Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lacy's "Black Middle-Class Suburbia"

We believe that we have made many advances in sociological manners, but racism still exists. In the article, Karyn Lacy discusses how middle-class blacks think about their integration into the American mainstream and shows how they feel about themselves.

According to Lacy, “Middle-class blacks' willingness to assimilate into the American mainstream is tempered by their belief that racial discrimination has not waned.” (Adler 216) As this quote shows, these days, they live in a stable environment economically and socially, but they still feel as they need something more and not enough to fit in their class.

In the article, the people who were interviewed had a hard time about black colleges and white colleges. They want their daughter to go to a white college regardless of what their daughter interest in or which college convenient for her while she wants to attend black college. They believe that attending white college would be helpful to experience the “real world”. They believe that it will make them to assimilate into white American mainstream and it will lead them to better life. At this point, I wonder why they believe the real world exists in white American culture not in their own world. I believe that if they don’t consider themselves as American mainstream, racial discrimination will continue forever.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are Human Beings Free?

According to an article “Are Human Beings Free” by Charon, freedom is the ability to control one’s life. He points out that true freedom is that individual is active, self-directed, and chooses their own direction. He says "If something or someone controls the actor, then the actor does not control himself or herself. If it is family, society, unconsciousness, emotions, impulse, habit, social, class, culture, neighborhood, government, the world marketplace, heredity, or a myriad of other factors that cause what we do or think, cause us to not adequately understand our situation, or severely limit our choices, then freedom is not real (96)."

Nowadays, we have right to vote and can choose clothes which we want to wear, but it doesn’t mean we are totally free. In other word, we believe that we have freedom of choice, but society forces us to do something in certain ways; have to work to maintain our life, have an education to get a good job, wear and act in certain way in certain place, keep the laws and rules, etc.

This article reminds me of the conception of the freedom. The freedom can be explained as free in thought and in action. From this point of view, I think the way the upper class institutions function to keep those at the top in their place and other out is difficult to change. Charon explains that society influences both the way we think and act. High social positions give people the ability to influence how others think.  Charon states, “The upper class teaches people that what is has it deserves and worked hard for.” (111)  “The poor often become conservative in society, even though they have little to gain from the way society is. Because it is not the poor who control advertising and educational or political institutions, it is not their ideas that are taught in society, so they, like everyone else, become influenced by the ideas of those who do control these avenues off influence.” (111). The upper class are in the best position to create the ideas that others will come to believe.

It means that our thinking and acting are controlled by outside forces such as social value, belief, structure, and social position, so it is difficult to say that there is a real freedom in society.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why are People Unequal in Society?

“Why are People Unequal in Society” by Joel Charon focuses on the inequalities in society. Inequality exists anywhere we go. Charon says that inequality emerges in some form or another every time people encounter one another. Inequality in terms of power, privilege, and prestige result from division of labor, social conflict, and ownership of private property.

We can see inequality exist in our social life (race, gender, class etc.).  According to Charon, “ inequality is probably inevitable.” (90)  Everyone should be treated equally and fairly in terms of opportunity. But as we know, not everyone are in the same position. I don’t think that inequality is unfair. I believe that this inequality is necessary in our society. Because individuals are different and have diverse positions and desire, people will be same without the inequality. In other words, inequalities differentiate us from one another.

 From this article, I learned that culture is a major force that leads the inequality to be maintained. Also, according to this article, over time, culture influences people to accept a system of inequality as natural” (Charon 83). That is, individuals accept inequality as natural by the system they were born into, and not by their opinions. Thus, unless the system of belief is changed first, nothing is ever going to change about. In other words, once a system of inequality is established, it is difficult to change. Because individual’s lack of advantages or disadvantaged status pass down to their children, people are born into or enter into a system of social inequality. Also, the structure is protected and maintained by people who have power politically and economically.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Code of the Street in Rap Music

The article, “Gangstas, Thugs, and Hustlas: The Code of the Street in Rap Music" by Charis E. Kubrin, was very interesting and impressive. Especially, I surprised that even though we are living in the highly developed era technologically and socially, not all people still are getting protection under the law equally. From reading this article, I noticed that the black communities are at the center of this matter. "In other words, crimes of self-help are more likely where the law is less accessible, such as, for example, in poor minority communities where residents have relatively less legal protection. When called, the police may not respond, which is one reason many residents feel they must be prepared to defend themselves and their loved ones" (364).  Definitely violence is not a good thing, but, as this quote shows, I understand that it can be a means, which they learn from their surroundings in order to protect themselves. Also, according to this article, for them, violence is an expression in order to get respect and power. The evidence is here. "... guns have become symbols of respect, identity, and power in addition to having strategic survival value" (363).

Every musician writes music including the rap for different reasons. Some people write music that reflects what they see in their society, city or home. Others write about what they desire to see in their society. I believe that the gangsta rap is a voice to express both of those against their inequalities. From this point of view, I think the original purpose of the rap songs is to empower lower-income communities through its positive lyrics about struggling to survive and encouraging unity among the youth. But, as Kubrin stated, nowadays I think there are still negative effects unlike their intent. It can give wrong image and hopes and reinforces racial stereotypes to teens.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Milkie and Anderson

Humans are social and cultural beings. Human are controlled and control their behavior through the values created by society. In other word, every person is expected an appropriate social role. Gender is one of the examples. In "Varieties of Masculinity in Male Cheerleading," written by Eric Anderson, he says about a man’s masculinity who participates in cheerleading. When it comes to sports, in our society, while men have been associated with active and aggressive sports such as baseball, football, hockey and basketball, women have been associated with some sports such as belly dance cheerleading. For the most part, cheerleading is seen as a feminine sport that the women are eroticized.  However, this article shows that cheerleading is considering as a sport that women and men can participate and enjoy together. Every society and culture have different gender role. But the important thing is that the gender role is changing and the role’s line between men and women is becoming increasingly blurred as the article shows.

In Melissa Milkie's "The Impact of Pervasive Beauty Images on Black and White Girls’ Self-concepts," she is dealing with an issue that has been on every woman's minds. People usually say that the “beauty” is very subjective matter, but they are influenced by other external elements like media. “One reason why people are critical of media is that the media distort reality and reflect groups in distorted ways.”(124)  As this quote shows, today the media is creating particular beauty images which women should be thin and glamorous as well. I believe that the standard of the beauty is very subjective, but also can be changed every culture and time. This is a good example which is influenced by society and culture.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapter1. "The Promise of Sociology" by C. Wright Mills

"The Promise of Sociology" by C. Wright Mills is very interesting and informative. In his article, Mills defines “sociological imagination” as the ability to see things socially, and shows how they interact and affect each other. "Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understand without understanding both." (11).  As this quote shows, Mills believes that the individual cannot understand themselves as individuals, also they can’t understand their role in society without this understanding.  Moreover, it is required to understand the society in individual perspectives.

The difference between trouble and issue is how they connect to ideas from individual or society.  Mills believes in the power of the sociological imagination the personal troubles can be connected to public issues. The public issues can also determine personal trouble, also personal trouble can affect public issue. In other word, our individual problems can influence the society. As an example, let’s assume a person become unemployed because of an inner problem in his company. From his view, he just loses his job. But, when these unemployed people increase because of the same problem as a whole, this lead unemployment rate to increase which is public issue. From this article, it makes me think that understanding the sociological imagination is helpful to understand the interaction between individual and society and to control better one’s life.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Class in America

The article “Class in America: Shadowy Lines That Still Divide” deals with interesting facts.  Also, some of the statistics are very informative.  For example, the article says, “only 37 members of last year's Forbes 400, a list of the richest Americans, inherited their wealth, down from almost 200 in the mid-1980's.” As the author says, the mobility to other class is the heart of the American dream, but it seems to have “stagnated.” It means, unlike the past, it’s difficult to measure one’s social class seemingly, but the class is still a powerful force in American life.
 I surprised that many Americans believe that they have moved up to higher class from their original class. According to the Times poll, 45 percent of respondents said they were in a higher class than when they grew up. Especially, even though they are not rich now, they are contenting because they are middle class. Also they believe that their son is better off than they are.

I agree that there are poor and rich in the United States… but as long as one can become the other, as long as there is something close to equality of opportunity, the differences between them do not add up to class barriers.”  The components of class affect one’s opportunities to success. For example, children from the upper class family have a better and more chance of having time to focus on their study, getting in depth quality education, and entering good college than children from lower class family thanks to their financial status. As individuals in the low class have a fewer opportunities of success than someone in upper class, the social class can work as a barrier someone to move to other class.  However, I believe that there are still possibilities to overcome if they persevere in one's efforts.

Finally, I’d like to know more about how many people move to higher class from their original class and how they accomplish their American Dream.