The study of security within sociology is bifurcated, with a small but robust tradition studying political security alongside other disciplines, while the disciplinary core has focused on social, economic, or interpersonal insecurity. This chapter compares these two sociological conceptualizations of (in)security, including their main concepts, questions, theories and research methods. We then evaluate this work for its promise to provide insights about political security. We suggest that scholars should distinguish between political security as an explicit object of discourse and practice, and security as a broader category of cultural understandings of safety and disorder. We conclude that one of sociology’s unique contributions are the tools to study the relationships among these different kinds of (in)security, connections that are lost when research focuses solely on external threats to the nation at the expense of internal, domestic processes.
Mattson, Greggor. 2015. Book Review: Straights: Heterosexuality in Post-Closeted Culture. Teaching Sociology October vol. 43 no. 4 311-313
Straights: Heterosexuality in Post-closeted Culture, James Joseph Dean’s masterwork on heterosexual identity, fills essential gaps for the academic literature and the classroom. By providing a critical discussion of theories of gender and sexuality with engaging data in an accessible writing style, he brings sexuality studies into the mainstream with this investigation of the impact of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) movement on heterosexual identities.
The view that America is fragmenting is popular among both pundits and academics and may well be endemic to American culture. We review claims that between 1970 and 2005 American society fragmented along lines of cultural politics, social class, immigration, race, or lifestyle. Taking the twentieth century as historical context, we weigh evidence for both main variants of the fragmentation thesis—that there is an increasing divide between two Americas, or that America is fragmenting into a variety of “little worlds that touch but do not interpenetrate.” We find a well-documented, widening gap in social class, whether measured by education or income. We also find that political elites and activists are demonstrably more polarized in 2005 than they were in 1970; this gap’s effect on the electorate is debatable, however. Caveats aside, there is little evidence for increasing fragmentation of America along lines of race, ethnicity, or immigration status. American cultural tastes increasingly cluster into distinct lifeways, but there is little evidence about what effects, if any, this development has. The loudest claims of fragmentation, those concerning value issues, are based on the most contested evidence, but the widening gap between Americans by income and education—which receives less popular attention—is substantial and serious.