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Rambo on Table-Dancers

The Work of Carol Rambo. (Warning, these articles are all PDF or .doc format.) Carol Rambo is a professor of sociology who paid her way through school by working as an exotic dancer. Rambo has written articles on the sociology of strip clubs, drawing upon her own experience as an exotic dancer. In one article, Rambo writes about "the discourse of deviance" that exotic dancers use to "organize their identities" in a process Rambo calls "narrative resistance." In another article, she writes about the concept of old age as it affects exotic dancers. In a third article, drawing upon her own experiences as a "table dancer," Rambo writes about "Interactional strategies that table dancers use to cultivate counterfeit intimacy," and she concludes that dancers manage to "carve out an autonomous niche in an otherwise oppressive context." Also interesting is her article on growing up as the daughter of a mentally retarded mother, "On Loving and Hating My Mentally Retarded Mother."
posted by jayder on Oct 4, 2006 - 54 comments

Why do they sell hot dogs in tens and buns in eights?

Architectures of Control in Design. A blog examining product designs intended to restrict or enforce behavior. In the built environment, we see speed bumps and roundabouts with intentionally obscured visibility; in the digital environment, we see various species of DRM and trusted computing; and in other commerical products, we see car hoods only openable by licensed dealers, printer cartridges for only one sort of printer, and a set of shoes for children which detects the amount of steps they take in a day and translates that activity into the amount of TV they may watch. The control may be for economic reasons, for reasons of safety, or even simply to enforce social nicety - and for each of these reasons are the implications worth regarding . [via the excellent things]
posted by Sticherbeast on Sep 14, 2006 - 27 comments

The ties that bind

The International Networks Archive is an effort by a group of sociologists to understand 2,000 years of globalization through mapping the network of transactions that link the world, rather than geography. The project is still ongoing, but you can see some of the results: an interactive map that uses travel time to visualize the world; a graphic of the growth of Starbucks and McDonalds; the distribution of government jobs (apparently the 3,412 postal inspectors can carry firearms); the cashflows of movies and tobacco; and, of course, the world at night. There is also access to a lot of detailed data, as well as more maps and information at the Mapping Globalization wiki.
posted by blahblahblah on Aug 22, 2006 - 5 comments

The art of the con

Do you know your close-up con games? Some classics: the Tip, the Jamaican Switch, the Wire (and its incredibly complicated cousin, the Rag), the Texas Twist, the Pigeon Drop, the Spanish Prisoner (or Nigerian Scam) and the ancient pig-in-a-poke. Also, learn the argot of the classic con artist, view some videos of card scam moves and discover some patter as well, or just see how the language of the con has been used in one of the more famous papers in sociology.
posted by blahblahblah on Aug 8, 2006 - 23 comments

Dr. Schelling's neighborhood

Dr. Schelling's neighborhood. Is segregation the holdover of a racist past or an inevitable result of simple mathematical processes? After you've read the theory, try it for yourself here, here & here. Dr. Thomas Schelling won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics for developing these ideas, but not everybody agrees that he deserved to.
posted by scalefree on Jul 9, 2006 - 31 comments

Next door, yet worlds apart, we look at each other

While the nonpartisan Pew Research Center normally focuses on US domestic issues, such as the recently and narrowly failed flag-burning amendment, the Pew Global Attitudes Project takes a wider view with reports such as The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other and 16-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey, with results that are parts obvious, non-obvious, foreboding, hopeful and contradictory in how the two societies seemingly feel about themselves and each other. [mi]
posted by Mr. Six on Jun 28, 2006 - 8 comments

Sasha Issenberg fact-checks David Brooks

David Brooks gets fact-checked by Sasha Issenberg, who finds that Brooks appears to have invented some of his red-state reporting. ... Brooks acknowledges that all he does is present his readers with the familiar and ask them to recognize it. Why, then, has his particular brand of stereotype-peddling met with such success? From April 2004. Via Brad DeLong.
posted by russilwvong on Jun 28, 2006 - 39 comments

Isolation in America

Are we getting lonelier?
posted by digaman on Jun 23, 2006 - 135 comments

The dance of the Rs and Ds

Watch political ideologies emerge and shift over hundreds of years. ANIMATE is an amazing Java app that lets you track graphically the ideological position of all the representatives to the US Congress, European Parliament, or the UN over every roll call vote in history. The really interesting part is that the application uses DW-NOMINATE data that maps the ideology of representatives, and is pretty good at predicting voting patterns. Voteworld is a related Java application that is a little less dramatic, but allows you to really dig into the data (to access DW-NOMINATE data in Voteworld, click the little orange sphere icon in the application).

On the US side:"There are two major lessons to take away from ANIMATE. First, over time, you see less and less motion of individual legislators, particularly after the Civil War. This shows the stabilization of the American political system. Second, after the Civil War you will see the major party clusters growing further apart until the turn of the century, then come together and overlap, and beginning in the 1970s draw apart again. That is, throughout most of the twentieth century, political divisions blurred but in the last quarter one sees the polarization of American politics."
posted by blahblahblah on May 31, 2006 - 15 comments

“Let my carcass rot where it falls”.

Born To Rot. Living people are often deeply disturbed by dead people. Particularly when those dead people have only recently died and are rotting. But what’s the big deal? Are rotting things intrinsically gross? Why does it disturb us so? Is decomposition helpful in attaining greater spirituality, or is it proof of a Godless universe? [many images linked NSFW]
posted by stinkycheese on Apr 21, 2006 - 30 comments

Kearl's Guide to Sociological Thanatology

Kearl's Guide to Sociological Thanatology, covering such topics as How We Die, The Politics of Death, Bids for Immortality and Longevity, and so much more!
posted by OmieWise on Jan 19, 2006 - 7 comments

SIRCumlocution

The Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England, publishes sociological and antropological studies of contemporary issues. Particularly interesting are their guides to British pub etiquette, flirting, and horse racing watching etiquette. But watch out for their opinionated bulletins about current events—surely articles their corporate sponsors and sister PR agency (at the same address and with the same staff) would be proud of. SIRC studies previously mentioned here, here, and here.
posted by grouse on Dec 4, 2005 - 9 comments

Metafilter: Best of the Web??

Research by dumb, ignorant Yankees on national stereotypes.
posted by Gyan on Oct 7, 2005 - 30 comments

The Two Americas

Last September, a Category 5 hurricane battered the small island of Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed 20,000 houses, no one died. What is Cuban President Fidel Castro's secret? According to Dr. Nelson Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and specialist in Latin America, "the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go. Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," said Valdes... "Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable.. Shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin." They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators, "so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff," Valdes observed.

The Two Americas. See also A Nation's Castaways, 'To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked' & White Man's Burden
posted by y2karl on Sep 4, 2005 - 69 comments

Generation Why

Remember the Twixters? Now meet the Yeppies: Young, Experimenting Perfection Seekers1,2,3. "Another survey, another invented tag for a group of young people. This survey was for eBay, carried out by Kate Fox, a social anthropologist at the Social Issues Research Centre. It argues that young people are now shopping around and experimenting to find, as she puts it, 'the perfect job, the ideal relationship and the most fulfilling lifestyle.'" - as noted by World Wide Words. [See also: this Venn diagram.] Will researchers ever tire of all this name-calling, though? If they really want to RTFM about this particular generation, they should just watch Wonderfalls.
posted by Lush on Aug 19, 2005 - 18 comments

We no longer know what it means to be human,

EMBO's report on Time and Aging (free access) contains an essay wherein the author, Karin Knorr Cetina, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, argues that death and aging used to be major issues that defined what it means to be human and helped us find our place in society by showing us the limits of what is possible to achieve as a human. With the advances in science, particularly biological advances in slowing aging and technological advances in extending human function, we no longer accept our fate. Instead of accepting that we all grow old and die so we should take our place in society, with the expectation that if we contribute, society will take care of us, too, we now have promises being made by science that death and aging are no longer inevitable. Where are we headed, then? If we can no longer find our place by finding the limits of achievement and accepting our place within them, how do we work as a collective?
posted by Mr. Gunn on Jul 25, 2005 - 15 comments

Philly in 3-D

Is a "virtual" Philly even better than the real thing? Well, GeoSim Systems thinks so. Except for the aroma of freshly-grilled cheesesteak, at least. Their "Virtual Philadelphia" is the most detailed urban imaging system I've seen yet, and you can read about the monumental process of turning photographic images (taken from both aircraft and street-level) into this incredible rendering in a February 17 NY Times article (reg req). And - as expected - Google wants to get in on the action and do the same thing in San Francisco. via BB
posted by luriete on Jun 10, 2005 - 29 comments

Xishi de Fanji

As others see us: A Chinese review of 'Revenge of the Sith'.

For those of you who don't know, George Lucas' latest oeuvre has bombed in mainland China's box-offices - $38.5M there, vs. the $312 it has earned domestically. A cultural difference, an error in Jos. Campbell's theory, or just something else, altogether? In any case, the film and it's apparent failure over there have made for some interesting reviews (last one via).
posted by vhsiv on Jun 9, 2005 - 64 comments

Of course, no one is going to leave the orgy.

Most people want to have group sex, but more or less conscious mental barriers stop them. Help them. (no images or anything, but may not be safe for work if your boss doesn't want you organizing an orgy. your co-workers, on the other hand...)
posted by exlotuseater on May 1, 2005 - 54 comments

90% Matematch guaranteed or your money back

The Mathematics of Love - predicting, with 90% accuracy, what will happen to a relationship over a three-year period.
posted by daksya on Apr 19, 2005 - 33 comments

Eat it, Rand.

An evolutionary basis for altruism. These findings suggest that true altruism, far from being a maladaptation, may be the key to our species' success by providing the social glue that allowed our ancestors to form strong, resilient groups. Sharing isn't just caring, it's surviving.
posted by schroedinger on Mar 21, 2005 - 44 comments

Blackface

Blackface : From mainstream entertainment to (nearly?) being considered a hate crime. Do we still have 21st century minstrel shows? Can one "plainly see similarities between the insulting stereotypes acted out by blackface minstrels like Al Jolson in the 19th and early 20th century and today's actors who play exaggerated, cutesy roles of gay people in the 21st century" ? Here is a larger question: Is humor and ridicule a necessary first step down the path to eventual acceptance? Is that what Spike Lee is saying in Bamboozled or is he saying we haven't progressed as far as we think?
posted by spock on Jan 30, 2005 - 33 comments

The 'Acting White' Myth.

The 'Acting White' Myth. When smart black kids try hard and do well, they are picked on by their less successful peers for 'acting white.' But it isn't true.
posted by Lisa S on Dec 12, 2004 - 45 comments

Sociology

A hundred years of “The Protestant Ethic.” Elizabeth Kolbert on Max Weber in The New Yorker.
posted by semmi on Dec 9, 2004 - 13 comments

'The Dark Side of Egalitarianism'

The Law of Jante (Janteloven) was codified by the Danish-born novelist Aksel Sandemose while he was living in Norway. The Law comprises ten 'commandments', and describes an unspoken code of conformity that Sandemose felt as a stifling inhibitive influence in the town where he grew up. Later commentators have used the term more generally to refer to the anti-individualist tendencies that have traditionally pervaded Scandinavian culture, and to denote 'the dark side of egalitarianism'. Of course, the Law needn't be interpreted in such a negative light, and egalitarianism has its good side too, the difficult question being: do the benefits of equality make it worthwhile suffering the strictures of Janteloven?
posted by misteraitch on Oct 27, 2004 - 31 comments

Bush Like Me

Bush Like Me: Ten weeks undercover in the grass roots of the Republican Party:
As a professional misanthrope, I believe that if you are going to hate a person, you ought to do it properly. You should go and live in his shoes for a while and see at the end of it how much you hate yourself. This was what I was doing down in Florida. The real challenge wasn't just trying to understand these Republicans. It was to become the best Republican I could be.
posted by GriffX on Oct 15, 2004 - 44 comments

Astro-iconoclast

This website exists because astrosociology is not yet a widely recognized subfield of sociology, and therefore it can benefit from a centralized approach. It is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growth of astrosociology from a general state of nonexistence.
As a little known sociologist fights his lonely quixotic battle to introduce a new sociology subfield, some who are stuck in their earthbound paradigm object.
posted by found missing on Jul 29, 2004 - 8 comments

Defining Deviancy Down

Defining Deviancy Down In 1993, one of our greatest statesmen, Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D- N.Y.) published one of the most important pieces of social theory entitled "Defining Deviancy Down." Moynihan started from Emile Durkheim's proposition that there is a limit to the amount of deviant behavior any community can "afford to recognize" (called the "Durkheim Constant"). As the amount of deviancy increases, the community has to adjust its standards so that conduct once thought deviant is no longer deemed so. Consequently, if we are not vigilant about enforcing them, our standards would be constantly devolving in order to normalize rampant deviancy. Shortly after Moynihan's article, Charles Krauthammer offered his now-famous response to Moynihan's article in which he argued that the corollary is that society can also "define deviancy up."

Moynihan's theory has been applied to movies, courage, dress codes, sexual indiscretions, corporate behavior, and possibly even to webpages. One might feel compelled to ask, "Do standards even mean anything?" Today, the debate still rages about where we ought to be defeatist about the devolution of standards, or whether we can right the boat by establishing base principles and fight to raise standards up.
posted by Seth on Jun 16, 2004 - 63 comments

What You Can't Say.

What You Can't Say.
posted by weston on Jan 4, 2004 - 51 comments

This Land Is Your Land

Vanished America If you've ever wondered what to do with all of your old vacation photos and slides, wonder no more. A fellow named Charles Cushman bequeathed his collection of over 14,000 slides and photos taken over a period of three decades, from 1938 to 1969, to Indiana Univiersity. IU has decided to create an amazing digital archive of his photos as a history project. The photos are nothing special in themselves. He took countless pictures of things he and his wife saw as they took driving tours across the United States, mostly near their home in Chicago and in the West. They are no different than and no better than anybody else's amateur photos. But, as the director of the project points out, without realizing it, Cushman captured an America already beginning to disappear in the middle of the 20th century, and did so by documenting its disappearance unwittingly over a thirty-year period. I lightly perused the slide show of 120 images and the photos are indeed both banal and compelling all at the same time. A very nicely done site with a lot of rich material. (via The Cartoonist)
posted by briank on Nov 12, 2003 - 45 comments

an extended family unrelated by blood

what do you call your circle of friends? Two years ago, Ethan Watters wrote an article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine, covering the current phenomenon amongst adults who are marrying late, waiting for the 'right one', and using an extended social circle to fill the need for intimacy and emotional support that has been traditionally provided by a marriage. He has expanded the topic into a book covering groups of friends that have the characteristics of 'an urban tribe' bound by a shared culture of inside jokes, origin myths and communal rituals. Does this apply to your social set? Do you have a Yahoogroup or a Friendster bulletin board that is used to plan movie nights, pubcrawls or group vacations? Does introducing a new romantic partner to your friends feel more stressful than introducing them to your family? Conversely, do you need a chart to track who has dated whom, who has slept with whom, and who has had more than their fair share of drunken hookups? Or is this all one man's conflated introspection of his extended bachelorship?
posted by bl1nk on Oct 9, 2003 - 24 comments

A Science of Social Prediction?

"You'd think that predicting human behavior would be easy...everyone should be a rational economizer, busy calculating their individual costs and benefits, and acting accordingly. Right?" So begins the review of Socionomics: The Science of History and Social Prediction on slashdot. I've always thought the Elliot Wave Theory sounded like psuedoscience, but found the rational choice theory problematic as well, even ridiculous at times. What's voodoo, and what's promising in advancing predictive social sciences?
posted by weston on Sep 24, 2003 - 15 comments

How To: By You

How To: By You is a "sociological project is about the study of knowledge among human society and how it can differ and change." Topics range from how to cook the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to catching fish, with seemingly no limit to the possibilities. Got a question for the unwashed masses? Or maybe you have the ultimate martini recipe. Show off your intuition.
posted by mb01 on Sep 21, 2003 - 5 comments

Thoughts on the origins of violence

Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence. If this 1975 article from the The Bulletin of The Atomic Sciences were written today, the "Body Pleasure" bit would have probably been left out. But that doesn't mean this article isn't worth the time to read. Also see this cite of James W. Prescott's work in Carl Sagan's bestselling book and PBS series in chapter 13: Who Speaks for Earth?
posted by crasspastor on Mar 2, 2003 - 12 comments

It's A Small World After All

Stanley Milgram invented the term "six degrees of separation" after discovering in an experiment how closely interconnected social networks can be. The "six degrees" concept also inspired a play, a film, and a party game. The original study has recently attracted criticism, but now sociologists at Columbia University are planning to re-do the study over the Internet, using e-mail forwarding. Volunteers can sign up here.
posted by jonp72 on Jan 14, 2003 - 25 comments

War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning The AC130 video thread yesterday got me interested in this book. The author - a veteran New York Times war correspondent - argues that, to many people, war provides a purpose for living; allowing individuals to rise above regular life and participate in a noble cause. He discusses nationalism, the wartime silencing of intellectuals and artists, the ways in which even a supposedly skeptical press glorifies the battlefield and other universal features of war, arguing not for pacifism but for responsibility and humility on the part of those who wage war.
posted by Zombie on Dec 18, 2002 - 17 comments

The Ladder Theory...

The Ladder Theory... a theory of adult male/female interaction. While some may find this a bit offensive, it is quite interesting. It includes rating systems, attraction breakdowns, scenarios, consequences, and manifestations.
posted by darian on Nov 20, 2002 - 76 comments

For Richer: the first in a New York Times series on class in the United States. Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman declares the death of the middle class, pointing out disparities between the rich and the poor, examining efforts to cover up class makeup with quantile data, and probing the transformation of corporate executive ethics and influence. Even Glenn Reynolds is taken to task for his Sweden-Mississippi per capita GDP comparison. Krugman's sources are on the slim side, but the question must be asked: Are we living in a new Gilded Age? And, if so, how can citizens and government work to change things?
posted by ed on Oct 20, 2002 - 53 comments

Mike Males, Ph.D.,

Mike Males, Ph.D., professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, author and pro-youth advocate, thinks kids are getting a bad rap these days. He is very fond of pointing out that poverty and grown-ups are the biggest threats to teens today. His latest book, "Kids and Guns", is available for free online (HTML version on his homepage, PDF version at Common Courage Press). He even knocks the drug policy reform movement for making the same "save the children" diatribes as their opponents. His site isn't exactly the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but I haven't been so engrossed by something on the web in a long, long time.
posted by botono9 on Oct 13, 2002 - 10 comments

"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good."

"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good." That's the Economist interpreting the results of a recent study by IBM researchers of how cultural characteristics apparently affect people's readiness to adopt new communications technologies.
posted by mattpfeff on Oct 8, 2002 - 19 comments

Polygyny vs. polyandry. Are we mildly polygynous? Rebecca considers the evidence. Although some feel polygyny is a divine right, wouldn't polyandry be the solution to overpopulation?
posted by sheauga on May 29, 2002 - 35 comments

There are a number of culture-specific disorders, such as genital retraction or the old hag's sleep paralysis.

These disorders are, maybe, too mixed up in "exotifying The Other" (as they say in the ivory tower), but maybe most interesting is the inclusion of anorexia. Some evidence seems support this idea -- after 3 yrs of TV in Fiji, a rise in eating disorders was reported. Are these disorders caused by culture? And/or are the people afflicted expressing an underlying problem in a culturally specific way?
posted by malphigian on Jan 6, 2002 - 18 comments

Small World Research Project

Small World Research Project After all the work we've done training newbies not to use the Internet for their chain letters (via this New York Times article)
posted by dgeiser13 on Dec 20, 2001 - 4 comments

Racial stereotypes hurt academic performances

Racial stereotypes hurt academic performances --on standardized tests--for whites.
posted by antimarx on Dec 4, 2001 - 21 comments

A reporter dons the Islamic hijaab

A reporter dons the Islamic hijaab and writes about the reactions she receives. I'm ashamed to admit that I probably would have been one of the people who pretended she was invisible...
posted by raymondc on Oct 1, 2001 - 3 comments

Astrologer Defends PhD Thesis in Sociology at the Sorbonne

Astrologer Defends PhD Thesis in Sociology at the Sorbonne
Elizabeth Teissier, astrology columnist and PhD candidate, successfully defended her dissertation in sociology, entitled "The Epistemological Situation of Astrology in Relation to the Ambivalent Fascination/Rejection of Postmodern Societies."
Over the last few weeks, fueled by fresh revelations — like Ms. Teissier's having referred to Max Weber, one of sociology's founders, as a "pragmatic Taurus" — the debate has only gathered steam, pitting sociologists who insist that the case concerns a thesis that fails to meet minimum academic standards against those who argue that the real target isn't Ms. Teissier but a maverick strain of sociology that has failed to win establishment approval. I don't know which is funnier, that there were fresh revelations, or that there's a pro-astrology strain of maverick sociology. This is also hilarious.
posted by rschram on Jul 6, 2001 - 28 comments

The young men and women

The young men and women of America's future elite work their laptops to the bone, rarely question authority, and happily accept their positions at the top of the heap as part of the natural order of life. What's your experince?
posted by semmi on Apr 22, 2001 - 44 comments

We're not a bunch of internet-loners!

We're not a bunch of internet-loners! We're vindicated - new study shows that people who become reclusives though using the internet are in a minority.
posted by tomcosgrave on Feb 18, 2000 - 1 comment

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