Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Sociology of Women...Who Have Cats!

Yesterday, I was speaking with two members of my cohort, and we came up with a new section for the ASA. You've got it, the Sociology of Women Who Have Cats.

This was pretty funny to us for awhile, I have to admit. There are so many random sections of the ASA now that this did not seem any more random (although I do admit that it is stranger than Astro-sociology and the Animals and Society sections). Here, we're bridging the study of gender with the study of animals in society. Woo-hoo!

What's interesting to me a lot of times is how compartmentalized we like to be in sociology. I think this is actually to our detriment. So, for example, instead of having the Sociology of Organizations, of which Education, Religion, Work, the Space Program, etc. are subcategories, we have five different sections. I believe that every one of them is important, and deserves credit, but if we're really trying to create general theory about organizations, wouldn't we want to test our theory on the wide variety of organizations there are in order to find out generalizable patterns about organizations as a whole?

You may think I've veered off topic here, but the point is that creating artificial distinctions between subdisciplines in sociology is not helping to foster cross-subdiscipline discussions of general patterns. The super-macro people may disagree with me here, but doesn't all sociology ultimately boil down to three things: organizations, networks, and social psychological processes? And, if I'm correct, wouldn't we all want to be working towards better understanding those areas by testing our general theories on more spheres, which just means expanding our scope conditions?

I don't think we're ever going to be treated as a "real" science until we can come up with universal theories about social behavior that are as robust as the theory of evolution and the theory of gravity. We won't do that by stomping our feet and camping out in our own corners of "Sociology Land."

So, to get back to the Sociology of Women Who Have Cats...at breakfast, I was speaking with my husband about where we might study such women and their cats. We came up with the following places, and research questions we might want to answer: the work environment (What happens when women bring their cats to work?); in the home (Are cats part of the family network? What role-identity would cats have?); at the park (What happens when women with cats bring their cats to the park and there are lots of dogs?); and my personal favorite, in space (How do women with cats interact with men with dogs on a spaceship?).*

*This last one, actually, reminds me somewhat of the old Muppets sketch, "Pigs in Space," only here we would have "Women Who Have Cats in Space."**
**Just pretend a woman is there - the picture was too funny not to use it.


Drek said...

Now hold on just one damned minute!

Astrosociology is not an official section!

Practicing Idealist said...

Okay, okay, Drek. You're right, and I'm sorry to offend your sensibilities. ; )

I will print a retraction.

TDEC said...

"Pigs in space" was awesome