When I was young, people around me always told me that I was creative. I liked to draw, and I did a pretty good job as long as I used a photo or other drawing as a guide. I never agreed that my drawings made me creative; everything that others saw as creativity was just technical skill. To me, creativity involves creating something new, something that has never existed before. The better you can do that, the more creative you really are. On the other hand, there are a lot of things that most people don’t consider to be creative that really are. Any time you have a problem, and you are able to figure out a solution, that’s creativity. When you make something up on the spot, whether it’s a fib, a recipe, a new word, or lyrics to a song you can’t quite remember, that’s creativity.

Creativity is something uniquely organic. A machine does not create, it only imitates, follows instructions, or takes advantage of the fact that we find patterns of symmetry mixed with a touch of random to be beautiful. Of course, a machine can be used to create, but it is not the one doing the creating any more than a No. 2 pencil creates poetry in the margins of school books. A machine cannot solve even the most simple of logical problems if it has not been made aware of the problem and its solution beforehand. A machine does not know how to lie.

Social Structure & Interaction

After defining these terms, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, provide an example of each from your personal or social life.

Geimenschaft describes the extended, personal relationships we have with those we come into contact with (what Cooley refered to as primary groups). The most basic and universal example is the family. The members of a Geimenshaft have a feeling of solidarity and tend to place the whole above their own desires and ambitions (knowing that the whole is looking out for them, and those sacrifices will be more than worth it).

Gemein is the German word for common in English and gemeinschaft, community.

A good example of geimenschaft from my personal life is my Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) group. We get together every Saturday and have a blast playing D&D, eat great food and drink copious amounts of alcohol. D&D is, by its nature, a community-building game. You have to work together in order to solve puzzles and conflicts. When the monsters have been killed, and the dragon's horde is divied up, there is a lot of discussion about who could best use each item rather than who has already recieved the most items. In all of the experiances that I have had, sharing food and drink is one of the quickest ways to develop a strong sense of community. It is not a coincidence that the word communion and community are so simillar (and, let me tell you, you can easily tell the difference between the congregations who share a real meal rather than those who ration out little slivers of tasteless flour and sips of wine/water/grape juice).

Gesellschaft describes an association of people who work together, but don't have any other bond keeping them together. A good example of this concept is the typical relationship between the owner of a business and their employees. Even if you are lucky, and the people you work with all get along, the owner (almost) always has the sucess of the business as the first priority, and if you are not contributing to this sucess, you are forced to leave. This is more pronounced the farther removed the owner (or manager) is from interaction with the workers.

Geselle is a word that means journeyman (a craftsman who has completed the first stage of training in a guild) and Gesellschaft then describes an association of journeymen.

An example of gesellschaft in my own life is my relationship to UCC. I have paid UCC money, and I expect to get a return on that investment. Maybe after I have taken classes here for longer, or if I was on the actual campus, or if I wasn't the one paying for my classes, I would have less of a feeling of disconnection with the school as a whole. The less we are connected with the people involved with an orginization, with society, the less likely it is that we can form little, micro-gemeinshaften: friendships, clubs, gangs, cliches ... in short, community.


just a funny note, when I used Google translate to read the dictionary entry on Gesellschaft it translated the syllablization as: ge - sell - ten - sheep

Social Structure & Interaction

For this activity, I'd like you to demonstrate your understanding of specific principles of social psychology and symbolic interaction by returning to the Lecture Notes/Powerpoint for this section, clicking (again) on the Jane Elliot video clip on the first page, and describing in a few sentences (each) how the clip illustrates the following concepts. Just Google "Jane Elliot, A Class Divided".

Social Status
In-Groups and Out-Groups
Social Institutions

Social Status denotes your position in the overall web of society as well in each particular social institution that you are a member of.

Jane Elliot took advantage of the naturally ascribed status of eye color and gave it additional meaning. The children most likely had statuses before this experiment started, but the eye color became a master status that overrode all other statuses that they might claim.

Roles are the way in which we fulfil our various statuses. Once we understand our roles, and accept them, then we have a guide as to how we should act.

In itself, the status of eye color has little meaning to grade-school children (as evidenced by the fact that social institutions do not normally grow up around this status), but once Elliot defined the roles of each status, the children responded accordingly and able to figure out how they were 'supposed' to act. I think this shows the importance of a society (especially for children) that properly socializes its members.

In-Groups and Out-Groups describe the relationship between a group that we belong to and other groups with differing norms, statuses, values, etc.

The feelings that each eye color group had towards the other was that of an out-group. The difference between how that manifested in their actions was how each group percieved the worth of their status. The privilleged group looked down on the other group - and ascribed them negative attributes. The un-privilleged group also looked down on themselves, accepting and acting out the negative attributes that were assigned to them.

Social Institutions are the basic way in which we orgianize ourselves into groups based around a common need, goal, interest, status or role.

Before the experiment, the children belonged to the unified institution of their classroom. Once the experiment went underway, they divided into two separate groups, but I think that they were all still in the same social institution, just a vastly different one than before.


What does Mead mean when he says that the self is both a subject and an object to itself?

Mead was making the point that a major aspect of being a self, a concious being, is being able to think of ourselves as others would see us. He posits that this is neccessary for the development of our society as well as for each individual. We all exist as a part of a whole, and by using others as a frame of reference (where we reference ourselves in light of others) we are able to form a view of ourself in context.

I like to talk to myself a lot. I use it, as Mead states, to reason things out, almost like a have an imaginary brain friend. If I can see my thoughts as others see them, then I am better able to form arguments that will make sense to others.

I have been thinking a lot about some people I know with Asberger's Syndrome. They seem to be missing part of the ability to see themselves as others see them. They talk without noticing that everyone else is annoyed or falling asleep.

I think Mead was also trying to say that our sense of self relies on being a part of a society, a "team", and that the I comes from being in the team ... so, you could also say that the I or the me IS the team :D

I really like thinking of examples where we are only the subject or only the object to ourselves ... like when I draw and am absorbed in the act of creation, of placing my own perspective down onto paper (although even that has overtones of communication), and then I realize that I've been at it for hours and didn't eat. Or, from the opposite end, I take care of mentally ill patients for work, and some of them are there, but not there ... some of them have little or no sense of self left. Others have lost the ability to communicate, but they are still very much a self, and those are the ones who will fight you when you violate their privacy. Violence is the last way that they have to communicate with the rest of us.

Gay Marriage is ...

If you examine the arguments used by the various groups against same-sex marriage, you may notice an interesting pattern. Let's examine a few arguments from those who wish to ban same-sex marriage in the United States.

1) Those who disagree with same-sex marriage may eventually be classed in the same category as racists.

2) If same-sex marriage became a norm, then marriage as we have known it may be gone forever!

3) Same-sex parents might not compensate for the lack of a father or mother in the family.

4) What is the point of marriage if no children can be produced?

5) Children ARE being taught in school that there is no moral taboo associated with same-sex marriage.

6) In the case of many religious adherents, there is the belief that same-sex relations are on par with adultery and having sex with your mother-in-law.

Now, I could have fun arguing against these points, but let's take a closer look at what type of arguments are being used. The first two arguments, unfortunately, expose two of the fears that the opponents of same-sex marriage feel. They are afraid that they will become the minority, and that they will lose something that they hold dear ("traditional" marriage .. which, ironically, has only been around a couple hundred years, and only recently had anything much to do with love and all that jazz). The second two arguments accuse same-sex couples of being insufficient parents. The last two arguments are based purely on a moral appeal to those who hold the belief that sex between two people of the same sex is a sin.

Two thirds of these arguments are based on fear. Fear is one very effective use of arguing through emotions. It can convince people to turn against an idea even if they themselves see nothing wrong with other people practicing it.

The remaining two arguments are logic based, but, in my opinion do not hold up to scrutiny.

The first is two-fold:

Same-sex couples might not provide a balance of gender exposure for their children
This balance is required for a healthy childhood
Same-sex couples might not properly raise a child

the second half of this argument:

Same-sex couples might not properly raise a child
those who are might not properly raise a child should not be allowed to marry
Same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry

I hope I do not have to point out all of the problems with these arguments!

The second argument can be broken down as follows:

Same sex couples cannot produce children
Marriage is primarily concerned with reproduction
Same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry

The second premise of this argument is not true, otherwise you could replace the first premise with those who are infertile through chance, age or choice. You can see where this would be problematic!

For fun, take a look at the types of arguments that proponents of same sex marriage are using and see how they compare.


A fun statistic for you all: When laws are created that say things like "marriage is the union between a man and a woman" this leaves those who are neither in a very sticky legal situation. Did you know that about 1.7% of children are born with an ambiguous sex? That means that in a town the size of Roseburg, there are approximately 400 citizens who do not fall into the traditional male/female categories. The way that laws are being recklessly written in the name of religious morals is very disturbing to me.

For more information on the 1.7% figure:


Racial Profiling

I've been trying to think if I have ever been the target for racial profiling. As a white person in a predominantly white town, it isn't something that I think about a lot. There are simply too many of us for a targeted reaction to even register. I wonder how often any of us are discriminated against on the basis of our race and we do not even notice. It is something that we generally do not even think about.

I remember the first time I ever consciously noticed a black person. I was in fourth grade, and she was a new student in another class. No one was really brave enough to talk to her, as we were so afraid of possibly offending her (since about the only thing we "knew" about racial relations was that black people were very touchy about how they were treated).

Group Identity

We all belong to groups, most of us belong to many, many groups. I know that I act certain ways and am treated certain ways because of the groups I am associated with. There are some groups that I did not choose, such as being a female, my family, the school classes that I belonged to as a child, my religion. These groups shape who you believe you are, as others treat you in certain ways depending on how they perceive these groups.

For example, my brother and I were very interested in learning how to make computer games when we were children. When my brother showed interest, he was encouraged, given books on the topic and he is now in college as a network administrator and having a blast. On the other hand, when I showed a similar interest, it was as if it did not even register on people's radar. Young girls were not expected to want to program, and people only see what they expect to see.


As a young person, I have most definitely been the target for ageism. We tend to think of this as a problem affecting the elderly in our communities, but just as we discriminate against those who fall over a certain age, we also discriminate against those who are younger.

Throughout my working life most of my jobs have involved working with those who are quite a bit older than me. I have a knack of sitting quietly and observing those around me in such a way that they forget I am there and will act naturally. I am always amused when they start bashing on the "young people these days" when I am sitting right there next to them. Many of the negative perceptions that are held about the younger generation by the elderly are false and stem from a misunderstanding of the culture that we have grown up in. I would get worried, but I know that the previous generations have all spent their later years bitching about the youth and how they we are going to ruin the world.


One way to best observe culture is to distance yourself from it. For this assignment, I'd like you to attempt to get something done in society BOTH WITH AND WITHOUT THE USE OF SYMBOLS (language or gestures).

For this assignment, you'll need a pet (yours or someone else's) and also, like the first activity, a friend, family member or co-worker.

First, see if you can convey a simple idea - "THIS IS TASTY" - to the pet. You can use gestures, objects, smells, etc. in your effort to convey this idea.
Next, use the following phrase to convey the idea that "THIS IS TASTY" to a person. Try to convey the idea at first WITHOUT the use of any gestures or symbols (just state it plainly without emotion or action). If this fails, try again using gestures or other forms of symbolic communication.
(note: this is actually a phonetically correct Ukrainian phrase for "this is tasty!")

Were you able to successfully convey this idea without the use of gestures or symbols?

Did it help to also use gestures or objects to do this? Explain what transpired.

Finally, looking back at the White article on the importance of symbols, discuss one specific idea given that this activity helped you to understand.

Through this excersize I was better able to understand the idea that a thought is better able to be remembered and used if it is represented as a symbol in our minds. My roommate's cat uses language, and by using HER gestures (not human ones) I am able to communicate in a limited way with her: hello, i like you, go away, let's play, would you like to cuddle? and so on .. these are things that a cat can understand, and that they have ways of communicating with each other, but trying to tell her that something is tasty was beyond her realm of experiance - she has no symbol in her mind for yummy food. It is easier to understand this when I tried the same experiment with a human, since we share a common culture. We have MANY symbols (in the forms of gestures, facial expressions and so forth) to denote that food is good, and on top of that, we are exceptionally good at interpreting new symbols if given enough context.

Animal Population Control

An analysis of Kristof's article [NYTimes, login required]

I felt that Kristof's essay about controlling deer populations through hunting was quite entertaining, and as a bonus, it informed me of a few facts I was not previously aware of.

Because of the humorous tone, as well as the lack of counter-research (showing exactly why other solutions do not work, rather than just making fun of them), I think it would be difficult for this essay to convince an avid animal rights advocate to take up hunting as a recreation, or even support extended hunting. Luckily, I do not think that these people were Kristof's intended audience. Rather, I believe he was aiming for the upper middle class, who is conscious of animal rights, but can see that hunting might be a necessity in certain circumstances.

I was personally astonished that deer would be a leading cause of death in any category, and was dubious when I read Kristof's assertion. It would have been a good idea to spend a little more time establishing a fact that seems so astonishing at first glance. Part of my suspicion was caused by his qualification of category: large, North American mammal. What constitutes "large"? It seemed to me that he was purposely limiting the scope of his question to disclude other obvious answers. But, after doing some research, I found that deer related automobile crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the united states. The runners up in ALL animal categories are Bees/wasps/hornets at 48 deaths per year and dogs at 20 deaths per year [cite]. It would have been a better argument to state that deer are the largest cause of ALL animal related deaths, even above venomous insects. This would have had more impact as well as reducing confusion about which animals Kristof was including.

I would be very interested to see how the number of collisions with deer correspond with the deer population in each area or state. Would reducing the number of deer significantly reduce the number of deer related fatalities? According to the CDC, there are about 20,000 non-fatal car crashes involving deer every year. [cite] I think this topic deserves a more serious look rather than just an off the cuff solution, even if it ends up being the easiest one to implement.

Another point, according to the IHEA, about 1,000 people are injured while hunting per year, and almost 100 of these injuries prove fatal. [cite] If the number of hunters rose, it follows that the number of hunting related injuries would also rise.