Category Archives: Sociology

Closer to Deviance

Deviance seems straight~forward
 of a term that one can
discern the behavior within a social setting  without too much thought.

For instance, green, mohawked hair deviates from the typical style we see in  everyday life,
except for, say on…oh, St. Patrick’s Day  or Halloween, a green~spikey doo will blend into our surroundings because
celebration is expected behavior.

Moreover, is that green hair
example really the ‘it’ of deviance? No, deviance takes many forms, such as a criminal, genius, or an artist (the latter two examples
are among positive concepts).
The amount  or degree of deviance
from the ‘norm’ provokes action and evokes emotion, confusion, and
possibly punishment.

Deviance is not really what is
interesting phenomenologically,
deviance really allows us to
understand the comfort levels of
those around us, including opinions, preferences, and tolerances.

Deviance, as phenomena, have also  allowed humans to flourish for
nearly two~hundred~thousand~ years!
After all, we recognize ‘outsiders’ (basically, difference) which has
helped us to survive. Simply imagine
the alert sent through one’s small community if a strangely~dressed group of people stumbled into the area?

Finally, deviance can also be  used as a tool of abuse, by the
common tactic of labeling others.
This labeling action draws its strength from taking advantage of
our survival interest to notice deviance, labeling inappropriately alerts us to novelty even when danger may not exist, labeling deviance
is to pray upon our fight~or~flight system.
The next time you hear a label or notice deviance, describe it to yourself.

Personally, I say deviate as positively  as you can. Become the  best athlete or scholar you are
able to. Remember, though,
not deviating correctly, may have
life~altering consequences.

Plan your deviation!


Katie Rose: More than a Lady Rocker

FAIRNESS: Social Engineering Feat or Trait Intrinsic to Humanity?

Fairness (justice) is an idea we may not ponder about often enough; we have a tendency to rely on our immediate experiences to guide our perception of fairness, meaning, we know what fairness is when we see it or experience it, but is affected by feelings and bias. Any critical analysis regarding whether humans are inherently fair, or are simply molded to consider fairness, lies outside of the scope of most peoples’ day~to~day activities.

However, looking around us, fairness dictates our very existence through morés, values, laws, and norms; it is the glue which binds people, families, and societies and governments to their diversity of people.

Thus, is fairness inherent to humanity or a socially constructed idea? Is this even an important query in your lives?
Before answering, I want to state I mean no disrespect in this opinion. I spoke with a number of individuals, each of different race, gender, and creed. Each person shared the same view with regard to our query. Can you guess what their collective perspective was?

We begin life without ideologies, but with a range of physico~sensory capabilities restricting our biological preferences: taste (we generally prefer sweetness to hot); touch (velvet pillows over cacti); audition (white noise over foghorns); and olfaction (potpourri versus dog poo); sight is largely spectrally subjective. The point is, our biology determines our physical range of preferences. That is, we operate within rules not set by us. (Geneticists opine life is programmed to protect itself, its offspring, its DNA, strands of amino acids in helical shape: the chemistry of instinct.)

The fact is, we humans only fundamentally differ ideologically. Our thoughts, while influenced by 5~senses, are unconfined by heat, saltiness, or odors. We have power in our minds to perpetuate difference in our environs, to influence our lives to our subjective liking.

Ideas of fairness clash.

We have several religions where God commands structure (a social shape to thought), perhaps because humans must learn justice and other concepts. We have behavioral models in the form of parents and peers who provide perspective and reinforcement of our chosen attitudes. We have history itself, too! These things, combined with personal experiences, prove that subjective fairness (one’s personal ideas) prove less important than objective fairness (social ideas) over time. For instance, God~Kings and Matriarchies have evolved democracies and rule~of~law, yet wars for resources (to satisfy physical preferences) AND masked in ideology (internal preferences). So we are cognitively evolving. So what’s next?

The answer is not set in stone. Any ideas that reign tomorrow will be determined by YOU, through the people you choose to influence, and behavior or ideas you perpetuate. That’s the answer: Fairness is a social construct. When you are alone, what good is fairness?
But we are not evil. We notice social difference, and when difference evinces unfairness, our sense of justice should kick into gear, allowing our behavior to ripple out into the world.

Thank you for stopping by our charitable foundation. Our hope is you had a just and fair visit.



We, as humans, venture out each day taking for granted that we have a wonderful tool on our shoulders. We give up much of our WILL to idle distraction, and that is our inborn enemy: our motivation and susceptability to distraction. Channel~surfing (boredom), day~dreaming, absent~mindedness, and hypnosis are each a symptom of the disadvantages of consciousness; and so is the criminal mind.

Our brain is a diametric organ, just as we have two~lungs, two~kidneys, and two~feet and hands. But our brain was not always two. We have only in the past 5,000 years, developed a bicameral exchange, where our ‘right~brain’ calculates and controls the left half of our bodies, and the ‘left~brain’, the creative side, controls the right.

In our ancient history, the God~voice signified unicameralism, a time that one side began awareness of the other, that our 3rd~person ability, our conscience emerged, the social other. This experience was similar to an auditory halucination, and we interacted with it, our new brain, and we thought, ”God?”, that it was not us.

The two specialized halves of our brain grew out of the pressures of civilization, and communicate with eachother through a bridge of nervous tissue called, the corpus collossum. (This is the connection surgeons sever in severe epileptic patients so one side cannot short circuit the other. Research in split~brain patients also shows this results in two people! Its subtle but recall the two~sides as independently controlled, recall stroke victims.)

This bicameralism, the two~hemispheres are easily desynchronized, and that proves disadvantageous. What does that mean? Think of a fascinating experience…the feelings and sensations of novelty or adventure: that is synchrony, when both the calculating side and creative side of our brain is mutually involved in the world, a pleasurable focus.

Desynchrony produces the
sense of alienation, of headache, and anxiety as symptoms…we all know these feelings are displeasure, are confusing, and that disinterest produces our daydreaming, a symptom of our creativity reaching out and seeking interaction. But that is not the entirety, the cause for the article, is it? No.
The act of creativity, overpowering reason, results in adventure, novelty, and crime. The desynchrony weakens one’s vitality and this produces greater susceptibility to suggestion and to the urge of distraction, that desire to be in synch with oneself.
This is the feeling alcoholics chase, the slowing down of one side of the brain to reduce nervous bombardment. This is the same force behind Alexander The Great, Thomas Edison, and murderers, Leopold and Loeb.

Desynchrony can be a disaster or something one masters.
The RippleFX Foundation is a social entity, aware of the nuances of the mind and the prosocial activities people will benefit from. We promote synchrony, prosociality through community service, and education. We need all the help we can obtain!
Please synchronize with our organization? Donate any amount to the RippleFX Foundation. Exemption receipt available.


-Wilson, Colin. A Criminal History of Mankind. MERCURY: London (2005)

Genesis of Prosociality: The Resilience Concept

Education to Action: Note to College Freshman


December, 3rd, 2015
Dear University Freshman:

I realize you have likely taken an Autumn season break from pursuing your Post-secondary education (which is understandable, since you spent 15+years on some variation of school), but hey, before you decide on a major – hopefully you ease into it – I want to try to convince you to become a sociologist. Let me briefly state why.

THE STUDY OF OUR NEIGHBORS, is the definition used to simplify the actual breadth and contemporary importance of sociology – combining Latin parts socius with the Greek ology.
Studying our neighbors, their interests, morés, and behaviors had profound consequences for us way back when we were ancient people, and the same is true for us today. Sociologists study people in the simplest terms, but it’s what we do with the data that makes a difference. After all, you may spend years on a single study or experiment, but one must act on the results to become a great sociologist. In sum, a great sociologist makes people better at understanding others and the environment. As a result, the actual world can get better.

Dear freshman, part of the problem with communities today is we don’t have many true-to-form sociologists to help typical people make better sense of themselves. Another great problem is that people like us – those in the social sciences – aren’t in a high tax bracket. Money you make must come from teaching, writing books, giving presentations, or consulting. Fame is not an option. But sociology is worth the effort. Studying ourselves can take us places as a community.

Sociologists can observe or conduct varied research to understand, for example, reasons why women achieve the greatest portions of undergraduate degrees. The numbers we crunch to draw our conclusions are derived from polls, interviews, or university profiles, observation – even loan and employment data.
For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and IRS maintain data about single~parents in the workforce (6%); dual~earning families (40%); husband working and wife remains at home (11%). Tangential data perhaps includes the average number of dependents in families for each family type. One can interpret and reinterpret the research as the data grows and compare it to other information such as graduation rates, or crime rate. So while it is common understanding (based on comparisons from our employment data, arrest and drop~out rates) that crime is higher in areas where families are larger and where disadvantaged minorities reside, many of us don’t have any idea why this remains the case (when there exists enough people get together to make changes they desire, it shouldn’t be that way!)
Sociology also tells us that! Yes, and women tend to succeed through all of that, as it appears.

With data from social researchers we can draft policy, develop and institue programs that will thwart some of the greater negative effects of these realities on us, at any stage that it manifests. Solutions are spelled out in the data!

As as a social scientist you can help a lot of people, heal a lot of people. YOU can do field work of you dislike research: social work, be a detective, parole officer, non-profit advisement, parole board member, Federal agent, investigator, writer, police chief, professor, and so much more… You won’t make a ton of money, but you will make a lot of happiness.

Good luck, Spring Semester, freshman – soon to be social scientists. We’re rooting for You.


Personality: Your ”Big 5” Characteristics

PersonalityThere exists many theories of personality, and of these nearly all avoid defining what exactly the stuff of personality is. The Big 5 theory is the easiest of theories to comprehend. This theory explains that we are unique individuals whose personalities are different, but that differences are only in degree. The Big 5, refer to the following traits, that they are in each of us:

1] AGREEABLENESS: this trait implies we all have varied temperments, diplomatic skill, and that we are easy or difficult to get along with;
that we hold people’s health, well~being in high regard, and that we can suppress the ‘self’ for others’ benefit;
3] EXTROVERSION: the degree to which we seek new experiences, adventure, and independence;
4] OPENNESS: the ability to share our ideas, feelings, and beliefs with others;
5] EMOTIONAL STABILITY: the degree to which we are affected by stress, whether our behavior is consistent over time.

We can draw interesting inferences simply by understanding these definitions. Also, we can safely state that people each have a greater absence or presence of each of these traits, and that these variations make up our behavioral inclination, thus, global personality. This term can be defined, in my opinion, as follows:


Why this definition? Since experts cannot agree upon a term (across many academic fields), we look to how the social sciences define Personality Disorder, and flip it on its head. A personality disorder then, points to ”any mental disorder manifested by maladjustments in motivation and maladaptive patterns relating to ones social environment” (Reber, 2005: 527).

Now we are getting deeper! We know that using this theory, we each develop~more or less~of each of these traits; that if we imagine traits along a spectrum, say from 1~to~10, we can build a simple profile of who our traits claim we are if you assign yourself 5 personal numbers. From that set of numbers we can hypothesize what we would do in particular situations.
And we can also learn where to strengthen our ‘selves’!

Personality is a part of us that people try to measure everyday. Quantifying personality, that is, measuring it, is of benefit to business, education, and criminology (by design, the areas that the RippleFX Foundation operates).

Personality change can alert people to disease (alcoholism) or disorder (depression). Personality, is considered an inflexible thing, alterable only through life~changing events (war~PTSD; birth~post~partem depression), or other trauma.
Personality (behaviorial propensities) however, can also be consciously re~molded!
Introducing how behavior develops into personality is one goal of The RippleFX Foundation. We are working to reinforce the prosocial side of our Big 5 traits in the criminal justice system now! See our Criminal Justice page to download actual copies of our research~based publications. These workbooks were designed to enrich extroversion, openness, agreeableness, conscienciousness, and emotional stability. Please sponsor a class or download a copy for a loved one. Help us further our community efforts by purchasing a t~shirt via email, or donate to us at any Bank of America location.

What is your personality profile? Where can you use development? Are you a parent? If so, remember this post and use these concepts. Your child’s future may depend on it.


-Aurther Reber and Emily Reber. DICTIONARY OF PSYCHOLOGY. N.Y. Penguin, 2005.

-Photo of brainscan by, Bill Bosking.

Charles Horton Cooley: Reluctant Sociologist

Cooley, born during the year of African slave emancipation in America, died in the year of another historic event: Black Friday, the year The Great Depression began. Like many great minds, he came from dark times.

Cooley’s father was a Michigan State Supreme Court Justice, who also taught at Michigan, the place Cooley would also later teach. Cooley was one of America’s first sociologists (and disliked being labeled a sociologist). He influenced many eminent scholars such as, George Herbert Mead and the psycholgist, William James, who was cousin to philosopher, Jeremy Bentham.

Cooley began his academic career with an engineering degree, working briefly for the Census office and the Interstate Commerce Commission. After his graduate studies, Cooley taught Michigan~Ann Arbor’s first sociology course, and immersed himself with theorizing and research regarding the concept of the ‘self’.

Cooley’s notion of the ”looking~glass self” (his most significant idea) highlighted that peoples’ self~concept and personalities were socially constructed, that we are social reflections, that we are the image people reflect back upon us.

Cooley provided an additional contribution in 1899, when he noted in a paper, that the rise of industrialization had led to the subsequent weakening of the nuclear family (mom, dad, kids: the nucleus). Cooley stated Industrialization had stretched the primary family bonds and traditions, and the weakening family had become an exacerbated problem by the increase in individuality.

These two (2) concepts remain relevant and even puzzling. This is because Cooley expounded upon them, lived in heightened awareness of an era of extensive social changes, but he could do nothing to fix them! The images his ideas conjure, when combined, are of Cooley standing helplessly amid the fraying traditional American family, and all the while acknowledging he is but a reflection of them, of society; aware of the changing fabric and unable to reflect much back, being prodded by his own invention!

That society and the individual influence eachother is not a profound concept; it’s profound, however, when individuals refuse to positively influence their world, to shape it: THAT is truly profound.

Here at the RippleFX Foundation, we help you to influence others, taking each quadrant of society and creating a movement toward synergy between the people and their communties. We need you to help us, to recall what you really need your reflection to mean. After all, while the ‘self’ is yours alone, it is the people who give that to you.

It’s time to pick up where Cooley could not: help us give back to our community using the principle of the ripple effect. What can you accomplish for others?
Knowing you can fix a problem and ignoring that call is a neglegent act. Turn to the light?


-John Scott and Gordon Marshall. DICTIONARY OF SOCIOLOGY. Oxford U.P. : NY 2005.

-photo: public domain

Dr. Phillip Zimbardo: Social Psychologist

Phillip Zimbardo, born in 1933, was raised in a South Bronx ghetto. He went on to earn a doctorate from Yale, and is the reknowned Professor Emeritus of Stanford University, the place, where he conducted the infamous ”Stanford Prison Experiment”; the experiment he shut down after 1~week because the college students recruited/paid to act as prison guards abused the college students recruited to act as inmates. After 1~week, the ”guards” became brutal, and the ”prisoners” helpless.

Zimbardo planned only an experiment, but he proved again that ”Many people, perhaps the majority, can be made to do anything when put into phsychologically compelling situations ~regardless of…morals, ethics, values, attitudes, beliefs, or personal convictions” (Henslin, 2005: 300).

Dr. Zimbardo elaborated that there are environmental contingencies and social forces which constrain peoples’ behavior, as opposed to will~power, character and personality traits. Situational controls are subtle and we label others negatively who act different from us (2005: 300).

An important concept in Zimbardo’s work is that of DEINDIVIDUATION: the process of losing one’s identity and becoming part of a group. As a situational variable, deindividuation was a large part of Zimbardo’s work and many experiments involving people. Additionally, many of these experiments can be generalized to the dynamics of peer~pressure and conformity.

Deindividuation works first through anonymity~that of disolving into a group; the group, is the identity, not individual actors. It is under this rationale people assume to no longer assume responsibility, or be singled~out for their behavior. Have you ever considered why groups throughout history have painted their faces, wore costumes, masks as they went off to war? Even soldiers and officers of contemporary militaries wear uniforms (with other practical use, such as camouflage) just as a terror~group such as the KKK shroud themselves in white curtain: to deindividuate! (Bartol, 1999: 130).

So how does all this relate to you? The RippleFX Foundation seeks to empower people through communication, educating about the social environment, and social roles and responsibilities. We have published three [3] books to combat the persistent pathology of recidivism produced by the prison superstructure that Zimbardo warned us about. Tax~payers own the prisons ~even the corporate for~profit prisons, a failed business socially. Simply leaving people to the oppressive power and helplessness of such a fruitless situation is irresponsible, forcing people to adapt to merely existing! Incarceration by itself is nothingness.

Our publications focus on developing prisoners, families, and staff alike, taking an ecclectic approach. Our guides are free, and while new, are utilized successfully by few programs already! We cannot conduct further research to strengthen and produce our guides; we need your help. Download a guide from the Criminal Justice page, above. Provide a comment or feedback, and sponsor a class so we can get a guide to every prison, staff member, guard, and warden. Start the paradigm shift!

Phillip Zimbardo also said this: ”Underneath the toughest society~hating convict, rebel, anarchist is a human being who wants his existence to be recognized by his fellows and wants someone else to care about whether he lives or dies and to grieve if he lives imprisoned rather than free” (2005: 303).
We are all imprisoned by some situation; set yourself free…

• Bartol, Curt R. CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: A Psychosocial Approach, 5th Ed. Prentice Hall. N.J. : 1999.

• Henslin, James M. DOWN TO EARTH SOCIOLOGY, 13th Ed. Freepress. N.Y. : 2005.


Amber Lehman: Author

We took some time to find out what type of novelist writes about difficult social topics.

Amber Lehman, bookcover: Torn

Amber Lehman, bookcover: Torn

Amber Lehman has a great future trailblazing the territory of YA (young adult) social fiction writing about difficult subject matter. Here is our cultural conversation.

RFX: Thanks for taking time for The RippleFX Foundation today. We’re glad that you’re our Culture Today interview this quarter.
You released a novel a few years back that still emanates such a profound theme: female sexuality. At about what age did you begin writing stories? And did you take classes or have inspirations that made you begin writing?

Amber: Thank you for having me. I guess as soon as I learned to write. My early attempts were mostly fantasy stories, and didn’t make much sense, but writing always interested me. I haven’t taken any particular classes, just inspired by my teen life and experiences that affected me deeply. TORN, without a doubt was sort of cathartic for me and writing about it helped me make sense of life. The world moves fast when your a teen.

RFX: So about TORN, Krista moves to a big city and is exposed to different things, and at a critical time of her development. Was the use of a female protagonist instinctive or was there an underlying message that only a female character could provide?

Amber: I knew that writing from a female perspective would allow me the most creative license, so I knew from the start about the female character. Even though Krista is the protagonist, she is hardly the most interesting character. She was merely the vehicle through which we learn about her friends and their struggles. There were certain things we could only learn through her eyes.

RFX: We read over 50 reviews about TORN, and talked with the LGBT community about it, and one thing is clear: TORN is fresh, even today. The psychosocial struggle of lesbians~not all struggle~is not discussed in Health Classes or safe~sex platforms in all schools, and it is a subject only touched on subtly in Intro~Level psych courses in college. Are Krista’s struggles and experiences typical of adolescent development?

Amber: I wouldn’t say Krista’s are what every teenage girl struggles with or that it’s typical of adolescent development. I’m sure her character is foreign to some. But, yes, there is a percentage of girls who question there attraction to girls or struggle with the idea. This is one demographic I hope finds solace in Krista’s experiences; and you are correct, these issues are rarely discussed in schools, where it is needed, as it is an issue that could lead to confusion; it’s not talked about at home too often either, but, you know, Krista never quite resolves her own relationship with Carrie. She is also attracted to boys, too, which makes her bisexual; while not recognized by her in TORN, it is important enough that her position will be revisited in later books.

RFX: Sequel’s? Nice. Tell us about how you develop your characters?

Amber: TORN was based on people I knew, it was simple as hearing their voices and everything grew from that standpoint, organically.

RFX: How about the difficulties of the first book? What was that like?

Amber: Everything was challenging, the scope was large, and the unrelated scenes demanded that I write them immediately, so the story had no flow
at first. I simply free~wrote as the voices in my head allowed. Later, it was like a puzzle putting it together, multiple revisions…it was exhausting. It was an all~consuming experience. Once I took it as far as I could, I found a trusted editor who trimmed down the book (removing six~hundred pages). There was a publisher that wanted the book if I would have trimmed the book one~hundred more pages and dropped a character. Ultimately, I decided complete control would allow me to provide the story I wanted to tell. But, yes, the entire process was tough.

(the remainder of this interview is archived for special considerations. For more on Amber, visit:


Robert Merton (Meyer Schkolnick, at birth) was born in Philadelphia in 1910 and lived to be 92. He was the son of Eastern European Immigrants. Most of Merton’s career, he was a professor at New York’s Columbia University (Scott & Marshall, 2005:404). Dr. Merton contributed great ides to sociology: the study of people.


Interestingly, Merton built upon Anomie where Emíle Durkheim did not. Recall anomie is the feeling of malaise or discombobulation of those unable to adapt to change~a feeling of not knowing how to act or knowing what to do~a normlessness; a symptom of an expanding techno~cultural society.

Merton’s Strain Theory proposed that delinquency and crime result when people perceive their economic situation as frustrated, thus the ideal social goals such as wealth and power are beyond reach: strained. Anomie shapes itself into 5 peculiar behaviors, as anomic people cope with strain (Bartol, 1995:2).
Merton’s strain theory introduced his 5 Modes of Adaptation:

1) CONFORMITY~allowing ones opinions, perceptions, and beliefs to be affected by prevailing attitudes and opinions;
2) RITUALISM~that of strict adherence to means as the goal itself, such as to get by without disturbance, as in the fear~filled bureaucrat;
3) RETREATISM~a self~imposed withdrawal from the world, as in substance~abuse, or with a ”moving to the woods” mindset like that of Theodore Kaczynski (the unabomber); or SUICIDE, the ultimate retreat.
4) REBELLION~rejecting all legitimate means/rules toward goal achievement; one throws out the whole book and writes her own;
5) INNOVATION~is using the legitimate goals of society, but reconfiguring ones own means to them (1995:2).

In sum, Merton believed people were influenced by the values and attitudes of their social circles. Change produces strain and people adapt differently.
The RippleFX Foundation takes the innovative view of Merton’s. We are here provoking answers to our varied problems stemming from social strain. We will face down and adapt to our changing world.
Join with us and make ripples in your community.
Innovate now!


-Robert C. Merton, son of Robert K. Merton, in 1997 earned the Nobel Prize for economics:

-R. K. Merton gave us the terms, ”role~model”, and ”self~fulfilling prophecy” among others.


*Merton photo, Columbia University

-Bartol, C. INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: A Psychosocial Approach, 5th edition. Prentice Hall, NJ: 1999.

-Scott, J. and Gordon Marshall. DICTIONARY OF SOCIOLOGY. Oxford U.P. :2005.

Teaching the Importance of Prosociality

Recognition of Social Context
CBB 2ed. Cover
We do not ignore the expenses of removing people who have harmed others or who distract families via cycles of victimization: the costs of safety. What we do once we sequester criminals is of equal importance as most will return to live among us. Thus, educating incarcerated individuals~by introducing the power of education and stabilizing behaviors~must be done.

Through employment of our research~based interventions and publications, we emphasizes educating and calming inmate populations, reduce violence, and get to the core of the kinds of people they are, why they believe what they do, and who they truly desire to be. We introduce the details of responsible citizenship, we encourage healing and conscienciousness.

Our programs have training guides to facilitate their implimentation: if it works, we keep it going. We teach people a greater group of coping skills and new ways to learn.
We are not deluded in the belief that every person can benefit or be reformed; those that can be helped, will find some light from our programs.

Atty General, Eric Holder stated this month that corrections education is the greatest reducer of recidivism, (Council on State Governments’ website),

The attitude of inaction leads to evil, everyone suffers then. Visit our Criminal Justice page and please help us to help you.

Buy a RippleFX T~shirt or sponsor a class.
Please help us strengthen the community by assisting us in carrying out our mission.

Thank you.

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