Class Calendar

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tough Guise

Today we watched a video about how our society socializes boys in a narrow and limited way. That video is called "Tough Guise". In other words, the disguise to seem tough that guys put on. Watch Tough Guise 2 on mediacast by clicking here.  Please read the article I assigned by Kimmel and Mahler related to this.
The basic premise of the documentary is that masculinity is a social construction that puts guys at risk.  It is the idea that violence, anger and toughness are the only okay emotions or reactions for males.  This idea has been around since society changed from an agricultural patriarchy to a modern more egalitarian society.  As our society changed to be more urban and more equal, men have been taught to fear women and fear the changes.  These changes helped to popularize the Western movies and shows.  Along with the change of society came changes in acceptance of women as equal and changes in gay rights.  Fear of the changes in society is filtered throughout society via politics and media.  Guns are a symptom of the fear of the changes. There is a seige mentality that promotes rugged individualism and gun ownership as a way of fighting back both literally and figuratively.  Guys today are taught that violence is the only way to be really considered a man and to fight back

Below are some of the sources that are referred to in the movie.

Jackson Katz
Jackson Katz, narrator in the video has his own website.  Also, here is his book, The Macho Paradox
Here is Katz speaking at a TED conference:




Real Boys; Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, book by William Pollock.  Pollock documents how at a very early age boys are taught to
Excerpt available here.
Based on William Pollack's groundbreaking research at Harvard Medical School over two decades, Real Boys explores why many boys are sad, lonely, and confused although they may appear tough, cheerful, and confident. Pollack challenges conventional expectations about manhood and masculinity that encourage parents to treat boys as little men, raising them through a toughening process that drives their true emotions underground. Only when we understand what boys are really like, says Pollack, can we help them develop more self-confidence and the emotional savvy they need to deal with issues such as depression, love and sexuality, drugs and alcohol, divorce, and violence.

Guyland; The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, book by Michael Kimmel.  Kimmel's research focuses on kids slightly older than those in Pollack's research.  Here is a review from the NY Times.
In mapping the troubling social world where men are now made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and he works toward redefining what it means to be a man today—and tomorrow. Only by understanding this world and this life stage can we enable young men to chart their own paths, stay true to themselves, and emerge safely from Guyland as responsible and fully formed male adults.

 Dude You're A Fag, book by sociologist C.J. Pascoe.  From the amazon summary, "High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C. J. Pascoe's unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also a sexual one. She demonstrates how the "specter of the fag" becomes a disciplinary mechanism for regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and how the "fag discourse" is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality."  Here is a video of the authors discussing their work.


Cool Pose; The Dilemmas of Black Manhood, book by Richard Majors and Janet Mancini Billson.  Here is a review from the NY Times;
While the cool pose is often misread by teachers, principals and police officers as an attitude of defiance, psychologists who have studied it say it is a way for black youths to maintain a sense of integrity and suppress rage at being blocked from usual routes to esteem and success.




Leading Men; Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood, book by Jackson Katz.
In Leading Men, Jackson Katz puts forth the original and highly provocative thesis that presidential campaigns have become the center stage of an ongoing national debate about manhood, a kind of quadrennial referendum on what type of man—or one day, woman—embodies not only our ideological beliefs, but our very identity as a nation.  Of course this debate has enormous implications for women—both as potential candidates for the presidency and as citizens.


Violence; Reflections on a National Epidemic, book by James Gilligan.  Drawing on firsthand experience as a prison psychiatrist, his own family history, and literature, Gilligan unveils the motives of men who commit horrifying crimes, men who will not only kill others but destroy themselves rather than suffer a loss of self-respect. With devastating clarity, Gilligan traces the role that shame plays in the etiology of murder and explains why our present penal system only exacerbates it. Brilliantly argued, harrowing in its portraits of the walking dead, Violence should be read by anyone concerned with this national epidemic and its widespread consequences.



Gunfighter Nation The Myth of the Frontier in 20th-Century America, a book By Richard Slotkin.  Excerpt from the NY Times;
According to the myth of the frontier, says Mr. Slotkin, "the conquest of the wilderness and the subjugation or displacement of the Native Americans who originally inhabited it have been the means to our achievement of a national identity, a democratic polity, an ever-expanding economy and a phenomenally dynamic and 'progressive' civilization." Central to this myth was the belief that "violence is an essential and necessary part of the process through which American society was established and through which its democratic values are defended and enforced."


Here is a poster from Katz that is printable with Ten Things Guys Can Do To Prevent Violence;
ten things men can do to prevent gender violence
  1. Approach gender violence as a MEN'S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
  2. If  a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner -- or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general -- don't look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don't know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON'T REMAIN SILENT.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don't be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women's centers. Attend "Take Back the Night" rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.  Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don't fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don't involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men's programs. Lead by example

Our society creates very limited ways of being masculine.

In another post I blogged a little more seriously about the violent masculinity that is socially constructed in America. (see Mask You linity). This video is humorous because A.it's my life, but B.because it is still so different and uncool to think of stay-at-home dads as being a exciting and meaningful in our society.
video
If you like that video, there are lots more very funny videoes by that artist (Lajoie), but especially related to this post is another video called everyday guy, which is a humorous rap about being a regular guy - the average guy that the media neglects. Why is being a stay-at-home dad or a "regular guy" so funny? Because our notions of what is acceptable to be a "real man" is so messed up. So, what is your definition of a real man? Let me give some examples of what I think a real man should be:
A real man...
is able to wake up in the middle of the night to comfort a crying baby
has opinions but restrains emotions of anger
allows someone else to save face even if it makes him look bad
Is willing to take the lead but is not concerned with who gets the credit
is able to empathize
tries to be respective of others' feelings, but says sorry when he is at fault
is willing to try things that are difficult but can ask for help when he needs it
forgives someone who wrongs him
doesn't whine but is not afraid to say is hurt, vulnerable, or that he cares.

Many males put on a tough guise to pretend that they are a tough guy because that is the only acceptable way to be masculine in our society. Here is a movie from the media education foundation called "Tough Guise". It shows how movies, tv, sports and families all socialize men to believe in the narrow definition of masculinity. Here it is on mediacast

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boys are socialized to have a very narrow and rigid definition of masculinity.

Mask You (Linity) 

After  examining the social construction of what it means to be feminine, we are now taking a look at the social construction of masculinity.

Question 1 : What are three words that describe what it means to be a man?

Question 2:  What are three words that describe someone who is not a real man?

Now examine some of these statistics:

Boys are 30% more likely to flunk.
Boys are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended.
Boys are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with learning and emotional disabilities

Question 3:  Why do you think this is true?


Sociologists find that the construction of masculinity puts boys at risk in school:
There is a disconnect between school and masculinity; masculinity is constructed as “active” while school is constructed to be passive; sit-down, pay attention, take notes are docile, passive and feminine.

Other disturbing statistics:
40% of teenage girls 14-17yrs say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
1 of 5 college females will experience some form of dating violence from their male partner.
1 in 3 High School students have been or will be in an abusive relationship.
 Zacariah Foundation http://www.zcenter.org/index.htm

Why do you think this is true?


After carefully examining violence in America, I hope you see the larger dynamic of what is going on here.  Masculinity is a mask that many men wear in America. It is a way of masking or hiding who they really are in order to validating their self worth according to how the culture tells them they are supposed to be. Men in America are shaped by a culture that reinforces the idea that toughness, violence and aggression are normal ways of being male. They are also taught to not be vulnerable  or emotional or nurturing.  This creates a culture where overwhelmingly males are violent compared to females. Have you experienced this mask of masculinity? How? What are some other ways our culture should be constructing masculinity to provide validation for guys who are not violent? Are there examples out there that you know about? All of the agents of socialization play a role in this process.  Here is one example of the way the media creates this mask:

video

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One of the ways that girls are socialized is by seeing unrealistic ads.

The Average Girl...

"I'm not the average girl from your video
and I ain't built like a supermodel
But, I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen
I'm not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I'm wearing I will always be the india arie
"
- India Arie

video

The average girl in your video, on your magazine cover, or in your advertisement, is far from average. We live in a media age and are bombarded with information. Much of this information is about how we are supposed to view ourselves. For females, the difficulty is especially tricky. Females are under siege with advertisements, movies, toys and magazine ads that all create an unrealistic, unnatural and unhealthy body image. This can lead to self-esteem problems, unhappiness, eating disorders and a desire to seek self-worth in material possessions. Here are some websites worth exploring:

These pictures show the digital enhancement of models like Britney Spears. The picture you see in the magazine is not of a real person.

video
Love your body from the NOW foundation
Includes offensive ads, positive ads, a presentation of sex and stereotypes


Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
Includes some short films and articles and online workshops for girls and their families.

Here are examples of offensive ads from the NOW Foundation. These ads generally objectify women as sex objects.

Commonsense Media
a compilation of the latest articles on self image and resources to combat it.


Negative effects that media has had on teens, especially young girls and their body image.

Excellent article on our assumptions about our bodies is shaped by the media and even doctors and is not always correct, for example these women all are "average" weight but have vastly different sizes because of their body type:


 


"I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations (no)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
"
- India Arie

Research shows that girls in the United States are socially constructed to think about theirselves in a harmful way.

Do you know Amy?
This video shows Amy not feeling like hanging out. There are numerous studies showing that this is true for significant numbers of young women. Look at the research below and think about whether this has been true in your life. Do you know girls who struggle with self-esteem, body image and eating/dieting disorders? If you don't, can you at least see how the media is constructing a reality for girls?

Thin Ads + Low Body Image = Stress?
Ads Showing Skinny Models Might Hurt Self-Worth In Vulnerable Young Women
Viewing ads of super-skinny models may make young women feel worse about themselves, especially if they have body image problems, according to a new study. Researcher Gayle Bessenoff, Ph.D., reports the findings in Psychology of Women Quarterly. Bessenoff is an assistant professor in the University of Connecticut's psychology department.

What Studies Show: Links Between Media and Self Esteem in Girls Many studies conclude that there is clearly a link between young women’s self esteem and the media. *The Journal of Research on Adolesence, in a study of body image and self esteem (Daniel Clay, Vivian L. Vignoles, Helga Dittmar - 2005), imparts that the the declining self esteem that girls often experience entering into adolescence is in part due to social comparison with media models. In a 2006 study of girls' body satisfaction and self esteem from the American Psychological Association (Hayley Dohnt,, Marika Tiggemann), research also illustrates that media creates a negative influence on girls' body images and self-esteem – particularly in regard to acceptable levels of thinness.

A particularly alarming media trend is the sexualization of women at younger and younger ages. Medical News Today discusses how suggestive images of young women negatively affect girls self-esteem, playing a role in onset of depression, eating disorders, and low-self-esteem.

Sexualization Of Girls Is Linked To Common Mental Health Problems In Girls And WomenScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2007) — A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development.

Dying to Fit In- Literally! Learning to Love Our Bodies and Ourselves By Christine Hartline, MAIn the United States approximately 10% of girls and women (numbering up to 10 million) are suffering from diagnosed eating disorders. Of these at least 50,000 will die as a direct result! Recent data reported by the American Psychiatric Association suggests that of all psychiatric disorders, the greatest excess of patient mortality due to natural and unnatural causes is associated with eating disorders and substance abuse.

Teen Body ImageMedia images have a strong effect on people's body image, particularly for women, because the ideals the media presents for women are farther from the average woman's body. The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) reports that in 1972, the ideal woman shown in the media (models, movie stars, etc.) weighed less than the average woman, yes, but only by 8%. By the late 90s, the difference had become 23%....In one study from Harvard University reported by (SIRC), it was found that by age 17, 7 out of 10 teens have been on a diet and as many as 80% of teens may have a negative body image....The onset of eating disorders for 86% of people is before they finish their teens.


Look at this powerful video about how people are made to think about themselves and how different that can be from reality:
video


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kendall and Ethan - Guest Speaker

We had two former SHS students stop in to be guest speakers about their experiences teaching.  I think it relates to our unit on socialization when you think about all of the agents of socialization in these kids lives: family, neighborhood, school, peers and even their gang.

Here are the schools they teach at:

Spry Community School
Here are demographics for the South Lawndale neighborhood where Spry is located.

For the kids who have textbooks, this is what they look like.
The halls at Spry.




Stagg Elementary School
Here are demographics for Englewood where Stagg is located.
Here is a map from the Chgo Tribune showing crime in Englewood.

Here is an article about the firing of all staff at a CPS school.

Here is a series from WBEZ that documents the difficulties that students face in CPS.  The series was done in 2009 when the CPS dropout rate was 50%.
 For nearly a year, WBEZ explored the real-world forces driving the high dropout rate inside Chicago’s public high schools. Our team of reporters - including Linda Lutton, Julia McEvoy and Natalie Moore – spent much of the school year deeply immersed in the lives of the students, teachers, administrators and parents at Robeson High School in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side. The series earned multiple journalism awards and audience plaudits for its deeply engaging, insightful and rich, narrative approach to education reporting.

Monday, April 14, 2014

LGBT Panel

We were fortunate to have a panel of lgbt students who shared their experiences with those of us willing to listen. Thanks to all who attended. Whether you were able to make it or not, the message was to be mindful about other people. Using language like "That's so gay," or "You're a fag" is hurtful to those who are gay. And, by using that language it really limits how those of us who are not gay are allowed to act and  I don't want to be put into a really narrow box.  Secondly, realize that all people are different and this includes those who are glbt. They might be categorized as such but be careful that you don't turn that category into a stereotype. Each person is an individual with his/her own preferences about how to act, talk etc... Try to see each person as individuals and do not make assumptions about how they are. Besides those two main points, I also think it was revealing how strong family was to their development. In some cases, their family had them convinced that they were not gay. But in the end, they did not have a choice about their sexuality, it just comes with who they are. If you are interested in resources or how you can help checkout itgetsbetter.org and stopbullying.gov

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The agents of socialization, especially the media, shape women to think about femininity a certain way.

This video called "Onslaught" from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty highlights the unbelievable number of negative ads that young girls are shaped by:
video

Killing Us Softly 4 is a video that highlights the dangerous influence that media has had on our culture - especially how women are socialized to think about themselves, but also men too. (Click here to watch it on mediacast) I think it's shocking, but true. And it is especially dangerous because in everyday life, you don't pay enough attention to these adds to notice their influence. But, I think the video puts it all together and it really highlights how destructive these images are. And research shows that we see about 300 adds per day, everyday! Look for some ways that you are influenced to think about femininity in your life. Maybe the socialization comes from friends, family or ads/commercials. Post about them. Do you see how we are shaped to think about women? Do you see how harmful it can be? Do you know any examples of this personally? Here is a link to Jean Kilbourne's website which includes resources for you to fight these messages. There are a lot of interesting resources there so please check it out.  Here is a preview clip:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gender is a social consruction; We are socialized to think about being male or female in a spcific way.

Gender is one of the social constructs we learn from an early age and we often take it for granted. Nearly everyone is born biologically with a sex (that is male or female) and a sexuality (that is a sexual attraction such as heterosexual or homosexual). Most researchers who study people such as doctors, biologists, psychologists, sociologists will say that all of the research shows that people are born with their sex and sexuality. These are part of our biological makeup, our nature. However, gender is learned. Gender is how you react to your sex and sexuality. So, for example, if I am a heterosexual male, how should I act? What colors should I like, what clothes should I wear, how should I talk, what sports should I play is it okay for me to cry to be rough to like violence to be sensitive etc...These are all our gender and they are all learned reactions. However, for sex, sexuality and gender, our culture pushes individuals to the far ends of this spectrum:
Sexual orientation, Gender Expression, Gender Identity is all fluid on a continuum:
1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9         
Male                                                  Androgynous                           Female
Hetero                                                BiSexuality                             Lesbian or Gay
Masculine                                        Gender Neutral                        Feminine
                                                         Gender Queer
                                                          Gender Fluid
                                                            Bigendered
From a young age, we treat people differently based on whether they are girls or boys. Checkout this post that shows how gender is a construct and because of that, our perception of gender changes over time.




All of the agents of socialization are a part of this:
family: See this essay

toys: See this post from the Society Pages, or this page from the feministgal blog, and this redundant post from the Society Pages And see this post about other products that are pointlessly gendered thus reifying the idea of traditonal gender traits.

peers: see the book from Patricia and Peter Adler on preadolescent peer pressure.


media See this post.

school  See this postHere is a post from sociological images that shows Barbie helps to reinforce lessons learned from teachers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Post 6: Socialization

Post 6 is due tuesday, April 8.  We have been learning about the socialization process.  This includes the distinction between nature and nurture and the importance of nurture.  We also saw that certain agents of socialization play a strong role in the nurture process. 

Please remember to

1.  write properly and post on time.

2. explain at least one source such as a reading (What is human nature? or Agents of Socialization), or a video (Danielle, Consuming Kids).

3. explain two or more topics we have learned (such as those above in bold) and give unique examples of how they might apply to your own life, or something unique from your perspective.


The Media, especially TV is a powerful agent of socialization.


--> By watching the documentary Consuming Kids and doing the The Un-TV experiment, I hope you became more aware of how the media impacts you. Hopefully you were really able to experience this experiment. If you did, you may have noticed the mindless trance that TV creates. You may also have seen that TV is in its essence quite boring and so it uses technical events as well as tv's own message that you should believe it is entertaining and exciting. Regarding the news on television, it is really one more entertainment program that presents itself as news. Very little of the news is actual news (in the sense that it is information that you need to know). See this post about headlines that you won't see in the news. Furthermore, the news is there to give you a sense that it is important. Here is a video making fun of the typical news magazine story. Isn't that funny? How true is that? Another one that is pretty funny, though politically charged is comedian Lewis Black's critique of Glenn Beck.All of this is interspersed with a message to you to be a consumer and a conformer and don't question what you are doing, certainly not while you are watching the TV. The TV is in many ways like a good friend of ours waiting for us in our living room. It's there with us giving us the feeling that we are connected and engaged to society, when the reality is exactly the opposite. Hopefully, the Consuming Kids video helped illustrate the socialization messages that TV has for us and the reality that it is more like a two-faced back stabber than a friend. Below is the trailer for Consuming Kids. But you can see the whole video by clicking here and logging into mediacast, orin parts at youtube and find more info on the Media Ed website.
video
And if you are skeptical that you have been socialized by the media, try playing one of the corporate logo games here. See how much you have been influenced.  Or try this quiz of tv show theme songs.Or this quiz from sporcle for commercial jingles.  Or this commercial juingle quiz from business insider.
 Even more evidence of the powerful force the TV has on us comes from the small Pacific island of Fiji. Ann Becker studied Fijian norms before the island was able to get satellite TV. After getting satellite TV, in a very short time period, just a few years, the island had reversed its norms and was now experiencing the body dysmorphic disorders of the United States. Here is one summary from Harvard. And Here is one from the NY Times. Here is an excerpt:
'You've gained weight'' is a traditional compliment in Fiji, anthropologists say. In accordance with traditional culture in the South Pacific nation, dinner guests are expected to eat as much as possible. A robust, nicely rounded body is the norm for men and women. ''Skinny legs'' is a major insult. And ''going thin,'' the Fijian term for losing a noticeable amount of weight, is considered a worrisome condition. But all that may be changing, now that Heather Locklear has arrived. Just a few years after the introduction of television to a province of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, eating disorders -- once virtually unheard of there -- are on the rise among girls, according to a study presented yesterday at the American Psychiatric Association meetings in Washington. Young girls dream of looking not like their mothers and aunts, but like the slender stars of ''Melrose Place'' and ''Beverly Hills 90210.'' ''I'm very heavy,'' one Fijian adolescent lamented during an interview with researchers led by Dr. Anne E. Becker, director of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center of Harvard Medical School, who investigated shifts in body image and eating practices in Fiji over a three-year period.
Here is a poster called "What are you missing?" from Media Ed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Agents of socialization are important groups that shape who we are.

Agent S
Agents of socialization are groups that we are a part of that shape us significantly throughout our life. Often, the influence these groups have are taken-for-granted so we don't realize the significant impact they have on us; in this way I think of them as "secret agents" nudging us here or there.

Some significant finds regarding agents of socialization are:

Family - the first agent that has often the greatest impact on a person. Families intentionally teach skills, values and beliefs (manifest lessons), but they also can teach unintentional (latent) lessons. When I was growing up, besides teaching, I considered being a cop or working for the FBI. Both of these were jobs my parents did. It is funny that with so much opportunity in America, how often students pursue careers related to what their parents do. Is this true for you? How are you shaped by parents or friends? Check out this post about 7 things good parents do that screw up their kids. Humorous, but based on real research.  One of the 7 things that I find really powerful is the way parents praise their kids.  Telling your kid "you are so smart" is actually harmful to their learning.  See more about why in this post about Carolyn Dweck's book, Mindset; the New Psychology of Success.

School - also teaches both manifest lessons like reading and writing and latent lessons like patriotism, consumption and obedience. Obedience as in Beavis vs. Barbie. Consumption in schools is illustrated by Murray J. Milner,

Religion - important even if you are not religiously involved yourself.

Day Care - significant findings that there is less of a bond with mothers if child attends daycare, but daycare kids develop more language skills.

Sports Teaches things like hard work, achievement, teamwork and competitiveness.

Work Work affects adults so much that it becomes a part of their identity. For example, "What do you do?" Is a popular greeting when you meet someone new. When adults retire, they often have trouble adjusting to a new life without work because there is a loss in identity.

Friends/Peer Groups - Starts esp. because of school and cohort groups, becomes significant.

Neighborhoods

Media
98% of American homes have TV (that’s more than have phones 94%)
- the average American household has at least one set turned on for 7 hours per day.
-the average American child watches 20,000 commercials per year.
- TV watching is a routine that children learn before learning to read.
- many children spend as much time watching TV as they do interacting with parents.
- Sex, violence and wealth are more prevalent in mass media than in real life.
- Minorities watch 40% more TV than those in the majority, but they are not involved in the shows.
42% of children under 8 years old have a television in their bedroom.
Half (52%) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have access to a new mobile device, such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet.
More than a third (38%) of children this age have used one of these devices, including 10% of 0-to 1-year-olds, 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and more than half (52%) of 5- to 8-year-olds.
In a typical day, one in 10 (11%) 0- to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps. Those who do such activities spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing so.
Checkout how much the big media companies own; you can download a chart here. This allows them to cross-market and create a sense that their shows/products are important. Another resource on media ownership is from the Columbia Journalism Review. Checkout how much Disney owns, but then you can see what other media conglomerates own. Merchants of Cool, though a little older, highlights the media's impact on teens. And if you are skeptical that you have been socialized by the media, try playing one of the corporate logo games here. See how much you have been influenced.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Socialization, Nurture and Love

I am convinced of the overwhelming power of love in the world. As a sociologist, my interest is in the effects that people's environments have on each other. Below I will outline the research that has lead me to believe in the power that loving each other has on our being. To learn to love each other and allow ourselves to love should be our ultimate cause. This may sound corny or anecdotal, however, there is research that supports this. From Henslin's Sociology; A Down To Earth Approach, we read about Skeels and Dye's study of institutionalized children (1939) and Skeels follow-up study in 1966. The research found that children given love, affection, stimulation and intimacy are able to be more independent, socially-attached, more successful adults later in life.  Look at the difference between the children that stayed behind at the orphange receiving proper care, but little stimulation, love and affection versus the children who went to a home where adults with special needs could show them love, attention, nurture and stimulation:

Institutionalized Children (Skeels & Dye)
Orphanage 12                                                Home for Special Needs 13
More functional at first                              More severely dysfunctional
Proper care, but no stimulation                Stimulation, play, challenge and affection
    -30 IQ pts                                                       +28 IQ pts
     - avg. less than 3rd grade ed                     - avg. of 12th grade 5 complete 1+ years of college       
      - 4 live in institutions                                -  all 13 were self-supporting or homemakers
     - low level jobs                                            - 1 grad school
     - 2 marry                                                      - 11 marry


There is a power in our interaction with other people that is difficult to measure.
Dean Ornish M.D. writes about this force in his book, Love and Survival. Checkout the excerpt below:
Love and survival.
What do they have to do with each other?
This book is based on a simple but powerful idea: Our survival depends on the healing power of love, intimacy, and relationships. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. As individuals. As communities. As a country. As a culture. Perhaps even as a species....I have no intention of diminishing the power of diet and exercise or, for that matter, of drugs and surgery....As important as these are, I have found that perhaps the most powerful intervention-and the most meaningful for me and for most of the people with whom I work, including staff and patients--is the healing power of love and intimacy, and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often result from these.

In this book, I describe the increasing scientific evidence from my own research and from the studies of others that cause me to believe that love and intimacy are among the most powerful factors in health and illness, even though these ideas are largely ignored by the medical profession. As I review the extensive scientific literature that supports these ideas, I will describe the limitations of science to document and understand the full range of these implications--not only in our health and illness, but also in what often brings the most joy, value, and meaning to our lives. I give examples from my life and from the lives of friends, colleagues, and patients.

Medicine today tends to focus primarily on the physical and mechanistic: drugs and surgery, genes and germs, microbes and molecules. I am not aware of any other factor in medicine--not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.

Cholesterol, for example, is clearly related to the incidence of illness and premature death from heart disease and stroke. Those with the highest blood cholesterol levels may have a risk of heart attack several times greater than those with the lowest levels and lowering cholesterol levels will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, cholesterol levels are not related to such diseases as complications during pregnancy and childbirth, the incidence of illness and premature death from infectious diseases, arthritis, ulcers, and so on, whereas loneliness and isolation may significantly increase the risk of all these. Something else is going on.

Smoking, diet, and exercise affect a wide variety of illnesses, but no one has shown that quitting smoking, exercising, or changing diet can double the length of survival in women with metastatic breast cancer, whereas the enhanced love and intimacy provided by weekly group support sessions has been shown to do just that, as I will describe in chapter 2. While genetics plays a role in most illnesses, the number of diseases in which our genes play a primary, causative role is relatively small. Genetic factors--even when combined with cholesterol levels and all of the known risk factors--account for no more than one-half the risk of heart disease.

Love and intimacy are at a root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients. It would be malpractice not to prescribe it--yet, with few exceptions, we doctors do not learn much about the healing power of love, intimacy, and transformation in our medical training. Rather, these ideas are often ignored or even denigrated.

It has become increasingly clear to even the most skeptical physicians why diet is important. Why exercise is important. Why stopping smoking is important. But love and intimacy? Opening your heart? And what is emotional and spiritual transformation?

I am a scientist. I believe in the value of science as a powerful means of gaining greater understanding of the world we live in. Science can help us sort out truth from fiction, hype from reality, what works from, what doesn't work, for whom, and under what circumstances. Although I respect the ways and power of science, I also understand its limitations as well. What is most meaningful often cannot be measured. What is verifiable may not necessarily be what is most important. As the British scientist Denis Burkitt once wrote, "Not everything that counts can be counted."

We may not yet have the tools to measure what is most meaningful to people, but the value of those experiences is not diminished by our inability to quantify them. We can listen, we can learn, and we can benefit greatly from those who have had these experiences. When we gather together to tell and listen to each other's stories, the sense of community and the recognition of shared experiences can be profoundly healing.

I have just started reading another book about the psychology of love and it's impact on our lives. The book is A General Theory of Love by Amini, Lannon and Lewis and here is a review:
Drawing on new scientific discoveries and seventy years of collective clinical experience, three psychiatrists unravel life's most elemental mystery: the nature of love.

A primordial area of the brain, far older than reason or thinking, creates both the capacity and the need for emotional intimacy that all humans share. A General Theory of Love describes the workings of this ancient, pivotal urge and reveals that our nervous systems are not self-contained. Instead, our brains link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that makes up the very life force of the body. These wordless and powerful ties determine our moods, stabilize and maintain our health and well-being, and change the structure of our brains. In consequence, who we are and who we become depend, in great part, on whom we love.

A General Theory of Love applies these and other extraordinary insights to some of the most crucial issues we face in our lives. Its authors explain how relationships function and where love goes wrong, how parents shape a child's developing self, how psychotherapy really works, what curbs and what fosters violent aggression in our children, and how modern society regularly courts disaster by flouting emotional laws it does not yet recognize.

A work of rare originality, passion, and eloquence, A General Theory of Love will forever change the way you think about human intimacy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

nature AND nurture


Based on the growing man metaphor, we see that people are not born with their full human potential.  Instead, we need others to nurture it out of us.  Not only do we need other people to do this, but we are made through our biology to be social beings.  The influence of others on us (socialization) actually happens before we are even born!  One example of this is in identical twins who have the same exact DNA and biology.  Because they are exactly the same, nurses will often paint the nails of twins differently so that they can tell them apart.  But, often the parents of these twins can tell them apart from a very early age because they have already started developing different personalities even before being born.   Another example of socialization happening in utero is in this study that shows what mothers eat can affect the unborn baby's sense of taste.  In a more extreme example, researchers have found the the experiences that a grandmother has can affect the genes that she passes down to her grandchild!  In other words, the nurturing or socialization process might start decades before you are even born!  Here is a trailer for a show on NOVA that explores the connections between genes and social experiences. The researchers theorize that social experiences can affect the genes of a person and, more amazingly, these genes can be passed down to a generation or two. So the grandchildren may experience the effects of their grandparents' lives on their genes. How crazy is that? They call it the "ghost in your genes".

Don't let these mind blowing examples complicate things for you. Here is the simple idea: nature provides you a starting point or aptitude such as DNA and genes. And then nurture (or your socialization) works with your nature to enhance it, repress it or change the nature to something else. The point being that we need both nature and nurture to make us who we are.  If we do not have that nurture we cannot reach our higher power of consciousness and awareness.

video
Besides starting surprisingly early, nurture also plays a surprisingly powerful role in our development.  One example is studying the differences in identical twins; they have the same DNA, genes and biology; the same nature but they are different.  It is amazing to me that so much of what we take for granted as being human (part of our nature) is actually learned from our environment (nurture). The video above is about a girl named Genie that was locked in a bedroom alone for 12 years of her life is one small piece of evidence of the power of social experiences on individuals. Here is what Susan Curtiss wrote about her in her book Genie; A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day Wild Child. 

Genie was pitiful. Hardly ever having worn clothing, she did not react to temperature, either heat or cold. Never having eaten solid food, Genie did not know how to chew and had great difficulty in swallowing.  Having been strapped down and left sitting on a potty chair she could not stand erect, could not straighten her arms or legs, could not run hop, jump or climb.  In fact she could only walk with difficulty shuffling her feet and swaying from side to side. Hardly ever having seen more than a space of ten feet in front of her she had become nearsighted to exactly that distance....Surprisingly, however, Genie was alert and curious. She maintained good eye contact and...She was intensely eager for human contact. 

You can also check out this website for examples of feral children. This website, though sad, provides further evidence for the importance of human nurturing in socializing individuals to their full human potential. How have you been shaped by the experiences of your life?
In class we watched a video of a girl Danielle who was found at age 6.  She had very little socialization from her mother who was later arrested.  Here is Danielle's website.

Lastly, checkout this post from the Society Pages it has a number of different examples showing the socialization influence on kids.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The start of Unit 3, socialization; a metaphor called "The Growing Man"


The metaphor that I use for the unit on socialization is called The Growing Man Metaphor. I developed the metaphor after being inspired by Richard Strozzi-Heckler's book Holding the Center; Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion. The idea is that to go from being a baby ruled by emotions, instincts and training to being a fully human adult (conscious and aware), we need other people. As humans we were made to be social. Our nature - biology, our language, our dependency all make us social beings. For more proof on how we are made to be social, checkout this link to see a story on 60 minutes about how we have an ability to interpret and remember human faces. So we are made to interact with other people and it is through other people that we become human and that we develop our potential. The process of this influence in sociology is called "socialization."  Here is the Unit 1 handout that I gave in class..