Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
So, this was another interesting article I just recently stumbled upon that is drawn from our economic recession: the changing gender roles that are forced about by the economic situation. Apparently, the majority of people who have lost their jobs have been men, with seventy-eight percent of the jobs lost being men's jobs. This forces the men to either take the traditionally female role of caring for the children and home or for them to seek employment in jobs that are traditionally seen as women's jobs far more than men's, such as nursing.
Do you think this idea that recessions fuel this kind of change or do you attribute it to something else? Also, do you think it's something that's going to continue once the economy is better again, or do you think things will revert back to the way it was?
Photo from http://holamun2.com/files/images/attachments/2008/03/work-sign.jpg
Thursday, April 30, 2009
So this article highlights an interesting piece of popular culture- cussing. As is discussed in the article, cussing is a social habit that is seemingly hard to get rid of or avoid hearing in public places. But should we even try to eradicate such words from our language? As is discussed in this article, swearing is common on social networking sites like Twitter and MySpace. But what about the trend discussed in this article- that the habit of swearing goes up in times of extreme social stress? The current economy is cited as one cause of this. Another interesting part of this article is the "no-cussing" zones; do you think these could work? What are "the wrong places" and "wrong times" for swearing and does everyone know universally what they are?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Teen sexual behavior has become the subject of a great deal of public debate in America. Over one million teenage girls get pregnant each year. These pregnancies result in about 400,000 abortions, 134,000 miscarriages, and 490,000 births. Over two million teenagers a year are treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The two sides in the Culture War have entirely different solutions to the problem of teen sexuality. (Abstinence vs. More information and education about sex)
Abstinence only education only talks about how to say no, but does not offer ANY sort of practical information should the occasion ever arise, as it naturally will. Since you have tons of kids who aren't educated about protection having sex despite the "education" they received, they are left completely open to infection, and pregnancy because some people think that admitting that it exists will some how encourage teens to have sex.
The Washington Post reported in Feb 2008, a high school girl was caught giving head to this guy in school. When the principle asked, she replied "It's not like we were having sex."
The federal investment in abstinence-only education spiked 74 percent under President G. Bush to total $176 million annually. Congress cut $14 million from abstinence education programs last month.
I was watching television and on a law program a teenager was suing her school for teaching abstinence only. She had sex and contracted HIV. She felt that the school failed her in teaching her about protecting herself and therefore left her at a disadvantage by which she contracted HIV.
Do you believe that this institution is solely responsible for providing sex education? What role does the institution of family and religion have in this matter? What are your thoughts of $176 million annually going towards abstinence-only education when teachers are underpaid and many schools don’t have books and adequate supplies?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
It just made me think about our cell phone thing and how this is yet another feature that has come about from cell phones and society's influence on where technology goes next. What do you think will be the next big revolution?
Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
There have been quite a few stories in the news lately about pirates. What is interesting is how these groups of pirates came to exist as they do today. Somalia has the longest coastline in African and very rich fishing grounds. The Somalian government collapsed in 1991 due to a civil war. Without a government in place to protect the fishing grounds, fishing fleets from far away countries started to come and fish as much as they pleased. The citizens of somalia are very dependent on the fishing not only as a major food source for themselves but as the income for many people. The fishermen who lacked the large boats and technologies of the foreign fishing fleets got bullied and pushed off of their fishing grounds. It was during this time that pirate gangs began to form to protect the fishing grounds and the coastline of Somalia. It was quite easy for pirate gangs to seize ships and hold people for ransom. Many companies did not want the media attention for violating maritime laws and were willing to pay quietly. Because of this their networks were able to grow. However, the pirates today are not fishermen protecting their resource. It has become what some people say is a criminal network of people trying to make fortunes through pirating.
photo of Somali pirate from http://pursuethepassion.com/journey/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/somali-pirate.jpg
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
U.S. Tourists may have a new travel destination within the coming years. Since the Late 1950's the U.S government has not allowed U.S citizens to travel to Cuba. Not that it is illegal for citizens to be in Cuba, but the spending of U.S. money there is considered illegal by the U.S. This may soon change because congress is trying to have this ban lifted.
Since the end of the Cold War, Cuba has been encouraging international travelers to visit. It has been effective and Cuba has become a vacation destination for many Europeans. If Americans are openly allowed to visit, this may become a problem for the small Cuban tourism industry.
There are many concerns about allowing a flood of Americans into this country. Prices which are already high may become higher. Lodging in Cuba is not plentiful and with an influx of new tourists, it will become even more scarce. Many ameneties that Americans consider standard fare such as bottled beer, fruit, french fries, in room coffee makers, internet etc are scarce at even at the best Cuban resorts. Even getting an extra roll of toilet paper can be a hard to do at times. Restaurants are small, taxis and rental cars are hard to find as well. The airports would not be able to handle the amount of flights coming and going from the U.S.. Cuban tourism may not be able to meet the demands of the American Tourist.
Many tourism industry experts feel that by opening Cuba to American tourism, a huge strain would be put on this small country. Cuba at this time is not massively overhauling its hotels and other hotspots at the prospect of millions of new visitors. Instead as tourism increases, the tourism infrastructure is following along behind.
If the ban is lifted, it will be very interesting to see the changes in Cuba. If millions of Americans flock to Cuba for vacations, there will be a definate impact on the people and resources of the country. If Americans are allowed to go to Cuba, American influence will follow as well. Which can be both good and bad.
photo of Havana http://www.theodora.com/wfb/photos/cuba/cuba_photos_3.html
Friday, April 10, 2009
Hey Unruly Ones, there are many other sociology blogs. I thought you would find some of them interesting. You can visit the ASA's Contexts page to find a list of blogs by professional sociologists linked with Contexts, one of ASA's best new publications: http://contexts.org/blogs/. Some of my favorites are Sociological Images, Graphic Sociology, Contexts Podcasts. One of my photos is on Soc Images... can you find it? :) While you're cruising online, spend a few moments on the ASA website and read about sociology careers, grad schools, late-breaking issues, sociologists in the news, and other soc stuff. http://www.asanet.org/
ASCII pix above from http://www.labnol.org/ascii-art/
Unruly Ones, here is an article that I know you will find interesting. It is published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, April 10. I urge you to consider how YOU would use YOUR sociological imagination to analyze the anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican, anti-Native beliefs that are prevalent in our community. In addition, consider how the sociological imagination is more important now than ever before, with otherwise right-thinking people looking for scapegoats upon which to heap the blame for failures of all sorts, especially economic and educational failures.
Private Troubles and Public Issues in the Classroom
By JULIA ROTHENBERG
I teach sociology at a small college in Suffolk County, on Long Island. Most of my students were born and raised here, and many of them are the first in their families to attend college. They live at home and commute to the campus each day by car. Products of the standardized test-taking ushered in by the No Child Left Behind mandate, they have learned to compartmentalize the knowledge they learn in class, memorizing definitions long enough to pass exams and discarding information not directly related to their intended careers. In other words, they are a tough crowd for a social-science professor.
To introduce them to the field of sociology and the concept of collective human interests, I always begin the course with a reading of C. Wright Mills's essay "The Promise," the introductory chapter of his 1959 book, The Sociological Imagination. He addresses a discipline he feels has become dominated by an "abstracted empiricism" that fetishizes facts and calculations and preaches value-neutrality and political disengagement in its attempt to secure scientific legitimacy. He urges readers to develop "the sociological imagination," which, he explains, allows them to recognize the relationship between private troubles and public issues — between biography and history — and to understand that the problems of individuals cannot be accounted for solely on the level of the personal. Without the sociological imagination, Mills says, people became trapped in their familiar worlds, incapable of understanding the social and structural dimensions of their own predicaments.
Recently I had the opportunity to bring the sociological imagination to life for my students in a way that I hope will bear fruit for them in the real world. Last November seven Suffolk County high-school students attacked and killed 37-year-old Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, in Patchogue, N.Y., about a mile from my college. Jeffrey Conroy, leader of the pack and the teenager who inflicted the fatal knife wound, was a popular student and star athlete at the local high school.
According to newspaper articles, Conroy and his friends had planned to go out drinking and find a Mexican to beat up that evening. Apparently that is not an unusual form of recreation for male high-school students in this county, where anti-immigrant sentiments run deep. By the late 1990s, about 1,500 Mexican workers had moved to the mostly white, middle-class town of Farmingville, pulled there by employment opportunities in the landscaping, restaurant, and construction industries that served the wealthier Long Island communities to the east.
A particularly vocal group of residents had organized Sachem Quality of Life — part vigilante group, part neighborhood association. SQL took a hard line on illegal immigrants and blamed the state and federal governments for failing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into their community. They picketed and harassed laborers who gathered outside a local 7-Eleven waiting for potential employers. Group members complained of immigrants' living in crowded quarters, noise, stalled traffic, and feelings of discomfort when walking past large groups of Mexican men outside the 7-Eleven. They also feared that undocumented workers might commit crimes and then flee the community. The group rejected accusations of racism, but in 2001 it organized a Day of Truth, to which several speakers with strong ties to white-supremacist organizations were invited.
It is not surprising that Conroy and his friends, born and raised in this atmosphere of tension, developed anti-immigrant sentiments. But despite the community's history of hostility toward Latinos, and despite Conroy's status at his high school, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy explained that the attack on Mr. Lucero "wasn't a question of any county policy or legislation; it was a question of bad people doing horrific things" (emphasis mine).
As this horrible story unfolded, I invited my students, many of whom had personal ties to the perpetrators and their families, to practice the sociological imagination. Was this crime, I asked them, a public issue or a personal problem of the perpetrators? Could it be explained by the twisted psyche of a sociopath, or were history, community, and social structure at play?
To be sure, the students condemned the crime and agreed that Conroy's hostility toward immigrants must have been learned at home. But the sociological imagination required that we probe further, and so I pushed them. School authorities and families knew that high-school students occasionally harassed immigrants for entertainment, didn't they? Didn't the fact that those behaviors and attitudes were tolerated, if not condoned, by local adults undermine Levy's contention that the boys responsible for the murder were just bad seeds?
Teaching the sociological imagination is difficult. Many students have trouble understanding the connection between things like social mobility, crime, divorce, and unemployment and the larger social structure. That conceptual block is not surprising. The myth that individual motivation, talent, hard work, and a little bit of luck conquer all odds is central to American values and culture. Virtually all of what sociologists call the "agencies of socialization" tell us that wealth, fame, and power are within one's grasp if only one plays the game right (cheating is allowed). Part of playing the game right is to renounce the social impulse in favor of individual interests. Indeed, to many of my students, descended from Irish and Italian immigrants who achieved the American dream through the sweat of their brows, the myth looks real. The circumstances that gave white, working-class people upward mobility through low-cost suburban housing and jobs in manufacturing are occluded by the narrative of heroic individualism that frames their success as a personal rather than historical achievement.
The students were eager to talk. The sociological imagination seemed to function for them as a kind of social therapy. One woman said she felt uncomfortable walking past groups of Mexican men. Another student challenged her, asking if she would feel nervous if the men were white. Upon reflection, she admitted that she would not. Others insisted that they objected to the immigrant workers on the grounds that they were "illegal." When I pointed out that many of these "illegal" workers had fled north because of dismal conditions in their own countries resulting from trade policies that benefited U.S. businesses at the expense of workers in Mexico, we discussed the difference between "legal" and "ethical."
We also explored immigration from the perspective of culture and loss. What must it be like, some students wondered, to leave your country, family, language, and culture for a community in which you are treated as less than human? "Things must have been pretty bad at home to do that," one student observed.
From our class discussion of Lucero's death, I moved on to a more conventional lecture on issues such as institutional racism, theories of prejudice and scapegoating, and the centrality of immigrant labor in the global economy. The students seemed more attentive, probably because they could now see how abstract sociological concepts related to their everyday world. As a class, we were able to bring private trouble into the light of public analysis.
C. Wright Mills believed that the promise of sociology could not be fulfilled through academic exercise. The sense of anger and powerlessness that our failing economy will continue to bring to large swaths of our population may result in a rise in hate crimes, scapegoating, and other forms of social chaos. Teaching the next generation how to practice the sociological imagination is more crucial now than ever.
Julia Rothenberg is an assistant professor of sociology at St. Joseph's College, in Patchogue, N.Y.
Chronicle of Higher Education, April 10, 2009
photo of C. Wright Mills from www.c250.columbia.edu
photo of Marcelo Lucero's funeral procession from http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0dptbDM01l9Tm/340x.jpg
photo of Sachem Quality of Life demonstration from http://www.thedocumentaryblog.com/index.php/2006/10/09/farmingville/
photo of Jose Lucero, the victim's brother, and friend http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/nyregion/25conroy.html?ref=nyregion
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Elwin Wilson a 72 year old man from South Carolina is seeking forgiveness for his racist actions over the long course of his life. He has harassed and insulted black people for many years of his life. During the civil rights movement, he was a part of groups trying to break up lunch counter sit ins and other nonviolent protests. He burned crosses, hung nooses and has thrown things at black people. In 1961, during the freedom rides, Mr. Wilson brutally beat a black man at a bus stop. However in the late 70’s and eighties, Mr. Wilson worked with black people and even attended a former all black college. His anger had died down somewhat but that hate was always lurking underneath he says. It was not uncommon for Mr. Wilson to insult and harass black people as late as 1999. When asked about where his racist views came from in the first place; he says that it must have been the people he hung around with; it was like a sport Mr Wilson said. According to Mr. Wilson, it wasn’t his parents doing; they treated everyone equal he says.
Now at age 72 and rather sick, Mr. Wilson says that his hate has all gone away, and he feels remorse about actions over the years. Mr. Wilson cites religion as a major factor in his change of thinking. It was after the presidential inauguration that Mr. Wilson decided to start apologizing to those he has insulted or hurt. So Since January Mr. Wilson has been spending much time publicly and personally apologizing to all those people. Included in this group is the man that he beat in 1961. The man that Mr. Wilson beat is civil right leader John Lewis who is currently a congressman from Georgia. Many have met with and accepted his apologies including Mr. Lewis. There are some that preferred not to and question his motives for apologizing.
Mr. Wilson became a racist during the 1960’s and events of the civil rights movement. He lived in an area of the country that was clearly divided along two lines at that time. He got so caught up with racism and hate of that time period; it became a part of his belief system. Today society has changed a great deal and so has Mr. Wilson. Racism is embedded in the structure of our society and we have a long way to go before it is gone. While Mr. Wilson cites religion has a reason for changing his views. But, if the society and culture of where Mr Wilson lived helped to create his racist attitudes, then it may have played an important role in changing his mind about it as well.
photo of Wilson apologizing to Rep. Lewis from http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2009/02/05/ba-segregationis_0499759909.jpg
Friday, April 3, 2009
In my quick check of technology updates (which included a WiiMote-operated lawn mower...) I came across something that was very interesting not just from the sociological perspective, but also very pertinent to our research! Apparently, the biggest cellphone trade show happened this week in Las Vegas and there were some interesting developments. Apparently, the QWERTY (keyboard-style) cellphone has overtaken the numeric keypad that mimicks normal telephones. Why? The demand for cellphones that are more text-message friendly has gone up much higher in North America, where there were three times the amount of text-messages sent in 2008 than 2007. At this same trade show was the first economy priced QWERTY-based cell phone, all in hopes of making text message friendly phones more affordable.
The other big move in cellphone technology was towards cellphones with touch screens, with the majority of cellphones coming out having either touch screen or QWERTY pads or both.
Here's the article:
Hope you find it as fascinating as I did. And don't go craving those new models too much!
photo from sparklette.net
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
There will be a meeting on Thursday April 2 to discuss AKD activities and potential summer research opportunities at 2PM in our Capstone classroom. If you're interested, Dr. Arthur will be there to mediate and we were going to throw around some ideas about what we could do with the club. We don't want it to just sit there unused. Besides, being involved and actually producing something, like a paper, will make you feel good, make the community feel good, and will look good on your resume, too! (I know, it's cheesy)
Some things we were thinking about:
- Start a statewide/nationwide (depending on how computer literate we are) petition to the Japanese government urging them to aplogize and/or compensate the 50-80,000 Japanese comfort women who were raped, beaten, and killed during Japan's invasion of China.
- A summer research paper that we could possibly present at Pacific Sociology Association meeting with our cell phone paper next spring! We need something managable and possibly local.
- We want ideas! If all you can do is respond to this post and chime in some ideas, that would be extremely helpful as well because ANY help is always appreciated.
Have a good Thursday!
Tanabata and Sociologigi
Saturday, March 28, 2009
This year marks the 150th year anniversary of when Colonel Edwin Drake first extracted crude oil from underground reservoirs in Titusville, Pennsylvania. It also marks the 300th anniversary of when British inventor Abraham Darby invented the process to make choke. Choke is a charcoal- like fuel that is made from coal and can be used in the creating of steal, becoming an important substance during the industrial revolution. Although no one imagined it would still have the impact it does today, it still has a strong influence within many cultures, specifically Alaskan.
The technology of oil and coal influenced Alaska and its energy-based economy up to present day. Many state that they would have thought that by now some sort of nuclear fusion or some sort of advanced technology energy field could fuel flying cars off of its substance and would have surpassed the use and capability that coal and oil still have today.
During these anniversaries it just so happens that societies everywhere are facing an energy dilemma: should the global economy try to substitute natural gas and nuclear power for oil or just “simply” use coal? A quick natural gas solution for Fairbanks is to truck liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the North Slope. This process proves to be expensive and without state funding it might not happen. There are those that are looking for natural gas in the Nenana basin and do not want the state to help because there will be a competition with their own natural gas. This leaves individuals still waiting for an answer or results. Another solution that was suggested is piping natural gas through an in-state gas bullet line. This way the bullet line could supply those that are in the interior with enough natural gas to allow the interior to use compressed natural gas cars instead of gasoline cars. The issue proves to be the delay until the bullet line can be instated, which would be not till 2016 or later, which happens to be just as long as Nenana might take. Because of this time crunch, that leaves interior Alaska with a heating predicament and the final resort: coal.
Considering the issue of going green and global warming, few people like the idea of, or even the concept of discussing, or using coal specifically in the form of backyard coal boilers. Coal, when burned, produces the most carbon dioxide which contributes to the global warming issue and provides few sulfur pollutants. Oil is becoming scarce and as a result the price is beginning to rise to extreme heights.
Alaska, Fairbanks specifically, is right up front in terms of being exposed to the world’s energy turmoil. There are very few solutions, and even fewer that Alaskans are willing to use. Wood stoves might require the clear cutting of the states natural scenery to provide the Interiors 30,000 households with enough heat through he strict winters. Coal-to liquids would be costly and take far to long time implement, 2016 to long. Geothermal heat pump systems on individual houses are subject to freeze ups.
The way politics and the capitalist markets are playing out Interior Alaskan residents are going to have to make a choice. Considering the situation, they might be socially forced to make a choice between paying the very high and non-eco friendly way to heat their house while they wait a very long time until natural gas becomes locally available or switching to burning coal; the3 natural product that emits the highest levels of Carbon Dioxide.
Considering how long you have lived in Interior Alaska what choices do you feel you are being forced to accept? How much stronger of an impact does this situation have on us in Alaska as opposed to those that live in the lower 48? Consider the bullet line, would this help or hinder our social predicament? Spend some time reflecting on coal and how it affects our environment. What sort of impact will it have on society if we do/do not chose to use it?
photo of Seward from http://www.rbca-alaska.org/images/coal-dust.jpg
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Just wanted to remind you, in case you haven't heard me announcing it from a megaphone for the last two weeks, that The Vagina Monologues performances are going on this weekend! They're going to be this Friday and Saturday night at 8pm, and a Sunday matinee at 2pm. It's going to be F-A-B-ulous! And not just because I'm in it. ;) I hope to see you all there! And remember, your ticket proceeds and donations go to a very worthy cause - to the Interior Center for Non-Violent Living, as well as Stevie's place, which is the youth services equivalent to the CNVL. Bring your friends and your family, and tell everyone you know, anyone who might be interested, and anyone who might not be! ;) It's gonna be G-G-R-R-R-R-E-E-E-A-A-A-A-A-A-T-T-T-T! Thanks all!
Monday, March 23, 2009
DL culture has grown, in recent years, out of the shadows and developed its own contemporary institutions, for those who know where to look: Web sites, Internet chat rooms, private parties and special nights at clubs. To them, it is the safest identity available -- they don't risk losing their ties to family, friends and their black culture.
Why do you think that it is so important for the DL brother to stay connected to his black culture, while believing that this same culture would see his lifestyle as deviant? Some believe that this new culture is just a way to continue to fill a need for sex. Would you view this behavior as the African American male expressing hyper sexuality? How do you view these black men in relation to their roles with their spouses, children, jobs and community? What else sociologically crossed your mind or captured your attention?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
After her attack, investigators showed Thompson a number of photos of possible suspects. In their interview on the Today Show, Thompson admitted that her mind was trying to find the person in the group who most closely resembled the sketch she had helped the police artist draw, rather than her actual attacker. Thompson picked Cotton not only from the suspect photos, but also in a physical lineup, stating she was “100 percent certain” he was her attacker.
Cotton was sentenced and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. During many of those years in prison, Cotton actually knew who the real rapist was; a man by the name of Bobby Poole, and he’d landed in the same prison as Cotton. According to the article, “the two bore a striking physical resemblance to one another, and to the police sketch of Thompson’s attacker.”
With this information Cotton was granted a retrial three years after his initial imprisonment, but Thompson’s memory by now had firmly replaced her rapist’s face with that of Cotton. When she saw both Poole and Cotton in the same courtroom, she again identified Cotton as her rapist with absolute certainty.
Cotton continued to serve his sentence, trying to keep himself together, which he stated “wasn’t easy at all. I was missing my family, my loved ones. I took it day to day and hoped that true justice would prevail and open a door for me.” In 1995, when watching the O.J. Simpson trial, Cotton learned about the use of DNA evidence and contacted his attorneys, who were able to prove, after recovering one tiny sample of sperm from Thompson's rape kit, that Cotton was innocent and Poole was guilty. Cotton was a free man and began the difficult task of creating a new life. Despite receiving money in compensation from the state of North Carolina, he worked two jobs to get himself back on his feet.
Thompson was “torn apart by the revelation that her dead-certain testimony had imprisoned an innocent man” and was terrified that he was going to seek vengeance on her and her family. She lived in fear of retaliation for two years before finally reaching out to Cotton. When they met, he quickly relieved her of her guilt, simply stating that he had forgiven her long ago.
Conflict theorists would have a field day with this. How do you think they would respond? Do you think that this situation occurred because we as a society are taught to expect aggressive criminal behavior from black men, or was it simply a case of mistaken identity? What could be said that caused not only this man’s wrongful conviction, but his continued imprisonment for over a decade? Is it an irreparable problem with our criminal justice system, an unfortunate but unavoidable and, perhaps, necessary consequence - as a structural functionalist would view it -or is it a form of predictable, unjust discrimination? How would you explain how Cotton was so easily prosecuted and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit? Can an argument be made that he would have received the same sentence had he been a white man, or if the victim had not been a white woman? Would this be such a "heart-warming story" if Cotton had been a white man wrongfully imprisoned, or is this a crime of injustice and an example of the failure and racism inherent in our criminal justice system?
“She sent him to jail for rape; now they’re friends.”
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Unfortunately, because the program has limited funding provided by the state and grants, the program can only take 150 participates each year. Why is this? If the program has such a high success rate, why is there not more money going into it? As sociologists, do you think it is because they are a minority, so most of the state money and grants go towards privileged students? Is it that those in charge have expectations of failure for Alaska Native students, or hold negative stereotypes of Alaska Natives – having children at a young age, or the tendency towards consumption of alcohol that forces them to drop out? Or is it something else?
Some might think that this program is taking away Alaska Native culture, because it forces them to leave their villages and travel away from their traditional homes and ways of life. But this program does the opposite. It provides Alaska Native students the opportunity to succeed where they have not been so successful before, in education. Culture norms and values are passed down from generation to generation. However this program is not about taking away their culture but help educate the next generations with skills that can be used both in cities and back home in their villages.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The construction of a new prison is about to begin soon in Alaska. An article in New York Times states that 1 in every 31 adults is in prison, which brings the total number to 7.3 million American people. While most budgets are getting cut in the economic downturn, the budgets for prisons continue to rise up to a total of 47 billion dollars in 2008. According to the director of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project Adam Gelb, the reason to maintain the growing cost for prisons is that “cutting them may appear to save a few dollars…it will fuel the cycle of more crime, more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions, and still more imprisonment.”
One inmate prisoner costs an average of 29,000 dollars a year while average cost for a parolee and or probationer is around 1,250 to 2,750 dollars. But states have shown a preference for prison spending even it’s much more expensive than community correctional programs. The executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Evidence Based Practice Peter Greenwood stated that “prisons and jails, along with powerful prison guard unions, service contracts, and high-profile sheriffs and police chiefs, are in a much better position to protect their interests than are parole and probation officers.”
Are prisons profit-chasing corporations? Or are they still parts of the society that maintain the orders for us? Is it right when we have to cut off budgets for education and health care to increase the budget for prisons? How can parolees and probationers find their places in society?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/us/03prison.html?ref=us Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid
http://newsminer.com/news/2009/mar/02/states-urged-improve-probation-parole-programs/ States urged to improve probation, parole programs
The picture is of a Sacramento, CA prison. Prison officials there are asking the state to consider alternatives to prison due to the unmanageable crowding.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Journalists from across the globe, collect, write, edit, and present news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts through the media. The code of ethics and/or canons provide journalists a framework for self-monitoring and self-correction as they pursue professional assignments.
Media, a social institution of information sharing by journalists. The tools used to store or deliver data according to the Websters Dictionary. The media does an essential task for our society by delivering pertinent information to its audience regarding social issues that are of interest, of importance and to fulfill a publics need to keep informed.
The Society of Professional Journalism follow a code of ethics, which are not rules, but are the tools to follow for ethical decision making. In the United States, private citizens are protected from slander. On the other hand, public figures have fewer privacy rights in U.S. law, where reporters are immune from a civil case if they have reported without malice on very controversial and important issues. Meaning, they can later apologize, retract anything reported and make corrections if their reporting was seen as malicious by the very public figure. In comparison, Canadian journalists have to present news with full facts on a very controversial issue.
The cartoon above is from Australia, clearly a perception from the outside, that compares the American media action on political parties and their leaders.
Media Bias, a term used to describe the real and percieved bias of journalists and producers of the mass media. Media bias has had major impact on many news recipients regarding important decisions and issues in the United States. Without fear of repercussions, the road for unethical journalism is a free for all.
How is it that we as the recipients of all news, can we perceive and comprehend the meaning behind a message? What is our response based on? Is it our history, knowledge or our social groups (peers, friends, family, etc)? Would we make better and more informed decisions if news were presented by ethical journalists? and a law that holds them accountable for slander on very important and crucial newsworth issues.
The media and its framework are an integral part of society and works with major institutions to keep it going. In a Structural Function persepective, the survival of professional journalism as we know it, is in danger due to radical changes needed for unethical journalists. Which may happen with the upcoming review on the Federal Communications Commission. Many ethical professional journalists fear, they will no longer be seen as professionals as long as the code of ethics are abused. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of their credibility. (Society of Professional Journalists ethics)
http://www.freedomhouse.org/ - regarding the freedom of the press, first amendment
http://www.ocrpl.org/ The canons of American journalism (a good source for sociological insights by sociologist Michael Sudson.)
http://www.spj.org/ The Society of Professional Journalism - 1909
http://www.fcc.gov/ The Federal Communications Commission
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The political cartoon, shown on the left, depicts two police officers gunning down a chimpanzee while uttering, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
After the cartoon's publication, many, including the civil rights activist Rev. Al. Sharpton interpret the cartoon as extremely callous and on that holds racist connotations about President Obama, depicting him as a chimpanzee because he is part African-American.
The New York Association of Black Journalists claim that the depiction of African-Americans with animals is deeply and painfully entrenched within American history. In fact, many minority groups have been associated with animals and rodents in order to de-humanize them so it becomes easier to target these groups for discrimination or worse. Take for instance, during Nazi Germani, the Jews were likened to rodents and that all rodents, because they are infecting the pure Aryan race with their vile religion and inferior genetics, should be exterminated.
The Association also claims that depictions of blacks as monkeys and chimpanzees dates back to Anglo-Saxon, Portuguese, and Spanish colonial conquest that de-humanized them in order to justify their horrific treatment of slaves.
The cartoonist claims that it has nothing to do with the President and the fact that he is part African-American. He and the New York Post claim that the recent incident of an escaped chimpanzee being shot by police officers is the reason why he used this imagery. He claimed that the chimpanzee depicts Congress and mocks its efforts to revive the economy through the stimulus.
How do you see the justifications made by the New York Post and the cartoonist versus the claims of racism by the New York Association of Black Journalists/Rev. Al Sharpton?
Are most readers likely to make the association that the artist was depicting Obama as an animal? Why?
Do you think that in present day America, some groups are still labeled in unappealing ways to justify the group's subordination/discrimination?
***Remember that the chimpanzee is not labeled as "Obama" or "The President" or any other drawn clues that the cartoonist actually meant to depict the President in this way***
The conversion from analog TV to digital is big news for the whole nation. If you haven't heard the story, it sums up like this: Four years ago, congress decided to convert all of the over-the-air (rabbit-ears) TV stations in the country to digital on February 17th, 2009, today. The TV stations will be able to spend less money on sustaining power for analog signals, and the "airspace" will be able to be used for emergency channels and new high-speed wireless networks.
However, the big transfer is being delayed. A fund that was created a few years ago to help supply people with digital cable boxes if they did not already have them no longer has any money in it (who knew?). Also, it turns out that millions of Americans still aren't prepared. So congress hurriedly passed another bill saying that stations could switch on February 17th if they wanted to, but REALLY everyone has to get it done in June.
Now... some people paying attention to the details have noticed that this whole ordeal is hardest on poor families (mostly minorities). Also, the details coincide with corporate investments. Verizon will make lots of money from the switch, but, aha, AT&T will make MORE money from the delay.
Now, do you think this plan and its delays are really based on the situations of the consumers? Most of the news articles cite consumer-based reasons (not enough money to give people discounts on cable converter boxes, not enough people are properly educated). However, there are far more Americans unprepared for the switch than the proposed minimum when the plan for the change was first developed. And yet it pushes onward. And what about the activities of the congress members and corporations involved? It is very difficult to find articles about them. What is it that makes people pay less attention to these things, and more likely to not believe them when they hear them, if that is the case? Is this whole thing going to affect you?
Here are some articles... The Associated Press article: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090206/ap_on_hi_te/tec_digital_tv_international
An article about the effect on minorities: http://www.redherring.com/Home/25249
And one about corporate activities: http://i.gizmodo.com/5132137/the-analog-tv-shutdown-is-a-flustercuck-of-corporate-money-no-one-cares-about-consumers
(Image of antique TV (and old-fashioned solution for poor reception) borrowed from: http://www.precisenetworking.com/~mcgatney/analog-tv.jpg)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sociologist Stanley Cohen theorized about "moral panics", and I think that Fairbanks might be in one right at this moment. The US House of Representatives introduced a bill that would strengthen existing gun control laws. The bill would require vendors at gun shows to conduct background checks like retail stores are currently required to do. The bill would also require gun owners to update their permits when they move. These two items seems reasonable to some Americans. In fact, I would predict that the majority of urban Americans would find these new restrictions to be reasonable. But not Alaskans.
Alaskans have a unique relationship to their guns. Perhaps it's because there are so many hunters here. Or perhaps it's because there are so many military folks here, both current members and retired. Or perhaps it's because of our frontier collective identity. In any case, as soon as anything is ever mentioned that hints "gun control", a significant portion of Alaskans freak out. Cohen would say it's a moral panic.
A moral panic can be said to exist when there is no logical or rational reason for so many people to be so worried about a social phenomenon. Back in the 1980s, a moral panic about kidnapped and exploited white children led to the famous milk carton pictures asking, "have you seen me?" In the 1970s, a moral panic broke out when white middle class college students started smoking marijuana. There are so many moral panics going on now that I've lost count. But this gun issue... now here's a moral panic that is unfolding right around us!
What do you think? You can read about it here: http://newsminer.com/news/2009/feb/10/fairbanks-group-says-no-gun-legislation/ There was also an earlier thread that was a response to a letter to the editor (referred to as a LTTE in blog talk). You can see that one here: http://newsminer.com/news/2009/feb/08/gun-rights-threat/
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner covered a school board meeting earlier this week that I find sociologically fascinating. The school board is considering amending its anti-discrimination and harassment policies to include gender identity. The article is interesting in itself, and certainly the issue of anti-discrimination policies in schools is of sociological interest to me. But what I have found to be even MORE interesting is the ensuring online discussion!
Many of the posters do not seem to have read the article. The article clearly describes what gender is, and differentiates it from sexuality. Yet a plurality of the posts seem to confuse the two issues. As sociologists, we understand that sexuality is not the same as gender identity. Why do you think so many people misunderstand gender? Or maybe another question might be this: why do so many people fail to read a news article before expressing their opinion on its contents? Or do you think that people DID read the article, but missed the descriptions of the difference between sexuality and gender identity? Do lay persons find gender harder than sexuality to understand? In any case, it's an interesting discussion. Post your sociological responses to my questions on this blog by clicking on Comments, below.
Here is the article. The forum discussion follows:
Thursday, January 29, 2009
My fellow Unruly Sociologists, this is our very own space. Here we can explore contemporary applications of sociology, analyze current events using sociological paradigms, and otherwise engage each other in insightful, sociologically discussion. Sigh. Life seldom is better than this, eh?
Blog Discussion Starter—5 points
This assignment is to help us discuss the contemporary role sociology can play in society. On the date you are assigned, create and post an interesting question or comment on the SOC blog that will spark vigorous sociological discussion among class members. You are especially encouraged to use a news item or an emerging issue and to reference appropriate sociological literature to stimulate discussion. Make sure you cite your sources! Questions or comments you might make include: suggesting an appropriate methodology to further study the issue; soliciting others’ ideas about a study project that would shed sociological light on the topic; suggesting a link between this issue and one you studied in a sociology course; analyzing how the perspective taken in the news item is different from or similar to a sociological perspective. Your comment or question should be sociologically useful, and you should avoid injecting your own personal opinion about the topic, e.g. whether you think something is right or wrong. You may certainly argue that you believe one particular sociological theorist might have more accurate analysis of the issue, or that one of the sociological paradigms would analyze it one way, in contrast to another paradigm. But simply telling us whether you agree or disagree is boring and will cost you points. Also, avoid asking others if they agree or disagree. Your grade will be determined by the degree to which you can spark interesting sociological discussion among your peers, and whether your own contribution is sociologically valid.
Participation in SOC Blog
At least ten times over the semester, post a comment on the SOC blog in response to the question or comment of the week. You may post as many times as you wish, but you will earn points only for ten comments. Avoid one-liners, and keep your comments respectful. Sociological wit is encouraged; snark is discouraged. You may use a screen name, but understand that your classmates will know who you are. You are encouraged to look up sociological sources to bolster your comments, and be sure to cite your sources. Be sociological. You will not earn points for non-sociological comments, nor will you earn points by saying whether you disagree or agree, or whether you think something is stupid, dumb, wrong, right, good, etc. To repeat: BE SOCIOLOGICAL. You may earn only 2 points per week. In other words, spread out your comments because you cannot post all ten of your comments at one time and receive more than two points for your work.