Sunday, January 29, 2012

btw, just WHO IS Saul Alinsky?

Thanks to the currrent Republican primaries, and particularly Newt Gingrich, the name of a man who has been dead for over 40 years is re-entering national discussion (see YouTube clip and Real Time with Bill Maher). While the intent seems to be to malign Obama through such association, inspection of Saul Alinsky's biography, as in this Christian Science Monitor piece, suggests that this tactic may not gain traction among voters.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

racist code-speak

In this Sociological Images post, Jason Eastman provides an example of Bonilla-Silva's contention that overt racist speech is no longer socially acceptable in public discourse, and therefore racist ideas are now generally expressed in coded terms.  In this segment from John Stewart's Daily Show, guest Larry Wilmore uses a mashup of Newt Gingrich public pronouncements about the poor and poverty to suggest that they are indeed racially targeted.

An abbreviated version is cross-posted at The Sociological Cinema.

Friday, January 27, 2012

the declining significance of "class"

With exception of the term middle class, television newscasters largely fail to employ the word class, according to a recent content analysis by Jay Livingston in the Montclair SocioBlog. While approximately as many Americans self-identify as working class as middle class, they are mentioned far less often, and virtually devoid from public conversation are stories using terms to describe the extremes: upper class and lower class.  Rather than class, discussion is now framed in the news in terms of income levels. Livingston implies that this failure to recognize classes other than the middle class is consistent with the desire to avoid the specter of class conflict.    

Cross-posted at Sociological Images.   

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the dragon children: what's behind the success of Chinese-Australian students

The Dragon Children is a rich-media project sponsored by the SBS that focuses on the generally high scholastic performance, as well as anxieties, of Chinese-Australian students. Topics include parenting ambitions and styles, children's reactions to parental pressures, programs in Australia attempting to train parents to temper their aspirations in order to make more well-rounded offspring, and comments by former Dragon Children, now adults. For arguments supporting the notion of American-style Dragon Children, see this excerpt from Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother; for a counter perspective, view Bending the Stereotypes of Chinese Parenting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

poverty and progress in the Mississippi delta

This BBC Altered States magazine article and video examine social change since the civil rights era in the delta region of Mississippi. Although terrorism and racial oppression in general are no longer blatant, economic conditions remain bleak as dwindling job opportunities and poverty characterize its black population.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

wheels of fortune: a vicious cycle in the used-car business

A Growing Empire: Buy Here Pay Here Dealers

In October, 2011, The Los Angeles Times ran a three-part series on the predatory used-car industry that recycles, over-priced, often shoddy vehicles within the poor community through a process characterized by high interest rates and repossession. While such operations have long been found in low-income areas, the industry now is being marketed nationally through such chains as J.D. Byrider, and is being financed by Wall Street investors. Be sure to see related interactive, Cash Car, that outlines this recycling process. Also, includes series of videos, detailing relevant topics such as Wall Street involvement.

A shout-out goes to Karen Sternheimer for bringing this site to my attention. See her incisive comments about this piece and problems with urban transportation in general at her Cars and Class.

America's pawn empire

Frugal Dad has created a detailed infographic on the pawnshop industry, the alternative bank for the cash-strapped and poor.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

the iEconomy

Yesterday's New York Times has an informative article on how Apple jobs came to leave the U.S. for Asia.   How U.S Lost Out on iPhone Work by Duhigg and Bradsher is slated as the first in the series, The iEconomy.

The second article in the series, In China, Human Costs are Built into an iPad, examines various health and safety issues surrounding the production of Apple products in China, including the extent to which Apple is aware of such problems and has taken corrective action.

A related NY Times piece features Dreamwork China, a new documentary giving voice to workers at Foxconn, the major Apple contractor in China.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

who makes your iStuff?

This recent This American Life segment looks at the workplace context in which Apple products, such as iPads, iPhones, and Macs, are made. Mike Daisey, storyteller extraordinaire, talks about his findings upon visiting China's biggest electronics manufacturer, Foxconn.