“On a deeper level, it confirms basic premises of Pathan life: that wealth is not for amassing, but for use and is basically without importance, that only the weak man is attached to property and makes himself dependent on it, that the strong man bases his position on qualities within himself and people’s recognition of these qualities, and not on control of people by the control of objects.”

— Fredrik Barth, Pathan Identity and Its Maintenance


“Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale. Medicine, as a social science, as the science of human beings, has the obligation to point out problems and to attempt their theoretical solution: the politician, the practical anthropologist, must find the means for their actual solution… The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and social problems fall to a large extent within their jurisdiction.”

— Rudolph Virchow


““Like others of my generation, for me a Ph.D. in the social sciences meant that results were only meaningful if full of numbers, chi squares, and cluster diagrams that had a statistical significance of .05. Although there was something very seductive about artfully uncovering elegant patterns in this matter, the relative trust in a scientific method and distrust of the ‘art’ of studying human behaviour never sat well with me. I watched my scientist housemate start an experiment by getting rid of the “noise.” Yet I found that the noise, the outliers that blew away my 0.05 level of confidence, was where some of the most interesting information lay. I felt an almost tangible beauty in the patterns, especially ones that outliers helped foreground; surely they were part of the story””

— Ellen Pader (p. 161) in Dvora Yannow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, eds. “Interpretation and Method: Emperical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn.” Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. 


“Narcissism is a developmental stage, not a symptom of the times. Young adults have been condemned as the “Me Generation” since at least the turn of last century. Then they get older, get appalled by youngsters nowadays, and start the condemning themselves.”

Oliver Burkeman, This Column Will Change Your Life: Consistency BiasThe Guardian.

TL;DR: We change too; it’s not just the times, the world, or the others.


“Every intellectual has a very special responsibility. He has the privilege and the opportunity of studying. In return, he owes it to his fellow men (or ‘to society’) to represent the results of his study as simply, clearly and modestly as he can. The worst thing that intellectuals can do - the cardinal sin - is to try to set themselves up as great prophets vis-à-vis their fellow men and to impress them with puzzling philosophies. Anyone who cannot speak simply and clearly should say nothing and continue to work until he can do so.”

Karl Popper 1994: Against Big Words

Culture is the site, par excellence, of misrecognition, because, in generating strategies objectively adapted to the objective chances of profit of which it is the product, the sense of in­ vestment secures profits which do not need to be pursued as profits; and so it brings to those who have legitimate culture as a second nature the supplementary profit of being seen (and seeing themselves) as perfectly disinterested, unblemished by any cynical or mercenary use of culture.

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction, p.86 (via darkvvaste)

(via thepovertyoftheory)

Inspiration porn is an image of a person with a disability, often a kid, doing something completely ordinary - like playing, or talking, or running, or drawing a picture, or hitting a tennis ball - carrying a caption like “your excuse is invalid” or “before you quit, try”… 

Let me be clear about the intent of this inspiration porn; it’s there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective. So they can go, “Oh well if that kid who doesn’t have any legs can smile while he’s having an awesome time, I should never, EVER feel bad about my life”. It’s there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think “well, it could be worse… I could be that person”.

In this way, these modified images exceptionalise and objectify those of us they claim to represent. It’s no coincidence that these genuinely adorable disabled kids in these images are never named: it doesn’t matter what their names are, they’re just there as objects of inspiration.

But using these images as feel-good tools, as “inspiration”, is based on an assumption that the people in them have terrible lives, and that it takes some extra kind of pluck or courage to live them.

For many of us, that is just not true…

Inspiration porn shames people with disabilities. It says that if we fail to be happy, to smile and to live lives that make those around us feel good, it’s because we’re not trying hard enough. Our attitude is just not positive enough. It’s our fault. Not to mention what it means for people whose disabilities are not visible, like people with chronic or mental illness, who often battle the assumption that it’s all about attitude. And we’re not allowed to be angry and upset, because then we’d be “bad” disabled people. We wouldn’t be doing our very best to “overcome” our disabilities.

I suppose it doesn’t matter what inspiration porn says to us as people with disabilities. It’s not actually about us. Disability is complex. You can’t sum it up in a cute picture with a heart-warming quote.

So next time you’re tempted to share that picture of an adorable kid with a disability to make your Facebook friends feel good, just take a second to consider why you’re really clicking that button.

- Stella Young, editor of Ramp Up, provides an excellent critique of able-bodied social media discourses of disability. Her analysis also represents a thoughtful discussion of social privilege. Read the whole article on the ABC.

Indigenous culture has for a long time had a holistic understanding of mental health. Within this are concepts of the cultural importance of the connection between the mind and body as well as the land, ancestors and other spiritual connections…. What I admire most in my family and all the communities is Aboriginal people’s great resilience and generosity of spirit, not only to their own people but to everyone. Despite a terrible history that is still very close for Australia’s Indigenous people, this spirit of generosity and resilience are something to celebrate and acknowledge.

Prof Pat Dudgeon, National Mental Health Commissioner

In the Howard years Australia became a much meaner and more self-interested country … We are the richest people per capita in the world, if you just look in material terms, and we are the richest people ever to live on the Earth… Yet there’s this air of dissatisfaction and a feeling that we are being cheated, and that is a cultural shift that came out of the Howard years and has been promoted mightily by the Murdoch media — and that flows on through the ABC and all the other radio shock jocks and so on….

People voted for that with their eyes wide open [on the removal of environmental policies]. And I might add to that, that they voted for $4 billion dollars in foreign aid to be not spent.

Retired Greens Senator Bob Brown says Australia got the Prime Minister we voted for… but before you decry that you didn’t vote for Tony Abbott, don’t fall into complacency or fatalism. Brown says the Australian public can still exercise choice and have our voices heard.

There’s an ennui or a feeling of ‘Why bother?’ or even fatalism — that action doesn’t make any difference — which has to be gotten over. Because if people in wealthy countries like Australia can’t be motivated to get out and defend the future of the planet, and people on the planet, and life on the planet, you can’t ask others to do it.

Via New Matilda. Read the whole article, it’s great. 

[H]onouring the achievements of black filmmakers by declaring it “their” year does them a disservice. Lumping together heavy dramas with lighthearted romcoms simply because of the skin colour of the actors or director prevents these films from being measured against the whiter counterparts that actually share their genre — inadvertently ghettoising the former and protecting the latter from scrutiny. It’s difficult to imagine pulling, say, Blue Is the Warmest Colour, The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, and The Fifth Estate into a story declaring 2013 the year of the “white movie.”

….[A]fter a number of conversations with directors and writers and filmmakers who all happen to be black, one thing quickly becomes apparent: There is no such thing as a black movie.

…[W]hen studios fail to recapture the box office magic with the formula of a previous hit, it casts doubt on all films by black directors. “Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake, Vince Vaughn, they can make a flop — make five flops — and they’ll still get hired and execs will say, ‘That particular movie doesn’t work,’” [Holiday writer and director Malcolm D. ] Lee said.

That kind of nuanced analysis doesn’t often extend to movies by black filmmakers, largely because of the limited vocabulary we use to describe those films; in the language of the industry, race (and gender) of the audience and cast typically trump genre. But using “black movie” or “chick flick” as a lens through which we view bona fide hits like The Butler or Bridesmaids — rather than “sweeping historical drama” or “hilarious ensemble comedy” — leads to largely anaemic and cynical attempts at improving diverse representation.

This is an excellent essay by Deputy Executive Director of Buzzfeed, Shani O. Hilton. Hilton deconstructs the problem of talking about “Black films” as a genre, including similar euphemisms: “race-themed,” “African-American-themed,” “Black-themed,” and “ethnically diverse.” Hilton notes that films that include a few African American actors does not mean it is “ethnically diverse.”

Hilton also raises issues of gender and class. Most so-called “Black films” are centrally stories about men directed by men. African American women directors have even more problems than their male counterparts getting their films recognised. Also, “Black films” tend to portray working class or struggling characters, and so well-educated, middle-class African Americans are largely absent from widely released films.

There’s a great discussion about the possibilities of new distribution and funding methods to increase the types of films that are made.

I highly recommend you read the whole thing on Buzzfeed and discuss!

Last week was also the 10th anniversary of White Ribbon Day in Australia, which begins a period of activism to stop violence against women, culminating on December 10th with Human Rights Day.

It’s disturbing to see this anniversary greeted not with encouraging reports of widespread activism and positive change, but with ongoing reports of male violence toward women. In a society where men are statistically the main perpetrators of violence against all genders, we need to accept some hard truths. The problem is whenever we try to accept anything, a raft of excuses and counter attacks arrive: violence is caused by monsters not men, the statistics are wrong, men suffer violence as well.

We, as men, seem to struggle to accept the truth about ourselves.

A strange dichotomy exists. On one hand we deplore violence. We distance ourselves from violent actions by demonising the perpetrator…

But then on the other hand we condone violence, we accept it as part of our behaviour. It becomes an inevitability.

Source: SBS News

"Race" is called an ideological construction, and not just a social construction, because the idea of "race" has never existed outside of a framework of group interest. As a nineteenth-century pseudoscientific theory, as well as in ceontemporary "popular" thinking, the notion of "race" is inherently part of a "model" of asymmetrically organised "races" in which Whites rank higher than "non-Whites."

Philomena Essed, Understanding Everyday Racism.

#Sociology: “the excitement of finding the familiar becoming transformed in its meaning.” This quote by Peter Berger is often confused with “Seeing the general in the particular.” The latter is actually a phrase coined by John Macionis and Ken Plummer in “Sociology: A Global Perspective.” In “Invitation to #Sociology” Berger goes on to write: “The fascination of sociology lies on the fact that its perspective makes us see in a new light the very #world in which we have lived all our lives.” #visualsociology #society #theory #socialscience #pearson #prenticehall #quote #book High-res

#Sociology: “the excitement of finding the familiar becoming transformed in its meaning.” This quote by Peter Berger is often confused with “Seeing the general in the particular.” The latter is actually a phrase coined by John Macionis and Ken Plummer in “Sociology: A Global Perspective.” In “Invitation to #Sociology” Berger goes on to write: “The fascination of sociology lies on the fact that its perspective makes us see in a new light the very #world in which we have lived all our lives.” #visualsociology #society #theory #socialscience #pearson #prenticehall #quote #book