Contexts

sociology for the public

Summer 2012

Volume: 11 | Number: 3

Michael Schudson on what we know about Rosa Parks, Michael Kimmel on the role of chance, accident, and luck in research, and Jean Beaman on the North African middle class in France. This issue also features Viewpoints on Obama’s first term and features on sex entrepreneurs in China, marriage promotion advocates, and opera fanatics.

Breakthrough Books: Race and Racism

A "list" of what five sociologists consider breakthrough books about race and racism. Read More

Teaching a Hip-Hop Ecology

Sociologist Michael J. Cermak discusses what he learned while teaching environmental science with hip-hop in urban public high schools. This article provides an applied perspective of teaching at the crux of social justice and the environment. Read More

Opera Thugs and Passionate Fandom

Using life stories and observing opera fans in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Claudio E. Benzecry shows how passion for a cultural object develops, gets refined and sustained over time and the consequences this has for personal identity. In addition, Benzecry argues that his observations at the opera house serves as a template to understand other forms of fandom, cultural consumption and passionate behavior more generally. Read More

When History Intervenes

Sociologists tend to downplay the role of accidents, circumstance, serendipity, and luck. This essay describes three times that history derailed Michael Kimmel's research agenda, and how he "recovered." Read More

But Madame, We Are French Also

Based on participant observation and interviews in the Parisian metropolitan region, sociologist Jean Beaman discusses middle-class and upwardly-mobile children of North African immigrants in France, who despite their upward mobility feel just as marginalized as other children of immigrants. Read More

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

Park(ing) Day

Park(ing) Day has become an international phenomenom since its inception in 2005. Gretchen Coombs explains how this urban intervention questions the use of public space and reimagines how urban public spaces can be repurposed to benefit local communities. Read More

Judging Obama

The presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States, is not going to be judged by its symbolic significance and healthcare reform alone. Sociologists, Ho-fung Hung, Fred Block, Alejandro Portes, Beverly J. Silver, and Richard Lachmann assess Obama's first term from the perspectives of green economy, immigration reform, foreign policy, and social movements. Read More

The Rich and the Rest

Using data from the General Social Survey, sociologist Thomas J. Linneman shows that conservatives and liberals increasingly differ regarding government action to reduce income inequality. Rich liberals support government action nearly as much as poor liberals, while among rich conservatives there is very little support for government action. Read More

Rethinking Sexual Violence

Sociologist Nacy Whittier reviews the books Sex Panic and the Punitive State, At the Dark End of the Street, and Unspeakable. Each differently addresses sexual violence in relation to race, class, and criminalization. Read More