In this 20-minute video, the Pew Research Center’s Paul Taylor discusses trends in the racial/ethnic breakdown of the U.S. population over the last century. Taylor discusses a number of related issues, including the income and wealth gap, perceptions about interracial relations, and the electoral implications of the demographic changes. For instance, while Ronald Reagan once said Hispanics are “Republicans who don’t know it yet,” there’s no evidence that they’re any closer to realizing it. As Hispanics and Asians make up an increasing proportion of the voting population, old electoral strategies based on winning most of the White vote are no longer sufficient to win a national election.
I’d skip the introductory remarks and start just after the 2-minute mark.
Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.
I was so honored to be invited to give the AKD Induction Ceremony Address for the University of Akron this year. It was an opportunity to give a speech about something in which I deeply believe: the awesomeness of sociology. So, here it is!
My 13 minute ode to the discipline, featuring (an attempt at) self-deprecating sociology humor and a few personal confessions regarding my own rough start with sociology:
At about 1:00 Monday, a quorum of the Occidental Faculty overwhelmingly voted No Confidence in the campus attorney, Carl Botterud, and the Dean of Students, Barbara Avery. I was among the faculty in attendance.
While the motions are symbolic, such measures are quite rare. It is a very powerful statement coming from a faculty united in defense of survivors of sexual assault and their allies. We now wait to see how the College President, Jonathan Veitch, moves forward. The two are currently still active employees at Occidental (that is, not on administrative leave) and Avery continues to chaperone students through the reporting and adjudication process. We are told there is or will be an internal investigation into their conduct.
The vote of no confidence comes on the heels of two federal complaints filed by a coalition of students and faculty and a set of lawsuits filed by Gloria Allred. It is the next step in our personal fight for a better campus, but part of a nationwide movement involving dozens of campuses across the country.
Last week the U.S. Congress made headlines when it quickly adjusted the sequester cuts that affected air traffic control. How quickly? Parts of it were hand-written (via The Daily Show): The move was interpreted as one meant to a certain class of voters, but it was also as a purely self-interested move, since Congress members fly quite frequently.
Riffing on this, Bloomberg Businessweek put together a short video about a little-known congressional perk: free and convenient parking at Reagan National Airport.
This little perk, saving congress members time and $22-a-day parking fees, is a great example of the way that privilege translates into being “above society.” The more power, connections, and money you have, the more likely you are to be able to break both the legal and social contract with impunity. Sometimes this just means getting away with breaking the law (e.g., the fact that, compared to the crimes of the poor and working classes, we do relatively little to identify and prosecute so-called “white collar” criminals and tend to give them lighter or suspended sentences when we do). But these perks are also often above board; they’re built into the system. And who builds the system again?
In other words, some of the richest people in the world get free parking at the airport because they’re the ones making the rules. I like this as a concrete example, but be assured that there is a whole universe of such rules and, like this sudden revelation about free parking, most of them go entirely unnoticed by most of us most of the time.
This vintage ad for a cockroach racing game is a great reminder that what seems normal isn’t necessarily natural or inevitable. Most Americans today would grimace at the idea of playing with cockroaches, as the insect is held up as an icon of filth and disease. But sometime in the ’40s, someone at the International Mutoscope Reel Company thought this was a good idea! Or, then again, maybe times haven’t changed so much; the company went bankrupt in 1949.
Scholars suggest that studying abroad in a previously-colonized country may increase people’s cultural sensitivity and awareness of global inequality. I investigated this hypothesis by interviewing college students: one group had studied abroad for a semester or more, the other had only traveled out of the country for vacation.
I asked both groups to view and analyze fashion photography that contrasted models with more humble images of residents of less developed countries. I hoped people would point to how, by contrasting glamorous, thin, conventionally-attractive White models with “average” people from less-privileged countries served to heighten the high status of the West and their representatives. I saw this as a form of Western “slumming”: a practice of spending time in places or with people who are “below” you, out of curiosity or for fun or personal development.
Here are three examples of the kinds of photography I showed students:
My findings revealed that study abroad students think they’re more culturally competent but, in fact, they were no more likely than people who had never studied abroad to express concern about the exploitation of previously colonized people in ads like these.
The majority of students from both groups – those who’d studied abroad and those who hadn’t — demonstrated a distinct lack of concern. They unreflexively “Othered” the people in these images; that is, they affirmed the locals’ marginalized group status and labeled them as being Other, belonging outside of our normative Western structure.
The majority also expressed approval of the aesthetics of the ads without irony. For example, one student said: “I think it works because it’s this edgy, culturally stimulating, and aesthetically pleasing ad.” When asked the art director’s intentions, another student commented: “I don’t know. Just like ordinary people next to someone who’s on top of their fashion game.”
Only select few students successfully observed the use of Othering in the images. When asked the art director’s intentions of one image, a student replied: “I think it’s to contrast the model with the everyday life of these people… (it) feels more like an image of people of color being an accessory.” Noticing this theme, interestingly, did not correlate with having studied abroad, in contrast to my hypothesis.
My findings suggest, then, that living abroad for a semester or more in a previously colonized country does not necessarily contribute to the detection of global inequality in fashion photography.
Erica Ales is a senior Sociology major at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California.
Research has shown that college students largely think that asking for sexual consent — “Do you want to have sex?” — “ruins the mood.” This is partly because it violates their sexual script, the norms and expectations that guide sexual encounters.
If explicit consent violates the sexual script, then students are left trying to discern consent from more subtle and implicit verbal and non-verbal cues. I did a research project to determine how they do this, interviewing 19 college students about their perceptions of sexual consent in popular television programs.
I discovered that students often interpreted the same scenes dramatically differently. For example, I showed them this scene from The Vampire Diaries (0:04 to 1:27):
Eleven of my 19 respondents brought up the issue of verbal consent. Five said the verbal interchange in the scene indicated consent; six said it did not. Their contrasting perceptions focused on the male character’s statement, “Let’s get out of here.” The five students who saw the scene as consensual were inclined to classify the declaration, “Let’s get out of here” as the moment where verbal consent is given. For example, Hannah said:
…like I mean he doesn’t outright say “do you wanna have sex” but he says “do you want to get out of here” and she’s like “yes.” That’s like the only one where there’s like an actual yes! [giggling] I mean like a verbal yes.
Hannah said the scene indicated consent because she equated “getting out of here” with sex.
In contrast, Natalie and five others disagreed with Hannah and those who considered the verbal exchange between Tyler and Caroline to be a form of verbal consent:
No, I would say, there was like no talk of consent, really… In the Vampire Diaries one, by him saying like, “let’s get out of here,” there might be an assumption associated with that and then her saying, “Okay,” like could be consent, quote, unquote. But, I don’t really think that qualifies, either.
Natalie believed there was a correct way to obtain verbal consent. When I asked her what would make this scene consensual, Natalie replied, “Basically saying ‘Do you want to, do you want to go through with this?’—something like that.” Obviously, Natalie viewed consent as a different kind of verbal question.
The differences in these responses to The Vampire Diaries scene are striking. While verbal consent is often held up as the gold standard, I found disagreement as to exactly which statements constitute consent. This disagreement sets the stage for serious miscommunication about students’ sexual intentions. Some students interpret a phrase such as “Do you want to leave?” as “Do you want to leave this party and have sex at my house?” while other students believe that only a phrase such as “Do you agree to have sex with me?” communicates sexual consent.
Nona Gronert will graduate from Occidental College this May with a degree in Sociology and Spanish Literary Studies. She aspires to become a professor of Sociology.