Welcome to Exploring Society Blog



Welcome to Exploring Society Blog:


This is a forum for discussing issues in contemporary society from a sociological perspective. On this journey we adopt the Peter Berger’s motto – “It can be said that the first wisdom of sociology is this: things are not what they seem. ……….Social reality turns out to have many layers of meaning. The discovery of each new layer changes the perception of the whole.”


This blog is designed to be a connection between sociology courses and the social issues of our time. Students in courses are encouraged to apply their sociological imagination to events that occur in our globalized world. This blog aims be a focal point for the continual discussion of issues that are raised in the classroom and course content.

You are invited to place comments, questions and participate in the discussions.

Colin Andrew Adams

Assistant Professor of Sociology, BCC

Religious Colleges

Students at religious colleges have an undeniably low percentage of unsavory incidents when compared to students attending secular colleges.  Though there are many reasons why this might be the case, several stand out above the rest. First, in a general consensus, these young men and women have a genuine desire to attend these colleges for the very reason of avoiding the temptations of sex, alcohol, and drug use.  These students have chosen to live their lives according to a standard that they believe is higher than that of man.  In Riley’s article, “How Student Life is Different at Religious Colleges” the students that she interviewed admitted that while some felt unhappy with the “strange” environment at the start, by the end of their time they felt happier than they had been before.

Secondly, the discipline at these colleges is much different from those at the secular schools.  The religious colleges choose to strictly monitor and enforce abstinence from sex as well as alcohol and drugs.  While secular colleges do attempt to limit these last two items, they have such a loose policy that it runs rampant on the campuses.  Christian colleges readily admit that the students on their campuses are not perfect and will occasionally make mistakes from time to time. In Riley’s article she relays how one girl was caught having an affair with a married man at a particularly strict school.  Nevertheless from all appearances the administrations seem to keep all such extracurricular activity to a minimum.

Lastly, as with any school, the key to students’s happiness is in finding the right fit.  In this case perhaps it might be in finding a school with stricter rules.  At some Christian schools, dating is allowing but is more of a courtship.  Chaperons are required to attend with every date and some schools forbid any touching between the opposite sex.  Other schools allow touching such as kissing and hugging while still other schools forbid dating all together.  Seemingly archaic, these rules clearly prevent much of the drama and chaos that is so prevalent on secular campuses today.  These rules help create a more solid structure that enables the young minds of the students to focus more on knowledge and less on the many distractions of the world.  In the end, these students probably end up with the better deal since they emerge from their college experience knowing how to form relationships without sex, knowing how to have fun without getting drunk every weekend, and can think clearly since they haven’t destroyed their brain cells by doing drugs.

Not Getting By

Barbara Ehrenreich is  a journalist who conducted her own experiment of trying to live on minimum wage. Throughout the course of the article she had three jobs total: two serving jobs and one as a maid. She worked these jobs for one month and found that living on minimum wage was quite hard.

To live on federal minimum wage would be very difficult. Ehrenreich allowed herself startup money, but generally, people who are living like this for real do not have that luxury. They have nothing and have to work for a while before they can think about renting a place. Often they have to lie with relatives or friends for a while.

For a family with two children, surviving in America earning the federal minimum wage would be extremely difficult. Barbara Ehrenreich’s experiment took place in 1998, over tn years ago. Things have changed since then. The economy is not doing as well as it was then. People feel the need to stay up to date with the current trends and technology and feel trapped by money.

I do think minimum wage should be raised. As we saw from this experiment one person living on this income just barely made it, yet she had help and did not actually have to live like this for real. For a family living like this, especially now, it would be very difficult.

According to Ehrenreich, managers feel that they must closely monitor minimum wage employees because the employees are the middlemen between the customer and the money. This style of management is not fair because the employees are not treated as humans, but as things that are easily replaced.

Religious College

Religious Colleges

Religious students who attend religious colleges are more likely to avoid trouble and are more focused then students who attend a regular college. Religious student want to remain the person they are in high school and stay true to their beliefs. They want to continue to making good decisions while attending college. By attending a religious college student’s choice not to get caught up in partying, having sex, or skipping class, which they are more likely to do if attending a regular college.

At religious college students get guidance in which administrators are mentors to students and discipline in a religious way. The administrators help students work through problems. If a student breaks a college rule they are encouraged to speak about what rule was broken and help work through why the student broke the rule. In a regular college if a student breaks a rule, they are disciplined by being suspended or thrown out of college. In a regular college you do not have all the support then you would have a religious college.

While attending a religious college there are many different dating rules. At Magdalen dating is not allowed. Student who attend Magdalen tend to get married shortly after graduation. The reason for that is during college at Magdalen you can really get to know people without the stress of dating. With the no dating rule students can focus more on their studies. A lot of the students at the college really liked the no dating rule. Students felt that no dating gave more time to really form long lasting friendships. At Patrick Henry University students cannot go on a date unless their parents gave consent to the date. At Bob Jones University there is a no physical contact between males or females. Having all the strict dating rules doesn’t mean some of the students won’t find ways around the rule.

Depending on how someone wants to live their life will help make the decision on their future. It will also help them decide on what college they will chose to attend.

Religious Colleges (extra credit)

The students who attend religious colleges do so to avoid problems at secular colleges. Problems like drinking, drugs, and sexual relationships. The students of religious school are well disciplined. Most of them spend free time studying. Also, they do so because they want to have a religious life, and if not, they would not be attending such school.

The discipline at religious schools are very different from secular schools. Religious schools are very strict about dating, drug and alcohol, and if the students go against the policies, the student go through counseling which the priest or bishop does it, and decide the appropriate punishment. They also involve the parents in the process. Now on secular schools, the students basically do “whatever they want.” They have more freedom with dating, drugs, and alcohol. If they get caught, they will have punishment, but it is not even close like the religious school.

The rules on dating at Magdalen, Bob Jones University, and Patrick Henry College is that they all have strict policies about it. Dating it is not allowed in any of those schools. But Bob Jones University does not allow any physical contact and a chaperon has to present on any date. Patrick Henry requires a parental permission before pursuing a relationship. I think this policies helps any teenager to get pregnant, and more importantly to get STD’s.

These rules achieve that these students will not have any distraction about relationships, they will focus more on school. They will have a better understanding the meaning of marriage. Also they will have a better life style after they graduate from college.

The (Over) Population Problem

Ken Smail points out a disturbing global problem curable only by significantly reducing the worlds population. That problem, simply stated, is that we are reproducing at a rate that will make the earth unable to sustain us in the vey near future. Even if we could attain zero population growth (ZPG) toady, Smail believes the world’s population would contine to grow. At a replacement rate of 2.1 children per female, it would take two or three generations to reach population stability and the population would be considerably larger than it already is now. The reason for this is because 30 – 40% of the population is under fifteen years old and hasn’t born children yet, a phenominon known as “population momentum”. Two more reasons why a replacement rate of 2.1 per female is inadequate to stem the rising population is a decrease in the mortality rate and an increase in longevity. Fewer people are dying (infant and maternal mortality especially) and people are living longer, especially in developed and emerging countries. Smail states that the earth’s resources are finite. That is true. We only have one Earth and if we take more than the earth can replenish, eventually we will run out. The earth’s “carrying capacity”, Smail estimates, is approx 3 billion people. That is the number of people expected to live a reasonably adequate to comfortable existence co-existing with the other species of the planet. We have already more than doubled that estimate. We are currently growing at approx one billion every ten years. In 1900 the world’s population was approx 1.6 billion. This year (2011) that figure has climbed to more than 7 billion, a greater than four-fold increase (4.3 to be exact). The formula used to determine the human impact upon the global environment is I=PAT. That is, the human impact(I), equals Population(P) times Affluence(A) times Technology(T). Our impact increases exponentially as population and affluence (our standard of living) increases. Technology may off-set that increase marginally if we can find suitable alternatives to energy and resource consumption but, the total impact will still reach a critical stage very soon if the other two multipliers are not addressed. Man has been likened to a virus. That is an apt description of us. A virus takes from the host, has no appreciable benefit, causing more harm than good, multiplies rapidly and in the end kills not only it’s host but itself. Smail states we must “… come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters.” By this he means we must learn to care for and protect not only our natural resources but the millions of other species inhabiting and co-existing with us on this planet. The time is now to responsibly manage and maintain our world so that future generations will have to the same or better standard of living, if we are to survive at all, as we have now.

Blog Topic 8 Population Growth

Kenneth Smail in his essay “Let’s Reduce Global Population!” supports the idea of ZPG or Zero Population Growth as a way to control the earths population. Though this may seem effective it may take up to 75 years for this plan to be effective. Why? Because Kenneth says that over one third of the population is under the age of 15 and have not yet reproduced. This is a problem because even an effective ZPG program would not immediately reduce or even stem the population growth.

Smail’s says”. . .come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters.”? I personally like this quote because it says a lot about what most people think of the earth, as a infinite place of raw materials and an indestructible home. This is certainly not true. We need to realize that we need to take care of our home, the earth. To be its stuarts. We do not control the Earth, we are not its masters.
By David

A Winning Strategy to Save Humanity?

In the essay “Let’s Reduce Global Population!” J. Kenneth Smail gives ten inescapable realities as to why humans as a species need to reduce global population if we are to survive as a species. The first reality is that over the past two centuries the Earth has experienced unprecedented human population growth. The second reality is that even if a zero population growth program (ZPG) was implemented today, it would most likely fail to stabilize the population in a reasonable amount of time. The third reality is that fertility rates have been increasing and are likely to continue in that trend. The fourth reality is that rapid population decline is usually on a regionalized level and NOT global. The fifth reality is that the “window” for implementing population control is even smaller than we estimate today. The sixth reality is that the Earth’s long term carrying capacity is finite and that what could be supported, most likely should not be supported. The seventh reality is that “sustainable growth” is a fanciful pipe dream that is not realistic. The eighth reality is that only about 20% of the world’s population today lives in a generally adequate way and that the other 80% of the population is striving to become more like the 20%. This will mean even greater conflict to come. The ninth reality is that the I=PAT equation is a guesstimate at best with many factors that are impossible to predict such as, population growth, energy consumption, and new technology. Finally the tenth reality is that “guided social engineering” will be necessary to insure the survival of our species and tough choices will have to be made about the survival of other forms of life on the planet as well. When Smail indicates that the Earth “long-term carrying capacity” he is talking about the balance between the Earth’s natural resources and the exploitation of these resources by humans. We only have one Earth and one ecosystem to experiment on, and when the resources are gone they are gone forever. We will never get another shot to “fix” the Earth on which we live. If we ruin the Earth in the next few generations, we will ruin the Earth for all of humanity. Smail sees a solution in drastically reducing world population size to around 2-3 billion people through voluntary reductions. He also sees a solution in treating the Earth more like our home than as a resource that was put here to exploit. The “stewardship” he refers to is indeed going to be absolutely necessary if we are to continue to survive and thrive in this planet. We need to treat the Earth more like a terrarium in which we live. We have nowhere else to go and we are quickly possibly irreversibly damaging the only home we have ever known.
By Gary

Religious Colleges

Religious colleges

            Students at religious colleges seem to avoid the problems that students at secular colleges face because those students who attend religious colleges attend them because they want to lead a rewarding and religious lifestyle. Students at religious stay out of the headlines because they spend free time studying. They avoid issues because they are not in college to drink, do drugs, and have sexual relations.

            Rules and discipline at religious colleges differ from those at secular institutions because they have strict policies on dating, drugs and alcohol. They also use the parents help on enforcing these policies governing the students. At secular colleges students seem to have more freedom than those at religious colleges.

            The main common point between the rules on dating at Magdalen, Bob Jones University and Patrick Henry College is that they all have strict policies on sexual activity. It is not allowed at any of these schools. These schools differ in allowance of dating between students. Magdalen has a no dating policy. “The rule is actually against steady company keeping”. Patrick Henry College requires the student to get their parents’ permission before pursuing a romantic relationship. Bob Jones University requires chaperones for all dates.

            These rules achieve that once students graduate from college they will have a better understanding of relationships and marriage. They also relieve the students of sexual pressures that students  at secular colleges face.


Religious Colleges

Religious Colleges

Students who attend religious colleges encounter the same challenges and opportunities as those who attend secular schools, however the fundamental difference is the sense of community on campus. Most large colleges have a variety of different values, beliefs, and predjudices  present on campus at all times. However, religious schools such as  Christian Colleges generally tend to experience a common connection between all of the students on campus, that being their faith in Jesus Christ. Secular schools usually don’t offer educational courses on religious studies, and if they do it is outside of the classroom and optional for those students who may be interested. Religious schools however, incorporate these discussions of faith into the curriculum so that it is an obvious part of campus.

Students will make poor decisions whether attending a secular or a religious school, however I believe religious colleges tend to have fewer troubles on campus because of the constant reminder of  ethics and morals that comes along with most religious studies. Another factor to consider is the weight of the consequences of the offender’s actions. In a secular school, students can be reprimanded by teachers for minor infringements and major infringements which usually refer to violent or criminal acts and things such as plaigerism, can be punishable by suspension or expulsion. The fundamental difference in discipline between secular and religious schools is what constitutes a minor or major infraction. What would be considered commonplace behavior in a secular school, such as chewing gum or inappropriate language, could be labeled a major infringement at a religious school. This sets the bar for the way religious students act, and lowers the chance of religious schools facing the same troubles that keep secular schools in the headlines.

Another fundamental difference between the rules of a religious school and those of a secular school are the policies on dating. A secular school would probably never be able to actually enforce such policies, however religious colleges such as Bob Jones University enforce such rules as banning interracial dating between students. At Patrick Henry College, campus officials encourage “courting” instead of dating in which a young man is supposed to reach out to a young woman’s father in order to recieve his permission for them to date. At Magdalen College, students are prohibited from dating all together. These rules serve as a way to better control students, and in doing so they achieve in lowering the problems that many secular schools face.

I believe that even though these rules that religious schools enforce are successfully lowering troubles on campus, however they are probably successfully lowering other things on campus such as interest in current events and diverse opinions and beliefs that encourage secular schools to thrive while giving their students room to grow and progess.

Domestic Violence

According to Elaine Leeder in the article “domestic Violence A cross Cultural View” it is acceptable and the norm in a India household. This is so because the man in the household is dominant and the woman are submissive. So it is acceptable that the man beats the woman if she does not live up to the expectations to the man of the household. In rural India abuse is tolerated for dowry problems, a wife’s infidelity, her neglect of household duties, or her disobedience to her husbands commands and wants.

Industrialization and modernization have led to increased child abuse in India because the children have a greater responsibility to make sure they do the workload that an american adult would do. If they fail or don’t do it to their fathers expectations they are beaten and abused. In this culture it is normal so I don’t think of it as abuse but rather discipline. Because their expectations are higher than they would be here in the us the discipline for failing is going to be higher.

The difference between invisible and visible violence in Vietnam is invisible violence is when the man does not harm the woman physically but yet emotionally. He can do this by intimidation and fear. Visible violence is physical when the man beats the woman. In Vietnam the woman are expected to work all day then come home and work in the home and take of the man and if they don’t  they are abused either physically or emotionally.