April 21, 2014

Alcohol and the Social Construction of Social Problems

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

What do we know about the problems associated with alcohol, and how do we know it?

For many people, the first thing that comes to mind is that alcohol is a mainly problem of teens and college students. How do we know this? For one, we are taught at early ages about the dangers of teen drinking. Many universities include alcohol safety awareness as part of orientation programs. And we frequently hear stories in the news about young people who drink and drive or otherwise cause problems while drinking. Researchers study the incidence of teen drinking, often funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies. Then the results of these studies are reported in the news, helping us focus on teens as problem drinkers.

Continue reading "Alcohol and the Social Construction of Social Problems" »

April 17, 2014

Social Media: Windows, Mirrors and Bubbles

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

If you are anything like me, you have engaged in a heated Facebook exchange once or twice. Recently I’ve had two interesting chats with old friends—one of whom I’ve lost touch with for over two decades who has political views on the complete other side of the spectrum than me. Rather than a reminder of how technology connects people from far afield, both exchanges reminded me of just how rare it is for me to bridge wide social distances. Where do you get to interact with people who are different from you?

We imagine a time when an open public square was where a community could find that exchange of ideas. As German sociologist Jürgen Habermas wrote, the public sphere is “a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed. Access is guaranteed to all citizens. A portion of the public sphere comes into being in every public conversation in which private individuals assemble to form a public body.” But we don’t have a social space like this today.

Continue reading "Social Media: Windows, Mirrors and Bubbles" »

April 08, 2014

Dispatch from a Professional Sociology Conference

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Oh, the anticipation of a professional meeting! As Im walking into to the airport to fly away to the conference, I think of all the times I have done this. I found sociology in 1981 and it quickly became my major. Its been twenty years since Ive been out of grad school and Ive been teaching full time--and going to conferences--ever since.

My first meeting was in the late 1980s in Las Vegas. That first meeting, I gave my first conference presentation. It was terrible. (My presentation, not the meeting.) I was terrified and practiced my talk over and over. Then when the time came to present my paper, I stayed seated and read my paper. By the end I was boring both myself and the audience. Many people were encouraging, supportive, patting me on the back, but, oh, it was so bad.

Continue reading "Dispatch from a Professional Sociology Conference " »

April 04, 2014

The State of the Dinner

Slika 10By Teja Pristavec

Sociology Graduate Student, Rutgers University

This February, President Obama sat down for dinner with his visiting French colleague, President François Hollande. In the company of the First Lady, other government officials, and some celebrities, the men enjoyed an appetizer of Illinois caviar, Pennsylvania quail eggs, and twelve varieties of American-grown potatoes. The main dish was a Colorado beef steak with mushrooms, Vermont cheese and salad, followed by a dessert of Hawaiian chocolate cake, Florida tangerines, and Pennsylvania vanilla ice-cream. Three types of wine accompanied the meal. Not just any types of wine: they were American wines made by French-born winemakers. Nothing in this meal was left to chance. But why was the encounter so carefully planned? Would it make a difference if, to celebrate the French-American friendship, the presidents raised a glass of Italian wine instead?

Continue reading "The State of the Dinner" »

April 01, 2014

Jewish? Buddhist? Atheist? All of the Above!

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

I was asked recently by a colleague what religion I follow, and I was not quite sure how to answer. I was raised in a secular Jewish household, and I never considered myself religious in the traditional sense of the word. Unlike my Jewish peers, my family did not belong to a temple or synagogue, I did not attend Hebrew school, and I did not have a bar mitzvah or learn to read from the Torah. Instead, I attended a small humanistic Sunday school that was run as a cooperative, I learned Yiddish and sang folk songs, and I had a modest graduation ceremony where I had to read an essay I wrote on a notable Jewish figure.  

In my late twenties, I became interested in the teachings of Buddhism. I took classes at Buddhist meditation centers, I read books and magazines about Buddhist texts and philosophies, and I started practicing meditation. Although I never took a formal Bodhisattva vow like some of my Buddhist friends, I still try to live my life around many of the central tenets of Buddhism, particularly Mahayana Buddhism.

Continue reading "Jewish? Buddhist? Atheist? All of the Above!" »

March 28, 2014

The Dark Side of Seeing Only the Bright Side

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

As a self-starter, I like self-help books, and have read or listened to number of audio books in the genre. I have listened to many books on discovering one’s passions and creativity, on personal finance, relationships, career building, and those promoting emotional well-being. I can truly say that I have learned a lot from them, and they have taught me how to understand myself and others better.

But even while listening, on occasion I am reminded of the limits of self-help books. For instance, many personal finance books suggest that readers control their spending—stop buying that daily latte, and eventually you will have a million dollars. Well, I don’t drink coffee, and I’m sure there are many people who cannot save or invest for a million dollars even if they don’t either. As a college professor, I am in the economic group that would likely benefit more from this kind of financial advice, say, compared with a low-wage worker who struggles to pay bills each month. Advising someone in these circumstances to skimp on coffee is not going to help them.

Continue reading "The Dark Side of Seeing Only the Bright Side" »

March 24, 2014

Sincerely Held Beliefs, the Law, and Non Believers

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

Recent news on religion reminds me of one of my favorite non-fiction books, The Year of Living Biblically. Author A.J. Jacobs does his best to abide by the rules of the Bible to see just how hard it is to hold sincerely held religious beliefs in everyday contemporary life.

I think of Jacobs’ personal journey in regards to the wave of “religious freedom” laws that have been proposed in several different states. These laws use the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act to make the case that parts of the Affordable Care Act (e.g., providing birth control coverage) and servicing customers with different values and identities (e.g., particularly gays and lesbians) substantially burdens the free exercise of religion for business owners who have strong, sincerely held beliefs.

Continue reading "Sincerely Held Beliefs, the Law, and Non Believers" »

Become a Fan

The Society Pages Community Blogs

Interested in Submitting a Guest Post?

If you're a sociology instructor or student and would like us to consider your guest post for everydaysociologyblog.com please .

Norton Sociology Books

You May Ask Yourself

Learn More

Essentials of Sociology

Learn More

The Real World

Learn More

Social Problems

Learn More

The Contexts Reader

Learn More