"Humans are constantly engaged in seizing natural phenomena, converting them into cultural objects and reinterpreting them with cultural ideas.."

Bennett - (1976)

"…what distinguishes [the Marxist notion of class] from the sociological notion of class is that, for the former, class is precisely a differential concept, that each class is at once a way of relating to and of refusing the others. Whatever its philosophical presuppositions, the sociological view is formally wrong to the degree that it allows us to think of the individual classes in a kind of isolation from each other, with the almost physical separation of social groups in city or countryside, or as “cultures” somehow self-developing and independent from each other: for the notion of the isolated class or social group is just as surely a hypostasis as the notion of the solitary individual in eighteenth-century philosophy. In history also there are no substances tranquilly persevering in their own essence, but rather a relationality and struggle of every instant, in which class is no more free than the individual not to be engaged. So it is that each class implies the existence of all the others in its very being, for it defines itself against them and survives and perpetuates itself only insofar as it succeeds in humiliating its adversaries. Thus, to use the convenient but of course very abstract tripartite formula, the bourgeois defines himself as a nonnoble and a nonworker at the same time, or better still, as an antinoble and an antiworker all in one. And with such a relational concept of class, the criterion of genuinely Marxist analysis is given also: it will necessarily imply the shock of demystification in its very structure, it always in one way or another presuppose a movement from an apparently systematic and intellectually coherent, self-contained surface to that historical situation behind it, in terms of which the ideological product under examination suddenly proves to have had a function and strategic value as a weapon of a determinate kind in a concrete and local struggle. "

Fredric Jameson, Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature, pg.380-1

juegosartificiales asked:

Do you see the bias in that study about religious and secular kids? In the first paragraph it says that kids with religious backgrounds have problems distinguishing realistic and fantasy stories, whereas the last paragraph it establishes that religious kids see religious stores as real. Of course they'll see them as real, that's all what religion is about. It is the researchers' bias to consider religious stories as unrealistic or fantasy.

I agree that the researcher is imposing their own value judgment, but I don’t necessarily agree that all people consider religious stories to be “real.”  Some people do view them as simply fictional stories used to teach a lesson.


According to new research from Boston University, young children with a religious background are less able to distinguish between fantasy and reality compared with their secular counterparts.

In two studies, 66 kindergarten-age children were presented with three types of stories - realistic, religious and fantastical. The researchers then queried the children on whether they thought the main character in the story was real or fictional.

While nearly all children found the figures in the realistic narratives to be real, secular and religious children were split on religious stories. Children with a religious upbringing tended to view the protagonists in religious stories as real, whereas children from non-religious households saw them as fictional.


BBC News - Study: Religious children are less able to distinguish fantasy from reality

Our Echo Chambers blog looks into a recent study about childrens’ belief systems and whether such research can be more than a political cudgel for both secular and religious groups

"“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” "

Hugh Mackay.


"I did a little test and asked everyone to write down what the antonym of the word ‘body’ was. In the long list I got, apart from predictable and amusing definitions like ‘antibody’ or ‘nobody’ the most arresting for me were: “unaffected” and “death”. If the opposite of being a body is dead, there is no life to expect apart from the body, especially not an after-life, nor a life of a mind: either you have, you are a body, or you are dead, you have become a corpse, you enter into some sort of macabre body count. …

Equipped with such a ‘patho-logical’ definition of the body, one is not obliged to define an essence, a substance (what the body is by nature), but rather, I will argue, an interface that becomes more and more describable as it learns to be affected by many more elements. The body is thus not a provisional residence of something superior — an immortal soul, the universal, or thought— but what leaves a dynamic trajectory by which we learn to register and become sensitive to what the world is made of."

— Bruno Latour (How to talk about the body? The normative dimension of science studies)

"‘Landscapes’ are the symbolic environments created by human acts of conferring meaning to nature and the environment, of giving the environment definition and form from a particular angle of vision and through a special filter of values and beliefs. Every landscape is a symbolic environment. These landscapes reflect our self definitions that are grounded in culture."

Landscapes: The Social Construction of Nature and the Environment’.- T.Greider & L. Garkovich 

in ‘Rural Sociology. vol 59, no.1 (1994)’

When Cities Become Science, Where Does Art Fit In?



sociology-of-space might enjoy this

An interesting piece arguing for the importance of positive street art. As cities become more rigorously planned we must not forget how people experience the urban space everyday.  Public street art is vital as a way for people to express themselves, get inspired, and generally improve the health of a community.

The Overblown Myth of the Boomerang Generation


Isn’t it ironic that “much of our ‘independence,’ where it exists, is made possible by supports and resources that have been provided by others”? In an interview with the Washington Post, Oregon State’s Richard A. Settersten, Jr. calls attention to one important instance of this irony: the rigid tie between the “independence” of young people and leaving the home. For Settersten, Jr., common (and paranoid) misunderstandings about “permanent” and “alarming” generational trends in living at home are problematic not simply because they are inaccurate, but because they point to a misguided ideal of “independence.”

To clarify how patterns in young adult living arrangements have varied over time, he notes:

This isn’t new. If we look back over the last century, we can see that the rush out of the parental home was a post-World War II phenomenon, and proportions have been growing since 1970…. What’s remarkable about the early adult years today is not that young people live with parents but that they live without a spouse…. Marriage and parenting now culminate the process of becoming adult rather than start it.

Settersten, Jr. also clarifies who chooses to live at home and why. He indicates that men of every age group are more likely to live with parents, mentioning their higher rates of dropping out of school
unemployment, and a higher average age of marriage as possible reasons why. Individuals of disadvantaged groups also tend to live at home at greater rates—possibly because they are more likely to live in high-cost metropolitan areas or because young people in their culture are expected to contribute to family resources. Moreover, according to Settersten, Jr.,

For many families, living at home is a strategic choice that permits young adults to attend or reduce the cost of higher education, take internships, or create a nest egg. (It may also be necessary for paying down student loans.) For them, it’s not about being locked out of the labor market, but about building a more secure economic future.

So before tossing aside the “boomerang generation” as hopelessly dependent “failures to launch,” consider how peculiar it is “that we expect young people to somehow strive for complete independence when those of us who are no longer young realize that adult life is heavily conditioned by relationships with other people.” Settersten, Jr. has a point.

To learn how this notion of independence is affecting older adults, check out Stacy Torres’s article on Families as They Really Are.

For a different take on the role of the economy in millenials’ living arrangements, see this article by Lisa Wade.

If you’re a teacher, here’s a great lesson by Kia Heise to start a class conversation about living alone as a ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood.


Bench to Bedroom: Urban Furniture Turned Homeless Shelters


"Whereas London and Montreal have installed spikes on the sidewalks to keep homeless people from getting too comfortable, Vancouver offers a kind welcome with benches that transform into mini-shelters. A nonprofit called RainCity Housing teamed up with Spring Advertising to create the modified public benches in order to provide a covered place to sleep while simultaneously raising awareness….”