On June 2, 2015, I attended the trial of Oskar Groening, a German SS officer who was assigned to Auschwitz in 1942-1944. He is being tried for being an accomplice to murder of 300,000 people at Auschwitz, the number of people sent to the gas chambers during the time he was there. Another 100,000 were … Continue reading The Last Auschwitz Trial, Moral Guilt, and Criminal Guilt
Why do neural scientists need expensive MRI machines to “see” what classical sociologists Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead saw by simply looking into the eyes of children? This is the subject of my recent article “Of Mirror Neurons and the Looking Glass Self” published in Perspectives on Science. The Mirror Neuron is a hot thing … Continue reading Mirror Neurons and the Looking Glass Self: The Neural Sciences meet Sociology
Fellowship (Gemeinschaft) by Franz Kafka 1909 We are five friends, one day we came out of a house one after the other, first one came and placed himself beside the gate, then the second came, or rather he glided through the gate like a little ball of quicksilver, and placed himself near the … Continue reading Fellowship (Gemeinschaft) by Franz Kafka (1909)
Alice Goffman’s On the Run: Fugitive Life in America is about young African-American boys and men on the run from the police in Philadelphia. The situation is a product of the United States’ skyrocketing incarceration rates—in the poor undereducated black neighborhood Goffman studies, something like 10% of the young men are incarcerated at any one … Continue reading Alice Goffman’s On The Run: Ethnography in Action!
Every once in a awhile, I get to write an excited blog because after some years, a new book is published. Or rather a book I wrote is published! This is one of these blogs. The pretentiously titled Vocational Prison Education in the United States by Andy Dick, Bill Rich, and Tony Waters is now … Continue reading “It’s the State Pen, not Penn State” Three Professors Go to Prison!
Those who say "That's life" should understand that there is nothing natural about a system that kills the spirit of large numbers of people by first putting them in a position where they need opportunity, then promising them virtually unlimited opportunity and finally making them losers. Jeff Schmidt. Disciplined Minds (Kindle Locations 3045-3047). One … Continue reading “Cooling Out” the Victims of the Grad School Pyramid System
Last week as an April Fool’s Day post, the American Sociological Association announced the end of Sociology as a discipline here at Ethnography.com. For those of you not in on the joke, it didn’t happen. No one announced the end of Sociology as a discipline. Having said that, I will admit to a brief bit … Continue reading Imagine a World with No Sociology Department—It’s Easy if You Try
Or, perhaps this post could be sub-titled, "Why Bill Gates can't believe what anybody tells him," simply because no one can really be honest around big money. Or, as the young Karl Marx wrote in 1845: That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can … Continue reading Marx Channels Shakespeare on Money: Why the Lame Will Walk, the Ugly are Beautiful, and the Dishonest are Honest
'Tis the season for academic rites of passage and for many of us to say goodbye to the students who have been our intellectual companions for the past four years. Here are some of the (mostly) lighthearted thoughts I shared with my graduating anthropology majors and minors at our department reception this week. *Please note … Continue reading Everything I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Anthropology Class
Last Friday, I went to an Education conference to talk about my book Schooling, Bureaucracy, and Childhood: Bureaucratizing the Child. It is a book which emphasizes that questions whether schools can change as fast as school reformers have often wish. The point is to explain that as bureaucracies, schools are embedded in persistent habitus, which … Continue reading Karl Marx’s View on Agency and What the Individual Can Do to Effect Social Change
I have been staying in Germany the last few weeks, hanging around academic types. Two that I came across were Chinese PhD students are studying at German Schools of Theology. Christian theology. One is trying to figure out the nature of Eschatology in a Chinese context. Eschatology is about the what happens to people after … Continue reading Does the Chinese Government Fund PhD Dissertation in Christian Theology???
Colonial Burma has a strange hold on the colonial British imagination—it is a remote and exotic place where the British were not very successful in holding sway. And the place it emerges occasionally is in the inability of the west to “understand” the east. Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler in the film Batman Returns (2008) … Continue reading Batman and George Orwell Philosophize, or is it best to be a wimp and a fool, or just a fool?