Category Archives: Collective Behaviour and Social Movements

Men and Global Gender Justice

A side-event at the 2012 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Attribution: Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org via Wikimedia Commons

A side-event at the 2012 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Attribution: Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org via Wikimedia Commons

The Huffington Post recently ran an article by Juliana Carlson, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas and member of the Mobilizing Men in Violence Prevention research collaboration, on the topic of men’s global engagement in the prevention of violence against women and girls.  She argues that “men and boys have been largely relegated to the sidelines of violence preventions efforts” but that a growing movement “aims to create structural change by engaging boys and men in conversations about equality, gender expectations, family health, fatherhood, and the concrete, positive roles they can and do play, such as sharing caregiving and being a role model for younger generations.”  The proliferation of NGOs doing this crucial work with men and boys extends well beyond the prevention of violence against women and may signal a larger shift in human rights and global development discourse.  (more…)

Alternative to the school-to-prison pipeline

In my last post I discussed the role the school-to-prison pipeline plays in increasing the gap in minority education. The consequences of zero tolerance school policies are many including stigmatization, dropping out of school, and/or getting a juvenile record. Some schools have begun to change their responses to deviance in schools by going away from zero tolerance policies and towards restorative justice models. Restorative justice is a proactive approach requiring wholesale cultural change in the punishment orientation of the school system based on improved responsibility and communication. The restorative justice program provides long-term change that emphasizes building relationships, improve behavior, reduce violence, and build community (Zehr, 2002).   (more…)

Understanding Society through Soccer? Fan Cultures, Identities and Politics

[By Porcielcrosa [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.]

Although soccer (or ‘football’ as it is known in most places globally) still lags behind the four ‘major’ sports of American football, basketball, baseball and hockey as a speactator sports, it does have a sizeable and growing following in the US. A recent interdisciplinary conference at Hofstra University explored the importance and meaning of soccer in society – beyond (but including) economics and market shares – and made the argument that soccer (and sports more generally) should be treated as a serious topic of academic study, a phenomenon worthy of our attention and a lens through which society can be understood. One sociologically relevant topic is that of fans, violence, politics and identity in soccer.

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A look at the ‘Religion versus Science’ debate through a sociological lens

 

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Recent, high-profile debates between representatives of religion and science show this rivalry is as hot as ever. Yet, despite Richard Dawkins’ fantasies, science will never eliminate religion. A Foucauldian analysis tells us why. (more…)

The School-to-Prison Pipeline and the Minority Educational Gap

Retrieved from Getty images.

Retrieved from Getty images.

In a recent Sociology Lens post, Markus Gerke detailed the problem associated with President Obama’s rhetoric of individual responsibility for increasing opportunities for Latino and Black men. One component to President Obama’s initiative is to increase educational opportunities for these populations and Gerke correctly notes that the focus on individual responsibility ignores the structural barriers that limit these populations. Research suggests that a major factor in the educational achievement gap is the presence of the school-to-prison pipeline and the punishment of minority students at greater rates than white students. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education notes that 5 percent of white students in the United States are suspended compared to 16 percent of black students.  Furthermore, researchers have documented racial disparities in school punishment for over 40 years with African-Americans accounting for 34 percent of suspensions nationwide, despite making up only 17 percent of the population (Browne, 2003).

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Fly me to the Moon: Aviation: past, present, and future

By Yamaguchi Yoshiaki from Japan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

This year marks one century of commercial flying. On New Year’s Day in 1914, a large crowd gathered in St.Petersburg, Florida, as an airboat named ‘Benoist’ (after its creator, Thomas Benoist), took to the sky for a 23-minute flight over the Tampa Bay, carrying a single passenger (Abram Pheil, who won his $400 ticket in an auction). This maiden flight soon became a regular route, thus marking aviation’s birth as a viable industry. In the following decades, transnational routes, jet engines and global airlines became fixtures of modern life.

What a difference a century makes. Today, 52 aircraft take off every minute, and an incredible half a million people are in the air above us at any one time. Flying now facilitates family visits, holidays, business and academic conferences, and freight trade; it’s made the world smaller, and the global economy bigger. (more…)

The Myth of the ‘Skills Gap’ and the Attack on (Higher) Education

By movie studio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In January, President Obama became the latest in a long list of politicians and high profile public figures in taking a shot at academic disciplines perceived to be ‘useless’ from a labor market perspective. Talking about manufacturing and job training, Obama (who has since apologized for his remarks) said: “I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” This attack on disciplines, fields and degrees that do not tie in directly to what is perceived to be the workplace of today and tomorrow are nothing new. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory made similar, albeit much more explicit and vicious, remarks about higher education just last year, lashing out against the (inter)discipline of women’s and gender studies: “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine. Go to a private school, and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.” These and similar remarks point to two related notions that dominate in the debate about (higher) education: 1. The idea of a “skills gap” – that is the idea that workers and college graduates do not possess the right skills to fill vacant jobs in growing economic sectors. And 2. The idea that some academic disciplines are simply useless pursuits, as they do not help graduates secure employment. But do these ideas have empirical ground?

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What Comes After Woman?: gender identity and the women’s movement

Genderqueer Pride Flag

Genderqueer Pride Flag (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Last year, as I completed my fieldwork, I was unexpectedly reminded of the continuing contention around gender identity. Interviewing dozens of people involved in social movement actions around austerity and economic inequality, I anticipated that there would be some emotional responses, moments of hesitation, perhaps even discomfort around some of my inquiries. I did not expect to elicit these reactions during the demographics section of the interviews. Yet, about a third of the time, when I asked the respondent to disclose a gender identity, there would be silence. Sometimes after the long pause the respondent would cautiously clarify whether I was seeking to categorize them as either male or female (I wasn’t). Other times the interviewee would go into a longer explanation of their opposition to the gender binary before identifying with a gender non-conforming label or declaring gender irrelevant and declining to provide an identity at all. (more…)

Unist’ot’en action camp: the importance of autonomy in resistance

The Unist’ot’en Action Camp.

The Unist’ot’en Action Camp. (Source: http://unistotencamp.com/?cat=6)

As the Midwest and Northeastern United States thaw out from our early January “Polar Vortex,” I can’t help but wish governments and corporations would make self-improvement resolutions like so many people do during this time of year. Corporations are, after all, afforded the rights of “personhood,” so why not? What would their lists include? In my dream scenario these bodies would resolve to abolish themselves but, assuming this won’t happen any time soon, I significantly lower the bar. Perhaps something like, “This year, I resolve to stop exacerbating climate change. I will try really hard to protect the earth and respect the people who live on it.” Sadly, such self-initiatives are also unlikely. Fortunately, collective action has a history of forcing governments and corporations to halt their rampant destruction. (more…)

Goffman and the Web

researchaboutsocialmedia.com

researchaboutsocialmedia.com

 

Despite writing in an era that predated many of the digital communication technologies that have become important to us, Erving Goffman’s analyses of social behaviour and interaction may be useful for understanding digital phenomena.  Recently there has been a resurgence of  Goffman’s ideas within web and digital communication research, notably from the Presentation of self in everyday life (1959).  This article draws on recent work which has applied Goffman’s ideas to the digital field to suggest how his work is still influential today. (more…)