Tuesday, May 16, 2017

American Culture

American culture is very cool and unique because it is seen as drastically different. In this short unit we mostly examined values that Americans hold dearly vs. values that other cultures hold dearly. Throughout the unit I learned a lot about what I hold as values and what many Americans hold as values. For an unbelievable awesome an fun example, Americans really value efficiency. This is why we see so many fast food joints across our glorious landscapes that we call home. I love driving through the beautiful countryside, but hate it when I see the golden arches or the crown of the Burger King(what a tyrant). But this is what our culture gets for wanting cheap and fast food, it builds into our value of efficiency. In the documentary I Am, the director talks about how unhappy he is with his materialistic lifestyle. That's cool and all but I find it hard to relate to. I would love to have jet skis and take a private jet place to place. While nothing makes me feel more alive than flying with 50 other people, I feel like a private jet is a luxury I would enjoy a lot. Anyways, Americans live by a materialistic culture. We don't always realize it, but we are constantly trying to one-up each other with new products. We feel like we have to have the newest and best of everything. A great example is with iPhones. Apple is always coming up with new phones that do the same thing but since its the newest version, they sell like firecrackers on the fourth of July. This differs than many cultures that value relationships with family and friends much higher than objects. I try to stay away from American cultures because they're sad and pathetic. I don't care if I have the best thing and I like quality over quantity. I don't want to spend a lot of money on something crappy just because it is faster to get. I wish more Americans thought this way too! This is cool stuff; god darn this land of the free that tucks me into bed every night like a lamb its dove on a cool breezy night in the heart of the longhorn. Hopefully my grammar isn't too awful but based of the time I'm writing this, one can only imagine. Over under 6.5 mistakes? I'll take the over. And yes I'm a betting man just like many great AMericans. Money us success! Success is risk! Risk is gambling!

Service Hours Post

To gather up my 10 service hours for the semester, I decided to volunteer for Special Olympics and their annual bocce ball tournament. To learn about the sport and the day as a whole, I went to a training session the day before the event. I got to learn how I would be able to help volunteer and it was fun to do it alongside many of my friends. At the day of the event, I wasn't totally sure what to expect. I've never volunteered for special olympics, so I didn't know how much I would need to help participants and with what. As the day went along, I quickly realized that each individual that participated was unique different in their own way. Some people were physically disable, had personal connections with inanimate objects, and some just loved talking with us. It was really great to see the participants enjoying the day while being competitive and it was always nice when their friends and family would come out to watch their match. As a volunteer, I was just trying to put on a good event for everyone that was there for Special Olympics because I know how much it means to everyone that competes and cheers on their family. As a first time Special Olympics volunteer, I'm super glad that i did it because it opened up my world to a new one with a great organization with even better people.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This has been the unit I've been looking forward to the most just because culture is by far the most interesting things that makes you who you are and me who I am. Culture exists on a large scale, continently, smaller, in a country, and exists in sub-cultures which exist practically everywhere. I apologize in advance for the poor structure that this post will be written in, but since I have a few examples that are extremely relevant I have a lot to say and just want to write what comes to mind.
So first off, this past summer I spent just under two weeks in Japan with my mom and brother. Just like you experienced when you were in Japan...WOWOWOWOW! I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The only image I had of Japan was Nintendo and my Japanese-American friend. So I was going in pretty naive to say the least. (Side note: My mom was in Japan for a 14 days before my brother and I on a trip. She is an ESL or ELL teacher at Willow Grove now and had spent her trip learning about the Japanese schools and culture) Right off the plane, I could see the difference. The obvious language change, the people, and technology. Now my bathroom experience differed from place to place. Off that brutal 14-16 hour flight I went right to the bathroom and looked for an open stall. Two were open. One was a squatty potty, and one was a more Westernized toilet. After hearing about how awfully strange the squatty potties were from my friend Blake who was spending the summer in China, I quickly took the westernized toilet. But this was a Toto, so my butt was nice and toasty, and water sprayed in areas that frankly, I didn't need water splashed in. But hey(!), when in Japan am I right? After the bathroom it was time to go to our hotel where our mom was going to meet us at. My brother Danny and I had to pleasure of figuring where the *bleep* to go to find the bus/shuttle. And as you can imagine and experience, you can't easily translate Japanese characters. We spent a hefty amount of time making sure we got to the right bus station at the airport. Both the language signs and bathrooms would be considered material culture, the physical characteristics of a culture. The actual language that was being spoken around us would be considered non-material culture, along with gestures like bowing, and casual sayings. What we learned right off the bat was that you say (pardon my spelling) arigato gozacheemas rather than just arigato. Thank you very much rather than just thank you. We were told its the more polite thing to say and is seen as offensive if you don't. And trust me, we already stood out as offensive just because we were white, so we were trying to get friendly points anywhere we could.
While my experience is drastically different than the lost boys from God Grew Tired of Us, in a way the idea of switching cultures is similar. Being thrown into a completely different culture is one of the hardest things a person could deal with. You may not know the language, sayings, holidays, or any other everyday thing that we do unconsciously now. The lost boys had to deal with a major culture change in the U.S. Not only was it much colder in Syracuse and Pittsburgh, but the boys learned to work a lot more than spend time with family. They learned to pay bills on a timely matter, and also learned the values that Americans hold, work now play later. Another example of difference in cultures is in the reading Social Time, where the author describes the difference between arriving late. In America arriving late is very bad and sometimes disrespectful. It makes you seem like you're lazy or disorganized. Whereas in Brazil arriving late is seen as superior(?). More literally, Brazilians see people that arrive late as having a lot on their plate and see that as a good thing. "Wow this person is so busy, they're ding a lot of good with their life".
Finally I think sub-cultures are extremey relevan to our everyday lives. For me, bneing a lacrosse player puts me in my own sub-culture. There is a ton of terminology that people outside the sport wouldn't understand. Even my dad who has been watching me play for years still doesn't fully understand everything my teammates and I scream on the field. Sub-culture can be a religious sect, sport, clique, or practically any kind of group. "Emo kids of America", "Pokemon players of America", etc. are all sub-cultures that those of us on the outside wouldn't understand.
Culture is a beautiful thing. In my opinion, culture shapes us more than anything because everybody is touched by their own culture one way or another. I was truly fascinated by the Japanese culture in so many ways and would to share other experiences of mine with you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Race is just a social construct to put individuals into categories, but these categories are not definite.  A good idea to view this is outliers in groups.  In class we had a group of balls and had the opportunity to categorize them.  Some did colors, others did size, and there was also type.  Someone did type and said the small 2 diameter basketball was in the same group as the 12 diameter basketball, but someone said well in size the smaller ball would be in a different category.  The idea behind this was to show the outlier.  An average basketball is larger for play, but the small toy one was still a basketball but just not what we would assume it be.  This goes to show how individuals are never perfect, we are all mixed and there is no pure bred anymore (in dog terms).  Another example is judgement coming to physical appearance rather than ethnicity.  Some individuals may identify as black, but may pass as white. Others would see here as white, but for her to say "hey no, I'm actually African American" right then and there the perspective is then altered to change into black rather than white.  Physical appearance creates the idea of race, but isn't accurate.  A sad assumption to make is the social construction of the identities that come with having darker skin. In a study called "A Girl Like Me" a woman asks individuals what doll they prefer, and even the darker skinned girls prefer the lighter skinned doll.  The girls are then asked which doll is the nice doll and which is bad.  Majority of the girls both darker skin and lighter skin all point to lighter skin girl and identify the doll as nice.  But then when she incorporates their identities with the assumptions you see a darker skin girl reach for the white doll because she knows that she is kind, but with a quick reflection she discovers that she is actually a darker skin tone and then holds the darker skin doll.  The social construction is to use physical appearance to categorize individuals and label them as a race.  With this little girl labeling herself she struggles to categorize herself because she knows she is good at heart but is conflicted with the social influence of darker being evil.  A personal experience of mine is just what I see on the news everyday with the shootings in chicago.  A lot of allegations are made based on physical appearance and clothes and it luirs others to feel defensive and target to attack.  I have only seen and heard stories on the television, and have never experienced it first hand since others assume I am harmless being a white male in the suburbs.

Monday, April 3, 2017

This past unit we talked about social class and the social structure of what class is. The two sources that were used was a film called The Line  and a reading called Nickel and Dimed. While I thought I understood how social class worked, after reading and watching these sources, I gained new insight into the real world problems and scenarios so many find themselves in.
In Nickel and Dimed, the excerpt follows an undercover waitress who is struggling to survive economically. She is looked down upon by customers and isn't successful at her overall living due to her low income. Because of these circumstances she is put into a lower social class, based off of her economic success or lack thereof. The problem with social class, as the waitress found out, is that it is nearly impossible to move up in class because it is so hard to gain higher income over time. There are countless expenses one must pay in order to go about their daily life such as rent, gas, maybe insurance, food, electricity, etc. So for those that have low paying unskilled labor jobs, they generally will stay in the same low social class for life.
In the film, I saw how people lived based off there location or social class. People that live in lower income areas find it harder to make it up a class level because either they are seen as inferior or they just don't have the resources available to them in their area. This is especially seen with those who are considered low income yet live in a more affluent area. They would be seen as outsiders in the community and will feel that way too. Imagine living in an old rundown house that needs constant repair while new houses are being built all around you. Thats how many feel when they are put in that situation. Not only location, but also different life events can hurt people when it comes to class. Someone going through a divorce, a death in the family, or a major medical incident can all damage income and personal health, which ultimately, can lower a persons social class. Social class is determined by society, or the people around us, so if an event in your life is seen as out of norm negatively, you may be seen in a lower social class.
When applying this all to my life I have found myself in an interesting role. Yes I'm a white kid who goes to Stevenson. My parents, at the moment, both have jobs. I fit right into that snobby role that many are perceived to have in this area. But I don't consider myself to be part of the stereotypes one bit. For many year my father was unemployed and finally built the courage to start his own business from within his house. He did this while dealing with his divorce with my mom. I don't need a pity story though, because I know how my parents have taught me to think of myself in terms of money or class. I'm no better than anyone else. At any moment all fortune I may have could be gone, and suddenly I could be seen in a much lower class. We like to think we can control everything in our lives, but we not that it isn't true. Those that are born into prestige can live that luxurious life, which is totally fine, but wealthy people end up poor too. As we saw in the film, it is much easier to drop down in social class levels than it is to move up.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Deviance occurs when individuals are shoved out of the societal circle of what is called “normal”.  This falls into the social construct of rules formed for individuals to “ behave” or even “fit in”.  While many individuals would jump the gun and label this as a horrible ideology within society, it can create a boundary of mutual respect.  All of these social constructs are all made out of common courtesy. For instance, remaining quiet on public transportation, or even keeping your music on your phone to a minimum.  Even though deviance can come with a few benefits of minding others, it creates this idea of judgement, and even stigma.  When an individual is seen as deviant, all eyes are on them since what they are doing is out of the societal norm.  But depending on where you are, someone’s normal behavior or actions, may be another’s taboo.  Also when one sees an individual not abiding to the societal norms put in place, the instant thought of the individual being “weird” is smacked onto that person to label the action of breaking out of the circle. This label separates the two leaving one potentially feeling superior to the other.

In class we talked a lot about drugs this unit and how we perceive drugs as these awful substances. My class thought that alcohol should be a type 4 drug before knowing what we were classifying. After we were told it was alcohol, our minds changed as we are used to seeing alcohol in stores and restaurants. In Naperville there was a big drug bust from kids buying drugs from the city. The sellers were put in jail, while the Naperville kids lost their cars. That piece of evidence is linked to social class. How we perceive class is how we establish rules and punishments. It's deviant of us to think that taking keys away from kids will do the same as putting the sellers in jail, because it isn't fair, but that's how deviance can occur.

I have witnessed a deviant individual and judged him instantly without even realizing I was doing so.  I have walked down the streets of Chicago and seen individuals screaming, and even close to nude.  There is a social norm to keep your eyes relatively down, to keep quiet, and to keep moving.  One guy was disturbing the path of others by constant shuffling, with his head straight up, and screaming.  He even created more room around himself since individuals were weirded out and didn’t want to be too close.  This man could have easily had a great day, or have received wonderful news where he was overflowing with joy and wanted to express or share it with others.  Looking back at the moment I judged this man simply because everyone else around him was scowling and turning away. This instant reaction created the stigma that this man had “problems”. This is a great example on how we as individuals create boundaries that come down to the thought of “us versus them”.  Separating all individuals into their “proper” classes, and ultimately showing through our expression who is better than who.

At the end of the day, deviance comes down to what you or someone else thinks societal norms should be. And how those norms are affected by time, place, and social class.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This past unit we learned how socialization affects gender. While we may not realize it, many aspects of our everyday lives affect how we are shaped into our gender identity. We are both taught and shaped on how to masculine, or how to be feminine. Whether its by blue related toys and clothes for boys, pink related items for girls, or what we watch on T.V. Why is wrestling promoted towards boys? Why are girls pushed towards dolls? And I feel like writing this down before I forget, but its a little funny that for girls, their toys are generally called dolls, but boys play with action figures. All of that together act as agents of socialization. The toys we play with, the shows we watch, our role models, all shape our mental image of gender identity.
We watched a lot of videos on gender this unit. Tough Guise hit hard on how aggressive boys are and why they act n the way they do. The narrator (Something Katz) refers to violence, social norms, and other agents that all act as agents of socialization. Katz doesn't believe that boys are born aggressive and more violent, rather he argues that society shapes boys more and it's almost impossible to escape societies image of gender. For girls, the movie Killing Us Softly shows how advertisers affect girls perceptions of how they should look and act. Using fake models, dangerously unhealthy models, and deciding what is "cool", advertisers and companies shape how girls look at themselves and other. Its sad to see girls try so hard to look and act like a fake character or model that they see on T.V. or a magazine, yet it happens all the time. Again, this isn't a natural occurrence, society is shaping how girls act and see themselves. Companies like Dove help promote self-beauty by going against the norm of super slim models and instead using real life people in their commercials. Dove commercials show women of all color, weight, and ethnicity to fully show that beauty can come from anywhere and look anyway.
While I felt like I knew a lot of information on this subject, through a myriad of materials and evidence, I saw an even more shocking truth to societies potential power over gender. We may brush off certain things as no big deal, but everything has an effect on us. We watch advertisements and hardly pay attention, but they still contribute to the idea of masculinity or femininity.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The argument of nature vs. nurture is discussed across many subjects. In socialization, we look at how people make decisions and why they make those decisions. We commonly see nurture have a greater impact on our decision because people tend to follow people they look up to or those who have more power than them. These aspects are called agents. Agents can be family members, classmates, or even celebrities. Agents act as role models which therefore shape how people act and think. Thus, nurture takes the lead over nature in socialization. We saw this in the video Consuming Kids. In the video, people in the advertising industry described how they grab kid's attention at a young age and turn them into loyal customers for life. Different marketing techniques allow business to achieve their goals, even if some of them may seem immoral to an outsider. Kids who watch the same television channel will see the same ads over and over again, and advertisers know this. They know who their target market is and broadcast directly towards them. And when kids sign up for accounts on online game servers, companies receive just enough information to personally advertise to a user.
These advertisers and using the idea of the socialization process, the idea that as we go through life, we are constantly inheriting new ideas, norms, and beliefs. If a company can be attractive to a young kid, they can keep the kid as a loyal customer throughout their life. Even outside of consumerism, we are constantly gaining new schemas. Personally, I've noticed myself get heavily involved with politics as I've grown older. Even before this wild 2016 election, I noticed my beliefs and ideas being shaped by family and friends, and what I would watch on the news. Of course I try to develop my own unbiased opinions, but I see pieces of society influence my views all of the time.
Another topic that is related to nature vs. nurture is the difference between manifest and latent lessons. Manifest lessons are those that are conscious while latent lessons are unconscious. A personal example both kinds of lessons would be college. If a student planned to go to college for sole intention of getting a great education, that would be a manifest lesson. But as the student lives on campus, they gain new friends and social benefits, thus college would become a latent lesson for them because they unconsciously gained more than what they thought they would.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

More Sociology Terms

This past week in sociology, we reviewed some terms in new ways and also learned a couple more. The class dove into more specifics about a broad topic and discovered what sociologist really look at when trying to define a person, or when we try to define ourselves. 

The main thing that we discussed in class was the influence of groups in Macro/Micro sociology. We started out with an experiment of sports where everybody had a role on a boat. The group of people had to vote others off the boat in order to save the majority. So the question was, who do we save and how do we decide? I was the elderly man, so maybe I was just biased or maybe not, but I believed that the elderly /women/any children should stay on the boat. Yes, I'm throughly interested in the Titanic and enjoyed the movie. The exercise introduced the class to Macro/Micro sociology. Macro is when sociologist look at a large-scale premise whereas Micro is a small-scale. When you combine these terms with social construction of reality, I believe it's very easy to see it come to life, especially at Stevenson. There are many different groups at school that people assign themselves to. A generic one for a student at SHS would be upper middle class American teenager. Those 3 groups alone could tell you a lot about a person. Stereotypes are real! That description has an effect on all of us who belong to it, affecting how we act, perceive experiences, and act in situations. On the Micro level, we look at a smaller scale group, maybe a classroom. Who is quiet? Loud? Class clown? Teachers pet? Am I running out of labels? No, but I'll continue on. How students interact with each other in a single classroom shapes each individual. If someone is typically quieter, they may stay silent when they see a select few talking constantly. A shy student may feel intimidated to talk to their teacher after seeing their classmate have a great relationship with him/her. 

Obviously in the class simulation we didn't get this into each character because that would could take the whole semester. But I did find it interesting how the group chose who to stay. The basis was usefulness. Ok...define usefulness. The character sheet was filled with many professions, ages, both male and female. Some had injuries, one was pregnant, and others were over 50. When I saw the group deciding who stays of usefulness, I began to make my own definition of the word. To me, it's someone who can progress the world forward. Very vague I know, but it's a vague word to begin with. At the end of the day, there are no wrong or right choices in the scenario, but biases news and predetermined schemas play a role within a group, both large and small.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sociological Theories

In my two and half weeks in sociology, I have learned about a few key terms that help define what sociology is and how it's used. Sociological imagination, mindfulness, and construction of reality have been talked about.

As Mr. Salituro likes to do, I will also break down these terms into simplest forms. Sociological imagination is broken down into sociological, society, and imagination, thinking about how you are influenced. C. Wright Mills coined this term to describe how people can look at theirs habits and routines and think about how society shapes those habits. In class, we read an article called Outliers that describes a scientist discovering why a town had such low heart attacks. What he found was that the townspeople was so closely intertwined with each others lives, that it had a positive impact both mentally and physically. The town lived a happier and fuller life which resulted in less stress and less heart related illnesses. This represents sociological imagination because through the scientist's discoveries we see how the habits of this town directly relates to their health. The townspeople had always been close with each other, and it continued during immigration, their location may have changed, but their society stayed constant.

Sociological mindfulness is a term that describes self awareness that I am being influenced by society as well. In another article we read, author Michael Schwalbe writes in great length about sociological mindfulness. He asks the question of what do we see if we practice mindfulness. Schwalbe answers with, "...how the social world is created by people; how indpfants become functional human beings; how we are interdependent with others; how people's behaviors is a response to the conditions under which they live...". When we take a step back, we can see how everything works, but this isn't always easy to do. Very rarely does sociological mindfulness happen regularly because it isn't easy to think about. Right now I'm typing on my iPad. This iPad has parts from multiple countries meaning multiple people made the parts, sent them to a different factory, just to be assembled by a different person. Not only did manufacturing happen with the help of many, but the software created to allow me to type on this app and access the Internet, movies, and games were all created by teams all over the world. Now, I'm only thinking about this because I'm writing it for this assignment, but it's one little example of taking a step back. It doesn't have to happen all the time, but when it does occur, sociological mindfulness can open your eyes to new perspectives and realizations.

Lastly, sociological construction of reality is how society shapes a person. The example demonstrated in class was spit vs. saliva. A classmate went to the front, spit saliva on a spoon, then was asked to consume(?) it again. He said no because spit is gross and why would you want to take it back. Hence construction of reality. Spit and saliva are biologically the same, but sociologically, we see spit with our eyes, therefore it is more real and gross. Whereas saliva is in our mouths and more or less out of mind. Another example is the development of social groups. In class we are watching Freaks and Geeks which follows bullies, geeks, burn outs, and mathletes in high school. One of e main characters is a incredibly smart girl who is being pushed to continue her academics, but for one reason or another, wants to live differently than her norm. She is constantly being pulled by her usual mathamatics life, but wants to go a different way, thereby showing sociological construction of reality.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Who Am I?

Hey classmates from second period! My name is Marty and I'm from Buffalo Grove. To answer the question in simplest terms, I'm an easy-going, joking teenager that enjoys sleeping as much as I going out. I've been told by my closest friends that I seem intimidating at first, but am much more once you know me. So don't be afraid, I'm not that scary!

A little bit more about me? I absolutely love food. A good meal is beauty in my eyes, the presentation, the first bite, and the scraps at the end. The best part for me is that I like practically all kinds of foods from most cultures. American, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese and everything else in between. They worst part for me is that I am not a good cook. I just finally learned how to make pasta and mashed potatoes this year, so yes, when mom isn't home for dinner, I'm eating pasta most likely. Traveling is also one of my favorite aspects of life. Whether it's foreign or domestic, each trip has unique experiences that I'd like to remember for the rest of my life. One of my goals is to travel to every single state in the U.S, but my dream is to make it to Australia one day, or go skiing in the Alps.

My biggest influence at this point in my life is my older brother Danny. Even though there are 7 years in between us, as we've grown older and matured, we've gotten much closer and have relied on each other for all sorts of things. To me goals are really important, everyday I try to make someone laugh; or even better, make multiple people laugh. I don't care if it's a chuckle, a laugh out loud moment, or even a pity laugh, as long as I can get someone to smile, I feel like I have made some kind of impact on their day. Long term, I don't want to be bored. Living in the suburbs, can feel like being trapped in our own bubble, when I'm older, I don't want to be sitting at home on my phone, I want to be out with everyone else. This life is too good just waste being bored inside.

American Culture

American culture is very cool and unique because it is seen as drastically different. In this short unit we mostly examined values that Amer...