Homo Academicus Redux

jtotheizzoe:

Shit Scientists Say

I’m a little tired of the “Shit ____ Say/Don’t Say” meme already, but I’ll make an exception for this one. It’s mildly hilarious.

Stochastic.

(by RoseEveleth)

zeezeescorner:

Pretty good parody video. “In conclusion more research is required” (ha!).

Part of the joke in this video is the little regard some scientists have for treating living beings empathically and ethically, instead referring to animals and people as disposable tools: “Do you have an extra monkey?” “Hey, you got an extra undergrad?”. And feeling superior to everything and everyone: “She keeps talking about her Nature paper, but she was only the third author”. “I mean there’s science and then there’s social science”.

Funnily enough apart from this remark, the only science portrayed in this video are the natural sciences. Yes, this is a reflection of the producers of the video (who may be natural scientists doing a parody), but this is also indicative of how science is constructed in the public imagination. Plus on Tumblr I might add: the science and social science tags are separate, though I’ve yet to see social science show up in the science stream. (Also our thread has no editors, which I know some other sociologists have pointed out.)

Before we sociologists get up on our moral high horse about scientific superiority, I have heard some amazing derision amongst our peers, particularly from senior academics putting down applied sociologists.

Where does all this science holier-than-thou-shit come from? Read Bourdieu Homo Academicus, where he talks about how scientific disciplines structure knowledge, status and symbolic power. Here’s a clue, where Bourdieu quotes Hobbes: “Reputation of power is power”.

Ahh science, science, where for art thou science…

The Legal and Social Plight of ‘Gulnaz’, the now-freed Afghan rape survivor

Gulnaz. (Via CNN)

Two years a go, a then-19 year-old Afghan woman known only as ‘Gulnaz’ was charged with adultery and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after she reported that she had been raped by her cousin’s husband. Gulnaz became pregnant from the rape she endured. She gave birth in prison. Gulnaz and her child lived behind bars for two years until the international community heard about her plight. Her case became known when the European Union announced it had banned a documentary about Gulnaz and other victims of gender crimes, citing a fear for the women’s safety should their story become public (CNN).This rationale drew international criticism. Five thousand people signed a petition for Gulnaz’s release in late November.

Continue reading The Legal and Social Plight of ‘Gulnaz’, the now-freed Afghan rape survivor

“69 Billion Friendships” on Facebook – How Sociology Can Make This Meaningful

By J.C. Duffy, Night Deposits.

Last week, the Facebook Data Team released its social network analysis research, Anatomy of Facebook (on Facebook of course!). They have annotated their algorithms in two academic papers The Anatomy of the Facebook Social Graph and Four Degrees of Separation. Facebook claims their data show that connectivity between people around the world has dramatically increased – so much so that we are only four links away from someone in the most remote part of the world, whether that is a tundra or rainforest. A sociological look at the data dispels this notion. Despite its impressive sample, which includes 721 million active Facebook users and their “69 billion friendships”, Facebook’s findings replicate widely-held sociological knowledge about the way people form social ties. Nonetheless, Facebook’s data has great potential to address important social questions, if we can just set aside those pesky social science concerns about research ethics, informed consent and privacy…

Facebook’s study has an extraordinary sample of ‘active users’ representing one tenth of the world’s population The term active user is defined by Johan Ugander and colleagues in one of the aforementioned academic papers. This refers to someone with at least one friend who had logged on once in the past 28 days from the study’s commencement in May 2011. This is less frequent than the Facebook’s company definition of an active user, but the divergent definitions are not explained. For the record, Facebook currently reports it has 800 million active users and 50 percent of them log in at least once a day. Lars Backstrom, computer scientist and one of the Facebook Data Team’s lead researchers in this study, reports on the aims and key findings. The Team found that only around 10 percent of active users have less than 10 friends, while half have a median of 100 friends (the average is 190 friends). See below for more detail.

Continue reading “69 Billion Friendships” on Facebook – How Sociology Can Make This Meaningful