Sociology is the study of society and social relationships between humans. Research in this field can help us understand human nature, the development of humans as a species, and the social causes and consequences of our behaviors. Though many consider sociology to be a “soft” science, it does rely on the scientific method. It also tests theories in order to reach certain conclusions. Additionally, advancements in social science have helped researchers unearth new information in various fields of study. The following are just a few of current events in sociology across the globe.
Current Events in Sociology: Tackling the Issue of U.S. Migration
It's not a sociologist place to always enter the realm of politics. Nevertheless, social relationships occur in political issues and instances all the time. For that reason, the growing migration crisis on the border is causing many to study its possible effects. There are a lot of people from all over South America seeking asylum in the United States. It is a legal way of entry into the country. Crossing the border outside of a legal port of entry is the illegal part. Nevertheless, asylum seekers look to find refuge from famine, violence, and chaos in their home countries. As more and more have come, the current administration has set up camps for these people as they await the system.
The conditions have been horrendous. Particularly for sociologists, the treatment of children is especially troublesome. Children who come across the border with adults get separated upon entry. The goal of this was primarily to deter others from coming to the border, but it has caused a huge issue within the country's detention practices and centers. The issue at hand is the well being of innocent children. The study surrounding the conditions of these camps is deplorable, and children are without basic necessities.
Seeking Solutions for Innocent Children
The problem for sociologists is not migration itself. Again, their job is not to be politically charged in their efforts. The conditions for children are increasingly problematic, however. Children are scared, without necessities, and overall in danger. In terms of current events in sociology, nothing dominates the current news network like this. Internationally, countries always emphasize the well being of children. The conditions of these camps do not do so. For that reason, international organizations are starting to take notice. Mobilization is tough when it comes to intruding in another country. Yet, these conditions make for a humanitarian crisis. The worries of many around the world is whether or not basic humane treatment is being offered. From inside and out of the United States, it seems like it is not.
Sociologists work within political systems all the time. Everything nowadays is inherently political. This issue is especially so with the contentious nature of its debates. The key to the debate is not whether a certain policy is right or wrong. From a sociologist perspective, the key must always be knowing how to provide people with healthy, safe lives.
Current Events in Sociology: The 3% Conference Addresses Modern Disparities in the Workplace
Many people may not be aware that for many years, only 3% of creative directors were women; even fewer were women of color. Thankfully, this has been changing in recent years, thanks in part to the 3% Movement. Their website explains that they're mission is to put themselves out of business. This sentiment was on full display at the annual conference in Chicago.
Though this conference aims to spread awareness of underrepresentation in the workplace and encourage female empowerment, it also works as a great source of scouting for big companies. Many companies are looking to hire more women, and the 2018 conference in Chicago was full of talented and hardworking women looking to network. One of the attendees, CEO Martha Hiefield, stated that recruiting at the convention had a “direct benefit” for her company. Other companies even advertised their open positions on flyers.
From a sociological standpoint, the convention provides an opportunity for disenfranchised individuals to discuss the societal mechanisms at play in the workplace. However, it still remains to be seen if these women will be heard. Some women noted the lack of male directors at the convention, but many attendees believe that this will change in the future.
Current Events in Sociology: A Leading Sociologist Faces Mounting Allegations
Steven M. Cohen, a well-respected researcher and sociologist, has come under fire recently as he faces accusations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Originally, Keren McGinity, a professor at Brandeis University, made accusations of rape against an unnamed professor in an article published in “The Jewish Week.” Attention immediately turned to Cohen, who had been scrutinized in the past for similar crimes.
Subsequently, five more women contacted the publication with their own sexual assault allegations. Three more women contacted The Jewish Week with charges ranging from hostile comments to inappropriate physical contact. According to multiple sources, this kind of inappropriate and aggressive sexual behavior has gone on for decades. It is believed that dozens of women have been affected, many of whom were hired by Cohen.
Multiple investigations have now been opened to determine the validity of these accusations. The Jewish Week discovered that Cohen was suddenly expelled from the Schusterman Cent for Israel Studies summer program at Brandei University. While the exact details of this expulsion are unknown, it was revealed that they were related to more harassment allegations.
As a prominent member of the Jewish and academic community, Cohen has been under heavy scrutiny from colleagues and associates. These events have sent shockwaves through many of the Jewish community groups that considered Cohen to be an upstanding citizen. Groups like the Committee on Ethics in Jewish Leadership work to combat what they consider to be the “moral decay” present among some in leadership positions. It is unclear how the future of Cohen's sociological research will be affected. However, many individuals and organizations are working to see that justice is served in the end.
Current Events in Sociology: Hong Kong Sociologist Takes On the Sex Trade
It is often said that prostitution is the oldest profession, and yet it is still something that many are uncomfortable to discuss. Despite many advancements, society continues to marginalize and victimize those working in the sex industry. To make matters worse, the illegal sex trade has never been stronger, with dark money sources like Bitcoin making it easier for traffickers to operate. Thankfully, there are some people fighting to shed light on the horrors of the international sex trade.
Bowie Lam, a sociologist based on Hong Kong, is doing just that. Those who study the sex trade cannot determine the precise number of people affected by sex trafficking, but they know that it is high. Lam wants to contact these women directly to educate them and provide them support, but in Hong Kong, many prostitutes work independently via the Internet and are difficult to track down.
Nonetheless, Lam knows that her work is effective. Approximately 80% of the women she speaks with choose to leave the sex industry. The police also work to cut down on sex trafficking, but their efforts are not as effective. Many of these women fear incarceration or police harassment, so police raids and education programs offer little help. Lam's charity, Teen's Key, has helped hundreds of women, but still faces an uphill battle. The information they receive is often not reliable enough to understand the real scope of the sex trade.
Many sociologists choose to work in the theoretical realm. They do research behind closed doors and then publish the results, but Lam takes a more active approach. Since graduating from Lingnan University in 2010, Lam has continuously worked to help those affected by the sex trade. She first worked with Zi Teng, a local NGO. This work involved helping workers abused by either clients or the authorities.
In 2011, Lam started Teen's Key. The name reflects Lam's mission to help young women escape the sex trade. Lam often cites studies showing women entering the sex trade as teenagers or even pre-teens, and then never leaving. With no work experience and limited education, it is often difficult for them to find work anywhere else. Additionally, they may have abusive people who keep these women in the sex trade and use them for profit.
Current Events in Sociology: Sociology Course Focuses on Experiences of the Poor in America
Sociology 207: Poverty in America is a course taught at Princeton University by Matthew Desmond, a social science professor, and Kathryn Edin, an expert is sociology. The class tries to give students a real sense of the difficulties of poverty in the United States. Desmond and Edin bring in guest speakers, many of whom have lived in poverty their entire lives. Additionally, the class includes more traditional lectures and readings on topics ranging from housing to the justice system.
Technically, the state of poverty in the United States has improved since the Great Recession. Nonetheless, the situation remains bleak for millions of Americans. In many cases, families are living in extreme poverty, with earnings of significantly lower than the established poverty line. Still others have to survive on about $2 per individual, per day. The United States is home to both excessive riches and poverty. This course aims to teach students about the individual experiences of the poorest Americans.
For his research, Desmond lived among Milwaukee residents living well below the poverty line. He later used this experience to publish Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. This book helped shine a light on the issue of eviction. He continued this work to investigate far beyond Milwaukee. For years, Desmond exposed the issue of excessive and abusive eviction practices at the national level. Meanwhile, in class, Desmond and Edin encourage their students to do their own work out in the field.
Similarly, Edin has studied poverty in the United States for decades, focusing on issues like welfare and low-wage employment. She was one of the first to discover that millions of Americans are living on wages that are well below poverty levels. She also published a book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, to shed light on this issue. Indeed, the works of Desmond and Edin have helped increase awareness. Every day, these professors open more eyes to the challenges that poor individuals face in America.
Current Events in Sociology: Gender Equality Stalls in the U.S.
While the United States has been praised around the world for working to combat gender inequality in the second half of the 20th century, a report by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality has shown that gender equality has actually stalled in recent years. Naturally, there have been some advancements in this area; for example, it is now much more common for women to be the primary breadwinner in a household, and more women are graduating from college than ever before.
However, in many other areas, progress has slowed or stopped entirely. Sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be a major issue for working women. It is particularly troubling that, despite other workplace advancements, many women still face inappropriate behavior at their jobs. Additionally, the gap in pay between men and women still remains in place across most industries, causing some to believe that the any advancements have been largely symbolic. To add insult to injury, it also remains difficult for many women to advance in the workplace, and the vast majority of CEOs and company executives are still men.
Gender Equality Policies
David Grusky, director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, believes that it is possible to design progressive legislation and workplace policies by looking at the various forms that gender inequality in the study. “Otherwise,” he notes, “it’s all too easy to default to piecemeal policies, each oriented to a single narrow-gauge problem.”
Grusky's research has show that, by and large, the advancements in gender inequality seen in the 1980's have not produced lasting results. Though the report notes many possible causes for this, the majority of the blame rests on the U.S. government, and the lack of substantive policies enacted in the last three decades.
From a historical perspective, there have been several time periods that showed dramatic advancements in gender equality. For example, following WWII women entered the workforce in record numbers. Similarly, women in the 1980's worked their way into the corporate world, eschewing the domestic obligations of previous generations of women. However, there have been no such advancements in the last 30 years, indicating that gender equality, while technically not regressing, has certainly not improved as of late.
Strategies for Progress
While the report is eye-opening, it also works to provide solutions that can help bring greater advancement for gender equality. Social scientists involved in the Stanford study outlined certain strategies that could be helpful, but they will require action in Washington. Unfortunately, Congress has shown little interest in passing any kind of promising legislation, but the government body now has more female representatives than ever before, so many are hopeful that this could change in the near future.
Grusky also emphasizes the need for change outside of Washington. In order for society to improve in relation to gender equality, it must start at home. Parents and children need to be educated on these issues. It is equally important to encourage young women to pursue an education. With the right legislation and societal changes, Grusky hopes that we can leave the issue of gender inequality behind for good.
These current events in sociology help showcase the importance of the subject matter. Sociological research has helped solve many issues for human beings around the world. From the above examples, it is clear that sociology plays a significant role in our society. Research helps ensure that the challenges human beings face, ranging from gender inequality to poverty, are addressed. Sociology plays an integral part in the effort to improve the standard of living and eliminate abuses in society.