Sociology Is Power

"Sociology is indeed a valuable part of a university education. It provides a foundation for better understanding and engaging with the globalizing world our young people will need to navigate and lead. It provides students with the intellectual tools needed to make sense of the shifting and conflictual social world we live in, and this in turn permits them to contribute to solutions for the most difficult social problems that we face." - Why A Sociology Major? by Daniel Little

This article examines the reproduction of gendered workplace inequalities through in-depth interviews with female-to-male transsexuals (FTMs). Many FTMs enter the workforce as women and then transition to become men, an experience that can provide them with an “outsider-within perspective on the “patriarchal dividend,” the advantages men in general gain from the subordination of women. Many of the respondents in this article find themselves, as men, receiving more authority, reward, and respect in the workplace than they received as women, even when they remain in the same jobs. The author argues that their experiences can make the underpinnings of gendered workplace disparities visible and help illuminate how structural disadvantages for women are reproduced in workplace interactions. As tall, white FTMs see more advantages than short FTMs and FTMs of color, these experiences also illustrate how men’s gender advantages at work vary with characteristics such as race/ethnicity and body structure.

Kristen Schilt, UCLA

Abstract from
Just One of the Guys: How Transmen Make Gender Visible at Work (2006)

…suggesting that we’ve “just always done it that way” ignores our abilities to adapt and overlooks the massive change that has happened in human civilization since “caveman days”.

– Sara L. Crawley, Lara J. Foley and Constance L. Shehan, Gendering Bodies (2007)

Imagine this: how would it look if a construction worker were to wear a dress to work and have red painted fingernails? Were you assuming the “construction worker” is male?

– Sara L. Crawley, Lara J. Foley and Constance L. Shehan, Gendering Bodies (2007)

It is often assumed that ‘culture contact’ brings change by a kind of contagion; the most technologically advanced economy and the dominant political group ‘infecting’ or rubbing off its culture on to the least technologically advanced and perhaps subordinate group.

– Judith Okely, The Traveller-Gypsies (1983)

socimages:

Is America’s personality changing? A decline in the willingness to conform.
By Lisa Wade, PhD
In Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic, psychologist Jean Twenge argues that we’re all becoming more individualistic.  One measure of this is our willingness to go against the crowd.  She offers many types of evidence, but I was particularly intrigued by her discussion of the afterlife of a famous experiment in psychology.
In 1951, social psychologist Solomon Asch placed eight male Swarthmore students around a table for an experiment in conformity.  They were asked to consider two cards, one with three lines of differing lengths and another with one line.  He asked each student, one by one, which line on the card of three was the same length as the lone line on the second card. Each group looked at 18 pairs of cards like what you see above.
Asch was only interested in the last student’s response.  The first seven were confederates. In six trials, Asch instructed all the confederates to give the correct answer.  In twelve, however, the other seven would all choose the same obviously wrong answer.  Asch counted how often the eighth student would go against the crowd in these cases, breaking consensus and offering up a solitary, but correct answer.
He found that conformity was surprisingly common.  Three-quarters of the study subjects incorrectly went with the majority in at least one trial and a third did so half the time or more.  This was considered a stunning example of people’s willingness to lie about what they are seeing with their own eyes in order to avoid rocking the boat.
But then there was Vietnam and anti-war protesters, hippies and free love, the women’s and gay liberation movement, and civil rights victories.  By the 1960s, it was all about rejecting the establishment, saying no, and envisioning a more authentic life.  Things changed. And so did this experiment.
By the mid-1990s, there were 133 replications of Asch’s study.  Psychologists Rod Bond and Peter Smith decided to add them all up.  They found that the tendency for individuals to conform to the group fell over time.
One of the abstract take-away points from this is that our psychologies — indeed, even our personalities — are malleable.   In fact, the results of many studies, Twenge writes, suggest that “when you were born has more influence on your personality than the family who raised you.” When encountering claims of timeless and cultureless truths about human psychology, then, it is always good to ask ourselves what scientists might find a few decades later.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

socimages:

Is America’s personality changing? A decline in the willingness to conform.

By Lisa Wade, PhD

In Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic, psychologist Jean Twenge argues that we’re all becoming more individualistic.  One measure of this is our willingness to go against the crowd.  She offers many types of evidence, but I was particularly intrigued by her discussion of the afterlife of a famous experiment in psychology.

In 1951, social psychologist Solomon Asch placed eight male Swarthmore students around a table for an experiment in conformity.  They were asked to consider two cards, one with three lines of differing lengths and another with one line.  He asked each student, one by one, which line on the card of three was the same length as the lone line on the second card. Each group looked at 18 pairs of cards like what you see above.

Asch was only interested in the last student’s response.  The first seven were confederates. In six trials, Asch instructed all the confederates to give the correct answer.  In twelve, however, the other seven would all choose the same obviously wrong answer.  Asch counted how often the eighth student would go against the crowd in these cases, breaking consensus and offering up a solitary, but correct answer.

He found that conformity was surprisingly common.  Three-quarters of the study subjects incorrectly went with the majority in at least one trial and a third did so half the time or more.  This was considered a stunning example of people’s willingness to lie about what they are seeing with their own eyes in order to avoid rocking the boat.

But then there was Vietnam and anti-war protesters, hippies and free love, the women’s and gay liberation movement, and civil rights victories.  By the 1960s, it was all about rejecting the establishment, saying no, and envisioning a more authentic life.  Things changed. And so did this experiment.

By the mid-1990s, there were 133 replications of Asch’s study.  Psychologists Rod Bond and Peter Smith decided to add them all up.  They found that the tendency for individuals to conform to the group fell over time.

One of the abstract take-away points from this is that our psychologies — indeed, even our personalities — are malleable.   In fact, the results of many studies, Twenge writes, suggest that “when you were born has more influence on your personality than the family who raised you.” When encountering claims of timeless and cultureless truths about human psychology, then, it is always good to ask ourselves what scientists might find a few decades later.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

sociology-of-space:

Social Seating: 14 Public Benches Foster Urban Interactions
Breaking, bending, twisting and warping wood, this ongoing series of installations fosters new forms of interaction within cities, challenging that most iconic piece civic furniture: the public bench.Award-winning artist Jeppe Hein from Copenhagen (currently working in Berlin) has installed his Modified Social Benches at indoor galleries and outside in cities around the world.To their creator, these are about more than just sculptural expression – on their origins: “Out of investigating architecture, communication, and social behavior in the urban space, a series of bench designs was born.”
http://weburbanist.com/2014/06/21/social-seating-14-public-benches-foster-urban-interactions/ sociology-of-space:

Social Seating: 14 Public Benches Foster Urban Interactions
Breaking, bending, twisting and warping wood, this ongoing series of installations fosters new forms of interaction within cities, challenging that most iconic piece civic furniture: the public bench.Award-winning artist Jeppe Hein from Copenhagen (currently working in Berlin) has installed his Modified Social Benches at indoor galleries and outside in cities around the world.To their creator, these are about more than just sculptural expression – on their origins: “Out of investigating architecture, communication, and social behavior in the urban space, a series of bench designs was born.”
http://weburbanist.com/2014/06/21/social-seating-14-public-benches-foster-urban-interactions/ sociology-of-space:

Social Seating: 14 Public Benches Foster Urban Interactions
Breaking, bending, twisting and warping wood, this ongoing series of installations fosters new forms of interaction within cities, challenging that most iconic piece civic furniture: the public bench.Award-winning artist Jeppe Hein from Copenhagen (currently working in Berlin) has installed his Modified Social Benches at indoor galleries and outside in cities around the world.To their creator, these are about more than just sculptural expression – on their origins: “Out of investigating architecture, communication, and social behavior in the urban space, a series of bench designs was born.”
http://weburbanist.com/2014/06/21/social-seating-14-public-benches-foster-urban-interactions/

sociology-of-space:

Social Seating: 14 Public Benches Foster Urban Interactions

Breaking, bending, twisting and warping wood, this ongoing series of installations fosters new forms of interaction within cities, challenging that most iconic piece civic furniture: the public bench.Award-winning artist Jeppe Hein from Copenhagen (currently working in Berlin) has installed his Modified Social Benches at indoor galleries and outside in cities around the world.To their creator, these are about more than just sculptural expression – on their origins: “Out of investigating architecture, communication, and social behavior in the urban space, a series of bench designs was born.”

http://weburbanist.com/2014/06/21/social-seating-14-public-benches-foster-urban-interactions/

ucresearch:

You say hispanic, I say latino
Most use the words interchangeably these days, but the “hispanic” identity originated from an initiative in the 1970s to give Latin American’s in the United States a more unified voice in politics. UC Berkeley sociologist Cristina Mora talks about the positives and negatives of this distinction in her new book:

You have the person whose great-grandmother came from Argentina, but has never visited Latin America, and does not speak Spanish, lumped into the exact same category as a Guatemalan who just crossed the U.S. border.  One argument the book makes is that in order for all these government, market and political interests to come together, the category had to become broader in order to fit in all these ideas about Hispanics being consumers, or Hispanics being disadvantaged people.
Over time, the Hispanic identity has become based on cultural generalities such as ‘We all love our families. We are all religious and we all have some connection to the Spanish language however far back that may be.’  That’s a weakness and a strength. It was because of that ambiguity that we have the large numbers who identify as Hispanic and who have made advances.  But when you have such a broad and opaque category it’s hard to elicit and sustain passion and commitment.

Read more in her interview here →
ucresearch:

You say hispanic, I say latino
Most use the words interchangeably these days, but the “hispanic” identity originated from an initiative in the 1970s to give Latin American’s in the United States a more unified voice in politics. UC Berkeley sociologist Cristina Mora talks about the positives and negatives of this distinction in her new book:

You have the person whose great-grandmother came from Argentina, but has never visited Latin America, and does not speak Spanish, lumped into the exact same category as a Guatemalan who just crossed the U.S. border.  One argument the book makes is that in order for all these government, market and political interests to come together, the category had to become broader in order to fit in all these ideas about Hispanics being consumers, or Hispanics being disadvantaged people.
Over time, the Hispanic identity has become based on cultural generalities such as ‘We all love our families. We are all religious and we all have some connection to the Spanish language however far back that may be.’  That’s a weakness and a strength. It was because of that ambiguity that we have the large numbers who identify as Hispanic and who have made advances.  But when you have such a broad and opaque category it’s hard to elicit and sustain passion and commitment.

Read more in her interview here →

ucresearch:

You say hispanic, I say latino

Most use the words interchangeably these days, but the “hispanic” identity originated from an initiative in the 1970s to give Latin American’s in the United States a more unified voice in politics. UC Berkeley sociologist Cristina Mora talks about the positives and negatives of this distinction in her new book:

You have the person whose great-grandmother came from Argentina, but has never visited Latin America, and does not speak Spanish, lumped into the exact same category as a Guatemalan who just crossed the U.S. border.  One argument the book makes is that in order for all these government, market and political interests to come together, the category had to become broader in order to fit in all these ideas about Hispanics being consumers, or Hispanics being disadvantaged people.

Over time, the Hispanic identity has become based on cultural generalities such as ‘We all love our families. We are all religious and we all have some connection to the Spanish language however far back that may be.’  That’s a weakness and a strength. It was because of that ambiguity that we have the large numbers who identify as Hispanic and who have made advances.  But when you have such a broad and opaque category it’s hard to elicit and sustain passion and commitment.

Read more in her interview here 

As Hines has explained, sex is ‘easily assessed, routinely evaluated, and not always reported. Because it is more interesting to find a difference than to find no difference, the 19 failures to observe a difference between men and women go unreported, whereas the 1 in 20 finding of a difference is likely to be published.’

Delusions of Gender:  How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine

socimages:

Happy birthday, Thorstein Veblen! 

Thorstein Veblen (1857 – 1929) Veblen was a noted economist and sociologist and a prominent leader of the institutional economics movement. He is widely known for his book, The Theory of the Leisure Class, where he famously discusses a phenomena he called conspicuous consumption.

- Sociological Cinema

socimages:

Happy birthday, Thorstein Veblen!

Thorstein Veblen (1857 – 1929) Veblen was a noted economist and sociologist and a prominent leader of the institutional economics movement. He is widely known for his book, The Theory of the Leisure Class, where he famously discusses a phenomena he called conspicuous consumption.

Sociological Cinema

The circuits of the brain are quite literally a product of your physical, social and cultural environment, as well as your behavior and thoughts. What we experience and do creates neural activity that can alter the brain, either directly or through changes in gene expression. This neuroplasticity means that, as Kaiser puts it, the social phenomenon of gender ‘comes into the brain’ and ‘becomes part of our cerebral biology’.

Delusions of Gender:  How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine

Parents’ gender associations are firmly in place well before a child is even a twinkle in daddy’s eye. The scant but suggestive data of this chapter hint that beliefs about gender – either consciously or unconsciously held – are already shaping expectations about a future child’s interests and values, already biasing the mother’s perception of the little kicking baby inside her, and are already moulding a mother’s communication with her unborn child.

Delusions of Gender:  How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine

The primary causes of poverty lie not in individual behavior at all, but in specific social and historical structures, in forces outside any single person’s control. If you haven’t lived it or even seen it firsthand, there’s almost no way to imagine it. Living in the ghetto, one faces problems with public housing, family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, the drug trade, negligent landlords, criminals, illness, guns, isolation, hunger, ethnic antagonisms, racism, and other obviously negative forces. Even forces that might seem positive in other circumstances- the law, the media, government, neighbors, police- can, in the ghetto context, make life miserable for the poor. And one has to contend will all of these forces- any one of which might be overwhelming- all at once, without a break. Turn to deal with one problem, and three attack you from behind. Experience a little unexpected bad luck, and you find yourself instantly drowning. The cumulative effect of the ‘surround’ is more than the sum of any of these individual forces. There is simply no space to breathe.

Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen by David Hilfiker, M.D, xii & xv

American society has generally tried to confine private charity and governmental assistance to the ‘deserving’, while insisting that the ‘undeserving poor’ improve their character as a condition for receiving relief. Like many people in our individualistic culture, the poor ultimately blame themselves for their lack of success, and can easily lose whatever self-confidence they have been able to muster. What little public assistance exists is often administered in ways that make it difficult to move back into the world of self-sufficiency, especially when self-sufficiency is defined as a series of exhausting jobs that don’t pay a living wage. The causes of ghetto poverty do not lie in the individual behavior of inner city African Americans, but lie primarily in forces outside their control. It is up to them to do what they humanly can; it is up to the rest of society to change existing programs and create new ones to allow everyone to enjoy a decent standard of living.

Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen by David Hilfiker, M.D., 69, 58, & 128

Johnson came to office in the fall of 1963. The first of the Great Society programs moved through Congress and into rapid implementation in 1964. But the ghettos began exploding in 1965, and Vietnam was heavily draining the nation’s financial resources by late 1966. The War on Poverty ground to a halt before it had begun to take off. According to historian Michael Katz, in the end the Office of Economic Opportunity (the hub of the War on Poverty) received less than 10 percent of the most conservative estimate of what it needed to reach its goals, spending about $70 per poor person per year. It never reached the takeoff point normal in most federal programs. In reality, then, the War on Poverty proved to be the briefest of skirmishes. The country gave itself no real chance to do anything about poverty. Of course, it wasn’t coincidental that once poverty was defined as an African-American phenomenon, we gave up rather quickly. Worse yet, the perceived failure of the Great Society programs now became associated with a hopelessly flawed ‘big government’ approach to poverty that, in ‘throwing money’ at problems, was believed to worsen them. The shadow of the aborted War on Poverty thus continues to hang over the discussion of poverty and its solutions. It is more than ironic- as well as further evidence of our deep-seated attitudes- that this tiny window of underfunded action that lasted barely a few years has become prima facie evidence of the government’s inability ever to do anything about poverty- as if we had ever tried throwing money at poverty, much less committed ourselves to a program that might stand some chance of working.

Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen by David Hilfiker, M.D., p. 16