Karl Marx’s View on Agency and What the Individual Can Do to Effect Social Change

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

Asking How Many Children Your Mother Has is a Complicated Survey Question!

I am teaching a Population class here in Chico, California, this semester. Sometime during the class, I generally  ask students about how many children there are in their families, and what their own fertility intentions are.  To avoid the complications of the modern family, divorce, remarriage, and so forth, I break it into three questions, … Continue reading Asking How Many Children Your Mother Has is a Complicated Survey Question!

The Connection between Crime and Immigration: A Complicated but not Conflicted Issue

This blog was originally posted in 2010.  However, the issues raised I think are timeless.  "Debates" about crime and immigration reappear it the presses around the world periodically, usually without much context.  Rather a person who happens to be an immigrant is caught doing a crime, and then inferences is made to all members of a … Continue reading The Connection between Crime and Immigration: A Complicated but not Conflicted Issue

How the Rich Educate Their Children: A Tale of a Swiss Hogwarts Academy

  Schools primarily teach vocabulary and inflection, styles of dress, aesthetic tastes, values, and manners only 1 percent of American teenagers attend independent private high schools of an upper class nature. (G. William Domhoff Who Rules America? 1998, 80–81).   The schools for the “1 percent” of teenagers, in America or elsewhere, are isolated from … Continue reading How the Rich Educate Their Children: A Tale of a Swiss Hogwarts Academy

“Building Bildung,” and Other Improbabilities among German University Undergrads

  German has two words for the English word “education.”  Erziehung describes the school system, and the mechanics of what is taught and conveyed from the world of adults to that of children in order to “bring them up.”  Focus is on skills adults need like literacy, numeracy, history, and the factual basis citizens need … Continue reading “Building Bildung,” and Other Improbabilities among German University Undergrads

Vanity as an Occupational Disease–Of Politicians (and everyone else)!

My wife and I recently completed re-translating Max Weber’s classic essay “Politics as Vocation” which is part of a book Weber’s Rationalism and Modern Society. The essay is about how the nature of politics, which is about the exercise of power, creates the type of human-being who is accustomed to telling other people what to … Continue reading Vanity as an Occupational Disease–Of Politicians (and everyone else)!

Max Weber was a funny guy!

That’s right, Max Weber, the dour looking social theorist on the cover of your social theory text made jokes. How do I know this? Well, my wife and I just published a new book Weber’s Rationalism: New Translations on Politics, Bureaucracy, and Social Stratification, and this post is an essay about why you should read … Continue reading Max Weber was a funny guy!

Language Learning, Stigma, and Protecting a Potentially Spoiled Identity

This blog is about why ethnographer Erving Goffman’s observation of stigma are important not just to ex-cons, but also to professors like me on foreign exchange programs. Goffman, as many sociologists and anthropologists know, observed the maneuvers of the marginalized and stigmatized in society, and then wrote about how they thought about their disability. He … Continue reading Language Learning, Stigma, and Protecting a Potentially Spoiled Identity

The Eyewitness Fallacy: Are Studies of China Best Done in China, or the British Library?

Ethnographers love to travel.They will always assert that travel is necessary to understand a culture.You need to travel, to feel the culture. And without such exposure, we reason that what is written is less valid because it cannot possibly be written with the critical perspective that local context provides.Or as Bronislaw Malinwoski himself once wrote, … Continue reading The Eyewitness Fallacy: Are Studies of China Best Done in China, or the British Library?

“Notes on the Murders of Thirty of My Neighbors”

Writer Jim Myers wondered why 30 of his neighbors were murdered just one mile east of the United States Capitol building during the 1990s. In an investigation of the conditions that led to such a high toll, he found that there was a wide range of circumstances, including, “drive-by killings, run-by killings, sneak up killings, … Continue reading “Notes on the Murders of Thirty of My Neighbors”

Speaking German Like You Work at McDonald’s (or are a Hollander)

German is a strange language for English speakers to learn. In part this is because in most German for Foreign Speakers classes, there is a strong emphasis on the use of correct use of articles (16 ways to say the definite article “the”, and 16 more ways to say the indefinite article “a”). There is … Continue reading Speaking German Like You Work at McDonald’s (or are a Hollander)

The Case of the Exploding Pinto

A by-product of the industrial age are accidents by companies seeking to create wealth for themselves. Both hiring workers, and selling products creates a question of who is responsible for the safety of working conditions and products. And more important, who is responsible when a product fails, or an accident happens? Is it the person … Continue reading The Case of the Exploding Pinto