Monday, November 16, 2009

Hobbes in Hebrew

Social Theory folks might be interested in NYTimes blog conversation on publication (& mass popularity) of Hobbes' Leviathan in Hebrew....

November 15, 2009, 7:00 pm
Hobbes in Hebrew: The Religion Question

“Leviathan” is arguably the most influential work of Western political thought, and one of the most analyzed. Yet the first full Hebrew translation of Thomas’s Hobbes’s work was only published last month. While the first two parts have long been available in translation, the third and fourth parts — in which Hobbes addresses religion and the state — had not appeared in Hebrew.

Of all the universally read works of political philosophy, why has it taken so long to translate all of “Leviathan” into Hebrew? In addition to the significance of the full translation to Hebrew and Israeli scholarship, what more can scholars in the rest of the world learn about “Leviathan,” written in 1660?

[Read the discussion...]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Social Structure as Independent Variable

Social networks in the news -- and being written about by an evolutionary biologist....

November 10, 2009
Social Medicine 
Olivia Judson
[O]ne day, perhaps we’ll have public health campaigns of a different kind. “Be jolly: it’s catching.” Or, “Eat less: do it for your friends.”

Why? Because “traditional” infectious diseases — those, like flu and tuberculosis, that are caused by viruses or bacteria — are not the only aspects of health that can spread from one person to another. Taking up smoking is contagious; so is quitting. Obesity is contagious. So is happiness. [Read more...]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Welcome to Sociology@Mills

One of my favorite things about sociology is that you are always in the lab.  Or as one of my old teachers put it: it's not a discipline, it's a disease.

Whatever your take on that, it's certain that you can't do sociology all by yourself all in your little head.  Sociology is social.  At conferences as well as at university, the best conversations usually take place in the hallways, around lunch tables, or over drinks.  To this we can add this virtual watercooler which, one could easily argue, is what a blog is.  It's an opportunity for members of our community to share their observations, their questions, their internet "finds," whatever as long as it's remotely related to what we are about.

The most important thing about a blog is that it's not meant to be a one-way medium.  While it is certainly permitted to merely "lurk" (that is, only to read, but never write), the thing that makes it worthwhile is seeing contributions from everyone.  That's how we turn it into a "social medium."

What do you think?  Want to join as an author?  Or sign up for email notification?  Or you can add this blog's feed to your facebook account so you'll be notified whenever something new is posted.  Subsequent posts will explain how to do each of these.

Looking forward to sharing this web2.0 experience as well as some interesting conversations. I'll leave it set up to send mail to faculty and majors for a few days and then switch to allow folks to subscribe or sign up as authors as they please.  Thanks for your patience for those few days if this is simply not your cup of tea.

-- Dan

An Old Concept Gets a New Lease on Life

When I was growing up "the generation gap" might have been the first "sociological" concept I was exposed to in the mass media. In 1968, it was a big deal. But over the next few decades you didn't hear so much about it. My guess is that for a while youth culture won and the folks raising kids in the late 70s, 80s, 90s were so numerous that we didn't even notice the older folks who "didn't get it." But now, the "don't get it crowd" is pretty big and, well, apparently the generation gap is back.

This article in today's NYTimes covers some familiar, and maybe we'd say, trite, territory, but it does remind us of how important a component in social location our position in the life course and our year of birth are.

The article appears to have been inspired by a research report from The Pew Research Center (a reputable non-profit social sciency outfit where you should try to get an internship!) featured in a post at their "Social and Demographic Trends blog, "Forty Years After Woodstock, A Gentler Generation Gap." There's link to the survey data -- interesting stuff.

Bridging the Workplace Generation Gap: It Starts With a Text
Published: November 7, 2009
The book “How Not to Act Old” has some tips to help the 40-plus crowd communicate with younger co-workers.