Research Progress Reflection

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Social Reproduction & Power

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In my multicultural education class, I learned an interesting concept that I felt related to the creation of power structures and race. The concept was the social reproduction theory or the theory that social inequality is transmitted to the next generation through certain structures or activities. A famous example of such would be the phrase “working class kids get working class jobs” or “the poor get poorer and the rich get richer”. The term social reproduction has been used interchangeably with income and social inequality, but it also relates to power, hierarchy, and race. In my opinion, social reproduction enforces 2 factors of society and empire: racial hierarchy and power structures. I believe social reproduction is capable of this through its implementation within structures and activities such as the environment within the education system, fashioning through media, and laws in the U.S.

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Society and Culture as Tools of Empire

 

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When I was in high school, I had to take a benchmark test on a social issue such as the problem with ideal body images propagated by the content on TV, the popular toys on the market, and descriptions of the ideal partner in stories. I grew up thinking a girl is pretty if she had long hair, if she was slender, if she had long legs, and more. The perfect ideal of a guy would lie in his muscles and whether he looked like a ‘prince charming’. I realized society has a ranking system for one’s body. If you’re slightly shorter than the average height, if your eyes are not as big as a doll’s, if your facial features are not symmetrical and unblemished, expect to be scorned because you’re not  Barbie and Ken. Society gives you value and worth. It could very well dictate your life if you succumb to the expectations. What does that mean for people who don’t fit in or who refuse to conform? Can we escape society’s expectations without repercussions? What makes the norm? How does empire use society’s norms as a tool?

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The Power of Language vs. Empire

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“Language is a partner of empire…but that same language can be used against empire…”- Professor Jane Lewis from University of California- Irvine.

Power dynamics between powerful groups can be seen throughout history, but the tools they used to maintain their power includes more than physical weapons. Language is a powerful tool humans have invented to empower themselves and to communicate with each other. However, language not only operates as a tool for communication but also as a means to support hierarchy within a group of people. In history, we often hear the great exploits of an empire and the quantitative symbols that represent casualties, but history told in this way insufficiently accounts for the experience of the people who were directly influenced by the actions of empire.

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Communications Technology as an Empire

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I was born in 1999, the year before the change of the century. As a part of the millennial generation, I was able to experience the changes in society made through the empire of technology. This included the growing interest teenagers had towards social media, games, and their smartphones. As an individual living through this time period, I wasn’t very aware of the changes made by technology and how it affected the world even though I personally experienced it. It wasn’t as obvious since I thought it was a given that technology was always there for us to use. However, the fact that we could communicate with people living on the other side of the world and see them through Skype in minutes was something phenomenal to those older than me. This means of living a connected and faster-paced life is both good and bad like empires. A virtual empire of communications technology has dominated the 21st century.

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The Facets of Power

“Money makes the world go round”. This wise yet cynical phrase indicates that money is the medium of one of the basic needs we can’t live without. Indeed, money can get you food, water, clothes, and a house, but behind this currency is another important factor- power. In this day and age, many associate power to the government body since they are at the top of the hierarchy in our country. Power can also be seen in our daily lives like in the classroom as teachers or at home as the head of the household, yet what drives the power dynamic? What makes people follow the orders of one person or group and how are they affected by this? Is there more than one way to use power? What is power? Is it the power to ensure the obedience of others or is it the agency of others to do whatever they want? Why is power so desirable?

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The Holidays in Terms of Our Culture

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Christmas is just around the corner and families are busy buying presents and decking their halls. Snowmen and Santa Claus blow-ups are a familiar sight on the lawns of many houses, and a neverending surplus of Christmas classics are played on the radios right after Thanksgiving to the joy and annoyance of many. It’s a holiday in which families gather around to unwrap presents, connect, and enjoy themselves. However, why is Christmas a holiday?

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History, Love, and Sacrifice: The Bigger Picture of Our Culture

Great power, great responsibility

At some point in life, everyone experiences an event that makes one start to question how the past influenced our modern culture. Why is history so important? A few days ago, my professor for my Humanities Core lecture showed us the ending of the movie The Amazing Spider-Man. Thing is, I watched that movie as a kid…when I was 12 years old, so I didn’t really remember the ending. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, there’s a spoiler ahead. Read more

The Empires Around Us; the Ruins that Follow

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Picture of a ‘civilized man’ on the path of destroying nature

If you asked me what came to mind when I hear the word “empire” a year ago, the first thought that would’ve popped up in my head would be the famous Roman Empire. When I asked my roommates what they thought, they answered similarly. It seems like everyone has a vague idea of what an empire is, but in my opinion, an empire is an Read more