Where to learn more about sociology, part II

A while back, in response to a Burner’s request, I queried some of my colleagues and posted a short list of recommended readings for newcomers to the disciplines of sociology and anthropology.

But what if you want an easy-to-read overview of sociological classics, as well as recent research? Jay Gabler’s Sociology for Dummies (Wiley, 2010) is a good place to start.*

In addition, the quarterly magazine Contexts, published by the American Sociological Association, features short articles on a variety of contemporary topics (immigration, consumption, aging, gender roles, etc.). Written for a general audience, it’s a compelling introduction to recent research and the sociological imagination.

*: Gabler also is the co-author of Reconstructing the University: Worldwide Shifts in Academia in the 20th Century (with David J. Frank, Stanford University Press, 2006).

Changes in participation in the arts in the US

See this website, which has reports on data collected on arts activities between 1998 and 2000.

For instance,
“How the public participates in and consumes the arts is expanding. The arts participation measure is on the increase. Personal arts creation by the public is growing steadily (making art, playing music). Attendance at mainstream nonprofit arts organizations, however, is in decline.”

New blog on community and grassroots associations research and practice launching

As part of my service responsibilities to the Community and Grassroots Associations (CGA) section of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), I am also blogging here. We haven’t made an official launch yet but will do so soon. In the meantime, if you are interested in research and practice on community and grassroots associations, you can sign up to receive email notifications about posts or subscribe to the facebook fanpage. In addition, please consider joining ARNOVA and the CGA section as a member! (Unfortunately, I cannot directly link to the membership page, but click on this page and then click “join ARNOVA” in the horizontal menu.) The annual conference is a fun way of connecting with other researchers and practitioners.

To start things off, at the CGAP blog, I’ve blogged about online videos available from a recent conference that brought together leading social science scholars who each briefly presented on which hard problem social science research should pursue. Of particular interest to Burners is Ann Swidler’s call for deeper insight into “how societies both create and restore institutions,” including the nation, government, marriage, university, etc. Burners, consider how your activities with Burning Man have impacted your skills and experiences (both positive and negative) with organization. Then think about how these experiences have, in turn, affected your involvement in the workplace, other community-based organizations or voluntary associations, etc.

Talk by Ann Swidler at the Graduate Center, NYC at 3pm EST this Fri., April 16, 2010

Those of you who are interested in the arts or culture might like this talk by a seminal scholar in the sociology of culture this Fri. at the Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Ave. in NYC:

“Prof. Ann Swidler of University of California, Berkeley, and visiting scholar, Russell Sage, is the speaker of our colloquium on Friday, April 16 at 3 pm EST in the sociology lounge (6th floor) at the Graduate Center . Prof. Swidler will be speaking on “Access to pleasure: Aesthetics, social inequality, and the structure of culture production”. The talk argues that the Bourdieuian focus on “cultural capital” and culture as a basis for asserting “distinction” misses what is most fundamental to cultural practices: the pleasure of aesthetic experience. Then it analyzes how structured social inequalities affect the likelihood that different groups will have more or less access to pleasurable, exciting, or fulfilling cultural experiences.

A reception will follow the talk.”

Bodies of water and urban areas

Both NYC and BRC have a “hidden” relationship with water. The Black Rock Desert, the site of Burning Man, was once a prehistoric lakebed bottom. Now, the nearest bodies of water include the local springs and Pyramid Lake, the latter of which is now the default background image for the iPad.

Most people recognize that Manhattan is an island surrounded by water. However, fewer notice that the city is built on top of many springs, requiring constant pumping to keep the subways and tunnels dry. During a walk in a park, one might notice trickles of water that serve as impromptu birdbaths. Heavy snowstorms or torrential rains, such as the recent storms, push sewage systems to their limits, requiring heavy duty design, engineering, and construction work. Check out upcoming talks about design ideas for NYC infrastructure here.*

*Thanks for the tip from Nana Kirk.