Justice for Elijah

14 year old Elijah Doughty was killed by a White man who only received 3 years backdated to his arrest. A jury acquitted him of manslaughter charges, despite CCTV footage and his admission that he went looking for Elijah thinking he had stolen a junk bike that the killer admits had no sentimental value. Meanwhile Elijah’s motorbikes had been confiscated by police as they believed them stolen; however this was false and the bikes were returned to Doughty family after Elijah’s death. Regardless, no person deserves to die, let alone over a dispute. He’ll likely be free in February. This is sooner than an Aboriginal person protesting Elijah’s death who was charged with property damage. Continue reading Justice for Elijah

Representating Colonisation at the Rocks Discovery Museum

This is the Rocks Discovery Museum. It’s interesting historically as the artefacts tell the story of Sydney prior to European invasion. But it’s more fascinating sociologically – in how this history is represented. The first room you see (“Warrane. Pre-1788”) uses words like “arrival” and “first contact” to describe the relationship between colonialists and traditional custodians of Sydney, the Gadigal people. The second room (“Colony. 1788-1830”) uses words like “settlement” and “colony” prominently… but not *colonialism.* The word “invasion” only appears on a side panel – this display is excellent, reflecting on British treatment of Aboriginal people as a “catastrophe.”

Marketing Sociology

Do you see the purple booth in the far background? That marks the beginning of this line, for a free (seemingly empty) purple stocking by a chocolate company. I was also impressed at a similar booth where you could get “free” chocolate for liking a brand on Facebook or following them on Instagram. I heard the workers talking and they said they’d hit half a million likes with their promotion.

I’ve been thinking a bit about social marketing lately because I’ve being managing communications and media for research organisations and not for profits for many years now. In general, the social sciences don’t do marketing well and this is especially the case in my field of sociology. Continue reading Marketing Sociology

Publication: Ring a Bell? Charles Murray and the Resurgence of Scientific Racism

This article was first published on The Humanist on 15 May 2017. Below is an excerpt.

In his latest podcast episode titled “Forbidden Knowledge,” atheist author Sam Harris guides political scientist Charles Murray through an extensive defence of Murray’s widely debunked body of work, focusing mostly on The Bell Curve. Co-authored with psychologist Richard Herrnstein (who died around the time it was published in 1994), the book was universally critiqued as an example of modern-day scientific racism. Continue reading Publication: Ring a Bell? Charles Murray and the Resurgence of Scientific Racism

The Institute of Sexology

This exhibition was held in London. It covered the early work by Western scholars to study sexuality and diverse sexual identities. Featuring various social scientists from anthropology (such as Margaret Mead) to psychology (Freud), I was ecstatic that two sociologists, Prof Kayle Wells and Prof Julia Field, are featured prominently in the final section of the exhibit.

Wells and Field are two of the lead investigators of the longitudinal National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.

The exhibition ends with an invitation to participate in the exhibition survey and also contribute a question. One of these is chosen to be added to the survey each week and the aim is to replace all the original questions with public questions. Some of the anonymous answers are on display and they change constantly.

My favourite that I’m still mulling over is by a woman in her 20s (paraphrased): “You can tell whether a man is feminist or not by the way he has sex.”

Sociology of Waiting in Line

When I visited the Anne Frank House, I lined up for the better part of three hours. The experience was well worth it. The house, converted into a museum, is narrow and dense with people. There is rich information about Anne, her family, her religiosity, and of course there is much education about the Holocaust. Visitors can see the fragile pages of her original journals, video interviews with her father, friends and others who have been impacted by her bravery.

Visitors are respectful and kind to one another. The narrow staircases are very difficult for people with disabilities, older people, pregnant people and others with mobility and health issues. They move slowly, but people are patient and encouraging, reflecting the spirit of Anne Frank’s legacy. One Spanish-speaking family stood to the side to let others pass, as the children asked their mother about the War, talking about the room they were in with respect to the Diary of Anne Frank, which they had all evidently read together.

This visit was one of the highlights of my trip to Europe.

I want to reflect on what happened before I went into the house. Continue reading Sociology of Waiting in Line

Allyship and Intersectionality

Intersectionality is a term describing how gender inequality is impacted by racism and other forms of exclusion, leading to real-world consequences, such as multiple forms of discrimination in the workplace. Intersectionality is a framework for critical thinking; that means we use this as a lens to understand how individual experiences of disadvantage are impacted by social policies, social institutions, and other structural forces.

White women, including those who belong to minority groups, often leave out the race dimension from their use of intersectionality, and do not turn that critical thinking on themselves. For intersectionality to achieve change, all of us must be willing to be self-reflexive about the interconnections and impact of gender, race and other identities. Continue reading Allyship and Intersectionality

Million Dollar Mermaid

Million Dollar Mermaid: Annette Kellerman is a current exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Kellerman was an Anglo Australian woman who broke many records and was a superstar in her day. Born into a highly educated and musical family in Sydney, she was diagnosed with rickets as a girl. She took up swimming to strengthen her legs and showed such prowess that male athletes encouraged her to take up high diving in the early 1900s, which high class Anglo Australian women did not do at the time. Still a teenager and having swam across the mighty Yarra River in Melbourne, she went to London in 1905 and competed in men’s marathon swims in the Thames, Seine and Danube rivers. Continue reading Million Dollar Mermaid

Windows of the World

The Korean Embassy opened its for doors to the public for Windows of the World, a celebration of our embassies and Australian diplomatic relations. So much amazing food it was hard to choose, but I went with Bulgogi. It is delicious, especially to the background K-pop music is equally awesome. Continue reading Windows of the World

Introduction to Applied Sociology

Here’s a brief visual overview about how sociology is used beyond universities. Applied sociology is the use of sociological concepts and methods to answer specific client questions and to address community concerns.