollars rather than our voluntarily paid (tell that to the uninsured hospital patient) private market exchanges. While it might be okay for me to play Dots at my desk, the EPA worker should always be perfectly efficient. If you think the entire mission of the EPA is detrimental to your own desires, then you’re doubly angry. You don’t want to pay them to work, let alone play!

The pièce de résistance is, of course, the name of the iPhone game. Chastising a PR person for playing a game that reifies celebrity culture is just too tempting for those seeking a way to feel “above it all”. The person/brand/idea that is Kim Kardashian is the epitome of the right’s idea of unearned riches. To (literally!) play her game is to enact the seemingly vacuous life of fame for fame’s sake. It’s a deeply ironic stance to take: Turning your nose up at both the profession and the game playing person requires an appeal to the genuine and to the authentic- things that are deeply informed by celebrities and public relations professionals.

I don’t think, by itself, laughing at the EPA Kardashian tweet is a bad thing. There is something benignly funny about the juxtaposition of these two brands meeting in a single tweet. At the same time, it does seem like something that a Fox News mouth breather would find hilarious. What is disturbing and deeply insidious however, is the latent conservativism that props up many of the seemingly banal reactions to the accident. It demeans affective labor while simultaneously reminding everyone that Kim Kardashian got rich the wrong way.

David is on Twitter & Tumblr.

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Don’t use the threat of intimate partner violence to promote marriage http://thesocietypages.org/families/2014/07/24/dont-use-the-threat-of-intimate-partner-violence-to-promote-marriage/ http://thesocietypages.org/families/2014/07/24/dont-use-the-threat-of-intimate-partner-violence-to-promote-marriage/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 01:00:56 CDT Joanna Pepin at Families as They Really Are Joanna Pepin is a graduate student in sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Follow her on Twitter at @CoffeeBaseball. Comedian Louis C.K. has a comedy bit about the bravery necessary for heterosexual dating. He points out, perceptively and with humor, that (traditionally) men have to summon the courage to ask out a potential partner […] Joanna Pepin is a graduate student in sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Follow her on Twitter at @CoffeeBaseball.

Comedian Louis C.K. has a comedy bit about the bravery necessary for heterosexual dating. He points out, perceptively and with humor, that (traditionally) men have to summon the courage to ask out a potential partner while women are courageous for dating men at all.

How do women still go out with guys, when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. You know what our [men’s] number one threat is? Heart disease.

Although women continue to date, love, and sometimes marry men, marriage has been in decline for decades.

The response to this demographic shift has been to invest billions of dollars in marriage promotion. Although the primary (flawed) justification given to emphasize marriage is to decrease poverty – especially for single mothers and their children – marriage promotion activists also have argued that “marriage dramatically reduces the risk that mothers will suffer from domestic abuse.” This ideological thinking was debunked as early as 2004, but was revived when Brad Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson published a piece in the Washington Post claiming the solution to violence against women is marriage.

The pro-marriage activists rely on statistics that compare rates of violence between cohabiting and married couples.  What they ignore are selection effects. For instance, research from the longitudinal Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study illustrated mothers’ strategies to keep their children safe by leaving relationships they see as unhealthy, especially those involving physical abuse. Sociologists Catherine Kenney and Sara McLanahan show in their research analysis of data from the National Survey of Families and Households that selection out of cohabitation and into marriage – and selection out of marriage through divorce – creates an apples-and-oranges comparison between these two groups.

Another talking point for the marriage promoters is that married men have lower rates of criminal activity compared to non-married men. However, the research is still unclear on whether marriage per se decreases criminal activity, or if crime cessation is associated with stable family ties — cohabiting, married, or otherwise. Moreover, this line of research investigates generalized crime and not intimate partner violence (IPV) specifically. There is no reason to think IPV operates in the same way, given that DV is characteristically a uniquely individual dynamic of one person establishing power and control over another. It also ignores research on violence in later life, which shows that violence doesn’t decrease over the course of a relationship, but rather abusive tactics change. If the marker of a lifelong commitment is what decreases IPV, having children together should also be associated with lower rates of DV.  However, many survivors of IPV continue to experience abuse during their pregnancies (and after) and there is some evidence that the risk of violence increases during pregnancy.

To no one’s surprise, the federally funded marriage promotion programs have had no impact on relationship quality of participants, couples were no more likely to stay together or marry after participating, and they had no effect on the frequency or severity of IPV. Yet, we continue to spend scarce welfare dollars on marriage promotion at the expense of the very real economic resources survivors of domestic violence need.  For example, although a Family Violence Prevention option grants temporary waivers of public assistance requirements for survivors of domestic violence, women are rarely screened for domestic violence and few are able to obtain the mandated services even when they do report domestic violence to their case worker.

Contrary to the theory that marriage reduces IPV, one could theorize that marriage is actually more dangerous for women. Sociologist Philip Cohen showed that prevalence of IPV has been declining over the same time period as marriage rates have been falling. While the myth of widespread stranger danger is pervasive, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, in two thirds of female homicides, women were killed by an intimate partner or family member (24% were killed by a spouse or ex-spouse; 21% were killed by a boyfriend or girlfriend). Marriage theoretically increases perpetrator access to victims, and social sanctions as well as legal ties make it more difficult to leave dangerous situations.

Indeed, evidence we do have demonstrates marriage is no safe haven for women. In some ways our societal obsession with the institution of marriage may be placing more women at risk. Data from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project reveal that 45% of the women killed in DV homicides committed by male perpetrators had been married. These couples were more likely to be living together, have children together, and be in the process of ending the relationship. Public health researcher Sara Shoener affirmed what I witnessed as an advocate working with survivors of abuse: cultural narratives of linking marriage with success, the stigma of single motherhood, and religious beliefs about divorce hinder survivors’ ability to access the vital resources they need to keep themselves and their children safe. Creating a no-win situation, mothers are condemned if they raise their children alone, blamed if they don’t leave an abusive relationship to protect their children, and criticized for deliberately obstructing relationships between children and fathers if they exit an abusive relationship.

Image by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Data from Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project.

Image by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Data from Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project.

The pro-marriage movement seems to be borrowing a concept from the National Rifle Association, that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” As the NRA asserts that the solution to gun violence is more gun violence, pro-marriage advocates assert the solution to men’s violence against women is for women to marry men. Increase both access and dependence. Raise the stakes. Make the relationship permanent. This solution is not only illogical and unsubstantiated, it’s dangerous.

 

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Mighty Girls Can Do It All? http://thesocietypages.org/feminist/2014/07/24/mighty-girls-can-do-it-all/ http://thesocietypages.org/feminist/2014/07/24/mighty-girls-can-do-it-all/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:25 CDT meika at Feminist Reflections When we had a baby girl, her super hip grandmother asked “Is there an Internet site where we can buy books that feature strong girls?” At the time there wasn’t. But lo and behold, it has arrived. And it is a sensation. We have to thank the feminist blogosphere for helping us to get here. […] logo-300x135

When we had a baby girl, her super hip grandmother asked “Is there an Internet site where we can buy books that feature strong girls?”

At the time there wasn’t. But lo and behold, it has arrived. And it is a sensation. We have to thank the feminist blogosphere for helping us to get here.

One of our favorite bloggers told us about A Mighty Girl – a site that features 1500 girl-empowerment books. What a relief to not have to ask every bookstore owner and librarian to find these books for us! Here they are all here organized by age, awards, etc. And maybe now future daughters of feminists will not have to receive 5 copies of Paper Bag Princess!

Today, girl power = mighty and pink. Girls have to prove they are just as good as boys, and also girly girls. As the founders of A Mighty Girl say, “Girls do not have to be relegated to the role of sidekick or damsel in distress; they can be the leaders, the heroes, the champions that save the day, find the cure, and go on the adventure.”

This is true liberation, but it also means the bar has been raised, and expectations for girls can be contradictory, wide-ranging, and just plain overwhelming.

Educator and life coach Ana Homayoun, author of Myth of the Perfect Girl, meets these high-achieving girls in high school, as they are preparing to apply to college. On the surface they appear to be doing well, excelling across the board. But beneath the surface, she says, girls are stressed out and stretched too thin as they strive to be perfect. “Somewhere along the way… they lose sight of who they are, and instead work overtime to please their friends, parents, teachers, and others.”

This is what I was thinking about when I watched the super short docu-movie Gnarly in Pink featuring the “Pink Helmet Posse,” three 6-year-old girls who share an unusual passion: skateboarding. They cry, they beat up pink ponies, and skateboard like champs while wearing tutus. Multi-dimensional girls in a violent culture. It feels/looks like a much more complicated world than generations before, but then again, it is familiar. Tomboys have always experienced serious peer pressure to fit in with the girls (to be accepted). You just hope that in the process of meeting everyone elses’ expectations, that they are also living for themselves.

Homayoun says we can help our kids “forge an anchor that can hold them in place when everyone else is calling for them to conform.” And books can help us with this project. Thank you, A Mighty Girl, and feminist parents far and wide, for your efforts in helping our kids come to self-acceptance and develop their own sense of purpose.

How do you help the girls in your life navigate endless social expectations and pressures?

This blog post was originally published at Unconventional Kids!

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Marriage or the Baby Carriage http://thesocietypages.org/citings/2014/07/23/marriage-or-the-baby-carriage/ http://thesocietypages.org/citings/2014/07/23/marriage-or-the-baby-carriage/ Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:06:16 CDT Andrew Wiebe at Citings and Sightings Differences in education level lead to dramatically different views on when to become a parent, according to new research. John Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin shows that millennial women with college educations are more likely to wait until they are married before they have children than women without a college degree. In an interview with […] Photo by Rob Tom via Flickr.

There are more married mothers among millenial women with college degrees. Photo by rob tom via Flickr.

Differences in education level lead to dramatically different views on when to become a parent, according to new research. John Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin shows that millennial women with college educations are more likely to wait until they are married before they have children than women without a college degree. In an interview with Sarah Kliff of Vox, Cherlin explains:

“We’re seeing the emergence two very different paths to adulthood. Among young adults without college educations, most of their childbearing is in their twenties and the majority of it is outside of marriage. That includes people who have gotten a two-year associate’s degree. The dividing line is the four-year degree. The vast majority of people with that college degree are having children in marriage. We didn’t see this 20 or 30 years ago. We didn’t see these sharp differences between the college graduates and non-graduates.”

This trend concerns Cherlin, as it could lead to a more unstable family life for the children of unmarried parents with a high school education. He sees a lack of middle-skill jobs as the cause of their financial instability. This leads to their higher rate of breaking up and ultimately reinforces economic inequalities between education groups. Parents who have a college education are less likely to get divorced, since they are the couples who are more likely to have two steady incomes.

When asked if we could turn this worrisome trend around, Cherlin posits:

“It depends on if you think we can turn the middle of the job market around, and if we can find productive employment for high school graduates. If that happens, then I think we have a chance of reversing the instability we’re seeing in family lives. I also think that it might be a good idea to promote a message that one should wait to have children until one is in a stable marriage.”

That said, providing an alternative vision of a future where the high-school and college-educated alike can navigate the new economy could lead to greater family stability for their kids.

 

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Ronen Shamir, “Current Flow: The Electrification of Palestine” http://newbooksinsociology.com/crossposts/ronen-shamir-current-flow-the-electrification-of-palestine-stanford-up-2013/ http://newbooksinsociology.com/crossposts/ronen-shamir-current-flow-the-electrification-of-palestine-stanford-up-2013/ Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:14:36 CDT Carla Nappi at New Books in Sociology [Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] Ronen Shamir’s new book is a timely and thoughtful study of the electrification of Palestine in the early twentieth century. Current Flow: The Electrification of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2013) makes use of Actor-Network Theory as a methodology to trace the processes involved in constructing a powerhouse and assembling an [...]

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyRonen Shamir’s new book is a timely and thoughtful study of the electrification of Palestine in the early twentieth century. Current Flow: The Electrification of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2013) makes use of Actor-Network Theory as a methodology to trace the processes involved in constructing a powerhouse and assembling an electric grid in 1920s Palestine. The book brilliantly shows how electrification “makes politics” rather than just transmitting it: under the auspices of British colonial government, the material processes of electrification produced and affirmed ethno-national distinctions like “Jews” and “Arabs” and the spaces they came to produce and inhabit in Palestine. The electric grid, here, “performs and enables (or disables) social formations through the physical connections it establishes and its attachments to other entities.”  The episteme of separatism and the roots of what would become a partition plan were born in this context, as Shamir shows. The first part of the book (chapters 1 & 2) explores these phenomena by looking at flows of electric current to streetlights and private consumers who were lighting their homes and businesses. The second part of the book (chapters 4 & 5) looks at the attachment (or not) of the electric grid to railways, industry, and agriculture. The third chapter acts as a pivot between them, examining the processes by which the measurement and standardization of current became a potent social force, creating new divisions between areas of the city of Tel Aviv, public and private spheres, and kinds of consumers. Whether you’re interested the history of Palestine or the historical sociology of science, this is a fascinating, inspiring study well worth reading!

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Of Carbon and Cash http://thesocietypages.org/specials/of-carbon-and-cash/ http://thesocietypages.org/specials/of-carbon-and-cash/ Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:02:13 CDT Erin Hoekstra at The Society Pages » TSP Specials Erin Hoekstra is in the sociology program at the University of Minnesota. She studies pressure on radical grassroots organizations and healthcare for undocumented immigrants. As Andy Ross told us, climate debt refers to the harmful carbon emissions created by countries like the United States and the grave effects that climate change is having on poorer, […]
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Erin Hoekstra is in the sociology program at the University of Minnesota. She studies pressure on radical grassroots organizations and healthcare for undocumented immigrants.

As Andy Ross told us, climate debt refers to the harmful carbon emissions created by countries like the United States and the grave effects that climate change is having on poorer, developing countries in the Global South. First introduced in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the concept of climate debt has motivated politicians, scientists, academics, and advocates to look closely at how climate change is experienced by rich and poor countries. Climate debt, for them, represents another example of the persistent global inequality between the developed countries in the Global North and the developing countries of the Global South. Social scientists are playing an important part in documenting the social movements around climate debt and in developing methods to calculate and account for such debts.

Meanwhile, this persistent global inequality serves as the basis for several international debt relief movements. For instance, the Jubilee Movement, predicated on the biblical notion of the “jubilee” (when debts were forgiven every seventh year), is a global movement based in Britain and other Global North countries that advocates for forgiving and abolishing the debts that Global South countries supposedly owe from the colonial era. In this instance, the “creditors” are wealthy, developed nations who once colonized and extracted resources like gold, oil, coal, and diamonds from countries they later charged with “debt repayment.” In one alarming example, Haiti was forced to pay the French government from 1825 to 1947 to compensate for “property” lost to French slave owners when Haitian slaves successfully revolted. The Jubilee Movement uses the debt abolishment argument to pressure countries to forgive such debt rather than force other nations into bankruptcy. Jubilee has had some limited success, but wealthy countries continue to pressure poorer countries to pay outstanding debts.

The climate debt and climate justice movements share some similarities with the Jubilee Movement: both are based on the persistence and injustice of global inequality, both recognize that the high consumption in more wealthy countries hurts poorer countries, and both force us to consider the nature of legitimate and illegitimate debts. Like the Jubilee Movement, the broader concept of ecological debt, under which climate debt falls, draws from the legacy of the ecological exploitation of colonized countries. Andrew Simms draws out this similarity in Ecological Debt: Global Warming and the Wealth of Nations, arguing that in both climate debt and international debt, those who have played the smallest role in creating the problems have borne the greatest burdens. Those most responsible for climate crises have skirted responsibility.Those who have played the smallest role in creating the problems have borne the greatest burdens. Those most responsible for climate crises have skirted responsibility.

From Debt to Reparations

Climate debt is predicated on the idea that all countries and all humanity share the environment and the earth’s atmosphere, a sort of “global commons” according to Simms. If all nations and people have an equal claim to this global commons, then the countries and people that are overusing and even damaging the environment are racking up an ecological debt to the wider community and should have to account for the consequences of their behavior. In the instance of climate change, this debt is comprised of greenhouse gases and CO2 accruing in the atmosphere. The climate justice movement focuses on reparations for countries that are experiencing the harshest effects of climate change, brought on by the emissions of other countries. At the same time, it also tries to eradicate the debt (or these harmful emissions) altogether.

In Ross’s interview and in his book Creditocracy, he distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate debts and argues that climate debt is one legitimate debt that should be repaid. Whereas the Jubilee Movement draws on a framework of debt forgiveness of illegitimate foreign debts, the climate debt movement turns the tables from the South to the North and is based on the more radical notion of reparations. Unlike discourses of “international aid” which emphasize the benevolence of the donor country, the language of reparations recognizes that an injury or injustice has occurred for which restitution is necessary. Germany paid reparations to Holocaust victims after World War II, for instance, and in the United States, descendants of slaves have long argued for compensation for the enslavement of their ancestors. By framing climate debt alongside these clear instances of harm done to the less powerful, Global South countries and their advocates demand recognition of the unequal creation and consequences of climate change. The language of reparations recognizes that an injury or injustice has occurred for which restitution is necessary.

Graphic Created for The Society Pages by Suzy McElrath.

Notoriously difficult to quantify, climate debt is measured in numerous ways but is usually divided into two elements: emissions and adaptation debt. Emissions debt refers to the over-production of emissions that diminish the earth’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases. Adaptation debt addresses the costs associated with the adverse effects of these emissions. In “Climate Debt: A Primer,” Matthew Stilwell argues that adaptation debt is associated with “the escalating losses, damages, and lost development opportunities facing developing countries.” Within climate debt, emissions debt is the most easily quantified since, Ross explains, it “can be measured more reliably, on the basis of atmospheric emissions estimates.” The carbon debt of the over-emitting countries is then calculated at $100 per ton of CO2.

If a “carbon quota” were allocated to countries on a per capita basis, the biggest emissions offenders would rack up a carbon debt. Those (usually poorer) countries that create fewer emissions than their quota would concede would then receive a carbon credit.

The Debt of History

The question about how to calculate these values complicates the measuring of carbon debt by country. Should the debt, for instance, be determined by a country’s current emissions levels? Should it take into account cumulative emissions from a given moment in history until today? The rationale for using cumulative emissions draws from historical and social scientific research that finds that countries almost inevitably increase their emissions as they develop infrastructure and industry. Calculating this debt from current emissions levels would clearly disadvantage developing countries that have not historically had high emissions levels but have increased carbon production with recent development. Countries like these include China and India. At the same time, using current emissions levels would excuse or minimize charges to historical emissions offenders—developed countries like the United States that have already built infrastructure and industry.

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Graphic Created for The Society Pages by Suzy McElrath.

Should countries actually follow through with repayment of climate debts, the next question is, of course, how these funds would be distributed not only across countries facing the most drastic effects of climate change, but also within these countries to ensure that the individuals who have lost their homes or livelihoods as a result of events like natural disasters and drought receive the needed assistance.

It may seem unrealistic to expect wealthy nations to suddenly fork over billions of dollars in climate reparations, but the concept of climate debt is proving powerful in making claims on the world stage and raising awareness of the differential effects of climate change across countries. Sociologists studying international debt and reparations are analyzing these debates even as they help frame them.

Recommended Reading

Niclas Hallstrom. 2012. What Next? Climate, Development, and Equity. Uppsala, Sweden: Dag Hammarskjold Foundation and the What Next Forum. Offers a great primer on climate debt, explaining the severity of climate change and the movement for climate justice and equity.

Andrew K. Jorgenson. 2014. “Economic Development and the Carbon Intensity of Human Well-Being,” Nature Climate Change 4:186-189. Examines the relationship between development and carbon emissions and analyzes Africa as the exception to this rule.

Naomi Klein. 2009. “Climate Rage,” Rolling Stone magazine. Explains the politics behind and main actors in the climate debt movement.

Andy Ross. 2014. Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal. New York: OR Books. Locates climate debt within a wider examination of various types of “legitimate” and “illegitimate” debt.

Kirk R. Smith. 1996. “The Natural Debt: North and South,” in Thomas W. Giambelluca and Anne Henderson-Sellers, eds., Climate Change: Developing Southern Hemisphere Perspectives. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Examines the unequal effects of climate change from the perspective of the Global South.

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Conspicuous Pollution: Rural White Men Rollin’ Coal http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/7Q2yJh4CqBg/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/7Q2yJh4CqBg/ Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:00:29 CDT Lisa Wade, PhD at Sociological Images Conspicuous consumption refers to the practice of ostentatiously displaying of high status objects.  Think very expensive purses and watches.  In the last few decades, as concern for the environment has become increasingly en vogue, it has become a marker of status to care for the earth.  Accordingly, people now engage in conspicuous conservation, the ostentatious display of […] Conspicuous consumption refers to the practice of ostentatiously displaying of high status objects.  Think very expensive purses and watches.  In the last few decades, as concern for the environment has become increasingly en vogue, it has become a marker of status to care for the earth.  Accordingly, people now engage in conspicuous conservation, the ostentatious display of objects that mark a person as eco-friendly.

Driving a Prius and putting solar panels on visible roof lines, even if they aren’t the sunniest, are two well-documented examples.  Those “litter removal sponsored by” signs on freeways are an example we’ve featured, as are these shoes that make it appear that the wearer helped clean up the oil spill in the gulf, even though they didn’t.

Well, welcome to the opposite: conspicuous pollution.

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Elizabeth Kulze, writing at Vocativ, explains:

In small towns across America, manly men are customizing their jacked-up diesel trucks to intentionally emit giant plumes of toxic smoke every time they rev their engines. They call it “rollin’ coal”…

It’s a thing. Google it!

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This is not just a handful of guys.  Kulze links to “an entire subculture” on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. “It’s just fun,” one coal roller says. “Just driving and blowing smoke and having a good time.”

It isn’t just fun, though. It’s a way for these men — mostly white, working class, rural men — to send an intrusive and nasty message to people they don’t like. According to this video, that includes Prius drivers, cops, women, tailgaters, and people in vulnerable positions. “City boys” and “liberals” are also targeted:

Kulze reports that it costs anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 to modify a pickup to do this, which is why the phenomenon resonates with conspicuous consumption and conservation.  It’s an expensive and public way to claim an identity that the owner wants to project.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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My Life and Times as a Young Convict http://thesocietypages.org/monte/2014/07/22/my-life-and-times-as-a-young-convict/ http://thesocietypages.org/monte/2014/07/22/my-life-and-times-as-a-young-convict/ Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:33:29 CDT monte at A Backstage Sociologist commentaries   THE INDELIBLE STAIN OF JUVENILE PRISONS MONTE BUTE July 17, 2014  My stays at Red Wing were unforgettable. Eventually, I turned my life around. The Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing was colloquially known as the Red Wing Boys’ Reformatory 50 years ago, when offenders rubbed shoulders with juvenile felons. Photo: GLEN STUBBE • Star Tribune […]

commentaries

 

THE INDELIBLE STAIN

OF JUVENILE PRISONS

MONTE BUTE

July 17, 2014 Red Wing

My stays at Red Wing were unforgettable. Eventually, I turned my life around.

The Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing was colloquially known as the Red Wing Boys’ Reformatory 50 years ago, when offenders rubbed shoulders with juvenile felons.

Photo: GLEN STUBBE • Star Tribune file 2006,

America’s incarceration explosion begins with young offenders. In “Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison,” Nell Bernstein explores the physical and psychological abuse that occurs in these state-run correctional facilities. Her new book argues that these kids internalize an unvarnished message — “That they are at once disposable and dangerous.” The evidence is indisputable: Brutal imprisonment and stigmatized identities breed not rehabilitation but recidivism.

My alma mater is the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing. That boys’ reformatory both granted me a high school diploma and stamped my identity with an indelible stain that persists even after 50 years.

This Mennonite homeboy was born under a bad sign; by age 4, the elders had expelled me from summer Bible school for fighting. I was a precocious child; by age 12, my story had become the town’s cautionary tale about juvenile delinquency. Today, I can treat those memories with the detachment of a stand-up comic. In those days, however, my survival kit was limited to rage, violence and crime.

In 1962, at age 17, I was dispatched by the town fathers of Jackson, Minn., to what was colloquially known as the Red Wing Boys’ Reformatory. I had ambivalent feelings as I rolled across southern Minnesota, locked in the back seat of an unmarked squad car. On the one hand, I felt an existential despair that I only began to understand years later when I played the lead role in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” In Red Wing, I was always waiting, waiting for a deliverance that never arrived.

On the other hand, I felt a sense of anticipation and exhilaration. From one end of the state to the other, bad-boy wannabes (like little Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing) fantasized about making it to the big show. To understand that ambition, just listen to Bob Dylan’s “Walls of Red Wing.”

I was in for a rude awakening. In those days, Red Wing was what Erving Goffman called a “total institution.” Privacy was an idea you checked at the front gate. You ate together, you worked together, you slept together, you showered together and, without benefit of stalls, you defecated together.

Back then, few adolescents faced trial as adults. Consequently, you rubbed shoulders on a daily basis with juvenile felons who may have been burglars, sex offenders, armed robbers or even murderers. In any sort of gulag, there are predators and there is prey. I spent my stint at Red Wing avoiding becoming anyone’s prey. When paroled, I had few remaining illusions. I just knew that I was not coming back.

But back I came. There were many “cottages” (the mother of all euphemisms) at Red Wing. Resembling medieval fortresses, those jagged stone buildings were gothic dungeons. The two that housed the most hardened boys and were the toughest places to do time were McKinley and Lincoln.

This time, I drew Lincoln. I decided to live by Faulkner’s Nobel Prize motto — I would not merely endure: I would prevail. The highest status an inmate could achieve was to become a “belt” (in the old days, they literally wore belts across their chests and over their shoulders). Belts represented a combination of trustee and cottage enforcer. Two belts in each unit ran the show. Within a month, I had dispatched a cottage bully to the hospital infirmary. That made all the difference. I soon became the Lincoln belt.

Paroled once again after 10 months, I knew better than to return home. The good citizens of Jackson were just waiting to award me a scholarship to the “big house” at Stillwater state prison. That being a foregone conclusion, I packed up my 1949 Plymouth and headed for the Twin Cities.

I eventually found work in the basement of the Pillsbury Co. I spent my days mindlessly churning out office note pads and my nights drinking cheap liquor. I eventually met an attorney in the lunchroom who for some reason took interest in me. One day, he said, “Kid, you really aren’t as stupid as you sometimes appear to be. Have you ever thought of going to college?”

That conversation made all the difference. I soon found myself at Austin Junior College. To be honest, even Red Wing’s remedial courses had accomplished little. However, I did make a remarkable discovery midway through my first year of college — cultural capital. From that day forth, I was like a burglar seeking the combination to a bank vault.

Today, I am a college professor and have had the redemptive experience of giving a commencement address at Red Wing. Nevertheless, even though a half-century has passed, those incarcerations remain deeply etched in my soul.

Monte Bute teaches sociology at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/monte)

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Chad Lavin on Eating Anxiety http://thesocietypages.org/officehours/2014/07/22/chad-lavin-on-eating-anxiety/ http://thesocietypages.org/officehours/2014/07/22/chad-lavin-on-eating-anxiety/ Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:39:33 CDT Matt Gunther at Office Hours In this episode, political scientist Chad Lavin discusses his new book, Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics. Chad’s work explores how our experiences with food shape popular ideas about identity, authenticity, and responsibility. He speaks with us about the political meanings of diet in a globalized society, and some limitations of the local food […] In this episode, political scientist Chad Lavin discusses his new book, Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics. Chad’s work explores how our experiences with food shape popular ideas about identity, authenticity, and responsibility. He speaks with us about the political meanings of diet in a globalized society, and some limitations of the local food movement. Chad is a professor at Virginia Tech, where he teaches in the political science department and at ASPECT – the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought.

Download Office Hours #95

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The Other Little Blue Pill http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/22/the-other-little-blue-pill/ http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/07/22/the-other-little-blue-pill/ Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:23:02 CDT jennydavis at Cyborgology Pharmaceutical drugs do an array of things to the body. They can affect mood, energy, blood flow, experiences of pain, and capacities for pleasure.  Their increasing prevalence in the marketplace and home medicine cabinets suggests an addition to the old adage that ‘we are what we eat.’ Today, we are also what we take. But […]

Pharmaceutical drugs do an array of things to the body. They can affect mood, energy, blood flow, experiences of pain, and capacities for pleasure.  Their increasing prevalence in the marketplace and home medicine cabinets suggests an addition to the old adage that ‘we are what we eat.’ Today, we are also what we take.

But embedded within cultural realities,  pharmaceuticals do not simply do things to the body. Rather, they are the conduits through which the body becomes connected with and constituted through economies of both money and moral value. Pharmaceutical drugs are at once tools of medicinal healing and commodities of social and financial exchange. In understanding the implications of any particular pharmaceutical drug, then, it is pertinent to ask not only what it does, but what the pharmaceutical company is selling, to whom, and with what kind of trajectory. 

Truvada is a pharmaceutical drug associated with HIV. Manufactured by Gilead, the pill has traditionally treated those already infected. Recently, however, it has also been used as an HIV preventative. Gilead claims that when taken daily, Truvada is over 90% effective in preventing HIV contraction. The preventative use for Truvada falls under the category of  pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. The use of Truvada as PrEP was highlighted this month  by the World Health Organization (WHO), which now recommends PrEP for all men who have sex with men, citing a projected 20-25% decrease in HIV infections among this population over 10 years[i]. WHO’s statement, released on July 11th, came in anticipation of the 20th International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia, currently going on this week.

Addressing the questions above about goods sold and apparent trajectory, the most obvious answer is that Gilead is selling health and wellness. They are selling it to HIV vulnerable populations. And they are selling it at widely varying financial costs, with a trajectory of reduced incidents of AIDS. In the U.S., the drug costs between $8,000-$14,000 per year—though those with insurance may be eligible for coverage—while in South Africa and India, the yearly bill for the drug is around $100.  Of course, the costs also come in the form of side effects, such as liver damage, lethargy, nausea, and decreased bone density. Likely an easy trade for HIV positive patients, though maybe less so for those who have not contracted the virus.

But for the price, both financial and physical, I argue that Gilead offers more than just health and wellness; more than a future trajectory with fewer cases of AIDS internationally.  In addition, Gilead offers a technology of intimacy and a re-positioning of trust.

The WHO focuses exclusively on AIDS prevention, but doctors, citizens, activists, and practitioners address the social side of medicine when they talk about PrEP.  In particular, proponents construct discourses of control over sexuality and new kinds of connection, purportedly stifled or repressed when mediated through the barrier of a condom. For instance, in an interview with NPR, a New York man who uses Truvada as PrEP explains:

I didn’t fully understand what it meant to live in fear every time I had sex…And it wasn’t until about a year after I was using PREP that I had the experience of pleasurable intimacy, and realized: I’m not afraid anymore.

In ironic tension with this increased physical intimacy, is the diminished need to rely on a partner’s honesty and engage in potentially awkward and difficult conversations about sexual history[ii]. In a neoliberal move of control over the self—rather than stewardship for one another—the pill allows sexual subjects to protect themselves responsibly. This of course repositions responsibility, such that the contraction of AIDS can legitimately elicit the accusatory question: were you taking your pill regularly? This is inextricably entwined with morality. A protected body is a responsible body. A responsible self is a moral self[iii].

Interestingly, this personal responsibility is tied in with, indeed depends upon, a technological object. The moral self, here, is literally consumed.

Perhaps unsatisfyingly, I close with no clear argument for or against the production, sale, distribution, or use of PrEP. Instead, I point to the imbrication of bodies, technologies, and market economies. Truvada is not just about safety, it is about self. It is about morality. And it is, as always, about monetary exchange.

 

Jenny Davis is a weekly contributor for Cyborgology. Follow Jenny on Twitter @Jenny_L_Davis

[i] It is unclear why the recommendation is for men who have sex with men specifically, and not extended to the full list of “vulnerable populations” as identified by the WHO, which include people in prison, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people

 

[ii] Of course this drug only prevents AIDS.  Condoms and communication are still essential in preventing other sexually transmitted diseases.

 

[iii] This discourse sounds quite familiar in its mimicry of women and birth control pills.

 

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Children Seeking Refuge Have Hardened Americans Against Undocumented Immigrants http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/R7wZ6IiQxYQ/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/R7wZ6IiQxYQ/ Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:00:59 CDT Lisa Wade, PhD at Sociological Images This year tens of thousands of Central American children, fleeing violence and poverty, have been arriving in the U.S. seeking refuge.  It’s a stunning story that has been covered widely in the media and Americans’ opinions about immigration have taken a hit. The Pew Research Center collected data regarding American leniency toward undocumented immigrants in February and […] This year tens of thousands of Central American children, fleeing violence and poverty, have been arriving in the U.S. seeking refuge.  It’s a stunning story that has been covered widely in the media and Americans’ opinions about immigration have taken a hit.

The Pew Research Center collected data regarding American leniency toward undocumented immigrants in February and July, before and after media coverage of this crisis began.  The results show that members of all political parties, on average, are less inclined to allow “immigrants living in U.S. who meet certain requirements” to stay legally (see far right column).

The strongest opponents are Republicans and members of the Tea Party.  These groups were more opposed to enabling undocumented immigrants to stay legally to begin with and they showed the greatest change in response to this new crisis.

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Republicans and Independents are also more likely than Democrats to think that we should speed up the deportation process, even if it means deporting children who are eligible for asylum.

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Feminist Reflections http://thesocietypages.org/editors/2014/07/21/feminist-reflections/ http://thesocietypages.org/editors/2014/07/21/feminist-reflections/ Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:35:17 CDT Chris Uggen at The Editors' Desk We place a high value on collaborative conversations at TSP. That’s one of the reasons we’re so delighted to welcome Feminist Reflections to our community pages. Gayle Sulik’s inaugural post offers a thoughtful invitation to a new space for engaging in feminist conversations about everyday life, for expanding feminist networks, and for celebrating feminist work. We need a formal […] Creative Commons image by D. Morris

Creative Commons image by D. Morris

We place a high value on collaborative conversations at TSP. That’s one of the reasons we’re so delighted to welcome Feminist Reflections to our community pages. Gayle Sulik’s inaugural post offers a thoughtful invitation to a new space for engaging in feminist conversations about everyday life, for expanding feminist networks, and for celebrating feminist work.

We need a formal communal setting that is open to intellectual curiosity, the musings of everyday life and the emotions that set their tone, and the exploration of how ideas and knowledge are tied to power and influence. We need to contemplate poverty in the midst of riches, subjectivity and neutrality, public power and the linkages between meaning and power, and the social construction of knowledge (What counts as “knowledge”? Who has/lacks access? Who gets to create it?). We need to reflect, with a feminist perspective, on our lives as sociologists and human beings.

You can learn more about Tristan Bridges, another regular contributor, in this week’s fascinating Office Hours podcast on masculinities and sexual aesthetics. You’ll also find such scholars as Meika Loe, Trina Smith, and Amy Blackstone on Feminist Reflections. I’m personally excited to welcome Professor Blackstone to these pages, since few people have taught me more about the value and necessity of feminist perspectives in sociology. As we’ve coauthored seven pieces, I’ve felt fortunate to engage in the sort of productive back-and-forth that yields lasting insights as well as articles. We’re looking forward to engaging many more such collaborative conversations in Feminist Reflections.

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Weekly Roundup: July 21, 2014 http://thesocietypages.org/editors/2014/07/21/ru072114/ http://thesocietypages.org/editors/2014/07/21/ru072114/ Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:05:45 CDT Letta Page at The Editors' Desk This week, TSP was pleased to welcome our latest Community Page, Feminist Reflections; to host Tristan Bridges (one of Feminist Reflections’ contributors) on Office Hours, and to talk baby contagions and blocking contraception at the Supreme Court. What else did we get up to? Office Hours: “Tristan Bridges on Hybrid Masculinities and Sexual Aesthetics,” with […] RU072114This week, TSP was pleased to welcome our latest Community Page, Feminist Reflections; to host Tristan Bridges (one of Feminist Reflections’ contributors) on Office Hours, and to talk baby contagions and blocking contraception at the Supreme Court. What else did we get up to?

Office Hours:

Tristan Bridges on Hybrid Masculinities and Sexual Aesthetics,” with Kyle Green. Being straight but not narrow and changing masculine norms along the way.

There’s Research on That!

Religion, Reproduction, and the Supreme Court,” by Jacqui Frost. Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College’s cases before the SCOTUS reveal just one facet of the constraints on women’s access to reproductive health services.

Reading List:

Testing in the Trenches,” by Evan Stewart. In Sociology of Education, Jennifer Jennings and Heeju Sohn consider whether both high and low achieving kids are left behind when teachers have to do perform “educational triage” before high-stakes testing.

Citings & Sightings:

Baby-onic Plague,” by Kat Albrecht. The Chicago Tribune considers international research identifying three reasons women seem to catch a “case of the kids” from their circle of friends.

Council on Contemporary Families:

Gender Equality: Family Egalitarianism Follows Workplace Opportunity,” by Philip N. Cohen. Traditional male and female arrangements in housework became more balanced as the labor market opened up in the 1970s and ’80s. Why has it stalled since then?

A Few from the Community Pages:

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Border Fences Make Unequal Neighbors http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/LaDv821lSbk/ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/LaDv821lSbk/ Mon, 21 Jul 2014 09:00:49 CDT Philip Cohen at Sociological Images There is one similarity between the Israel/Gaza crisis and the U.S. unaccompanied child immigrant crisis: National borders enforcing social inequality. When unequal populations are separated, the disparity creates social pressure at the border. The stronger the pressure, the greater the military force needed to maintain the separation. To get a conservative estimate of the pressure at the Israel/Gaza border, […] There is one similarity between the Israel/Gaza crisis and the U.S. unaccompanied child immigrant crisis: National borders enforcing social inequality. When unequal populations are separated, the disparity creates social pressure at the border. The stronger the pressure, the greater the military force needed to maintain the separation.

To get a conservative estimate of the pressure at the Israel/Gaza border, I compared some numbers for Israel versus Gaza and the West Bank combined, from the World Bank (here’s a recent rundown of living conditions in Gaza specifically). I call that conservative because things are worse in Gaza than in the West Bank.

Then, just as demographic wishful thinking, I calculated what the single-state solution would look like on the day you opened the borders between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. I added country percentiles showing how each state ranks on the world scale (click to enlarge).

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Israel’s per capita income is 6.2-times greater, its life expectancy is 6 years longer, its fertility rate is a quarter lower, and its age structure is reversed. Together, the Palestinian territories have a little more than half the Israeli population (living on less than 30% of the land). That means that combining them all into one country would move both populations’ averages a lot. For example, the new country would be substantially poorer (29% poorer) and younger than Israel, while increasing the national income of Palestinians by 444%. Israelis would fall from the 17th percentile worldwide in income, and the Palestinians would rise from the 69th, to meet at the 25th percentile.

Clearly, the separation keeps poor people away from rich people. Whether it increases or decreases conflict is a matter of debate.

Meanwhile

Meanwhile, the USA has its own enforced exclusion of poor people.

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Photo of US/Tijuana border by Kordian from Flickr Creative Commons.

The current crisis at the southern border of the USA mostly involves children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They don’t actually share a border with the USA, of course, but their region does, and crossing into Mexico seems pretty easy, so it’s the same idea.

To make a parallel comparison to Israel and the West Bank/Gaza, I just used Guatemala, which is larger by population than Honduras and El Salvador combined, and also closest to the USA. The economic gap between the USA and Guatemala is even larger than the Israeli/Palestinian gap. However, because the USA is 21-times larger than Guatemala by population, we could easily absorb the entire Guatemalan population without much damaging our national averages. Per capita income in the USA, for example, would fall only 4%, while rising more than 7-times for Guatemala (click to enlarge):

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This simplistic analysis yields a straightforward hypothesis: violence and military force at national borders rises as the income disparity across the border increases. Maybe someone has already tested that.

The demographic solution is obvious: open the borders, release the pressure, and devote resources to improving quality of life and social harmony instead of enforcing inequality. You’re welcome!

Cross-posted at Family Inequality.

Philip N. Cohen is a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and writes the blog Family Inequality. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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