sociology for the public

Winter 2010

Volume: 9 | Number: 1

Sociologists discuss how understanding aging in America can change the way we think about discrimination, retirement and public policy. Also, a critical look at common explanations for world hunger, and historical perspectives on Mexican immigration to America and the role of the Holocaust in shaping Jewish identity.

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

Mexican Americans And Immigrant Incorporation

Immigrant incorporation has long been thought of as a linear process of assimilation on the model of early 20th century European immigrants. But sociologists are finding that today's immigrants don't fit this model. Studies of Mexican immigrants show in microcosm a more uneven, varied process of becoming American. 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

Moving Out Of The (Generational) Ghetto

Intergenerational conversation, much less community, is hard to come by in the United States. Eric Utne, founder of the alternative magazine Utne Reader, explains how to bring all age groups closer together. Read More

Ageism In The American Workplace

Age isn't often seen as a source of discrimination. Yet, a growing trend in corporate downsizing, combined with an aging population, has made older workers more vulnerable to being pushed out of the workforce. Counteracting stereotypes of older workers and increasing corporate accountability can decrease this hidden form of discrimination. Read More

Diversity, Inequality and Health

Each issue, Contexts reviews the latest in groundbreaking sociological research. You can read Contexts Discoveries online at Read More

Policies And Politics For An Aging America

Having previously addressed common myths about our “graying society,” the authors explore long-term, multigenerational approaches to help America age gracefully. Read More