Category: Science & Technology

The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge: The New AAP Policy on Male Circumcision

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a revised policy statement regarding male circumcision. Unlike previous policies on the issue, this one got a lot of media attention, probably because male circumcision itself has been in the news more than usual. The past few years have seen increasing mobilization against male circumcision (for example, intactivists (the term activists fighting for genital integrity have given themselves) tried to ban the practice in the city of San Francisco last year, though...

Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy

Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy are discussed using the sustainability framework in Figure 1, where sustainability is at the confluence of social progress, environmental protection and economic growth. Figure 1 Sustainability framework (Source: IUCN 2006) There are designs being made toward Ecological Civilization and welcome moves to address the shortcomings of GDP in Completing the picture – environmental accounting in practice by the Australian Bureau of Statistics .  Extending the national accounts to include degradation of natural resources makes a measurable target...

Rosie O'Donnell Reminds Us About Women's Heart Health

Last week, media sources reported that Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack. Though Rosie explained that she did “google” her symptoms, she did not believe she was having a heart attack and never called 911. Like many women, Rosie explained that she did not know enough about female heart issues, specifically identifying the problem and getting immediate medical attention. Rosie hopes she can use her fame and platform to raise awareness about heart attacks and issues in women. While Rosie...

Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Topic of Growing Importance

In recent years, debates have swirled over whether or not physicians should be allowed to hasten the death of their incurable patients. Although the Hippocratic Oath forbids medical doctors from prematurely ending the lives of their patients, questions still remain over how physicians should respond to the needs and to the wants of terminally ill individuals. Although the legality and ethics surrounding assisted suicide have been pondered since antiquity, these issues were brought to the forefront in the U.S. during...

Just a Flash in the Pan?: Institutional Fads and the Medicalization of Addiction

In popular culture, fads are common occurrences that follow a relatively basic trajectory.  That is, cultural fads typically materialize, become increasingly popular, and then fade away almost as quickly as they appeared (Best 2006).  From American Idol to zoot suits, fads associated with pop culture rapidly rise and promptly plummet before being replaced by a new trend that is ultimately destined to follow a similar path.  This cycle of emerging, surging, and purging is not, however, limited only to relatively...

Toward a Quantified Life?

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how much of our lives are being captured and translated into numbers, percentages, and statistics. It seems that no matter where one turns, some aspect of our social life is being measured quantitatively. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon – things like age, weight, body mass index, intelligence quotient, height, and physical aptitude scores have been with us for some time now. However, it appears that this movement to quantify...

Illness or Deviance: A Contested Space Between Criminal Justice and Medicine

Foucault wrote that the nineteenth century ushered in a new way to inspect the body; recognizing that medical personnel had placed the patient under “perpetual examination” (1975). His interest, however, was on the discourse that produced, maintained, and extended the medical look or “gaze” (1975). The “clinic,” for Foucault, became an apparatus of examination; a site of knowledge production bound by rules and regulations. It became an authoritative institution where the individual became the object of scrutiny (Long, 1992). Following...

New issue of Sociology Compass out now! (Vol 5, Issue 9)

Crime & Deviance Racial Profiling/Biased Policing (pages 763–774) Clayton Mosher Article first published online: 6 SEP 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00403.x Culture Social Interaction: Do Non-humans Count? (pages 775–791) Karen A. Cerulo Article first published online: 6 SEP 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00404.x Organisations & Work Mediators of Opportunity: High School Counselors in the 21st Century (pages 792–806) Vicki Smith Article first published online: 6 SEP 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00407.x   Work and Neoliberal Globalization: A Polanyian Synthesis (pages 807–823) Nina Bandelj,...

New issue of Sociology Compass out now! (Vol 5, Issue 8)

    Sociology Compass © Blackwell Publishing Ltd Volume 5, Issue 8 Pages 666 – 762, August 2011 The latest issue of Sociology Compass is available on Wiley Online Library   Communication & Media Cultural Imperialism Versus Globalization of Culture: Riding the Structure-Agency Dialectic in Global Communication and Media Studies (pages 666–678) Christof Demont-Heinrich Article first published online: 1 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00401.x   Culture The Cultural Construction of Heterosexual Identities (pages 679–687) James Joseph Dean Article first published...

The Potential of Epigenetics for Sociology

A careful understanding of epigenetic mechanisms allows sociologists to include a new biological perspective into research designs – when it is incorporated carefully and not used casually or blindly as a deus ex machina explanatory device that is. Epigenetics provides us with one of several “mechanisms by which social influences become embodied” (Kuzawa and Sweet 2008: 2). A promising place for sociologists to enter into this research or use it fruitfully is to examine how social environments and inequalities become embodied...

New issue of Sociology Compass out now! (Vol 5, Issue 5)

      Sociology Compass © Blackwell Publishing Ltd Volume 5, Issue 5 Page 311 – 398 The latest issue of Sociology Compass is available on Wiley Online Library   Gender Rethinking Gender and Violence: Agency, Heterogeneity, and Intersectionality (pages 311–322) S.J. Creek and Jennifer L. Dunn Article first published online: 2 MAY 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00360.x Race & Ethnicity Navigating a Hostile Terrain: Refugees and Human Rights in Southeast Asia (pages 323–335) Pei Palmgren Article first published online: 2...

Problem Solving Courts

In mid February 2011 The Guardian newspaper published an edited version of David Faulkner’s contribution to the United Kingdom’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies’ report “Lessons for the Coalition” which was written in response to the first report of the National Preventative Mechanism – a new body set up under the optional protocol to the UN convention against torture. The National Preventative Mechanism’s report highlighted problem areas in the UK’s approach to mental health, resources, vulnerable groups such as...

Cochlear Implants: Miracle Technology or Cultural Genocide?

Deafness and hearing loss is a condition or state of being whose meaning is contested. The biomedical, or infirmity, understanding of deafness is that hearing loss is a disability that, in many cases, can be cured or ameliorated through advanced technological devices and procedures, including surgery and internal and external prostheses. The newest of these technologies, cochlear implants, can help a deaf infant hear and speak in almost the same way as a hearing person. As opposed to the biomedical...

Patient autonomy and the biomedical model

Recently, there have been many suggestions that a backlash against the unilateralism of the biological approach in medicine is on the brink. Perhaps, some suggest, patients have garnered some say in their treatment, even though many researchers suggest that modern medical practice strips patients’ rights to make their own decisions. But where ought the boundary between patient autonomy and doctor totalitarianism be? On the one hand, purely diagnostic, biomedical medicine that does not allow for patients’ own insight into their...

Blinded by narcissism?

In the Freudian Era, Narcissism was a central psychiatric concept and diagnosis. In the last several months, the likelihood that the American Psychiatric Association will drop this diagnosis from it’s new, 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been the subject of a string of articles in prominent newspapers and other news outlets including the New York Times and NPR. Though the debate is one about professional discourse and diagnosis, it extends well beyond...