sociology for the public


Making meaning of people making meaning.

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

The French Take Hollywood

While the United States dominates the global film market, strategies are available to non-U.S. filmmakers seeking to make their mark. Sociologist Diane Barthel-Bouchier discusses how the Oscar-winning French film, The Artist, used the strategies of solving the language problem, meeting cultural expectations, building connections with Hollywood insiders, and mounting a media charm offensive to win the 2012 Best Picture Oscar award. Read More

The Real Help

Who are the help? Examining The Help and other media, the author explores the public (mis)portrayals of domestic workers. Read More

Sexualizing Girl Troubles

The issue of the sexualization of girls has made its way into scholarly and popular literature. The author discusses various media myths of hyper-sexuality in young girls and its potential problems. Read More

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