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In this article, we analyse how mediated discourses of toxic friendships echo and reconstruct the category of the toxic friend. We ask: what kind of assumptions does the toxic friendship discourse draw on, and what forms of subjectivity and interpersonal relationships are encouraged? Employing a critical discourse analysis of digital texts, we argue that the discursive category of the toxic friend draws on a simplistic set of classificatory dichotomies distinguishing between the good and the toxic friend. We also suggest that the popular labelling of difficult friendships as ‘toxic’ reflects the contemporary diffusion of the notion of toxicity in contemporary public culture. We contend that this discourse reflects the discursive conflation between therapeutic culture and neoliberal wellness logic, with the figure of the toxic friend constructed in ways that support imperatives for self-care and self-governance. While much of the advice situates friendship as an important personal tie, there is very little encouragement to ‘work’ on these relationships. As such, these discourses offer a reductive, disposable approach to friendship ties that overlooks the complexities and lived experiences of friendship relations.

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In Western prisons, inmates’ religious conversions are a social fact in which fear plays a predominant role. Based on a qualitative and longitudinal survey conducted over two years in a French prison, this article aims to show how religious fears emerge in the consciousness of non-religious prisoners. Phenomenologically, the empirical data show that these fears arise because of an incapacitating state of anxiety. Over time, life in prison affects the social identity of individuals, their structuring markers and their biographical continuity. But the social mechanisms of anxiety are not those of fear. It is diffuse anxiety that allows the appearance of a new and identified fear. This enigma is interesting for the sociology of knowledge and therefore of socialisation: individuals are not afraid of what they do not know. The survey highlights that the emergence of these fears of God, sin, hell and so on reveals a process of regression of the habitus of the inmates to their primary socialisations. As irrational as they may seem for the frightened themselves, these fears show a structuring potential by interpreting and organising the disconcerting distress of which they are the product. Fear – religious or not – integrates and synthesises anxiety. From that moment, the appearance of fear augurs a gain of psychic, intellectual and finally practical mastery of a situation without which it would have remained unmanageable. This is how intramural trajectories become conversion paths.

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Author: Gözde Cöbek

Choosing a partner has turned into swiping since the emergence of dating technologies. Today, individuals predominantly choose their partners via dating platforms by swiping their profiles with a quick thumb movement. The literature argues that mate preference is a static and disembodied disposition, where one’s intersectional background plays a role. Focusing on heterosexual individuals’ swiping practices in Turkey, this article aims to challenge this structural argument and suggests an affective approach to online dating. The concept of affect encourages more than a focus on the structures that influence mate choice. Emphasising the body’s capacity to act and be acted on, environments and thought-in-action, it draws attention to different orienting forces involved in swiping. As such focus requires a different methodology, this study uses the walkthrough and video re-enactment techniques to examine the mate selection practice. Based on interviews with 42 individuals who use Tinder and/or OkCupid, it shows how swiping is not only techno-socially shaped but also a bodily practice. Technological design, one’s mood and the sensation that arises through the encounter between the individual and the profile affect swiping decisions which can be both consistent and inconsistent with one’s techno-socially shaped criteria. By suggesting an affective perspective, this article makes both a theoretical and methodological contribution to the field.

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With the emphasis on children’s responsibility for the care of ageing parents, this study examined how Chinese adult children’s support provided to parents was associated with filial piety, support from parents and parent-child contact frequency. With the 2006 Chinese General Social Survey, we used structural equation modelling with 1,452 adults with two living parents and tested the model for sons and daughters separately. For both groups, the results showed that (1) filial piety was positively associated with emotional support provided to parents; (2) support received from parents was positively related to instrumental and emotional support to parents; and (3) parent-child contact frequency was linked to instrumental support. For adult daughters, financial support was positively associated with the support received from parents and negatively related to parent-child contact frequency. This study suggests that the traditional norm of filial piety may be less influential than other factors for adult children’s support behaviour.

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Author: Laurence Godin

In this article, I argue that care is a useful tool to think about consumption as embedded in social relations within and outside the market, and draw the consequences for moving towards sustainable lifestyles. To do so, I engage in a review of the literature that brings together consumption and care in its various forms. I review three main bodies of work: the literature on consumption that links care to consumer behaviour and consumption practices; the work addressing the commodifications of care and how it feeds in the neoliberal organisation of society; and the literature on climate change and the development of sustainable lifestyles. I close with a reflection on some lessons of care for academic researchers studying sustainability, consumption and a transition towards more sustainable and just societies.

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Author: Manuela Beyer

This article explores the interrelations between gender and fear, based on the hypothesis of sexual fear being produced as a feminised emotion in discourse. Empirical analyses of historically contingent constructions of sexual fears from 1961–2021 in the advice pages of the popular German youth magazine Bravo show how fear has been produced as a central technique governing feminine sexuality, by far surmounting the importance of either feminine love or desire. The results point to historically specific constructions of feminised sexual dangers, developing from premarital pregnancy in the 1960s, emotional suffering because of premature coitus in the 1980s and 1990s, to digitalised sexual practices in the 21st century. Feminised constructions of sexual risks and fears render feminine subjects as passive, vulnerable and in need of protection while simultaneously producing masculine subjects as actively sex seeking and potentially dangerous. The results also indicate that discursive delegitimisation of feminine sexual fear may equally contribute to re-establishing sexual inequality by pressuring girls to be sexually available. I argue, therefore, that it is not sufficient to analyse constructions of gendered subjects as being either fearful or fearless. Instead, the reconstruction of discursive model practices governing subjects to manage sexual fears is key to disentangling the complex nexus of gender and fear. The investigation of historical transformations of sexual fear discourses contributes to tracing both dynamics and continuities in gendered power relations, thereby illustrating the central role of fear in classic sociological research themes of inequality and power relations.

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The global fight against the victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth has led to a prolific backlash. The LGBTQ+ “safe schools” movement has gotten violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity recognized as a problem by the United Nations (UN). However, this victory has resulted in the greater availability of anti-LGBTQ+ tropes for use as political fodder by bad-faith actors seeking to undermine progress toward the rights of LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, and democratic values, more generally. We are specifically concerned in this chapter with how opportunistic anti-LGBTQ+ state regimes clash with the UN vision for LGBTQ+-inclusive sustainable development, with resulting harm to LGBTQ+ youth. In this first section, we describe the safe schools movement, explain its connection to the UN’s commitment to education justice, and point to how countermovements around the globe endeavor to quash the hard-won achievements of LGBTQ+ rights movements by targeting sexual and gender minority youth. Following the lead of sexual and gender minority youth who have begun to demand safety and dignity around the world, the global safe schools movement is an informal network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) active on nearly every continent. It is concerned with the prevalence and effects of bias-based violence and discrimination against primary and secondary school students who do not conform to socially dominant or expected sexuality and gender norms. The transnational movement is united by two shared goals: to document LGBTQ+ youth experiences through research; and to promote affirming school climates through advocacy.

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Laurence Godin’s () piece is a very welcome and commendable attempt to provide a broader synthetisation of the current literature on care and consumption, and to generate some critical insights for future work in this area. I am drawing on Godin’s article to make some further observations. These are three-fold, pertaining to our current understandings of care, markets and consumption respectively.

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School segregation—the uneven distribution of students across schools, based on their socioeconomic status (SES), sex, race/ethnicity, or other ascribed characteristics—has important implications for educational inequality, social cohesion, and intergenerational mobility (Bonal and Bellei, 2019). While this topic has drawn special attention in the US, due, in part, to the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court case, between-school segregation is a concern to policymakers and researchers worldwide. School segregation by race dominates much of the research on this topic in the US, but studies of school segregation by SES predominate internationally. This chapter summarizes what we know about betweenschool segregation by SES, describing the strongest international evidence we have, drawing attention to the consequences of segregation and the benefits of integration, and concluding with a discussion of solutions. Residential segregation, migration movements, economic inequalities, and even education policies themselves have shaped a growing process of school segregation between the world’s most disadvantaged students and the wealthiest. School composition matters, and it impacts students’ short- and long-term academic and social-emotional outcomes. Student performance is more strongly related to SES than to other school compositional characteristics, such as gender, immigrant status, or race/ethnicity. Indeed, research indicates that disadvantaged students who attend schools with more affluent peers see a range of positive effects, including increased achievement, motivation, and resiliency (Van Ewijk and Sleegers, 2010; Agasisti et al, 2021). A school’s average SES is highly predictive of its academic climate and instructional quality, both factors associated with educational outcomes.

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