It's all about perspective

Posts tagged ‘sociology’

Weak Ties

Ok, so I’m roaming around on the internet doing research for another blog post I’m working on, when I run into the Weak Tie Hypothesis. It argues that, in any social group consisting of persons A, B, C, etc, if A and B are strongly connected and A and C are strongly connected, then B and C are also linked. To extend this further, we could say that B learns of a job opening in a neighboring firm, which he tells to A, who tells to C and gets the job she never would have known about without B. Social groups are in debt to these weak links for keeping the groups up-to-date on things going on outside the group or keeping them connected to other groups.

Network of Social ties

Graphic borrowed from Project Management 2.0

So I have two questions:

  1. Since we can label and differentiate these weak links from strong links, can we then determine their level of influence?
  2. Assuming the answer to the above is “yes,” can we then take that micro-level (individual-level) hypothesis and apply it to macro-level (group-level) research?

This stuff is fascinating. As a symbolic interactionist who is working on the connection between micro and macro level research, a system that can be used to measure not only the influence of individuals on other individuals, but one that could measure the influence of systems on those same individuals would be a great tool.

What if we could accurately measure, by means of these weak ties, a group’s influence on society? Then it wouldn’t be a matter of changing the minds of the people in the group, but changing the minds of their weak ties that would cause their downfall. Since weak ties bring new ideas, keep groups relevant, and sometimes bring in new members, removing access to these weak ties could utterly destroy groups within a very short time. Furthermore, could we measure exactly how many weak ties an idea needs in order to become a movement, or to make a video go viral, or to create social change? Goddamn.

I’m probably lending more to this than should be, but if any of the previous is possible, look out. I need a mathematician. Or I need to take more math classes… Either way I need to get in to grad school…

Tim Wise: Imagine if the Tea Party was Black

Tim Wise: Imagine if the Tea Party was Black.

I’ll let Tim say his peace. He is a much better man that I.

Similarity is not Equality

It’s Roller Derby time boys and girls. Yet while I waited patiently for that 7pm whistle last sunday which started the rekindled sport my mind wanders to thoughts of gender equality. I know, boring, but hear me out. I’ve been noticing an upswing in articles related to the oppression of men and this all-women sport has rekindled my interest in the subject. Now before you go off laughing about how its impossible for men to be the subject of oppression based on their gender, I would have you stop and think about this for a moment.

I am, due to my own history with the state and childcare, an unflinching supporter of Father’s rights. In this instance I am absolutely convinced there is a biased view of parenting in this country which favors the mother. Does this happen all the time? Not hardly. Does it happen enough that it should be investigated? I say a resounding “yes.” While going through the custody process myself I encountered several avenues of assistance that were available to the mother, that were not available to me, which were based solely on her gender. Furthermore, the prevailing child development model at the time was one that claimed children were developmentally disadvantaged when separated from their mothers. This standard was absolutely biased against fathers and thankfully is beginning to change.

In part, I believe it is changing because of the drastic difference in education based on gender. Last year I read several articles and blog posts about how the current model of education; one that many believe is detrimental to boys’ learning, is not being studied on that basis of gender [1]. In my own recent attempts to join the K-12 teaching ranks, I have found a great emphasis on race and class, but no one is talking about gender. For this reason alone I feel there should be an open discourse about it.

Now, it appears this may actually happen. (more…)

White Backlash

Take a glance over to the right of this blog to the Blogroll widget. You’ll see a link to The Color Line. It’s a blog ran by Contexts, which is the online home of the magazine of the same name. It is a quarterly magazine dedicated to the exploration of sociological topics made relevant to the non-sociologist. (e.g. a haven for making sociology more public)

The Color Line’s most recent post is concerning White Backlash. The feeling that, as a group, whites are becoming increasingly threatened and destabilized by developments in political power, globalization, and shrinking of white population.

It is a great article that touches on many of the topics I’ve covered in the past about race. It also touches on how each of the above influences have combined to create a very white group of very angry people. I’ve been wanting to study the Tea Party group for the very reasons the article brings up. As I have seen no evidence of how these people are anything less than a more politically-correct version of the KKK. However, that has been my experience with the news and we all know how accurate and unbiased the news is.

Also, I’ve started to restructure the site a bit, in preparing to move to my own domain social-context.org. (To the three random people who check out my little spot on the web every week, look for it soon.) I’m moving definitions to their own page, Social Dictionary, rather than as a subset of the FAQ.

A Montague’s Woe

I am currently sitting at the Mudd Lounge drinking a Bogtrotter (a delectable combination of Guinness and espresso) and doing my homework. Reading through my sociological theory book on the chapter regarding Max Weber. I decided to take a break to start work on actually writing down my responses to the questions assigned me for the class and found that I have wireless connectivity here, woohoo!

I’ve been thinking about something in the back of my head ever since I got here over an hour ago; how in the hell can I get any meaningful studying done in a place such as this? Oddly enough though, I find I actually study better in a loud and semi-crowded environment. This place is hopping right now too. There is a D.J. up by the door spinning some great groove tracks and there are friends talking, laughing, and generally enjoying themselves all over the place. Is it possible that I have an easier time studying about the underpinnings of sociological theory when in the social world? I am a student of society. I’ve decided to make it my career, my life’s work, what better reason could there be?

If any of my previous posts have been read you’ll know I’ve been in a funk since pretty much the beginning of February. But somehow when I sat down here in the corner where the black and white tri-fold wall decoration sits and began reading and watching everyone, my funk has slowly been ebbing, washed away or at least partially muted up by my work. Do I dare let my work consume me? Is the answer to some of my problems merely to give my heart and body over to the work that already consumes my soul? I want so much for the answer to leap out at me and say something, but I fear that is a pipe dream.

I love school and my studies, it is the one mistress I could never leave, and woe to the significant other that asks me to. Yet this funk, this streak of procrastination, this whatever it is has paralyzed me to an extent. I have been unable to keep up with my studies instead letting it sit for another day. Two weeks I have let work and readings pile up. Speaking of which, what the hell am I still doing here?

Consciousness

As a burgeoning sociologist, my colleagues and classmates are constantly talking about the differences that: separate us, bind us, keep us downtrodden, keep us uplifted, or just generally keep us. We have had a very limited opportunity to study these things with two tragedies: Hurricane Katrina and the California fires.

Reading through news stories, blog posts, and listening to news programs, it lifts my heart to know that the discussion is not focusing on one aspect of the problem. No one seems to be focusing purely on race, or class, or economic status, or education. It seems that the talks are on all of those subjects and several not listed. Unfortunately I am seeing a deadlock in the discussions.

It seems that since we, as a society, are unable to put one single perfect all encompassing label on the problem, we are leaving it, frustrated that the problem is too hard and multi-faceted to tackle. What is happening to the discussion? There are many of us out there who are blaming it on one single thing, yet these people and their arguments are quickly becoming passé to the grand majority of the country when confronted by other arguments who say it is something completely different.

This may seem like a very clear “duh” moment, but it has to be said. There is no single perfect label to place upon this mess that Katrina and the fires of California have opened our eyes to. The problem is systemic; meaning that it has integrated itself into every aspect of our lives, is perpetuated from several different angles of society, and has as many outcomes as it has reasons. (more…)

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