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"It reveals what we as a culture consider sexy and decadent today."

Did Hollywood Give the 1920s a Boob Job? 'Gatsby' Costume Designer Tells All
Breasts are everywhere in 2013’s new "Gatsby"… They’re pushed up to create cleavage, peeping out of frocks and fringed flapper dresses, and hugged tightly by clothes cut to show off curves. As Daisy Buchanan, Carey Mulligan is clearly wearing some sort of shapewear or bra under even her most modest clothes, to make her breasts seem perfectly perky.

Catherine Martin, the producer, production designer, and costume designer of "The Great Gatsby," says that she simply took the styles of the 1920s and amped up the sexy quotient—and made the dresses fit more like the designers intended.…

"Frankly, I am a bit shocked by Martin’s quotes regarding the 1920s—that she considers the clothes frumpy looking," [co-founder of the Fashion History Museum Jonathan] Walford says. "She was the wrong costumer to get the job if she can’t see the beauty in the real 1920s silhouette."
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Jul 4, 2014 - 46 comments

Hey, dummy!

Retail Therapy: What Mannequins Say About Us
Like the larger fashion industry, mannequin design echoes seasonal styles that come and go, both in regard to technological improvements and the way we view our bodies. “It’s often the body attitudes and facial expressions that reflect what’s going on socially,” says Hale. Accordingly, the stiff, unnatural bodies of early mannequins were well-matched for the Victorian Era‘s restrictive ideas about women’s rights and fashions, which dictated they wear many layers of heavy fabric over tight-fitting corsets.
[more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Jul 1, 2014 - 14 comments

Precarity

Generational Poverty Is the Exception, Not the Rule [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Jun 29, 2014 - 65 comments

On the illusion of infinite happiness

For it is the future generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble...That growing affection of two lovers for each other is in reality the will to live of the new being, of which they shall become the parents...The lovers have a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but combined and united in one being, are perpetuated...Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself... Arthur Schopenhauer on the Metaphysics of Love.
posted by shivohum on Jun 17, 2014 - 11 comments

“So… do you… do you suppose we should… talk about money?”

Introducing Sociology: Tim Kreider's influential 1999 essay (previously) on how Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut uses sex and infidelity to cover up a story of greed and murder by the elite gets a brand new afterward by the author to introduce a new site for his non-fiction writing, TimKreider.com
posted by The Whelk on Apr 23, 2014 - 51 comments

Shame on you!

You should be ashamed -- or maybe not. 'Shame on you. These three simple words can temporarily -- or, when used too often, permanently -- destroy an individual's sense of value and self-worth.' A paper by Thomas Scheff, professor emeritus of sociology at UC Santa Barbara 'The Ubiquity of Hidden Shame in Modernity' explores the danger of hidden emotions: ""In modernity, shame is the most obstructed and hidden emotion, and therefore the most destructive," said Thomas Scheff, professor emeritus of sociology at UC Santa Barbara. '"Emotions are like breathing -- they cause trouble only when obstructed." When hidden, he continued, shame causes serious struggles not only for individuals but also for groups.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Mar 13, 2014 - 35 comments

Sociologist Cat is Watching You Text...in Public

Keith Hampton, an associate professor in Rutgers' School of Communication and Information, filmed people in Bryant Park (among other locations) in an ongoing effort to recreate and update sociologist William H. Whyte's Street Life Project. [more inside]
posted by DiscourseMarker on Jan 20, 2014 - 3 comments

The Logic of Stupid Poor People

"If you are poor, why do you spend money on useless status symbols like handbags and belts and clothes and shoes and televisions and cars? One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s illogical belief is another person’s survival skill."
posted by parudox on Oct 29, 2013 - 393 comments

"Dwarven society is more egalitarian than… human feudal societies were"

Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis
What one does in Dwarf Fortress is create a colony of an existing dwarven fortress – you’re always sent out as a team from a much larger existing stronghold elsewhere, and your foreign relations with other dwarves are limited to that particular fortress, on the whole. Even though your settlement is independent and self-governing, and the relations with the mother fortress mostly those of trade, the purpose of the game in all its open-endedness can be nothing other than to create oneself in the image of the previous fortress. In other words, fundamentally in Dwarf Fortress you reproduce the existing structure of dwarven society on a merely quantitatively expanded scale.
[more inside]
posted by Eideteker on Oct 25, 2013 - 29 comments

The Perils of Presidentialism, in Action

Political theorist Juan Linz died Tuesday at the age of 86. His work focused on comparative government, including studies on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Linz was also a prominent critic of the presidential system of government used in the United States and in much of Latin America. In his essay, "The Perils of Presidentialism" (later expanded into book form as The Failure of Presidential Democracy), Linz argued that presidential systems are inherently unstable, as they invariably lead to standoffs between the president and the legislature, each with competing claims to legitimacy. Thus, as in many Latin American countries, presidential systems frequently collapse, and often are replaced with dictatorships. The one exception to that pattern has been the United States--at least until recently. In an interview in January of this year, Linz argued that the US was succumbing to the same dysfunction as other presidential regimes. In Slate, Matthew Yglesias commemorates Linz by warning that the American system of government may be doomed to an endless cycle of crisis and constitutional disintegration, as evidenced by the government shutdown. Dylan Matthews concurs, arguing that the shutdown is "James Madison's fault."
posted by Cash4Lead on Oct 2, 2013 - 72 comments

The new technology intellectuals

All debates about ideas are shaped by their material conditions...Technology intellectuals work in an attention economy. They succeed if they attract enough attention to themselves and their message that they can make a living from it. It’s not an easy thing to do.
posted by shivohum on Sep 11, 2013 - 12 comments

"We do judge books by their covers."

The sound of silence - Research by Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay published in PNAS suggests that top musicians are judged as much for the visual aspects of their performances, as much as for the aural ones, regardless of the experience level of the listener or judge
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 8, 2013 - 22 comments

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government. "Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT) which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision-relevant science. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Sep 5, 2013 - 20 comments

Intellectuals vs Academics

Academics are farmers and intellectuals are hunters - and the hunters may be the future of the liberal arts, writes Jack Miles.
posted by shivohum on Aug 28, 2013 - 47 comments

The Gangster In The Huddle

Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone investigates the life of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and the path he took from NFL player to murder suspect.
posted by reenum on Aug 28, 2013 - 32 comments

The Opt-Out Revolution, Revisited

In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
posted by zarq on Aug 7, 2013 - 64 comments

depending how far beyond zebra you go

Why would a liberal education, the deeper acquaintance with a number of diverse modes of symbolic production, enhance our freedom? University of Chicago sociology professor Andreas Glaeser, in his 2005 Aims of Education Address to incoming students, muses: How About Becoming a Poet?
posted by shivohum on Jul 18, 2013 - 6 comments

L'escholle des filles (1668)

The School of Venus, or the Ladies Delight, Reduced into Rules of Practice (digitized by Google Books) is a delightfully raunchy sex manual from 1680, captured in wonderfully engaging detail. [more inside]
posted by Skeuomorph on Jul 2, 2013 - 18 comments

I have an upcoming EDWARDx talk about it

Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere.
posted by kenko on Jun 9, 2013 - 23 comments

Excellent Advice

Advice for college grads from two sociologists From the writers of the always-amazing Sociological Images, it is directed towards college graduates, but useful for everyone.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 on May 25, 2013 - 120 comments

What Do Philosophers Believe?

What Do Philosophers Believe? David Bourget and David Chalmers, co-directors of Philpapers.com, have written an article based on the PhilPapers Survey of professional philosophers. It covers the popularity of various views, correlations with age, gender, and geography, a factor analysis that tries to isolate important underlying factors; and discussion of the results of the Metasurvey, bringing out just how surprising some of the survey results are. The article is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies. [more inside]
posted by Golden Eternity on May 2, 2013 - 65 comments

"I am always the last person to eat."

David Arenberg on being the only Jewish inmate in a state prison.
posted by reenum on May 1, 2013 - 49 comments

Still far from that digital democracy any utopian could hope for.

7 (well, technically 6) myths of the digital divide.
posted by iamkimiam on Apr 26, 2013 - 8 comments

“Rituals are the glue that holds social groups together.”

Social Evolution - The Ritual Animal "Praying, fighting, dancing, chanting — human rituals could illuminate the growth of community and the origins of civilization." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 23, 2013 - 11 comments

Ruled by “Dave” and “Nick”

In a sense what we have is the Americanisation of Britain, or at least of England. A society where everybody has then sense that they can be anything they want to be, and where hardly anybody can. Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram on the evolution of British society since the seventies.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 12, 2013 - 20 comments

CS Lewis' The Inner Ring

There are no formal admissions or expulsions. People think they are in it after they have in fact been pushed out of it, or before they have been allowed in: this provides great amusement for those who are really inside. It has no fixed name. The only certain rule is that the insiders and outsiders call it by different names. CS Lewis on The Inner Ring.
posted by shivohum on Mar 21, 2013 - 66 comments

two girls, two cups

Pattycake, modernized (via TYWKIWDBI)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies on Mar 6, 2013 - 19 comments

Psycho History, it's what they wanna give me

Psychohistory, the imaginary scientific field created by Isaac Asimov in his "Foundation" series, may no longer be fiction:
Song Chaoming, for instance, is a researcher at Northeastern University in Boston. He is a physicist, but he moonlights as a social scientist. With that hat on he has devised an algorithm which can look at someone’s mobile-phone records and predict with an average of 93% accuracy where that person is at any moment of any day. Given most people’s regular habits (sleep, commute, work, commute, sleep), this might not seem too hard. What is impressive is that his accuracy was never lower than 80% for any of the 50,000 people he looked at.
Full article at The Economist.
posted by Strange Interlude on Feb 26, 2013 - 39 comments

Sociology (and other group data) assumptions based on Americans.

And that's a bad idea. Much of standard group behavior data in Sociology/Economics/Psychology is based on Americans. Which don't seem (contrary to universal assumptions) to be shared by a lot of the World.
posted by aleph on Feb 25, 2013 - 53 comments

Freedom from....

The New York Times asks seven 'experts': Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 16, 2013 - 260 comments

Beauty matters. Plainness hurts.

Unpacking the Beauty Premium, Borland J & Leigh A, unpub., 2013.
The first Australian study of the financial return to physical attractiveness finds its worth an astounding $32,150 in annual salary, with men of above average looks typically commanding $81,750 compared to $49,600 for men with below-average looks.
Men with below-average looks were 15 per cent less likely than normal to be employed and were typically employed for a 9 per cent lower wage. They were also less likely to be married and less likely to married to a woman of high income.

posted by wilful on Jan 6, 2013 - 64 comments

Nonvoters in America

In 2012, 40 percent of Americans didn’t vote. The research on this website is an attempt to determine why so many citizens opt out of this fundamental civic duty, using extensive survey research as well as interviews with nonvoters to give a voice to those who are often ignored or marginalized by politicians and the news media. [via this phys.org article that provides a nice summary]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 18, 2012 - 63 comments

How and Why We Read

"Reading is always an act of empathy" - John Green of Crash Course (previously) explains "How and Why We Read" (... and recommends his favorite books). [more inside]
posted by mrgrimm on Dec 4, 2012 - 19 comments

if the shoe fits

You can accurately judge a person just by looking at their shoes, psychologists say. "Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person's shoes." Virginia Postrel responded: "The study made a solid contribution to research on first impressions, but it was hardly earthshaking. By getting so much attention, however, it demonstrated a sociological truth: People love to talk about shoes. Even those who dismissed the research as silly often felt compelled to call radio stations or comment on websites, providing details about their own choices. Why this fascination with footwear? " [more inside]
posted by flex on Oct 15, 2012 - 159 comments

How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career

How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career (PDF) (non-PDF version requires free registration): Conventional career change methods...are all part of what I call the “plan and implement” model of change. It goes like this: First, determine with as much clarity and certainty as possible what you really want to do. Next, use that knowledge to identify jobs or fields in which your passions can be coupled with your skills and experience. Seek advice from the people who know you best and from professionals in tune with the market. Then simply implement the resulting action steps. Change is seen as a one-shot deal: The plan-and-implement approach cautions us against making a move before we know exactly where we are going. It all sounds reasonable, and it is a reassuring way to proceed. Yet my research suggests that proceeding this way will lead to the most disastrous of results, which is to say no result. (by Herminia Ibarra, who expands on these ideas in her book Working Identity)
posted by shivohum on Oct 4, 2012 - 13 comments

27.5 years of gameplay

A study-based analysis of UK gaming magazines in the 1980s and 90s argues that the analysis of computer games, independent of attributes such as the platform or narrative, becomes more evident after March 1985 when the term 'gameplay' begins to be used in this media.
posted by Wordshore on Oct 3, 2012 - 10 comments

Working, playing, day or night, the look that's right

Jeans. Jeans. Jeans. JEANS! (via)
posted by mrgrimm on Sep 18, 2012 - 18 comments

Thoughts about women and homemaking in the 21st century

"This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex and the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?"
posted by showbiz_liz on Sep 5, 2012 - 250 comments

Grape Apes: The Origins of Morality

Chimp Fights and Trolley Rides from Radiolab's morality episode: "try to answer tough moral quandaries. The questions--which force you to decide between homicidal scenarios--are the same ones being asked by Dr. Joshua Greene. He'll tell us about using modern brain scanning techniques to take snapshots of the brain as it struggles to resolve these moral conflicts. And he'll describe what he sees in these images: quite literally, a battle taking place in the brain. It's 'inner chimp' versus a calculator-wielding rationale."
posted by kliuless on Sep 2, 2012 - 36 comments

The Association of Religion Data Archives: Churchgoers give far less than they think

"Parting with treasure easier said than done: Churchgoers give far less than they think" is the latest feature article from the Association of Religion Data Archives, which "strives to democratize access to the best data on religion." The site includes a browsable archive of religious survey data, a quick statistical roundup, international religious profiles, feature articles on topics like the rise of Mormons, Muslims and nondenominational churches in the USA ("nondenominational and independent churches may now be considered the third largest religious group in the country...Only the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are larger"), links to sources like the 2010 U.S. Religious Census, a Religion Research Hub (with tutorials and helpful advice on best practices when theorizing, conceptualizing and measuring religious behavior) and lots more.
posted by mediareport on Aug 30, 2012 - 25 comments

Perry Anderson's essays about modern states in The London Review of Books

Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement, through independence and partition into its recent history as a nation-state is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Aug 25, 2012 - 6 comments

A Confederacy of Bachelors

A Confederacy of Bachelors [NYT] Meet the brotherhood of Fortress Astoria: Danaher Dempsey, Luke Crane, Rick Brown and Shyaporn Theerakulstit, best friends and artists. They have no children, no linear career histories, no readily disposable savings. The four men, all heterosexual, approaching 40 and never married, have lived together for 18 years, give or take a revolving guest roommate, cohabitating in spaces like an East Village walk-up, a Chelsea loft and, now, a converted office space in Queens. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Aug 4, 2012 - 115 comments

The Mundanity of Excellence

Excellence is mundane. Excellence is accomplished through the doing of actions, ordinary in themselves, performed consistently and carefully, habitualized, compounded together, added up over time.: An Ethnographic Report on Stratification and Olympic Swimmers (1989) [more inside]
posted by latkes on Jul 30, 2012 - 9 comments

Why Is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States So High and Why Does It Matter?

"Why Is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States So High and Why Does It Matter?" Kearney MS & Levine PB (2012) Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(2): 141–63. [more inside]
posted by wilful on Jul 23, 2012 - 122 comments

"And so if elites have a culture today, it is a culture of individual self-cultivation."

The New Elitists (NYT) - "...omnivores seem highly distinct and their tastes appear to be a matter of personal expression. Instead of liking things like opera because that’s what people of your class are supposed to like, the omnivore likes what he likes because it is an expression of a distinct self. Perhaps liking a range of things explains why elites are elite, and not the other way around. By contrast, those who have exclusive tastes today — middle-class and poorer Americans — are subject to disdain. If the world is open and you don’t take advantage of it, then you’re simply limited and closed-minded. Perhaps it’s these attributes that explain your incapacity to succeed." [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 9, 2012 - 128 comments

Now, draw me a picture of the good life.

"Descartes is smaller than you’d think" in this graph of the history of philosophy [more inside]
posted by mc2000 on Jun 28, 2012 - 63 comments

made immortal by means of tape backups

"when i went into cyberspace i went into it thinking that it was a place like any other place and that it would be a human interaction like any other human interaction. i was wrong when i thought that. it was a terrible mistake." Pandora's Vox: On Community in Cyberspace [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on May 29, 2012 - 25 comments

Reflections On The Norwegian Massacre

Reflections On The Norwegian Massacre (60 min audio interview) On July 22, 2011, Norway suffered a catastrophe: its main government buildings were bombed, and scores of young people were killed and maimed at a summer youth congress. Nils Christie, a prominent Norwegian sociologist and criminologist, talks with CBC IDEAS about what happened and what it means for his country. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Apr 29, 2012 - 38 comments

Tattoos, Piercings, and Alcohol Consumption

According to research recently published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research[DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01711.x], tattooed people drink significantly more than their peers (as well as other risky behaviours).
posted by wilful on Apr 19, 2012 - 63 comments

"Vulnerability is not weakness.... Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”

Brené Brown: Listening to shame. Filmed this month at TED in Long Beach, CA. (YouTube) Also see: The Power of Vulnerability (yt, previously on MeFi), and The Price of Invulnerability. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 16, 2012 - 16 comments

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