Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Culture

Making meaning of people making meaning.

The Cultural Life Of The Living Dead

Zombies have become an explosive cultural phenomena which producers, retailers, and governmental agencies utilize to target consumers. Sociologist Denise N. Cook argues that the zombie myth pervades cultural narratives because it helps people distance themselves from criticizing actual social problems yet at the same time the zombie analogy can help to highlight potential social problems. Read More

Framing Social Movements Through Documentary Films

Sociologist John A. Stover III highlights the significant impact documentary filmmakers can have on social movement agendas and frames via their production, distribution, and outreach strategies. New Day Films, a cooperative collective of social issue filmmakers, is spotlighted as particularly effective in promoting social change and justice. Read More

Django Unchained, Voyeurism Unleashed

In his latest shock-fest, director Quentin Tarantino cloaks a revenge fantasy in a redemptive slave story and leaves a bad taste in one sociologist's mouth. Read More

Queasy Questions About Media Effects

Increasingly violent media shows no signs of driving away audiences. Cynthia Chris explores the possibility of redemptive arcs as ripped-from-the-headlines stories play out on TV, but with happy endings, and, in the end, she still reaches for the remote. Read More

Reality Queens

How did queens rule come to rule reality television? Sociologist Joshua Gamson argues that the rise of segmented cable television, and of consumption-friendly subgenres, have invited style gurus, best-gay-friends, and queer worlds into the refracted spotlight. Read More

On the Wings of a Fantasy

Sociologist Timothy McGettigan argues that science is the most effective means ever invented to transform fantasies into reality. He discusses how DARPA stimulates scientific progress by challenging scientists to pursue fantasies, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in the 100 Year Starship project. Read More

Missing Romance

Sociologist Minjeong Kim asks why Asian American characters in the U.S. television shows and films are always in interracial relationships, and explores the implications of the absence of Asian American couplings on screen. Read More

American Sentimentalism and the Production of Global Citizens

"American Sentimentalism and the Production of Global Citizens" looks at recent trends in the globalization of U.S. higher education through the lens of sentimentalism to expose three dangers: the linking of a certain kind of productivity with global citizenship; the division of the world into global citizens and global subjects; and the illusion that awareness and enthusiasm are sufficient for social change. Social scientist Ron Krabill calls for international education policies that embrace radical reciprocity to overcome these dangers. Read More

What Would Jefferson Do?

Sociologist Andrea Press discusses the recent firing of President Teresa Sullivan, the first woman and first sociologist serving this role at the University of Virginia, by Helen Dragas, the first woman rector directing University of Virginia's Board of Visitors. She analyzes the role of gender in these events and also examines the importance of social media in relation to facilitating faculty governance. Read More

Small Town, Big Totem

States build colossal and quirky sculptures celebrating local culture and place identity. Colby King and Matthew Cazessus provide a deeper look into these shrinking communities and explain how these sculptures work to maintain a sense of community and reaffirm local place identity in the face of dramatic demographic changes and economic uncertainty. Read More