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Showing posts from July, 2016

Consumerism and the Social Institutions

The post-industrial world is the world of the consumer. In the main, consumerism marks the demise and extinction of the hunter/gatherer society, even as the basic habits and structures of the latter are preserved in the former. The process of consumption is not visibly different from hunting and gathering in the sense that one still leaves the shelter setting, interacts with the environment, searches for resources, acquires them, and returns. It is also similar to the next order of society, which is horticulture. Simply put, modern consumption allows for the gathering and cultivation of resources to produce new resources. In this mode, consumption even invites the lay-consumer toward the replication of even higher social orders of agrarianism and industry. One can buy tractors, land, seeds, professionals, and laborers and live a life not altogether different in character from ones's predecessors in former centuries. In essence, consumption represents not only a departure from the…

Cathedrals of Consumption: A review of the proposed federal budget for 2017

Reviewed: The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2017,

When George Ritzer (2010) explored modernity in commercial settings, he observed what he dubbed “Cathedrals of Consumption,” or the massive super-structures like Disneyland and the Bellagio and Walmart, where the material needs and wants of entire communities are daily served by highly rationalized, but often curiously attractive and satisfying corporate labor and distribution systems. While Ritzer listed many kinds of these cathedrals, from franchises like Mcdonalds to cruise ships and casino-hotels, he neglected the mother-ship! For economic scope and scale, as well as mystery and methodology, neither Walt Disney, Sam Walton, nor Ray Kroc could hold a candle to the Federal Government of the United States! As evidence, consider budget for 2017, as submitted by President Barrack Obama. Here, almost all of Ritzer's principles converge in one spectacular display of fiscal-phantasmagoria…

Opposing the Oppositional Culture Theory and its Opposition

Reviewed: Downey, Douglas B., “Black/White Differences in School performance: The Oppositional Culture Explanation,” Annual Review of Sociology, (9 April, 2008)

Vol. 34:107-1-6.

In the twenty-first century, the terms majority and minority have become hyper-sensitive trigger words whose very utterance resonate deeply emotional and personal tones among all the octaves of society. It has become impossible to elude or evade the consequences and implications of inequality, whether the roots of it be structurally natural and organic or socially imposed and artificial. One of these consequences is the emerging tendency to view natural outcomes through the lens of conspiracy, assuming ill intentions and malevolent traditions are the principle causes of this adversity. Another consequence is the damaging influence of good intentions on the natural order. Douglas Downey's (2008) reproof of John Ogbu's Oppositional Culture Theory is an example of just such a consequence. Downey makes a c…

Effort and Achievement: the Merits of Traditional Methodology

Educational achievement is an elusive concept. Everyone seems to agree that it is a valuable commodity and as such, more is better. From there, however, opinions and approaches are as divergent as can be. Do we want more people to graduate? Do we want higher test scores? To both, a resounding 'sure, why not.' but do we want more school? Do we want harder classes? From most quarters, a hushed and hesitant 'meh...' The easy answer is that we can have more of the first group at the expense of the second group, and common sense suggests that more of the second group will adversely affect the first group. A functional relationship emerges like a brick wall for us to bang our heads against. Higher test scores and better rates of attrition would certainly follow if we made the classes easier and less frequent. Conversely, lower test scores and less graduates would seem to follow making the tests harder and the classes longer. The only real proven way to increase educational …

Micro-consumerism and the looming cultural paradox

So we all understand money is fake, right? It's just paper with no intrinsic value beyond our ubiquitous acceptance of its role as currency. So what happens when our goods and services finally assume that same, immaterial quality that money possesses? Well strap in folks, because we are almost there, and the implications are terrifying (or foggy, at least).

Challenging the Assumptions: Application of Standardized Tests and Technology in Education

In Caddo parish, there are less than ten thousand educators serving over forty thousand students. (Goree, 2015) This ratio may seem high by proportion, but readers are reminded that the number includes teachers, their assistants, administrators, cafeteria and janitorial service, bus drivers, and numerous other support-roles provided by occupations which don't come to mind when thinking of education. In fact, according to one source, actual teachers only occupy about 2500, or a little over a quarter of the whole pie. This brings the literal teacher/student ratio to about 16:1 average. If the widely criticized achievement gap still exists after a certain period under these conditions, it becomes necessary to look beyond reducing class sizes for solutions. In so doing, educators should look to successful systems for new strategies, because differentiation is always occurring, but evolution requires adaption and replication of those successful strategies in order to function. However…