Week 3: Reading Sociology Part 2

Estimated Reading Time 00:03:27

Reading Sociology

Part 2: Culture

Chapter 6: Maintaining Control? Masculinity and Internet Pornography
by Steve Garlick

Robert Jensen’s position:

  • Radical feminist.
  • Internet has revolutionized delivery of pornography
  • Technology increases men’s ability to control women’s bodies
  • Gender politics of porn: fantasy world in which women always want sex because it is in their nature.
  • Mainstream pornography: man vs. nature


  • Amateur porn can potentially “save” mainstream porn from constraints of hegemonic masculinity.
  • (Such awkward phrasing, but I think I can make an analogy: the situation is similar to how open-sourcing weakens corporate’s ability to make profit. e.g. Open Office vs. Microsoft Office; Octave vs. MatLab; OpensCAD vs. AutoCAD; Arduino vs. pretty much everything else on the market.)
  • We shouldn’t push boredom away, but think about what it says about ourselves.


  • I am going to tell you all about porn.
  • Builds on Jensen: Internet may change the nature of porn itself.
  • Porn is a technological confrontation between men and nature.
  • Internet achieved “democratization of desire”.
  • Do you know that porn becomes boring if you watch it too much?
  • Goes on to talk about how porn becomes boring (In and out. What more?) without making any apparent connection to his central thesis.
  • Internet as a media may change porn, and thereby gender relations, itself.

Notable quotes:

Yet, insofar as marginal forms of online porn are able to break away from the profit-driven imperative to reinforce the existing gender order and, instead, to give us glimpses of sex that rupture the usual narratives of gender and sexuality, they thereby alert us to the sway of technological enframing and potentially disrupt the production of hegemonic masculinity within the pornographic imagination.

– Steve Garlick

Chapter 7: What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs: Examining Cultural Change and Ideas about Gender Equality in Relationship Self-Help Books, 1960-2009
by Sarah Knudson

What a mouthful for a title. The author’s clearly amusing herself writing an article like this. Mainly summaries and restatement of common sense, but I’m sure she’s had a lot of fun reading all those relationship guide books.


  • Old support systems (church, extended families, etc.) lose potency. Relationship self-help books, therefore, would remain popular.
  • Three clusters of books (categorized by year published) show three now-liberal, now-traditional attitudes. This difference can be explained by macrosociological trends.
  • rising spiral, conflicting ideas resurface, always in new packaging.

Notable quotes:

These changes have made love and loving in the late modern era “chaotic”, as couples try to build successful relationships in a culture where multiple scripts for loving (the traditional, the modern, and the postmodern) coexist. It also creates a climate ripe for individuals to seek out relationship guidance.

-Sarah Knudson

Chapter 8: The Bonds of Things
by Stephen Harold Riggins

He wrote about Allen Ginsberg in his introduction. I immediately gained respect for this man.


  • Symbolic interactionist.
  • The same object can have different meanings depending on how it is used or conceptualized by people. (Reminds me of the bowler hat in Unbearable Lightness of Being).
  • Lots and lots of technical details! Unfortunately I don’t have much time.
  • Instead of researching objective measures such as income, etc. Perhaps more insight can be gained by interview people about their objects, and the symbolic meaning of these objects.

Notable quotes (other than the Allen Ginsberg quote, of course):

Objects bind people, generations, castes, and classes. They symbolize the kind of people we are or the kind we aspire to be. They help individuals and societies remember the past.

– Stephen Harold Riggins

Chapter 9: Nationalism from Below
by Slobodan Drakulic


  • People think that nationalism is invented by European literati.
  • But no! They are wrong. This belief is FLAWED and unsupported by evidence.
  • In fact I studied Croatian songs to prove them wrong.
  • Nationalism is preserved through such things as culture and songs. It comes from below.
  • Elites and masses are not worlds apart, but part of the same complex universe.

Notable quotes:

The image of cultural elites leading the masses is doubly erroneous: it conflates social movements with social division of labour and postulates what must be ascertained by research.

– Slobodan Drakulic

Creative Commons License
SOC103 Notes by digitalhardhat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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