Technology and social change

Reflection Paper #3

SOC 101, Glenn Booker, 11/28/12

List at least four technologies that did not exist when your parents were your age.  What social changes have these technologies generated?

My parents are 23 and 25 years my senior, so I’ll focus on technologies that have become commonly available within the last 20 years or so.  In particular I’ll examine the Internet, cell phones, digital music, and GPS technology and their impact on society.

The Internet became accessible to the general public with the invention of the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) in 1993.  Computers started in the 1940’s as really big calculators to determine bomb trajectories and later do basic accounting and other routine math chores.  They became a part of business environments in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and started merging into homes in the late 1980’s.  They have revolutionized our ability to get information quickly and easily from anywhere in the industrialized world because of the connectivity of the Internet.  Until the Internet, computers were largely very insular environments, with all of the technology for each customer coming from a single proprietary vendor (e.g. HP, IBM, Sun, etc.).  The Internet changed that by giving all computer makers a common, free language they could all speak, namely the group of protocols collectively called TCP/IP.  The Internet became for computers what Esperanto[1] was supposed to become for people – a universal language.  Esperanto largely failed because there is no culture associated with it; there is no food or music or geography or myths or tragic heroes associated with it, so it’s not very interesting to study.  In contrast, computers don’t care about social issues like that, so it’s fine that TCP/IP is completely neutral.  As a result we can now get information about any subject, or correspond in a second with anyone on Earth (or nearby) from any place with an Internet connection.  The Internet makes the world a much smaller place, because it doesn’t take days or weeks to mail a letter, or travel to visit someone.  The side effect of this is that it means interpersonal reactions occur much more quickly, and bad situations can escalate far faster than before.

Cell phones have also revolutionized our society.  I went shopping for cars in the early 90’s, and recall that BMW’s featured car phones as standard equipment, a very big deal for that time.  It took a few more years for phone technology to shrink them to pocket size, so by the late 90’s cell phones were becoming everyday devices.  I recall being with my then wife and stepson, and we were separated from my stepdaughter while shopping.  I asked my stepson to go get his sister, I think we were all about to go to a movie together, and he looked at me like I had six heads.  Instead, he pulled the cell phone out of his pocket and called her.  It never occurred to me that he didn’t have to physically go get her, because the cell technology was still so new.  Since cell phones have become commonplace, they’ve become a whole new social problem with kids living on them 24×7, texting in school, and needing seemingly constant contact with their friends[2].

Digital music has also had a strong impact on our society.  In the ancient days we had LP records and 45’s, which needed bulky record players in a very stable location to enjoy.  I last bought vinyl in about 1988, if memory serves.  I got a cassette deck just out of high school, when you could still buy an 8-track player if you wanted.  The big revolution was the music CD, starting for me in the late 80’s.  That was our first peek at digital music, and while novel, purists insisted (and still do) that analog recordings have warmth that digital recordings can’t match.  The resolution of digital recording has increased, but more significantly for society the players have shrunk to almost matchbox size.  Tiny memory cards can hold the equivalent of a dozen or more CD’s, making it possible for music to go anywhere (e.g. iPods and MP3 players).  Joggers and other bored athletes love this development, so they can be completely distracted while running around town.  As a result of digital music you can enjoy thousands of songs anywhere you go, instead of being locked down to a sensitive and sizable device.

Finally, the Global Positioning System[3] (GPS) has made a huge impact on society in the last two decades.  Developed so the military could aim nuclear missiles more accurately, GPS uses a bunch of low altitude satellites to measure your position anywhere on Earth with as much accuracy as the military wants you to have.  In times of warfare, they can deliberately make GPS less accurate if they wish, so our enemies don’t use it against us.  Initial uses of GPS beyond the military included aviation and shipping navigation.  Once GPS receivers became relatively small and cheap (under $1000) they started getting consumer interest for cars, hiking, boating, and many other uses.  Now integrated into cell phones and other pocket-sized devices, GPS makes it possible to make wrong turns into a lake[4] and blame it on the GPS.  As a result of this technology, people are becoming more dependent on technology and less able to read a map, tell which way North is, or apparently use common sense while driving.

In summary, the Internet has made our society and the world seem much smaller by allowing us to find information anywhere in the industrialized world almost instantly, cell phones have made it possible to communicate almost anywhere you go, digital music has made it possible to enjoy music anywhere, and GPS has allowed us to know where we are even in the middle of nowhere.  Technology has therefore made our society much more closely knit by allowing information retrieval and communication anywhere and anytime, has made entertainment completely portable, and allowed us to know where we are and help us navigate our new smaller world.  The price we pay is perhaps too much volatility and dependence on each other and the technology itself, and less ability to stand and function on our own.



Reflection Paper #2

SOC 101, Glenn Booker, 10/25/12


Consider the ways you were socialized by your family.  In what ways was your socialization gendered?  What toys did you play with as a child?  What extracurricular activities were you encouraged to pursue?  What household chores did you perform?


My parents were very traditional in their roles.  My father was a military officer (in Army special forces, no less), and my mom was a cheerleader in high school.  American as apple pie!  My brother and I were the only kids, so no girls around.  My first major sign of gendered socialization came in 7th grade when I had the very first elective in school:  wood shop or home economics.  Literally without a question, my father signed me up for wood shop.  No other possibility!  And while I enjoyed wood shop, I also really wanted to take home ec!  Through my childhood it was clear that I was expected to go to college, but I doubt that would have been any different if I had a sister.

I went through a lot of surgeries as a child, but my father’s admonition that “boys don’t cry” was strongly enforced under all but the most extreme circumstances.  Once I had been through a surgery very recently, but was trying to get through church sitting next to my father, in spite of being in a lot of pain.  He saw my struggle, then gently put his big hand on my good leg, and let out the deepest, saddest sigh I’ve ever heard in my life.  That was the most sympathy he could show.

I had very traditional ‘boy’ toys as a child – Matchbox cars come to mind first, and toy dinosaurs.  I played in the gutters in the street, and used sand to control the water runoff from people washing cars and watering their lawns.  Back then, kids boys were allowed to get dirty!  Later on, I learned how to make balsa model airplanes, and made a bunch of those.  My mom was the only female in the house, so no feminine toys were around.  I remember finding bobby pins and hair accessories in the street, and wondering what these pieces of the female world were about; almost like I was an anthropologist investigating some foreign culture’s artifacts!

My father is a big fan of music, so musical interests were encouraged.  My brother and I both took piano lessons for a while when we were too young to have any dedication to it.  As a cripple growing up, it wasn’t expected that I would do much of any sports.  I recall being good at tetherball – most of the time you could stand in one place (good for me), and I had good upper body strength.  I was on a basketball team very briefly, and tried out for a fourth grade softball team very unsuccessfully.  My brother had even less interest in sports, so I guess we were bad boys for not fulfilling that gender role well.  My brother and I both played Dungeons and Dragons in high school; that was the most social activity I had as a child.

My mom worked a full time job, but she was responsible for most of the household chores.  She did cleaning, all of the laundry, most of the food prep and cleanup, and grocery shopping.  After my parents got divorced, my dad had to ask someone how to do laundry – he literally had no idea!  The only chores my brother and I did were helping put dinner in the oven (when we remembered to follow mom’s instructions!), and a little bit of vacuuming and dusting once in a while.  My dad did the yard work and took care of the cars.  My dad used cotton handkerchiefs for a while, and I remember learning how to iron those.  In high school I remember calculating for a class how much time I typically spent watching TV, and it was something over 8 hours per day.  Ok, I didn’t have much of a life.

One final example of clear gendered socialization.  My brother and my names (Michael and Glenn) were both carefully chosen by our parents to be explicitly gender-specific!  My father has often said how disgusted he was when Michael Learned and Glenn Close ruined that careful selection (both are women).


Reflection Paper #1

SOC 101, Glenn Booker, 10/12/12


The text identifies three different types of conformity:  compliance, identification, and internalization.  Describe some moments when you’ve exhibited each type of conformity.


Compliance is the mildest form of conformity.  It shows that you comply with the group or norm, but have no other connection to it beyond hoping for some reward or avoiding some punishment.  I comply with laws while driving even though I know it isn’t needed at the moment for safety’s sake.  I comply with social norms regarding clothing even though I find it unnecessary for comfort or hygiene standards at times.  I comply with the social standards for classroom behavior, even though I might get more out of the class if I were more selfish than that.  My goal in all three examples is to avoid punishment for failing to comply with social norms and laws.

Identification is the next level of conformity.  It indicates a stronger connection to the person or group conformed with, in order to establish a relationship with them.  I identify with my tennis league, because after three seasons of playing with them I have light relationships with several of the members, and I enjoy the shared sport.  As part of my identification with the group, I help recruit new members, brag about the group to other friends, and participate in league social activities which don’t involve playing the game.  I also identify with Women’s Way, a regional organization to funnel female-focused charity donations.  I openly support Women’s Way events and auctions, have included them in my estate planning, and represent them and their interests in feminist events outside of the Delaware Valley.

Internalization is the strongest form of conformity.  It occurs when you adopt the beliefs of the group and make them your own.  I have internalized my identity as a dancer, for example.  I strongly support and promote local dance organizations (the Pennsylvania Ballet and BalletX in particular), I dance regularly to embody the art form, and the expression of myself through dance is now a fundamental part of my identity.  I have also internalized Wicca.  Now a part of my life for over 25 years, the core beliefs and values of Wicca are an essential part of who I am and how I see the world.  This example is a form of internalization that doesn’t have strong external signs; most of it is simply my view of the world and the divine, and my connection to nature.


Domestic violence

Domestic Violence:  Justification, Entrapment, and Escape



Glenn Booker

SOC 101

November 19, 2012





Justification for abuse. 3

Why victims stay. 4

Protection for victims. 5




Domestic Violence (DV) is a common form of family violence that may include not only physical abuse, but one or more of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, technological abuse, financial abuse, and abuse by immigration status (Abuse, 2012).  Physical abuse can range in severity from bruising to murder.  Emotional abuse includes anything that adversely affects the mental health of the victim.  Sexual abuse includes any non-consensual sexual activity, or otherwise threatening the health or safety of the partner sexually.  Technological abuse includes using technology to stalk and/or control the victim.  Financial abuse includes controlling finances or ability to work.  Abuse by immigration status is controlling someone by threatening their ability to work and communicate, or threatening their families in another country.  (Abuse, 2012)

The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) (Black et al., 2011) defines intimate partner violence similarly:  sexual violence (rape or other non-consensual sexual activity), physical violence (any violent physical contact), stalking (harassing or threatening tactics that cause fear), psychological aggression (insulting, humiliating, or verbal coercion), or control of reproductive or sexual health (not using birth control non-consensually).

In Philadelphia there are four agencies focusing on domestic violence (Sorenson, 2012):

  • Congreso De Latinos Unidos’ Latina Domestic Violence Program serves the Spanish-speaking community
  • Lutheran Settlement House’s Bilingual Domestic Violence Program provides bilingual services and transitional housing
  • Women Against Abuse (WAA) runs the only emergency shelter in the city
  • Women In Transition focuses on economic independence and emotional wellbeing of women and children

Philadelphia is underserved by WAA’s emergency shelter.  They can only provide 6 beds per 100,000 people in the city, whereas Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. provide 11-16 beds per 100,000 people (Abuse, 2012).  As a result of the chronic shortage of beds (in 2011 WAA served 637 people and denied 8,465 requests for shelter), many DV victims use the general homeless shelter system, which is not prepared to meet their emotional and safety needs.  (Sorenson, 2012)

While women are traditionally seen as the victims of domestic violence, the NISVS (Black, et al., 2011) reports the lifetime incidence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking is 35.6% for women and 28.5% for men.  The main difference is that men are primarily victims of physical violence, while women have much higher rates of rape and/or stalking.  This is supported by studies of “gender symmetry” in domestic violence, such as the extensive literature review by Kimmel.  Men underreport DV even more than women, which makes it a well hidden crime.  (Kimmel, 2002)


Abusers who commit domestic violence do so to control their victim, and maintain that control by threatening the victim’s safety and/or that of people they love.  To protect themselves from abuse, victims can identify that they are in an abusive relationship, and systematically work to free themselves from the abusive relationship.


This report focuses on how abusers justify their actions, reasons why victims stay in the relationship, and specific actions that victims can take to protect themselves.

Justification for abuse

Abusers find a wide range of excuses to justify abuse, including religion, karma, failure to follow sex roles, and jealousy.

A study of predominantly Muslim Egyptian women finds that half think getting hit or beaten is justified if they do any of the following:  neglect the children, go out without telling their husband, argue with him, refuse to have sex with him, or burn food. (Yount & Li, 2009)  Having an argument is a common reason to justify violence.  (Kimmel, 2002)  Christians don’t fare much better since the verse “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22) is often treated as justification for abuse.  (Nightingale, 2012)

The idea that ‘you get what you deserve’ is more formally known as the Belief in a Just World.  Under this philosophy victims of DV “deserved to suffer” because they must be “bad, unworthy persons.”  (Valor-Segura, Expósito, & Moya, 2011)  This generalizes the belief that victims of DV are getting punished for wrong behavior and/or poor moral character.  This is based on the premise that DV is an acceptable form of punishment.

Women are more likely to be blamed “when the woman does not fulfill her traditional role or challenges the male dominant position in the relationship.” (Valor-Segura, et al., 2011)  Failing to follow socially accepted roles for females makes them a threat to insecure partners, resulting in violence to put them in their place.

Another situational factor to justify DV is jealousy.  Violence is seen as justified when the spouse is at risk of committing adultery (not just actually doing it).  (Valor-Segura, et al., 2011)  While committing adultery is widely recognized as criminal, in the context of DV even socializing with others or having opposite sex friends can be interpreted as the risk of adultery, once again emphasizing the massive level of insecurity by some DV perpetrators.

Why victims stay

Victims stay in an abusive relationship for many reasons, most of them related to fear or a lack of power or resources to change the situation.

Victims may believe they face even worse social or emotional conditions if they leave.  This may be a part of emotional abuse, such as telling the victim that no one else will have them, or they don’t deserve to be treated better.  (Booker, 2012)  Socially isolating the victim is a common strategy to help keep them contained in the relationship.  (Abuse, 2012)

Victims of DV may be physically or legally threatened if they leave the relationship.  Threats may be made against the victim, their children, or relatives.  (Johnson, 2006; Yount & Li, 2009)  These threats could include the stereotypical “If I can’t have you, no one can” death threat, or threats to harm the children if you go to the police, or threats against relatives in another country if you fail to cooperate.

People who are already marginalized in society by race, class, gender, and/or sexual orientation are especially susceptible to DV.  Their fringe social status makes it more difficult to amass the resources needed to get out of the relationship.  (Sokoloff & Dupont, 2005)  Lack of employment or even the threat of losing employment can increase vulnerability to DV.  (Krishnan et al., 2010)  Marginalized people are already under additional stresses, which makes it that much harder to find the strength needed to even consider getting out of the relationship.  The diminished social status of males trying to reconcile “their masculine identity with their experience of being abuse victims” makes them particularly likely not to report DV, as cited by Cheung with regard to Chinese males.  (Cheung, Leung, & Tsui, 2009)

Most insidiously, victims of DV can stay in the relationship because they don’t realize that anything is wrong.  They might be taught by their culture that abuse is appropriate punishment after poor “behavior, words, or thoughts,” and therefore it is normal and to be expected.  (Yount & Li, 2009)  It is also common for abuse to escalate very slowly, making it difficult for the victim to become aware of how severe it has become, even though it is patently obvious to those around him or her.  (Booker, 2012)

Protection for victims

It is difficult to predict who will become an abusive partner (Health, 2012), so the primary means of protecting victims is to help them get out of such a relationship as soon as possible.  Victims of domestic violence can be protected by realizing that they are in an abusive relationship, creating a safety plan to prepare to escape, dealing with short term needs after escape, and finally dealing with long term needs after escape.

The first way to protect victims is for them to recognize that they are in an abusive relationship.  Women Against Abuse (Abuse, 2012) has a brief survey:

  • “Does your partner insult you in public or in front of your children?
  • Does your partner treat you like you are stupid or call you names?
  • Does your partner try to control what you do?
  • Does your partner act really jealous of your friends or family?
  • Does your partner blame you for his/her violence?
  • Has your partner ever threatened to hurt you or him/herself if the relationship ends?”

Answering ‘yes’ to any of those questions is a clear sign that you are probably in an abusive relationship, and should seek help immediately.  A similar survey is also available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (Health, 2012)  In Philadelphia contact the 24-Hour Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-014.  (Abuse, 2012)

Creating a Safety Plan (Abuse, 2012) is a good way to prepare to leave an abusive relationship.  Key elements of this plan include:  knowing where to get help (such as the hotline above), plan with your children if applicable so they have a safe neighbor or other place to go for a short time, arrange a signal with that neighbor when you need to make the transition, and finally prepare an emergency kit with basic clothing, legal papers,  and health needs.  This Plan makes it possible to leave safely on very short notice, and still take care of yourself and your family.  I applied much of this approach when getting out of an abusive marriage.  I sought counseling to make sure I really needed to leave (that didn’t take long), had a couple of friends nearby in case I needed a place to stay, had financial support from my family, then got a storage locker and put critical valuables in it before making the final decision to leave.  (Booker, 2012)

The next step is to deal with immediate physical and psychological needs after making the decision to leave.  Physical needs may include getting treated for injuries, collecting evidence for later legal action, ensuring your physical safety (e.g. emergency shelter), and getting childcare services as needed.  Psychological needs may include crisis counseling and legal aid (e.g. getting a Protection From Abuse order).  (Abuse, 2012)

The last step is to deal with longer term issues after leaving.  Transitional or permanent housing, educational and employment assistance (the former possibly both for you and your children), prosecution of the offender, long term counseling and career planning, and other social services may be helpful to continue creating a new life, safe from harm.  (Abuse, 2012)


Domestic violence covers a wide range of family violence such as physical, emotional, sexual, technological, financial, and immigration abuse.  It may be justified by excuses ranging from religion to karma to deviation from sex roles to jealousy.  Victims stay in an abusive relationship because they may be convinced it’s worse if they leave, they or their families will be harmed if they leave, they are marginalized and hence have no resources to leave, or they don’t even realize that they are in an abusive relationship.  The only way to protect victims is to help them get out of an abusive relationship by helping them recognize the abuse, creating a safety plan, escaping, meeting short term needs, and supporting them for long term needs.


The works cited for this report are one interview, two reports, three web sites, and seven journal articles.

Abuse, W. A. (2012). Types of Domestic Violence  Retrieved November 15, 2012, from

Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., . . . Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Booker, G. (2012, November 15). [Interview with Glenn Booker].

Cheung, M., Leung, P., & Tsui, V. (2009). Asian Male Domestic Violence Victims: Services Exclusive for Men. J Fam Viol, 24, 447-462.

Health, F. O. (2012). Domestic Violence Awareness, from

Johnson, M. P. (2006). Conflict and Control Gender Symmetry and Asymmetry in Domestic Violence. Violence Against Women, 12(11), 1103-1018.

Kimmel, M. (2002). “Gender Symmetry” in Domestic Violence A Substantive and Methodological Research Review. Violence Against Women, 8(11), 1332-1363.

Krishnan, S., Rocca, C. H., Hubbard, A. E., Subbiah, K., Edmeades, J., & Padian, N. S. (2010). “Do Changes in Spousal Employment Status Lead to Domestic Violence? Insights from a Prospective Study in Bangalore, India”. Soc Sci Med., 70(1), 136-143.

Nightingale, T. (2012). Bible used to halt Solomons domestic violence  Retrieved November 15, 2012, from

Sokoloff, N. J., & Dupont, I. (2005). Domestic Violence at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender: Challenges and Contributions to Understanding Violence Against Marginalized Women in Diverse Communities. Violence Against Women, 11(1), 38-64.

Sorenson, S. B. (2012). Violence Against Women in Philadelphia – A Report to the City: School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, PA.

Valor-Segura, I., Expósito, F., & Moya, M. (2011). Victim Blaming and Exoneration of the Perpetrator in Domestic Violence: The Role of Beliefs in a Just World and Ambivalent Sexism. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 14(1), 195-206.

Yount, K. M., & Li, L. (2009). Women’s ‘‘Justification’’ of Domestic Violence in Egypt. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 1125-1140.