Category Archive 'Sociology'

19 Jul 2015

Another Oppressed Minority Coming Out, This Time From the Coffin

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Vampires face discrimination… or worse!

Katherine Timpf, in National Review, reports that sociologists have identified a new class of victims with a long history of oppression and discrimination based upon societal intolerance grounded in traditional religious beliefs.

Sociology researchers are now insisting that we as a society start accepting people who choose to “identify as real vampires” — so that they can be open about the fact that they’re vampires without having to worry about facing discrimination from people who might think that that’s weird.

The study, titled “Do We Always Practice What We Preach? Real Vampires’ Fears of Coming out of the Coffin to Social Workers and Helping Professionals” was conducted by researchers from Idaho State University and College of the Canyons and the Center for Positive Sexuality in Los Angeles.

“Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this,” said Dr. D. J. Williams, the study’s lead researcher and the director of sociology at Idaho State.

The study is based on the experiences of eleven “real” vampires — which, by the way, are different from “lifestyle vampires.”

“Lifestylers,” the study explains, are people who just do things like wear fangs and sleep in coffins as lifestyle choices, and although “real vampires” may do these things too, they all also have one major thing in common that distinguishes them from the “lifestylers:”

“The essential feature of real vampirism is their belief in the need to take in ‘subtle energy’ (called feeding) from time to time from a willing ‘donor’ in order to maintain physical, psychological and spiritual health,” the study explains.

“Unlike lifestyle vampires, real vampires believe that they do not choose their vampiric condition; they are born with it, somewhat akin to sexual orientation,” it continues.

Read the whole thing.

12 Oct 2014

Hipster Economics

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Comment by “Robert” on The Peril of Hipster Economics

Hipster economics are standard economics because hipsters are everything the US economy has ever wished for in one convenient package. It’s a group consisting largely of young, upper-middle class people with very little conviction, who will spend large amounts of money to maintain their own comfort and the appearance of diversity and rebellion. They are activists as long as it’s easy, poor as long as it doesn’t involve dirt or hunger, and selfless as long as they don’t stand to lose anything. They represent the sanitizing of national issues so that they can be discussed without being addressed. And all you have to do to control them is use some reverse psychology. They’re not rebels, they’re not even malicious, because they’re not anything except a bunch of kids playing pretend. They’ll eventually grow up and become bankers, lawyers and politicians, just like their parents…

07 Aug 2014

Crooked Ladder Now Too Slippery To Climb, Laments New Yorker

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Malcolm Gladwell, in the New Yorker, looks a number of studies suggesting that crime used to be a viable path to social mobility. Modern intensity of policing and the absence of corruption, studies suggest, leave poor African American hoodlums today no “blind eye” under which they can prosper and become rich and respectable as their predecessors did.

Six decades ago, Robert K. Merton argued that there was a series of ways in which Americans responded to the extraordinary cultural emphasis that their society placed on getting ahead. The most common was “conformity”: accept the social goal (the American dream) and also accept the means by which it should be pursued (work hard and obey the law). The second strategy was “ritualism”: accept the means (work hard and obey the law) but reject the goal. That’s the approach of the Quakers or the Amish or of any other religious group that substitutes its own moral agenda for that of the broader society. There was also “retreatism” and “rebellion”—rejecting both the goal and the means. It was the fourth adaptation, however, that Merton found most interesting: “innovation.” Many Americans—particularly those at the bottom of the heap—believed passionately in the promise of the American dream. They didn’t want to bury themselves in ritualism or retreatism. But they couldn’t conform: the kinds of institutions that would reward hard work and promote advancement were closed to them. So what did they do? They innovated: they found alternative ways of pursuing the American dream. They climbed the crooked ladder.

All three of the great waves of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century European immigrants to America innovated. Irish gangsters dominated organized crime in the urban Northeast in the mid to late nineteenth century, followed by the Jewish gangsters—Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein, and Dutch Schultz, among others. Then it was the Italians’ turn. They were among the poorest and the least skilled of the immigrants of that era. Crime was one of the few options available for advancement. The point of the crooked-ladder argument and “A Family Business” was that criminal activity, under those circumstances, was not rebellion; it wasn’t a rejection of legitimate society. It was an attempt to join in. …

[The most important thing] is not the cultural difference between being an Italian thug in the early part of the twentieth century and being an African-American thug today. It’s the role of law enforcement in each era. … Until the nineteen-seventies, outstanding warrants in the city of Philadelphia were handled by a two-man team, who would sit in an office during the evening hours and make telephone calls to the homes of people on their list. Anyone stopped by the police could show a fake I.D. Today, there are computers and sometimes even fingerprint machines in squad cars. Between 1960 and 2000, the ratio of police officers to Philadelphia residents rose by almost seventy per cent.

In the previous era, according to Goffman, the police “turned a fairly blind eye” to prostitution, drug dealing, and gambling in poor black neighborhoods. But in the late nineteen-eighties, she writes, “corruption seems to have been largely eliminated as a general practice, at least in the sense of people working at the lower levels of the drug trade paying the police to leave them in peace.”

[Old-time Italian gangsters], of course, routinely paid the police to leave them in peace, as did the other crime families of their day. They got the benefit of law enforcement’s “blind eye.” …

The Federal Witness Protection Program did not yet exist; federal wiretaps weren’t admissible in court. Only the F.B.I. was properly equipped to tackle organized crime, and under J. Edgar Hoover the bureau saw targeting Communism and political subversion as its primary mandate. “As late as 1959, the FBI’s New York field office had only 10 agents assigned to organized crime compared to over one hundred and forty agents pursuing a dwindling population of Communists,” the attorney C. Alexander Hortis writes, in “The Mob and the City.” In the unlikely event that a mobster was arrested, Hortis points out, he could expect to walk. Between 1960 and 1970, forty-four per cent of indictments of organized-crime figures in courts around New York City were dismissed before trial. In that same ten-year period, five hundred and thirty-six mobsters were arrested on felony charges, but only thirty-seven ended up in prison. …

That’s why the crooked ladder worked as well as it did. The granddaughter could end up riding horses because the law—whether from indifference, incompetence, or corruption—left her gangster grandfather alone.

The idea that, in the course of a few generations, the gangster can give way to an equestrian is perhaps the hardest part of the innovation argument to accept. We have become convinced of the opposite trajectory: the benign low-level drug dealer becomes the malignant distributor and then the brutal drug lord. The blanket policing imposed on 6th Street is justified by the idea that, left unchecked, [low-level criminals] will get worse. Their delinquency will metastasize… [C]rooked-ladder theorists looked at the Mafia’s evolution during the course of the twentieth century, however, and reached the opposite conclusion: that, over time, the criminal vocation was inevitably domesticated.

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