Sociology Focus

The Sociology of MMA: Hegemonic Masculinity Unleashed

Imagine if it was common place for prominent members of a billion dollar company to use glaringly sexist language in public. That would be crazy, right? Except over the last few months this is exactly what we’ve seen from the Mixed Martial Arts league called the UFC. In this post David Mayeda uses the sociological concept of hegemonic masculinity to help us understand what is going on with the men of the UFC.

In a sport so male driven, it is hardly surprising that some Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes publicly express opinions reflecting a violent male dominance. Recently, MMA fighter Miguel Torres tweeted: “If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises” (December 7, 2011). Torres was subsequently fired by UFC President, Dana White.

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That Can’t Be True!

Ever heard a fact from a sociological study that made you say, “That just can’t be true”? Many of us have a fundamental misunderstanding of sociology and how to interpret sociological research findings. In this article Nathan Palmer talks about how these misunderstandings have affected his students and asks us to reconsider the role of sociology in our lives.

She sat third row, second from the end in my sociology 101 class head cocked to the side with her brow scrunched up. She listened to me go on for a while about divorce and then she turned to the students beside her and began talking to them; she appeared to be rallying them because as she talked their heads nodded with increasing speed.

We were talking about the sociological research that suggests that people who’ve been divorced before, are the children of divorced parents, get married as the result of an unplanned pregnancy, and those with out financial resources are, on average, more likely to get divorced.1

After a beat, she launched her hand into the sky, turned her head toward me, and narrowed her eyes like a predator with it’s pray in sight. “Yes?” I said pointing to her. “Um, professor Palmer, what you said about divorce can’t be true because both my parents are still married and they got married because they got pregnant with me. Also, they are the children of divorced parents and both had been married before they married each other. So I hate to tell you this, but your sociological study got it wrong.”2 Continue reading

Posted by Nathan Palmer

Life at The Intersectionality of Race, Class, & Gender

Sociology often talks about race, class, gender, and many other social attributes as though they are a single stand alone issue. However, our day-to-day lives are much more complex than that. In this post Nathan Palmer thinks back on an incident that happened in his undergraduate history course that taught him a valuable lesson about intersectionality

“Michael, you have a unique perspective on this issue, I’m guessing. Would you care to give us another point-of-view?” my history [1] professor said. My mouth dropped open in shock as I watched Michel, the only African American student in the class, shake his head side to side, eyes looking down, “No. I, uh… No.” My professor looked surprised, or perplexed might be a better word. After a long silent pause he said, “Okay,” and then proceeded to talk about the civil rights movement. Many of my classmates looked around the room at each other in confusion at what just happened.

So what happened here? Before we get to that, let’s talk a little about intersectionality. In sociology we often talk about race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and many other social aspects of the individual. However, when we talk about them we tend to focus on them one at a time as if they were separate from each other. Continue reading

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The Sociology of MMA: How Do You Define Violence?

What is violence? Jacking someone in the face on the street will get you jail time, but the same act in a boxing ring could make you rich and famous. Violence in sports begs us to ask the question, what is violence and when should we as a society take steps to prevent it? In this piece David Mayeda explores how a recent Mixed Martial Arts competition demonstrates how violence and sport are socially constructed.

MMA Fighter PunchingFor those of you who frequent SociologyinFocus on a regular basis, you will shortly learn that one of my hobbies as a sociologist is understanding the edgy, burgeoning sport of mixed martial arts, more commonly known as “MMA.” For those of you unfamiliar with the sport (and no, not everyone considers it a sport, though its acceptance is growing), it is a combat sport in which participants compete (i.e., fight) one another through a mixture of combat sport disciplines, the most common four being Olympic wrestling, traditional boxing, Muay Thai kickboxing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Other fighting disciplines can be integrated as well, such as judo and karate. Continue reading

Posted by David Mayeda

Boys vs. Girls, Tornadoes vs. Vanilla Beans

Ever wish you could shelter your kids from everything you disagree with in the world? We all have something we would rather not deal with as parents. In this post, Sarah Nell shows how the “battle of the sexes” begins in childhood at a seemingly neutral place: summer camp. 

This past summer, my six-year old daughter attended a large summer day camp. They had a different theme each week: sports weeks where the kids wore their favorite team gear, Christmas in July week, and pirate week, to name a few. To accompany the various themes, each group was given a clever, theme-related name. As I scanned the summer schedule, I became troubled, dreading late July. The theme was “Boys vs. Girls.” I don’t know what bothered me more, the binary distinction deemed significant or the competition implied by the “vs.” The mother in me tried to squash the feminist-sociologist in me, despite my commitment to feminist parenting.

Girl and Boy Standing Back to Back

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Karl Marx’s Trip to a College Football Game

What would Karl Marx make of the labor relations of college athletics? In this post, Sarah Michele Ford shows that we can examine college athletics through a Marxist lens; in doing so we find that the university athletic directors and sponsors are functioning as the bourgeoisie, while the athletes themselves are the proletariat.

Crowd at a football game
It’s a Saturday afternoon in early autumn. The air is crisp, and thousands of football fans are filing into the stadium to watch the members of the proletariat produce entertainment for their consumption.

Wait, what? If it’s fall, and it’s a stadium, aren’t the fans coming to watch football?

I never said they weren’t. Keep reading to find out how we can apply Marxist theory to college football.

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