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!