Excommunicating Women priests

Just about to write something about the recent restatement of the Catholic Church's opposition to the ordination of women - I realised, effectively, I already had. Add only this: it's not actually very easy to be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. Few people have ever met anyone who has been (militant atheists have been … Continue reading Excommunicating Women priests

Acknowledging our own biases

Writing in Risk and Blame: Essays on Cultural Theory,  anthropologist and sociologist Mary Douglas expressed the importance of recognising one's own biases, the importance of reflexivity. 'My own preference has emerged as an idealized form of hierarchy. This has always given me to some degree the professional advantage of feeling out of kilter with the … Continue reading Acknowledging our own biases

Are the guardians of national boundaries beginning to look pathetic?

Commenting on the post about the Google Dilemma, The Other Gardener said: "There is very little that can be said to be “essential about national boundaries” now that the genie is out of the lamp. I think the guardians of these boundaries, including the academics, will always lag behind. They are already beginning to look … Continue reading Are the guardians of national boundaries beginning to look pathetic?

Why can’t environmentalists just all get along?

Dr Clare Saunders, from Southampton University, was awarded the first British Journal of Sociology prize for her 2008 ethnographic work on environmental organisations in London. You can hear a podcast of her describing her research, and read the original article (as long as someone you love your institution subscribes to Wiley Interscience). She argues that: … Continue reading Why can’t environmentalists just all get along?

Puzzling over the economics of academic journals

Oliver Marc Hartwich of the Centre for Independent Studies wrote in the Australian about the academic journal industry. He was just as puzzled about it as Fourcultures has been. The case study he used to illustrate the point was the Australian Economic Review (but any journal from the Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis, and … Continue reading Puzzling over the economics of academic journals

Fortify your group with religious belief! Homing in on the God Gene

“Groups fortified by religious belief would have prevailed over those that lacked it, and genes that prompted the mind toward ritual would eventually have become universal.” An article in the New York Times, In Search of the God Gene, flies a kite for religion as an evolutionary benefit. But it takes a very particular view … Continue reading Fortify your group with religious belief! Homing in on the God Gene

Do genes drive culture? New developments in culture-gene coevolutionary theory

A recently published  research paper lends support to the idea that genes and culture influence one another mutually, effectively co-evolving. A link has been proposed between the collectivism-individualism scale of national cultures and a gene that affects the supply of seratonin to the body, the seratonin transporter gene 5-HTTLPR. A media-friendly summary of the research … Continue reading Do genes drive culture? New developments in culture-gene coevolutionary theory

How to be a better tipper: Learning and working the four cultures of tipping

Are you one of those people who are never quite sure whether it’s appropriate to leave a tip, or is it always quite obvious to you? What about when visiting a different country? Do you rely on the tipping section of your guidebook, or do you figure that since you’ll be leaving tomorrow you can … Continue reading How to be a better tipper: Learning and working the four cultures of tipping

The meaning of culture

When Glasgow won the honour of hosting the 1990 European City of Culture festival the joke was, Culture? Isn't that what we've got growing on our walls? (from memory,  this was Rab C Nesbitt's contribution). It wasn't far off the mark though. I interviewed an amazing woman, Cathy McCormack, who had successfully campaigned for a … Continue reading The meaning of culture