June 30, 2010

How Marriage Proposals Became Negotiations

From Karmen:
I remember in high school the excitement of prom! Boys would craft up elaborate ways to ask a girl to be his date. Weeks leading up to the dance, there were BOLD signs of initiation across campus. It was during that week that I was reminded that chivalry was not dead.

Example: I still clearly remember walking to my friends locker after school to find a note along with a fish bowl complete with a fish saying: "I'm fishing for a date for prom and I want to hook you." Corny, yes, but we relished in these few accounts with the opposite sex where we were being wooed.

I always wondered what it was about prom that brought about mass participation in chivalry: the formal nature of prom, peer pressure from other guys...? Whatever it was, it always gave me hope, that when we all grew up and it was time to get married, men would again live up to the standards of chivalry and make elaborate plans to again woo a woman.

This morning an article was written about "the proposal." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303828304575180190077376292.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion This article, focuses on the loss of masculine initiation in proposals. The problems seems to be rooted in gender identity crisis. "The norm that the man has to take control of the proposal has been greatly undermined and eroded," says Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University. "Women want to feel they have more control of where a relationship is going instead of waiting to react."

Ladies and gentlemen, Let's hear it: What is going on and how can we reclaim a lost art: Chivalry!
from Karmen.
Thanks to http://www.ruthyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/with-this-ring-i-thee-wed.jpg for the graphic.

House Means Children

From Eric:
I enjoyed this article because it brought to light the assumptions that are made about marriage, age, and home ownership. The home is the ideal symbol for children. When we think of someone owning a home, we think of a white picket fence,marriage, children, and pets. Audrey Irvine, the home owner is in her 40's and has no children, her friends and family become more blunt about questions and pressure to have children. "Society does seem to put an enormous amount of pressure on women once they hit the later years of childbearing age. Assumptions are made that every personal decision is a reflection of your desire to have, or not have, children." Irvine says. When a woman or even a man buys a home people assume that they must have bought it because they are ready to have children, because why else would they buy a house? There is a lot of symbolic interaction in this article, the way our props set us up for certain roles and expectations we are supposed to play. It appears that we do not use our props but they use us. We feel like we have to live up to the meaning and symbols these objects apply. If we do not then we are under pressure from others.

thanks to http://otal.umd.edu/~vg/mssp96/ms06/rowe1.jpg for the image

The Importance of Fleeting Relationships

From Mindy:
In "Together Alone: Personal Relationships in Public Places," the sociologists Calvin Morrill and David Snow of the University of California, Irvine, along with Cindy White, a professor of communication at the University of Colorado study the concept of fleeting relationships. The book argues that individuals should make efforts to connect with others in public places, like sports games, grocery stores, and so forth. This book argues that these “fleeting relationships” do hold an emotional connection to the other individual. This argument was based on evidence from strip clubs and the male costumers. Those with anchored relationships, which are relationships linked to a specific location that give more value to individuals, like mutual fans at a baseball game.


by Mindy.
Thanks to http://www.treehugger.com/two-people-shopping-in-grocery-store.jpg for the graphic.

The World of Online Dating

From Mindy:
This article discusses online dating, and how it has become the new norm. Sociologists for the eHarmoney site have design “algorithms” to determine personality types in order to match an individual with another. Many other sites use anthropologists and psychologists to help determine the best match for individuals. These websites help professors and specialists to use their theories out in the field. The website eHarmony is focused on research of heterosexual partners, so the basis of the algorithm is also based on that fact as well.

--from Mindy.
thanks to http://www.onlinedatinganxiety.com/eharmony-online-dating-service/ for the graphic

June 28, 2010

Why did i get married???


Sometimes this question comes to people's mind when the relationship gets rocky.. as to why did they get married. This brought me to the movie why did i get married because one of the ladies shelia had a husband who treated her bad and he didn't like the way she was...but later on in the movie she find out her husband is cheating on her with a good friend and she starts hanging out with this other man. In the movie she had a hard time understanding what love really was. Symbolic interactionism would say that Shelia had a hard time knowing love because she had been socialized that love can be something bad but you just flow with it instead of being happy. When this other man had come along he had shown Shelia that love is about performances and good social interactions.

"We're All Teen Moms" says Bristol


If back in the day..if someone's daughter had got pregnant at a young age people would try to ignore it and act like it didn't happen or try and push marriage quickly so people wouldn't find out it was out of wedlock but now a days teen pregnancy is more common. An article i read about Bristol Palin on Secret Life and she had talked about how we're all teen moms caught my eye especially since a lot of people i know aren't teen moms. The structural functionlism would describe bristol palin's idea that were all teen moms as a dysfunctional thing to soceity because it doesn't seek it's order. Societies order consist of marriage and then kids. When you get married to someone it shows your stability to one another. I think by her statement that we're all teen mother's it shows that it is okay for teen pregnacy and that all single teen mother's should stay together.

Saudi Gay Scene: "Forbidden, but I Can't Help It"

This article, which discussed the private gay lives of Saudi men and the violence and hate that they face, seemed to represent Structural Functionalist. It spoke of how being gay as a muslim was 'forbidden' and how one man, "prays to God to help me be straight..." He discusses how is only real 'freedom' comes from long vacations to places that have more accepting cultures of gay men and women, and how if anyone at home were ever to find out everything would fall apart and "his mom would kill herself if she found out..." This idea is very structural functionalist because by being gay he is violating his proper role as a man and society as he knows it will fall apart around him if he doesn't pretend to be straight. In Saudi the even go so far as to get married to a lesbian woman, because in this way they can fulfull their social role as a man, but there is an internal understanding between husband and wife that this is just a show. It is a very serious deal to be found gay, and there is even a religious police who can persecute and punish those who are suspected of being gay; one man was punished on the assumption that he was gay based on his tight jeans and shirt, no furthur proof was required.
Thanks to http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=7479150&page=1 for the graphic.

Abortion Ad: Educational or Racist?

While searching the web for the latest world news, I came across a little videa on ABC about an anti abortion billboard that said: "Black and Unwanted? too many aborted .com"
This video struck me, but when I heard the spokeswoman behind the ad I almost choked. She went on to say that...'We believe that African Americans do not understand or realize the toll that abortion is taking on their people..." and that this ad was meant to be educational to them. This was a clear example of Critical Power Conflict Theory because the spokeswoman (who was white) was representing a company that felt that they were more educated and therefore superior to the African American women whom they were targeting. It seems that people are so drenched in institutionalized racism sometimes that they can't even see their own evil acts, but instead view them as a helpful tool for those who are...'less inteligent'.
Thanks to http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2010/02/16/alg_billboard_endangered-species.jpg for the graphic.


From Martika:

This article is about how if women who work and have a higher education in their marriage are more likely to get a divorce. Sociologically looking at this from the conflict perspective it seems that this would be an issue because for years women were expected to stay at home and raise a family, while men got to make all of the financial decisions. At one point one paycheck was expected to take care of a family of four and today currently there are more households where two incomes barely take care of a family. Now this is an issue that the patriarchal society has because women’s main focus isn’t just on the household so they are becoming more financially equal and educationally equal to their counterparts even though statistcs show that women have yet to be paid the same as men they are gradually making more money as women.
From Martika

(In)Justice of the Peace

From Martika:


There is the article that relates to this class. I thought of this because of the movie Mr and Ms. Loving where it was illegal for the couple to get married because he was white and she was black. This article is about a justice of peace who is denying interracial couples marriage licenses. He says that he won’t marry them because he thinks that the children won’t be accepted and he won’t be a part of putting them through that. At some point he had to have been socialized to believe that. He also had to be socialized to believe that this type of thinking isn’t racist. He chooses not to marry couple that isn’t of the same race because he wants to treat the couples “equally”. Since he is a justice of peace he is in a place of authority over these couples so he exercised his ability even though it’s illegal, because of the Loving vs. Virginia case that was represented in this movie, and decides whether or not these couples can get married. Without the marriage license they can’t get married unless they go somewhere else, but that is an inconvenience for them. How they feel would be private troubles and the inconvenience would be a private trouble, but the issue stems from the history of racism in America and this inequality between different racial groups.

In one of the class discussions we talked about costs of romantic love for college women. This article had multiple reasons why it isn’t valid. One of the main things that I noticed about this article is the age group that she interviewed since they are first year college student they are young and they most likely are highly influence by the social norms that are acceptable in the high school setting.


June 26, 2010

Kellie Pickler and Symbolic Interactionism


After reading this article, a few things really stuck out to me. The “meticulously planned proposal” is a sign of giving into societal norms and pressures and into patriarchy. Also symbolic interactionists would see the planned proposal as Jacobs fulfilling his role as male and boyfriend/fiancĂ© by proposing. They would also see the blanket, champagne, candles, beach and sunset as symbols of love or romance. Despite that this is a famous country singer and her songwriter boyfriend, I see this is a an average wedding proposal that fits all the ‘necessary qualities’ todays society expects from a proposal.


June 24, 2010

A.J. Jacobs on Marriage

For those of you who haven't heard of A.J. Jacobs, he's a writer who has made a living on writing articles for Esquire as well as turning his life into an experiment. For example: he spent a year "living biblically" (dressing, eating, living like they did in the Bible) for a novel. In his most recent book "The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment," Jacobs set out doing small experiments for a month at a time over the course of a year. The final experiment was project "Ideal Husband aka Whipped" where he did everything his wife asked for a month.

He makes references to how there is no history of a matriarchal society and "wifely obedience was pretty much synonymous with marriage." He quotes Confucius saying a wife is "one who submits to another" and Stephanie Coontz who wrote: "Romans opposed gay marriage not because of homosexuality, which they had no problem with, but because 'no real man would ever agree to play the subordinate role demanded of a Roman wife.'" And while these statements are interesting and relate to readings from class, the statement I found most indicative of symbolic interactionism is:

"...behavior shapes your thoughts. My brain sees me giving a gift to Julie. My brain concludes I must really love her. I love her all the more. Which means I'm happier in my relationship, if a bit poorer."

Jacobs reaches this conclusion after his wife has requested him to bring her gifts daily. She had specifically asked for flowers initially, but changed it to "gifts of any kind will do." This shows how we have been socialized to believe that gifts are symbols of love. Julie thought her husband needed to prove his love by purchasing something. A.J. not only believes these gifts are symbols of his love, but he percieves the excitement over gift-giving to be their source of happiness.

Thanks to chickspeak.com for the image.

June 22, 2010

Lady Gaga

I found the photo of Lady Gaga on the cover of Rolling Stones funny as well as confusing. She is wearing almost nothing, what catches the eye is the pair of machine guns she is wearing on her bra and the pair of large shoes. The photo is confusing because it is very feminine but the machine guns are masculine. The two ideas are colliding creating cognitive dissonance for the viewer. Looking at the photo from a symbolic interactionist perspective, she is confusing the audience because she is combining gender roles and symbols. However Lady Gaga says, "I want them to focus on the fantasy of the music." By defining her music and her performance as fantasy it makes the conflicting symbols palatable for the public, becasuse they are only seen as mere "fantasy."

It is fascinating how defining something sets our minds at ease. I found myself trying to analyze the photo, trying to put together all of the content to come to a meaningful conclusion. As soon as she called it fantasy I understood the the reason why it is strange, fantasy is just strange. We are taught as a society to create projections according to the lens of a definition.


thanks to Rolling Stone for the image http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/21/lady-gaga-its-about-the-fantasy-of-the-music/

June 17, 2010


While reading Jonathan Franzen's "The Discomfort Zone," some of his statements reminded me of readings and discussions from class. In one chapter he is discussing his marriage. His brother had suggested that they live together before getting married, but Jonathan's reply to his brother (as recounted in "The Discomfort Zone") was:

"a subjective phenomenon (e.g., romantic love) did not become, properly speaking, "real" until it took its place in an objective structure, and that it was therefore important that the individual and the civic be synthesized in a ceremony of commitment."

Jonathan believed that he had to get married to prove that their love was "real." There had to be a "ceremony of commitment" to tie him and his wife together in society, which I'm guessing is what he meant by "the individual and the civic." After six years of living together he and his wife found it unbearable, but not as repulsive as the idea of divorce. In a later portion of the chapter he goes into long explanations about his ideas on divorce, but it boils down to he had been socialized to believe that marriage was forever and divorce was for those who didn't try hard enough to make their commitment last.

I found this interesting because of all the reading we've been doing about the symbols of marriage, such as the ring, and the rules of engagement. These ideas were so engrained in Jonathan Franzen that he thought he was a failure because he did everything "by the rules" but his life/marriage didn't fit the norm.

thanks to http://hadassahsabo.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/divorce.jpg for the image.

June 16, 2010


Here is an interesting piece for us to consider! The research seems to originally be psychological/biological, but the findings certainly are sociological! How interesting to consider that our witnessing others' successful mate selection can influence our own mating patterns. http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/16/mate-choice-influenced-by-others/ I recall several times in my life when a friend got married, engaged, or fell in love, and the next time I looked around, several OTHER friends had also gotten married, engaged, or fallen in love! I have referred to this as "love fever", thinking that it was somehow contagious ;) With this article, I now understand that others have witnessed this phenomenon and that it's scientifically based!
Thanks to http://reginanuzzo.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/43747756.jpg for the graphic.

June 12, 2010

Saturday night loser club

Has anyone else heard this term before? I am sitting here at my computer typing an ethics paper due next week and I recall hearing this phrase. It is expected by both friends and family that we find someone that we can grow old with and the pressure to "get out there" and look is a top priority. In our culture today it is understood that it takes multiple experiences in order to find this person. Symbolic interactionism is the only way we will understand our role in the quest to be happy. Finding love is not an agreement, we need to put ourselves in the roles that we believe will attract that significant other. For those that have met the standard the stage has changed but the roles remain. Through time botched performances become common but are corrected through other symbols culture has embedded in us. The other two sociological paradigms are the results of the show we put on.
Thanks to http://www.sodahead.com/fun/are-you-a-loser-for-being-on-sodahead-on-a-friday-or-saturday-night/question-404989/?link=ibaf&imgurl=http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000404989/polls_loser_2641_6328_poll_xlarge.jpeg&q=Saturday%2BNight%2BLoser for the loser image.

June 10, 2010


As our countries lawmakers assemble to argue and possibly repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy of gays openly serving in the armed services; sociology majors around the country are biting at the bit while waiting for the decision. The social paradigms are plentiful as both sides argue for and against their take on the policy. The issue that should concern us is the pluralistic democracy that our country operates on. The majority rules and congressman wanting their constituents vote for the next elections may outweigh the responsibility to uphold the ideal of “all men are created equal”. This could of course further slow progress and allow the more powerful groups voice to quiet those who are most affected by the decision.
The most closely studied part of this decision will include the symbolic interaction theory. As gays are allowed to openly serve in the military, the performances of heterosexuals will be put on center stage. Regulations will need to be upheld despite the conservative ideals that much of the armed services are built around. As always the institution of the military will continue to function appropriately but under closer scrutiny of civilians. If the script is edited and the policy is repealed how will the structural functionalists on the civilian side adjust their broad consensus of values? Will there be any change other than words on a piece of paper?
Thanks to http://the44diaries.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/dont-ask.jpg for the graphic.

June 7, 2010


If you ever had any doubts that capitalism and romantic love are linked, check out this article about Alanis Morissette's recent marriage: http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/celebrity.news.gossip/06/07/alanis.morissette.married.ppl/index.html?iref=mpstoryview
Notice the first sentence? The one announcing that with her marriage, she is "off the market"? In other words, she has been purchased. Hopeful buyers, give up. Which of the three sociological paradigms would best analyze the discursive link between markets and marriage? Between capitalism and romantic love?

What's in a word?

Sociologists would answer the question posed in the title with this answer: EVERYTHING! Words may just be words to others, but sociologists earn their living analyzing what certain words mean in certain social and historical contexts. Consider the word "dispute." Synonyms for dispute include: argument, controversy, contention, rumpus. Quarrel, bickering, miff, squabble, tiff, wrangle. All words that mean something about discord, about disagreement, but of a rather mild sort. Small children quarrel over who gets to sit next to the window. Long married people squabble over who left dirty socks on the floor again. Close friends get in a tiff when one of them criticizes the other's new hairstyle. Adults engage in controversy over politics. Neighbors get in a dispute over the new fence that may be just a tad over the property line. Sure, there is conflict inplied in the word "dispute", but it's comparably mild and not necessarily violent. Maybe children will tussle in their quarrel, and friends may hang up on each other in a huff. Perhaps neighbors will take each other to court to settle a property line dispute, or adults may raise their voices in a passionate discussion about politics, but ordinarily, no one would expect anyone to pull out a knife or a bomb or a gun to settle a dispute.

Until we insert the word "domestic" in front of dispute.

Under most state laws, "domestic dispute" is simply a quarrel between family members or people who live in the same household. Domestic means household, and in the US, we generally interpret domestic as meaning something about family and the private household.

Read this article about a man who killed four women, wounded three others, and then killed himself: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/06/07/florida.shooting/index.html?hpt=T2
Note that the police explained the violence as resulting from "some sort of domestic dispute." Critical power conflict theorists would analyze the use of this term as a deliberate ploy to minimize and trivialize the murders. You will recall that critical power conflict theorists interpret social phenomenon like this as evidence that certain groups in society organize to maintain their power over other groups. Feminist conflict theorists understand patriarchy as a social system designed to maintain masculine power over women, children, and less-masculine men. One of the best ways to maintain power is to use violence or the threat of violence against other groups. Recall also that critical power conflict theorists believe that dominant groups invent ideologies that explain and justify their dominance over others. Use of a trivializing and minimizing phrase to explain the mass shooting--"some sort of domestic dispute"--neatly explains and justifies the man's actions as "merely" being a domestic dispute gone bad. Where feminist conflict theorists would claim that the act is an example of gender terrorism, members of the dominant patriarchal group would claim that this is just a sad end to a household quarrel. You have probably also seen dominant group members claim that victims of violence "probably deserved it". "What did she expect?" they might say. "Why didn't she leave him earlier?" is another question commonly posed to victims of gender terrorism.

I have discussed the article, especially the use of the term "domestic dispute", using critical power conflict theory. How could the murders or other aspects of the incident be analyzed using symbolic interactionism? Or structural functionalism? I can think of lots of ways--but it's your turn to step on the soapbox now!
photo above from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/07/gerardo-regalado-miami-gu_n_603061.html

June 4, 2010

Is this where I respond to the survey? This is not my first SOC Class - it may be my 2nd or 3rd.