Introduction to Sociology

Precise Phrasing

When I was listening to episode 171 of the No Such Thing as a Fish podcast titled No Such Thing as a Half-Ape Vampire*, the podcasters mentioned this confusing phrasing from The Independent’s article “The World Is Running Out of Camembert.”  The article states:

Out of the three hundred and sixty million made each year, just a treasured four have true Camembert credentials.

That’s just over one percent.  

When presented in an online article with ads and the creation of the new paragraph, the podcasters discussed thinking it was literally 4 camembert cheeses, significantly less than 1%.  *Warning: if you choose to listen to this episode they also talk about maggot excrement in the cheesemaking process.

image from qiimage from QI because there is no way I’m looking at pictures of cheese after listening

Black Women’s Hair

Our Eurocentric society has a strong bias against black women’s natural hair.  For black women in particular, hair can be tied to a sense of self.  Whether or not to wear hair natural is heavily politicized.  Only recently did the US Army loosen hair restrictions to include braids and twists.  It is unclear as to whether or not an employer can legally discriminate against natural hair.  Currently, some companies cite vague terminology in dress codes such as ‘professional’ or ‘clean cut.’

thesocietypages  image from The Society Pages

White women are particularly terrible on the issue of black women’s hair.  Not only do white women judge black women’s hair as less professional and attractive, but we have simultaneously culturally appropriated black women’s hair styles, such as re labeling cornrows ‘boxing braids’.  Recently, white women have even been featured in advertisements for natural hair products historically marketed towards black women, resulting in an online backlash and apology from at least one company.

black hair whiteimage from The Independent

Ethnographer Dr. Yaba Blay speaks more about the issue in Color Complex: Untangling Black Women’s Hair discussing politics around black hair.

Relative Deviance & Sex

Though there are objective and critical views of deviance, subjective views look at how deviance is constructed relative to cultural norms.  Deviance is then a behavior that is defined as deviant within a cultural context. 

In the United States, we tend to see violence and guns as more socially acceptable and sex as less socially acceptable than other industrialized countries.  In Texas, this line became clear when university students carried out a ‘Cocks not Glocks‘ protest, bringing sex toys around campus in protest of a new law allowing concealed weapons on campus.

dildo protest.jpgimage from Newsweek

The relative deviance of sex and sexuality can also be seen in how various countries rated the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

Poverty and Worthiness

Rooted in our ideas of the American dream and meritocracy, we often judge poor people as deserving their fates.  We tend to blame the individuals, stigmatizing them as lazy and gluttonous, instead of looking to structural factors.  The poor are disproportionately young, female, and African American and Hispanic.

On The Daily Show in 2014, Jon Stewart examined Fox News’s coverage of food stamp recipients.  In “What Not to Buy,” “Where Would Jesus Soil,” and “Fox News Welfare Academy” Fox News is critiqued for debating what can and should be covered, as well as who receives food stamps.

More recently on Full Frontal, Samantha Bee similarly examined the expense and subsidizing of diapers.

Gendered Toys

Various studies in sociology, psychology, and economics have shown toys for children are becoming increasingly gendered.  The toys children play with can shape their development and future interests.  Other studies have shown children prefer to play with toys marked for their gender.

The television show The Weekly covered the topic of gendered toys. If you have a VPN you can watch the following clip; if not it can be found here.  Update: Rey will not be added.