sociology for the public


Making meaning of people making meaning.

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

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