Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

Mass incarceration and working class interests: Which side are the unions on?

May 21, 2013

From Labor Studies

Mass incarceration has been one of the most important social policy failures in the U.S. in the last half century. This process has driven millions of members of the poorest sectors of the working class to prison and jails with African-Americans and more recently Latinos being the chief victims. While trade unions would be logical organizations to contest mass incarceration, they have consistently ignored the importance of mass incarceration for working class communities of color, instead choosing to defend the jobs of their members, even when their members are complicit in locking up innocent people and subjecting them to onerous conditions. This article is one of the first attempts to define mass incarceration as a working class issues and critique the trade unions general failure to take responsibility for poor people against the War on Drugs, truth in sentencing laws, racial profiling and other measures that have enabled the incarceration of millions of marginalized workers.

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Only 15 minutes? The social layers of fame

April 11, 2013

Only 15 Minutes? The Social Stratification of Fame in Printed Medi

From American Sociological Review

In the long-standing tradition of stratification research, one major source of power and status has been virtually ignored, until recently: fame. People aspire to fame, just as they aspire to political power, wealth, income, education, and health. This study investigates the mobility of fame using a unique data source containing daily records of references to person names in a large corpus of English-language media sources. Fame exhibits strong continuity even in entertainment, on television, and on blogs, where it has been thought to be most ephemeral. These data reveal that only at the bottom of the public attention hierarchy do names exhibit fast turnover; at upper tiers, stable coverage persists around a fixed level and rank for decades. Analysis suggests that internal mechanisms can create stability even in the absence of external stabilizing forces. Fame need not become ephemeral when disconnected from fame-granting structural positions. The study concludes that once a person’s name is decoupled from the initial event that lent it momentary attention, self-reinforcing processes, career structures, and commemorative practices perpetuate fame.


Killer Anders Behring Breivik’s Manifesto provides a valuable resource for those studying the narrative and discursive dimension of crime

March 28, 2013

Are self-narratives strategic or determined, unified or fragmented? Reading Breivik’ Manifesto in light of narrative criminology

From Acta Sociologica

In 2011 Anders Behring Breivik carried out two terrorist attacks in Norway killing 77 people. Breivik was an anti-Islamic, critical of the government’s policy of multiculturalism. His apparent targets were the government and the future political leadership of the Social Democratic party. Only hours before the attacks, Breivik had emailed a 1500-page Manifesto, in English, to several thousand people explaining his acts and describing their planning in detail. It is a collection of texts from different sources. Some parts are written by other people, others are plagiarized but with some minor changes and finally there are parts written by himself.

This article analyses the manifesto and further develops a theoretical framework of narrative criminology. The Manifesto is a valuable resource for sociologists and criminologists studying the narrative and discursive dimension of crime. This paper demonstrates the fruitfulness of a theoretical framework of narrative criminology. Together with political, socioeconomic and psychological studies, narrative analysis can thus add to our understanding of crime.


Women earn more if they work in different occupations than men

January 16, 2013

The Dimensions of Occupational Gender Segregation in Industrial Countries

From Sociology

Women earn less money than men the more the sexes share the same occupations reveals this study that examines a large-scale survey of 20 industrialised countries. Findings indicate that the more women and men keep to different trades and professions, the more equal is the overall pay average for the two sexes in a country. The researchers attribute the surprising results to the fact that when there are few men in an occupation, women have more chance to get to the top and earn more. But where there are more equal numbers of men and women working in an occupation the men dominate the high-paying jobs.

Pay was most equal in Slovenia, where women on average earn slightly more than men, and in Mexico, Brazil, Sweden and Hungary, where women earn almost as much as men on average. In these countries men and women work in different occupations to a greater extent than in many of the other countries the researchers looked at. In other countries such as Japan, the Czech Republic, Austria and Netherlands, women are more likely to work in the same occupations as men, and the gap between their pay and men’s is higher than average. The UK was higher than average among the 20 countries for inequality in pay.


Can ‘Neds’ or ‘Chavs’ be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class?: Examining the cultural stereotypes

January 4, 2013

Can Neds (or Chavs) be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class? contrasting empirical findings with cultural stereotypes

From Sociology

Ned (non-educated delinquent) is the Scottish equivalent of the English term ‘Chav’. It refers a stereotypically underclass situated in deprived areas. Accordingly, the term Ned and Chav are used synonymously, both linked with a distinctive set of characteristics, mannerisms, tastes, style and also antisocial behaviours. Using a survey of over 3000 15-year-old school pupils from the West of Scotland, this study investigated the association between adopting a Ned identity and socio-economic background, educational engagement, delinquency, peer-status and (sub) cultural markers. It analyses the ‘Ned/Chav Phenomenon’ from an empirical perspective, exploring the ‘reality’ of such stereotypes, in a broadly representative study of young people.

Contrary to the judgment of leading sociologists the traditionally stigmatized Ned/Chav identity is now a readily accepted self-label adopted by a minority of young people. The results challenge sociologists to re-examine their assumptions in relation to the link between youth identity and affluence and require them to explain this profound lack of association. The paper demonstrates a major divergence between the perceptions of social commentators and youth of every social class about the connections between social class and embracing a marginalized (Ned/Chav) identity which requires deeper sociological exploration.


Minority children at a higher risk for weight problems in both the US and England

October 10, 2012

Race/Ethnicity and nativity disparities in child overweight in the United States and England

From American Academy of Political and Social Science

With ties to diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, childhood obesity in wealthy countries is certainly of growing concern to researchers. This study explores the ties between childhood weight problems, socioeconomic status, and nationality and finds that race, ethnicity, and immigrant status are risk factors for weight problems among children in the US and England. The researchers studied data of 6,816 children from the US and the UK to analyze childhood weight problems among certain demographics. This research highlights the consequences of migration for children, an area of study that is often overlooked by immigration researchers. “In the United States, both Hispanic and black children of native-born mothers have a higher risk of overweight than children of native-born whites,” the authors observe “In England, children of native-born black mothers have a higher risk of overweight, and in some models, children of native-born Asian mothers have a higher risk.” They recognize that migration requires children to make sense of a new country, often facing unwelcoming communities, whilst learning to navigate the social institutions of their host society and, more often than not, a new language.


My pet saved my life: Redemption stories from the homeless

October 2, 2012

Animals as lifechangers and lifesavers: Pets in the redemption narratives of homeless people

From Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Scholars maintain that stories constitute “the self’s medium of being”. In this formulation, people construct and revise their sense of themselves by telling stories. This article examines personal narratives in which homeless and formerly homeless people construct their companion animals as having changed or saved their lives. It outlines how personal narratives in which the homeless portray a pet dog or cat as either motivating them to change their lives or preventing them from taking their lives. The relationship with an animal encourages a sense of responsibility, commitment and self worth. The pet provides unconditional love and companionship. The relationship can contribute to the construction of a positive moral identity. By showing how stories about commitment to animals construct such moral identities, this analysis reveals the social origins of what we consider uniquely autobiographical.


Censoring social media fans flames of social unrest

July 17, 2012

Social media censorship in times of political unrest – a social simulation experiment with the uk riots

From BMS: Bulletin of Sociological Methodology/Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique

Is social media censorship a means to quell a modern uprising? Some politicians and law enforcers during the political turbulence of 2011 thought so, but this recent research suggests that uncensored citizens experience less violence and longer periods of peace between outbursts than communities subject to censorship.

The authors used sophisticated computer modeling to find out if the assumptions that actors’ use of media – such as Twitter – fueled mob action through greater awareness were true. The researchers found that all possible scenarios led to initial outbursts of violence but how the situation evolved was significantly influenced by government social media censorship.


Math teachers demonstrate a bias toward white male students

June 19, 2012

Exploring bias in math teachers’ perception of students’ ability by gender and race/ethnicity

From Gender & Society

While theories about race, gender, and math ability among high school students have long been debated, this study found that math teachers are in fact, unjustifiably biased toward their white male students. The researchers analyzed data collected by the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) that consisted of a nationally representative group of about 15,000 students. Their data also included teacher surveys in which math teachers were asked to offer their personal assessment of individual students.  These  assessments ewith other data about the students such as were compared with their math GPA and their score on a standardized math test in order to determine if the teachers’ perceptions of their students’ abilities matched up with the students’ actual scores. They found that math teachers actually favored black female students, claiming that these students were more successful in their math classes than they actually were. Some explainations offered  for their findings were; since few black females were enrolled in high-level math courses, teachers may have viewed the black female students in their advanced courses as overcoming more to be successful in mathematics, thus illustrating more perseverance and academic potential. Additionally, they explained that teachers may be more sensitive to their own tendencies towards racial bias than gender bias as gender bias may be so socially ingrained that it is harder to notice and therefore harder to resist. The authors conclude that “The occurrence of bias in high school classrooms indicates that cultural expectations likely function to shape interactions and re-create inequality throughout the math pipeline that leads to high-status occupations in related fields of science and technology.”


Facebook facilitates a narcissistic fascination with self-display: Online opportunities and risks

April 25, 2012

Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression

From New Media & Society

Over recent years there has been a global explosion in social networking sites. Embraced  particularly by an enthusiastic youth, the public response has tended to be one of puzzled dismay regarding a generation that, supposedly, has many friends but little sense of privacy. This article explores teenagers’ practices of social networking in order to uncover the subtle connections between online opportunity and risk. The study finds that these sites are important for identity development. Influencing the balance between opportunities and risks online are the specific affordances of social networking sites, especially their conception of ‘friends’ and the provision of privacy settings.


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