RE: FW: Xpress-it

Ah yes, gatekeepers. Now there’s a real sociology term for you. A gatekeeper is anything that controls access (to whatever) so that’s almost an empty definition. Yes, there are factors, including people, that restrict access between the classes. The question was, do those factors work together in a concerted matter? No, not really. The effect can certainly appear to be concerted, but going by appearances is a mistake I fear a lot of people make. Those factors can interact, and even feed off each other. However, would you even notice them when the gatekeepers cancel each other out? I suspect not. That’s just not human nature. J


As for different collegial departments tending to have their own inherent perspective, I can see that possibility. Still, it is also a matter of your own reference point. You say law school tends to be conservative, but I’d retort that such is your opinion. Anyone who  believes we  need more laws is not a conservative in my book.  Business? Yeah, maybe. Not law though, unless you mean tort law.


Ah. NerdsOnSite feels like another “send money” scam to me. I’m enrolled in an online conference at 5:00 p.m. Monday so we’ll so know.


From: Alecea Standlee []
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 10:36 AM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: FW: Xpress-it



Conspiracies, not exactly. I am a sociologist, so I believe that systems of social power function in ways that impact the lives of groups differently. Do I believe that a group of powerful and invisible individuals control the world. No, not exactly. I do think that all members of society interact with systems of social power that a rooted in historic events and historical social ideals. I think that the way systems of power like the media, economics, politics and education function is due in part to history. Its all due to the desire for people in power, who shape such systems and are in tern shaped by them, to stay in power. A conspiracy implies secrecy, but the gatekeepers to power in such systems are largely overt. Economics/business and politics make it clear that some individuals have access to money or political power and some don’t. Professors and university administrators are afforded certain privileges by the nature of what they do, they achieved that power through following certain rules and rituals. They act as gatekeepers to allow or disallow others to follow those same rituals to gain the same power. There is a tendency of gatekeepers to want guide people who are similar to themselves, in social standing and physical characteristics. This results in social inequality. When a choice to allow someone who is different to access the resources necessary to gain power, it is often a response to outside pressures that guide those decisions. Without the social pressures from the outside of the power structure (rumbling in the masses, if you will) what incentive do the privileged have to extend themselves beyond their immediate circle?

As for the liberalism in the university, I don’t buy the "seeing suffering" argument. The poor and working class are far more likely to see suffering on a regular basis that your average tenured professor. Nor, I believe, is to rooting for the underdog. Rather its a matter of education. I mean that in distinct ways. First, the obvious, people who learn about the experiences of others outside their own immediate circle are likely to be more conscious and aware of social issues. That gets rid of people who are conservative (or liberal) because they have never been exposed to anyone else. What is left are intellectual conservatives. People who may be economically or socially conservative but understand the problems with both conservative and liberal platforms. Then we simply divide up by discipline. Anyone who has ever told you that all academics are liberal has not spent time in a engineering classroom, or business or law for that matter. The conservative culture of those departments is fundamentally different than in a sociology department or anthropology, they are the liberals of the university. Other disciplines then fall between the extremes, with the physical sciences tending toward conservative and the arts toward the liberal end of the spectrum. Disciplines like poly sci, history, English and so on tend at most universities to fall in the middle. I argue that political attitudes fundamental effect an individuals choice of major, specifically in  grad school. Then we all absorb the norms of our chosen field, this includes social and political thought. Sociologists are trained to be liberal, its a function of our discipline, its a social norm and its a department culture. Law students and business are trained to be conservative for the same reasons and in the same way. The only reason that academics are viewed as liberals, is that in part because of tenure, but also because of university wide attitudes about freedom of research, we can say what we damned well please. So if you have Norm Chomsky or Angela Davis or Leslie Fienbergs of the world in academia they have the power to speak their mind about liberal pol tics or feminism or transgendered rights.

Good luck with your stuff with e-nerds, it seems reasonably promising, right? I hope it works out for you. I am preparing for a paper presentation for my department on the gender politics of WWII propaganda so I am kinda out of it right now.


Take care,


Scott Royall <> wrote:

I doubt we’ll ever really know why academics tend to have certain consistent
viewpoints. The excuse used for media is that they see so much suffering,
but I question that. Could it be more a matter of rooting for the apparent
underdog? I don’t know, there’s clearly something that prompts the common
response though.

Do you believe in conspiracies? Saying that the occasional success story is
a concession by the powerful to pacify the poor suggests an united group
consciousness, and I don’t buy that. Just ask the Mafia how well
conspiracies work. You can keep things quiet for a while. Yet, it’s only a
question of time before someone decides to talk, and the media would eat
something like that up. It just takes one leak to spark a huge scandal, and
the media depends on scandal.

—–Original Message—–
From: Alecea Standlee []
Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2007 7:26 PM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: FW: Xpress-it


I love talking with you! You know, one of the dangers
of my profession is that I am constantly surrounded by
people who share many of the same social and political
views as myself. Its always a joy to talk to an
intelligent person who thinks outside the Academy…

Ahh, the importance of networking. I have a pal who
is absolutly obssesed with concept of power through
social networking and ‘water cooler’ time. He submitts
that racism, classim, sexism, ableism, homophobia all
of it are virtually irrelevant to social power. He
says its all in who you know. Told me once that if she
know the right people a Black transvestie from East
Compton could be president. There isn’t alot to say to
that during a dinner party, really.
I confess that I am not unique. There are a number of
success stories in any community…but i say its still
a concession by the powerful to keep the underclass
content rather than any real proof that anyone can
overcome social mariginalization if they just work
hard enough. My own bias a suppose! we can agree to
I can’t actually name a sucessful quadriplegic except
maybe that actor Jim Troesh. Don’t know how
successful he is… I wonder though, how much of that
is due to the kind of attitudes you have mentioned
encountering in the job market. Is it that people
can’t do it? Whatever it may be. Which seems unlikely
in a world where some labor is entirely intellectual
or technologically assisted. Or is it bias and
Which brings me to your point about success being
difficult to achieve being good for the community.
I’ll buy that. We certainly want only our very best to
guide the path of our species. But what does being the
"best" mean. Certainly the extraordinarily gifted and
talented who have drive and ambition can with a bit of
lets say….good timing rise above the poverty, racism
and disability. Yet those who are born in the best of
circumstances rise to the top as well, its just not as
far up to wealth and power for Paris Hilton as it is
for you or I . And I am not sure she qualifies as one
of the best….but maybe!


— Scott Royall wrote:

> That obviously begs the question of whether or not
> there is real impetus for
> change. I would submit not, at least not in any near
> time. Look at the two
> of us. Each of us has his or her own biases. You say
> that mobility among the
> SES is a myth, and I say that’s a steaming pile of
> it! 🙂 You are not
> unique, my love. Unusual, maybe, but there are
> people like you in every
> community on the friggin’ planet! Is it hard to get
> above the poverty line?
> You freakin’ betcha! But isn’t that what the society
> needs, to make it hard
> enough so that only the very, very best excel? That
> is unfair on a personal
> level, certainly. However, we are talking about the
> communal level. You
> speak of luck. Well, some say we make our own luck,
> partly through who we
> know. (Yes, you hit a nerve. :))
> Now, let’s turn that around a bit and ask you this
> question: Can you name
> one quadriplegic (besides me) who has been even
> moderately successful?
> Reeves and Hawkins do not count, as they were
> established becoming disabled.
> Go ahead and name someone. I actually hope you can
> because I can’t name
> anyone.
> It no doubt interests you that I specified a subset
> of the overall disabled
> population, and I did so to bring up another point.
> What do we mean by the
> term "disabled?" The deaf and blind definitely are
> disabled. Yet, they are
> nominally able to learn to live relatively
> independent and rewarding lives.
> In my experience, they have the fewest number of
> problems in society, and
> gain the most acceptance. Naming successful examples
> is pretty easy.
> Depending on where the injury is specifically, I
> noticed in college that
> paraplegic spinal injury victims usually enjoyed
> much the same cache.
> (Indeed, their bulging arm muscles had a way of
> getting the coeds wet.) They
> drove their own fast cars, and had no need for
> caregivers. Quads, on the
> other hand, do need care, marking the dividing line
> for whether or not you
> are likely to find a job and acceptance. In other
> words, I’m telling you
> that disability is not a homogeneous population by
> any standard. There are
> no solid statistics–that I can find–on the
> demographic breakdown of the
> disability factors. That’s why I can’t get any
> venture capital. The first
> question VCs ask is, "how large is the market?" They
> don’t want
> approximations either!
> Yes, my remark about making your own luck would seem
> to say I haven’t done
> something I should’ve since Shell laid me off five
> years ago. I’m sure
> that’s true, although I’ll be damned if I know what
> it is! I’m trying my
> hardest, but I get closer to the ragged edge each
> day.
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Alecea Standlee []
> Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 11:42 AM
> To: Scott Royall
> Subject: RE: FW: Xpress-it
> Scott,
> Good point. And while poverty and SES can be
> intergenerational but its a mistake to assume that
> individuals have alot of control over it. Sure, I am
> an example of one of the rare people who have
> ‘pulled
> themselves up by the bootstraps’ but first of all my
> sucess is in part due to luck, right place/right
> time…and secondly for every person who is able to
> change their SES in a positve way are thousands who
> can’t. Not because of some failure on their part but
> because they exist within a social system that
> limits
> them. Thats because society, as it currently exists,
> needs the poor. They function as a potential source
> of
> cheap low wage labor thats necessary for the
> functioning of of cultural and economic systems.
> janitors, mcdonalds employee’s ect. Even criminals
> are
> necessary to help us draw the lines between the good
> guys (us) and the bad guys (them). If the poor are
> necessary in our economic system, what possible
> advantage would their be to make sucess possible?
> Once
> in a while, you have to let someone in, otherwise we
> can’t perpertuate the myth that sucess is possible
> for
> anyone who works hard enough. IT keeps the poor and
> working class in line. You have a good point about
> disability being something you are stuck with. But
> its
> a mistake to assume that poverty is a choice or a
> result of failure to work hard enough…
> I sometimes think that the whole notion of language,
> ‘political correctness’ if you will is more a way to
> distract people from real problems. It’s like if we
> all say "african-american" or "differently abled"
> its
> means we are not bigots anymore even if we still
> treat
> people differntly, refuse to live by or hire
> someone…Sure, language has power but its not a
> matter of fixing the world by just changing the way
> we
> speak. We have to change the way we think and act
> first!
> Aleccea
> — Scott Royall wrote:
> > You should bear in mind that disability is
> generally
> > not intergenerational.
> > Certain disabilities can be inherited, but they
> are
> > the exception.
> > Additionally, would-be carriers of those
> exceptions
> > usually choose not to
> > pass them along. As for SES, yes, that is normally
> > intergenerational in the
> > sense that you usually get to start off with the
> > cultural context of
> > your parents. Yet, SES is also something that the
> > individual can
> > unilaterally exert some control over. Disability,
> on
> > the other hand, is
> > something you are pretty much stuck with. You can
> > sometimes do things to
> > moderate it somewhat, but the basic disability
> > remains.
> >
> > The whole concept of "reclaiming" language seems
> to
> > me to be a case of
> > "perception is reality." Are people really that
> > naïve? Your perception is
> > only reality if everyone else agrees with you.
> Guess
> > what. They usually
> > don’t. Trying to redefine reality seems very
> > dangerous to me, because it is
> > the same sort of self-referential crap I spoke of
> > earlier. The real problem
> > is, you are eventually going to smack into other
> > perceptions, and those are
> > the ones you must deal with. No doubt the mother I
> > spoke of is, in part,
> > trying to protect her son’s self-esteem. But what
> > happens when he has to
> > deal with the outside world? I honestly don’t
> know.
> > The mother is a bit of a
> > Democratic activist so she may actually be able to
> > find him a shielded niche
> > somewhere in the future. Who knows, I sure don’t.
> >
> > —–Original Message—–
> > From: Alecea Standlee []
> > Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 2:35 PM
> > To: Scott Royall
> > Subject: RE: FW: Xpress-it
> >
> > Scott,
> > Thats a good point. I still think have something
> > interesting here. I
> > might play with it a bit more. I do need to
> address
> > the transitory
> > nation of SES, and discuss how it might be
> > fundimentally different than
> > disability. Another problem I see with my theory
> is
> > that the
=== message truncated ===

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