it’s great to see this kind of progress towards gender equality

Some of you may realize that I am a total video game nerd. Others among you may realize that I am, by and large, greatly in favor of gender equality. And what all of you probably realize is that I rarely find these two parts of my nature in collision.

That is, until things like this occur.

During a recent trip to Target I happened to pass through the video game aisle and stopped, struck dumb for some time by what I saw. Come, allow me to take you on a brief journey through gender roles as explained in video games.

There will not be a quiz.
Continue reading “it’s great to see this kind of progress towards gender equality”

public sociology in farmtown #9: reflections on the experience

I’m not sure who (if anyone) has stuck with this series, so I’m not sure what your interests are in wrap-up. Drop comments if you want me to address other issues. Here are my thoughts. This was an overwhelming experience in many ways, and there are many threads one could pick up from the things that happened at the conference. I’ll discuss three themes: the content of what people talk about, the importance of listening along with talking, and cultural differences in public talk. I tried to provide a lot of details about what people said and how they said it because I’m very interested in how people talk as well as what they talk about. I have been struck before how the whole tone of interaction shifts when a meeting is dominated by people of color instead of whites. Although the two day conference in Farmtown was a kind of immersion experience, I have had many similar experiences before. As a White person watching the interactions, I’m most struck by how deeply personal and painful these issues are for Black people.* Continue reading “public sociology in farmtown #9: reflections on the experience”

the soc rumour mill and the jobs wiki

It’s Get A Job time again in sociology, and that is stressful for job applicants, especially those just finishing their Ph.D.s and going out on the market for the first time. For the last few years, the job applicants have banded together on the internet, creating a discussion board, The Rumor Mill, where questions can be aired and various rumours about what jobs are still “really” open and such. This quickly led to the Jobs Wiki, where postings, short lists, and offers are compiled by the masses.

At first, I thought these tools were great ideas. How brilliant of those sociologists to turn the information hierarchy on its head, and let everyone know whatever information is available. I’m all for that. But last year, I began to get the slightest wrinkle in my brow about the whole project. The wiki is what bothered me first. Continue reading “the soc rumour mill and the jobs wiki”

things i am in denial about

573. That I am moving in less than 2 weeks.

I am doing just like The Jeffersons only backwards: I am Movin’ On Down. From the 19th floor to the 12th, from the Chicago-view side to the north-view side, and from a 2BR to a 1BR. I love the location but just didn’t see paying $x more in rent for an extra bedroom and bathroom that I don’t use much, where $x is right around the total rent for the 1100 sq ft 2BR I had my last year in Madison. Of course, I don’t quite know whether/how everything in my current apartment is going to fit in the new apartment, and we’ll also see how my ascetic bravado holds up when I’m actually in the smaller place.

Everyone tells me I should be buying a place. Soon, maybe. I used to value having maximum liquidity in my life. It’s now become tedious and is even starting to feel a little creepy.

public sociology in farmtown #8: ideas and wrap-up

The final session of the two-day conference I’ve been describing in the “Farmtown” posts is supposed to be reports from the small groups that met in the morning. These reports get longer and the discussion gets more animated with each successive speaker. As with the sermon, I’ve tried to capture the flavor of the longer speeches. Again what interests me is the way people weave different themes together when they talk. Continue reading “public sociology in farmtown #8: ideas and wrap-up”

there are few undecided voters

So says a recent paper in Science.

We provide evidence that future choices of undecided individuals can be predicted by their current automatic mental associations, even when these individuals consciously report that they are still undecided… Conceptually, automatic mental associations are defined as those associations that come to mind unintentionally, that are difficult to control once they are activated, and that may not necessarily be endorsed at a conscious level. Such automatic associations are often contrasted with consciously held beliefs, which can be described as mental contents that an individual explicitly endorses as accurate. The measurement of automatic associations has been advanced by the development of so-called implicit measures, most of which are based on participants’ performance on computer-based, speeded categorization tasks. These implicit measures differ from explicit measures employed to assess conscious beliefs, which are based on standard self-report or survey methodology.

I’ve taken these tests before. They’re interesting. They basically ask you to match things up, see how long it takes, and assume that time differences reveal implicit assumptions. So for example, they might ask you to “associate” violent objects with blacks and/or whites. And they almost universally find that folks are quicker making associations between such violent objects and blacks than they are with whites. And so it’s argued that this reveals implicit forms of prejudice that are very hard to overcome. You can see the results of these studies on a range of topics, and take the tests yourself at: Project Implicit. Continue reading “there are few undecided voters”

oz demography

News from Australia (story here):

A plea for lovelorn female “ugly ducklings” to move to a remote Australian mining town [Mt Isa] to reverse a shortage of eligible women has landed the local mayor in hot water.

Is it just me, or is this one of these stories that causes a visceral offense reaction, but then it is harder to articulate exactly what the grounds for offense are. In the story, a woman from Mt Isa is quoted as saying, “It paints the women here as second rate and suggests the men will settle for anything. I think it’s quite disgusting.” As for her first claim, it doesn’t seem to me like it doesn’t present the women already there as second rate, just not polyandrous. And, if the issue is that it is unflattering to the men, well that seems more offensive than the original comment: Yo, ugly duckling women, don’t think that if you move here you’ll have any better luck finding a man who’ll see anything redeemible in you. Our men are better than that. So, then, is it offensive because it implies that unattractiveness is a cause of being single? Or, that single people might be motivated to move somewhere to have better mating prospects? Or, that men seem to place a high value on physical attractiveness? Or, that it should be the single women who are moving instead of the single men (but, wait, he’s the mayor, so presumably he wants to bring people to his down)?

Granted, it’s easier for me to explain why the statement can be taken as offending the mayor’s town. You can imagine seeing the sign as you drive into the town: Mt Isa: Whatever Else, It Beats Dying Alone.

looks like i have to turn off the phone

The reporter from last week just called back.  First, his analysis of disparities in a particular crime revealed no difference, so the story is not going forward.  Just like academics?  Second, he’s got something new going and is asking me questions about how to run his copy of SPSS (!) a program I don’t use although I have in the past, and is sending me his analysis for me to OK.  I am beginning to feel used here, and am thinking about telling him what my hourly rate for consultation is.  I did tell him I wouldn’t look at his file until after dinner, after I got my own work done.  But I’m sufficiently distracted that I’m writing this blog instead of getting back to work.  OK, turn off browser, turn off email.  I’ll add my two cents to the plagiarism thread later.

how does your university deal with student plagiarism?

I’m sure I’ll end up posting more about this as time goes on, but at the moment I’d just like to get a read on others’ experiences.  I just got done with a very frustrating experience with UNC’s honor court, in which (IMHO) they devalued my expertise as a faculty member and the central importance of intellectual integrity by dealing slowly and insufficiently with a blatant case of plagiarism in a class I taught last spring. Any discussion is of course welcome but I’d be particularly interested to hear from folks who have had students commit academic misconduct/dishonesty in classes and how that’s been dealt with.

public sociology in farmtown: #7 inspiration and challenge

(This continues a series. See the earlier posts in the series for background and context.) Our lunch speaker is a Black man I code as about 40 plus or minus 10 years. He has a staff job with a college in another state and is also a Baptist minister. His style is passionate Black ministerial oratory interweaving politics and God, interweaving joking and anger and challenge, ranging broadly across a lot of issues and pulling in quotations from many writers. He says his goal is to challenge and upset people. The talk is free-flowing but planned out; there are extensive quotations from religious and political sources. I’ve tried to capture the feeling of the speech/sermon in my notes.

My goal is to make you upset and angry today. People need to stop being PC and talking about “institutional racism” as a cover and being afraid to call out individual racists. We should demand justice. But instead of demanding, we are sitting complacent and saying we are doing something, but we are not doing something. We should demand drug treatment and job training. Socially responsible businesses should offer training at their own cost, benefits to community. We should go back to Operation Breadbasket, when leaders demanded businesses to sponsor jobs. Continue reading “public sociology in farmtown: #7 inspiration and challenge”

how many athletes are gay?

A story in the Globe and Mail yesterday bemoans the fact that only 10 Olympic athletes are openly gay in a public enough way to be counted by the website Outsports.com (don’t ask me about their methods–not much on that over there). This includes nine lesbians and one gay man, and for whatever reason does not count one bisexual woman.

Given that there are about 10,000 athletes, the story reasons, ten gay athletes is so small that many more athletes must be gay and closeted…but how many? They venture a guess:

Outsports said this must be way short of the real figure and argued that a more accurate estimate could even reach 1,000.

Hmmmm…this seems very high to me. The Outsports people are basing this estimate on shaky premises. Continue reading “how many athletes are gay?”