Archive for July, 2009

h1

Analyzing Music as Social Product?

July 19, 2009

During the late 1960s, society’s values and norms changed radically, especially in the “younger generation,” or teenagers and those in their early 20s. I’m sure you have all heard of the “love generation” and the “hippies.” Some sociologists attempt to measure norm flux through popular music. That is to say, they analyze the content and presentation of music popular at specific times among certain groups to try and understand those groups at those times. Listen to the music below from H. P. Lovecraft, a socially conscious psychedelic band from the late 1960s. Notice the pacing of the music, the sound itself, and the content of the lyrics.

Many sociologists hold we are currently going through a new social epoch. This change is more subtle than the late 1960s, but just as powerful and more skeptical and dark. Watch this 2009 music video by the Soulidium depicting a vampiric subculture—its been developing in the United States since the 1980s:

Both of these songs can be interpreted to contain strong social commentary. They can be viewed as “social protest” songs, objecting to the current state of society and the response of the respective groups in adapting to their environment.

If you would like to discuss this point, please select a topic below and respond to it:

1. Do you think these songs are reflecting a dissatisfaction and rebellion from society? If so, what elements of society do you think they both address? What different characteristics of society do you the songs respond to?

2. What is different about the presentation of the song in the videos? What insights might this give you about the different characteristics of the groups these songs appeal to?

3. Some sociologists argue that the social revolution of the late 1960s was intended to be productive or to fix society’s ills, but the current rebellion is more cynical and is simply a rejection of current social understandings. What do you think? How could you use the content of the music produced by these two different generations to support your conclusions?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements
h1

Is the Face of Homelessness Changing?

July 19, 2009

Traditionally, when many people think about a person who is homeless, the first archetype that comes to mind is a long term unemployed male, street beggar, drug user, or, sadly, the mentally ill. However, that may be changing now.

People who were traditionally employed in blue collar jobs (construction, retail, truck driving, factory work, etc.) were the ones who typically became unemployed and lost their homes. Now unemployment is creeping up even higher on the socio-economic scale to include white collar management (factory management, store management, teachers, nurses, etc.). These people, already in debt with credit cards, education loans, car payments, and variable mortgages are losing their homes, too.

With this in mind, many people are becoming critical of “shovel ready job” programs and re-education through community colleges that the current administration is pursuing. They argue that the “new homeless” won’t be helped by short-term, low income jobs. The “new homeless” are often already educated. They charge that the failure isn’t among the unemployed and shouldn’t be the focus of adjustments. Rather than creating “low end,” temporary jobs for “high end” unemployed, the management of the economy needs to be fundamentally changed. It should be regulated less and the types of regulations that are used need to reflect the underlying causes of the recession.

What do you think? Would you like to respond to this article? If so, select one of the topics below:

1. What do you think short term and low paying jobs will accomplish in the long term for our economy?

2. What do you think caused the recession? Some social scientists are now saying that we have “bottomed out” in the Bush Recession and are entering another, separate, discrete recession being caused by factors other than those credited with causing the original recession. What do you think?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

h1

What is Domestic Abuse?

July 17, 2009

Domestic violence is a growing problem, not only in America but in many other countries, as well. Traditionally, when we speak of domestic violence, we think of men abusing their wives. However, domestic violence also includes wives abusing husbands, parents abusing children, and even children abusing the elderly. Domestic abuse can also take many forms other than physical attacks—it can be economic blackmail, psychological abuse, imprisonment in the home, or social isolation.

Above is an Australian public service announcement. After you have watched it, respond to one of the topics below:

1. Do you think forms of domestic abuse other than psychical violence are as serious? Why or why not?

2. What level of involvement do you think should be required of the public in reporting or preventing domestic abuse?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

h1

Is Unemployment a Good Indicator of Society’s Health?

July 17, 2009

freshoranicfood
There is growing concern over the increase in unemployment levels in the United States. Depending upon how you measure unemployment, anywhere from 9% to 16% of Americans are now unemployed. In some cities, this number is much higher. Recently, President Obama predicted that the unemployment rate will continue to increase.

Some sociologists would argue that high levels of unemployment may be bad, but more concern should be directed toward the type of jobs available, not the number. For example, which job openings would be better for a community: twelve temporary jobs offering minimum wage or one permanent job offering eighty thousand dollars a year with good benefits? How would a sociologist respond to this question?

Would you like to respond to this posting? If so, select a topic below and respond to it:

1. What do you think is more important in a community: having a small number of secure and well-paying jobs available or having a large number of low-paying and temporary jobs available?

2. Do you think an unemployed person should refuse a temporary job with a low income in order to wait for a more secure and well-paying job? What does this tell you about the difference in priorities a person might have compared with a community, city, or state?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

h1

Does Energy Independence Mean Blowing Up Our Mountains?

July 17, 2009

Many people are concerned about our dependence on foreign sources of energy in the forms of gas, oil, and coal. But what is often overlooked is that in order to transport that energy or build the machines it is used to operate, we also need other resources such as water, wood, and metals. As a result, people are not only in search of domestic sources of energy, but for domestic sources of the needed support resources to tap into those energies, as well.

A key factor in all of this is cost. Some sociologists worry that the downsides of methods used to control the cost of developing or finding these materials might override their benefits. For example, consider such comparatively inexpensive mining techniques as mountain top removal or hydraulic drilling. That’s right—mountain top removal!

Below is a short excerpt from a PBS documentary about mountain top removal. Watch the video and if you like, respond to one of the discussion topics below:

1. People that support mountain top removal argue it is inexpensive compared to traditional mining. It also allows companies to mine in areas that contain smaller amounts of minerals, which would create jobs where traditional mines couldn’t be used. They also argue it is a safer for the workers than shaft mining. Do you think mountain top removal should be allowed? Why or why not?

2. What level of damage do you think this does to the land in the area? How long do you think this damage will last? How widespread is the damage? What other forms of industry would you suggest that local communities pursue in these areas?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

h1

Social Control in Society: What is Acceptable?

July 17, 2009

taserOne of the characteristics of society is a stable pattern of behavior over a long period of time in one geographic place. Some sociologists suggest that people behave the same under similar conditions because they follow a shared set of social rules for behavior. These rules can grouped into categories such as values, norms, folkways, mores, and laws. Continuing down this line of thought, you might suggest that you can teach people the rules, but not everyone will obey them! Society, however, reinforces its rules through social sanctions.

For example, if you break the law, society might empower a policeman to arrest you and take you to a jail. The argument here is that obeying the law is important to protect people in this society. But what happens if enforcing the law becomes more destructive than breaking the law? That brings us to the issue of this post. ABC news reported a 72-year-old woman was tasered by a police officer during a traffic stop in Texas. The police department defended the use of the taser noting that the woman, according to the video released, was verbally abusive and physically resisting the police officer. At one point it looked like she was attempting to walk into a busy highway or return to her vehicle. Would you like to respond to this posting?

If so, select one of the topics below:

1. Do you think the officer acted correctly? Why or why not? What would have happened if the woman had a pacemaker for her heart and the electric shock killed her? What would have happened if the office allowed the woman to walk into the road and was hit by a passing car?

2. Can you think of values and norms that need to be followed by people, but shouldn’t be enforced by force? Can you think of values that should be maintained even if they injure or kill people?

3. Look at the responses to the topics above (or offer one yourself). How can these ideas be applied to determine what society should and shouldn’t do to control people’s behavior? How can your insights be applied to other issues such as the closing of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba, capital punishment, three-strikes-laws, decriminalization of marijuana, student expulsion from school, or another issue in society today?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

h1

Democratic Crisis in Iran?

July 17, 2009

An Iranian protestor's hand, painted the country's colors, signs for peace.

An Iranian protestor's hand, painted with the country's colors, signs for peace.

Iran recently held elections. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ran for re-election against three other candidates and was declared the victor. However, many Iranians hold the election wasn’t fair—some believe Ahmadinejad wasn’t really elected in a true count.

Many Iranians have taken to the street in protest. During this time, 24 reporters have been arrested and at least 10 people have been killed. Some worry this grassroots revolt might spread and destabilize Iran, which could endanger the stability of the entire region. Others hope that resistance to President Ahmadinejad continues.

Would you like to respond to this posting? If so, select a topic below and share your reply:

1. President Obama has been criticized by some for not taking a more forceful stance on this issue. Other people say America cannot be seen in the global community as meddling in Iran’s domestic affairs. Do you think the United States should become involved in this issue? Why or why not?

2. Some sociologists would suggest social and political intervention—not only for Iran, but for any country in a similar situation—from a coalition of neighboring nations or the United Nations. Other sociologists would strongly object to outside interference in any society’s political affairs. Based upon their basic sociological perspectives, who do you think would support an outside authority supplying political or social guidance to Iran in this situation: Auguste Comte (the “father of sociology”) or Herbert Spencer (the original “social-Darwinist”)? Why? Remember, I am asking you to apply their basic sociological tenants—to think like them.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine