Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Feature

In-depth, analytical storytelling about how and why our world works the way it does.

The Problem With Fair Trade Coffee

Many people purchase fair trade certified products because they trust that doing so makes a difference in the lives of small producers around the world. Sociologists Nicki Lisa Cole and Keith Brown discuss how changes to certification policy have modified the meaning of fair trade in a way that has troubling implications for small coffee farmers. Read More

Black Philly After The Philadelphia Negro

Beginning where W. E. B. Du Bois’s classic The Philadelphia Negro ends, sociologist Marcus Anthony Hunter considers the history of public housing in Philadelphia during the New Deal era. Focusing on black activism, black politics, and neighborhood change during the New Deal era, he shows that Black residents have long been citymakers, forces for progressive change. Read More

Celebrity Drug Scandals, Media Double Standards

Media coverage reflects the conflicted status of drugs in a culture that both valorizes and demonizes their use. Sociologist Rebecca Tiger compares New York Times' coverage of Whitney Houston’s death and cyclist Lance Armstrong’s “performance enhancing drugs” scandal. Her analysis reveals the particular roles that race and gender play in how elite media and their readers negotiate and construct the morality tale of drug use. Read More

The Deadly Span

The Golden Gate Bridge continues to be the top suicide site in the world. John Bateson argues that a barrier will save lives, end the tragedies, and not detract from the bridge’s beauty or the view--but it remains far off. Read More

Gated Communities For The Rich And The Poor

Sociologist Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores discusses how the concentration of class and racial privilege in gated communities takes place alongside the spatial concentration and confinement of the poor. She argues that gates help sort and segregate people, physically and symbolically distinguish communities, and cement inequality. Read More

Cool Stores, Bad Jobs

Sociologist Yasemin Besen-Cassino explores the techniques through which employers attract young, attractive, and middle-class workers for minimum wage, service sector jobs. Using in-depth interviews and job ads, she shows that employers focus on social benefits, discounts, and prestige of the brand to attract higher income workers to low paying jobs. Read More

Tiger Girls On The Soccer Field

Scholar Hilary Levey Friedman investigates how parental decisions result in different classed forms of femininity for girls who learn to be either “graceful girls” through dance, “aggressive girls” through soccer, or “pink warrior girls” through chess. She finds that parents higher up in the hierarchy of the middle class promote a more aggressive femininity, and we see this with both soccer and chess. Read More

Atlanta and Other Olympic Losers

Cities launch major campaigns to convince the International Olympic Committee to grace them with a staging of the Summer or Winter Games, and they spare no expense in readying their cities for the events. But will the promise of tourist riches and urban improvements pan out once the Olympic torch passes to the next host city? Read More

Ritual Violence in a Two-Car Garage

KICK ASS AND TAKE NAMES! You were **BORN** for violence my fellow MAN. Take up that stick knowing in your heart of … Read More

Coming Home To Friendly Fire

In an age of ongoing military conflict, more and more veterans survive battle wounds only to find they return home to face psychological wounds. Why aren't they seeking the mental health services offered by the Veterans' Association and other groups? Read More