Jun 22, 2014
quietcharms:

Sounds good

I’ve called Erving Goffman’s sociology “flaneur ethnography” many times… :)

quietcharms:

Sounds good

I’ve called Erving Goffman’s sociology “flaneur ethnography” many times… :)

(Source: wheredidcamillego)

May 14, 2014
Anonymous asked: Well, thank you for responding so thoroughly, and for suggesting readings for the topic. I will check them out! Your response is much more thoughtful than your original post. I don't think we really disagree on much; we have different values in that I prioritize the immediate because I have personal experience with being triggered. It's my immediate dilemma: if I don't take prozac I start to want to kill myself. Maybe that's an oversimplification, but I think that pretty much sums it up.-KN

thank you! I wouldn’t even call them different values, just different role contexts and interests. As an individual in the morning, I see things differently as well: I have sleep issues, and of course that’s a personal suffering when I’m tired, and in that role, I’m interested in people understanding that I can’t will myself to sleep. In the sociologist role, I have other interests, even about me. We’re all many people.
I hope you do well, and get better!

May 13, 2014

An anonymous ask that came in 5 parts, so I can’t really answer w/o losing most of it -

Anonymous: “(This series of questions will come in multiple parts. Please don’t start formulating a response until you’ve read them all. I will notify you when my ‘inquiry’ is complete.) PART ONE: I really don’t mean to get too personal but I feel as though it is necessary in this case. First, I’d like to know if you are a professor of sociology, or a graduate student, or an undergraduate student, etc. Basically, what is your relationship with academic sociology? Are you at an American institution?
Realized immediately that you are not an undergraduate. My bad. I would also like to know if you have any personal experience with ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’. As in, have you personally ever experienced flashbacks, or been triggered by something that causes you to have a panic attack? Do you dissociate? (Yes I am aware that ptsd is a ‘social construct’, and that the experience of trauma is one influenced by various social forces, not a “naked reaction to a naked situation”.)
Personally, I have found a sociological perspective helpful when reflecting on my own experiences with psychiatry, and psychology. I get it. I really do. However, this intellectual understanding does not alter the reality of my panic attacks. I don’t have flashbacks, but I experience severe and lingering anxiety which can be very debilitating. I know what “uncomfortable” is- I’ve experienced “uncomfortable” in plenty a classroom, but these experiences are beyond uncomfortable.
Trigger warnings, are not about me sticking my fingers in my ears because I’d rather not hear about something. That’s an insulting assumption, and for me personally, TWs do not necessitate “opting out”. TWs give me a chance to prepare myself for class, to have a plan if I feel myself becoming too overwhelmed or if I start to have a panic attack. TWs ALLOW me to participate. I can leave class when a video depicts a traumatic scene, and be able to return for discussion.
However, I shouldn’t have to provide this justification to you, because ptsd is a part of my lived reality, & I’m aware that my reality is composed of social constructs, but panic attacks are still panic attacks. People SHOULD be able to “opt out” without being shamed. Being triggered is so much more than “discomfort”; it makes ‘learning’ impossible. Your words are hurtful, and I really feel sorry for students that have to endure professors who share your dismissive attitude.” -KN


Okay, this will take a while. Thanks, first off, for asking and not just hating me in silence, I do appreciate that, and I don’t mean that ironically or anything. And I would hope to convince you that you got me wrong, at least a little bit.

I don’t teach at an American institution, no. I teach in Europe, and let me tell you: no one I know here does trigger warnings, and there is no appreciable demand for them, either. No one I know has ever had a student have a panic attack because of a subject discussed in class. In Europe, that is; in the US, this happens all the time.
Trigger warnings are quite an American phenomenon, and the sensitivity to specific subjects that cause their necessity is as well. I hope you agree that this is massively interesting: That already tells you something about the contextuality and contingency of the concept.

There’s an ignorant answer to that, with something about Americans’ sensitivities, and that’s a shitty answer. I think it’s more difficult: institutions in the US do not use them because they want to be nice to you and help you; they use them because their legal departments have started mandating them, and the aim is, as always, to not get sued. (institutional mandates are usually about not getting sued; research ethics boards are also not about protecting research subjects, they’re about protecting the institution from being sued later.) Also, legal departments do not start making trouble when things are dangerous, but two steps before they become dangerous, just to be on the safe side - and by doing so, the departments collectively move the “danger”-threshold down, causing a spiral of danger in which more and more things become problematic, as the population is taught to consider it problematic, thus making it real and giving it a (legal) bite.

Europe works much differently in this regard (except the UK to some extent, which doesn’t consider itself Europe, really, anyway), and lawsuits just aren’t as costly and as dangerous here as they are in the US. This seems like it’s not really an answer of your question, I know, but bear with me. The “you could sue me”-problem pervades American life. The ever-present American possibility to sue someone for pretty much anything you can conjure up creates bubbles around people that everyone is afraid to come in contact with. It’s the reasons Americans will be wary of touching someone to help them across the street; if something happened, they’d get sued. In Europe, not a problem. It lets US schools allow parents to opt their children out of sex education. Could get sued for discriminating against religious beliefs. Not in Europe. You need that sex education, and we don’t care that your parents are some sort of religious prudes; that’s their problem, and they better not hand that down to their kids if we can help it. (and we think that’s an enlightened stance). As a consequence, Europeans learn to interact much differently (and in a much more relaxed way) than Americans (and, to some extent, the British, who share this legal system).

Trigger warning culture is part of this larger structure, and it’s one of these things that’s sold as enlightened and respectful of individual difference while it exacerbates the problem (not by itself, to be fair; it’s a cog in a larger machine and it’s just a tiny one.)

That brings me back to social construction and social structure. Of course panic attacks are not something you can choose not to have (and yes, I do have personal experience with panic attacks; two people in my family suffer them, though not in response to certain subjects of topics, but as a result of epilepsy). A stance along the lines of “it’s socially constructed, so it’s not true” or “it’s socially constructed, so you can do it differently” doesn’t understand what social construction is. It’s true because it’s successfully constructed and socially shared in a situation, and it’s true because within that construction. The constructionist argument is, of course, that neither choice nor nature are “real” in the sense of “found,” representations of some truth behind the world. (and any debate, in any context, about “is this a choice or is it natural?” is in the end horridly naive and makes sociologists want to go cry. These are social meanings and products of historical developments, part of “what we consider natural” is what props up social structures).

And there’s the point, creeping up slowly: These constructions inform the interpretation of the people confronted with what they’ve learned to see as “triggers”. People don’t just react to things, we interpret them, put them in context, and the “thing” we react to doesn’t exist as a thing before this active step of making sense of it. They aren’t triggers by themselves; you learn to see them as such, and that means someone taught you. The cause of that lies in the larger structure of the US legal system and the social organization of psychiatry, the way all psychiatric research is financed by drug companies, the way that insurance adjustment pushes for drug cures and clear names for things, the back-room deals in which diagnosis categories pretty much got invented arbitrarily and the little research that supports it, etc. are all relevant - but you can read all of that in the excellent work of Herb Kutchins and Stuart Kirk (also about PTSD), of Paula Caplan, Irving Kirsch, Joanna Moncrieff, and the Mad in America project led by Robert Whitaker, but this is only if you would like to.

Trigger warning culture is part of this larger whole. As you say, you can intellectually appreciate that, and it doesn’t take away your suffering; of course it doesn’t, intellectual understanding and reaction in a situation are fundamentally different things. You are completely right. But here’s the thing: trigger warning culture isn’t just a result of these structures. It props them up and reproduces them. It helps you in the short term, it harms the shit out of you in the medium- and long-term (just like psychopharmaceuticals!) Everyday action reproduces social structures. If I keep acting as if it is indelibly natural to have a reaction, that solidifies it as indelibly natural in the normality of our time. If I teach people to interpret certain things as “triggers,” they will. It takes agency away from you and treats you like a button. It constructs you as a button, writing it into you and giving you little other chance than to behave like it. You are not a button. But you know that, you’ve said as much. Beyond this effect on you, there’s the old sociological point that these structures are, in the end, not really kept up for the reasons people name, i. e., to help you through these situations. Medicalization of social problems has a long list of beneficiaries, but the patients really aren’t on top of it. Again, if I had more time, I’d elaborate, but I refer again to the books above. Read the Mad in America project. Also read Linda Morrison. Linda is awesome.

Trigger warnings are sold as things that help people with post-traumatic problems, but they kind of really protect the school from getting sued, and in the process, they solidify a construction that takes the actor status away from those who suffer from it and relegates them to what Garfinkel once called “reaction dopes,” people who salivate when levers are pushed. People do not work that way. You are not a button.

Apr 18, 2014
awfulwafflewalker:

anintersubjectiveworld:

Fact: You can’t teach sociology without making people uncomfortable. The entire venture is designed to make people question the ideas they’re taught in everyday life, about supposedly “natural” behavior, supposedly “normal” social organization, supposedly “self-evident” truth. Sociology consists of yanking those out, sometimes quite forcefully. It also consists of teaching people that their emotions are social creatures, learned, normalized, adjusted for the demands of social organization, not internal reactions. It consists of making them realize that their opinions are not their own. If they could opt out of whatever upsets them, we can just abandon all efforts.

Fact: You obviously don’t understand what trigger warnings are. They aren’t to save some one from being uncomfortable (as a sociology major I agree sociology is meant to make people uncomfortable). It’s to save some one from experiencing extreme emotional distress, anxiety, or from having flashbacks of a traumatic event. It you think people should be subject to that simply because sociology then that’s ridiculous.
That being said, I don’t think trigger warnings should be used, and it definitely shouldn’t be used to warn against something simply because it may be sensitive material. Setting it up as a trigger warning gives people an opportunity to opt out of something that they simply may not want to hear. Sensitive material should be handled how it’s normally always handled where the teacher/professor simply states that this material contains this, this, and this. It’s left up to the student to decide if that’s something they can emotionally handle and deal with it themselves or talk to the teacher about it.


Let’s not devolve into internet aggression, is that possible? Your first sentence either assumes that I haven’t read the article I posted, or it’s just needlessly flaming.

We know that trauma is not a naked reaction to a naked experience. Trauma is about social meaning: people aren’t traumatized by some “just-there” phenomenon, but by assigning meaning to it, which happens either because everyone around them freaks out, everyone around them flat out hushes it up and refuses to make it a subject of conversation, or because they expect that others will do these things, from meaning they learned through the media. 
Now, the worst sin in sociology is to reproduce normalized social meaning, and these exact fields where that happens are the epicenters of social meaning. To defer to emotional reactions to it (again, naturalizing emotion!) to keep them off-limits is participating in exactly the same social practices that tie down and solidify these meanings, by hushing them up or scandalizing. And that is the opposite of our job.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating to use someone’s pain as a teachable moment; that would be cruel. I’m not advocating using them to make a point about society; that would be deaf, dumb and blind. That’s not the point. The point is that trigger warnings are, in effect, an exclusion (a socially expected self-exclusion, which is just the same thing). It pretty much bars those from learning about the depths of social construction of reality that might need it most: Those who spent their entire life being marginalized and in pain because of these meanings.

I teach sociology of psychiatry. I would never draw anyone on stage who had personal experience with it, but I know I have many, and I know from what they’ve told me that to hear these things from a sociological perspective is liberating to them. The people who say this don’t participate much because it’s very personal to them and it might hurt, and that’s okay; but they’re there, they don’t stuff their fingers into their ears. They listen from the sidelines and realize that there’s so much more to that story than “you’re sick, here’s your pill.” 

The same goes for people with other traumatic experiences. Hearing about the social aspect of these traumas, about the social normativities that engulf them, can make them feel - finally! - like this is _not them_, and not as easy as some tumblr blog and their parents say it is - and that it’s not a necessary state. The beauty of social construction isn’t that it can all be changed on a whim, it can’t - but it introduces the seeds of doubt into what everyone always thought normal and unyielding.

And it’s especially the people who are socialized into opting out through trigger warning culture (a social pressure to hush up what’s always been hushed up) who need this.

awfulwafflewalker:

anintersubjectiveworld:

Fact: You can’t teach sociology without making people uncomfortable. The entire venture is designed to make people question the ideas they’re taught in everyday life, about supposedly “natural” behavior, supposedly “normal” social organization, supposedly “self-evident” truth. Sociology consists of yanking those out, sometimes quite forcefully. It also consists of teaching people that their emotions are social creatures, learned, normalized, adjusted for the demands of social organization, not internal reactions. It consists of making them realize that their opinions are not their own. If they could opt out of whatever upsets them, we can just abandon all efforts.

Fact: You obviously don’t understand what trigger warnings are. They aren’t to save some one from being uncomfortable (as a sociology major I agree sociology is meant to make people uncomfortable). It’s to save some one from experiencing extreme emotional distress, anxiety, or from having flashbacks of a traumatic event. It you think people should be subject to that simply because sociology then that’s ridiculous.

That being said, I don’t think trigger warnings should be used, and it definitely shouldn’t be used to warn against something simply because it may be sensitive material. Setting it up as a trigger warning gives people an opportunity to opt out of something that they simply may not want to hear. Sensitive material should be handled how it’s normally always handled where the teacher/professor simply states that this material contains this, this, and this. It’s left up to the student to decide if that’s something they can emotionally handle and deal with it themselves or talk to the teacher about it.

Let’s not devolve into internet aggression, is that possible? Your first sentence either assumes that I haven’t read the article I posted, or it’s just needlessly flaming. We know that trauma is not a naked reaction to a naked experience. Trauma is about social meaning: people aren’t traumatized by some “just-there” phenomenon, but by assigning meaning to it, which happens either because everyone around them freaks out, everyone around them flat out hushes it up and refuses to make it a subject of conversation, or because they expect that others will do these things, from meaning they learned through the media. Now, the worst sin in sociology is to reproduce normalized social meaning, and these exact fields where that happens are the epicenters of social meaning. To defer to emotional reactions to it (again, naturalizing emotion!) to keep them off-limits is participating in exactly the same social practices that tie down and solidify these meanings, by hushing them up or scandalizing. And that is the opposite of our job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating to use someone’s pain as a teachable moment; that would be cruel. I’m not advocating using them to make a point about society; that would be deaf, dumb and blind. That’s not the point. The point is that trigger warnings are, in effect, an exclusion (a socially expected self-exclusion, which is just the same thing). It pretty much bars those from learning about the depths of social construction of reality that might need it most: Those who spent their entire life being marginalized and in pain because of these meanings. I teach sociology of psychiatry. I would never draw anyone on stage who had personal experience with it, but I know I have many, and I know from what they’ve told me that to hear these things from a sociological perspective is liberating to them. The people who say this don’t participate much because it’s very personal to them and it might hurt, and that’s okay; but they’re there, they don’t stuff their fingers into their ears. They listen from the sidelines and realize that there’s so much more to that story than “you’re sick, here’s your pill.” The same goes for people with other traumatic experiences. Hearing about the social aspect of these traumas, about the social normativities that engulf them, can make them feel - finally! - like this is _not them_, and not as easy as some tumblr blog and their parents say it is - and that it’s not a necessary state. The beauty of social construction isn’t that it can all be changed on a whim, it can’t - but it introduces the seeds of doubt into what everyone always thought normal and unyielding. And it’s especially the people who are socialized into opting out through trigger warning culture (a social pressure to hush up what’s always been hushed up) who need this.
Apr 18, 2014
Fact: You can’t teach sociology without making people uncomfortable. The entire venture is designed to make people question the ideas they’re taught in everyday life, about supposedly “natural” behavior, supposedly “normal” social organization, supposedly “self-evident” truth. Sociology consists of yanking those out, sometimes quite forcefully. It also consists of teaching people that their emotions are social creatures, learned, normalized, adjusted for the demands of social organization, not internal reactions. It consists of making them realize that their opinions are not their own. If they could opt out of whatever upsets them, we can just abandon all efforts.

Fact: You can’t teach sociology without making people uncomfortable. The entire venture is designed to make people question the ideas they’re taught in everyday life, about supposedly “natural” behavior, supposedly “normal” social organization, supposedly “self-evident” truth. Sociology consists of yanking those out, sometimes quite forcefully. It also consists of teaching people that their emotions are social creatures, learned, normalized, adjusted for the demands of social organization, not internal reactions. It consists of making them realize that their opinions are not their own. If they could opt out of whatever upsets them, we can just abandon all efforts.

Mar 27, 2014
ladiesagainsthumanity:

Since being outed by a classmate as a porn performer, Duke freshman Belle Knox (that’s her performance name) has received endless slut shaming and death threats. NOT OKAY. She responded with a totally badass feminist essay on her right to perform and the hypocrisy of shaming (female) porn performers while celebrating (male) porn consumers. Read her essay here.

ladiesagainsthumanity:

Since being outed by a classmate as a porn performer, Duke freshman Belle Knox (that’s her performance name) has received endless slut shaming and death threats. NOT OKAY. She responded with a totally badass feminist essay on her right to perform and the hypocrisy of shaming (female) porn performers while celebrating (male) porn consumers. Read her essay here.

(via wilwheaton)

Mar 23, 2014
The movie part is the movie part. … if the movie has to be made out of clay and duct tape in my basement, then that’s how the movie will be made, because there has to be closure. The title of the book about the show is not “’Community,’ An Interesting Journey into a Show No One Ever Watched.” The title of the book is obviously going to be, “Six Seasons and a Movie.” So it’s already over. Sometimes our hands are just tied up in fate.
Dan Harmon, in a large interview with Alan Sepinwall. Season Six is a possibility, and if that happens, so will a movie. (But, as Harmon points out: Thursday could also become live musical night at NBC, which would mean Community’s canceled.)

(Source: hitfix.com, via well-meh)

Mar 21, 2014

Viacom, Tumblr Team Up to Offer Co-Branded Campaigns

Mar 11, 2014
Because of course they are. The anti-sex position has always been mostly a talking point to create this weird facade chant that nobody in their right mind should be practicing…

Because of course they are. The anti-sex position has always been mostly a talking point to create this weird facade chant that nobody in their right mind should be practicing…

Mar 7, 2014
We are the new Victorians. If we’re not careful history and future generations will judge us accordingly. We might well be remembered as prude, overly sensitive hypocrites whose intolerant social mores prevented honest public discourse in favor of the illusion of propriety, but whose constricted public behavior was, nonetheless, the compost heap from which offensive yet brilliantly funny creations like Cards Against Humanity sprouted.
Boris Zelkin, Cards Against Humanity: We Are the New, Crude Victorians | Acculturated (via kwakerjak)

(via well-meh)

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This is a spinoff blog from my personal one. The personal one has all sorts of TV stuff. Since I study television as well as everyday life, ethnography, deviance and social interaction, television is actually, you know, work, but this is the dedicated social science blog. Subscribe via RSS.