Longer pieces and highlights from the last few years.
The myth of Santa might seem like harmless fun and existential comfort-food. But we have two problems that the Santa situation may exacerbate. First is science denial. And second is inequality. An exploration of credulity and skepticism among children — from Margaret Mead to Elf on the Shelf, and its implications for the U.S. today.
It’s probably the greatest population decline in the modern history of cities, along with record institutional isolation, family instability, and widowhood rates. And then there are the deserted and decaying houses. The willful lack of attention or compassion from the U.S. government, and the mainstream culture, must feel as cold as it looks.
In The Sacred Project of American Sociology, Christian Smith says the discipline of sociology has overdosed on modernity, and lost its ability to critically examine itself and its questionable, unquestioned assumptions. The book is awful, but it’s a good chance to think about what’s going on in academic sociology. Has the discipline’s progressive orientation become a religious orthodoxy? I don’t think so.
Mark Regnerus returns to the public eye with a video mansplaination of the “economics of sex,” which means feminism has hurt women, hurt families, hurt children, and dragged society toward a rapidly-spiraling drain. And if you think that’s wrong (which it is), wait till you hear from the man whose theory Regnerus based it on. Funny, but no joke, as the video gets tens of thousands of views and accolades from the right-wing press.
A series of posts on the construction of sex and gender in animated movies for children. From hand and wrist size in Frozen and Tangled to gender the old-fashioned sexism of “Smurfette” in The Smurfs, the choices they make when they could have drawn anything always tell us something — and they usually tell us that men are extremely, naturally different from women, and we like it that way.
Using data from four sources on most of the world’s countries, I illustrate the decline of marriage in the last several decades, arguing it is nearly universal, in rich countries and poor countries, and that it is not simply attributable to increasing age or education levels. Some of this is because people are delaying marriage, but that is part of the decline as well. I see no major modern precedent cases in which this trend has been reversed. Can we safely predict it will continue for several decades? I think so.
In 2012 Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, funded by $800,000 from conservative foundations, published a paper suggesting that growing up with gay or lesbian parents was harmful to children. In a series of posts under the Regnerus tag, I critique the work and chronicle the controversy, from the publishing process and reviews, to the letter from 200 researchers, the American Sociological Association’s response and the paper’s place in the Supreme Court deliberations over marriage rights.
A series of posts on the books by Hanna Rosin (End of Men) and Liza Mundy (Richer Sex), and related debates, are at the Hanna Rosin tag. My review of both books together appears in the Boston Review as “Still a Man’s World: The Myth of Women’s Ascendance.”
Some do (e.g., Japanese, Indian), some don’t (e.g., Cambodian, Hmong). Because Asians are a diverse category made up of groups with very different profiles, and their household composition and geographic distribution vary by national origin group, generalizations are often unhelpful. I look at those factors for 10 Asian groups, and offer the details, including SAS code, so you can work on it more yourself.
In which I use a detailed case of a “very similar publications” — which make the same claims to originality, and include extensive copied text — and reflect on the institutional problems it reveals. I conclude with some of the research on publication problems in academia and a few concrete suggestions.
Writing a blog – as well as reading and contributing to the blogs of others – seems the most practical and engaging means of achieving the intellectual ideal that Mills described, which requires “surrounding oneself by a circle of people who will listen and talk.” Today’s blog platform is ideal for that.
On the changing norms of childhood, children’s safety and parenting — from traffic fatalities in New York City circa 1910 to hypervigilance at local playground in the present day, via Unequal Childhoods and research on children’s physical fitness.
What do to about the 1% meme?
A series of posts on the old claim that women only own 1% of the world’s property, which has been repeated in many forms and places since the 1970s, and still pops up today. I explain the origins of the claim, it’s continued resilience, a recent blog-and-Twitter-driven flareup, and finally a stab at empirical debunking.
The National Marriage Project is telling some tall tales, courtesy of a grant from the Templeton Foundation‘s “Foundations of Marital Generosity Project.” By using private foundation money and taking his results directly to the media, the National Marriage Project bypasses the peer-review system — but they use the image of that system to bolster their prestige and authority.
Color is everywhere; gender is everywhere; color and gender have a varied, changing, and hard-to-pin-down relationship, which nevertheless creates powerful, explicit and implicit signals by and for both the people who apply colors (to their kids, themselves, their cars) and those who see them (including themselves). With the recent news of Disney moving its product lines into the delivery room, I was wondering how one could study the application of colors by parents to their children in real life.
After I commented on Time‘s story about young women earning more than young men, “Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top,” Editor-At-Large Belinda Luscombe was good enough to drop in with her comment on my comment. Our exchange led me back to look at the story, and that led me to tinker with the data. This is the result.
Less than two years ago I was asking, “Why Are American Women Having More Children?” So, is it true that the recession has changed the birth calculus, raising the specter of “more mouths to feed”? The evidence looks — mostly — like the recession has prompted a downturn in birth rates. But the long-term implications aren’t clear.
Democracy is a living monument to individual rights. Except not in real life, where nationalism protects the patriot’s political shenanigans from the shame of selfishness. Today’s example: citizenship. For a newborn baby, yet to commit its first sin, what is the moral principle that lets the citizenship of it parents determine its rights?
Do more educated parents do it better, or are there other things about these homes, families, neighborhoods, friends, schools, etc., that account for this pattern? If education really is the issue, it’s a big part of how families transmit inequality — how rich parents produce rich children, and poor kids turn out poor.