Sean Reardon Professor of Sociology from Stanford University discusses the sociological reasons why the middle class has been shrinking in the USA. This is from November 2011 but the argument is still valid and useful. The report referenced in this video can be accessed here: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/RussellSageIncomeSegregationreport.pdf
Nona Willis Aronowitz analyses the portrayal of “poor” young white women in the American version of Shameless and in the U.S. show Girls. Writing for The Nation, Aronowitz makes a distinction between being “privileged poor” and being born into an underclass. “Privileged poor” are (usually) white middle class people who have experienced downward mobility due to the financial crisis. Aronowitz argues that these young people seek to unionise and they feel entitled to a better life. Aronowitz argues that life-long working-class people who have been disadvantaged all their lives have a precarious sense about their working conditions and their futures. TV shows portray poverty in a more rigid sense, without exploring how working class relations are changing. Aronowitz writes:
For the most part, both shows are stuck in the old model of strict class segregation. In Shameless’s universe, you’re either rich and smug or poor and righteous. Hannah mostly interacts with her own kind, and when her free-spirited friend Jessa suggests to her fellow nannies that they all join a union, it’s played for laughs rather than inspiration. But in the real world, the labor movement may indeed benefit from the class mixing that’s already going on. Last year, when I reported on a group of young, mostly educated, mostly white kids trying to organize the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s in the Twin Cities, I spoke with Macalester College professor Peter Rachleff. He compared the organizers to certain Occupy kids who are “entitled,” “aware of their rights,” and have a safety net in case they get fired. I met a young woman who was galvanized by the realization that her middle-class aspirations may end up being pipe dreams. “What are the real dreams that we can actually accomplish? Fucking building a union,” she told me.
Compare this mentality to that of the working class employees I spoke with at Walmart last month, when reporting for The Nation on the workers who did not join the strikes, many of whom were terrified about retaliation or just happy to be making money at all. These workers are also hanging back from organizing at places like Burger King, Domino’s and Target.
Via The Nation.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Investments: We now offer ‘social conscience’ funds and ‘corporate ethics’ funds.
- Source: cartoonstock.com
A lesson I first learned reading Jane Jacobs’ The Economy of Cities:
Why does Apple manufacture abroad, and especially in China? As the article explained, it’s not just about low wages. China also derives big advantages from the fact that so much of the supply chain is already there. A former Apple executive explained: “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away.”
This is familiar territory to students of economic geography: the advantages of industrial clusters — in which producers, specialized suppliers, and workers huddle together to their mutual benefit — have been a running theme since the 19th century.
And Chinese manufacturing isn’t the only conspicuous example of these advantages in the modern world. Germany remains a highly successful exporter even with workers who cost, on average, $44 an hour — much more than the average cost of American workers. And this success has a lot to do with the support its small and medium-sized companies — the famed Mittelstand — provide to each other via shared suppliers and the maintenance of a skilled work force.
The point is that successful companies — or, at any rate, companies that make a large contribution to a nation’s economy — don’t exist in isolation. Prosperity depends on the synergy between companies, on the cluster, not the individual entrepreneur.
Also, have you seen the related NYT piece about Apple that’s really about Foxconn but doesn’t really acknowledge that ultimately it’s really about us? For a better take on it, read this TechCrunch piece <—this is a sentence I’ve never written before in my life.
- Reblogged from kenyatta
Temporal time is the passing of time as measured by clocks and calendars. Social time refers to the cultural meaning that societies place on time and the social norms that shape how people imagine their relationship to time. Social time also determines how societies organise the past, present and future. (Read more.)
Werner Bergmann discusses several sociological studies that demonstrate the historical and cultural variation of social time. In the past, societies were organised around the rhythms of sun rise and sun set. Industrialisation led to a stronger emphasis on ‘the clock’ as a primary way of organising society. Cultures reformulate the demands of modern life against cultural ideas of social time.
Bergmann discusses how Australian Aboriginal family and community relationships (kinship systems) are not simply a way of classifying social responsibilities. Rather, family relations also reflect a perspective that life is timeless. Indigenous Australians do not mention the names of the dead. The term for grandparent and grandchild relationship is the same. Such aspects of Aboriginal cultures denote a relationship between the ancestral past and the present. While some people might interpret from this that Indigenous Australians are past orientated, this is untrue. Instead, Aboriginal Australians are firmly present-orientated, but with a view that the present is timeless. I would also argue that Indigenous spirituality, stories of ancestral beings and creation (the ‘Dreamtime’), as well as cultural rituals similarly reflect the timelessness of the here and now. Aboriginal cultures reflect that nature, ancestors, and the present are interconnected.
Berman further shows that studies of American society emphasise how different sub-groups are motivated by different conceptions of time. Some sub-groups that are close-knit are more driven to work together to improve the material and wellbeing of group members in the present. The immediate need to take care of family and kin take precedence over individual achievements. Other sub-groups that are highly individualist are driven by ideas of the future. In this case people are taught to delay immediate leisure, invest in education, and work towards long-term goals that will pay off many years down the track.
Class, ethnicity, religion, gender and other social markers will influence how different groups understand social time.
Institutional forces will also shape this process. When an economy is prosperous, future-orientated perspectives are easier to maintain, but this can manifest in different ways. A current example I would offer is that in a strong economy, people might save all their resources towards future goals, or people might alternatively get into a habit of lending and rely on credit cards because the future seems a long way away. When there is economic stagnation or downturn, delayed gratification becomes a necessity. People’s ideas about the present and future therefore shift in relation to changing material realities and social norms.
This US AID infographic demonstrates the importance of improving women’s education, economic contribution, political power and health in developing countries through international assistance programs.
Text reads: A woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community. Via: US Aid.
A woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community.
Via: US Aid.
- Source: 50.usaid.gov
- Reblogged from datadispatchesdiagrams
- Reblogged from globalsociology
The Chinese state owned mining company MCC have built a camp at Mes Ainak, 35km south of Kabul, while archeologists are racing to excavate a series of ancient Buddhist monasteries before the bulldozers roll in. The Afghan government is desperate for the copper royalites, once mining starts, but officials familiar with the deal said the Chinise, having secured the rights to the deposit, appear to be in no hurry to start exploiting it. They are supposed to build a railway and a power station, but have not started either.
- Reblogged from eighteenchains