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Sociological Images

Inspiring sociological imaginations everywhere.
Apr 17 '14
How to lie with statistics: The relationship between Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and gun deaths.
At Junk Charts, Kaiser Fung drew my attention to a graph released by Reuters.  It is so deeply misleading that I loathe to expose your eyeballs to it.  So, I offer you the mishmash above.
The original figure is on the left.  It counts the number of gun deaths in Florida.  A line rises, bounces a little, reaches a 2nd highest peak labeled “2005, Florida enacted its ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” and falls precipitously.
What do you see?
Most people see a huge fall-off in the number of gun deaths after Stand Your Ground was passed.  But that’s not what the graph shows.  A quick look at the vertical axis reveals that the gun deaths are counted from top (0) to bottom (800).  The highest peaks are the fewest gun deaths and the lowest ones are the most.  A rise in the line, in other words, reveals a reduction in gun deaths.  The graph on the right — flipped both horizontally and vertically — is more intuitive to most: a rising line reflects a rise in the number of gun deaths and a dropping a drop.
The proper conclusion, then, is that gun deaths skyrocketed after Stand Your Ground was enacted.
This example is a great reminder that we bring our own assumptions to our reading of any illustration of data.  The original graph may have broken convention, making the intuitive read of the image incorrect, but the data is, presumably, sound.  It’s our responsibility, then, to always do our due diligence in absorbing information.  The alternative is to be duped.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

How to lie with statistics: The relationship between Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and gun deaths.

At Junk Charts, Kaiser Fung drew my attention to a graph released by Reuters.  It is so deeply misleading that I loathe to expose your eyeballs to it.  So, I offer you the mishmash above.

The original figure is on the left.  It counts the number of gun deaths in Florida.  A line rises, bounces a little, reaches a 2nd highest peak labeled “2005, Florida enacted its ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” and falls precipitously.

What do you see?

Most people see a huge fall-off in the number of gun deaths after Stand Your Ground was passed.  But that’s not what the graph shows.  A quick look at the vertical axis reveals that the gun deaths are counted from top (0) to bottom (800).  The highest peaks are the fewest gun deaths and the lowest ones are the most.  A rise in the line, in other words, reveals a reduction in gun deaths.  The graph on the right — flipped both horizontally and vertically — is more intuitive to most: a rising line reflects a rise in the number of gun deaths and a dropping a drop.

The proper conclusion, then, is that gun deaths skyrocketed after Stand Your Ground was enacted.

This example is a great reminder that we bring our own assumptions to our reading of any illustration of data.  The original graph may have broken convention, making the intuitive read of the image incorrect, but the data is, presumably, sound.  It’s our responsibility, then, to always do our due diligence in absorbing information.  The alternative is to be duped.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Apr 16 '14

The Illusionists, a documentary.

Writer and director Elena Rossini has released the first four minutes of The Illusionists.  I’m really excited to see the rest.  The documentary is a critique of a high standard of beauty but, unlike some that focus exclusively on the impacts of Western women, Rossini’s film looks as though it will do a great job of illustrating how Western capitalist impulses are increasingly bringing men, children, and the entire world into their destructive fold.

The first few minutes address globalization and Western white supremacy, specifically.  As one interviewee says, the message that many members of non-Western societies receive is that you “join Western culture… by taking a Western body.”  The body becomes a gendered, raced, national project — something that separates modern individuals from traditional ones — and corporations are all too ready to exploit these ideas.

Subtitles available here.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Apr 15 '14
From “pale” to “pumped” with racial stereotypes.
If whiteness is the neutral category — meaning that people of color are commonly understood to be raced while white people are not — then to be non-white is to be different in some way. The “bad” difference is the deviant (for example, the “welfare queen,” the “thug”), while the “good” difference is the exotic, the interesting, the hip, the cool… the hot or spicy.  Whiteness, in contrast, is boring, bland, or “vanilla.”
This two-page advertisement for Crystal Light beautifully illustrates these cultural ideas.  Notice the way the ad goes from black-and-white to color, from a white model to a model of color (but not too dark-skinned), from straight to curly (but not too curly) hair, from a rather plain dress to one that looks vaguely ethnic, and from awkward standing to dancing (of course).  In the ad, whiteness is, quite literally, bland and being of color is framed as more flavorful.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

From “pale” to “pumped” with racial stereotypes.

If whiteness is the neutral category — meaning that people of color are commonly understood to be raced while white people are not — then to be non-white is to be different in some way. The “bad” difference is the deviant (for example, the “welfare queen,” the “thug”), while the “good” difference is the exotic, the interesting, the hip, the cool… the hot or spicy.  Whiteness, in contrast, is boring, bland, or “vanilla.”

This two-page advertisement for Crystal Light beautifully illustrates these cultural ideas.  Notice the way the ad goes from black-and-white to color, from a white model to a model of color (but not too dark-skinned), from straight to curly (but not too curly) hair, from a rather plain dress to one that looks vaguely ethnic, and from awkward standing to dancing (of course).  In the ad, whiteness is, quite literally, bland and being of color is framed as more flavorful.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Apr 15 '14
Happy Birthday, Emile Durkheim!

Happy Birthday, Emile Durkheim!

Apr 15 '14

nextyearsgirl:

If men don’t have to do it to be “empowered,” it probably doesn’t actually give you any power.

Apr 14 '14
Where did your 2013 tax dollars go?
Each year the National Priorities Project releases a visual illustrating how our tax dollars are spent.  This is the one for 2013, sans medicare and social security taxes.
At the end of Sociology 101, I like to ask my students: “What is the state for?”  This often takes them aback, as most of them have never considered the question before.  Is it for defense?  It is to maximize happiness or reduce misery?  Is it for maximizing GDP?  Protecting private property?  Do we want to use it to influence other countries?  How?
There are many questions to ask and they are not purely theoretical.  I like how the spending of our tax dollars helps make the conversation more concrete.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Where did your 2013 tax dollars go?

Each year the National Priorities Project releases a visual illustrating how our tax dollars are spent.  This is the one for 2013, sans medicare and social security taxes.

At the end of Sociology 101, I like to ask my students: “What is the state for?”  This often takes them aback, as most of them have never considered the question before.  Is it for defense?  It is to maximize happiness or reduce misery?  Is it for maximizing GDP?  Protecting private property?  Do we want to use it to influence other countries?  How?

There are many questions to ask and they are not purely theoretical.  I like how the spending of our tax dollars helps make the conversation more concrete.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Apr 13 '14

Overwork and its costs: The U.S. in international perspective.

By Martin Hart-Landsberg PhD

.

On average, U.S. workers with jobs put in more hours per year  than workers in most OECD countries. In 2012, only Greece, Hungary, Israel, Korea, and Turkey recorded a longer work year per employed person.

A long work year is nothing to celebrate. There is a strong negative correlation between yearly hours worked and hourly productivity.

More importantly, the greater the number of hours worked per year, the greater the likelihood of premature death and poor quality of life.  This reality is highlighted in an article by Angus Chen titled “8 Charts to Show Your Boss to Prove That You Can Do More By Working Less.”

In sum, we need to pay far more attention to the organization and distribution of work, not to mention its remuneration and purpose, than we currently do.

.

Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front.

Apr 12 '14
In super ironic ad, Botox claims that it’s product will give you “freedom of expression.” 
Text:

Don’t hold back! Express it all! Express yourself by asking yourdoctor about BOTOX Cosmetic. Millions of women already have.

Remember, look pretty and stay quiet ladies!

In super ironic ad, Botox claims that it’s product will give you “freedom of expression.” 

Text:

Don’t hold back! Express it all! Express yourself by asking your
doctor about BOTOX Cosmetic. Millions of women already have.

Remember, look pretty and stay quiet ladies!

Apr 11 '14

Baby preacher: An example of religious socialization.

In a previous post I embedded a video of a small child worshipping, arguing that it illustrated how children learn “the culturally-specific rules guiding the performance of devotion.”  The video below is a similar case, showing how a young child of about the same age, who has yet to learn to speak, has nonetheless absorbed the rhythms, emotional expression, and gestures customary among preachers in the particular faith in which he is being raised.

Discovered thanks to Dmitriy T.M.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Apr 10 '14
Diverse countries do better with female heads of state.
Countries with a lot of ethnic diversity generally show weaker economic growth than homogeneous countries.  A new study, however, discovered a variable that strongly reverses the trend: women leaders.
Management professor Susan Perkins and her colleagues compared the economic growth rate of 139 countries over 55 years.  They found that diverse countries did significantly better when a woman was at the helm.  The more diverse the country, the stronger the effect.
Perkins and her co-authors cautiously attempt to explain their data (here), but think that it may have something to do with leadership style.  Female leaders have been shown to be more collaborative and non-authoritarian than men. Co-author Nicholas Pearce speculates:

In countries with a lot of internal conflict, oftentimes people are looking for signals that the person in charge is going to be collaborative and not dictatorial or self-interested. Women’s gender role is symbolic of collaboration, that they’re going to empower marginalized voices.

Because of gender stereotypes, then, women may seem more trustworthy. Meanwhile, real differences in leadership style may affirm those expectations and be more effective in practice.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Diverse countries do better with female heads of state.

Countries with a lot of ethnic diversity generally show weaker economic growth than homogeneous countries.  A new study, however, discovered a variable that strongly reverses the trend: women leaders.

Management professor Susan Perkins and her colleagues compared the economic growth rate of 139 countries over 55 years.  They found that diverse countries did significantly better when a woman was at the helm.  The more diverse the country, the stronger the effect.

Perkins and her co-authors cautiously attempt to explain their data (here), but think that it may have something to do with leadership style.  Female leaders have been shown to be more collaborative and non-authoritarian than men. Co-author Nicholas Pearce speculates:

In countries with a lot of internal conflict, oftentimes people are looking for signals that the person in charge is going to be collaborative and not dictatorial or self-interested. Women’s gender role is symbolic of collaboration, that they’re going to empower marginalized voices.

Because of gender stereotypes, then, women may seem more trustworthy. Meanwhile, real differences in leadership style may affirm those expectations and be more effective in practice.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.