The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office”. Warning: link may evoke baleful despair!
Fear of Cycling, an essay in five parts: introduction, constructing fear of cycling, helmet promotion campaigns, new cycling spaces, making cycling strange.
The Art of the Prank offers insights, information, news and discussions about pranks, hoaxes, culture jamming and reality hacking around the world. Includes topics such as The History of Pranks, The Prank As Art, and the Sociology and Psychology of Pranks. Get pranking. [more inside]
MMORPG Griefing ... for Science! Twixt fought his fellow players in City Of Heroes to win. But he used methods that, despite being legal within the rules of the game, the rest of the community hated. Then the player behind the hero unmasked as Loyola University media professor David Myers, author of "The Sad & Curious Tale of Twixt" (.doc), a sociological study of the unwritten rules in MMORPG's. Not entirely unlike the epic tale of Fansy The Famous Bard.
Giovanni Arrighi, the renowned authority in the fields of world systems analysis and historical sociology, died earlier this month. A retrospective interview on his intellectual trajectory was published in the March/April 2009 issue of New Left Review. A major international conference was held in his honour in late May in Madrid, featuring several top scholars in an exploration of the insights of Arrighi’s work.
What leads cultural tastes and practices to be abandoned? (.pdf) A new PNAS paper by marketing professor Jonah Berger and organizational psychologist Gael Le Mens argues that the faster a trend rises, the faster it's likely to fall, at least as regards longitudinal data of first names given to American children. (Via the Baby Names Blog.) Berger has written before on the drive to non-conform; a 2007 joint paper with Emily Pronin and Sarah Molouki (.pdf) shows that "people see others as more conforming than themselves.... placing more weight on introspective evidence of conformity (relative to behavioral evidence) when judging their own susceptibility to social influence as opposed to someone else's."
Harvard Sociologist Robert Samson, known for his work challenging the Broken Window hypothesis (previously on Metafilter), has a number of publications on neighborhoods, race and immigration, crime, and spatial dynamics posted publicly online. Here are just a few recent publications (all pdfs):
*Moving to Inequality: Neighborhood Effects and Experiences Meet Social Structure
*Durable effects of concentrated disadvantage on verbal ability of African American children
*Rethinking crime and immigration
*Neighborhood Selection and the Social Reproduction of Concentrated Racial Inequality
*"After School" Chicago: Space and the City
"Boys Build Houses. Girls Keep Houses. Boys Invent Things. Girls Use What they Invent. Boys Can Eat. Girls Can Cook."
A snapshot from a sexist 1970's children's book for your perusal. Many have seen this and insisted it must be a hoax. But is it? Sociological Images says not so fast.
For most of us, science arrives in our lives packaged neatly as fact. But how did it get that way? Science is an active process of observation and investigation. Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know? [HTML version, Flash version also available] examines that process, revealing the ways in which ideas and information become knowledge and understanding. In this case study in human origins, the folks from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology explore how scientific evidence is being used to shape our current understanding of ourselves: What makes us human—and how did we get this way?
Sociological Images. A branch of the journal Contexts from the American Sociological Association. What does "organic" look like? What happens after the oil boom dries up in a town? There are many discussions about the way bodies are shown. Privilege and Poverty in Vogue India. They also go behind your back and add content to previous posts. [more inside]
As the Jim Crow overt style of maintaining white supremacy was replaced with “now you see it, now you don’t” practices that were subtle, apparently non-racial, and institutionalized, an ideology fitting to this era emerged... -The Linguistics of Color-Blind Racism.
The end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability. "At the moment, we can call this the triumph of multiculturalism, or post-racialism. But just as whiteness has no inherent meaning—it is a vessel we fill with our hopes and anxieties—these terms may prove equally empty in the long run. Does being post-racial mean that we are past race completely, or merely that race is no longer essential to how we identify ourselves?"
Paris: Ville Invisible. "This work seeks to show how real cities resemble the 'invisible cities' of Italo Calvino. As cluttered, saturated, and asphyxiating as it is, one can breathe more freely in Paris, the invisible city." The renowned French sociologist Bruno Latour presents a "virtual sociological book" that explores the limits of social theory for the understanding of urban life. The Flash interface is somewhat rickety, but there is a text-only PDF of the English version. (via)
Sometimes, especially in winter, Kenneth Westhues can hear a flock of crows tormenting a great horned owl outside his study in Waterloo, Ontario. It is a fitting soundtrack for his work. Mr. Westhues has made a career out of the study of mobbing. Since the late 1990s, he has written or edited five volumes on the topic. However, the mobbers that most captivate him are not sparrows, fieldfares, or jackdaws. They are modern-day college professors. [more inside]
Rethinking Public Opinion - the immense importance of public opinion polling in American politics, and the under-reported problems at the heart of the enterprise, combine to call for a serious critique of the polling industry, its assumptions, and its method
Blogs about India (from an expats perspective): Welcome to India! Namaste, Namaste... please come in and enjoy yourselves... you must've heard a lot about us, but you ain't seen nothing yet. [more inside]
Why aren't men and women becoming more alike? A husband and a stay-at-home wife in a patriarchal Botswanan clan seem to be more alike than a working couple in Denmark or France. The more Venus and Mars have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their personalities seem to diverge. International Sexuality Description Project findings.
Out There: People Who Live Without TV. About one to two percent of Americans do not watch television, which it turns out, is a common ground for the very liberal and the very conservative. [more inside]
Working Hard, Drinking Hard is a book about structural violence in Honduras by Adrienne Pine. In it, she "explores the daily relationships and routines of urban Hondurans in light of globalizing forces and extreme social inequalities." [more inside]
A linguist and a sociologist at Hebrew Union College have teamed up to track the inroads made into American English by words and idioms from traditionally Jewish languages, including Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and Hebrew. They've created an online survey and are looking for people from all religious and ethnic backgrounds to answer a few questions about their word choices, phrasing, and pronunciation. They're also trying to determine whether certain linguistic quirks usually attributed to Yiddish's influence are actually carried over from Jewish ancestors' speech patterns and accents, or whether they're merely an artifact from growing up in or near New York City. [via]
William Deresiewicz examines the pitfalls of an Ivy League education Apparently, the Ivies prepare you for... mediocrity.
"Žižek!" is a feature documentary exploring the eccentric personality and esoteric work of the "wild man of theory": the eminent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7. [more inside]
Europeans Get Drunk to Have Sex. The UK has one of the worst reputations for binge drinking and underage sex but there are striking similarities between countries, a study found. A third of 16 to 35-year-old men and 23% of women questioned said they drank to increase their chance of sex. The study - of 1,341 young people in nine countries including the UK - is published in BMC Public Health. PDF available here. [more inside]
Are you an older sibling? Did you feel unfairly treated compared to your brothers and sisters? Well, now you have science to back you up. According to Games Parents and Adolescents Play, a new sociology study published in The Economic Journal, the oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of parental strictness, while the younger brothers and sisters generally coast on through. [more inside]
Islamic terrorists are more likely to be engineers than members of any other profession--and not because engineers possess superior technological skills. That's the conclusion of a controversial Oxford University study that has the engineering community buzzing. (PDF) The study's disturbing finding blames what it calls a universal engineering mindset, which it describes as one drawn to structure and rules plus clear, single solutions to complex problems. When coupled with the harsh realities of life in many Islamic countries, terrorism can be the result, the study says. ~ Via EETimes [more inside]
A new look at race through three lenses: History, human variation and lived experience. Be sure to check out some of the quizzes, notably White Men Can't Jump and other assumptions about sports and race. [via SpoFi] A product of the American Anthropological Association.
Artslynx's theatre resources section is a goldmine of links to research and support sites for every aspect of theatrical production and dramaturgy. Especially useful are the Artslynx timelines. Need to know when cling wrap came into usage? Check out the prop timeline. Lots of additional links to outside timelines and history sites for anyone with a thirst for obscure sociological information, a love of craptacularly designed scrolling pages, and generally and too much time on their hands. For example: food, fashion, ephemera, and people who have died onstage [more inside]
Insightful, sociological, bitter: A scholar reflects back on her entry into the academic 'mommy track.' An interesting blend of meditation-on-resentment and just-plain-resentment, worth a read both intentionally and un-. [via] [more inside]
Ask 500 (or 100) people: Random participants answer each other's polls on prayer in school, the bible, philosophers, iraq, social habits, love & marriage, materialism, freedom of speech, or whatever topic of interest someone wants to open up for a very momentary spotlight, and reasonably accurate data. [more inside]
Theory of Humor. A scientific paper, written by Tom Veatch, describes his Theory of Humor. When is something funny? When is it not funny? When does it cross the line? Why are puns generally shitty? And the mysterious and magical powers elephant jokes have on children, revealed! A great data set to use for practice in applying the theories presented in the paper can be found here.
Diversity counterproductive to "social capital?" James Wilson's article in Commentary magazine talks about Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam's essay recently published in Scandinavian Political Studies. In the essay, Putnam publicizes the findings of his research, conducted in rural districts, towns, and cities, whose conclusion establishes that diverse neighborhoods show less "social capital" because ethnically diverse residents seem to distrust each other. [more inside]
"In the summer of 1954, twenty-two fifth-grade boys were taken out to a campground at Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma. [...] Ostensibly it was an unremarkable summer camp. [...] what they had really done for two and a half weeks was unwittingly take part in an elaborate and fascinating psychological experiment." [more inside]
Laud Humphreys was studying to be an Episcopal priest in the mid-1950s when he learned, shortly after his father's death, that his father, Oklahoma State Representative Ira D. Humphreys, took trips to New Orleans to have sex with other men. After being dismissed as an Episcopal priest in the 1960s, Laud Humphreys then enrolled as a sociology grad student where he completed a dissertation about men who had sex with other men in public bathrooms in St. Louis, which Humphreys researched by agreeing to serve as a "watch queen", looking out for the police. After writing down the license plate numbers of the men having sex, Humphreys traced the men's addresses and contacted them in disguise, claiming to be collecting data for a public health survey. The research, which was condemned as unethical for its use of covert methods, was published in 1970 as Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places. [more inside]
This story is about something called Radical Honesty. It may change your life. (But honestly, we don't really care.)
I appreciate you for reading this article. I resent you for snarking in the thread without reading it.
Bonobo chimpanzees are commonly thought to be "an example of amicability, sensitivity and, well, humaneness" in the animal kingdom. Ian Parker's Swingers suggests a darker, more savage side to the species that belies popular perception.
Following this 2005 post, this documentary on Osaka "Host Clubs", "The Great Happiness Space" [Google vid 1:15; misleading preview here] is like nothing I've ever seen. Dark and light and wrenching and weird and funny. And dark. Kafka comes to mind for a lot of viewers, but this would fail as fiction. A midpoint shift forces you to confront a reality that is staggeringly complex. It's a kaleidescope of self-awareness and -delusion; compassion and manipulation; candor and deception. Layered, nuanced, and self-referential. The chief host's blog translated somewhat idiosyncratically by google, gives you another perspective [note: not included in the spirit of "LOL Engrish"]. This insider's account of a hostess club, written by a Duke University sociologist, is a lot more predictable and straightforward.
Are these people qualitatively different from us? "I would think yes," says Hare. "Do they form a discrete taxon or category? I would say probably -- the evidence is suggesting that.Psychopaths. They form about 1% of the population. They enjoy the excitement of power. Some choice bits from Hare's book. The obligatory Bush link, but, hey, it's got the test sections and the sad truth is that we do have some psychopaths in positions of power, though probably not the Presidency. [Gosh this is getting long] It turns out there's a biological basis for it. Here's the DSM description and some detailed analysis/description (gosh, I identify with some of those traits!) And here's some AskMe fodder, "Are You Involved With A Psychopath?" And because of that lust for power... well, it could well be your boss.
Judy's tour diary (pdf, somewhat long) isn't your standard travelogue. The author is Judy Porter, a professor of sociology from Bryn Mawr Collge. Her expertise in the fields of AIDS and poverty are apparent as she paints a vivid picture of life in West Africa, and the health and social conditions that come with it. She also set up a web page that has links to a number of photo slide shows and hand shot video footage. West Africa has been extensively discussed previously.
Made in Criticalland. Sociologist Bruno Latour reflects upon the way social construction and social critique have been instrumentalised by lobbyists, conspiracy theorists, "instant revisionists" and other unsavory people: We, in the academy, like to use more elevated causes–society, discourse, knowledge-slash-power, fields of forces, empires, capitalism–while conspiracists like to portray a miserable bunch of greedy people with dark intents, but I find something troublingly similar in the structure of the explanation, in the first movement of disbelief and, then, in the wheeling of causal explanations coming out of the deep Dark below. This from the guy who, thanks to his Relativistic account of Einstein's relativity, was one of the targets of the Sokal hoax.
People are strange when you're a stranger.
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."
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]
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.