The tradition of the debutante ball is a coming of age ritual for upper-class women that works to confirm or elevate a women, and her family’s social status. Reflecting on my own debutante ball, I was curious to know what other debutantes’ reasons for participating were, to what extent they were aware of the social implications of debutante balls, and how they made meaning of the ritual. A coming of age ritual presents implies that ones identity is changing. The majority of the women I interviewed said that their debutante ball didn’t have a large effect on their identity. The identities of elite women are influenced more by their class than their gender. The women whose identities were not effected by their ball all had family members who were also debutantes, so the ritual was confirming their status and not changing it. The two women who placed more significance on the ritual were both the first in their families to be debutantes. It seems that they find their ball more significant because it represented a changed and elevated social status for them and their families. Debutante balls are primarily ceremonies that reinforce identities, not change them. Because these women distance their role as a debutante from their identity, they also distance themselves from the negative social implications of the debutante ball. All of the women I interviewed were able to think critically about their balls, but were able to justify their participation either because of family tradition or because it was a fun experience. These women viewed debutante balls as positive from individual standpoints, however debutante balls need to be considered from a larger social perspective.
Using the subcultural framework from the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) and Marxist definitions of class this study seeks to better understand upper class youth subcultures. It argues that through identity tied to the parent culture upper class youth form subcultures of symbolic resistance around relationships both romantic and familial. This study uses quantitative analysis of a survey taken at Colorado College. Gender was statistically significant when determining respondents feelings and actions around relationships. Young women were attempting to resist the dominant discourse while young men were complicit, proving gender as a currently relevant subculture. Overall, class was not statistically significant. The analysis draws on Muggleton’s (2000) theory of neo-tribalism and hypothesis that class is no longer relevant to post modern youth. In the end, participating in youth subcultures gives the youth a sense of resistance, however, is a futile effort as subcultures are re-commodified by their dominant culture and rendered harmless without any real change to the structures of power.
For decades the American corrections system has failed to provide adequate, much less successful rehabilitation to prison inmates. Paired with other factors contributing to crime, America has the unfortunate distinction of owning the world’s highest incarceration rate. Some prisons offer rehabilitation programs, many of which are very successful, but in an environment of fiscal austerity, they are often the first to be eliminated. Correctional industries are becoming more common in prisons due to their unique ability to be completely self-sufficient in requiring no government funding, as well as to provide meaningful rehabilitation that has a proven record of success. Private prisons have arisen as an alternative to relieve overcrowded public prisons. Some facilities are well managed and provide useful programs. Many private facilities, however, are purely profit-driven, and unless these facilities are held accountable to standards of financial transparency as well as meaningful rehabilitation, their numbers could grow malignantly and become nothing more than warehouses of captive labor for unscrupulous business ventures.
This study utilizes shelter intake survey data from TESSA, a domestic violence resource agency in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to analyze the relationships between victim demographics and experiences with various forms of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). This study also addresses Michael Johnson’s Intimate Terrorism and Situational Couple Violence typologies and analyses the relationship between gender and control among IPV victims and perpetrators. Finally, this thesis considers the question of cumulative abuse as an indicator of abuse severity. Findings suggest that when the role of controlling behavior is considered, both gender-symmetrical and gender-asymmetrical forms of abuse can be identified in one sample. Specifically, highly controlling behaviors are more often perpetrated by males against female victims, but more event-specific and less controlling behaviors are perpetrated and experienced by males and females at roughly the same rates. Finally, findings suggest that cumulative abuse may be a proxy for control in predicting abuse severity.
Researchers commonly use an individualistic approach to understand mental health, focusing purely on the biological determinants influencing outcomes. This paper looks beyond biology and chemistry and identifies the social determinants responsible for mental health outcomes. This study takes a quantitative approach, using multiple regressions to identify and compare the significance of various social factors in accounting for mental health experiences. Results show that age, race, gender, social class, and social capital are important predictors of mental health. By focusing on the social conditions that shape health experiences, this paper hopes to show how studying mental health using a sociological standpoint can help address some of the inequities and fundamental causes of poor mental health.
This paper researches the reciprocal relationship between individuals with a diagnosed mental illness and their families. I interviewed fourteen college students who were diagnosed with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder and asked them about their relationships with their families. I used a symbolic interactionist perspective to interpret the social construction of mental illness. I found that individuals who were not the only family member diagnosed with a mental illness defined mental illness as a normalized object. As a result, these individuals had a higher perceived sense of self and higher self-esteem. However, individuals who were the only family member diagnosed defined mental illness as an abnormality and therefore, the individuals sense of self was lower.
An analysis of Asian roles in American cinema revealed a complex portrayal of Asian Americans liminality. Seventeen films derived from “Asian American Film 101” (2011) a list created by Michael Kang were used to conduct this research. The literature concluded there were limited spaces for Asians in Hollywood: women shown as hypersexual and men a meek and asexual. Using content analysis from these seventeen significant Asian American Oscar nominated films, the research showed the presentation of Asian Americaness in a state of transition. These films showed the Western perception of a liminal state between their Asianess and their Americaness.
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 looked like a bill doomed to fail; it was proposed by, and sought for the benefit of a small racial minority with little political power, under a fiscally conservative Republican administration. No such apology had ever been given to African-Americans or Native-Americans for the injustices suffered. Why, then, did it pass? A content analysis method of the floor debates is used to identify several central themes, three theories are applied in an attempt to explain the bill’s passage. A pluralist model of lawmaking is appealing because of the agency it affords to Japanese- Americans in the bill’s passage, yet naively ignores the obvious structural racism that persists in America. Elite theory addresses this inequality, but to the detriment of Japanese-Americans by robbing them of any influence they exerted in the legislative process. Structural contradiction theory is ultimately most satisfying when improved by the inclusion of an institutional production model. This theory provides a more nuanced and less deterministic theory, while allowing for minority group agency in a singular instance. Through this model we can understand the skillful manner in which Japanese-American interest groups seized the favorable ‘cultural context’ of a country yearning for an affirmation of justice, liberty, and equality. They dexterously framed the Civil Liberties Act as one that would fulfill this need, depicting it as a bill for the common good. This case study is illustrative of the manner in which a historically powerless racial minority could momentarily wield great political power by obscuring their own voice and aligning their own interests with those of the collective.
Bullying among school-aged children has received notoriety in the media as of late, especially following highly publicized incidents in which victims have killed themselves or others as a result of being bullied. The following study analyzed data from the 2005-2006 Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, a national survey of students, in order to determine the socio-demographic factors predictive of bullying behaviors. A dichotomous bully variable was derived from the data set and used in an initial logistic regression with a set of independent variables representing student race/ethnicity, gender, family SES, family structure, and parental engagement. Initial results demonstrated the significance of parental attachment above all other independent variables, in addition to gender and family SES. OLS regressions were then run in order to determine which independent variables affected parent engagement. Results indicated that both mothers and fathers, especially those from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds, were significantly less engaged with their children than their white counterparts, particularly racial/ethnic minority fathers being significantly less engaged with their daughters. These results point to a crisis of masculinity as well as greater structural inequality that prevents minority parents from being more engaged with their children.
Restorative justice seeks to repair harm by bringing together those involved in and affected by an offense in order to address their needs and impose obligations. However, the field of restorative justice has become increasingly undefined due to its expansion over the last couple of decades. Moreover, existing empirical research on restorative justice predominantly evaluates its effectiveness and then grounds its finding in restorative justice theory. This thesis uses interviews and participant observation to demonstrate the connection between the theory and practice of restorative justice group and family conferences and the tradition of social theory. I argue that restorative justice reflects the theories of Emile Durkheim, George Herbert Mead, Jürgen Habermas, and Ivan Illich. Threads of their theories are evident in how the structure of restorative justice conferences creates the conditions for the process of communication to occur, which then facilitates the realization of abstract values and strengthens community. By explaining the role of this implicit yet significant logic, I locate restorative justice within a broad historical process of social theory to illustrate its potential foundations.
Sociologists are starting to understand emotions as a socially constructed phenomenon. Research has been conducted to understand how emotions prevail in every environment, whether it is academic, person, or work settings. However, there is a lack of information gathered regarding emotions during critical transition periods. Based on previous theoretical findings about emotions, there are particular ways students should emote throughout their college experience. This study looks at the display of emotions at two liberal arts colleges. Through survey and focus group research, this thesis found that the colleges were much the same, and the expected differences in gender were not found. The major difference was between the expression and suppression of emotion between freshmen, sophomores, and upperclassmen.
Biracial individuals, as demarcated by having one white and one non-white parent, hold a unique social position in the United States. Situated in a white racial hierarchy, individuals of mixed races are, in some ways, caught between racial lines—they do not embody one racial category but rather two. Given that biracial individuals exist outside of established racial binaries, one is left wondering in what manner they racially identify. While some research argues that raced Americans (that is, those who are raced as non-white) are confined by their racial appearance and hence limited in ethnic identity options (Waters 1990; Gans 1979), more recent research finds that raced Americans experience a degree of opportunity and choice in the expression of an ethnic and/or racial identity (Khanna 2011). My research, situated between these two polar studies, finds that biracial individuals are at once both confined and free. Comprised of eleven interviews with biracial individuals across three racial categories (black, Asian and Latino), I ask: How do biracial individuals racially self-identify? In what manner and to what extent does phenotype affect the way in which individuals choose a particular identity? And how do individuals express their identity through ethnic and/or racial symbols? What I find is that, in support of Waters’ (1990) and Gans’ (1979) assertions, respondents’ phenotypes greatly affect the way in which they racially identify—respondents tend to draw on racial and ethnic symbols opposite their phenotype in order to either fit in or stand out. In particular, I find that phenotypically non-white respondents draw on American ethnicity in order to claim white affiliation and assimilation. At the same time, however, respondents, like Khanna’s (2011), maintain the freedom to draw on symbols of race and ethnicity. And regardless of phenotype, individuals predominately draw on symbols of non-whiteness to claim feelings of being different and unique.
This study examines the effects of social class, race, and cultural capital on academic experience and social belonging at Colorado College. Survey data from a sample of Colorado College students about academic and social engagement at CC is analyzed in an attempt to explore how students are impacted by their social class, race, and cultural capital. Specifically, this study analyzes classroom engagement, intellectual confidence, and social belonging at Colorado College, focusing primarily on how social class and race/ethnicity intersect in ways to affect educational and social outcomes. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which “doubly disadvantaged” students, those who are first generation college students and students of color experience unique challenges at a predominantly white institution. The analysis suggests that first generation students of color face more challenges in the classroom and feel less connected to the student body than their peers. The study’s findings suggest that more attention and support need to be given to the “doubly disadvantaged” to help increase their academic and social engagement at CC. Additionally, this study advocates more research be done on the inequalities that working class minority students face within the education system.
Transnational advocacy networks (TANs) play an important role in restructuring global governance and maintaining international norms. Recent literature has amassed highlighting the role of transnational advocacy networks, movements, and coalitions in the promotion of international human rights norms. Drawing on social movement theory and literature on transnational advocacy networks, this paper analyzes the dynamics of transnational movement activity surrounding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I argue that Ugandan human rights activists strategize with international actors to both strengthen the local movement and conceal Western power. Secondly, the case in Uganda highlights the presence of competing networks working to both promote and limit LGBT rights. Although Ugandan human rights activists are able to overcome traditional North-South power imbalances to a certain extent, they rely on the international community’s implicit pressure and structural power to exhibit influence over the Ugandan government.
Within the field of migration studies, the study of transnationalism is a relatively new concept with a building body of empirical research. There is ongoing debate over the meaning of the term, its significance as an area of study, and its legitimacy as a concept that can be applied to future generations of migrants. In this paper, I use data gathered from my ethnographic research to present an analysis of a Hmong transnational community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I illustrate the relationship between their history as a diaspora (and their ascribed refugee identity), their agrarian background, and the urban agricultural movement. I propose that, as refugees, the Hmong exhibit a strong desire to assert their agrarian identity within United States. Thus, they maintain a transnational identity that is reinforced through urban agriculture. Urban agriculture is then an economic pathway in which the Hmong simultaneously assimilate into society and maintain home-country ties. It facilitates the maintenance of a Hmong transnational identity and the strengthening of their transnational community.