Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Culture

Making meaning of people making meaning.

Neoliberalism and the Realities of Reality Television

Often critiqued for its contrived presentation of real life, reality television has not only transformed the television landscape over the past decade, it neatly reflects the neoliberalism of the period. Read More

Do The Right Thing Turns 20

While the Brooklyn neighborhood featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing has certainly changed since 1989, the film captured urban America on the verge of that transformation. The movie provides historical context for today's thriving, ethnically diverse urban neighborhoods in New York and elsewhere. Read More

30 Years Of Black Presidents

Barack Obama is not the first black President Americans have seen. At least not if you count the characters created by black comedians over the past several decades. Such portrayals, while intended to provoke laughter, have also illuminated the changing racial boundaries in the U.S. and provided opportunities for students and others to talk more openly about race and racism. Read More

The World At The U.S.-Mexican Border

"Second-tier cities" are multiplying in the developing world, largely due to growth in industry and population. Reynosa, Tamaulipas on the border of Mexico and the United States, illustrates the social tensions and cultural clashes common in the urban developing world. While some groups prosper, others suffer amidst poor work and living conditions and struggle to keep long- held cultural practices alive. Read More

The Roots Of Astroturfing

Political actions by corporations designed to look like bottom-up activism are not a new phenomenon. An example from the early 1900s demonstrates that business leaders have long been promoting the notion that one need not sacrifice doing well by doing good. Read More

Aging, Gran Torino-Style

More than a feel-good story, Gran Torino presents viewers with a realistic portrait of the challenges of growing old in America. Clint Eastwood's Walt represents the possibilities, as well as the obstacles, of old age. Read More

Resurrecting Martin Luther King

Controversy over the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, offers a case study in contested collective memory. Debate over whether or not the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death is the appropriate venue for commemorating his legacy reveals how collective memory is produced even in the struggles over what to remember and where. Read More

To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.

While praised for being a more youthful, multiethnic, and tech savvy form of food delivery, Kogi trucks providing ethnic fusion street food in Los Angeles also illustrate the persistence of socioeconomic divisions in urban life. According to Oliver Wang, Kogi demonstrates that there are still lines that aren't crossed when it comes to urban ethnic relations. Read More

Trifles

A closer look at roses reveals that their social significance is more than merely ornamental. Roses not only dominate the commercial cut flower market, but also represent our ongoing quest for beauty and distinction in the mundane. Read More

In Defense of Smokers

This commentary argues that smokers have been wrongly stigmatized and condemned in modern societies as the result of a too-cozy relationship among epidemiology, medicine, and public health policy. Castro-Santos argues that sociologists have a responsibility to recognize, analyze, and (perhaps even) disrupt the public attack on smoking and smokers. Read More