understanding people in their social worlds


Making meaning of people making meaning.

Fire in our Bellies, Fear in our Arts

The case of David Wojnarowicz’s video installation, A Fire in My Belly, shows how controversies in the art world can lead to surprising outcomes. From attention generation to the promotion of democratic discourse, controversy is not necessarily a wholly negative experience. Read More

All Media are Social

The terms “old media” and “social media” are distinctions that are commonly used but can cloud our understanding of the media’s sociability. The author argues that all media are social and explores the implications of such an understanding. Read More

E-books are for Reading Selling

E-books have grown to have a variety of meanings. The author describes the economic and institutional context of the rise of e-books, showing how e-books shift experiences of reading. Read More

Self-Injury in Cyberspace

Cyber communities have facilitated new forms of identity and self-regulation for people engaging in self-harm practices. The authors explore the online worlds of self-injurers and how they offer ways for people to develop new kinds of social order. Read More

Holden’s Hold on the Censors

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye has been on bookshelves since the 1950s—and its presence there has been protested for almost as long. This review explores why that Holden Caulfield can still elicit such social opprobrium in a new millennium. Read More

Gettin’ Down on “Friday”

Rebecca Black’s “Friday” may be annoying and ubiquitous, but it’s also a great example of contemporary cultural production. The author explores the making of a meme and the many hands behind a hit. Read More

Muslim Female Athletes and the Hijab

A revival of the hijab and an embrace of sport among young Muslim women around the world has created a contested space: their heads. Women, negotiating the rules of their teams and leagues, along with their own religious devotion, must make choices about participating—and dressing—for athletics. Read More

Let My People Go

The successful, three-decade-long campaign to free the Soviet Jewry, found its strength in effectively blurring the boundaries among secular and religious acts, symbols, and space. Read More

Lions, Tigers, and Bear Moms—oh, my!

Pushy parenting is a central theme in Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” but Chinese mothers aren’t the only caregivers well-schooled in the business of concerted cultivation. Read More

They Tried To Make Her Go To Rehab

Contradictory views of addiction as both sickness and moral failing have resulted in a broken system in which famous substance users (like their everyday counterparts) are bounced between overcrowded jails, prisons, and rehab centers, all with little expectation of “success.” Read More