Tag Archives | Sociology

Social Class as Culture

Alice In WonderlandVia ScienceDaily:

Social class is more than just how much money you have. It’s also the clothes you wear, the music you like, the school you go to — and has a strong influence on how you interact with others, according to the authors of a new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

People from lower classes have fundamentally different ways of thinking about the world than people in upper classes — a fact that should figure into debates on public policy, according to the authors.”Americans, although this is shifting a bit, kind of think class is irrelevant,” says Dacher Keltner of the University of California-Berkeley, who cowrote the article with Michael W. Kraus of UC-San Francisco and Paul K. Piff of UC-Berkeley. “I think our studies are saying the opposite: This is a profound part of who we are.”

People who come from a lower-class background have to depend more on other people.

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Most Beneficiaries Of Government Programs Don’t Know They Use Government Programs

Via Sociological Images, an excerpt from research by Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler in which Americans were asked whether they had ever benefited from or participated in specific federal programs. As it turns out, a large number of people who have benefited from various federal programs or policies do not recognize themselves as having done so. This reveals something about people’s attitudes and framing, perhaps about whom they think government social programs “help”:


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Sweden Debuts Gender-Neutral Preschool

3596182798_fdf38a900eAt best, a school model for the more-enlightened future, and at worst, an intriguing social experiment. Via Yahoo News:

At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes.

Egalia doesn’t deny the biological differences between boys and girls — the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct. What matters is that children understand that their biological differences “don’t mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities.”

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward. Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

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Chris Hedges’s Endgame Strategy: Why The Revolution Must Start In America

Synopsis via The Raw Story:
Pulitzer-winning author and former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges has a revolutionary worldview. In the video below, his recent “Endgame Strategy” piece for AdBusters is read aloud by George Atherton. His conclusions are chilling, but not entirely hopeless. “We will have to take care of ourselves,” he wrote. “We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.
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Are The Smurfs Racist, Sexist Fascists?

SmurfsMeaghan Murphy writes on Fox News:

Sacre bleu! The Smurfs may not be as innocent as they look.

The tribe of little blue creatures who live peacefully among the mushrooms are “steeped in Stalinism and Nazism,” according to a French sociologist.

“Collective work always focuses on self-sufficiency for food and energy,” Antoine Buéno states in Le Petit Livre Bleu (The Little Blue Book). “The Smurfs do not have private property; their leader is Papa Smurf who shows very authoritarian and paternalistic characteristics.”

Buéno also makes the connection that the little blue men’s biggest enemy, the magician Gargamel, seems to have a Jewish background — citing similarities to the anti-Semitic images of the World War II era.

The French writer also claims that the Smurfs do not just resemble Nazis, but sexist Nazis to boot! Smurfette—traditionally the only woman living in the Smurf’s village — allegedly meets the Aryan ideal of beauty with her blonde hair and refined features.

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Does ‘Public Opinion’ Really Exist?

100602601_348e347e48_oFlip on cable news, and within twenty minutes the host will cite the latest survey as proof of which candidates should run for office and which foreign enemy we must now smite. Writing for New Left Media, John Brissenden tears apart the idea of opinion polls as a gauge for determining what anyone truly wants. The public may respond to opinion polls, but it’s the media, business, and political elite who compose the questions:

From its inception a century ago, and in its current construction, the terrain of ‘public opinion’ is far from being a neutral space where a representative democracy deliberates and resolves issues. At best, ‘public opinion’, as represented in opinion polls, is a deeply flawed mechanism for gauging the extent of wider support for a particular cause. At worst, it is hostile territory, constructed and owned by the ruling class.

In the 1920s, polling pioneers such as James Gallup advocated polls as a means of capturing and expressing the public will, in a more scientific – and therefore representative – way than, for example, pressure groups.

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Nudists Seek Out The Young And The Naked

Nudism is back — sort of. Douglas Belkin reports for the Wall Street Journal:

OXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla.—On a recent Friday morning, Jessi Bartoletti arrived at the Sunsport Gardens Nudist Resort here in a T-shirt and shorts.

By evening, the 19-year-old had stripped down to a string of purple Mardi Gras beads and was dancing around a bonfire with about 200 young nudists, many of them first-timers.

File-Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0828-411A, Wismarer Bucht, FKK-Strand crop

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this free,” Ms. Bartoletti yelled over pounding drums.

That’s good news to the nudist resort industry, which is desperate for young nudists like Ms. Bartoletti to augment its clientele of graying baby boomers.

Membership in the two big nudist umbrella groups has been flat or declining for years, prompting a youth-recruitment effort that includes reverse-strip-poker nights, volleyball tournaments, naked 5K road races and music festivals like Nudepalooza and Nudestock.

One new group, Young Nudists and Naturists of America, this month is having a naked dinner party in a loft in New York’s financial district to recruit members.

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Who Is Non-Religious In America?

Sociological Images reports on a fascinating study that you may have missed the first time around — the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, which reveals much about the U.S. atheist/agnostic/”spiritual-but-non-religious” population (referred to as Nones). Perhaps what stands out most is just how “normal” the average American non-religious person is. Demographically, Nones look just like broader populace — being non-religious cuts almost uniformly across income and education levels and racial groups (disproving stereotypes of, for instance, African Americans as being more religious than other groups).

So what is notable about the non-religious? The None population skews male, skews young, has shifted leftwards politically over the last two decades, and, for some reason, is extremely Irish. People of Irish decent comprise a third of U.S. non-religious despite being only 12 percent of the general population. Click the above links for more data.


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Are Women Developing Immunity to the Sexual Harassment ‘Virus’?

TaxiScienceDaily reports:

Sexual harassment may have become so commonplace for women that they have built up resistance to harassing behavior they consider merely “bothersome,” suggests a provocative new study by Michigan State University researchers.This effect, said lead investigator Isis Settles, may be similar to the way people build up immunity to infection following exposure to a virus.

“When women view sexual harassment as bothersome, it doesn’t seem to be associated with distress,” said Settles, associate professor of psychology. “In some ways this suggests that sexual harassment is such a widespread problem that women have figured out ways to deal with it so it doesn’t interfere with their psychological well-being.”

For the study, which appears in the research journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers examined surveys of more than 6,000 women and men serving in all five branches of the U.S. military.

Sexual harassment was a problem for both sexes, the study found.

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