Monday, December 10, 2012

Sacred & Profane Analysis

Well, I've started to tear into the data on my Sacred & Profane research and have discovered that I need to collapse some of the variables.

For example: Age.

I should have left this field open rather than creating artificial categories (18-20) for each respondent. That way if there were any noted patterns I could create them after they had responded as opposed to creating the category before hand.

It's not a real problem as I was mostly looking for any difference in the 'Traditional' versus 'Non-Traditional' age of the respondents. So, in collaboration with a colleague I've collapsed the ages into those two categories based on 18-20 and 21-22 (for Traditional) and 23+ (for Non-Traditional)

Age Ranges:

Traditional (52)
18-20: 24
21-22: 28

Non-Traditional (35)
23-24: 9
25-26: 10
27-28: 1
29-30: 2
31-32: 1
33-34: 4
41-45: 3
46-50: 5

I still want to discover if there are some basic correlations between my respondent's demographics and the elements that they were asked to define as either sacred or profane.

I'm also curious if Religious Observance (or attendance) has any impact on how often a subject reported a given element was either sacred or profane. I'm not sure if the respondent's religious affiliation (denomination, etc.) would have any impact.  Though a respondent may identify themselves as 'Christian'...I think they would be more 'spiritual' (and thus define more things as sacred) if they attend religious services more often.

I'll have to wait and see.


Statement of Purpose

Here's the link for my 'Statement of Purpose' for my application to the OSU Graduate program for my Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology.

Click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sacred & Profane Survey

So with the Sacred & Profane survey deadline quickly approaching (11/30/12), I did a quick scan of the demographics of the two versions to see if any patterns were immediately apparent.

Survey 2: (Original Sacred-Profane Paradigm) 87 Respondents.

Sex Ranges:

61 Females
26 Males

Age Ranges:

18-20: 24
21-22: 28
23-24: 9
25-26: 10
27-28: 1
29-30: 2
31-32: 1
33-34: 4
41-45: 3
46-50: 5

Education Ranges:

High School Diploma: 51
GED or Equivalent:11
Associates Degree / Trade Cert.:18
Bachelors Degree:6
Masters Degree:1

Military Ranges:

Civilian: 80
Reservist: 1
Veteran: 6

Religious Affiliation Ranges:

Atheist: 1
Agnostic: 1
Baptist: 28
Buddhist: 1
Catholic: 8
Christian (Non-Denom): 14
Exploring: 3
Jewish: 1
Lutheran: 1
Methodist: 10
Muslim: 2
None: 5
Pagan: 5
Pentacostal: 3
Presbyterian: 1
Protestant: 1
Seventh Day Adventist: 1
Spiritualist: 1

Religious Attendance Ranges:

Never Attend: 15
Occasionally Attend (Monthly): 11
Rarely Attend (Special Holidays): 27
Sometimes Attend (Bi-Monthly): 12
Routinely Attend (Weekly): 12
Constantly Attend (Multiple X per week): 10

Marital Status Ranges:

Single: 69
Separated: 1
Divorced: 3
Widowed: 3

Element Ranges:



National Flag
State Flag
National Anthem
Devil Worship
Drug Use
Religious Texts
Holy Water
Church / Temple

Possible Points of Analysis:

1. Male / Female Elemental Distribution
2. Age Based Elemental Distribution
3. Military Service Elemental Distribution
4. Religious Affiliation Elemental Distribution
5. Religious Attendance Elemental Distribution.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Syllabus: Intro to Sociology

Click here for the doc.

Syllabus: Sociology of Culture

This is the syllabus for my Sociology of Culture course.

Click here for the doc.

Syllabus: Gender Socialization

Here's the Syllabus for my Gender Socialization course.

Click here for the doc.

Video List: Appalachia

American Hollow
These are a series of videos (10 parts) that was originally put out by HBO about a rural family in Kentucky. It is a great introduction to the course. Please try and watch the videos prior to the start of class if possible.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Children of the Mountains
Another series of videos that we'll be using as examples and discussion-topics in class.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Appalachian Language
Here is a video on regional linguistic variations commonly found within Appalachia.
Click here.

Red Bird
A video series about the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Syllabus: Appalachian Sociology

Click here for the doc.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bell, Catherine - Author

While working on the rewrite of my thesis, I started to look at Ritual more seriously as an element of social / symbolic interaction and wanted to get a better handle on what others in the field have contributed.

So I did what every academic has done from time to time - hit and see who's published what in the field of late. Academic journal articles are usually too spot-on and specific for what I was wanting. I needed a broad overview of ritual within social interactions from a socio/cultural perspective.

And guess what I found?

A new favorite author.

Catherine Bell, who died in 2008, was one of the leading authors on ritual within society and published three books on the field before her death. I snatched up copies of the first two and started to tear into them as soon as they arrived in the mail.

The first one that I started to read was actually her second book; Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions.

From's site:

From handshakes and toasts to chant and genuflection, ritual pervades our social interactions and religious practices. Still, few of us could identify all of our daily and festal ritual behaviors, much less explain them to an outsider. Similarly, because of the variety of activities that qualify as ritual and their many contradictory yet, in many ways, equally legitimate interpretations, ritual seems to elude any systematic historical and comparative scrutiny. In this book, Catherine Bell offers a practical introduction to ritual practice and its study; she surveys the most influential theories of religion and ritual, the major categories of ritual activity, and the key debates that have shaped our understanding of ritualism. Bell refuses to nail down ritual with any one definition or understanding. Instead, her purpose is to reveal how definitions emerge and evolve and to help us become more familiar with the interplay of tradition, exigency, and self-expression that goes into constructing this complex social medium. So, in keeping with my new system, I am publishing a link to all of the quotes that I found 'usable' within the text on my google docs site, here.

Most of the book's beginning was, essentially, a lit-review of all of the great authors who have published in the field of Ritual Studies. This must be the 'perspective' part of the title.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thesis References

Berger, Peter L. and Thomas Luckman (1967) The Social Construction of Reality Anchor Books

Blumer, Herbert (1969) Symbolic Interaction: Perspectives and Methods Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall

Charon, Joel M (1995) Symbolic Interactionism: An introduction, an Interpretation, Integration 5th Ed., Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall

Deegan, Mary Jo (1989) American Ritual Dreams: Social Rules and Cultural Meanings New York: Greenwood Press

DeFleur, Melvin L. and Frank R. Westie (1958) "Verbal Attitudes and overt acts: An experiment on the salience of attitudes." American Sociological Review, 23: December, 1958 pp 1-4

Durkheim, Emile (1995) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life Karen E. Fields trans. New York: The Free Press

Erikson, Kai T (1966) Wayward Puritans: A Studey in the Sociology of Deviance New York: John Wiley and Sons

Gennep, Arnold Van (1960) Rites of Passage Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Goffman, Irving (1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Hewitt, John P. (1994) Self and Society: A Symbolic Interactionist Social Psychology 6th Ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon

Lauer, Robert H. and Warren H. Handel (1977) The Theory and Application of Symbolic Interaction Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company

Leemon, Thomas (1972) The Rites of Passage in a Student Culture New York: Teachers College Press

Lindesmith, Alfred R., Anselem L. Strauss, & Norman K Denzin (1973) Social Psychology 5th Ed. Holt, Reinhart and Wilson Publishers

Mehan, Hugh & Houston Wood (1975) The Reality of Ethnomethodology New York: John Wiley & Sons

Moos, Rudolph H. (1979) Evaluating Educational Environments Jossey-Bass

Morgan, Gareth (1997) Images of Organization, 2nd Ed. California: Sage Publications

Meyer, John W&W. Richard Scott (1983) Organizational Environments: Ritual and Rationality California: Sage Publishers

Ritzer, George (1996) sociology Theory 4th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill

Rubenstein, James M (1996) The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography 5th Ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

Scott, W. Richard (1992) Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems 3rd Ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

Shibutani Tamotsu (1961) Society and Personality: An interactionist Approach to Social Psychology New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

Silver, Ira (1996) "Role Transitions, Objects and Identity" Symbolic Interaction 19(1): 1-20

Stryker, Sheldon (1980) Symbolic Interactionism California: Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc.

Turner, Victor (1964) The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual Ithica: Cornell University Press.

Topic: Social Construction of Reality

This is a post where I will be posting links to google-docs concerning any reference to the topic of "The Social Construction of Reality".

Berger & Luckman "The Social Construction of Reality" 1967

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Field Research

Click here for a document about how I was taught to document field research.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sacred and Profane

Well, the survey for the Sacred and Profane research project has been completed.

Currently the survey is set up for students at Shawnee State University students but I could always adjust it to incorporate additional groups (at other universities, etc.)

Click here for the survey

The Index Card Method

Students are continually giving me the 'I hate you' look when I assign them a research paper for class. I realized that it wasn't because of the additional work but rather it was the nature of the work. I was asking them to do something that they had never adequately been taught how to do.

So I decided to write up the method that I learned in my undergrad years at Ohio University.

The Index Card Method.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sacred and Profane Research: Update.

It's official, I've passed the IRB review and will be generating the survey in the near future. :)


The SSU Institutional Review Board has approved your application entitled "Re-examining religion."  You may begin data collection immediately."

Regional Identity

For my upcoming class on the Sociology of Appalachia, I'm going to be discussing the theory of Regional Identity. I've only brushed on the topic when I was in Grad School so I wanted to go back and see if anything more recent has been published on the topic.

Primarily I'm finding a lot of the writings coming from Geography of all places.

One of the authors that keeps popping up is that of Anssi Paasi, PhD from the University of Oulu in Finland.

Two of his articles stick out in the field of Human Geography:

"The institutionalization of regions: a theoretical framework for the understanding of the emergence of regions and the constitution of regional identity," Passi, 1986

"Region and place: regional identity in question," Passi, 2003

But what is Regional Identity?

A very basic definition could be: "Regional identity is the idea that part of a person's social identity is rooted not only in their beliefs, values, norms, etc., but also in the region where they live." -Me.

The human brain is essentially a 'pattern-maker' in that it likes to fit things (people, social events, etc.) into patterns to make sense of them. Human society is no different in its fondness for labeling people to fit them into socially constructed categories. One look no further than the various conflicts of within American history to note how labels (especially regional labels) can radically alter a person's social identity. Are you a Hatfield or a McCoy? Are you from the North or the South? Are you Midwest, East Coast or West Coast?

Aside from Gender, I wonder if Region is in the top-three elements that help shape a person's identity. It influences what dialect you may speak with (A southern twang, a Texan draw or even a northern clip) as you are raised within a particular region or what foods you are accustomed to eating (southern soul food versus northern cooking).

I will have to look into this further but there's definitely something here to work with.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sacred and Profane Research

This past spring I started to pull together some ideas about Emile Durkheim's concept of the Sacred and the Profane. With some help from one of my colleagues, who happens to be the Chair for Shawnee State's Institutional Review Board (IRB), I was able to submit a proposal to do some research this coming fall.

The basic idea I have is that I want to explore Durkheim's dichotomous relation between things that are mundane and things that are somehow other within religion. It is my assertion that society doesn't use such black and white concepts and that things have various shades of being not mundane that range from Sacred to Taboo.
To explore this relation and this new 'Sacred-Profane' relation, I've created a survey that I'll administer to my students in the fall. I'm curious if men will define the same things differently from women (with regard as to where the items are on the scale) or if age has any impact.

I will be creating the on-line survey this summer to, hopefully, shake loose any problems.

I've attached copies of my project narrative and data points below.


Project Narrative

Data Points

New Blog

So I've gone ahead and done it. I'm making a professional blog to track whatever academic achievements, goals, projects and the like I'm working on or have (temporarily) finished.

My name is Thomas Riley and I'm currently teaching in the Social Sciences Department at Shawnee State University at Portsmouth, Ohio. I started teaching at SSU back in 2006 as an adjunct instructor who was covering some spare Sociology and Psychology courses. Over the years I've been able to dabble in Criminology, as well as Gender Studies with a good portion of 'Intro' and what I'm calling 'Advanced Intro' courses.

Just recently, I completed teaching seven, yes SEVEN, courses this past semester; six sections of Introduction to Sociology and one section of Social Institutions (an advanced intro course). 

This summer I will be teaching Gender Socialization and Appalachian Sociology which are both Junior-Level courses. WOOT!