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Posts Tagged ‘The Society Pages’

Here are a few Super Bowl-related posts via the Society Pages.

From Slate, research on perceptions and slow motion.

Or, if you prefer, you can find out all you need to know about Superb Owl Sunday here.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links via your news feed.

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Happy Halloween, everybody. Here is a roundup of some of this year’s Halloween-themed posts:

I hope that the Great Pumpkin brings you lots of toys and candy. If not, there’s always next year!

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My favorite response to the n+1 article claiming that there is “too much sociology” (as if that is even possible!) is by Nathan Jurgenson at The Society Pages.  Jurgenson focuses on the ridiculousness of writing an article using critical sociology that is critical of critical sociology and concludes that critical sociology should be abolished. He writes, in part:

Too Much Sociology” is the essay equivalent of hipsters making fun of hipsters, seemingly unaware that their anti-hipster position is the height of hipsterdom. The essay discusses “the Sociologists” as if they are separate from what the essay is itself doing, going on and on about critical sociology seemingly unaware of itself as a critical sociology essay. Doing reflexive critical sociology of critical sociology is a well-worn tradition within critical sociology. The strategy the article uses and arguments it wants to make are for more critical sociology, but, instead, incoherently and illogically, asks for less. And, yes, I fully understand that my critique here is also critical sociology, the difference being that I am aware of that and won’t then develop an illogical conclusion. My response here isn’t as much a disagreement with their argument; I’m saying that it simply doesn’t make sense on its own terms. Trying to create a theory that interrogates the links between power, discourse, and identity has as much of a chance of being outside of critical sociology as trying to put on an outfit that is outside the system of fashion.

So meta. So good.

Also see the excellent response by Jenn Lena at Whatisthewhat.

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Speaking of gender roles, I recently saw a post at The Society Pages linking to this suggestion by Rebecca Rosen at The Atlantic that men refuse to speak on or moderate all-male panels at technology and science conferences. While I think this is a great idea, I also wonder how the fact that prospective male participants ask male organizers to include women affects the reactions. For example, see the exchange in Rosen’s post:

I cannot speak for the dozens of other Jewish male leaders, scholars and activists who also made the pledge, but in my case, push has never actually come to shove. My convictions have not yet been tested. I never had to refuse participation because, so far, not once have the conveners failed to “find” a woman who can participate. Generally, the conversations have gone something like this:

“Prof. Kelner, will you teach at our all-night Shavuot study session?”

“Sure. I’d be happy to. Who else is on the program?”

“Abe, Isaac and Jake”

“You couldn’t find any women to teach? Look, I’d love to join the program, but I’ve made a pledge not to participate in all-male panels. And anyway, do you really want to send the message that there are no qualified women?”

“Wow! You’re right. Thank you. We’re going to fix this.”

“Do that, and I’ll be happy to participate.”

Because a male is organizing the conference and a male is asking about the inclusion of women, this seems like a reasonable request to the organizer. I can unfortunately imagine all kinds of scenarios, however, where a woman mentions the fact that there are not many female participants and is criticized for suggesting that there may be some sort of bias at play. This also seems to invite tokenism or the claim that there “aren’t any qualified women.”

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With Santa’s yearly visit just a week away, toys are on the mind of many children. Sociologists often talk about the gendered nature of toys, and I recently discussed one Swedish company’s efforts to advertise toys in a gender-neutral way, but a recent New York Times article* looks at a divide that we are less likely to focus on: social class.

In the article, Gina Bellafante argues that the types of toys sold at Walmart and Toys R Us differ greatly from those from more upscale stores focused on learning and creativity. In her most quotable paragraph, Bellafante writes:

In the way that we have considered food deserts — those parts of the city in which stores seem to stock primarily the food groups Doritos and Pepsi — we might begin to think, in essence, about toy deserts and the implications of a commercial system in which the least-privileged children are choked off from the recreations most explicitly geared toward creativity and achievement.

She concludes with the counterpoint that puzzles and other upscale toys have not been proven to bolster children’s cognitive abilities, but I think it would be interesting to study whether children in wealthier homes do, in fact, play with different types of toys. I also think it would be interesting to see whether they actively ask for these toys or whether their Christmas lists look like those of their less fortunate counterparts.

*I saw this a while ago via The Society Pages but forgot about it when the grading storm struck again. Thankfully, another post at The Society Pages reminded me about it.

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A staple of Introduction to Sociology courses is the toy assignment, in which students are asked to visit a local store and take note of the gendered nature of the offerings. While boys and girls might not universally agree with the things that are supposed to be for them, the prevalence of these messages in stores, ads, and TV commercials makes them hard to avoid. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, one company in Sweden is challenging these norms in its most recent Christmas catalog.

A comparison of Top-Toy’s Swedish catalogs with their Danish counterparts shows girls have replaced boys in some photos featuring toy guns, and boys have swapped places with girls in photos featuring dolls and stuffed dogs. In one picture in the Swedish catalog, a boy is blow-drying a girl’s hair whereas in the Danish version, a somewhat older girl is blow-drying her own hair.

Top-Toy also is working on adjusting store displays and packaging to reflect the gender-neutral approach, said Jan Nyberg, Top-Toy’s sales director in Sweden. Boys and girls can now be seen playing together on boxes of “Happy House,” Top-Toy’s own kitchen set.

“We can’t decide what the big toy makers’ boxes should look like as their products are made for the global market, but we can make changes on our own boxes and in our stores,” Mr. Nyberg said.

A saleswoman said she hasn’t seen much difference in store displays but noted employees now are trained to avoid stereotypes when talking to customers. “If someone asks for a present for a 5-year-old girl, we don’t automatically take them to the dolls section,” she said. “Instead, we ask them what her interests are.”

Sweden appears to have gender norms that are very different than those in the US, so it seems that the store is reflecting society rather than attempting to change it, but it would be nice to live in a place where kids grow up receiving messages that they could be, and play with, anything that they want.

Via: The Society Pages

 

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David Banks at The Society Pages has a nice summary of everything that is wrong with Comedy Central’s Tosh.0. The idea of somebody skewering the internet’s viral hits sounds great to me, but I would like to see somebody do it in a way that is not, as Banks writes, “Racist, Classist, Homophobic, Sexist, and Just Plain Gross.” Of course, Tosh.0 is among the highest-rated shows on Comedy Central. Maybe Bud Light Platinum should focus its marketing budget there.

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The Society Pages and Jalopnik recently discussed a casting call for the Acura Super Bowl commercial (with Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno). For the role of African American Car Dealer the “role details” stipulated that the actor should be: “Nice looking, friendly. Not too dark. Will work with a MAJOR COMEDIAN.” I think that Jalopnik has the most interesting commentary on this one, stating:

If you’re wondering why this might be outrageous to some, step back for a moment and look at the inverse of a casting request looking for “Nice looking, friendly. Not too dark.” You’d get “Ugly looking, mean. Dark.”

Jalopnik also comments on Acura’s apology, noting that the apology does not actually admit that anybody did anything wrong:

Acura Statement RE: Casting Call
We apologize to anyone offended by the language on the casting sheet used in the selection of actors for one of our commercials.

We sought to cast an African-American in a prominent role in the commercial, and we made our selection based on the fact that he was the most talented actor.

The casting sheet was only now brought to our attention.  We are taking appropriate measures to ensure that such language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand.

Anyone in there hear an apology for favoring a light-skinned black actor? Not us.

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Becoming an uncle was great until I went to the store to buy a 3-month old child some clothes for Christmas. While I’ve talked in class about gender differences in children’s toys and clothing these issues became even more infuriating as I attempted to find gender-neutral clothing in a children’s store. The “boys’” side of the store consisted almost entirely of dark colored clothing while the “girls’” side was nearly all pink, violet, or white (The Society Pages has an overview of research analyzing how these colors became a part of the zeitgeist). As if this weren’t enough, many of the clothes featured writing indicating that the child was “Grandpa’s little princess” or “Mommy’s little man” or similarly inane statements, which made it more difficult to buy clothes in colors beyond what was intended for each gender.

Discussing this experience with my mom, she noted that when I was born there were two major things that set children’s clothing apart from what exists today: most parents did not know the sex of their child beforehand and many parents actively avoided gender stereotypes in toys and clothing. Thinking about this, it makes sense that some parents who had grown up with the feminist movement in the ’60s were opposed to placing their children in gender-specific boxes in the ’70s and ’80s. Many children of the ’70s and ’80s, on the other hand, appear to have no problem reintroducing the stereotypes that their own parents avoided. It will be interesting to see how the “princess” generation views gender in twenty years. This little girl (that it seems everybody in the world has seen) suggests that they might not be okay with these boxes after all.

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