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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

News of The Week: Social Inequality, Doping, and Medical Sociology

Nickie Phillips

This is our latest installment of Dr. Demetra M. Pappas' "News of the Week" in which she uses short topics as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course.

  1. SOCIAL INEQUALITY/THE GREAT DEBATE (OR WAS IT?)/SOCIAL INTERACTION/DEBATE ETIQUETTE/”GENDERED” CONDUCT (OR NOT)? On October 15, President Obama (who showed signs of coming out of the coma he was in during debate #1) and Mitt Romney had their second Presidential debate. They spent a lot of time on taxes, single mothers, student loans – in other words things that relate to social inequality and social stratification.  In addition, they engaged in a town hall format (questions from the audience), in which they variously were confrontational (with each other – though some thought they were confrontational and rude to moderator Candy Crowley of CNN, raiding gendered issues and manners issues generally), “invaded each others space,” engaged in pointing (which is considered unacceptable in language and non-verbal symbolic communication in American society).  What did you think of the debate (please only take this option if you watched the debated in its entirety of 90 minutes or if you saw “significant” outtakes of substantial amounts of time)?
  2. DEVIANCE (OR NOT)/ILLEGAL “DOPING”/TEAM SPORTS/CULTURE/MEDIA. On Thursday of last week, The New York Times had a front-page article, Details of Doping Scheme Paint Armstrong as Leader,” by Juliet Macur, about (stripped) Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong “forcing” by intimidation and other means his teammates to “dope” (take steroids and performance enhancing drugs).  On October 17, 2012, Armstrong stepped down as head of his Livestrong Foundation,” (which has as its mission to unite, inspire and empower those affected by cancer, according to its web paee)  saying that the media attention to his alleged doping (actually proven with multiple teammates testifying, blood work, etc – see the NYT piece) that he continues to deny is nonetheless drawing attention from his foundation work. In addition, according to the October 17, 2012 article by Michael O'Keeffe, Nike has ended its sponsorship relationship with Armstrong, for reasons relating to the “mounting evidence.”  Doping is apparently very common in sports – so much so, that it may be viewed as an “illegal” subculture, rather than a counterculture (which is more likely to be illegal).  Compare this to last week’s news piece where a school suspended students for drinking supercaffeinated beverages – are they the same or different, and why or why not?
  3. MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY/FAMILIES/SOCIAL INEQUALITY:  As of October 17, 2012, the town of San Rafael is banning smoking INDOORS in two and three family homes. Is this reasonable regulation or unreasonable imposition on lower income families (high income families usually have a McMansion)?

For more information on Dr. Pappas' pedagogical approach, see her article, "Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51.