Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Fall 2013

Volume: 12 | Number: 4

This issue covers gated communities in Puerto Rico, Golden Gate suicides in San Francisco, and affirmative action as a gateway to admission in higher education. Also: competition in girl’s soccer, media coverage of Whitney Houston and Lance Armstrong, and the links between HIV and gender violence in South Africa.

Defensive Doping

When asked about using banned substances to maintain his winning record, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong said it was “part of the job”—like having “air in … Read More

The New (Gay Male) Normal

Amanda LanzoneNBC’s now-defunct sitcom The New Normal featured a happy gay couple living in Los Angeles, and their efforts to build … Read More

Second Life’s Second Life

©2013 Linden LabExperts have voiced concerns about digital addiction and social isolation among online gaming enthusiasts. But virtual platforms, such as … 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

E-Haunting

©2013 Taslima AkhterWhen a garment factory collapsed outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh last April and more than 1,100 peopled died, a photograph … Read More

Table For One, Please

Kimberly HoltzWhile meals give us a chance to bond with friends and family, a growing number of studies find that fellow … 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 Cultural Life Of The Living Dead

Zombies have become an explosive cultural phenomena which producers, retailers, and governmental agencies utilize to target consumers. Sociologist Denise N. Cook argues that the zombie myth pervades cultural narratives because it helps people distance themselves from criticizing actual social problems yet at the same time the zombie analogy can help to highlight potential social problems. Read More

Remembering E. 6th Street

Visual sociologist Helen M. Stummer revisits her early work on E. 6th Street and highlights her portraits of an interracial family she became close to in this photo essay. Read More

How Parents Grade Schools

Scholars Sean Kelly and Laura Northrop discuss recent changes in perceptions of school quality. They find that Americans are not positive about the overall quality of elementary and secondary schools in the United States, while beliefs about school-to-school differences in quality are often exaggerated. Read More