Stereotypical NASCAR wives live in McMansions, consume a lot

At least one NASCAR wife may not fit the mold of a McMansion owner:

THE PERCEPTION some racing fans have of drivers’ wives is they live in McMansions, buy expensive clothes, drive luxury cars and travel to races in private planes. Krissie Newman insists this perception isn’t entirely true.

“Some [wives] are glamorous, but most of us are ordinary people,” she said during a recent interview…

Krissie, 36, seems comfortable with her life. No regrets about not practicing law?

“No, I’ve shifted my focus,” she said. “I’ve seen the benefits from what we’re doing. I think this is what I’m meant to do. You need to find balance in life; you need to know yourself.”

It might be interesting to look further at these perceptions. How many drivers live in McMansions and how does this differ from other athletes and celebrities? And why exactly is this tied to the wives and not also to the drivers who must have some say in whether they end up living in a McMansion and how their family spends money? It sounds like gender stereotypes are being linked to McMansions which are seen by critics as symbols of excessive consumption. It is harder to imagine a famous driver being criticized for having a big house as opposed to linking it to their wife. Additionally, NASCAR is often viewed as a more Southern sport and critics of McMansions could link that to suburban sprawl in the Sunbelt.

The hypersexualization of female stars on the cover of Rolling Stone

A sociologist found that Rolling Stone cover images of female stars have become more sexualized over the last few decades:

Hypersexualized images of women, on the other hand, went from representing six per cent of female covers in the 1970s to 61 per cent in the 2000s…

During the 2000s, women were 3 1 /2 times more likely to be hypersexualized than nonsexualized, and nearly five times more likely to be sexualized (hyper or otherwise) than non-sexualized.

Hatton acknowledges that many people will dismiss this conclusion as old hat, citing the venerable advertising maxim that “sex sells.”

But Hatton argues that to simply shrug off the findings is to ignore evidence that popculture’s accepted image of femininity is narrowing, dangerously, by the decade.

Several thoughts come to mind:

1. Rolling Stone has certainly changed over the years. From my own vantage point, it was once more serious, particularly about music, but has now become simply another pop culture magazine with occasional over-the-top political coverage.

2. The biggest surprise here is that the hypersexualization has become much worse over the years. And this is from a “progressive” magazine?

3. I wonder if large-scale surveys have presented such images to Americans and asked for their opinion. If so, then might we see a shift in opinion similar to the shift in images on the cover of Rolling Stone? In other words, are these covers simply a proxy for larger cultural opinions?

Sociologist makes academic action figures

Is it ironic for a sociologist to create action figures of academics?

Very few universities have had realistic “action figures” made of their faculties and staff. One exception is the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas, where Dr. Jesse Weiss (Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies) has produced a collection of them.

The professor hatched the idea via his hobby of customizing action figure models from manufacturer Jakks Pacific. Classics so far include Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece [pictured below], along with Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Sean Coleman, and Assistant Professor of English Dr. Brian Hardman.

“All it takes is a dremel tool, model paint, and Sculpey modeling compound for the hair, beards, glasses – and time,” explains the artist. (Unfortunately Jakks Pacific no longer make the requisite base figures, but the professor has a large plastic bin and drawers filled with spare parts.)

Does the action figure come with a small explanation of the cultural importance of action figures along with commentary on the gender stereotypes such figures promote? (Check out the muscles on those academics!)

Another thought: what are the most common curios academics keep on their desk or in their offices?

The Sociology of Funeral Service

Through the short history of this blog, I have highlighted a number of sociology courses that tackle interesting topics:

1. The course Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame is taught at the University of South Carolina and drew a lot of media attention.

2. Taught by a sociologist, the course Baseball in American Society is offered at Florida Southern College.

3. Recently, I highlighted a sociologist who teaches the Sociology of Self-Improvement.

4. I offer an addition to this list from Malcolm X College in Chicago: The Sociology of Funeral Service. Here are some insights about this industry:

Women have entered many educational and professional fields in recent decades. But the nurturing-woman stereotype seems to explain why more and more female students have decided to study funeral service. They have grown from a small minority to a small majority at the country’s 56 mortuary science programs.

In 2010, 56.8 percent of new enrollees were women, virtually unchanged from 56.9 percent in 2006, according to the American Board of Funeral Service Education.

The article goes on to talk about women still encounter some issues even as more women enroll in this field. On the whole, I would think that there is a lot of sociology that could apply to this field, particularly cultural ideas about death, emotions, aging and the lifecourse, gender, family, and race.

A few additional questions come to my mind:

1. While the article seems to suggest that women would be particularly well-suited for this field because of the “nurturing-woman stereotype,” it is also interesting to note that it has historically been a male field. Why was this the case and how exactly is this changing in the field?

2. It is interesting that this is now an academic field of study known as “mortuary science.” How has this field become professionalized over time? And has this shift toward a science helped lead to the increase of female students since women are now getting more degrees?

Women now earning a majority of PhD degrees

A recent report from the Council of Graduate Schools shows that women now earn 50.4% of all PhDs in the United States. This is a change even from 2000 when the figure for women stood at 44%.

Of course, the figures vary widely by discipline: women dominate in the health sciences (70%), education (67%), public administration and services (61%), and social and behavioral sciences (60%). Men dominate in the fields of engineering (women earn 22% of the PhDs, math and computer science (27% women), physical and earth sciences (33% women), and business (39% women). These figures by discipline are not surprising given the stereotypes present in American society about what work men and women should do.

h/t Instapundit