Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Culture

Making meaning of people making meaning.

The Library as (Art)ifact

New York-based photographer Mickey Smith is documenting the books, journals and other printed materials libraries are now eliminating as they reorganize themselves and their holdings electronically. Her project suggests that the digitalization of print resources may help disseminate information, and also changes how we experience knowledge, perhaps making university libraries themselves a thing of the past. Read More

Authenticity at Burning Man

To validate worth or confer esteem, people seek out what sociologists call authenticity—that sense of meaning and dignity, or a connection with other people and experiences. As the desert art event Burning Man enters its third decade, some hard-core “Burners” believe the event’s longevity, exponential population growth, and increasingly complex rules and regulations have eroded its authenticity. Others view change as a creative process crucial to the event’s rejuvenation. Read More

Art and Abu Ghraib

Sociologists interested in U.S. foreign policy, the politics of atrocity, and political culture have much to learn from studying artistic responses to Abu Ghraib. This art poses provocative challenges to the dominant framing of Abu Ghraib and highlights the importance of culture as a realm of political activism. Read More

Post 9/11, But Not Post-Racial

In the popular television shows Heroes and Lost, people of color are well represented among the casts. Although sci-fi television has been a haven for … Read More

A Raw Export

Pro wrestling is often derided for its fake drama, and pageantry, as well as its violence, lack of subtlety, and over-the-top, macho characters. However, pro … Read More

New Fish on the Block

For many young adults, art performances simply aren’t fun. (Le) Poisson Rouge, a multimedia art cabaret in New York’s Greenwich Village, is trying to combat … Read More

Valuing Art

In September 2008, Damien Hirst became the first famous, living artist to sell his work directly through an auction house, bypassing the gallery system. This … Read More

Bring Out Your Dead

George Carlin should be the perfect comedian for sociologists. He was left- leaning, political, and not especially funny. In fact, his earnest concern for social … Read More

A (Sheltered) Island of Acceptance

Shelter Island is a resort town on the east end of Long Island, New York, adjacent to The Hamptons and part of a county (Suffolk) … Read More

Investigating the Aspen Elite

The author spent a year in a mountain hideaway in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado observing and interviewing the locals. He found Aspen to … Read More