Our class, 4310 - ”Terrorism & Globalization”, brought me into a world in which I knew little about. The small amount of things I thought I knew, became broken down and ultimately led me down a path of careful analysis and new perspectives. The issues and topics we discussed were so diverse and interesting, sparking debates between classmates and debates in my own mind; challenging the pre-conceived notions that lay embedded in my thoughts. Terrorism is a subject that is not often taught or mentioned in school. I am so pleased that this class was available and taught by Charles, which made it as great as it was. The seminars forced us to analyze case studies and terrorist groups, which were previously so foreign and unknown to me. The movies and documentaries screened in class also shed light on a great deal of history and background to global terrorism; how groups around the world are represented in the media, the reasons for which they fight, as well as their main goals and objectives. I feel as though we are often only given one-dimensional views of situations from the media, and therefore, this class is important as it teaches us to approach matters from a critical standpoint. We often judge too easily, or jump to conclusions about people, which is harmful not just to ourselves but to society and the world as a whole. From a movie in class called “The Economics of Terrorism”, Loretta Napoleoni explained that although global matters such as this may frighten us to the point where we no longer wish to be informed, it is so crucial to learn about them nonetheless. Educating and informing ourselves is the most important tool and habit we can learn and practice. The global sociological imagination is based around our ability to link our own cultures, lives, choices and actions to the world that surrounds us, even if it means addressing global terrorism and globalization. This class has taught me many things, but most importantly that it is never fair to judge a situation before learning absolutely everything there is to know about it.
Final reflective essay for 3330 – Sociology of Popular Culture
As we have come to understand in class, popular culture is a difficult term to define. From all of the various perspectives, I would view popular culture as a set of ideas, attitudes, images, as well as all phenomena that surrounds mainstream society and culture. Using some of the core concepts and recurring themes, there are three which reflect on what we have learnt in class this semester; critique, debunking, and obvious. To recap – critique meaning careful analysis, debunking meaning looking at both obvious and surface level explanations, and obvious meaning ‘being in the way’. Before taking this class I had never honestly considered the idea that the media influenced our lives to such an extent, often without our recognition of it. With the advances in technology, the mass media’s influence has grown substantially, and is continuing to grow. We are becoming more dependent on social media to remain connected with the world. We are exposed to a multitude of advertisements, news items and stories each day which influence us whether we recognize it or not. An example of the negative repercussions of mass media’s reflections of society are the movies we watched in class titled “Dreamworlds”, “Killing Us Softly” and “Tough Guise”. All three movies examine how society and the media perpetuate destructive images, through the use of music videos, ads and the construction of femininity and masculinity. We are constantly being shaped by what the media informs us of, therefore we must educate ourselves in order to prevent further circulation of misinformation. I also feel as though this all branches out to the mean world syndrome, or the fact that individuals feel less satisfied with their own lives after spending time looking at news feeds on Facebook, or photos on applications such as Instagram. We are constantly surrounded by popular culture and mass media, therefore education is the key. Looking back, I have always watched the news and listened to each word as the spoken truth, which I now realize is so foolish. However, without being educated on media literacy I would be doing the same thing today. I attempt to make the effort in my life now to debunk situations that I find myself in, and with the help of this class have been able to search for constructive and positive images.
A discussion we had in class came after watching the movie titled “Constructing Public Opinion”, that looked at the way in which the media reflects those in power, and what we see is often a modified version of the truth. With a glance at political perceptions, economic forces and the ‘phantom’ liberal, the film stated that we are given a great deal of misinformation rather than omissions on a certain issue. People often forget to pay attention to detail and take the general framework to be true. We are even discouraged to think critically. This seeps into many aspects of our lives. I find it is crucial to maintain a lifestyle and habit wherein we ask questions about our social worlds and realities.
“Dreamworlds” examines the extremely negative representations of women in music videos. Similar to ads, MTV has both historically and currently streamed thousands of music videos which contain the objectification and commodification of women. Women’s stories are being told from a mans point of view, and these videos are portraying women as simply as something to be looked at, simply present with a decorative role. These women are constantly undressing themselves, they serve willingly, and become competitive with one another. Sexuality has been used to reflect this male gaze; the desire, sex and power. These portrayals are actively perpetuating violence against women and promoting the idea that this is okay. As a women within this dream world, it is normal to be disrespected, however it is not the world that we live in, nor a world anyone should be subjected to.
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Affective Method – “Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity”
“Tough Guise” examines the relationship between the social construction of masculinity and the images we see in mass media and popular culture. The way that our world has defined what is masculine has come along with a myriad of problems. Writer Jackson Katz’ excellent and creative approach addresses these problems, which include male violence, misogyny, homophobia, along with all other social and economic threats they pose. The film also looks at how violence has become glamourized in movies and television which promote the most negative masculine ideals. I researched Katz and discovered that he is a dedicated anti-sexist activist, who has created a program called Mentors in Violence Protection primarily for violence prevention in university and college athletics, which I found very interesting. I think the film is a great resource which should be shown to every student, even in high schools to educate and encourage young boys to strive for healthy, balanced masculine ideals.
Chapter Three – Paraphrase Method – “Slavery and Abolitionism”
Slavery has existed for centuries. The first African slaves were imported in the fifteenth century, which began to take on significant proportions “when sugar cultivation in Brazil and the West Indies became substantial” (Pieterse, pg. 52) The transatlantic slave trade began to grow and eventually began to contribute to the accumulation of capital. The text continues with the history of slavery and goes on to discuss some advocates for slavery including Jacobus Elisa Joannes and John Stedman. Abolitionism is the following section which explores the shift in western images of blacks, which is due to shifts in processes within western culture, not due to the fact that Africans had changed or a changing relationship between the two. The period of abolitionism “coincided with the rise of racism” (pg. 57) and was also a manifestation of the Enlightenment. Eventually we begin to see countries around the world abolishing slavery including the United States who finally managed to create the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.