Culture and Media

You and your family head over to the store to do your weekly grocery shopping Sunday after church. You run into several member of your congregation while you are standing at the meat counter selecting the various meats that you will need for your meals the following week. This is a typical Sunday afternoon.


At 3:30 am on November 15, you can be found in your deer blind patiently waiting for the sound of rustling leaves. Finally a huge eight point buck steps into your sights. You successfully take the shot relieved to have meat to feed your family with for the next couple of months. This is a typical start to deer hunting season.


How do you get the meat for your meals?

How does food help create culture? First, what is culture? According to Conley (2013), “culture is a set of beliefs, traditions, and practices; the sum total of social categories and concepts we embrace in addition to beliefs, behaviors (except instinctual ones), and practices; that which is not the natural environment around us.” (p. 77). There are different beliefs
or traditions on how people gather the food that they need to feed their family. Families in the video clip, “Eating Alaska”, discuss the fact that their families have been fishing, hunting and gathering their food for many generations. It’s just what they have done and continue to do. A majority of the people from the area that I am from buy their meat from the grocery store. Many of the people in the Upper Peninsula tend to incorporate both methods. All of these ways create the culture that we live in.

The researcher in the video clip about Alaska asked one of the individuals if she thought there was a way that non-natives who appreciate being there (in that part of Alaska) could live off the land and not get in the way. The response
was no. The researcher later asked a man catching shrimp how he could be a hunter/gatherer and also a hippie/environmentalist. The man’s response was that he didn’t think you could be anything but both unless you were ignorant of where food came from and our place in the food chain. These feelings elicited an ethnocentric feeling towards their culture. It seems that they felt that their culture was superior to others. The woman didn’t even want to let anyone else into her culture. She felt that non-natives would not be able to respect the land like the people of her culture have been raised to do from birth.

Could the way that you get your food place you in a subcategory? The fact that all of society has to agree on is that everyone has to eat. The way that we get our foods to eat is where the differences are. Conley (2013) defines subculture as “the distinct cultural values and behavioral patterns of a particular group in society; a group united by sets of concepts, values, symbols, and shared meaning specific to the members of that group distinctive enough to distinguish it from others within the same culture or society.” (p. 87). The people in the video clip is just one area of Alaska. Not all areas of Alaska feel that hunting and gathering is the only way to get the food that they eat. This group of people has distinguish
ed itself from the same society. They know that when it is time to go shopping that means to go out and catch something fresh from nature. This is similar to a select group of people in the Upper Peninsula collectively see November 15 as the first day of rifle deer season. Not everyone in society views the date the same way.

If you had to kill and clean what you ate, how might that change your diet? I was not brought up in a hunting environment. The only fresh meat that I ever had was some venison that my father received from the butcher after accidentally hitting a buck with his car one night. I rarely fished growing up and never brought home and ate the fish that I caught when I did. My daughter once help a family friend kill and clean a chicken and brought it home for dinner. I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. If I was to kill and clean what I ate now, after 38 years of living the other way, my diet would change dramatically. I have nothing against hunting, I just like to not think about where the food I eat comes from. I am sure that I would greatly reduce the amount of meat in my diet to probably a vegetarian life style (which would be devastating since I don’t like most vegetables). My culture would also reflect this change. I would start associating with people who were vegetarians like I would be. I would stop, or limit, the amount of time spent with individuals who could still gather their food already prepared. I wouldn’t have as much in common with them and would want to surround myself with people that were similar to me.


So which culture is right? They all are. That’s what makes the society that we live in so interesting!

Conley, Dalton (2013). You May Ask Yourself. New York. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


Data as Evidence

Carbon emissions is an extensive environmental problem that we face throughout the world. Carbon emissions are caused by many factors to include both natural and human sourcehuman-sources-of-carbon-dioxide-emissionss. Human activities have caused the environmental concentration of carbon dioxide to rise to alarming levels. Human activities consist of burning oil, coal and gas, as well as deforestation (which limits the amount of natural carbon dioxide removal).

Almost all of the countries contribute to the rise in carbon emissions to some degree. We are going to look at the changes in carbon emissions for the United States, South Korea, and North Korea between 1990 and 2012.

Out of 190 countries that the Population Reference Bureau was able to report on for both 1990 and 2012, the United States (ranked 187) and South Korea (ranked 188) were reported to have one of the highest levels of increase whereas South Korea (ranked 4) had almost the largest decrease. The political unrest that North Korea has had to endure is the main cause for the significant change between the increase of pollution in South Korea and the decrease in North Korea.


InNorth Korea the 1990’s, North Korea suffered a massive economic crisis which ultimately led to a famine. North Korea has not been able to recover from these events. The dictatorship reign of their past leaders and subsequent tyrannical reign of their current leadership has caused their once flourishing economy to collapse. A majority of the industry that once operated all over North Korea now only operates in a small area to include the main hub in Pyongyang. The crash of the economy prevents the population from being able to operate cars. They are also unable to afford the luxuries of heating their homes or using electricity. These activities, which once created a lot of carbon emissions, no longer are available. Thus the reason for the massive decline between 1990 and 2012.

South Korea

As North Korea’s economy was declining, South Korea’s was growing.  Part of this growth can be attributed to the people who defected from North Korea and also the positive relationship that
South Korea has with other countries. With the positive economical relationship, South Korea was able to expand their industry. This expansion caused more carbon pollutants. The additional population also contributed to more greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases, or carbon emissions, increased because of the additional cars on the roads and homes that needed to be heated during the colder seasons. North Korea’s carbon emissions are still increasing causing them to look at ways to reduce them.

The United States has always been high on the carbon emissions list. The US has a booming economy and a huge population. There have not been any dramatic changes to their industry or population to warrant a sharp increase/decrease in the level of carbon emissions that are reported. It can be noted that although the US has one of the highest increases of emissions between 1990 and 2012, it also had one of the highest levels to begin with.  The increase is minimal compared to the increase with South Korea and the decrease in North Korea.United States

Some things that would help to better test this hypothesis is finding out more about the population and industry of North and South Korea as it was in 1990 and how it changed in 2002. It would also be good to know if the expansion of industry in South Korea was actually caused by the increased population of defectors or if this was something that would have occurred regardless due to their relationship with other countries and how a majority of countries have increased their industry. It would also be good to find out how the change in technology affected the pollutants that come from the cars and homes. Did the emissions increase due to the populations growth or is it because they do not have the emission standards that other countries have? All of these factors could alter my theory.


The Sociological Imagination

City, neighborhood, family and friends all create an environment that shapes the way you are whether you realize it or not.


Pop? Soda? Sauna? Sauna? Despite the various places that I have lived over the last many years, I still have an affinity to the town that I was born and raised in. I have lived in the Upper Peninsula for eight years now and stubbornly refuse to alter the way I speak. I am proud of where I grew up. Many people have tried to get me to speak the way Yoopers speak since I have lived here so long (am actually part Finnish) and don’t imagine leaving any time soon but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m proud to say that I’m from Niles! It’s who I am. I feel that if I start speaking like the area that I live in, I will be falsely identifying with this area and betraying my family who still live in the area I grew up in. Being from Niles isn’t as distinctive as being from the Upper Peninsula, California, or other places like that. For some strange reason, I enjoy being able to say that I’m from Niles and many people wonder where that’s at. I want to be known for who I am, not where I came from.

allNiles, Michigan is a small town in south-western Michigan with a population of about 15,000. Niles is just like many other towns featuring the affluent white area, the middle-class white area and the poor black area.  Other than whites and blacks, there isn’t very much diversity. For the first four years of my life I attended an elementary school that was known to be the “best” elementary school out of the five that was in Niles. I was proud to attend that school. I moved the summer before fourth grade and ended up going to a school that was referred to as a lesser school. I was the same person that I was before, my mother made the same amount of money she did before, no other circumstances changed except for my address. When I met up with my old friends and made new friends in junior high I was always embarrassed that I ended up going to the lower school. I had the same education as everyone else, I graduated with honors, was well-known, involved in many extra-curricular activities but still deep down couldn’t shake the stigma that came from the elementary school that I attended. When I moved up to the area I live now I made it a point to find out what school was thought to be better than the others and utilized school of choice so that my children could go there. The main reason I tell people that my children to go that school is because of the diversity and larger population (since they came from a larger school downstate). Deep down, it’s because I don’t want kids that they run into giving them a hard time because they went to “the wrong school”.

alcohol-bar (1)Alcohol is something that I was not inundated with in my social environment growing up.  Most of my family did not drink.  My friends did not drink. We did not keep alcohol in our house. There weren’t very many bars in the town that I grew up in.  Very rarely did I ever encounter alcohol and when I did it was always in a negative manner. Watching my mom get pushed out of a car at the end of a date by a drunk boyfriend. Listening to my grandmother condemn her daughter’s boyfriend because of his desire for alcohol. Being aware of the decline and death of my step-uncle at a very young age because of his alcoholism.

I joined the Marine Corps immediately after high school. Once out in the fleet, alcohol was something that all of a sudden permeated my environment. Hundreds of men and woman drinking at the barracks on a daily basis. Results from all of this binge drinking sometimes ended up just fine. Working in the busiest criminal legal department in the Corps, I was privy to the times that a night of drinking ended up very badly.

Presently – I’m very confused. I have never been one to social drink – I don’t know how and honestly, I don’t see the point. If you are going to drink alcohol – you should drink to get drunk! Many of the relationships I’ve had in my life, to include my present relationship with my ex-husband, all include an issue that stems from my confusion and hypocrisy with alcohol. I feel that if I had been brought up around alcohol more, been aware of more of the positive social ways that alcohol can be used I wouldn’t have been married and divorced twice, I wouldn’t be such a snob when it comes to people drinking, I wouldn’t alienate a lot of people that I care about.