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  • 11:34 am on November 25, 2002 Permalink | Reply  

    Integration Paper on Social Class and Inequality 

    Integration Paper on Social Class and Inequality

    Introduction to Sociology
    Professor Sharon Preves
    Due by November 18th, 2002
    Turned in by November 25th, 2002
    Yong Ho Kim

    Any large enough society in the world today faces problems of individual and social inequality among its people. In chapter 10 of his book, Newman has addressed this issue through different approaches and mentioned theories from other sociologists who have talked about the poor class.

    Two opposing views on inequality
        Structural-Functionalists argue that inequality is unavoidable given the way society works. Some occupations, such as health and teaching, exert an important influence on society. Therefore, these occupations need to be occupied by talented and responsible people, and the only way to encourage those people is to offer them better rewards in the form of money and prestige. Through an analogous reasoning, if anybody, regardless of talent, could serve in a position, then that position needs not to be rewarded as highly, since somebody will fill it up anyways.
        Of course, the idea of competitive individualism is permeated in this thought, since the assumption is that since most people want to occupy important and influential positions, they will work hard to obtain such goal. And this idea, that people only need to put effort into their work regardless of their initial conditions to get those positions and thus “succeed in society”, is what competitive individualism is about.
        Conflict theorists state that there is a starting difference for people that is almost impossible to break given the desire of the wealthy and powerful class to maintain their status. According to conflict theory, since people will try to get their best out of the circumstances, the very rich simply exploit the better chances they have of making higher profit because of their initial resources.
        Marx divides people into three classes depending on the factors of ownership and control of labor. Those who don’t neither control nor own labor, are called proletariat. Those who own labor but do not control it, are called the petite bourgeoisie. And, those who both manage and own labor are called Capitalists. However, as capitalism evolved and systems of production became more complex, there was a need to add the managerial class into the model, who are those who control labor but don’t own it.
        I was vaguely aware of the Marxian model of class, but couldn’t really place my family – or my parents – neatly in the opposing proletariat-bourgeois model, until I found Wright’s model which included the managers. From the strictly social point of view, my parent’s job as missionary involved hiring people using resources of the supporting foundation. I could glimpse the dilemmas of the managerial class (and the ambiguity they represent to the rest of the social divisions) as my dad had to fire several people who opposed foundation-led local projects. He would have built close-knit friendships with co-workers, but still it was him who decided their hire.

    Absolute/relative poverty
    According to Newman, absolute poverty and relative poverty are different concepts. Absolute poverty refers to the absolute minimum to sustain life. Relative, on the other hand, refers to the standards of “minimum” as defined by the particular culture the poor person is located in. Strictly speaking, for example, not having a bathroom at home would still be considered above absolute poverty levels.
    This leads to the issue of inequality across countries around the globe. Various sociologists point out that the gap between developed and underdeveloped countries in the world keeps on increasing. Newman to several authors who point at the causes of such increasing gap as colonization and other factors, but I think it’s more extended.
    Tak points out that there are numerous and various regulations in the international arena today than there was two hundred years ago. Back in the 1800s, while Europe and the U.S. was undergoing the intense process of industrialization and development, no country slowed them down with concerns of the growing deterioration in the ozone or health care and minimum wage rights of the workers. Stabilization of worker’s living standards and environmental concern rose only after a firm industrial base for mass production was already grounded. Tak is a Korean philosopher, but I believe many third world country politicians do think this way too. It is unfair, hence, that governments of developed countries point at third world country industries, charging them of deterioration of the ozone cap when the current hole has mainly been produced by the western circle’s contaminants in the past century, and this way slow the process of development down and in check with the developed country’s own interests.

    Enduring disparities in income and wealth
    Sociologists agree in that the difference between the upper and lower class is becoming bigger through the years.
    I can recall a clear example of this during my half year stay in college in Chile. I enrolled in the math engineering program, and a close friend of mine went to medicine (in Chile, as in most other countries, medicine is an undergraduate program). The annual tuition for math engineering is $1500, whereas medicine is $2800. Most of the entering class in math eng. were often too poor to pay the tuition in an annual basis, so they paid monthly with an interest fee. Some of them could have gotten into the civil engineering program (which pays more after graduation) but couldn’t afford the tuition, which was $230 higher.
    Later in the semester, students from the engineering division, along with the humanities and forestry division went on a campus-wide strike because the state financial aid didn’t meet requested need. The medicine division didn’t join the strike, since no med students were under state aid. Once this body of students graduated, the ones who paid most during it would be making more money out of their respective jobs, and the opposite was to happen to those in the lower end. This is how I could see that a poor family would almost eternally be driven back to the cycle of being poor, simply because better paying jobs would require college degrees that cost more.

    Social benefits of poverty
    The structural-functionalist approach can reason further in the usefulness of the poor class. First of all, society can hardly function without a group of laborers on a very low wage. Few people are willing to work on time consuming activities that don’t pay well. Thus, having people pushed by their daily necessities to work in conditions otherwise intolerable serve the interests of the bourgeois class. On the same line of argument, the poor purchase goods that wouldn’t be acceptable in regular conditions, such as food that run a high risk of being corrupt or houses without a window, or worn out clothes. Inability to be on an insurance plan is frequent.
    The poor depend on a welfare system that requires a specific (governmental or otherwise) bureaucracy, which generates employment for middle-class laborers such as economists, doctors, social workers, and urban planners.

  • 4:39 pm on November 16, 2002 Permalink | Reply  


    Yongho Kim: I drink coffee for strictly caffeine absorption purposes
    Sung Kyu Lee: i once drank 5 coffees in one sitting and got really sick, diaharrea and everything
    Yongho Kim: I got diarrea too out of eating two meals of cereals in a row
    Sung Kyu Lee: ahahaha
    Yongho Kim: green stuff
    Sung Kyu Lee: oh man
    Sung Kyu Lee: that’s nasty

    • 조작된흰색 7:29 am on February 6, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      에스프레소를 세 잔 연속 마셨더니 정신이 혼미하고 손이 떨리더군요.. 살아 계신 것이 다행입니다..T^T

    • Svinna 9:30 am on February 6, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      신검 받기 전날…
      혈압을 높인답시고…
      커피를 주전자체로 끓인다음…
      주전자체로 먹은적이 있었죠…

  • 10:34 pm on November 11, 2002 Permalink | Reply  

    Gender – China 

    Intro. To talk about current issues of gender inequality in China is to talk about the consequences of a quickly developing socialist society with a patriarchal, agriculturally intensive and confucianist tradition.

    (More …)

  • 10:31 pm on November 11, 2002 Permalink | Reply  

    Critical Book Review of Tracing the Veins 

    History of Modern Latin America
    Profesor Javier Morillo-Alicea
    November 11th, 2002
    Yongho Kim

    The book Tracing the Veins: Of Copper, Culture, and Community from Butte to Chuquicamata by Janet Finn is a study of two mining societies owned by one company. She intends to break off from the traditional way of viewing local histories as the stories of nations, and to instead approach a company, Anaconda, which exercised heavy influence over both Butte and Chuquicamata, as the analytic unit. By doing so, she is arguing that to bracket objects of study in terms of nations is not as obvious as we might think, but that it even produces confusion in places like Chuquicamata, in which the prevalent social issues not only arise from the local situation but of a larger situation.

    In her first two chapters, Janet outlines the history of Butte’s laboral movement in relationship with the Anaconda Corporation. She then proceeds to define the history of Chuquicamata, the background of the region as a producer of nitrates and later copper. The particular domestic political history of Chile and the international background of such events as the Vietnam War are provided as a reference to domestic situations, ending with Salvador Allende’s nationalization of the mines, and the following military government. In doing so she follows a more or less official storyline along with remarks on superficial social inequalities within the mining industry, particularly Chuquicamata.

    In the next chapters, Finn delves into the daily lives of the people and the organization of the labor movement in both Chuquicamata and Butte. She describes the propagandistic methods of the Anaconda Corporation to create a contrasting image of developed Yankees and underdeveloped Chileans, and the tradition being continued after the nationalization, the military government, and the “democratic” civil government. Particularly, I believe the author had more to say about the chapter on “the crafting of everyday life” but she chose to omit for political reasons or lack of particular examples.

    The author’s thesis, although not explicitly stated in the introductory pages, seems to be a reaffirmation of contemporary anthropological concept of approaching the non-western civilization just as a sociologist would approach the western civilization.
    Still, the way Finn approaches the two societies says something about the current pre-conceived idea of history as a discipline in many history students. She struggles to bring the individual narratives of working women and men up to the sociological meticulosity of those living in Butte. Despite her efforts and a much better result than classical anthropological writings, I still read a notion of “them” towards the people of Chuquicamata who talk in Finn’s book. They’re given special consideration throughout the argument, and it’s good that Butte’s people are represented as thoroughly as their Chilean counterparts.

    But Butte’s people are portrayed as a certain standard against which Chuquicamata people must be compared. For example, the labor movement in Butte has an intellectual basis but in Chuquicamata it does not seem to be so. The beginning of each chapter has a citation to one person from either community, and one social theorist who will always be either European or North American. Also, the interviews seem to have been carried in such a way that the miners in Chuquicamata will sound in more simplistic, or less learned ways. I don’t know if this is because of a rough translation, or the disposition of the interviewed people, but this definitely comes to reaffirm the stereotype that latin American people enjoy raw nature and dancing while “Westerners” are serious workers. In this sense, then, I would question the author’s claim in that she overcame the cultural bias prevalent in the western social sciences.

    In sum, the book challenges and breaks the notion of nation as an analytic unit, and contributes to a better knowledge of the so-called underdeveloped societies by describing the complexities and similarities of such societies to those considered western.

  • 4:43 pm on November 5, 2002 Permalink | Reply  

    Proposal: Nationalism in Argentina 

    Paper Topic Proposal

    History of Modern Latin America
    Profesor Javier Morillo-Alicea
    November 5th, 2002
    Yongho Kim

    I will write my paper on the influence that Argentinian nationalistic self-image had on the ignition of dirty war and regional violence during Peronism and the military coup.
    In Prisoner without a name, cell without a number, Timberman indicates that for the government and all major terrorist groups in Argentina “this barbarism… must be eradicated before it is possible to enter Civilization” (20) I believe he intentionally paraphrases Sarmiento’s idea that there is a barbarous portion to Argentina, an alien portion that doesn’t “naturally” belong to it, and thus must be cleaned in order to hold a national “soul”. This argument justifies the militia that intends to exterminate every person related to the political opposing their own, anyone who protests publicly against them, and all “those who remember their names”. (50)
    My argument develops from a hint Timberman leaves in the end of his book. He suggests on a passing note that Argentina, being the most advanced nation of Latin America, was overcome with the same Nazi paranoia that once overcame the most advanced nation of Europe. I have a vague intuition from our previous readings that nationalism, at the same time it delineates the citizens of a nation in a “horizontal camaraderie”, also isolates the population as a group against all other groups not recognized as “our nation”.
    For this, I am looking forward to read several articles on the pre-peronist development of nationalism and the “standardized” imagined nation in Argentina, and on the racial melting-pot ideology. Argentine media coverage on the political issues of the time would be helpful if available.

    The already assigned readings including: Keyth/Haynes, Sarmiento, Anderson and Knudson.

    Rock, David. Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History and Its Impact. (University of California, 1993)

    Joseph, Galen. “Taking Race Seriously: Whiteness in Argentina’s National and Transnational Imaginary. (Whiteness in the Field)”, Identities, Sept 2000 v7 i3 p333-72
    Abstract: Middle class portenos (the inhabitants of Buenos Aires) display their ambivalence about the whiteness of Argentina and their own belonging to the nation through their use of the intermittently racializing discourse of “seriousness.” The discourse of “seriousness” is used to talk about the status of Argentina’s political, economic, and cultural “development” and Argentina’s place in the global hierarchy of nations. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1994-1997), this essay analyzes the contradictions of porteno articulations and disarticulations of their own Argentine-ness in relation to racial identity. The analysis centers on how portenos’ assessments of President Carlos Menem’s representative-ness reflect the instability of racial norms in contemporary Argentina. Portenos’ ambiguous position in their own national and transnational imaginary – privileged within Argentina but marginal in the world – is reflected in their use of racial categories and racializing discourses.

    Delaney, Jean H. “Imagining El ser Argentino: cultural nationalism and romantic concepts of nationhood in early twentieth-century Argentina”, Journal of Latin American Studies, August 2002 v34 i3 p625-59
    Abstract: This article reexamines early twentieth-century Argentine cultural nationalism, arguing that the movement’s true significance rests in its promotion of a vision of Argentine nationhood that closely resembled the ideal of the folk nation upheld by German romanticism. Drawing from recent theoretical literature on ethnic nationalism, the article examines the political implications of this movement and explores the way in which the vigorous promotion of the ethnocultural vision of argentinidad by cultural nationalists served to detach definitions of Argentine identity from constitutional foundations and from the ideas of citizenship and popular sovereignty. It also challenges the accepted view that Argentine cultural nationalism represented a radical break with late nineteenth-century positivism. Positivist ideas about social organicism, collective character and historical determinism all helped paved the way for the Romantic vision of nationhood celebrated by the cultural nationalists.

    Spektorowski, Alberto. “The Ideological Origins of Right and Left Nationalism in Argentina, 1930-43”, Journal of Contemporary History, v29, i1 (Jan 1994), 155-184

    Metz, Allan. “Leopoldo Lugones and the Jews: the contradictions of Argentine nationalism”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Jan 1992 v15 n1 p36-61
    Abstract: The purpose of this article is to present the opinions of the Argentine intellectual, Leopoldo Lugones, regarding the Jews and the reasons for his seemingly contradictory attitudes towards them that mirror both the general precariousness of Jewish existence in Argentina and the contradictions of Argentine nationalism. Moreover, these writings also reveal other related aspects of Lugones’ thought and provide a partial overview of Argentine nationalistic thought from the beginning of the twentieth century to the late 1930s, thereby offering insights into the nature and evolution of Argentine nationalism in reaction to Jews and other immigrant groups.

    Carlson, Eric S. “The Influence of French “Revolutionary War” Ideology on the Use of Torture in Argentina’s “Dirty War””, Human Rights Review, April-June 2000 v1 i4 p71
    Extract: In this article, I explore the influence of the French mission on the Argentine Armed Forces, specifically as it relates to El Proceso’s campaign of mass torture [5] from 1976-1982. In doing so, I shall outline what I consider the three essential components of the fused French/Argentine ideology: the holy mission of the soldier; the demonic nature of the enemy; and the inadequacy of the legal system to deal with a struggle between the two.

    Schneider, Arnd. Futures Lost: nostalgia and identity among Italian immigrants in Argentina. (Peter Lang, 2001)
    Extract: Schneider deems Argentine identity to be extremely fragile; a consequence of the dominant position of the melting-pot ideology and the attempts by the Argentine state to overcome the particularities of immigrant cultures offering a standardized idea of Argentina through education. This, he argues, has impeded the individual’s anchorage for his or her identity in a specific tradition.

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