I enjoyed this book, which is a wide-ranging history of undergraduate cultures in the United States the 1800s through the early 1980s. Horowitz's mainI enjoyed this book, which is a wide-ranging history of undergraduate cultures in the United States the 1800s through the early 1980s. Horowitz's main argument is basically that we have monolithic views of college life because certain segments of the undergraduate population -- most often the mainstream, extracurricular-oriented, white, middle-class Protestant students she alternately calls college men and women and organized [i.e. Greek:] students -- tend to monopolize public attention at any particular time. Horowitz combines archival research with data from memoirs and other personal artifacts of both the prominent and unknowns to present the varieties of student cultures through two centuries. She focuses mainly on three groups: college men and women, outsiders, and rebels. Outsiders are non-traditional groups attending college (beginning with poor religious men and later expanding into women, non-whites, and non-Christians) who tend to be school-oriented, while rebels are usually drawn from traditional college-attending groups but interested in reshaping the college experience. Though the typologies she has created present problems at some times (and can veer into stereotype), for the most part they provide a useful framework. The weakest parts of the book are those that focus on times closest to the present, when Horowitz relies more on her own impressions and experiences as a professor than on archival data....more
It would be hard for me to say enough good things about this book -- Stevens does a masterful job marshaling participant observation data that in lessIt would be hard for me to say enough good things about this book -- Stevens does a masterful job marshaling participant observation data that in less skillful hands might fall flat. His findings not only offers insights about the role of academics, race, and athletics in elite college admissions; Stevens also creates a powerful argument (and genuine innovation in the sociology of education) connecting the rise of higher education in the United States, the transition from a Fordist to a post-Fordist economy, and the emergence of what Annette Lareau terms "concerted cultivation" as the primary method of middle-class child rearing. The concluding chapter contains so much thoughtful analysis and raises so many questions that I can only hope it will somehow be a springboard for his next project. ...more
Though not a page-turner, Carpenter brings a good game and an eminently readable peace of social science. Genuinely remarkable as an example of groundThough not a page-turner, Carpenter brings a good game and an eminently readable peace of social science. Genuinely remarkable as an example of grounded theory, the author solicits a range of subjects' recountings of how they lost their virginity (or in a few cases, why they still have it). From this, she develops a framework based around the metaphors individuals use for describing virginity, and uses her findings to formulate intelligent public policy interventions (a goal to few sociologists have for their work). While occasionally she oversteps in her interpretations and makes a few unseemly normative judgements about her subjects, on the whole a strong piece of work that appears to have made a nice, clean jump from dissertation to book....more
I was extremely pleased with this book -- Wilkins does a masterful job (particularly for a book that I believe was adapted from her dissertation) of bI was extremely pleased with this book -- Wilkins does a masterful job (particularly for a book that I believe was adapted from her dissertation) of braiding together understandings of race, class, and gender in her analysis. She's particularly focused on how whiteness is dealt with, and especially in her first two cases -- where it's much less obvious -- Wilkins does an astonishing job of picking apart the ways in which a white identity is forged and preserved within these subcultures. Also as an ethnographer, she does a good job of bringing in enough of her own identity and giving a sense of how she worked with her informants without having this overwhelm the book.
The extent to which she brings in emotion and emotion management is likewise impressive and to my mind, marks a significant advance in this area. She mostly has to cite Hochschild here since that's sort of the foundational work for what she's discussing, but rather than looking at how emotion works in a top-down structure as does Hochschild, Wilkins does an amazing job of explicating how people manage emotion in their everyday lives as part of establishing and maintaining a group identity. I was worried the section on evangelical Christians would be uninteresting given my own feelings on these things, but actually it was probably the most fascinating of the three -- and again here, particularly because of the emphasis on emotion work. ...more
Someone needs to do a follow-up to this fascinating study, in which the authors followed (via interview) the progress of a group of ambitious young coSomeone needs to do a follow-up to this fascinating study, in which the authors followed (via interview) the progress of a group of ambitious young college women at two southern colleges (a large university and a historically black college) through to young adulthood. Holland and Eisenhart are interested in the reproduction of culture and inequalities, and in challenging and adding to the literature in this area (particularly from the Birmingham school) with their longitudinal work. Their original interest in studying women and schooling morphs into studying women and romance, as they find how much attractiveness, dating, and what they refer to as "the sexual auction block" organizes the lives of their subjects. Similarly, changing attitudes toward school combine with these peer-group structures to create very different outcomes for these women than those they'd originally intended as college freshmen. The analysis is nuanced enough to avoid a "blaming the victim" sort of approach, and by studying a group of slightly older, well-educated, (initially) upwardly mobile women, Holland and Eisenhart make an important contribution to a literature which tends to focus on younger, lower-class, less-school-oriented girls (e.g., McRobbie, Lees, Bettie)....more
I mainly wished this book were longer -- in it's ultra-concise format, Pascoe hits every point once, and I often wanted more. Particularly, more of heI mainly wished this book were longer -- in it's ultra-concise format, Pascoe hits every point once, and I often wanted more. Particularly, more of her colorful (and often disturbing) examples from her fieldwork with California high school students. That said, for such a short book, it makes truly substantive contributions to the study of masculinity and sexualities, both in terms of how these constructs are upheld by institutions as well as in interactions.
Her chapter on methodology -- buried at the end as an appendix -- is excellent, and I would say a must-read for sociologists interested in doing fieldwork with adolescents. It also should be of interest to sociologists studying across genders and/or sexualities -- her discussion of methods and ethics is truly illuminating. ...more
I give the people who worked on this project much credit for spending three years -- years, people! -- listening to and observing Indiana middle schooI give the people who worked on this project much credit for spending three years -- years, people! -- listening to and observing Indiana middle schoolers' cafeteria talk. While so much of their talk sounds utterly mundane (or profane, depending how you look at it), these authors' continued observation allowed them to find the patterns in how styles of everyday talk like insults, group storytelling, and gossip contribute to adolescents' gender identity projects. Particularly interesting as well are the authors' insights into how cliques and social hierarchies are formed and maintained. ...more
CLW hits it out of the park with this one -- this book was fantastic. I would particularly recommend it instead of the Juliet Schor books I recently rCLW hits it out of the park with this one -- this book was fantastic. I would particularly recommend it instead of the Juliet Schor books I recently reviewed. CLW takes a much more nuanced approach, looking not at whether consumption is good or evil, but instead examining how relationships of race, class, and gender are played out in the employment practices, store policies, and customer interactions via ethnographic work in two different toy store chains. Her detailed observation as well as her even-handed reviews of the relevant literature make this a pleasant and thought-provoking read, as you actually get to think through the issues as you go rather than have them shoved down your gullet as in the Schor books. I would highly recommend this book to people studying a variety of areas, including race, gender, labor, and consumption. ...more
I owned this book as an undergrad, and in a fit of idiocy sold it -- along with a bunch of other books I similarly regret selling -- right before I leI owned this book as an undergrad, and in a fit of idiocy sold it -- along with a bunch of other books I similarly regret selling -- right before I left NY. Sigh. Anyway, I never thought I'd say this, but I wish this book had more theory! Though I will say, his examples -- from the choreography of Paula Abdul (not kidding!) to nineteenth century 'passing' novels -- are all really interesting to read about, even if sometimes you have to kind of make the connections yourself....more
If you're doing gender studies, skip it. If you're studying race, read it.
It's actually not helpful with the gender stuff at all -- it seems the authoIf you're doing gender studies, skip it. If you're studying race, read it.
It's actually not helpful with the gender stuff at all -- it seems the author just studied women cause she's a firm believer in the 'you can only study your own group' thing. Kaaaay.
That said, she offers a really interesting discussion attempting to formulate what whiteness means, and how the ways whiteness is defined -- mainly through discourse about normalcy, invisibility, and boringness -- enforce white privilege. It's a more nuanced argument than I'm making it sound like, and I would say a worthwhile one for those studying race and ethnicity-related issues to read....more
In a nutshell, Karen Cerulo makes up rules for stuff, is like wow, this explains everything, but is so, so, so not methodologically rigorous. Half herIn a nutshell, Karen Cerulo makes up rules for stuff, is like wow, this explains everything, but is so, so, so not methodologically rigorous. Half her focus is on the news, and she spends the whole book saying lead instead of lede!
But more to the point, she never explains how she chooses any of her samples, then is just like check out my table, this totally works. Sorry, no. And in some of the sections, especially the one on painting, she's really stretching. Especially with the visual stuff, she never explains any of the theory behind what she's doing! It's just, "oh, people look at stuff and see it this way."
Now, I don't think I'm so special that I've been saddled with some freak brain that is completely unique from the rest of the world. But I disagree with some of her readings of this stuff, which implies to me, you know, other people do too. Which means you can't base your whole argument on effing fundamentals of cognitive processing!
Especially since you never explain any sort of biological or cognitive basis for anything, you just assume it. And have the balls to put it in your effing title! Gosh. Cerulo may be the Dave Eggers of the social sciences. At least for me, anyway....more
Though the title sounds really broad, Nash actually focuses on the 1930s-1965, and specifically on media about teens but intended for a broader audienThough the title sounds really broad, Nash actually focuses on the 1930s-1965, and specifically on media about teens but intended for a broader audience. However, for contrast her first chapter is about the Nancy Drew books, in order to look at media about teen girls intended for an audience of girls. There's a lot of interesting history there, but also her close reading of the books is great.
While she is mostly talking about the originals from the 1930s (everything I read of the original series was the 1959 revises), her findings are still really striking. In a very crudely drawn single sentence, her argument is basically that the main reason the character of Nancy can be so autonomous is that she actually breaks very few of the 'rules' for traditional feminine behavior, and that through her character's interaction with and contrast to other characters one can see how the texts uphold hegemonic ideas about patriarchy, whiteness, class stratification, etc.
Again, I'm not doing it justice here, and also remember, she's talking about the 1930s/40s versions (which do exist now in reprints but I'm not sure if those have been edited for content) not the 1959 revisions, which are what probably most gals around my age read. In any event, it got me curious about them again, as well as giving me lots to think about in contrast with contemporary teen media....more
I don't agree with the author on everything in her argument, but the information is interesting. It is also fun to dissect her word choice. I feel likI don't agree with the author on everything in her argument, but the information is interesting. It is also fun to dissect her word choice. I feel like every two seconds you're like, "Huh huh, huh huh, she said 'expand.'"
While the information on the sex lives of senior citizens will be pretty shocking to the under-30 set, the most amazing part is when at a urologist convention, a speaker gives a presentation on a new injectable drug for impotence, then steps from behind the podium, drops trou, and brandishes his erection at the audience (I am NOT making this up). He even goes so far as to have those lucky folks seated in the first row examine it with their hands to prove he isn't using some kind of implant, and had indeed actually just injected himself with the drug. Seriously, men and their penises. Ridiculous!...more
I read this for class. I mean come on people, you know you don't read anything translated by Brian Massumi for fun! I'm glad I finally read it, as it'I read this for class. I mean come on people, you know you don't read anything translated by Brian Massumi for fun! I'm glad I finally read it, as it's one of those books that gets cited everywhere, but I had no idea whatsoever what the author's argument is.
Basically, Attali is looking to read Western European history through developments in music -- like that changes in musical style presage historical events. It's a bit convoluted at times, but does have a lot of interesting historical digressions, like about the history of copyright law in France (yes, I'm a nerd)....more
Before I read this I had actually forgotten how enjoyable Goffman is to read -- he uses really entertaining examples to illustrate things, and his manBefore I read this I had actually forgotten how enjoyable Goffman is to read -- he uses really entertaining examples to illustrate things, and his manner of writing is really refreshing, especially for sociological theory. He seems possible obsessed with horses, too. He mentions "horses with mathematical inclinations" and there is a lengthy anecdote about the autopsy of this horse that the owners claim was killed by aliens. Also, he did a lot of fieldwork in Las Vegas, so many of his examples are about how casinos operate, which is fairly interesting. ...more