May 12, 2010
Even though people still import hard liquor such as R & R into the village, she believes the impact would be devastating if it was legalized. With the ban of alcohol on the village it creates black markets. My interviewee described this market as being one controlled by the middle aged bachelor men, who often provided to the younger females. This can create conflict with the elders in the village, because they do not want the middle aged men distributing alcohol to the young girls in the village. It also often results in rape and abuse to these young women who usually do not report the events. They are taught at a young age to ‘just go with it’ because they do not have a voice within the village. Also getting a trooper into the village takes days and often does not resolve the issue that occurred.
Looking at the stories she shared with me I noticed a trend of conflict theory on many different levels. These groups in the village are in continual conflict, although it is hidden. The girls who “just go with it” and get raped are often stuck in the village raising their child. The male powers over the females within the village created dominate groups that organize this black market to help keep their control. Their power over the young females oppresses them into not reporting problems, and continues the male dominance. Even though this seems harsh, I believe it is in result to the other layer of conflict theory I saw in her stories.
The Western ideologies that were enforced by organizations such as ANCSA have created this multilayered society that lives in the village. Congress insisted on economic development and growth of their land to improve social and economic conditions. ANCSA was written in Western-adopted ways, and has a business nature view land as collateral. This new ideology on the land and life trickled down to the people of the village. The impact of the Western views changed these villages. Patriarchy was present in the past, although now it has a black market to live in.
My question is would legalizing cause more harm than good on the village? Many sociologist believe the legalization of drugs in America would be beneficial because they would be able to monitor the drugs better, and slowly get rid of the black markets. However rural life is different than city life, so I can not help but want to listen to the girl who came from the village.
May 11, 2010
Using the Critical Power Conflict Theory, it seems like the intoxicated people are powerless because they are not able to control their addiction (especially if they are coming in from a village), so then who is in power? I would think that sober individuals are in control, only because they are functional members of society and are not getting arrested for public intoxication, DUI's, etc. Our society (Fairbanks) is in constant conflict with the drunks and are trying to oppress them, especially in the summer!
I think Fairbanks will always have some type of problem, if we took all the alcohol away, then we would have problems with drugs, if we took drugs away, we would have problems with guns, etc. So with this being said, I think we are always going to have group conflict with the "lesser" group because we don't agree with what they are doing.
I guess there are two different sides to this story in that environmentalists want what is best for our environment and our animals that inhabit our beautiful Alaska land, and some Alaskans, the US, and the oil companies want oil and money. The social paradigm being used in this article is Critical Power Conflict Theory because the groups in our society are in continual conflict and it seems as if the oil companies have more power than the environmentalists. The oil companies are trying to gain control over the scarce resource, oil, and oppress the environmentalists. The oil companies are trying to explain themselves and justify why they should disrupt our land to get this oil... I'm pretty sure if we were to ask one of the oil companies (BP) they would say that the chance of having an oil spill is so slight, blah, blah, blah. But when it comes to reality, the possibility is very high and it just happened a few weeks ago in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rhonda McBride’s KTUU Channel 2 News article describes how youth in Bethel often start drinking at ages that might be rather unprecedented. The article explains the situation from Bethel emergency room director Matt Greenberg’s personal experiences. Alcohol has historically been a rampant social problem in Alaska. The irresponsible use of alcohol often can be linked to bigger problems underlying a community with high alcohol related problems. Social forces often can be an indicator and can lead to potential solutions.
Using the sociological conflict perspective I analyze the issues of culture clash between capitalist ‘greater America’ culture and that of traditional Native Alaskan culture. Values are in conflict and have grown incompatible between the two cultural perspectives. I believe this puts pressure on Native Alaskan’s and the political process that implement policy and regulation in the region. This cultural squeezing can create a malaise in a community and in that of the individual.
May 10, 2010
In St Marys, Alaska, an intoxicated teenager (age 18) broke into a home and tried to sexually assault a 55 year old female resident.
Reported in the same article was a fatal fire in St. Marys. Officials do not believe the two events to be related.
Approximately 5 months ago, a mother accidentally ran over her child while she was trying to pay attention to some approaching snowmachiners. Alcohol was not seen to be a factor.
These stories represent a small fraction of the incidents that occur all over Alaska. With and without alcohol, people make bad mistakes.
I don't think that these things can't happen elsewhere, because they do. I do feel that they are more significant within a smaller village where everyone knows everyone. This is part of the interactionist theory, where everyone has their own particular part to play. When someone "forgets a line" or decides to do something that is not within their part, things break down and don't really work out so well.
May 9, 2010
May 7, 2010
Many rural areas rely on the barging of fuel as well as heating oil in coastal and riverine Alaska. Many fuel supply problems can be exacerbated where shipment may be prolonged due to natural conditions, such as ice and variances in water levels from year to year and season to season. This is something lager cities don't have to contend with. In these cases other methods must be undertaken and often enough the cheapest method is the normative method, i.e., shipping by barge. Other options entail an increase in cost, normally by air. Often these areas are located off of the road system and heavily depend on one shipper. Issues outside of nature may arise such as unpredicted increases of fuel use necessitate predictive expertise. In these conditions more planning is involved for these contingencies.
When a contingency in fuel prices develops there con be an increase in the general conflict within a community between the gatekeepers of the scarce product: the decision makers and suppliers of the fuel, and between that of the people effected by the decisions and actions of those gatekeepers. Feelings of conspiracy may develop, feelings of exploitation may create a tension that last long after fuel prices are restored. However unfounded, some anger may be harbored in a small town where you rely on your neighbors for support. Businesses such as the one gas station in town, might be looked at as responsible in some ways when they are not gatekeepers. Trips planned to driving in our out of McGrath may be halted until gas prices go back down. The Town mayor Kas Healy stated: "For people who basically are living at subsistence levels, I think it's criminal that this is not regulated". Healy may be stating that this is a prevalent enough problem to where it is deemed necessary to put a state regulated price ceiling on the selling of fuel in similar situations. While the cost for flying fuel in to McGrath is more than transporting it by barge, the residents still feel that the prices do not justifiably reflect the porportional increase in fuel prices at the McGrath pump.
May 4, 2010
May 3, 2010
Women in abusive situations in rural communities are also more often than not living to an expectation of her gender role. Many women in these situations are taught they are supposed to be supportive of their partners and to be soft-spoken and feminine. Also, typically, women who are very adherent to their gender roles do not work for pay, they are typically farmhands to their husbands, which makes getting the financial security to run very difficult. On the other end of the spectrum, however, a woman who owns her own business faces a difficult decision to leave, particularly if her business (a general store, for instance) provides her community with a service they need.
Being in an abusive situation is never easy for the individual being abused, but several conditions in rural areas make the abuse even more difficult to escape from and to cope with.
You can read more about the issue of rural domestic abuse here: http://www.ruralwomyn.net/domvio.html
May 1, 2010
The President supports rural development programs including microentrepreneur assistance, rural cooperative development grants, value-added producer grants, grants to minority producers, and cooperative research agreements." (http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/rural)
In retrospect, had we chosen to implement grants, rather than just loans, 20, 30 or 40 years ago, perhaps we would have more legal workers today that are paid livable wages. So often farm hands are cheap help, but the farmers still sell their food at a higher cost.
Apr 22, 2010
Apr 9, 2010
April 14 Wolf control in Alaska
read: Anahita and Mix (2006) “Retrofitting Frontier Masculinity for Alaska’s War Against Wolves." I sent each of you a copy of this article by email.
April 16 Pebble Mine
April 19 Intentional communities in the rural
Mar 29, 2010
While one might expect crime like this to come out of a large city like Detroit, the scene where this group was located is described as being "rural, wooded property". Even more interesting to me is that though the article describes this property as being rural, it states that there were neighbors close by (who were not part of the militia), and that even though the individuals who are facing charges were aware that there were people around them who could observe their behavior, they made no effort to disguise that they were part of a militia group. A neighbor stated that most every one knew that they were involved with what they were, and the individuals even ran a website whose mission statement proclaims that they are willing to fight in the name of Jesus. It's interesting t me, that while they weren't too far away from a city, if there were people who were openly declaring to be militia that neighbors would neglect alert the authorities sooner than they had. The social implications here all point towards the militia group as being dominant in the area they were in, perhaps scaring their neighbors into submission, but it's still intriguing to me that no one would have placed a phone call or reported the activity when they went to the city to buy supplies.
Even more interesting, perhaps, is the fact that two grown children were involved in this group, one of whom is still avoiding arrest. One has to wonder why these grown individuals, children of the two who run the group, would continue to believe in the group, particularly in the presence of neighbors who could have provided some external opinions. They were probably socialized into these beliefs, but one has to wonder how? The obvious paradigm would be conflict theory; that the parents and friends of the parents in this situation set up a social system to bear over the children and ensure that their social beliefs mirrored that of their own, but symbolic interactionism is also worth looking into. Do you suppose it's possible that while to the vast majority the performance of these individuals would be considered "botched" in the situation they were living in had they opted to act in any other way they would have been considered to have given bad performances and would the lose standing with he group and so were forced in a way to carry these values into adult hood? I'm also interested in the one son who ran away; on the surface it certainly seems like he's just avoiding getting into trouble (which is almost undoubtedly a motive), but is it possible that he's finally found a way to escape the oppressive environment, or have a chance to give a performance he believes is good?
The whole article can be found here: www.ohio.com/news/break_news/89393957.html
Mar 11, 2010
The presence of these blogs demonstrates that there is a substantial niche for those interested in the issues of rurality. Not only does this niche exist, but the Internet has provided a place where individuals and groups from all over the country, and even the world, can gather to expose these issues to a large audience. Blogs in particular ensure that rural issues are not relegated only to those concerned individuals living in rural areas or those studying sociology at academic institutions because of their generally accessible writing style and personal feel.
Granted, unless one is specifically looking for these blogs, the chances of stumbling upon them are somewhat limited. However, it is more likely that someone will find out about rural issues by bumbling around the Internet than he or she would by perusing scholarly literature, simply because most individuals do not casually browse scholarly articles.
Increased exposure to rurality issues could lead to increased concern and ultimately increased focus on solving these issues. In terms of the Symbolic Interactionism paradigm, rural issues have moved from small, local theatres to the big stage of blogging on the Internet. The authors of these blogs play a particular role when creating new entries, trying to convey a specific rural issue in a way that will engage their audience. Their primary audience is their avid readers, those dedicated to rural issues. But then they also reach that secondary audience, those that stumble upon the blogs by chance. It is that growth in numbers of concerned individuals that can make a difference in problems facing rural areas.
Various blogs about rurality:
Sustain Rural Alaska, http://sustainruralalaska.blogspot.com/
Anchorage Daily News, The Village (A Rural Blog), http://community.adn.com/adn/blog/104297
Blog for Rural America, http://www.cfra.org/blog
Rural Matters, http://blog.ruraledu.org/
The Rural Blog, http://irjci.blogspot.com/
Rurality Bytes, http://ruralitybytes.wordpress.com/
Legal Ruralism, http://legalruralism.blogspot.com/
The Rural Populist, http://ruralpopulist.org/
Mar 7, 2010
There are two different sociological paradigms to examine the dire situation in rural Chile. While it would be easy to discuss from the control-conflict perspective the struggle between urban and rural communities over sparse resources, the more interesting approach would be to use the structural functionalist paradigm to examine how these communities are making life work.
As mentioned, in these rural areas, the residents are pulling together to help each other. They are clearing the rubble from the streets together, building shelters together, and catching food to share with their neighbors. While they are essentially abandoned by the government, they are still functioning by working together. With everyone playing their part as a cog making the machine operate, they can continue to live and function.
Read the New York Times article about Tubul at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/world/americas/03scene.html?hpw.
Feb 28, 2010
Here is a news article that briefly describes the latest conflict: http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/6490848/article-Board-of-Game-ponders-wolf-trapping-in-Denali-buffer-zone?instance=home_news_window_left_top_1
The issue is whether to expand or eliminate a buffer zone around Denali Park that will protect the park's wolves when they wander outside the park's boundaries.
Regardless of your own personal opinion, consider the issue sociologically. How would a structural functionalist analyze the proposed elimination of the buffer zone? What kind of symbolic communication would a symbolic interaction notice? What would a conflict theorist say about the opposing groups and the ideologies that have been invented?
Thanks to http://www.alaskawolves.org/ for the photo of two Denali wolves.
Feb 21, 2010
Noorvik is an Inupiaq village located in northwest Alaska. In a sociologically fascinating twist of events, the community recently decided to reject some of the Christian ideologies forced upon the people by missionaries. About a hundred years ago, when missionaries descended upon Alaska communities, Native people were forced to abandon much of their culture, including dancing and other traditional spiritual practices. The missionaries, in cahoots with the US government, sought to erase traditional Inupiaq culture and to impose Western ideas and culture. To justify their erasure of Native culture and to ensure compliance with official US policies of assimilation of Native people, missionaries invented ideologies. The invented ideologies centered around ideas that Native dancing was evil, that traditional healers and religious leaders were allied with Satan, and that Native people were doomed to hell if they persisted in their traditional way of life.
If the analysis of cultural changes that occured in Noorvik sounds like what a critical power conflict theorist would say, you are right! Recall that CPC theorists analyze social life as a series of conflicts, with inequalities justified and legitimated by dominant groups. One of the main strategies dominant oppressor groups use is to invent ideologies. The invented ideologies forced upon Noorvik and other Alaska Native groups are an excellent example of how the process works. The invented ideologies became so ingrained in members of the community that the people participated in their own oppression by reproducing the ideologies and passing them down through the generations through religious teaching. CPC theorists would consider also the role played by agents of socialization, including schools, religion, families, and the state, in the reproduction of Western ideas and the suppression of indigenous ideas and practices.
Earlier this year, when Noorvik discovered that their community would be the first to participate in the 2010 US Census, they decided to pass a new law that lifted the century-long ban on traditional dancing. I find it extremely interesting that Noorvik used the Census--an iconographic illustration of forced assimilation--as a moment to reclaim their traditions and to reject the very assimilationism that had been forced upon them by missionaries.
You can read a newspaper article about Noorvik's rejection of assimilationist ideologies and the hard work the community is taking on to recreate its culture here: http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/6423712/article-Native-dancing-ban-lifted-in-Alaska-village?instance=home_lead_story
You can read the profile of Noorvik here: http://www.idcide.com/citydata/ak/noorvik.htm Some interesting data to notice: the gender distribution; racial/ethnic distribution; and median age compared to the state's median age.
Feb 5, 2010
Feb 3, 2010
I urge you to click on their intergrated community plan and spend a half hour reading. They frankly lay out their community's problems, analyze what needs to happen, state their plans for the future, and describe how they are going to achieve their objectives.
Make sure you also click on Caribou Coordination. If you had any doubts as to the importance of the Porcupine Caribou Herd to the culture of Old Crow and the Vuntut Gwitchin people, your doubts will disappear.
Only after you thoroughly read the community website can you imagine the fate of Old Crow. The picture that emerges for me is a community fiercely determined to maintain its heritage and the centrality of caribou and traditional ways. What picture emerges for you?
Jan 27, 2010
In class today we discuss the demographic changes that have occurred in rural areas over the last few decades, and we made predictions for Alaska's future. The majority of the class predicted growth overall in Alaska's population, depending, of course, on certain factors such as military bases and the global economy. A few people thought Alaska would lose population, and two folks were firmly on the "it depends" fence.
Folks seemed clearer when talking about rural Alaska. It is true that rural Alaska communities are under additional stressors: higher fuel prices, declining ability to hunt locally, youth out-migration, persistent lack of modern services, stress on traditional culture, etc.
I thought you might find this CNN article from last year interesting. The article describes a "perfect storm" of circumstances--poor salmon runs, unexpected weather patterns, high fuel prices--that combined to give a grime picture of rural Alaska life in winter 2009.
The portrait it paints of rural Alaska is heartbreaking. Nowhere in the article can I find the nostalgia for the old ways, or any glimmer of hope that things will be different in the future. How would sociologists analyze the portrait of rural Alaska as described in this article? Is a subsistence way of life possible anymore? Can rural Alaskans integrate modern technologies--such as snowmachines and oil heat--into their lives and yet keep some of the traditional technologies--such as hunting and gathering food? Is the picture really as bleak as the article describes? Or is it even worse? Does the state of Alaska have ultimate responsibility for ALL of its citizens, or only its urban citizens?
Photo courtesy of Dennis Zaki and CNN.