Research shows that around 40% of Australians do some form of volunteering. Volunteering is a great way for individuals to improve their communities but there are additional benefits for employers. This includes the social ties that volunteers gain, as well as the new skills they learn, including communication with broader members of the public.
Head to my social science blog to learn more about why volunteering is an asset that more businesses should support.
Do you know much about the Myers-Briggs test? It’s a psychology test used to classify different personality types. Many workplaces use this test to try to help manage different communication styles. Sociological research has shown, however, that many workplaces lose sight of how the test should be used. Workers can sometimes become pigeon-holed into certain roles and broader organisational issues can be excused away due to a misunderstanding of the personality types.
Check out my Social Science Insights blog to see how workplaces can better use the Myers-Briggs test: http://buff.ly/1tObvuR
In mid-July, David Karp appeared on The Colbert Report. I’m going to tease apart Karp’s brief appearance because it came after the announcement of Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr. The interview touches on issues of digital equality, the hijacking of “cool,” and privacy. Colbert is clever and hilarious as ever. His comedy is about making fun of his guests, so unsurprisingly, during the exchange, we see that Tumblr is dismissed as a frivolous waste of time, mostly because of its reputation as a site for porn. A sociological perspective sees that even the most trivial dismissals, even during in a short comedic exchange, carries social messages that need critical exploration.
Tumblr is a fun way to spend one’s time. Yet Tumblr stands for something more: it is a popular way for young people to interact online, particularly those between 18-29 years, and it is especially used by minorities. Data from America also shows that Tumblr is unique in its gender breakdown. Unlike Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, which are more popular among women, and Twitter which is slightly more popular among men, Tumblr has a near equal split between male and female users. There are no data on non-cis gender users, but Tumblr’s transgender and queer tags are popular, suggesting Tumblr is an important blogging platform for LGBTQI youth. Tumblr also draws a slightly higher proportion of urban and educated users.
Given its unique demographics, it’s useful to place Karp and Colbert’s discussion in a broader socio-economic context. Much of their jokes centre on porn use on Tumblr, but underneath, this is a conversation about digital privilege.
An article by Complex takes up an important question: why did only 40 people turn up to a great SXSW session on growing entrepreneurship amongst minorities? The author argues that race and gender are not a benign issues in Silicon Valley, although people act as if they are. It ends on this note:
“The hour-long session, though, finally hit home when the moderator noted: ‘African Americans utilise Twitter more than any other group, yet they are so focused on using it instead of wondering how to create the next Twitter.’ It was perhaps the most powerful point of the day. And one for which no one seemed to have an answer.”
The conclusion, that Black Americans simply need to be more entrepreneurial fails to address the structural biases that make digital careers unviable for people from disadvantaged groups. Similarly, places dominated by White people can often be hostile and unwelcoming to Black people, and fail to provide them the same social capital (social ties from their relationships and friendships) that can be leveraged into funding for start-ups and other tech projects.