Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Moving forward...

One of the main objectives of this class has been to give you some ideas for how to apply sociology to your own life. I hope that you will be influenced by our class and at times I hope you will return to this blog to look again at the ideas that we discussed in class. Just like the ringing of the bell, you are constantly changing, growing and developing. There will be times when you experience more development than others and there will be times of your life when you are more open to learning the lessons of our class.

Here is the Desiderata which is a great poem summarizing much of what we learned in class.


Here is the history of the Desiderata which explains the connection to Adlai Stevenson.

Here is the book This Book Is Not Required which we read from during our last lesson:


Finally, I hope that learning about the influence of society on the individual (sociological imagination) has helped you to see how you have been influenced by the world. And hopefully in seeing this, you can really understand who you are, love who you are and be forgiving of yourself. And then, you can begin to nurture the person you want to become and nurture loving relationships in your life. Here is a Ted Talk from Brene Brown that highlights the importance of letting ourselves be vulnerable and this vulnerability allows us to feel both love and pain. But in being open to these emotions, it allows love to grow in us if we have the mindset that we are worthy of love.







Monday, December 5, 2016

Bryan Stevenson and Just Mercy



At NCSS 2016 in Washington DC I had the amazing opportunity to see Mr. Bryan Stevenson speak and to meet him afterwards.

Stevenson is a Harvard Law School graduate who founded the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery Alabama.  From the EJI website, their mission is:
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
The vulnerable people who Stevenson and the EJI help include low-income, minority, and children.   Stevenson became famous for his book called Just Mercy.  The book details Mr. Stevenson's journey from Law student to founding the EJI and the numerous cases which he has worked on.  It is a very powerful narrative that strongly makes the case that inequality in the United States is persistent among the most vulnerable groups in our society.

For Sociology, the book can be used to teach myriad concepts.  But the book might also be useful in other class like:  government, US history, law, criminal justice.

Here is a teaching guide:  http://www.randomhousebooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/justmercy_studyguidev7_Final.pdf

Here is a review from the New Yorker.

Here is a review from the New York Times.

Here is Mr. Stevenson's Ted Talk.




At NCSS, Mr Stevenson spoke about 5 things that people need to do in order to create change in the world:


1. Be compassionate.
2. Get proximate.
3. Change the narrative.
4.  Stay hopeful.
5.  Be willing to be uncomfortable.











Here is Mr. Stevenson talking about staying hopeful:
video




Friday, November 18, 2016

Social Class (inequality) in the USA by comparison


Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are relative to the rest of the world because the media is saturated with stories of the super wealthy. Here is a website that will rank you among the WORLD's population. That should provide some perspective as to how lucky we are.

However, relative to other Westernized modern countries, the US does not look so equal.  In fact, the inequality in the USA is closer to China, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina and even Cuba!

This map shows the inequality present in countries around the world. The bluer countries are more equal and the more red are less equal:Notice how many countries are more equal than the United States.

And here is a post showing that the US has gotten more unequal over the past several decades.

 Here is another blog's post about the growing inequality in the U.S.

Here is a post from the Society Pages about the damaging effects of income inequality.

Here are a host of facts about inequality from inequality.org


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Flipping Out about Social Class

Today we played a coin flipping game that is a metaphor for social class in the United States.

This game both resembles and departs from real life.

The way it resembles real life:

1. It gives the impression that everyone has an equal chance and that the system is fair.  The coin flip metaphor seems like everyone has a 50-50 chance to succeed.  This is true for U.S. society too.  From Jen Hochschild's book, Facing Up to the American Dream,  Americans believe in the "American dream;" success is attainable for anyone.  
2. However, just like real life, the coin game takes a little luck.  If you are lucky enough to be born in wealth, it is an advantage just like being lucky to win early in the game.

3.  Once you have wealth, it gives you the advantage of having multiple chances to come back.  If you have 12 coins and you are up against someone with 3, you have multiple opportunities to come back.  This is true in real life too.  One example is the President-elect who has declared bankruptcy 4 times!

4.  Even though the game has the appearance of being an equal 50-50 chance, the rules favor a channeling of wealth to the top.  Everytime we play this, the outcome is similar: most money at the top and most people at the bottom with very little money.  This is true in real life as well as the metaphor.  Here is a graph showing wealth distribution in the U.S.:
Compare this graph to a graph of the coin distribution at the end of the game.
Some of the specific similarities include:
How difficult it is to define the middle class.
The huge disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom.
The large number of Americans who have no wealth/no coins.



Because Americans hate the idea of a class system, most Americans prefer to think of themselves as middle class.
However, rather than being a society of equality or a society of people in the middle, American has the highest rate of poverty among the 17 leading industrial nations.  Most wealth is at the top in the hands of very few people and most people are at the bottom with very little.  The rules of our society help create this outcome, but Americans do not notice or acknowledge the rules.  For example, 43% Americans cite “lack of effort” as a reason for poverty.
The United States is considered an "open system" in that technically anyone is allowed to move between the different social classes.  This is in contrast to closed systems such as Britain’s nobility or India’s caste system.  However,  the rules in an open system are unofficial and so harder to see.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Our society creates very limited ways of being masculine.


1.  Who is likely to commit random acts of school violence?





2.  Why do they do this?






3.  What can males and females do to change this violent masculinity?


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.

Here is an article from the NY Times called Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest.  It is another example of how to re-define masculinity.

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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!


There are many ways to look at Halloween sociologically. One way is simply as an American holiday, how interesting and different it is. When I was in Japan it was clear how different it was. As an American, I wanted to celebrate this holiday, but imagine being in a different culture dressed up as some creature or character - how strange that would look. And then to think of handing out candy and/or asking strangers for candy - how odd this would seem to a non-American. So, a few other Americans and myself found an American restaurant where they were hosting a Halloween party and we limited our celebrating to within that establishment where it would not be violatng Japanese norms.

Another way sociologists look at Halloween is through the costumes Americans wear and what they represent about our culture. Notice all of the costumes that promote sexism and misogony. There are so many costumes that seem to be accepted just for the day but they are sexy _____(fill in the blank). Checkout this post for a number of examples of the sexualization of girls' costumes. The message is that if you are a female, it is okay to dress up like these things as long as you are sexy and you use your body as an object to be gawked at. sexy (slutty) nurse, police officer, whatever...And this is even happening for young kids. Costumes can also promote racial stereotypes as in this post. Checkout these people being sociologically mindful by posting pictures that are against racially stereotyped costumes.  Checkout this poetry slam by four girls who are exposing this truth:


Another way to look at it is through the American values, especially consumerism.  Over the last few decades America has transitioned from a producer country to a consumer country. Both industrially and locally, we were a country that produced things. When we needed something, we made it, whether it was a car in a factory or a tomato in our garden or a Halloween costume at home. Now we have become a culture of consumers as typified in Halloween. Kids pick out their costume and then parents buy it. So when the trick or treaters come by, sometimes you'll see 4 or 5 of the same costume whether it's batman or a princess. I remember growing up and my mom struggling to find a way to make a costume for me. Sometimes it involved sewing, makeup, or creative use of materials. But it was always unique, creative and authentic; it was productive. I think that the contemporary thinking would be that if a costume is homemade, it doesn't look as good or as polished as a store bought one. And the assumption might also be that a homemade one is cheap. And so the value becomes consume; buy one at the store. So, culturally we are becoming as bland as our industrially produced tomatoes; a whole lot of us buying things exactly the same rather than growing our own tomatoes or making our own costumes.

Do you remember hearing, "Be careful of unwrapped candy and have parents check the candy before you eat it?" These ideas were popularized through the mass media as detailed in Barry Glasner's book Culture of Fear. But it took a sociologist, Joel Best, to research and publish that this was a myth propagated through the popular culture. See this post about the sociologist who discovered this urban legend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

American Culture and Tues With Morrie (3 of 3)

Happiness v. Work, Personal Achievement, Success, Materialism
What are some ways that Mitch values hard work, achievement, success? Is this true for you or your parents? Does this start in high school or even sooner? What ways? Is it possible to obtain a different type of success? Think about (click here for more info) the Nothing assignment and how we connect what we do to who we are as people. Our culture constructs a reality where we are not allowed to just be. We must be doing at all times; it is valuing personal achievement, time, work, competition, materialism and success. Note that happiness is never a a part of the equation.  The hegemonic assumption is that happiness simply comes with those values.  See this post about happiness and it's relationship to money.  Contrast these values with the values that Michael Buettner writes about in his book Thrive.  What are the lessons you learned from Thrive?  How would you like to live your life differently after reading this?  What would be a message you would like to share with the rest of your classmates who don't have the privilege of being in our class?  This value cluster also reminds me of this joke about an American businessman and a Mexican fisherman

American Culture and Tues With Morrie (2 of 3)

Understanding and Applying the American value cluster of Independence, Freedom, Individualism & Personal Control v. Dependency

1.  Individually, reflect on Tuesdays with Morrie.  What are some examples within the movie of characters being individualistic (as opposed to being dependent)?  How does the value of Individualism combine with the value of personal control?  Cite examples from the movie.



2.  What are some ways that you see the values of individualism and personal control shaping your own life or the lives of your parents/siblings/friends?



-------------Do not continue until instructed to do so------------------------

3.    After you discussed number one above in your small group, do you understand how the American cultural values can shape individuals’ lives?
_____Yes
_____No
If yes, what was one example from your group partners that was a good example?
If no, why not?  What questions do you have?



------------Do not continue until instructed to do so------------------------

4.  Close your eyes.  Think of someone influential in your life.  Now write down who you thought about and why you thought about that person.


When you are finished, click here.


In what ways are Americans afraid of being dependent on others? Do you think that this is related to our value of independence and freedom? In what ways do you depend on other people? Does this bother you? Another great example of these values influencing us negatively is explored in this TED talk by Brene Brown. She speaks about vulnerability and our culture. We want to numb our feelings of vulnerability, but in doing so we also numb our feelings of connection to others and our sense of worthiness which allows us to feel love and happiness.
The feeling of individualism and independence that creates this lack of invulnerability may also detach us from feelings of gratitude that help contribute to our happiness.

Friday, October 7, 2016

American Culture and Tues With Morrie (1of 3)

Tuesdays with Morrie can be a case study in examining American values.  If we think with sociological mindfulness we can see how these values become a part of who we are and how we help to promote the values.  Then, we can start to choose how and when the values influence us.  This can help us prioritize our life.  Here is a link to a story about priorities.

Death v. Materialism, Individualism
Are Americans afraid of death? Is death a taboo topic? Why do you think this is the case? How might our feelings about death be related to our materialism? I also think that our feelings about death are rooted in our culture's individualism. See this post about the way our culture associates individualism with grieving one's death.  That is why I think most students would say the movie was a sad movie (at least parts of it) even though those same students would admit that Morrie doesn't want them to be sad.  Morrie himself explains,"Don't be so sad because I'm going to die Mitch...Death ends a life but not a relationship..." And Morrie explains, I'll still love you and you'll always love me.

 Love v. Individualism, Materialism
Do you think that Americans are afraid to love each other, or show that they love each other? If we are afraid to love, why might that be? Does our culture socially construct our reality so that we are afraid to love? What values in our culture might make us feel this way? How can we overcome this? What is the difference between the value of “romantic love” and real love - the love Morrie talks about?   I think these different types of love are related to American values too.  See this post for more on the idea of romantic love vs. real love.  How is this a part of your life?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tuesdays With Morrie

We watched Tuesdays With Morrie as an example of American culture. Watch it here on mediacast. The movie reflects on both American norms and taboos and on American values.

As you watch the movie, look for all of the ways that the American values  affect Mitch and look for the ways that Morrie talks about those values.
Try to think about how those values show up in your own life and in your parents' lives.

Here is a list of quotes from the book.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

When I realized I was an American...



When I was in Italy, I felt like I was returning home. I had always thought that because my Grandfather emmigrated from Italy, that I was Italian too. I looked Italian. I had an Italian surname. So when I went to Italy I met Italians and I told them that I was Italian too.
They said, "Where were you born?"
"In Chicago," I answered.
[LAUGHS] "You are not Italian!"
"But my grandfather was born in Italy."
"Ohh, your grandfather is Italian, but YOU are American."
"Really?"
"Look at you - blue jeans, baseball cap, gym shoes...you are American!"

This was such a revelation for me. I had always thought of myself as Italian, but bow I realize that my heritage was Italian, but my nationality was American.

Although it is difficult to define at times, Americans do have their own unique culture. There are reasons that this culture is difficult to understand. Some of the difficulties in understanding American culture are:
Real vs. Ideal Culture - Sometimes a culture of people will believe in an ideal, but their reality is different.  For example most people in the U.S. will agree that equality is an ideal, but the reality is that we are more unequal than most countries and realistically we do not support a lot of programs designed to equalize people, instead that is seen as socialism and is frowned upon.
Value Contradiction - Some values contradict each other, such as individualism and equality.  It is difficult to see all people as individuals and treat them equally.  Inherently, if you are an individual, you are not equal, you are different and unique.
Value Cluster - Sometimes values work together to create a really strong system of belief, such as: personal control, work, achievement, success, materialism.
Globalization and cultural leveling - Some values from the United States have spread around the world so we see them as natural, but really it just our influence that has spread them.

But those who study culture have identified values that Americans hold that make them unique.

 Kohl's "Values Americans Live By" is a really succinct explanation of American values.




American Values                                        vs.Other Cultures’ Values
Personal control/responsibility                   vs Fate/destiny
Change seen as natural/positive/Progress  vs. Stability/tradition
Time and its control                                     vs. Human Interaction
Equality/fairness                                          vs. Hierarchy/rank/status
Individualism/independence/freedom   vs. Group welfare/dependence
Self-Help/initiative                                    vs. Birthright/inheritance
Competition                                               vs. Cooperation
Future orientation                                     vs. Past orientation
Action/work                                                vs. “Being”
Informality                                                 vs. Formality
Directness/openness/Honesty                    vs. Indirectness/ritual/”face”
Practicality/efficiency                                 vs. Idealism/theory
Materialism/Acquisitiveness                        vs. Spiritualism/detachment
Achievement/Success                                   vs. Acceptance/Status Quo
Morality/judgement                        vs.Consequentialism/situational ethics

Robin Williams (The sociologist, not the actor), studied American culture in the 1970s and came up with his own list of values, which is largely still applicable today.

Can you apply any of these American values to your own life? Perhaps you can show how these values pervade your experience at school?  Note that the values are subtle but strong.  They affect you in so many subtle ways that you don't notice but you are shaped by them in a profound way.  Here is an example of how we are shaped as a culture in subtle ways:

The Subtle Way that Values Shape Your Life

As you walk in, please search the web and find an image that represents American culture. 

Please email me this image at csalituro@d125.org. 

Today: HW: Values Americans live by(pgs 13-18) reading due in two days. 
Black lives matter SHS as subculture - values. 
The importance of cultural values - United States





Hopefully, you understand that values are a really powerful component of culture.  They shape every aspect of how we do things.

1.  Use the web to find an image that represents American material culture to you.

2.  Think about what values that image represents.

3.  Email the image and your ideas about the values to me:  csalituro@d125.org


Let's think with sociological mindfulness for a second about values.  They shape you in so many different ways. And they also shape the entire culture in certain ways.  These values lead to behaviors that we all participate in unconsciously.  These behaviors can have an enormous impact on a culture when you view them as cultural behaviors.  Watch this TED talk by Chris Jordan to see how the behaviors impact our culture:


 After watching that video, take a moment and think about this:
1. What are the behaviors that SHS students participate in unconsciously that when taken as a whole, has a huge impact?
2. Try to estimate what the total impact of that behvior is. Use data/research to figure that out.
3. What American cultural values shape the behavior in your example?
4. How could you display that data for others to see?
5.  How is Chris Jordan's work an example of sociological mindfulness?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bemused in America and in Sociology...


Today we talked about Bemused in America.  The article shows how someone from a country relatively similar to the United States, Germany(Western, industrialized, Democratic) can find many cultural differences that are quizzical and strange to him. These differences can be attributed to the different values that Americans have. For example, think about the Supermarket article. We like 24 hr stores because it is practical and efficient to have stores open all night and it allows us to control our time and shop whenever we want.  Here is the list of values (once again) that we compared to what the German author finds strange:

Kohl's "Values Americans Live By" is a really succinct explanation of American values.

American Values                                        vs.Other Cultures’ Values
Personal control/responsibility                   vs Fate/destiny
Change seen as natural/positive/Progress  vs. Stability/tradition
Time and its control                                     vs. Human Interaction
Equality/fairness                                          vs. Hierarchy/rank/status
Individualism/independence/freedom   vs. Group welfare/dependence
Self-Help/initiative                                    vs. Birthright/inheritance
Competition                                               vs. Cooperation
Future orientation                                     vs. Past orientation
Action/work                                                vs. “Being”
Informality                                                 vs. Formality
Directness/openness/Honesty                    vs. Indirectness/ritual/”face”
Practicality/efficiency                                 vs. Idealism/theory
Materialism/Acquisitiveness                        vs. Spiritualism/detachment
Achievement/Success                                   vs. Acceptance/Status Quo
Morality/judgement                        vs.Consequentialism/situational ethics


And here is how other cultures view American culture. Many cultures have "American" themed parties based on their perception of American culture.

And here is an Australian's perspective of strange things Americans do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ending Unit 1

As you enter, try to write down the difference between:


Categories, generalizations and Stereotypes



Service Op:  Feed My Starving Children





Blog Self Assessment

Volunteer Op: A Just Harvest


 Mrs. Fainman will be taking students to the Just Harvest soup kitchen friday, Oct 7 in Evanston. If you are interested, please email her at mfainman@d125.org. If you volunteer for this opportunity, SHS will provide a bus and you will leave school PROMPTLY at 3:30 and return to school at 7:30.  Wear closed-toed shoes.  There will also be opportunities to go to this on the second Friday of each month.   If you need more info, please contact Mrs. Fainman.

Monday, August 29, 2016

3 Perspectives and sports


Today we talked about the three perspectives of sociology and how they relate to sports.

I like to think about the three perspectives as three different ways of having a sociological imagination.  Three specific ways of having a sociological imagination are the three founding perspectives of sociology.  These three perspectives were the beginning of sociology.  All three of them were a reaction to the extraordinary changes of the industrial revolution taking place in Europe in the 1800s.  The founder of each of these theories is considered one of the founding fathers of sociology.  Here are the ways that we applied each theory to the tv show:

What are the groups and what functions do they serve? Are there negative influences from any of the groups (dysfunctions)? This is functional theory. It was developed by Emile Durkheim.

Who has power? How or why do they have power? How do they use it? This is conflict theory. It was first developed by Karl Marx.

What are the important symbols? Note that the symbols might be an object, but also might be an idea, an event or something else. How do people act based on the symbols they find important? This is symbolic interactionism. I like to connect symbolic interactionism to Max Weber.

Can you relate any of these theories to your own life? How can the things you do be interpreted through one of these theories? For example why do you wear what you wear or why are you going to college or why do you stress yourself out to get "good" grades?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Flag Football Volunteer Opportunity

This Weekend!

You can volunteer with the Special Olympics at Stevenson for Flag Football.

There are positions from 9am-4pm


Here is Registration code: CAAiXn



Saturday, August 13, 2016

Three ways Sociologists can discuss Trump as the 2016-17 year begins

1.  Sociological imagination and understanding Donal Trump from the Daily Kos:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/5/22/1528098/-The-sociological-imagination-racism-and-Donald-Trump

"The sociological imagination is the connection between personal experience and the broader social and political world. This concept is one of the most powerful frameworks for understanding the human experience and how we locate it within a given society and/or cultural milieu.
As such, the sociological imagination has been invaluable in my efforts to make sense of politics in the Age of Obama, the rise of “Trumpmania,” and the radical rightward move of the Republican Party and movement conservatism."

2.  From Sociological Images of the Society Pages, a humor theorist explains Trump's joke about killing Hilary and how it relates to identity, function of groups and  ingroups/outgroups, 

https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2016/08/10/humor-theorist-explains-trumps-joke-about-killing-hillary-clinton/


3.  Stephanie Coontz, family scholar and author of The Way We Never Were offers insight on the nostalgia that Trump calls into consciousness to stir up his voters. 
https://thesocietypages.org/ccf/2016/08/04/taking-the-nostalgia-of-trump-supporters-seriously/
we should recognize that there are reasons people in precarious circumstances may resent immigration –- reasons entirely different from but also vulnerable to racist lies about crime and violence. In some areas illegal immigration does displace the least-educated native workers. It can also create tensions in neighborhoods that are experiencing cutbacks in public investment even as educational resources and other community amenities multiply in the increasingly isolated enclaves of the very rich.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

The beauty of human skin in every shade...



Angélica Dass's photography challenges how we think about skin color and ethnic identity. In this personal talk, hear about the inspiration behind her portrait project, Humanæ, and her pursuit to document humanity's true colors rather than the untrue white, red, black and yellow associated with race.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tinder's in-house sociologist



http://www.lamag.com/longform/tinder-sociologist/

Kismet” is the word Jessica Carbino likes to use. She joined Tinder in October 2013, about a year after it launched in Los Angeles. Carbino was 27 and “looking.” She was also a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UCLA, writing her thesis on online dating. An undergraduate student had tipped her off about the free app, explaining how it pulls up an endless scroll of photos of people around you, displaying minimal, if any, biographical details about them. If you “like” someone, she was told, you swipe right; if you don’t, go left. A chat box appears only when both parties are into each other.
Her interest piqued, Carbino gave the app a spin. One of the photos she swiped right on was of a twentysomething with short dark hair and a stare intense enough to knock down walls. He swiped right on her, too. The guy, it turned out, was the company CEO, Sean Rad. Instead of a date, Carbino landed a job as the start-up’s in-house sociologist.
Close to three years later she’s leading me through Tinder’s headquarters several stories above the Sunset Strip. Tinder moved here last October, and the space still has a just-out-of-the-box vibe. The building belongs to Barry Diller’s IAC, a media conglomerate that owns four dozen dating sites, including OkCupid, Match.com, and PlentyOfFish as well as a controlling stake in Tinder. Yet those holdings constitute only a tiny fraction of the nearly 4,000 sites that make up the $2.2 billion online dating market. You can bet more will be emerging. Because as much as computers and smartphones have changed the dating game, what hasn’t changed is the central challenge everyone contends with: how to lock in a better match.
To a large degree the sector has staked its success on algorithms—proprietary math formulas that use a combination of profile information and online behaviors—to come up with the answers. For end users, though, providing the data to feed those algorithms can feel like a drag, what with the tedious profiles, the Psych 101 personality tests, and the interminable questionnaires (eHarmony’s has more than 150 questions). The payoff isn’t always there, either. “Chemistry [needs to] kick in, and that’s the toughest area—how to know someone’s going to have a good pheromones effect,” says Mark Brooks, president of New York-based Courtland Brooks, a consulting firm that has worked with many dating sites.
With Tinder, Rad has seemingly bypassed all that stuff and focused on one underlying premise: Attraction, at least with that initial spark, might really only be skin deep. Four years and 10 billion right swipes later, more than three-quarters of the app’s users are between 18 and 34 years old, a traditionally elusive demographic for the dating industry. Now Tinder is pushing for growth and revenue by adding extra features. It launched a tiered subscription service early last year, charging those over 30 a $20 monthly fee (and those younger, $10) for the privilege of undoing an accidental left swipe and the ability to search for prospects in other cities. In November the app started allowing users to include their employment and education information to provide a slightly more complete, as in more right-swipable, snapshot of themselves.
That’s where Carbino’s work comes in: to find out what users want and what they don’t know they want. “I think Tinder is far more complex than simply physical attractiveness,” she says. “With photos, people are not simply looking at whether someone has a nice smile or a nice face per se. They are looking at other factors related to that individual’s attributes—like socioenomic status, whether they think they are kind, nice, or mean.” We’re standing at her workstation by the marketing department, which at 10:30 a.m. (early by tech standards) has yet to clock in. Her portion of the cubicle consists of a chair, a desk, and a PC. That’s all the hardware Carbino, a petite and fast-talking 30-year-old brunet, needs to do her job, which entails running focus groups, creating surveys for Tinder and non-Tinder users, and filtering loads of data through the lens of social behaviors.
One project she spent seven months on involved poring over 12,000 images of Tinder users in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, cataloging in minute detail the visual qualities users deem “attractive” and taking the definition beyond hot or not. The analysis draws on a long-established concept in psychology called “thin slicing,” which has to do with the vast amount of nonverbal cues first impressions can give us about a stranger. For instance, men with a softer jawline are generally perceived by women as kinder than, say, a guy with a Christian Bale thing going on. Carbino has also found that the selfie is the most common type of photo on the app, that women with makeup tend to get swiped right more by men, that a group shot should never be someone’s first photo, and that men in L.A. are more clean-shaven than those in other cities. There’s also this: About 80 percent of Tinder users are seeking long-term relationships, according to Carbino’s research.
All of her findings make their way into marketing pitches and tip sheets for users, but they are being used as well to refine the “product,” including its algorithm. Yes, even Tinder uses one. Called “Elo,” a chess reference, the formula assigns an undisclosed rating to each profile based on the frequency of right swipes. It’s one variable the app uses to determine which profiles someone sees (not that people at Tinder will say anything else about it).
////
The challenge Tinder faces is how to retain its photocentric simplicity while adapting to an ever-evolving marketplace. Pleasing those on the hunt for one-night stands is easy (like Grindr, the gay hookup app, Tinder gets flak for encouraging promiscuity—despite the fact that Carbino’s research shows otherwise). But it’s considerably harder to sell users who are interested in something longer term on looks alone. One competitor, the League, follows the tried-and-true route of exclusivity by focusing on ambitious professionals. (“You’ll never have to wonder if that Harvard hottie is too good to be true on The League” is one of its pitch lines.) With another app, the Bumble, women have to make the first move to connect.
“Photos are very important but very limited,” says Brooks, the dating industry consultant. “Character is not being communicated there. I think Tinder will prompt us to think differently about how to match-make behind the scenes. And that’s important because that’s the evolution required for the industry to really reach its potential.”
Brooks’s expertise is tech-based dating, but what he’s pointing to are the limitations that Katie Chen capitalizes on. “Everyone online looks kind of similar, especially in the L.A. metro area. Everyone’s going to dress nice, they all work out, they all hike, they all love dining, love having good friends and traveling,” says Chen, who cofounded the Pico-Robertson-based Catch Matchmaking, which offers what Tinder doesn’t: personalized service. “You would think that online dating and matchmaking would grow in different directions, almost like if online dating is popular, matchmaking would go away,” she says. But the opposite is true. Too many choices can overwhelm a shopper. Catch’s clients are “busy professionals” in their late twenties through seventies, who are willing to shell out for a more tailor-made experience that includes pointers on how to dress and how to take a better photo. Sometimes they even get an honest talking-to about attitude and expectation. “They really are sick of online dating and app dating,” says Chen. “They’re like, ‘I’ll just hire you because if one more girl shows up and she doesn’t look like her photo…’ or ‘I’m not good at writing my profile’ or ‘I am not good at texting.’ They’d rather outsource it.”
Of course a matchmaker can cost thousands, which is partly why online dating cropped up in the first place. About 15 percent of American adults have used a dating site or app, according to a Pew study conducted earlier this year. The scholarly view of online dating is that it emerged because of socioeconomic forces: As people move around for jobs and school, they leave behind the network of family and friends that has traditionally helped them meet their other half. With those connections far away, the Internet became the most viable option.
It’s a phenomenon ripe for examination. Carbino certainly isn’t the first academic to be lured by the dating industry. Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who works for Match, famously created a personality test for Chemistry.com, another IAC property. And the now-defunct Perfectmatch.com was built on an algorithm developed by sociologist Pepper Schwartz. But every generation needs its interpreters. “I am a young sociologist, and it’s a young company,” Carbino says. “I think that’s my unique standpoint in the field.”
She became intrigued by online dating after starting her graduate program at UCLA, where she knew “not a soul.” Carbino figured that joining JDate, the Jewish singles site, was her best bet for meeting someone. “I went on one good date and saw the person on and off for a while,” she says. “I also went on many bad dates.” She quickly moved on to Ok-Cupid, Match.com, Jswipe, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel. The more she browsed, the more curious she became. “The thing that was interesting to me is how people presented themselves. No one was studying that at the time,” she says.
As for her personal relationship with online dating, she called it quits long ago. A month after she started at Tinder the company, she met her boyfriend on Tinder the app. The couple have lived together for nearly two years with a pair of Maltipoos they rescued as puppies. Their names are Bonnie and Clyde.

Schools are more likely to suspend minority students

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/06/chicago-public-schools-discipline-gap-education-department_n_1323681.html

and




http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=2b97c788-27fe-4c5f-9057-ee8fbc2d7085
By Joy Resmovits
Tribune Newspapers
Schools suspend minority students at much higher rates than their peers, sometimes starting from preschool.
The Civil Rights Data Collection, a national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, surveyed over 50 million students at more than 95,000 schools and found that while suspensions decreased by almost 20 percentage points between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years, gaps between the suspension rates of different groups of students remained, according to results released late Monday.
The survey included 1,439,188 preschool students enrolled in 28,783 schools. Of those, 6,743 preschool students or .47 percent were suspended out of school once or more than once. While black girls represent 20 percent of preschool enrollment, 54 percent of preschool girls suspended once or more were black. And black preschool children overall were 3.6 times as likely to be suspended as young white children.
The results don't “paint a very good picture,” said Liz King, senior policy analyst and director of education policy at the Leadership for Civil and Human Rights.
Across all grades, 2.8 million students were suspended once or more than once. Black students were nearly four times as likely to be suspended and almost twice as likely to be expelled as white students. Students with disabilities were also twice as likely to be suspended as general education students.
The disparity “tears at the moral fabric of the nation,” said Secretary of Education John King. “We will not compromise away the civil right of all students to an excellent education.”
The findings come amid a major nationwide debate over school discipline and just what statistics like these mean.
School districts across the country have reexamined the way they chastise students for misbehaving, in part because of previous civil rights survey results.
Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, states must review schools' disciplinary statistics to reduce an “overuse of suspension.”
The disparities invite further investigation, said Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary of education responsible of the Office for Civil Rights. “Data by itself is not a reason to think there's intentional discrimination, but they are a reason to ask further questions,” she said.
Jason Okonofua, a social psychologist at Stanford University, found in his studies that the disparities stem from problems in the relationships between teachers and students. Minority students, he found, expect to be the victim of bias — which leads them to be less cooperative. On the other hand, he said, if a teacher feels disrespected, and as if the student is a troublemaker, the student will get punished more severely, causing the cycle to continue.
Okonofua asked 190 teachers to review information about a student misbehaving. He presented a scenario in which a student interrupted class by walking around. For some teachers, the scenario involved a boy named Jake, and for others, it involved a boy named Darnell, a name more often used among African-Americans. The teachers opted to discipline either boy almost the same way.
But when presented with another scenario — this time, Jake/Darnell fell asleep in class — some teachers punished Darnell more harshly.
The federal survey also tracked access to high-level courses and found that half of high schools don't offer calculus and more than one-quarter don't offer chemistry. While 56 percent of schools with low minority populations offered calculus, one-third of those with high black and Latino populations did.
“Right now we're talking a good game about college and career readiness, but not all students attend schools that offer courses that are necessary for college readiness,” said Daria Hall, interim vice president for government affairs and communications at the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based education advocacy group. “You look across all of this information, and it becomes very clear why we have gaps in achievement.”

Study: Minority students far more likely suspended
By Joy Resmovits
Tribune Newspapers
Schools suspend minority students at much higher rates than their peers, sometimes starting from preschool.
The Civil Rights Data Collection, a national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, surveyed over 50 million students at more than 95,000 schools and found that while suspensions decreased by almost 20 percentage points between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years, gaps between the suspension rates of different groups of students remained, according to results released late Monday.
The survey included 1,439,188 preschool students enrolled in 28,783 schools. Of those, 6,743 preschool students or .47 percent were suspended out of school once or more than once. While black girls represent 20 percent of preschool enrollment, 54 percent of preschool girls suspended once or more were black. And black preschool children overall were 3.6 times as likely to be suspended as young white children.
The results don't “paint a very good picture,” said Liz King, senior policy analyst and director of education policy at the Leadership for Civil and Human Rights.
Across all grades, 2.8 million students were suspended once or more than once. Black students were nearly four times as likely to be suspended and almost twice as likely to be expelled as white students. Students with disabilities were also twice as likely to be suspended as general education students.
The disparity “tears at the moral fabric of the nation,” said Secretary of Education John King. “We will not compromise away the civil right of all students to an excellent education.”
The findings come amid a major nationwide debate over school discipline and just what statistics like these mean.
School districts across the country have reexamined the way they chastise students for misbehaving, in part because of previous civil rights survey results.
Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, states must review schools' disciplinary statistics to reduce an “overuse of suspension.”
The disparities invite further investigation, said Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary of education responsible of the Office for Civil Rights. “Data by itself is not a reason to think there's intentional discrimination, but they are a reason to ask further questions,” she said.
Jason Okonofua, a social psychologist at Stanford University, found in his studies that the disparities stem from problems in the relationships between teachers and students. Minority students, he found, expect to be the victim of bias — which leads them to be less cooperative. On the other hand, he said, if a teacher feels disrespected, and as if the student is a troublemaker, the student will get punished more severely, causing the cycle to continue.
Okonofua asked 190 teachers to review information about a student misbehaving. He presented a scenario in which a student interrupted class by walking around. For some teachers, the scenario involved a boy named Jake, and for others, it involved a boy named Darnell, a name more often used among African-Americans. The teachers opted to discipline either boy almost the same way.
But when presented with another scenario — this time, Jake/Darnell fell asleep in class — some teachers punished Darnell more harshly.
The federal survey also tracked access to high-level courses and found that half of high schools don't offer calculus and more than one-quarter don't offer chemistry. While 56 percent of schools with low minority populations offered calculus, one-third of those with high black and Latino populations did.
“Right now we're talking a good game about college and career readiness, but not all students attend schools that offer courses that are necessary for college readiness,” said Daria Hall, interim vice president for government affairs and communications at the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based education advocacy group. “You look across all of this information, and it becomes very clear why we have gaps in achievement.”
- See more at: http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=2b97c788-27fe-4c5f-9057-ee8fbc2d7085#sthash.LWuIMSiG.dpuf

Study finds Social Inequality could cause civilization collapse

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?



https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists

"While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory 'so far' in support of doing nothing."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Race and identity

Because the US is  so race conscious, race matters to people even if it biologically doesn't make sense.  Here are some examples of race and how people identify (or have trouble doing so):



Here are the current definitions of "race" according to the US census:
https://www.census.gov/topics/population/race/about.html

Here are the changes being considered for the 2020 census:
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/18/census-considers-new-approach-to-asking-about-race-by-not-using-the-term-at-all/



Here are some articles on the difficulty of categorizing Hispanics:

The Census Can't Fit Latinos Into A Race Box And It's Causing More ...

www.huffingtonpost.com/.../census-latinos-some-other_n_53758...
The Huffington Post
May 22, 2014 - The Census Can't Fit Latinos Into A Race Box And It's Causing More Confusion ... U.S. Latinos changed their race category from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 ... Latinos Who Don't Get A Race On The Census ...

Is being Hispanic a matter of race, ethnicity or both? | Pew Research ...

www.pewresearch.org/.../is-being-hispanic-a-matter-of-race-ethni...
Pew Research Center
Jun 15, 2015 - When it comes to reporting their racial identity, Latinos stand out from other ... at least one of the five standard, government-defined racial categories ... This suggests that Hispanics have a unique view of race that doesn't necessarily fit ..... into one group even though a good 20 % don't speak Spanish at all ...

Hispanics Resist Racial Grouping by Census - The New York Times

www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/.../20041025monday.html
The New York Times
Oct 25, 2004 - "We don't fit into the categories that the Anglos want us to fit in," Mr. ... of Hispanics who would include themselves in traditional racial groups ...

Here is another example of the difficulty of racial categories:


In The Latinos of Asia, Anthony Christian Ocampo shows that what "color" you are depends largely on your social context. Filipino Americans, for example, helped establish the Asian American movement and are classified by the U.S. Census as Asian. But the legacy of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines means that they share many cultural characteristics with Latinos, such as last names, religion, and language. Thus, Filipinos' "color"—their sense of connection with other racial groups—changes depending on their social context. 
From NPR:

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/05/24/478560399/filipino-americans-blending-cultures-redefining-race

Friday, May 20, 2016

Why racial jokes are NOT okay.

If, after reading my explicit racism post, you thought, "Hmmm, those frat party costumes don't seem so bad.  It's just a joke.  It's just funny."

Think again.  I want you to open your mind with a beginner mind and re-think about those parties after considering this post.

First, from the beginning of the year, we have tried to make Michael Schwalbe's sociological mindfulness a goal.  Even Schwalbe used racial jokes as an example.  In being aware that we affect society, we should realize that we can't see how far our influence goes and it helps to re-affirm or challenge social norms.  In this case, a funny joke might also help to re-affirm stereotypes, make other people feel like outsiders and, even in small ways, help justify violence against others.

Remember that these "jokes" are being conducted in a society that has widespread stereotypes.  As one example, let us consider Donald Trump.  I do not want to attack Trump personally but as a representative of the larger society.  Mr. Trump represents a very real possibility of being the next U.S. President.  He garners enormous media attention.  So he is an important cultural barometer for the U.S.  And despite his large media presence and serious political aspirations, he has said outlandish, offensive, outrageous and erroneous things about minority groups in the U.S.  For reference, from the Huffington Post, here is 9 outrageous things he has said about Latinos, including that Mexican immigrants are rapists and killers and criminals.  So, when these ethnic jokes occur, especially frat parties, realize that they are happening within the context of a country that is already tolerating hurtful, hateful ideas about these ethnic groups. 

Furthermore, think about the ingroup-outgroup mentality that we learned about in unit one.  I believe that often these parties do not involve anyone from the ethnic group that is being targeted.  In otherwords, it is not an inside joke, but it is a group of outsiders making fun of other people.  In many cases, those other people are on the same campuses where these jokes occurred!  Imagine seeing people who are not a part of one of your own groups making fun of that very group.  For example, imagine a group of Latinos dressed up like Donald Trump calling themselves white people and saying "I am white so I hate black people and I hate hispanics."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Race and Anatomy: Don't be mislead by pseudo-science!

Students always misunderstand their forensic unit in anatomy.  Anatomy misleads students into thinking that there are 3 "pure" races based on evidence from hair, cranium and femur.

For clarification, Let us turn to the Lab, the textbook and other resources.

The Lab
Anatomy provides important disclaimers within the lab itself.  However, it seems that these disclaimers get downplayed because students never mention them.  Let me quote from the lab itself and emphasize these points:

It can be extremely difficult to determine the true race of a skeleton. This is due to several factors: First, forensic anthropologists generally use a three race model to categorize skeletal traits: Caucasoid (European), Mongoloid (Asian/Amerindian), and Negroid (African). Although there are certainly some common physical characteristics among these groups, not all individuals have skeletal traits that are completely consistent with their geographic origin. Additionally, there is the issue of racial mixing to consider. Often times, a skeleton exhibits characteristics of more than one racial group and does not fit neatly into the three-race model. Also, the vast majority of the skeletal indicators used to determine race are non-metric traits, which, as stated earlier, can be highly subjective.
 First of all, most of the above paragraph is explaining why race is NOT a reliable factor when it comes to trace evidence.  The paragraph states that race is difficult to determine.  Why would it be difficult if race was biological?  Would it be difficult to determine whether a human, a chimp or a gorilla committed the crime?  I believe it would not because biologically, those three creatures are different.  But because humans are the same species and NOT biologically different, they cannot be separated distinctly into different races.  Secondly, the three race model is an old, erroneous and racist model that biologists, social scientists and anthropologists all do NOT use anymore.  Finally, the non-metric traits are a fancy way of saying that race is NOT scientific.  "Non metric" means it is subjective and based upon the society and local circumstances surrounding the people; it is a social construction.

Anatomy Textbook
I stopped into the ILC and looked at the anatomy text books.  There was NOTHING in the entire book about race.  I checked the table of contents, the index and I thumbed through chapters.  Nothing.  There is even a section on genetics that makes no mention about race.  Not a thing.  The section about craniums and skeletal system makes no mention of any distinguishing characteristics. 


Other Sources
Contexts sociology blog
The press release reports the results of this panel’s initial analysis of almost 500 cases. Most startlingly, it reports that FBI examiners gave inaccurate testimony in 96% of those cases.... As a 2009 review of forensic science by the National Research Council (NRC) put it, “No scientifically accepted statistics exist about the frequency with which particular characteristics of hair are distributed in the population.”

Science Buzz: 
...there’s more variation within any racial group than there is between them...Our genes are constantly moving around the planet. We’ve had 100,000 years of genes moving and mixing and re-assorting in countless different ways. We’re always mating outside our groups. [As a result, there’s] very little variation among us.

Live Science:
there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior - See more at: http://www.livescience.com/47627-race-is-not-a-science-concept.html#sthash.PdEUEzMO.dpuf
...there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior

Innocence Project and Unreliable Evidence:
...many forensic testing methods have been applied with little or no scientific validation and with inadequate assessments of their robustness or reliability. Furthermore, they lacked scientifically acceptable standards for quality assurance and quality control before their implementation in cases...And from NPR,
We’re talking about a technology which the FBI and state and local crime laboratories across the country have relied upon to associate an accused to a piece of crime scene evidence for the last 40 years by looking at hairs under a microscope that they found in a crime scene and comparing it to a defendant’s hair. It turns out that for 30 or 40 years, they were exaggerating the probative value of those similarities such that in, I would say a quarter, of all the DNA exoneration cases, the people were originally convicted in part based on crime lab people coming in and saying the hairs matched.

New Scientist:
With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, no forensic method has been rigorously shown able to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.

The Atlantic
How unthinking racial essentialism finds its way into scientific research.

Newsweek
There is no such thing as race; The troubling persistence of an unscientific idea.