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Are American Teenagers Getting More Promiscuous?

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on April 17, 2014

Hsu pix

One of the big areas of research in sociology is social problems. To me, one of the most interesting things about social problems is the difference between perception and reality. Often, people panic about problems that really aren’t that big – especially if they involve teenagers and sex. According to one organization, 90% of adults think that teen pregnancy is more important than any other problem facing America today. And the media is full of terrifying (to adults) stories about the rise of the hook-up culture.
Actually, teen pregnancy rate in the United States is less than half of what it was 20 years ago.  And public health campaign about the cost of the “epidemic of teen pregnancy” may do more harm than good.
What about the hook-up culture? To learn more about teenage sexual behavior in general, check out this article on FiveThirtyEight.com: Are American Teenagers Getting More Promiscuous?

Carolyn Hsu
Associate Professor of Sociology

New SOAN Logo

By Chris Henke on April 15, 2014

After a long process of input, collaboration, and voting, SOAN has a new logo!


Developed with the help of graphic artist Lara Scott and some of our SOAN majors, you’ll see our new logo on our posters and other materials that we use to market SOAN events and information.  One of the things I really like about the logo’s design is the large ampersand, which I think is symbolic of a few important things about our community of anthropologists and sociologists.

Read more

Hokusai Says, a poem by Roger Keyes

By Chris Henke on April 15, 2014

This time of year, everyone is starting to get a little crazy.  Final papers and exams loom just around the corner, so it’s a good time to get a little wisdom and perspective.  Prof Spadola shared this poem with me last week, which references legendary Japanese painter Hokusai.  Hokusai is known for his paintings of Mount Fuji and his iconic painting, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.  Enjoy…

HOKUSAI SAYS (by Roger Keyes)

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive -
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

Do Movies Featuring Women Make Less Money?

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on April 8, 2014
Walmart employee DVD's for Hsu blog

A Walmart employee puts Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on the rack prior to the midnight release at Walmart on March 6, 2014 in Orange, California.

Years ago, I had a student foolishly say in class that “sociology is just opinion.” Needless to say, I disabused him of that “opinion” quickly. The social sciences (including sociology and anthropology) are disciplines that get to the reality behind opinions – and also explain why people hold those opinions in the first place.

Here’s an example: Hollywood movies are much more likely to feature men than women. The movie industry justifies this discrimination by claiming that movies about men make more money than movies about women. But is this economic truth or sexist rationalization?

Check out this article from one of Carolyn Hsu’s favorite blogs, FiveThirtyEight.com:
The Dollar-And-Cents Case Against Hollywood’s Exclusion of Women

Sociological Images: “Why do the Japanese Draw Themselves as White?”

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on March 24, 2014

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Associate Professor of Sociology Carolyn Hsu)

Picture of White Japanese Hsu Blog

One thing I love about sociology and anthropology is that they are useful everywhere. They offer an excellent perspective for thinking about important and meaningful issues, but also for analyzing fun and amusing topics. Even better, they help us see what is important and meaningful about fun and amusing topics. So I can read Entertainment Weekly and still feel like I’m doing something deep and intellectual.

A great place to enjoy this intersection between fun and meaningful is Sociological Images , a website with short articles like, “What Do Little Girls Really Learn from ‘Career ‘Barbies?” and “Questioning Media Portrayals of Female Drunkenness,” as well as pieces on the relationship between “stand your ground” laws and racial bias. My current favorite is “Why do the Japanese Draw Themselves as White?” Check it out.

— Carolyn Hsu

Colgate students excel at national Model African Union

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on March 7, 2014
Students and and Mary Moran pose for a photo in her home

Students in Professor Mary Moran’s Model African Union course gather at her home for a final class and dinner. (Photo by Duy Trinh ’14)

Mary Moran, Professor of Anthropology and Africana and Latin American Studies, recently returned from a Model African Union trip to Washington DC where students from all academic majors experienced an enriching experience.

Read more on the main Colgate news site.

SOAN Major Hannah Fitton Profiled on Colgate.edu

By Chris Henke on February 19, 2014

Our very own Hannah Fitton appears today in a profile on the Colgate website.  The story highlights Hannah’s accomplishments as a member of our swimming team as well as her role as a cellist in the university orchestra.

In addition to the infomation in the profile, you might be interested to learn about Hannah’s research as one of Colgate’s Alumni Memorial Scholars, working in the Balkans on forensic anthropology, or the study of human skeletal remains and what they can tell us about past times and cultures.  Hannah is building on this experience as part of an honors project in SOAN this term.

Finally, and probably most important, Hannah is a cheesehead from Appleton, Wisconsin, like yours truly.

Sociology major Marshall Scott ’14 delivers MLK address

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on February 6, 2014

marshall scott MLK

Sociology major Marshall Scott ’14 delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony for the 2014 MLK Week. His insightful remarks engaged the Colgate Community to consider what does it mean to “do better” in our efforts to promote “full equality for people of color, women, the poor, and the LGBTQ community.”

SOAN Professor Jonathan Hyslop Comments on Oscar-Winning Documentary, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

By Chris Henke on February 1, 2014


Jonathan Hyslop

Jonathan Hyslop

Professor Jonathan Hyslop recently contributed an article to a forum in the journal Safundi  on the documentary film ‘Searching for Sugar Man.’  The movie won the Oscar for Best Documentary at the 2012 Academy Awards.

It tells the story of how music recorded in the 1970s by Sixto Rodriguez, a Latino construction worker from Detroit, developed a cult following in South Africa. There, his songs became associated with opposition to the authoritarian apartheid government. But strangely enough, the artist did not know of his fame in the southern hemisphere, and South African fans thought, wrongly, that their hero was internationally famous.

The movie recounts how two South Africans tracked down Rodriguez, who had long given up performing, and how this led him to a new career as a minor international rock star. In the Safundi forum, a number of critics argued that ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ is misleading and is ultimately conservative in its implications.

Hyslop, however, contends in his article that the film, while flawed, opens up some important sociological issues about youth, politics and global cultural connections. He shows how the influence of the American ‘counter-culture,’ of which Rodriguez was part, can validly be understood as an element contributing to change in South Africa (although a small one). And he suggests that the movie has a positive message about the working class in America.

Professor Hyslop’s article can be read on his academia.edu page.

Thinking Inside the Box — SOC 340: Work and Society

By Chris Henke on January 30, 2014

This week in my sociology course on Work and Society (SOCI 340) we are reading and talking about the role of the body and technology for work. Humans use their bodies, in tandem with tools, to do almost any kind of work you can imagine. From the earliest hunter-gatherer societies up until the postindustrial workplace of today, our bodies, and the strength, motion, and creativity that they generate, are the starting point for everything we do. At the same time, we tend to take for granted our bodies and the skills that we perform through them; because such skills are “embodied,” it can be hard to articulate just what we’re doing. Read more