Elizabeth Chin - Purchasing Power

Purchasing Power

Elizabeth Chin - Purchasing PowerAnthropology links. Featured book, for obvious reasons, Elizabeth Chin’s Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture, which I use for my courses and for the What is Anthropology page.

  1. What Jason Richwine Should Have Heard from his PhD Committee. Wonderful anthropology from Elizabeth Chin! Lots to like here, but especially

    Your literature review is consistently biased, incomplete, and cursory. The only work you cite that is openly critical of the IQ-race theory is that of Stephen Jay Gould. For goodness sake, Wikipedia covers more literature than you do on the question of race and IQ.

    As an anthropologist I cannot sign off without seriously challenging the implicit ideas about race upon which your entire thesis is built.

    [Thanks to Matthew Durington for the link!]

  2. Call For Papers – Society for Applied Anthropology. The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) invites abstracts (sessions, papers and posters) for the Program of the 74th Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM, March 18-22, 2014. The theme of the Program is “Destinations.” Dr. Erve Chambers (Maryland) is the 2014 Program Chair.
  3. Who, me? I don’t believe in single-gene causation! (or do I?). Part IV. Do we need the probabilistic hypothesis? Up to Part IV in a series by Ken Weiss at The Mermaid’s Tale. I highlight this also in response to a comment on determinism from Al West:

    People should be aware of the issues when they make the kinds of rather hyperbolic claims to the public about the miracles genomics is claiming to deliver, based on statistical survey epistemology. Genomes may be highly predictive and determinitive, at least in specific environments, but the lack of repeatable observations in natural populations raises serious questions about the meaning or usefulness of assuming genetic determinism.

  4. On a somewhat related note, although I recently took David Brooks to task for his ideas of culture and cultural problems, his Heroes of Uncertainty column is more compelling:

    The desire to be more like the hard sciences has distorted economics, education, political science, psychiatry and other behavioral fields. It’s led practitioners to claim more knowledge than they can possibly have. It’s devalued a certain sort of hybrid mentality that is better suited to these realms, the mentality that has one foot in the world of science and one in the liberal arts, that involves bringing multiple vantage points to human behavior.

  5. Reimagine the Masters. Interesting comments from Matt Thompson. Indeed, I would have never recommended pursuing an MA in anthropology 10 years ago, but the situation may be changing.
  6. The Afterlife Ethnographic Survey. Franz Boas on Facebook.
  7. An exposé of the realities facing poor black children in our consumer society.

    What does it mean to be young, poor, and black in our consumer culture? Are black children “brand-crazed consumer addicts” willing to kill each other over a pair of the latest Nike Air Jordans or Barbie backpack? In this first in-depth account of the consumer lives of poor and working-class black children, Elizabeth Chin enters the world of children living in hardship in order to understand the ways they learn to manage living poor in a wealthy society.

    In order to move beyond the stereotypical images of black children obsessed with status symbols, Elizabeth Chin spent two years interviewing poor children living in New Haven, Connecticut, about where and how they spend their money. An alternate image of the children emerges, one that puts practicality ahead of status in their purchasing decisions. On a twenty-dollar shopping spree with Chin, one boy has to choose between a walkie-talkie set and an X-Men figure. In one of the most painful moments of her research, Chin watches as Davy struggles with his decision. He finally takes the walkie-talkie set, a toy that might be shared with his younger brother.

    Through personal anecdotes and compelling stories ranging from topics such as Christmas and birthday gifts, shopping malls, Toys-R-Us, neighborhood convenience shops, school lunches, ethnically correct toys, and school supplies, Chin critically examines consumption as a medium through which social inequalities-most notably of race, class, and gender–are formed, experienced, imposed, and resisted. Along the way she acknowledges the profound constraints under which the poor and working class must struggle in their daily lives.

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