Avoiding the Holiday Slide

I’ve now ostensibly spent over half my wee life in college. First, as an undergrad, then a grad student, then some more undergrad, staff time, and now as a sort of academia groupie (let’s just say I loiter around a sociology department more often than some find “normal”). And yet, this is the first time in all those years that I’ve really felt the “holiday slide.” My brain essentially tried to go on vacation, starting the day before Thanksgiving (for our international readers, this year’s Thanksgiving was on Nov. 22). I’ve fought back valiantly, but not nearly so valiantly as our authors and grad students, who continue creating great work week after week—undeterred, like the post office, by rain, sleet, or the allure of two weeks without writing an exam, a recommendation letter, a grant application, a survey, or a holiday card. Here’s what they were up to this week.


The Crime of Genocide,” by Hollie Nyseth Brehm. In which the author discusses the preconditions and perpetrators of genocide—why, despite cries of “Never Again!” these mass crimes happen, again and again.

Beyond the Pop Psychology of White Identity and Racism: Deconstructing Racial Dualities,” by Matthew W. Hughey. In which the author looks at a white antiracist group and a white supremacist group and finds a surprising commonality in their construction of their own white identities.

The Editors’ Desk:

Demolition Derby and the Social Construction of Injury,” by Chris Uggen. In which we learn that some things make no sense without sociology… like how 10% of those involved in car accidents will develop chronic pain, but fewer than 7.5% of demolition derby drivers will ever report even mild chronic injury.

Citings & Sightings:

Halving it All,” by Lisa Gulya. In which sociologist Michael Kimmel takes down the “war on men,” pointing out: “Equality sucks when you’ve been on top—and men have been on top for so long we think it’s a level playing field.”

Desegregating the Toy Store,” by Andrew Wiebe. In which a Swedish toy company “reverses” genders in its holiday catalog, and Sociological Images’ Lisa Wade wonders: progress or publicity stunt?

Assessing Brown v. Board of Education,” by Hollie Nyseth Brehm. In which The Atlantic checks in on the success of this landmark case, as supervised, desegregated districts drop to  just 268.

Class War in the Toy Store,” by Andrew Wiebe. In which we see kids aren’t just learning gender, but class norms through their playthings.

Reading List:

When the World is Watching,” by Shannon Golden. In which Ursula Daxecker finds the most monitored elections in developing democracies are also the most likely to lead to violence and unrest.

Teaching TSP:

Intelligence Squared Debates as a Teaching Tool,” by Kyle Green. In which a sociological research methods instructor shares a way to keep students analyzing smart, easily accessible debates, even after hotly contested political races are over.

A Few from the Community Pages:

  • Sociological Images. This week Soc Images set off a debate with “A Balanced Look at Female Genital ‘Mutilation,’” checked in on regional support for same-sex marriage, and invited Sociology Lens’s Cheryl Llwellyn to share a shorter version of her three-part essay on “Women, Sexuality, and the HPV Vaccine.”
  • Graphic Sociology. Laura Noren examines an award-winning interactive visualization created by Jan Willem Tulp for the Eyeo Festival at Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center (the challenge was to visualize Census 2010 data without using a map). Noren ends on a manifesto of sorts: “Graphic Sociology exists in part to find a way to keep social scientists motivated to produce higher quality infographics and data visualizations… But the blog is equally good for sharing a social scientific perspective with computer scientists and designers who are ahead of us …There is a way to bring the strengths of these fields together in a meaningful, positive way. We are not there yet.”
  • Cyborgology. The blog goes tongue-in-cheek on Google’s representation without taxation (companies are people, too!), explores the unexplored in the “uncanny valley” (and explains Masahiro Mori’s notion that “as non-human objects approach a human likeness they start, for lack of a better phrase, to really creep us the hell out”), and shows us the Pinterest-to-Prison Pipeline.

Scholars Strategy Network:

Who Pays America’s Taxes?” by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez and Vanessa Williamson. An excellent question.

The Futility and High Cost of Criminalizing Marijuana Use,” by Katherine Beckett. A brilliant criminologist wonders why we pursue such dim drug policies.