Tuesday, May 16, 2017

American Culture

After learning about culture in general in the past unit we learned specifically about American culture for this unit. There are many little actions that Americans take throughout a typical day that exemplify American culture.

In Kohl's The Values Americans Live By it explains the cultural values of America and compares them to values from other cultures around the world. Some of the big American cultural values are materialism and efficiency. These cultural values explained what things determine success within American culture. For a person who lives in America they are more likely to have a strong desire for things they can buy whereas other cultures deem spiritual things more important. An American would feel happier when they have lots of wealth to buy expensive products because they have been taught that buying things is important by American culture. I have noticed myself that I value efficiency very high. I am always trying to find the quickest way to finish work in school or projects I get at work. I know I am willing to take shortcuts if it means finishing the assignment faster. I know I think like this because all of American culture values efficiency and the more efficient you are the more things you can get done. Another thought process is the quicker you get work done the more time you get to enjoy other things or relax. I am always thinking how to be faster as an American, yet if I was in another culture I would think more idealistically and about the meaning of what I am doing not how to do it the fastest. 

Other strong American cultural values, individualism and competition are highlighted in the video I Am which we watched in class this unit. In the video a Hollywood director has an injury and starts to realize how he is affected by American culture. The video goes over American culture and how he would like to change the problems that exist. People living in American culture are taught at young ages that being independent is strong and being dependent is weak. This leads to people working to only better themselves and not others around them. A person in America would prefer to work alone than to cooperate in a group. Another cultural value is competition. I know that at my school there is always a competition with other students over grades in similar classes. Always being compared to other students has made a difference in how I feel about a certain class. Some class I don't have bad grades, but I want them to be better because I know people who are doing better than me. Another big example of the competition is whenever I take a test or write a paper. The first thing I do in my class when we get the grade back is ask other people in my class what they got on the test or essay and compare myself to them.

Service Hours

I went to the Special Olympics bocce ball tournament. A few days before the actual event I went to a training session for setting up the courts and keeping score. I didn't know how to play bocce ball before, so the training was helpful and interesting. For the event I showed up at 8 a.m. and got with my group and set up the court. It was more difficult to set up the court than it seemed. After people had set up the courts we had a refresher on the rules and what we would be doing for the tournament. I had never worked with Special Olympics before so I didn't know what to expect going into the event. For the actual event I had stood by the pelina and grab the bocce balls after the throws. Also I walked competitors to and from our court. There were some really nice competitors that I had talked to during the event. I was surprised with the level of competition between the athletes. After the end of the tournament we put away the court and packed it back into the van. It was a better experience than I had expected going into it. It changed my perception of the Special Olympics in a positive way.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


In class this unit we learned about culture and how it's unique for different countries. Many times people visit or live in another culture than from where they grew up. When someone is confused or taken back by a cultural norm in the new culture it's called culture shock. Culture shock is a very common occurrence because the different cultures are each unique. Culture shock is also a bi-product of ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is when a person expects others to follow their culture's norms even if they are in another culture.  It would be surprising for me to go to France because I don't think to eat snails where in France it's normal to eat snails. Also to expect everyone to know English and not learn French would be ethnocentric, which is a common generalization of Americans around the world.

One component of culture is material culture. This is the physical things that a culture has. Example of this in the U.S. is the American flag, money, and the logos of the military.

Another component of culture is non-material culture. Language is part of the non-material culture. For different countries there are different languages that are dominantly spoken and learned. A big part of the non-material is the norms. Folkways are things that you aren't supposed to do, but won't get in too much trouble if you do them. Mores are the things that you're not supposed to do and would appall people if you did them. Taboos are the things that are so bad in  the culture that people become uncomfortable when they have to talk about them. A common taboo in the U.S. is talking in public about how much you make for an income.

In class we watched a documentary about the lost boys of Sudan and their move to the U.S. The documentary shows a good example of culture shock. During Christmas one of the lost boys asked the cameraman why Americans had trees to celebrate Christmas. An example of values in American culture was when one of the lost boys said that it's all about working hard and not spending time with families.

Another source from class was Mr. S talking to us about the time he spent living in Japan. A big difference was the toilets in Japan. Being ethnocentric you would think the toilets should be like the U.S. but the toilets are meant to not touch directly and squat. Mr. S said a culture shock was when he realized the signs were only in Japan, they didn't have any English on them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


If you surveyed people in america whether race is biological or not, a vast majority would get it wrong.  Many believe that race is a biological thing when it is actually a social construction of reality. It seems like race is biological because in the U.S. race is based of different characteristics seen in groups within the U.S. However, if someone was to go to another country they could become a different race depending on how that society classifies different people. To give us an example Mr. S told us about how when he was in Japan they classified people as Japanese or not Japanese. Also if you look at the differences of people it's actually a spectrum not specific races.

In class we also talked about implicit and explicit racism. Explicit racism is a lot less frequent, but it is not gone completely. An example of explicit racism would be the southern ideals in the 1950's.  With the changes that came from the civil rights movement explicit racism isn't accepted in public and isn't seen as much. Just because explicit racism is less doesn't mean racism is disappearing. Implicit racism is still very common. Implicit racism is when someone is not trying to be racist, but the message they send reinforces racist ideology. I know that I personally have seen a minority in an older car and my first thought was that they were "sketchy" even though I have never met them before in my life. 

I have never had to deal with discrimination or mistreatment like we learned in class being a white male. The majority is still given preferential treatment and privilege

Monday, April 3, 2017

Social Class

In class for this unit we talked about social class and how it exists within society in the U.S. We learned about how Americans don't like the idea of social classes, so most people act as if they don't exist even though they do.

Income plays a big part in social class as seen in the movie The Line. Many of the people were struggling to pay all their bills and provide food because the jobs they had weren't well paying leading to them to be in lower social classes because they had less money. These people are stuck in the lower classes because without the money social mobility is very difficult. Many of the people came from low income areas and didn't have more than a high school education making it difficult to raise their social class. People who grow up in upper middle class areas have more resources and higher educations because of the wealth of their families. The wealth and resources make it easier for them to rise to a higher social class than their parents.

Another thing we did in class was a game of betting on a coin flip. This simulated the chances that people in poverty have is a lot less than people with some wealth. If a person is in poverty there are very few chances to climbed out because they don't have the same money to try and make more as someone with some wealth.

For me personally I understand that being from an upper middle class area I have more resources that help me do more things in and out of school. There are many more computers and technology provided at my school compared to a school that is in a lower middle class or low income area. These resources give me more experience and better chance to get into a better college or even go to college in general.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Deviance is when a person violates social norms severely or many times. However, deviance is relative to different people because everyone has different social norms depending on their place and time. For me being in a suburb that has a high value of education dropping out of high school is considered deviant, but for a person who lives in another area where there's less of an emphasis on education dropping out of high school could be a social norm.

In class we read an article, Saints and Roughnecks where it describes the two different groups of kids seen in a high school. The saints were the kids who people considered smart and good students, even though they were experimenting with drugs and doing other activities that are considered deviant. Then there were the roughnecks who people labeled as deviant and were the ones getting caught for the same things as the saints, drugs and other deviant acts. The saints because they still received the support and help from school and parents were able to go on to college and have a job, while the roughnecks were "written off" and didn't receive the same help leading to them being stuck in their town and continued to act deviant. The roughnecks were given a stigma because of the way they acted, even though they showed up to school and didn't ditch classes like the saints would. I think at my high school there are roughnecks, but the majority of the students are saints. Most kids and the school are able to hide any deviant acts and make it seem as if everyone follows the social norms.

We also read an article, Courtroom 302 that describes one courtroom in an urban county. All of the people written about in the article were not yet proven guilty, but the way they were treated seemed that way. The majority of the defendants were poor minorities that were labeled deviant by society. A big problem for the defendants were there social class. Being poor they weren't able to afford representation so the county provided them a public defender who only wanted plea bargains not defend their client. For someone who has money they are able to hire their own representation that will actually defend them. By having money and good representation the higher social classes are able to avoid jail, while the minorities in lower social classes go to prison, get labeled as deviant and then get stuck in the cycle of in and out of prison like in 30 Days in Jail. A video we watched in class that followed a man going to jail to see how an American jail worked as an inmate. Many of the inmate were stuck in and out of jail because they didn't have the money or help to not end up back in jail.

A personal experience for me of deviance is when a friend came from out of town and we ordered Lou Malnatis pizza. My friend looked at me weird when I used a fork and knife to eat the deep dish pizza. For me it is normal to eat deep dish pizza with silverware, but for my friend you always pick up the pizza and it eat. It was deviant to me for someone to pick up the deep dish pizza and eat it like any other pizza and it was deviant to my friend to eat pizza with a fork and knife.

Deviance is always changing depending the time, location, and the person which makes it interesting to see what other people perceive as deviance.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Socialization into Gender

In sociology class this unit we talked about genders and gender roles in society. In the beginning of the unit our teacher talked to us about how when he was younger there was only two concrete genders you could be, male or female. Then he talked about how society has gotten better recently and showed us how there's a spectrum of the different gender types. To give us a better understanding of what it felt like to be on different parts of that spectrum we had a panel of students come and share their stories. Hearing the stories of what these students have dealt with opened my mind to the ridicule different agents of socialization put on people who don't follow the standard genders. I had an idea that life wasn't easy for them, but agents of socialization such as their family were also tough on them which made me sad to hear that. Most people expect their family to be the ones who support them and love them no matter what.

Agents of socialization also have an affect on the masculinity and femininity. The agent of socialization with the largest impact is the media. In class we watched  Killing Us Softly 4 where they showed a video about how female models were changed with computer after the photo shoot. The unnatural edits made with Photoshop has created an unrealistic goal for women of all ages to try and achieve. I know people who have had body shape or size issues that I believe were formed after seeing thousands of ads and photo shoots with and unrealistic and unattainable bodies from models. We also watched Tough Guise 2 where it talked about how boys are exposed to violence through movies and video games. Just like the unrealistic body shapes and sizes for women, violence is unavoidable for men in the media. The media has created the idea of tolerance and encouragement of violence for men. I have seen many movies with violent and gory scenes and I didn't have any reaction. Also I have played video games where the whole idea of the game was to shoot other people. Violence in the media has created a group of boys and men that aren't affected by violence. Violence doesn't only have an affect on average, everyday people. Every off-season there is at least one domestic violence issue or arrest in the NFL. There isn't a lot of coverage and very little change done about the issue even though it has been happening for years.