Category Archives: Class & Inequality

OLPC OX-75


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OLPC OX-75

The OLPC OX-75 is a laptop designed for children in third world countries. It is used to empower the youth of third world countries to allow them to adapt and compete with the technologically advanced economically wealthy countries of the 21 century. It also empowers the child to be the director of there own learning, and connect them with the world.

Submitted by David Gibson

Culture, Power, and Social Structure in Medicine


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Culture, Power, and Social Structure in Medicine

I found this news article fascinating as it expresses a range of sociological themes through one single news article. As an aspiring physician, I am routinely intrigued by news in the medical community, and also hope to travel abroad to provide care internationally.
From looking at the image alone, there are clear differences or examples of inequality that also present themselves as differences in culture, power, and structure. Culturally there is a difference between the healthcare providers who traveled from the USA and other established countries, and then there are the patients, who have been suffering from disease and do not normally have access to healthcare. Additionally, social structures identify between patient and physician, introducing more than cultural norms to the mix in providing treatment. This also goes hand in hand with the role of power, as physicians are given a responsibility to do no harm through their creed as well as provide for the care of the diseased.
This article discusses the Ebola outbreak in Guinea which is a hot topic to discuss, as many lives are being affected through the epidemic and organizations such as Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) are taking on the responsibility to aid the communities affected. Whether focusing on the macro level of healthcare or the micro level of patient-doctor interactions, the bottom line comes down to helping humanity and aiding life, whether in America in a practice, or flying out to across the Atlantic to save a life.
The discussion of the mob involvement struck me as interesting as it introduced a new party into the mix. The traditional power structure was changed, and the status quo was changed in a sense. Additionally, the inclusion o politics changed the scope of the situation and escalated it to a broader problem.
Moreover, by the mob accusing the physicians of bringing the Ebola virus, it was a clearer example of the varying levels of power and social structure. With a lack of scientific education, the mob members did not have the power to challenge the doctors’ science and creed, and the culture of the mob challenged the acceptance of good Samaritans into their community, thus lacking faith in their harmless intentions.
In conclusion, this article and image packs a sociological punch, whether from the political or scientific perspective. On my end, I am happy that I can see these varying connections, and to be able to see how things all appear differently on different levels from a sociological lens.

Submitted by Dhruv Sethi

Virginia’s First Greek Tragedy


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Virginia’s First Greek Tragedy

I have been following the story of former Governor McDonnell’s and his wife Maureen’s unexpected and infamous plunge into the spotlight for their corrupt actions during Mr. McDonnell’s governorship. I remember being shocked learning about how Maureen traded fancy designer clothes acquired through an all expense paid trip to New York City for a Governor’s mansion luncheon to help promote Jonnie Williams’ Anatabloc supplement to state health officials and other important individuals. Jonnie Williams was the CEO of Star Scientific, a maker of supplements and able to use his wealth to buy connections to prominent government officials through the McDonnell’s.
After reading through Chapter 9 on class and inequality in our textbook and reading this article in the Richmond Times Dispatch on the McDonnell’s, I have a better understanding of why they may have acted as they did through his rise to power. Though their actions might be understood, they are not at all justified. Class is defined as “a group of people who share a similar economic position and lifestyle (Croteau and Hoynes 221).” Mr. McDonnell had a modest middle class background, served time in the army, was a Republican delegate in the Virginia General Assembly, then attorney general, and finally governor. He had a good salary but was not in the comparable economic position of other former Virginia governors. Jim Nolan states, “The McDonnells arguably arrived at the stately Executive Mansion without the wealth of a number of its previous occupants.” Their lack of wealth caused them to be uneasy and uncomfortable and resort to measures to try to overcome their class status. This falls in line with Thorestein Veblen’s term conspicuous consumption “lavish spending, done to compete for status (Croteau and Hoynes 232).” Since the McDonnell’s did not have the money for the lifestyles of other politicians, they borrowed or took money from Mr. Williams in exchange for political favors. Mrs. McDonnell bought her husband a Rolex watch for Christmas with Mr. Williams’ money. Mr. McDonnell and his sons went golfing on Mr. Williams’ tab. Their lavish spending fits with their attempts to jump to a higher class and their nouveau riche status. On the other hand, wealthy individuals with inherited money tend to not show their money ostentatiously. The McDonnell’s wanted to be accepted by the wealthy upper class but instead displayed greed and entitlement. Nolan writes, “‘Entitled’ was the word used by one state worker who had dealt with the family on a daily basis.” Moreover I think the McDonnell’s story demonstrates their unease with their class status and how disillusioned they became trying to move up classes. We all come in to the world with different life chances (social class, race, gender, sexual orientation) and movement between classes is not as fluid as we would like. The entitlement demonstrated by the McDonnell’s echo’s the entitlement of the billionaires from the Park Avenue documentary. These top 1 percenters operated under different sets of rules from the rest of the population through acts such as violating environmental laws and paying lower taxes. The article about former Governor McDonnell finishes examining his tarnished image and realizing that if not for his greed he could have been very comfortable financially with teaching gigs and speaking opportunities following his term as governor. The lifestyle they wanted and they could not afford destroyed their image.

Submitted by Alicia Grove

Virginia’s First Greek Tragedy


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Virginia’s First Greek Tragedy

I have been following the story of former Governor McDonnell’s and his wife Maureen’s unexpected and infamous plunge into the spotlight for their corrupt actions during Mr. McDonnell’s governorship. I remember being shocked learning about how Maureen traded fancy designer clothes acquired through an all expense paid trip to New York City for a Governor’s mansion luncheon to help promote Jonnie Williams’ Anatabloc supplement to state health officials and other important individuals. Jonnie Williams was the CEO of Star Scientific, a maker of supplements and able to use his wealth to buy connections to prominent government officials through the McDonnell’s.
After reading through Chapter 9 on class and inequality in our textbook and reading this article in the Richmond Times Dispatch on the McDonnell’s, I have a better understanding of why they may have acted as they did through his rise to power. Though their actions might be understood, they are not at all justified. Class is defined as “a group of people who share a similar economic position and lifestyle (Croteau and Hoynes 221).” Mr. McDonnell had a modest middle class background, served time in the army, was a Republican delegate in the Virginia General Assembly, then attorney general, and finally governor. He had a good salary but was not in the comparable economic position of other former Virginia governors. Jim Nolan states, “The McDonnells arguably arrived at the stately Executive Mansion without the wealth of a number of its previous occupants.” Their lack of wealth caused them to be uneasy and uncomfortable and resort to measures to try to overcome their class status. This falls in line with Thorestein Veblen’s term conspicuous consumption “lavish spending, done to compete for status (Croteau and Hoynes 232).” Since the McDonnell’s did not have the money for the lifestyles of other politicians, they borrowed or took money from Mr. Williams in exchange for political favors. Mrs. McDonnell bought her husband a Rolex watch for Christmas with Mr. Williams’ money. Mr. McDonnell and his sons went golfing on Mr. Williams’ tab. Their lavish spending fits with their attempts to jump to a higher class and their nouveau riche status. On the other hand, wealthy individuals with inherited money tend to not show their money ostentatiously. The McDonnell’s wanted to be accepted by the wealthy upper class but instead displayed greed and entitlement. Nolan writes, “‘Entitled’ was the word used by one state worker who had dealt with the family on a daily basis.” Moreover I think the McDonnell’s story demonstrates their unease with their class status and how disillusioned they became trying to move up classes. We all come in to the world with different life chances (social class, race, gender, sexual orientation) and movement between classes is not as fluid as we would like. The entitlement demonstrated by the McDonnell’s echo’s the entitlement of the billionaires from the Park Avenue documentary. These top 1 percenters operated under different sets of rules from the rest of the population through acts such as violating environmental laws and paying lower taxes. The article about former Governor McDonnell finishes examining his tarnished image and realizing that if not for his greed he could have been very comfortable financially with teaching gigs and speaking opportunities following his term as governor. The lifestyle they wanted and they could not afford destroyed their image.

Submitted by Alicia Grove

Colbie Caillat’s new song has so many feminist messages


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Colbie Caillat’s new song has so many feminist messages

Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Women have been oppressed for a very long and there have been so many social movements to make women equal to men. Recently celebrities have been trying to raise awareness for girls and women on being yourself. There is a lot of pressure on girls to be the prefect girl. When watching tv there are so many ads about products that will help women become “prettier”. Cobie Caillat recently came out with the song “Try” this song was inspired because she was tired of thinking she had to look a certain way to impress people. The song ends with ,”Take your make-up off/Let your hair down/Take a breath/Look into the mirror, at yourself/Don’t you like you?/Cause I like you.” This is literally what she means, the message is that be happy with yourself don’t do things because you feel forced to because you are expected to look a certain way. I love this message she has in this song because in our society there is so much pressure on girls to look a certain way. There are so many diets, makeup, hair products etc to “help girls out”. This is putting horrible impression on the younger generations because they are trying to mature so fast and are not happy with themselves because they don’t look like their perfect celebrity etc. The music video is also great because it starts out with people of all ages with makeup and hair done but then as the song goes on they start taking off their make up and undoing their hair and are just happy with themselves. This music video should really open people eyes on how much pressure there are on girls and how it really messes with their self-esteem and that we should teach girls and women to be happy with themselves because that is when they are truly the most beautiful.

Submitted by Sapna Desai

The 1%


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The 1%

This image portrays Serena Van Der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf as 1%ers from the hit television show “Gossip Girl”. Their attire depicts the disparity between the capitalist class vs. the working class. In the television show there are certainly justifications of inequality. While these two girls are in high school, their born status is higher than that of those who have worked their entire lives. They also feed into the ideas of conspicuous consumption done to display their status as 1%ers.

Submitted by Sydney Millen

How Class Inequality Is Hurting Whole Foods

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1) Why did you find this resource interesting?
I thought this article was interesting because it explains how class inequality is hurting Whole Foods, and the only way for Whole Foods to survive is to succumb to the demands of the consumers (lower prices). Whole Foods was one of the first grocery stores to sell organic food items. As a result, they were able to jack their prices up and shopping there was considered to be part of an “aspirational” lifestyle.
2) How can it be understood sociologically?
Whole foods expanded their chain into middle class neighborhoods where the price-conscious customers live. As a result of class inequality, those consumers did not want to/ can not afford to pay the high prices at Whole Foods. Other grocery stores, such as Trader Joe’s and Kroger, started selling organic foods at a lower price. Those grocery stores ultimately attracted the consumers who wanted to eat healthy but couldn’t afford Whole Food’s prices. As a result, Whole Foods was forced to reduce its prices to keep up with the other grocery stores. This is a good example that shows how wealthier people in the United States eat healthier mainly because they can afford to. Conversely, people “with lower incomes are less likely to adopt healthy eating habits; in part because they are less likely to live near grocery stores that offer fresh fruits and veggies (pg 230).” As a result, class inequality ultimately creates food inequality among individuals. In addition, this class inequality influences how much power this organization (Whole Foods) has. Food inequality is seen even outside of whole foods. For example, some individuals can’t even afford healthy fresh foods in general. This results in poor eating habits and eventually could lead to health problems. Furthermore, through macro-level social interactions, other grocery stores began competing with Whole Foods by selling organic food items at reduced prices. The demand of the consumers essentially influenced what these grocery store chains will sell and at what price. The other grocery stores eventually out competed Whole Foods for now.
Submitted by Ashley Cimino

Designer Genes


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Submitted by Carl Frazier