Tag Archives: sociology

IS ADD medicine over-prescribed in adults?

Or kids?

That is the $20,000 question.

This sort-of article in the NY times (maybe a blog post) does not really answer it.

First, if adults are now taking ADD meds, it can be because there is a real population of the needy who were not diagnosed or medicated. Is that over-prescribing?  Well, only if we can find that the people taking it are not fitting the diagnosis of ADD.

That is a valid question, but as the article points out, this report does not really nor can it, really answer that question.  So, instead, we tend to look at the question and answer it based on our own ideas.  If you think ADD is not a real or wide-spread problem, then, yes, it is over-prescribed.  If you think meds are a valid part of treating problematic problems, then this is progress.  If you think that perhaps people exhibit ADD symptoms due to their context, such as more stimulus, too little exercise, too little positive work structure, too many boring jobs, and so on, then we can medicate people to help them conform to context, but we are avoiding a full-spectrum approach.

I tend to be in the latter two camps.  Meds can help.  But it is worth asking if we have the best contexts for learning (kids) or working (bigger kids) for ADD people to be productive and resilient.

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Is Sociology Too-Leftist?

” Sociology, for example, should be central to so many national issues, but it is so dominated by the left that it is instinctively dismissed by the right.”

So says Nicholas Kristof….

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/kristof-professors-we-need-you.html?_r=1

As a half-sociologist, I have some insight on this. Conservatives would rarely find themselves intellectually in accord with sociology. Modern conservative thought is deeply enamored of a naive economics that assumes that humans always maximize narrow economic interest and that therefore markets will deliver the best outcomes in all cases.

Sociologists, mostly, assume that humans are partly economic, and partly social. In other words, we are motivated by other forces, including family, identity, religion, or ideology. In fact, we cannot understand humans as only individuals, but must always see them as embedded in larger social forces and structures. My point: you can’t really do sociology as a field of inquiry if you agree with modern conservative thought.

So, with all due respect Mr. Kristof, it is a self-selection away from sociology more than any strategic decision to chase off conservatives.

I wish sociology did figure into more discussions of policy, but blaming us for not being sufficiently beholden to conservative thought is misplaced.

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Rule 34 and a Sociological Variant

A random email string with a colleague/friend brought up rule 34.

I am embarrassed I did not know it.  So true… prompted the following riff…

LOL.  Didn’t know rule 34, but once, in jest, said to [names omitted to protect the innocent] something about Darth Vader fetish.  And one google search later…. oh my….

Definitely true.

 I have a more sociological variation on Rule 34 which is that anywhere in human history or cultures or societies, people screw each other- in other words, if we had full genetic histories of all people and groups, we would see none are as pure as any thinks they are.  African-Americans are a clear example, but it goes the other way too.  I make “white” people annoyed sometimes that pointing out that any non-Jew with tight curly hair probably had an ancestor who “passed.”  This is part of my larger interest in smashing these ideas that social groups are in any existential way, or biological, “real” becauce they actually have more internal variation than they do between groups.  Celebrating custom and all is great.  Just don’t assume anything about purity of the group as the basis for its existence.  
 
In Spain, the jews, moors, celts, Romans were all rolling in the hay.    
 
In Ireland, in the Balkans, in India (castes), whatever.  
There is some theory I heard once that Colulmbus’ sailors were all like a weird Mediterranean mixing bowl of  Moorish, Jewish, and African and that they may have ALREADY known about the Americas.  Ok, can’t find any Internet confirmation of this one… bad memory?
The general point holds: people screw around undermining any claims of pure groups.  if there are different groups of people living in proximity, no matter the  amount of taboo, racism, ethnocentrism, any-other-ism, sex happens (and I am not belittling assault here).  

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Getting Ready for “Ten Books that Influenced Me”

I had some money to spend.  A co-author mentioned Neil Fligstein’s new book, A Theory of Fields. So, I decided to get that book.  Then, I started looking at my wishlist and my recommendations.  I a few more items popped up.  Then, I wondered, “Well, what have been some influential books in social science or social theory recently?”

This led a google search, of course.  First stop, the ASA’s theory division.  They have a page of award winners.  Not very impressive.  While many great sociology or org theory blogs are out there, the official organs of professional associations (speaking of my experience with EGOS, AOM, ASA, and INSNA) have lagged, although EGOS and INSNA do better.  The ASA theory division award pages has many holes in it!  For example, it does not  the 2010 best article.  Was one not awarded?  The 2009 winner article is not hyperlinked.

But, there is good news!  Apparently, among blogging social scientists, there is a viral type of post: “My top 10 most influential books…”  I found several examples and I look forward to crafting my own.

Here is my list of others’ posts.

Ten Influential Books
http://asociologist.com/2010/03/21/ten-influential-books/

Ten Influential Books
http://crookedtimber.org/2010/03/20/ten-influential-books/

Books which have influenced me most
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/03/books-which-have-influenced-me-most.html

Ten most influential books
http://jacobtlevy.blogspot.com/2010/03/ten-most-influential-books-see-tyler.html

Influential (Actually Published, Actually Read Cover-to-Cover During College or Graduate School) Books

http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2010/03/influential-actually-published-actually.html

My Top 10 Most Influential Books:

Finally, in assembling this, I found a book I had not heard of, Required Reading: Sociology’s Most Important Books It is from 1998, so it will not have any great books of last ten years.    Still, I am curious to see what it says (and which I have read or not!)

I know my own initial list of books I have read and which  find my mind turning to again and again include:

  • The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism
  • Castells’ The Information Age Triology
  • Berger and Luckmann’s Social Construction of Reality
  • Geertz’ Interpretation of Culture
  • Watts’ Six Degrees

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Digindigenous- Neologism for a Wired World

For a paper I am writing about virtual worlds and the way institutional forces are shaping the filed, I needed a word to refer to organizations or other social phenomenon that arose or operate from within digital spaces: virtual worlds, social media, and other mileux of the matrix, the cyberspace, the metaverse.

I was playing with this neologism which I do not see anywhere yet.

Digindigenous: organizations, collectives, or other social phenomenon that emerge from within the socio-economic interactions of various cyberspaces.  Examples: Tringo (a game form within SL), electric sheep company (and other VW designers), the Uru diaspora, any number of virtual objects businesses (such as avatar or fashion companies), and so on.

The word is derived from digital + indigenous.

Is this a keeper?

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Filed under organization theory, Second Life, social theory, sociology, virtual worlds, words

Writing and Blogging

Writing and Reading (x posted at Nets We Weave). One of the aspects of blogging that I love is the chance to participate in conversations with others who have similar interests. This is why I enjoy academic blogs Orgtheory.net so much. At the same time, it can feel like a time suck of seeming to be productive when it actually does not do anything to advance my writing. How to balance the goodness- feeling connected and part of the dialogue- with not becoming a blogger instead of a scholar? I also find myself often with lots of random thoughts in my head that want to get out. I tend to ignore them out of a belief that to use energy and time to put them to paper or screen dissipates my limited reserves of time and attention. But maybe this is flawed. Maybe it would actually be better to just get them down and out instead of using energy trying to push them aside. As a new experiment in the relationship between blogging and scholarly writing, I will use short bursts of time to write about my writing process or to simply record the random assortment of theory and social science-related ideas and tangents that pop up in my unquiet mind. Rules: •Write for no more than ten minutes. If it is not publishable, save it as a draft. Minimize worrying about sourcing or linking as these activities often turn a ten minute blog jaunt into a hour of blog marathon.

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Bicing, Casual Sociology

I also posted this on our family blog, but as it has a dose of casual sociology, here goes also.  You can never turn off your social science brain once you have spent enough time reading theory.

Bicing is Barcelona’s bike sharing program and network. You get a card.

I keep my card in my wallet, but I have to remember to take my wallet out of my back pocket.

Now you can go to a station and grab a utilitarian bike.

Bicing is run by the city government, the ajuntament.

You pay 30Euros a year (about $42) a year for the card, and then 0.5E per thirty minutes of use up to three hours. You get to swipe your card on the little screen at the station.

Now, of course, Barcelona, as a transportation network, has a long history of technological changes layered on top of prior technology and intersecting with growth, redesign, and social trends. The old quarter, with its narrow, byzantine streets had to adapt from foot and hoof traffic to cars, the 19th century, the “expansion” or “Eixample” in Catalan (clever name there), was built for trams and trolleys, many of which disappeared to be replaced by the metro, buses and gas cars. Although, the trams have sort of made a comeback with these newly installed beauties.

They are often installed on the old lines on the broad avenues, like that other exemplar of functional industrial nomenclature asethetics, “Avenida Diagonal” The Diagonal cuts, naturally, diagonally across the city.

So, on to this infrastructure palimpsest comes the new wave of cycling. I have always wanted to use palimpsest! Of course, the city was never really built with tri-use through ways- car, ped, cycle. So, cycling is always a hit or miss affair (ha ha) in terms of finding a route and surviving with your skin and/or life.

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Solution to QDA Needs, Alpha

As I posted here, I was looking for a way to do some basic Qualitative Data Analysis with a colleague who is not co-located (very not!  Ted is in Singapore.)

Thanks to Debra Sarlin, of Bucknell, and this ethnographer’s blog, I isolated some possibilities.

Part of my search led me to Nvivo, an off the shelf product that looks like it has some great properties.  Bucknell has a license, but not the server version.  Without the server version, I am back in square one of needing a way to share data, protect data, and dynamically code data.  Hence, for now, I am proceeding with my Alpha solution.  In a nutshell, this has two parts.

  1. Use Google sites as a private site to create files of our own data like transcripts, chat logs, field notes.
  2. Use Zotero to cite and share third party data like blogs, news articles and so on.

The key to this is that Ted and I develop our  list of tags to identify relevant themes and then find those data points later.  Standard QDA methodology and our own experience tells us that this is an iterative, dynamic process.  There is no one best solution for the tagging piece.  I think our best bet is to keep a “master file” of tags in google sites.  We can each print it up and also access anytime we are on line to jar our memory and cue ourselves as to what is significant or salient in raw data.

Ted and I had a trial run last week and I think we both realized quickly that ideally we could have some sort of a floating box on top of all applications that would allow us to tag almost anything, and tag within documents or files.  This would be linked to the more powerful kinds of QDA tools.  Well, like a platonic ideal, that floats out there as something we are aiming towards in our little jerry-rigged solution.

Our solution has some side benefits

  • Google sites can also be used as a wiki-like creation to share our concepts or coordinate other research.
  • I _think_ if we ever want to turn on part of google sites as a public portal/URL we can.
  • We can use Zotero to share scholarly citations also.

I made the following graphic as a flow chart for this alpha solution.

Comments welcome, of course…

How to use a hybrid of google sites and Zotero to do collabroative QDA

I am not sure if this is legible…

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Elaine Pagels and Book of Revelations

Elaine Pagels, the noted  Biblical scholar and author, came to BU this week. I was super excited as I find the early history of Christianity fascinating.  How did such a marginalized sect become so dominant?  I had heard Pagels a few times on the usual suspects: Fresh Air, Bill Moyer’s, and so on.  Add to that the intoxicating aroma of fire and brimstone and I had high hopes for a mind-blowing lecture.

I was not alone!  Trout Hall was packed to the gills.  Curious students?  Nervous Christians?  Wild-eyed present day prophets?  All there!

The lecture was a bit of a flop.  She presented three interesting questions, in this order (which is also the order of interest to me):

  1. What is Revelations about?
  2. How did it make it into the canonical Bible?
  3. What explains its enduring popularity?

The strength of the lecture were her clear explanation of the content of Revelations.  She had several images from Western art from the 15th century to now.  She explained that Revelations was anti-Roman propaganda meant to counter Roman propaganda.  Babylon, in Revelations the source of worldly, political, profane, hedonistic power and society, is a stand in for Rome and is then shown to be an ally or pawn of monstrous, dark forces.    I am not a religion scholar, but I thought this point was already well-established.

As to the other two questions, she did not get very far in exploring or answering them.  All right, that is excusable.  She did say it was a work in progress. She went to Q&A after about 50 minutes or so.  She did not really engage in dialogue with anyone and her response was usually a variation of  “I’ll look into that.”  Disappointing.

You would think someone as visible as she is, writing on such touchy topics as religion and original texts would be used to lots of challenging questions from the folks who take the Bible VERY seriously.  The man asking a question before me really got into his rambling groove.  The long beard and switching between Hebrew (I think) and English added to his modern-day Ezekiel quality.  To me, and most, it was incomprehensible.  I think he was saying that that Ctaholic church is the “whore of Babylon.”  In fact, it is the Catholic Church literally, that the author of Revelations is doing the future and not his own times.  Anyway, the whole audience went from polite indulgence to awkward silence.  I almost asked him to wrap up after five minutes of this before Pagels cut him off.  She needed to step in earlier and politely dispatch him.  Take a page from Obama v Republicans!

The upside of his ramble was it gave me time to formulate my own suggestion to her about the staying power of Revelations.  Caveat: I am not a religion scholar and this is all off the top of my head.  Take it or leave it, but I won’t be doing more witht his than what I write here.

Premise 1: Revelations is full of multi-valent symbolims.  This is part of its appeal.  The reader can see many possibilities in any one image.

Premise 2: Revelations is about the tension between socio-political struggles of this world and how to understand them from a religious worldview.

My assertion: For any present day reader, Revelations DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.  I mean, it can not cohere in its entirety.  It offers the illusion of total allegory with the first two premises.  But it can never really deliver.  So, it’s very nonsensical essence is part of its enduring popularity.

Furthermore, there is a deep resonance with the ultimate incoherence of the text and the inability of interpreting it to reach a final resolution because the socio-political struggles of the messy world of human affairs also never really resolve.  I heard someone quoting some British politician recently who said that all political careers end in failure.  The point: there is never any enduring permanent victory for any side or actor in any of the many struggles that define our wordly existence.

Revelations can not make sense in terms of a final conclusion.  The real world also can not make sense.

But the multi-valent imagery and symbolism invites the reader to try to wrangle coherence out of Revelations, and by extension the real world.  The result is that the act of reading becomes an act of heroic interpretation.   The heroic interpretation then becomes a binding moment.  The reader becomes their own prophet, becomes one who sees the implications of the future in the present.

Revelations is popular because it doesn’t make sense.

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Filed under higher education, religion, Scholars, sociology

Evolution and Creation beliefs in the UK.

Interactive map of the UK: evolution and creation | World news | guardian.co.uk

I was hoping to embed map, but no such luck.  I wonder how godless the rest of EU is?

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