SOC103 – Status and the Paradox of the Celebrity

Abstract

Why does Kim K get to “break the internet?” Do celebrities reflect our exaggerated imaginations? Where does all that money go? Why does Woody Allen get to make movies and Ben Rothlisberger get to still play football? In this week’s we tackle Celebrity status and its presence in contemporary society. Trust us, there is no other status with this much power and mystery…let’s break it down.

Keywords

Status, Celebrity, American Culture, Popular Culture, Entertainment, Celebrity culture

Resources

  1. Short biography on Max Weber, one of the founding fathers of sociology
  2. Weber on Class, Status, and Power
  3. Jonathan Turner and Jan Stets’ (2004) The Sociology of Emotions – On Theodore Kemper’s theory on structure and emotions, status, and power.

    Within social situations, individuals possess relative power (authority), or the ability to tell others what to do, and status (conceptualized as prestige or honor rather than as a position in a structure).

  4. Quote from Kurzman et al.’s reading on Celebrity status

    “Celebrity is an omnipresent feature of contemporary society, blazing lasting impressions in the memories of all who cross its path. In keeping with Weber’s conception of status, celebrity has come to dominate status “honor,” generate enormous economic benefits, and lay claim to certain legal privileges. Compared with other types of status, however, celebrity is status on speed. It confers honor in days, not generations; it decays over time, rather than accumulating; and it demands a constant supply of new recruits, rather than erecting barriers to entry.”

  5. Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out
  6. Ben Rothlisberger’s wikipedia page, if you’re interested in the scandals discussed
  7. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List: Season 1
  8. Neal Gabler’s Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (2000)- very good critical read on how real life drama (i.e. celebrity lives, reality tv shows) have become our primary form of entertainment
  9. American Crime Story: The People VS O.J. Simpson
  10. ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America
  11. Boston bombing movies – there are already two of them! Patriots Day and Stronger.
  12. Jennifer Lawrence and the gender pay gap in Hollywood
  13. Special Envoy Angelina Jolie for UNHCR
  14. Graeme Turner’s Understanding Celebrity (2013) – Evaluates the many taxonomies of “celebrity” and how the title has evolved with society and technology. He also devotes quite a bit of time to discussing how

    “the celebrity industry is one that spends a great deal of its time masking the fact that it exists at all.”

  15. Here’s a cool illustrated guide to Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle. And here’s the actual text, if you want to dig deeper! (P.S. It’s actually pronounced GEE Debord!).
  16. Hell’s Kitchen
  17. Read the script for the “Our Town” play here
  18. Jay-Z’s website, his book  Decoded, his documentary TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, if you want to become like Omar
  19. Arashi’s wikipedia page and official website, if you want to worship them like Penn
  20. Forbes 2017 list of “The World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities List”, showing Kim Kardashian made $45.5 million and Jay-Z made $42 million.
  21. Kim Kardashian-West’s instagram page, if you want to fangirl like Ellen
  22. The Jay-Z produced documentary on Kalief Browder titled, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” is on Netflix.

SOC102 – Buddha Heads and Crosses: Cultural Appropriation

Abstract

Last week, we talked about culture and the elements that make up culture. We expand on that notion this week by discussing cultural appropriation – something that happens in all aspects of our social life, from music to fashion, and even history. Cultural appropriation, from a sociological perspective, is inherently tied to the notion of profit-making in our capitalist society. But how can we, as everyday individuals, appreciate culture without appropriating it? Join us as we try to tease apart this hairy question!

Keywords

cultural appropriation, cultural appreciation, society, sociology, bourdieu

Resources

  1. Bari Weiss’ New York Times article, “3 Cheers for Cultural Appropriation”
  2. Rich Juzwiak’s rebuttal to Weiss on Jezebel, called “Oh Cute, The New York Times is Endorsing Cultural Appropriation”
  3. Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Routledge Classics) (1979) 
  4. Chance the Rapper’s large donation to Chicago-area public schools
  5. Other rappers discussed in this episode: Kendrick LamarJuvenileNotorious B.I.G.’s “Gimme the Loot”Jay-Z
  6. News coverage on dreadlock incident in San Francisco
  7. The 2013 movie 12 Years A Slave

 

Have you struggled with this notion of appropriation VS appreciation? How do you navigate such a choice? Let us know in the comments below!

SOC101 – Red, White, and Blue: Defining American Culture

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Abstract

In this episode, we tackle the concept of culture. ‘Culture’ is one of the most complex words in the English language, and every field has its own way of defining it, including sociology. We break down the various elements that make up culture from a sociological perspective, and focus on American culture– which is broad, yet rigid– as our main context. Then, we take a more personal look at how the three hosts have experienced American culture growing up. What do you think it takes to be an ‘American’? Join us as we search for an answer!

Keywords

Culture, America, sociology

Resources:

  1. American Sociological Association’s definition of culture
  2. The number of languages (and maybe cultures?) in the world
  3. United States of America’s Declaration of Independence
  4. Alexis de Tocqueville’s (1840) Democracy in America
  5. Ideal culture VS Real culture
  6. If you’re interested in how culture affects emotions, Jonathan H Turner and Jan E. Stets’ (2005) The Sociology of Emotions is a good, academic place to start!
  7. Ta-Nehisi Coates on Barack Obama – My President Was Black (The Atlantic)
  8. Jennifer Love Hewitt’s 1998 movie, Can’t Hardly Wait
  9. Louis C.K.’s bit on Time Travel is Exclusively a White Privilege

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DEBUT episode! SOC100 – “You’re all sociologists!”

Our podcast begins TODAY! Our debut episode is live!! You can listen below. Today’s episode is SOC100 – “You’re all sociologists!”

A note on how our podcast is structured. We’re going to be operating on a semester schedule, just as any class at any university. Essentially, the semesters will be our ‘seasons’. Our first season that we’re doing is the Fall 2017 semester, and we will continue into Spring 2018 and so forth. This means that we’ll be following the college schedule and taking the same holidays, etc. since we are students and teachers ourselves.

For each episode, we will be providing an abstract (a short summary), a list of keywords, and resources (readings, scholars, websites, etc. that we discuss in the episode). This is is similar to what an academic journal article provides the reader for additional information. Now, onto the debut episode!

Abstract

We are all part of the social world, but what does that mean and, wait, what is sociology? This week’s episode includes personal perspectives from Dr. Penn Pantumsinchai and 2 Dr’s in training, Ellen Meiser and Omar Bird defining sociology – what it is and what it isn’t, as well as explaining the goals of public sociology. If you’re concerned with the human condition and examining the social world, this is the podcast for you! We’re all sociologist one way or another – want to know how? Tune in by streaming or downloading the episode below!

Keywords

Sociological imagination, public sociology, the sociological perspective, sociology, society

Resources:

    1. Murray Edelman’s Constructing the Political Spectacle (1988): “Meaning springs from interactions with others, not from inside an isolated individual’s head” (p. 107) 
    2. Herbert Gans (2015) “Public Sociology and its Publics”(PDF file):
        1. “Any sociological writing or other product created by sociologists that obtains the attention of some of the publics that make up the general public. The writing can be a book, or an article, or even a few paragraphs reporting a new idea or finding. The other products may be created in any of the ever increasing number of communication outlets, from radio and television to the latest websites, search engines and social media. A podcast lecture, and even a summary of a lecture may already reach more of the public than anything we write.
    3. Dr. Karen Kelsky’s website TheProfessorIsIn.com 
    4. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet about sociology and physics
    5. A quick bio on Auguste Comte, the creator of the word, “sociology”
    6. Examples of Public Sociology:

Comment down below what you thought of the episode! What would you like to hear about in the future? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates!

Listen to the podcast teaser!

The teaser to our podcast is now live! 

Introducing a brand new podcast – The Social Breakdown! The sociology podcast that nobody wants, but everybody needs! Our goal for this podcast is to breakdown the complex world one topic at a time using our sociological imagination. Check out our short teaser today and tune in for our grand debut on September 20th! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates!

Leave a comment down below and let us know what you think! Are there any topics you’d like us to discuss? What about the world or society has puzzled you? We’re here to help!

A new podcast to shake your world!

Coming soon! The sociology podcast that nobody wants but everybody needs – THE SOCIAL BREAKDOWN run by two graduate students and one former graduate student, now doctor!? We aim to break down the complex social world one topic at a time using our sociological imagination.