Sociology Today: June 12, 2008

It has been a week since I started `Sociology Today‘. I’ve covered newspapers, free magazines found in public transportation, and blogs. All contained news that closely related to three main questions of sociology. It feels like this can indeed be continued indefinitely, but I will not do so on a daily basis. I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer some more thoughtful posts, rather than these quickies. Perhaps I’ll make it a weekly item.

But for today I selected a public opinion magazine: Vrij Nederland. I found issues on gender inequality and sociobiology, on fertility issues and the supposed increase in social cohesion due to the European Championship.

Today’s Source: Vrij Nederland

Rationalization: The broader debate

This one is easy. Ariana Need, sociologist at the Radboud University, is interviewed about her work on abortion. She works on a large project on the interplay of religion, education, technological change and fertility issues. Since I assist some to that project, it was nice to see it appearing in a public opinion magazine. Need proffers the basic sociology argument: (policy) interventions can have complex, unintended consequences. Thereby, she argues that there is more to the abortion debate than simple a child that is born, or not.

Inequality: Genderdifferences: Narture or nurture?

In a fascinating article on a recent book by Susan Pinker, we read that the nature-nurture debate is brought back to gender inequality on the labor market. Although the criticism is raised that Pinker steps from biology to behavior a little to quickly at times, it is recognized that existing biological differences between man and woman cannot be excluded from this debate. Very true indeed. In my opinion, observed biological differences should not be excluded from the discussion a priori. Nevertheless, I have argued before that one should be careful to make such arguments, for it is very difficult to embed the outcomes of certain biological traits in the social environment in which both men and women live.

Cohesion: Sociology of Sports

During this European Championship the pressure to write on football is unbearable. So, here I go. It is often heard that minorities represented in a sports team benefit the integration and acceptance of these minorities in society. Simon Kuper however argues that this is not the case regarding the France football team. Zinedine Zidane was a hero on the field, but did not help the integration of the fellow Algerian migrants. It shows according to Kuper, by the electoral success of the right-wing ‘Le Pen’. The riots in the Parisian ‘banlieu’s’ were not an indication of successful integration either. Reason for all this is that although the migrants are successful on the soccer field, their success is attributed to their status as ‘the other’, not that of them as a person.

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