Beyond Lazy Stereotypes of Gen Y

Is generation y lazy and self-entitled? Spoiler alert: no.

This infographic draws on a number of market research surveys by popular websites. The data show that Millennials are highly educated, entrepreneurial and hard-working. But what does the social science research say?

Research by Pew Research Centre shows that while a high proportion of American millennials are highly educated and employed, 37% of young adults under the age of 30 are struggling to find employment. This is an outcome of economic forces, rather than some inherent “laziness.” At the same time, 40% of 18 to 24 year old youth are still at university, making this generation the most highly educated in recorded history.American millennials are also less religious than previous generations, and although they are highly committed to the idea of marriage and having children, they are more likely to delay this into a later age. Millennials are also more optimistic about the future and they are more likely to think that the government should intervene in social and political matters.

Why the Middle Class Misunderstands Inequality

This year, Australia has endured yet another rise of racist public discourses about refugees taking away jobs from “Australians.” But given that refugees who resettle in Australia are, in fact, Australian, which Australians are being evoked in this argument and why? In May 2016, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said of refugees:

“For many people, they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English, and this is a difficulty. These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that, and for many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it.”

These comments are not factual – half of all refugees speak English and three quarters have at least a high school education. It is well documented that refugees and their children make a strong economic contribution to the Australian economy. Refugees do not ‘take jobs away’ from other Australians – this perception is founded in the historical racist rhetoric that underpinned Australia’s immigration policies since Federation. Refugees, especially the children of those from non-English speaking countries such as Viet Nam, are more socially mobile than third-generation Australians. That means that, even if their parents arrive in Australia as working class, the second-generation joins the middle class. But this does not push Anglo-Australians out of the middle class. So why this misinterpretation? Continue reading Why the Middle Class Misunderstands Inequality

Refugee Art Project

The Refugee Art Project is led by Sydney artist Safar Ahmed, but the drawings and watercolours in this exhibition are mostly created by untrained asylum seekers imprisoned at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney. The artists use food such as instant coffee mixed with water as they do not have access to at materials. The refugees are locked up indefinitely in some cases due to our callous immigrating policies in Australia that have been deemed unlawful by international agencies including the United Nations. Ahmed’s sketchbooks and zines are also on display.

Airport and Sociology of Class

A delayed flight means sociologists get to do more people watching. Airports are a clear example of class not simply in terms of which groups board first but also the way in which people dress for the flight, the appearance of their baggage and other social clues.

This is Canberra airport.

 

Ulrich Beck and the Risk Society

Very sad at the loss of sociologist Ulrich Beck. One of his most significant sociological insights that impacted my training was his writing on The Risk Society. Beck showed how modern life was characterised by a focus on mitigating the notion of risk. He charted how knowledge workers took over from manufacturing workers as new technologies facilitated globalisation. As world cultures become more cosmopolitan, risk has been a prevailing idea shaping social relations.

The notion of risk is a way to control behaviour but it is shaped by culture and politics. For example, what may have been tragic world news events previously, such as the September 11,  2001 attacks in the USA and the Bali Bombings in 2002, are now constructed as a local risk in Australia. Social policies changed swiftly giving greater power to some Government agencies to mitigate the risk of international movements of political violence. Political events overseas become national risks, which the media frames as being a personal risk. Xenophobia, specifically fear of Islam, becomes justified in public discourses. Our collective behaviour is compelled to change; we are more conscious of the daily possibility of terrorist threats through security screenings at airports, through media reports that invite fear of Muslims, and so on. Continue reading Ulrich Beck and the Risk Society

Beyond Boycotts: Gender, Globalisation and Garment Factories in Bangladesh

Beyond Boycotts: Gender, Globalisation and Garment Factories in Bangladesh

On my blog, one year after the devastating fires in two Bangladesh factories where 1,100 workers died, I revisited the poor industrial relations that lead to this destruction. I looked at how international boycotts of garment factories are not always an effective way to take action against unfair labour conditions for overseas workers. I noted that sociological research paints a different picture on how international boycotts have a weak impact on labour laws but negatively affect the largely female workforce and their children. Under poor socio-economic conditions, garment factories can be a source of protection for women. International action should focus on changing social policies in a way that does not punish these vulnerable workers. Read about how the push for change might be better informed by women’s experiences.

My blog post: http://buff.ly/1s857h8 #sociology #feminism #socialscience #work

Beyond Boycotts: Gender, Globalisation and Garment Factories in Bangladesh

Photo: Weronika via Flickr CC 2.0
Photo: Weronika via Flickr CC 2.0

In Bangladesh, four million people work in textile factories. Their work accounts for 80% of their country’s annual exports. Yet they work in extremely dangerous conditions. It’s been a year since 1,100 workers died in two incidents of fire and structural collapse in April 2013. My post explores this tragedy through a sociological lens, looking at empirical studies of the local working conditions and social reality in which garment workers live. These tragedies are an ugly reminder of the unequal economic relations that sustain globalisation. One of the visceral Western response to these tragedies may be to cry for a boycott of these companies. Sociological research shows that the resolution is much less tidy. The story behind this is not simply about corporate greed. It is a tale about gender inequality and the social costs of economic mobility. Let’s start by remembering the 2013 tragedy. Continue reading Beyond Boycotts: Gender, Globalisation and Garment Factories in Bangladesh

Sociologist Shamus Khan on Re-framing Poverty

Programs that focus on the “culture of poverty” and the alleged “attributes” of poor people don’t get to its root cause, which is, quite simply, that millions of people don’t have enough money. Poverty is not a fixed trait; we can easily make people less poor by giving them enough money so that they’re no longer poor.

Continue reading Sociologist Shamus Khan on Re-framing Poverty