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Posts Tagged ‘sociology’

Just so I can say that i have put my two cents in I am going to say a little bit about Occupy Wall Street. Before I start I should say that I don’t know if I have a super cohesive argument or position to take on the whole thing. Still, I will start this post off with full disclosure: I completely support the protesters and their cause. What is more, I admire what they are doing and I wish I had the guts to be out there doing my part.

Other than that quick statement of disclosure I am going to use the words of others to communicate my thoughts today.

First, let’s have a look at some of the statistics on the state of we are in.

click the picture for more

Yeah, it doesn’t look very good to me either. If you are interested in a some more facts and statistics visit “Here’s what the wall street protesters are so angry about”, I found it particularly insightful.

Next I will direct you to a couple pictures that have been circulating the web over the past week or so. You have doubtless already seen them but I think that they are still relevant to this post.

What troubles me about the picture on the right is that it completely ignores the complexities of privilege and assumes that everyone has the same ability to “succeed” in our country. This is simply not the case today and I for one can attest to the fact that finding money for college is hard. My senior year in college I was financially independent, worked four jobs, had two academic grants, a half-tuition scholarship and still had to take out loans for my tuition. (If I really wanted to show this person up I would also mention that I graduated with a 3.88 GPA and got into a Masters program at Columbia University, but I won’t…) My point is that not everyone can make it today and even those of us who work out asses off often cannot make it without a little assistance (which, I would argue isn’t too much to ask). So, I would like to send a huge shout out to Cylinsier for your wonderful depiction of what it feels like to be a college student in the 99%.

Next, I would like to direct you to some of the supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, just to prove that it isn’t just a bunch of pot-smoking hippies with no clue what they’re talking about. The New Yorker put out this article on Monday citing the top ten unlikely supporters of the movement. In a recent Time interview, George Clooney extended his support for the movement (even saying that he supports higher tax rates for the rich). MomsRising, a group working for family rights in the U.S. supports the movement (sign their open letter by clicking on the link, it is easy and you don’t actually have to be a mom!). Colleges across the US are becoming occupied and there is even a group of occupied writers who are composing original works just for the occasion. Lastly, the guy who took the following picture is a supporter of Occupy Wall Street (oh yeah, and he works there and he is not crazy… I know because I talked to him).

I am the 99% and I am not ashamed to admit it because I did nothing to end up here. Neither did anyone else. The system we have is not sustainable and I dare say that it is not helping anyone. I apologize for the length and rant-like format of this post; if I were a better graduate student I would have drawn some great parallels to Marx and Weber but I am tired and I don’t want to do that right now. Instead I will leave you with the words of Lemony Snicket (one of my favorite young adult authors).

99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

Check out all 13 of his unfortunate observations here.

That’s all I’ve got for now, back to making good use of my loans.

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Today I had one of my wisdom teeth pulled, in order to rest I watched this movie. It is a brilliant portrayal of hermaphroditism and a wonderful commentary on gender. I recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in gender issues. Also, it is available for instant play on Netflix so you should definitely check it out.

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I found this post on Sociological Images (find the link on my sidebar) today and it is quite interesting. Not super deep, but just right for a lazy Saturday…

The basic gist? For some reason, it is weird for women to attend a baseball game and even weirder for them to eat and, GASP, talk. Sorry Mad and Laura, you guys are just not supposed to be at sporting events. And when you are there you probably only talk about shopping and other things that you would rather be doing…

“Women Talk, Eat at Baseball Game; Earth Stands Still” can be found here.

Happy Saturday!

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When I was younger, a child if you will, having any amount of money was an immense treat. There were endless possibilities for your meager three dollars. The introduction of money into my life quickly brought another realization–some people have more money than others. In my case, my brother had more money than I did. Being the capitalist in our duo, he bargained and saved. Being the socialist, I didn’t worry so much about the saving, spending my money when I wanted. I did however bargain. I would convince my brother that somehow it really was not fair that he had five dollars while I only had one. The only fair solution, I told him, was to give me one dollar. He agreed of course, as I was older and wiser than he. I have always been a socialist at heart.

Fifteen years later, about a week ago, my brother and I were walking through a neighborhood Sunday market and I spotted a new book! Why I Am a Socialist (1910) is a book by investigative journalist Charles Edward Russell. I bought the book for four dollars and I must say, it is one of the better purchases of my summer.

The book is a series of case studies highlighting the ways in which people become trapped in a faulty economic system. Like Marx in The Communist Manifesto, Russell emphasizes the fact that people become dependent on ultimately harmful systems lest thy face “the pain of extinction,” or being driven out of the market. Businesses trade their goods and laborers trade their labor power. The problem arises when competition drives prices (market price of goods and the price of wages) down below their true value. The catch with Russell seems to be that everyone is stuck in this system, no one is the bad guy. The bad guy is the economic system and it alone needs changing.

Why doesn’t capitalism work? Because,

If a man’s competitors resort to a deception that reduces the cost of their product he must resort to the like deception or retire from business. He has no alternative; he absolutely must do as they do or give over the fight… That a man should accept ruin merely because he will not practice what is universal in his trade is an act of quixotic virtue that we never have required and never should expect. If he does what the rest do that is enough of honesty. You cannot demand of him more. Competition rules him with iron rods. He must do this and he must not do that, law or no law, and no matter the results may be to others. (page 40)

I won’t bother you with any more boring economics but you should know this, Russell is smart, his writing in captivating and he will make you think, which was his purpose.

The world does not grow worse, does not stand still, but slowly grows better, [Reform is a] vast, complicated and often mysterious evolution. It is not to be had with the naiveté of a single push. It calls for the persistence of each generation.

With the genius of Marx and the optimism that he lacked, here is Charles Edward Russell, American Socialist and man after my own heart.

“Progress is slow, but at least there is something gained.” And perhaps if we put our minds to it, everyone will have ample control over their means of production, whether they be wage laborers or the big man up top.

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With all of the hype surrounding the new song by Rihanna and Eminem (Russian Roulette/Love the Way You Lie) I have been thinking a lot about domestic violence in the media. I found this post on Sociological Images this morning and I really cannot express how I feel any better than they already have so just read the article…

Here is a great quote to wet your appetite,

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a beautiful song. Rihanna’s vocals are gorgeous; it’s was hard to not feel heartfelt while listening to them. And that’s the problem. It’s a powerful form of socialization. That we might internalize the message that passionate love and incontrollable rage go hand-in-hand is really very scary. It suggests not only that you should tolerate interpersonal violence but that, if there is no violence in your relationship, perhaps you don’t really love one another. Better go out and find someone who will beat you.

People might disagree with me and some might say they only like it for the catchy tune. The fact still stands, glamorizing domestic violence by combining hurtful lyrics and a nice beat is ALWAYS harmful, even if we “don’t even listen to the lyrics.”

I think that author of this post is right, the fact “that Rihanna of all people, a woman who could have made a powerful statement against this type of message, is participating in glamorizing the very violence she suffered, is very disheartening.” If change is to occur, perhaps victims of violence should speak out against their abuse, instead of giving in a glamorizing it.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

…but here’s one more article, just in case you are as fired up about this as I am.

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So, one of my new favorite thinkers happens to be the late great Karl Marx. Yes, I know this is weird and perhaps some may say a little sacrilegious but I’ve gotta say, I love the man.

So, to the love of my life, happy birthday… you will forever live in my heart!

In other news… I found a new favorite website. Thanks to my good friend Laura for the tip!

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