Showing posts from 2010

Owensboro Christmas Parade

The following originally was a post developed in conjunction with a project from my Sociology course, "The Community." View photos from the parade below (the following is no longer available) Watch the archived live coverage of the event by clicking below. (the following is no longer available)

We the People, Social Media, and Qualitative Research

Today a small group of folks pulled together our existing resources and took on the innovative task of tweeting and blogging a local civic engagement event.  Using our laptops and cellphones, we live tweeted/blogged a local civic engagement event sponsored by AmericaSpeaks and the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro . The event brought together nearly 300 locals to discuss local issues centered around Education and the Economy. (A participant guide from the event can be found here .)  This was the second We the People event held in my hometown of Owensboro, KY, the first one being in 2007. Our local group consisted of four folks (me, Steve Metzger, Jessie Schartung, and Michelle Montalvo).  I set up an event of Cover it Live at the Owensboro Blog .  The interface was free, very easy to use.  After talking with Mary Lauran Hall with AmericaSpeaks the day before, we set everything up and organized ourselves to pull this off late in the afternoon the day before the event.  This

Live Coverage of We the People-Owensboro

Updated: See this link for a sociological look at the event, the process our team to took, and considerations for qualitative research.   Found here --------- First off a huge thanks goes to Mary Lauran Hall with the AmericaSpeaks project, Steve Metzger, Jessie Schartung, Michelle Montalvo, the Public Life Foundation and the local We the People project. The archived coverage of the We the People event Oct. 23rd event is below. Click "replay" to thumb through all the work we did for the day. An initial draft of the days events has been released, and can be accessed  here and here . Concluding thoughts by our local team can be found here . <p><p><p><a href="" &am

New Groups function on Facebook

Purpose of Groups I'd recommend using groups for a close network of friends, family, or for a trusted network of colleagues or those with similar interests.  There needs to be a dimension of trust and dependability of members to get use out of this function. When Group participation starts to become active it does become apparent that information needs to be better aggregated for easier access.  There still is not much structure for aggregating information via the Group.  This however can be achieved by using outside services such as Google Apps and then linking that content back into the Group. Currently you can add Posts, Links, Photos, Videos, Events, and Docs to Group members.  You can also conduct Group chat. Privacy Multiple administrators can be added to a Group.  The administrator(s) can decide to make the Group one of the following: Open: members and content is public Closed: members public and content is private Secret: members and content are private

Pizza Preacher Returns

on the heels of Dr. Laura's racist rant:
Sent from my AT&T Windows Mobile phone.

mLearning: Mobile Devices as Research and Teaching Tools

mLearning: Mobile Devices as Research and Teaching Tools This entire presentation with links (no audio) can be viewed and is available for download as a Google Presentation here:

Facebook is everywhere

Facebook is everywhere

Ole Miss flash mob

another reason why flash mobs are so cool--and--why college is so cool

Perceptions of discrimination

Some interesting polling data on perceptions of discrimination.

Be Afraid…Be VERRYY Afraid…(not) � The Social Lens

Be Afraid…Be VERRYY Afraid…(not) The Social Lens Originally posted at The Social Lens March 3, 2010 Posted by: Chad M. Gesser Twitter: @profgesser Email: Each semester I cover different aspects of deviance and crime with my Sociology students, and I’m always intrigued to hear their varying perceptions of crime and violence in our community, the nation, and the world. It is inevitable that the prevailing viewpoint is that we do indeed live in a violent society. In discussions this week, I had one particular student who is married to a local police officer share that her husband refuses to allow her to walk, jog, or run alone at night in her neighborhood and community for fear of violence. An argument can be made that he is just being safe, but it certainly does beckon the question: How safe is my community? My country? Society in general? Ten years ago Barry Glassner released his “ Culture of Fear “, which examined how various social forces from me

Durkheim and Anomie � The Social Lens

Durkheim and Anomie � The Social Lens Anomie is one of those concepts in the field of Sociology that can be applied in a variety of ways. Coined by French Sociologist Emile Durkheim in his 1897 study “Suicide”, anomie refers to a sense of normlessness, resulting in individual detachment and disconnection from other members of a group or society at large. Sociologists see society as an organism, much the way the human body is an organism. Society, just like the human body, is a sum of its parts. Staying with the human anatomy and physiology theme, I like to think of the above image as the “skeleton” of society. Below you’ll find the makeup of the “central nervous system”. These are the fundamental elements of culture. Keep in mind that norms are the guidelines and expectations in society. They are not right or wrong, but we as members of society determine at any given moment in time or history the makeup of norms. For example, it once was the norm for males to hold the door o

Issues of Health and Health Care Reform � The Social Lens

Issues of Health and Health Care Reform � The Social Lens The effort of passing health care reform has been a major source of national interest for several presidential election cycles. Until recently though, health care reform was an idea without much substance or potential of being realized in the United States. Health care as a social problem is a very complicated issue. This is precisely why any effort of passing major health care reform has consistently been blocked. There are several dimensions of health that have rightfully generated a substantial amount of interest in the United States over the past decade. The issues surrounding health care are not limited to health care insurance. They include issues of lifestyle and nutrition (including the high incidence of overweight and obese citizens in the United States), the health care costs for the poor, senior citizens, and the health care costs enacted on the government due to a very unhealthy population. Certainly a big fac

Homosexuality: more than just preference � The Social Lens

Homosexuality: more than just preference � The Social Lens The issues that gays face go well beyond social acceptance of their sexual preference. Heterosexuals certainly do not recognize the advantages that they reap in a culture that is deeply rooted in heterosexuality. The Heterosexuality Questionnaire was developed by Martin Rochlin, Ph.D., in 1977. While it certainly appears humorous to the average heterosexual reader, a closer examination can help one examine the social implications of a heterosexual society, particularly if you’re homosexual. 1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality? 2. When and how did you decide that you were a heterosexual? 3. Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase that you may grow out of? 4. Is it possible your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex? 5. If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all y

McDonaldization and Starbuckization

Posted McDonaldization and Starbuckization over at the Social Lens. “I’ll have a Big Mac, Filet of Fish, Quarter Pounder, French Fries..icy Coke, Big Shake, Sundae, and Apple Pie…”–yeah, I didn’t need to Google that to find the lyrics, that was from memory. That was a popular “nursery rhyme” when I was younger, a chippy jingle by McDonald’s that served its purpose: to lure me in like the sad fast food sap that I am. I’m sure you can relate, but what is it that can be made of this “McDonaldization of Society”? George Ritzer uses McDonald’s as the primary example to illustrate the modernization of society, a move from cultures built on tradition to cultures that are mechanized and highly organized. The principles that Ray Kroc used to build his food empire have been modeled in businesses from motor companies to coffee: 1. efficiency, 2. predictability, 3. uniformity, and 4. control. Look at the pervasiveness of both McDonald’s and Starbucks in the world. This graph dates back

Who Are You?

Posted over at the Social Lens blog. In a previous post ( Facebook and Connection ) I introduced some concepts related to Georg Simmel’s work around associations and sociability. One of the more popular self help gurus of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been Stephen Covey . An extension of Covey’s work “ The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ” involves a retreat and an examination of one’s circles. Each of us as individuals can gain great depth of understanding of who we are by examining the positions we hold in society (status) and the expectations of those positions (role). These are philosophical and questions of meaning that have been explored for quite sometime. Let me provide a brief introduction to the video below. This is a studio snapshot of The Who, you know, that band that played at halftime of the 2010 Super Bowl? For most Who fans, this is The Who that we would rather you come to know and love. This is a song of theirs, not part of the Super B

For the Love of...Consumerism

Updated in Nov. 2019 due to breaks in links Posted over at the Social Lens blog . Happy belated Valentine’s Day!!!! ….wait, humor me for a minute. Would you rather celebrate a holiday for its meaning or are you moved by the overload of consumerism that surrounds our holidays? Don’t get me wrong, I like to celebrate events, holidays, birthdays, just about anything. But I have found that the consumerism in my environment, the availability of too much “stuff”, has gotten to be so much of an overload that I’m turned off from celebrating. That’s a difficult thing for me to consider, because I try to focus on the intent of events (why the celebration is occurring). That picture above is not an example of overload in and of itself. But let me clarify something: that is a picture I took at my local grocery store on New Year’s Day. Doing some last minute shopping on Valentine’s Day a friend I ran into nearly purchased an Easter gift for Valentine’s Day: the marketing and promotions

Facebook and Connection

Posted Facebook and Connection over at the Social Lens blog. All the world is Facebooked, Twittered, MySpaced, Googled….connected. I have been particularly interested in themes related to connection in my physical community since around the year 2000. One of my areas of focus as a Sociologist is the Sociology of Community. Among German Sociologist Georg Simmel’s many contributions is his work examining group size and relationships. What is integral to the study of community are relationships and connection. In the year 2000 a major work in the social sciences was published by Robert Putnam, a book entitled “ Bowling Alone “. This book was a national bestseller and spent time on the New York Times bestseller list. Putnam’s work spoke to the loss of attachment and connection that people had with one another and how the sense of community had declined over the period of the 1970s-1990s. A basic level research question that I have examined over the past several years is how does t

A Girl Like Me

Posted A Girl Like Me post over at The Social Lens. Socialization is characterized as the life long social experience by which individuals develop their human potential and learn culture. The socialization process begins soon after birth, as babies are cared for (or not) by their parents or other loved ones from their family. Of course that experience is as varied as there are cultures in our world. We begin to learn at a very early age how to love, to hate, to care for, to fight, and to ultimately relate to other people in our society. We also learn our position in society, particularly in terms of social class, gender, and race. We are influenced by history and the social norms of society. Norms aren’t necessarily right or wrong, but we gauge ourselves to the cultural standards in society, and as Mead would characterize, we develop that sense of self. As an example of how we internalize what we perceive in society, watch the “Girl Like Me” video below.  Many students qu

Social Interaction and Technology

Due to broken links, the following post has been updated in November 2019. Just made this post over at The Social Lens: Social Interaction and Technology . I authored a blog post in early January entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants . That post addressed the influence of technology on the current generation, using terms to identify the younger generation such as “Wired, Wireless, Mobile, Open, Participatory, and Empowered”. We tend to have informal conversations in my department from time to time around the use of web 2.0 technologies, particularly Facebook and Twitter. It is obvious, as was reflected in the the Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants post , that there is a very large gap regarding the use of information technology and devices between the younger and older generations in the United States. Part of those informal discussions we have around our department involve the environment of the classroom versus the environment of the virtual classroom. Does online lea

State of the Internet Explained In One Giant Infographic [PIC]

Came across this graph via Twitter today. A good breakout of the demographics of Internet use. State of the Internet Explained In One Giant Infographic [PIC]

Sport and Society

Just posted over at The Social Lens Sport and Society “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” That’s a quote made famous by former Chicago Bears linebacker Michael Singletary, current head coach of the San Francisco 49’ers of the National Football League (NFL). Singletary’s quote speaks to the innocence of spontaneity, play, and competition. While we are early in 2010, we have already witnessed major sporting events here in the United States. It has become tradition at the beginning of each year for the college bowl series to kick high in to gear, signifying the end of the college football season and the crowning of the national college football champions. During the first few weeks of January, college football dominates the sports world in the United States. But as soon as that ends, the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl are front and center. As I write this week’s post, I’m taking in the Winter X Games from Colorado (might I recommend watching

Allow me to introduce..the Turtleman

A subculture is a group that exhibits some cultural characteristic that distinguishes them from the mainstream society. Most patterns of the group, and the behaviors of the individual members are consistent with the socially acceptable behaviors. Countercultures vary in that their cultural patterns go against the mainstream norms. Often times countercultures engage in behaviors that are consider illegal. Subcultures and countercultures vary over time. The benchmark of gauging a group as a subculture or counterculture are the norms of the society. At one point in history, a group that is now considered mainstream (for example, Christians) were seen as a counterculture. As values, beliefs and attitudes of individuals in a society change, so do norms. Thus as the rules, guidelines, and expectations for behavior in society change, so then does our definition as to whether a group is considered a subculture or a counterculture. Certainly in the 21st century United States, Christiani

Language: from coke to Coke

Just published this blog post over at the Social Lens. Language is the fundamental basis for culture. Language allows us to communicate with one another. It allows us to pass on information from generation to generation, whether through cave drawings, folk tales, or textbooks. Language allows us to also glimpse into the culture of the individual. Here are two interesting pics that illustrate the cultural differences of language. ( Source of pic ) In most of Kentucky, we refer to soft drinks as coke. Not the Coke with a capital “C”, but all soft drinks. When we visit a restaurant or head up to the counter at a sporting event, we order coke. Coke, rather coke with a lowercase “c”, applies to all Pepsi, Coke, RC, and generic cola soft drinks. When visiting northern Ohio, Michigan, or even Washington state, we do not understand the snickers and perplexed looks we get from waiters and waitresses when we orde

Symbols: Meaning and Interpretation

There is something intriguing to me about the use and message of signs, symbols and physical representation of ideas. I have a tendency to notice bumper stickers, crosses on the sides of the road, messages on signs that go against the norm. I suppose it appeals to me in a “symbolic interactionist” kind of way. What!? Don’t you remember the definition of symbolic interactionism as a major theory in the field of Sociology? Ok ok, I’ll remind you: “a framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals”. Certainly a big component of our interactions is the play and interplay of our use of symbols. Symbols say something about the type of music we like, the type of clothing we “support”, our favorite race car driver, sports team, and brand of religion we practice. But symbols are not only significant in a material kind of way. They say something deeper about what we think, how we feel, our emotional state. Personal use of symbo