Although there is an emerging body of literature on ethnic groups and natural resource use in America, there is not much research regarding specific ethnic groups and their interactions with the American wilderness. This thesis explores the relationship between the American social constructions of wilderness and a specific refugee population in America—the Hmong people. Interviews were conducted with participants in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with conversations focusing on identity and wilderness interactions. These interviews revealed that the Hmong, a Southeast Asian people with a deeply rooted connection to nature interact with the wilderness in ways that differ from the American norm. Yet, through segmented assimilation, younger generations of Hmong have also acculturated to the American perception of wilderness as a place of self-discovery.
Existing analyses of gender relations in youth marijuana subcultures have consistently shown these social fields to be economically, socially, and culturally male-dominated. Despite this disparity and the questions it raises about the gendered investments and negotiations of woman who tap into this subculture, scholars have yet to employ case-specific, qualitative methods to investigate the subjective experiences of female marijuana users. Building on contemporary feminist integrations of gender into Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of social reproduction, this thesis uses the hybrid concepts of gendered field, gendered capital, and gendered habitus to perceive a typology of female marijuana users at Colorado College from 17 purposively sampled interviews. I posit that of the four observable types – guest moochers, honorary den bros, token stoner chicks, and independent floaters – two exhibit distinct forms of gender reflexivity, a self-consciousness of gender investments, negotiations, and constraints as components of a socially constructed game rather than as biological imperatives. These two forms of gender reflexivity – which I call tactical resignation and emergent reflexivity – raise further questions about the capacity for inquiry and discourse to induce reflexivity and the experience of marginalized gender identities in other social fields.
The term “bro” is an emerging label within young adult masculinity that also encompasses what is known as “bro culture.” Athletic, hard partying, and womanizing are the stereotypical characteristics that have come to describe today’s bro. This study explores the bro identity, its pressures, contradictions, and issues, along with the culture’s place in contemporary masculinity. I conducted interviews with ten young men on my own college campus whom their peers perceived to be bros. Their narratives suggest that bro culture is today’s version of young adult hegemonic masculinity. The participants’ views on what they deemed to be problematic within bro culture points to ways in which bros in a liberal arts college setting are more likely to hold progressive views about women and homosexuality. The men thus described bros and their views in diverse terms that simultaneously adhered to hegemonic masculinity while challenging its presumed uniformity.
Disasters, man made or natural, can impact a community in extreme ways, sometimes changing a people’s lives forever. The research done by sociologists of disaster mainly focus on the communal response to the disaster and how quickly the community can bounce back from the life altering event. There are many aspects to a successful community response to a disaster including: preparation, social capital, cooperation, coordination and organizations. This paper offers analysis on over 80 organizations and categorizes them into specific groups describing what the categories can tell about a community. Through a modified response model of Bardo (1977) the organizations are specified as manifest or emergent, describing the 9/11 communities’ extensive social capital and resource mobilization. The second category is determined by the most common organization groups found in the American Red Cross’s 9/11 Service Guide: A list of Programs That Receive September 11 Recovery Grants from the Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. These four major categories demonstrate what areas received the most support and attention in the years following 9/11.
The concept of choice is a disputed but nonetheless important feature of human life. In light of the radical expansion of choice in contemporary Western, consumer culture, it is now, more than ever, critical to examine how one’s decisions are informed both by their context and by their potential effects. I propose that if we aspire to move toward the great social solidarity that the classical social theorists call for, we must put into practice a new concept to orient ourselves within this space of choices: a morality in which each individual views his own consequential subjectivity as the part of himself that he has in common with all other humans across space and time. I show that theory that seeks to explain any social phenomenon must acknowledge causal agency and incorporate the moral agency of the individual, who has the capacity to make seemingly non-rational choices, based on what is deemed to be significant to him. Such an endeavor necessitates an investigation of the processes through which the external world comes to have specific meaning and value for each individual. By first using Bourdieu’s work to locate individual agency in the challenges of everyday life and then arranging a marriage between the idealistic moral social theory of Bauman and the more functional theory of social solidarity that Alexander provides, I craft my own theory about how to progress toward a functional social solidarity.
This study examines the factors that impact women’s contraceptive choices. Using both quantitative and qualitative research techniques, combing survey and interview data, I explore the narratives women tell about their experience using birth control. Family Planning clinics, where women receive information and care, provide a space that is both assessable and confidential. The way that women talk about their experience using birth control is socially influenced based on the dominant narratives of their reference groups. The political and social atmosphere often informs reference group norms, which are then internalized by the individual and expressed through their contraceptive care choices. Significant events that occur in the lives of women shape the ways in which women talk about and use contraceptives. Women often use medicalized accounts of their physical experience with birth control to help distance themselves from its connotations with sexual activity. A narrative of the shared reproductive experience with their reference group shapes the way in which women assume and understand their own experience with contraceptives.
Each day we make many decisions about how we want to look and act in order to maintain our identity and present ourselves to society in the best possible light. Some individuals rebel against social norms while others follow them to the extreme. Our notions of self are influenced by society and how we desire to be perceived by society. This study focuses on the presentation of self in digital media, specifically on the online social network Facebook. I analyze how individuals construct their Facebook identity and why they present themselves in particular ways. Since users’ identities are known both offline and online by their audience they are unlikely to present a false-self to their “friends.” By interviewing 11 volunteers, I found that participants in this study mainly displayed information about themselves through pictures. Further, participants presented a virtual self through either carefully set privacy settings, not allowing friends to see tagged photos and consciously presenting themselves with certain viewers in mind. Given this, users are omitting information about their real selves in order to appear as their hoped-for self that they can only obtain through their virtual self. By looking at how individuals present themselves on Facebook and their choices about how they do so, we may better understand the relationship between identity and social norms and the significance of self presentation in virtual space and social interaction.
The data for this thesis was collected from eight interviews and participant observation. Participant observation took place in league poker games in bars and restaurants and cash poker games and tournaments in casinos. Interviews were conducted with both players of the poker league and casino poker. Poker is a male dominated game and it is a leisure time activity, outside of the workforce and the private home. Individuals who participated in these poker games reproduced gender binaries by performing gender. Male poker players respond to and treat women different than men, and women who participate in the poker games are expected to perform specific, stereotypical female roles. The research has addressed how gender is performed not only in the workplace or in private homes, but also in leisure activities in the public sphere. The implications of this include the reproduction of poker as a male dominated game in a male dominated arena and the reproduction of female stereotypes. Though women have been accepted into this male dominated game in great numbers, the men still treat women as though they do not belong. The females who participate in these poker games have extended the intentions of the feminist movement by seeking for equality of women in public arenas.
The increasing presence of supporter groups, or organized fan groups driven by diverse cultural practices, of the Colorado Rapids has resulted in a non-traditional American spectator experience for some fans at games and is an area suitable for sociological study due to gaps in the body of literature. Using Giulianotti and Robertson’s (2007) theory of glocalization as a lens, this thesis examines the forces that are influencing the supporter groups. This study investigates the effect of the forces of globalization on the supporter groups of the Colorado Rapids. Qualitative methods and in-depth interviews were used to obtain information about these processes. This study found three forces simultaneously competing with one another in an effort to become the cultural norm for spectators at Colorado Rapids games.
Hunting in the West has historically been a valorous and honorable form of exploit, and yet in the present day the activity is not as commonly practiced as it once was. For people who do hunt, however, the activity is still a popular means of facilitating social interaction and enhancing the experience of the outdoors, particularly for men. This research examines the men and women involved in the subculture of hunting as they negotiate discourses around the activity and develop responses and justification narratives accordingly. Hunters respond to social structures both outside and inside the hunting subculture, combining the objective and subjective to formulate legitimization and validation tactics within a Bourdieuian field of social space and symbolic power.
My thesis examines the role that think tanks play in the immigration policy debates. Drawing from Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of social space and fields of power, I critically analyze the space that immigration think tanks occupy and the influence they demonstrate with regard to their relational positioning in this space. According to Thomas Medvetz (2008:9-10), think tanks can be understood as an “organizational device for gathering and assembling forms of authority conferred by the more established institutions of academics, politics, business and the media” (Medvetz 2008: 9-10). By analyzing the intellectual products written by experts from five distinct think tanks, I seek to uncover the strategies, practices and propensities of each organization. This analysis allows for situating each organization in relation to each other. I also include in the analysis each think tanks unique orientation to the proximate locations of power. For my thesis, I examine a think tank sample that includes the Urban Institute (government contract model orientation); Migration Policy Institute (academic orientation); National Immigration Forum (economic orientation); Federation for American Immigration Reform (ideological orientation); and National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (grassroots orientation). By coding the policy-oriented publications of each think tank, I create a conceptual field through which I can visualize each organizations unique location in relation to each other. This field emerged out of positioning each organization on two primary axes: (1) the epistemological axis, which measures whether the legitimacy and/or authority of the intellectual products rest upon academic/scholarly/objective evidence or more upon a popular/narrative evidence and (2) the political rationale/axis, which measures whether the intellectual products on US immigration policy reflect a focus on its national impact or on a more comprehensive goal of internationally recognized human rights. I explore a third axis, which measures the interests that are being promoted (if any) in terms of business interests vs. worker interests. I conclude with a discussion as to which think tank is the most effective among the five and I explain why I think their particular characteristics put them in their particular position such that they have the greatest potential to influence immigration policy.
In this paper, I explore the process of meaning-making around alcohol consumption in two contexts: Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a college campus. Drawing on ethnographic observation of AA meetings, interviews with AA members, and a survey of college students, I will discuss how context and interaction shape the process of alcohol-related identity construction. In Alcoholics Anonymous, members are provided with a clear, established path toward identity creation. On the college campus, however, students must give meaning to their behaviors without the aid of explicit standards or expectations.
In this thesis, I studied differences in conceptions and practices related to food and gender between males, females, vegetarians, and meat-eaters, with the key focus surrounding Male Vegetarians. I conducted a correspondence analysis of food and gender conceptions and supplemented it with information from five interviews with Male Vegetarians. I collected data by surveying Colorado Springs vegetarians and meat eaters, then entered the data into Ucinet 6 matrices and analyzed the results. From an online vegetarian “meet up” group, I found male volunteers for supplemental interviews that enabled interesting relationships shown in the correspondence data to be discussed in detail to better understand Vegetarian Male opinions, beliefs, and actions. I found that Vegetarian Men, as deviants of consumptive practices and gender performance, are excluded from normal status-seeking and power-building practices. However, aligned with their greatly individualized identities as vegetarians, these men have developed individualized definitions and strategies for managing and redefining their masculinity.
This thesis explores the relationship between media regulation and social status by conducting comparative study between Australian and American college students. The thesis defines popular culture as a new form of high culture used to elevate social status. The hypothesis states that less media regulation exposes people to more popular culture and therefore improves their social status. Australians live in a context of less media regulation and are therefore popular culture and media exposures are hypothesized to have less of an impact on their social statuses compared to Americans. In order to test this hypothesis, a survey was sent to Australian students at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and to students at the Colorado College in the United States. The survey results and analysis revealed that though American students have higher levels of achievement and aspiration in college compared to Australian students, American students have significantly lower prestige scores. The results of the thesis as well as other alternative hypotheses ask questions and start a discussion for future comparative research on media regulation and society.
Rates of domestic violence remain high in America despite many actions being taken against it. Though both men and women can be perpetrators of domestic violence, most often domestic violence is committed by men against women. Previous studies on the topic find that traditional masculine values and masculine gender role stress increase the likeliness of a man committing violence, and that gender role stress is higher in men who experience a form of masculinity marginalized from the hegemonic masculine ideal. In the present study I examine the effect that both traditional masculine values and hegemonic masculinity has on prevalence of male perpetrated domestic violence. I use six of the nine U.S. Census regions to carry out the study. By finding the average score or level of traditional masculine values, hegemonic masculinity, and prevalence of male perpetration in each of the six regions, I was able to observe the effect had on prevalence of male perpetration when traditional masculine values and hegemonic masculinity are present in the region. The goal was to find out if stronger traditional masculine values and lower access to the hegemonic masculine ideal in a region would lead to higher rates of male perpetrated domestic violence in that region. The results support both the previous findings and hypothesis, and also highlight the lowering effect that hegemonic masculinity has on rates of male perpetrated domestic violence.
The social movement to end violence in the home has always been characterized by discursive struggles, both within the movement and in its engagement with wider society. This study examines how movement discourse is transformed and rationalized at the individual level, presenting a case study of one domestic violence advocacy agency located in a politically conservative community. In-depth interviews were conducted with 17 employees and volunteers of the organization, including three former employees. The study found a central discursive struggle within the organization surrounding the use of gendered language, reflecting tensions between newer and older members of the movement. A new discourse of “inclusivity” is becoming prominent in the organization, and its complexities suggest that de-gendering language may be a much more nuanced discursive shift than researchers of the movement have previously stated. In somewhat of a contradiction, proponents of inclusivity simultaneously see gender-neutral language as fitting into the conservative political landscape, yet also as progressively challenging this landscape by allying with the LGBT community. As gender-neutral comes to be seen as the “new progressive” and older advocates feel increasingly unable to express their concerns, the movement must examine the possibilities and consequences of its shifting discourse for social change.
Unitarian Universalism (UUism), which began in 1961, is a liberal religion built on covenant rather than creed; its members are not required to subscribe to one specific belief or deity. Despite the non-traditional foundation for this religion, music is still an essential part of worship for Unitarian Universalists. My study is seeking to uncover how Unitarian Universalist religion functions and what purposes its worship music serves. I used qualitative methodology to conduct my research at two UU churches in Colorado over a period of seven weeks. Using Durkheim’s definition of religion and his purposes of ritual, as well as more current research on the sociology of music and its role in worship, I have shown that this modern religion and its music function to ultimately provide an inclusive alternative to mainstream religion.
Despite extensive scholarship exploring relationships between space, gender, and sexuality, little attention has been given to lesbian/queer subjects in everyday heterosexual spaces such as bars. Furthermore, there is an absence of work addressing the bartender as a social actor. This research confronts those gaps by examining the social power of lesbian bartenders in straight bars to facilitate lesbian networks, and to cultivate and maintain “quiet queer spaces”—structurally heterosexual and socially heteronormative spaces that temporarily and covertly double as safe spaces for queer populations. By drawing on previous scholarship, and conducting a primary investigation through interviews and observations, I examine the creation and maintenance of quiet queer spaces in Colorado Springs bars to conclude that quiet queer spaces are both present and necessary in lesbian networks. I specifically examine the position of the lesbian bartender in straight bars as one of unique social power, essential in the creation and identification of quiet queer space.
No two cities are alike: differences in demographics, such as ethnic populations, socioeconomic class, and population density can have extensive impacts on the city’s character and how citizens experience the area. This study investigates the effect of the different compositions of Colorado Springs and Denver on how the two Hispanic immigrant communities experience the assimilation and integration process. Hispanic immigrants form the largest ethnic communities in both Colorado Springs and Denver, and the two cities differ in several critical measures. Sample subjects were chosen through contacting personal contacts and Hispanic stores, restaurants, organizations, and businesses in Colorado Springs and Denver. The levels of assimilation and acculturation found in Denver participants were higher than those of Colorado Springs participants, and this study connects these differences with each city’s demographics. The higher levels of integration with Denver’s Hispanic community correlates with a larger population, less residential segregation, a larger Spanish-speaking and Latin-Americanborn community, a less conservative population, and more exposure to other ethnicities. Despite the differences, several similarities were found as well, including language-use, the participant’s well-being, aspirations for one’s self or one’s family, one’s perception of their identity, and the importance of family. This study also investigates the significant role of Hispanic shops and restaurants. The composition, characteristics, and demographics of a city can hold huge consequences for a city’s planning projects, economy, development, and, as this study investigates, a city’s character and community structure.
This paper discusses the relationship between the type of welfare system, selective or universal, practiced by a state and the public attitudes toward the poor. How public attitudes toward the poor are formed is important because beliefs about the causes and character of poverty influence what social aid measures people will support. By comparing the welfare systems and public opinions of the United States and France I tested the hypothesis that the type of welfare system has an effect on how the public frames their beliefs about poverty and homelessness. The United States, as a selective care system, fostered a view of the poor as a differentiated group that only deserved aid when absolutely in need of assistance. The individualist tradition of the United States was reflected in its welfare system and in turn the system perpetuated the belief that poverty is most often the fault of the individual and that recipients should work as not to become dependent on the state. France represented the universal care system and was found to propagate views of the poor that were based more on structural barriers. The universal care system was based on a more egalitarian tradition and tended to view social welfare as the right of all citizens. As expected, the universal system influenced the support of more inclusive social aid that promoted solidarity among all citizens. The selective care system reinforced negative beliefs that recipients were distinct from regular citizens and that poverty was due to individual characteristics.