Monday, December 12, 2011

Inequality between genders

In our society, there has always been a physical difference between both sexes. Therefor it has been a common subject where there are some big inequalities between genders. Just the idea of creating two groups of gender: men and women show the origin of this inequality. Moreover, due to the idea of a physical difference between genders it has created in our society a form of sexism. Where it is believed that man is superior to women, but it’s only a cliché just because it is based on “the physical capacity” of that gender. Somehow this idea has evolved and created many differences and inequalities in our society. There are a lot of discrimination concerning the rights of the women, the salary differences and so on….

Due to the sexism a new movement has been created to that may be considered as a deviance, but it‘s only created to give back the right that the women need. This movement is called feminism where women want to be looked in the same way as the men. They do not want any more discrimination and need to have the same status and work equally with men. Also by threaten the woman the same way as the men it will help the society and economy to grow further and be healthier. The following video is a good explanation of the inequality that is happening in our society.

Education: At School and at Home

In one of our recent Sociology classes we learned about Education. The lesson was very valuable because we all learned that there is more than one method of educating someone. I personally did not actually take into account how everyone learns something everyday, and it is not necessarily at school. The act of learning in a systematic and planned way is known as formal education. When students pay to be taught in an institution facilitated to accommodate instruction of various subjects it is known as schooling. But the method in which people learn everyday is called informal education. Informal education happens spontaneously and is not planned.

Informal education is extremely important in our day-to-day lives. Ever since we were children, we have been both formally and informally educated, and of course gone through schooling. Learning how to walk and talk, and learning the language our family speaks are some of the first examples in our lives of being informally educated.

Whether it was watching mom cooking or playing basketball with dad, we were being educated in some aspect of life. I know that when I watch my mom cooking a traditional dish, I have to try cooking it after. Today, through watching my mom making a variety of dishes for parties and for the family, I know how to cook dishes like curries, pasta, and rice. This is also a slightly gender polarized job, and it socializes young women into taking up the role of becoming a wife and mother. I learned how to cook from my mom and how to play sports from my dad. This shows that there is a relationship between gender and informal education, particularly in learning about family responsibilities and chores as a child.

Another example of informal education is when you get involved in groups or organizations. I joined a choir at Church, and did not expect to learn about different voices and pitches or even how to read music scores. These things happened spontaneously and were not planned in being taught to the members of the choir. Joining any type of club or organization imparts informal education whether it is public speaking or learning how to be a team leader.

Formal education and schooling are also important because it teaches us the skills we need for specializing in a certain field, such as law or medicine. Formal education also involves paying for classes like guitar or piano, it does not always occur at a school. My brother and I took guitar lessons and it was a great experience to learn how to play a musical instrument. If we continue learning and become expert guitarists, we can then teach other people who want to learn how to play.

When our generation grows to become parents someday, we too will impart our knowledge of informal education to our children through teaching them how to walk and talk, teaching them morals, household responsibilities, and many other important aspects of life.

Cai Guo-Qiang Gunpowder's Project impact On Qatar

From November 2011 through December 2011, I’ve been working with Chinese Contemporary Artist and Curator; Cai Guo-Qiang, hosted by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar. Cai initially began working with gunpowder to foster spontaneity and confront the suppressive, controlled artistic tradition and social climate in China.

While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, Cai explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and the development of his signature "explosion events". While I was participating in this project, I noticed that sociology has a very huge impact on the process was running on through the whole project. At the beginning, there was a huge discussion of hosting the Gunpowder Project here in Qatar by engaging the young generation with it, however, Mathaf has broke the norms by introducing the Gunpowder Project in Qatar. Everyone who heard about the huge explosion that is going to be held in Qatar got worried about it, however, the advertisement around Doha Town helped people to get engaged with the process of the project and actually people signed to participate in this new norm happening in Qatar.

From day one, I’ve been noticing many sociological aspects from culture, mcdonaldzation, to individuality vs. collectivism. Even though, it’s Cai’s individual artwork, he broke the norm by involving us the audience from China and Qatar, in his project by assigning us tasks to complete his work as a group instead. I found that he had assigned each participant with specific tasks and everyone would be working with efficiency, calculability, predictability under his control, which symbolize mcdonaldzation. On the other hand, the gender and ethnicity was not a problem with him at all. There were many people from this region and foreigners too collaborating in his project, which is a morality's gesture from him. By hosting here in Qatar I believe, he had a huge impact in spreading his culture through his Artworks by attracting the audience and engaging them to spread and share his values. I learned from this experience that, culture could be extent through many various ways rather than the old fashioned techniques; it needs only an influential vision and strength to accomplish the intention.

It's All over the News!!

The Project's Conclusion.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Women Rights

In our Sociology class we learned about feminism.Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.
Feminist theory, emerging from these feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience, developing theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender.

What I am writing today will be from my own point of view. I will be including religions “Islam” point of view as well. I will be talking about women rights in Islam.

We all agree that women and men are both human, but does society think that they should be given equal rights? That sounds reasonable since they are all humans.
In another sense women are very different from men in their physical, mental, and emotional nature.
If equality between people of the same gender is impossible because of the differences of skills and abilities, so how can we request equality for very different genders?
Women and men are equal in religious obligations. Both are required to testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, obligatory charity, and pilgrimage. In certain conditions it is easier for women since they go through physical changes during the monthly period they are excused from prayers and fasting. Men and women are both equal in the financial and property ownership. In Islam women can go in to business selling, buying, owning, with no need of guard ship and with no restrictions or limitations.
Sometimes the society itself creates some rules, which put women whom go in to certain types of businesses in a category that are considered deviant.
In Islam Men and women are equal in the rights of getting education. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said: Seeking knowledge is compulsory for each and every Muslim (i.e. both male and female).
[Ibn Majah #224 al-Baihaqi and verified]
The Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said: The most complete believer is the best in character, and the best of you is the best to his womenfolk.
[Tirmidhi #1162 and verified]
In Islam they have equal punishments and rewards as Allah said in the Quran: (Whoever does righteous acts, whether male or female, while he is a believer, verily, to him we will give a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.)
There are much more rights that I didn’t mention that really shows how Islam honors women. To know more about women rights in Islam visit

You Think You Know Ghetto?

After walking out of my Sociology class on Thursday, I questioned myself about the standardized intelligence tests we take throughout school and university. Thinking about it, the education we receive is mostly based on our wealth, culture and ethnic background. It is extremely difficult to come across a standardized test without having the exam be culturally and ethnically unbiased. Standardized exams tend to be culturally biased since the ones who write them are usually white, middle-class, individuals. This is not necessarily done intentionally, but the people who are most eligible to attend university are middle and higher-class individuals in our society. As Sociology insists, we do not have control of which family or which social class we are born into, and the education we get is based on that. In other words, richer people tend to have greater chances of better education, whereas lower class individuals get inferior education. Representative of this case would be in America where it is stereotypically known that most whites and Asian people get the better education, while the African Americans and Latinos get less.

Tracking in schools play huge role in this situation. Tracking is when education systems sort students into distinct instructional groups according to similarities in their past academic performance, results on standardized tests, or even anticipated academic expectations. In most cases, students are grouped based on their test scores and past performances. Research suggests that this special curriculum exaggerates and widens the gap among students and continues the belief that intellectual ability varies according to social class and ethnic group. Thus, at most times, this influences the chances of a student’s dropping out of high school based on their racial and ethnic classification.

Halfway through class, our professor gave us a “You Think You Know Ghetto?” test. At first, I was surprised and wondered as to why he made us take the test. After completing it, it made me realize how if not all, but most tests I have taken are culturally biased! I realized that most standardized tests go to the extent of creating educational inequality and institutional racism, and reveal how most white students are privileged. The test gave me an opportunity to put myself in the same shoes as black students after taking a standardized test. The test “ You Think You Know Ghetto?” is a more contemporary version of the Adrian Dove’s famous “Chitling Test of Intelligence” first published in 1971. The test illustrates how cultural language differences affect objective measurements of intelligence in tests.

Some sociologists argue that African Americans demonstrate poorly in intelligence tests in comparison to white students. This gap is more evident in regards to African American language, attitudes, cultural backgrounds and even lifestyle. At most times, cultural content within intelligence tests leads to culturally biased results. As most of the people who design these tests are white and educated, their tests are culturally unfamiliar for dissimilar test takers. For instance, African American students do not use the same language, nor do they have the same cultural background. From this, we may also infer that dominant cultures set the parameters for minority cultures.

Families in TV's Shows

To day I am going to talk about how families are perpetuate in the TV shows; how

They present them, and what the idea of family they are trying to promote for it, also how family is thought to be.

Family not always seen as real family; like there is the same sexual couple; it's tuff topic and in some country its not acceptable .For example, in conservative family won’t allowed any one of their members to have same sexual couple. But other individuals are supporting this new type of concept, and individuals are part of the society.

We notice lately that western countries TV shows are trying to add a new concepts in the society that every thing is fine like same sex marriage and having children a doubted by same sexual couple.

There are arias of society that appose to that, vary conservative position in the society like western society.

There are many types of families, like:

· Single parents: that happened when they face a divorce and the children decide where to live with; the mother or father. Sometimes the law decide with who the children should stay and live

· Communistic partnership: when two people live together without being married and they are committed to staple relation ship. They just are none married

· Civilian union: that is something new which is the couple are leaving together and in a stable relationship and maybe having a children but without marriage

· Also its involve people have the same sex in a relationship and these certain of unions are allow in some countries, but not on the other ones.

· Also some countries allow the adoptions for the same sex couple; its depend on the person, culture, countries and history of them. These are all different types of families

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Education, Culture and Society

Education is an important part of our lives and contributes to our socialization. When speaking of education, sociologists focus on the "formal and informal social interactions that train, discipline, or shape (or reshape) the mind and body in planned or unplanned ways" (Ferrante, 366). We all achieve some sort of education during our lifetime, whether it's spontaneous or intended. Much of our education begins at a very young age in schooling systems. Schools are designed to provide formal, systematic instructions that take place primarily in classrooms. Schools also include extracurricular activities and assignments to be completed outside of the classroom.

Although the aim of schools is to educate students, sometimes the type and method of education is different. Growing up, I went to multiple schools and in different countries. I was born in Saudi Arabia and attended school there until the age of five before I moved to Scotland and studied there. After almost two years of living in Scotland, I returned once again to my previous school in Saudi Arabia. During this period in my life, I realized how different the education systems were. The type of schools were completely different as well.

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic and Arab country, so the majority of the schools taught and encouraged Islamic behavior and Arab culture. Manarat Al-Riyadh, the school which I went to in Saudi Arabia, was an International School that taught both American and British curriculum. In addition, Arabic and Islamic studies were also enforced on students even if they were not Muslims. The cultural and religious studies started from as early as the first grade and continued until the 12th grade.

On the contrary, when I was in Hillhead Primary School in Scotland, the curriculum that was being taught was very different. Unlike my previous school, in Scotland, my school emphasized mostly on manners, behaviors and how to work and interact with people. There was less emphasis on studies and more emphasis on social interaction. Also, there were no classes offered about Scottish or Western culture and no theology classes. Contrasting to Saudi Arabia, the students in my class were of different religions and cultures. There were Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhist, Arab, African, Caucasian and Asian.

We can see how schools are designed to serve society by functioning as places for education, discipline and socialization. The curriculum for schools differ on which background they're from, nevertheless they're purpose is to socialize people to allow them to function according to their society.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Structuring a Family

Polygyny is permitted in Islam because it is more matriarchal; the male has the right to marry four different women. The reason for this is because of the percentage difference in the number of males and females in the world and also to spread Islam. There are a number of different ways in which a woman and man are destined. In Qatar the most popular ways to get married is either based on arranged or love marriages.

Arranged marriage VS. Love marriage, as many may call it, give connotations of being happy and unhappy. The word arranged seems like as if the couple have no choice, being a trap, whereas love suggests happiness and long lasting.

In this generation, marriage has become different. This is mainly because of the development of Qatar, men and women seem to socialize more and gender interaction has increased. Therefore men and women meet in a number of different places which includes the university, workplace and many more. As a result of this development, young singles begin to think, why should I follow these traditions? Their mentality on marriage has changed due to their surroundings and they seek to marry someone they choose rather than their family choice.

Still, the marriage decisions differ from family to family. To some, marriage partners have been appointed ever since they were children, especially children the same age group. This is due to bringing families’ closer and for the continuance of the bloodline, which is considered arranged marriage.

Another form of arranged marriage is when the male chooses the specifications of the wife he wants; these specifications may include appearance, ethnicity, age, education level etc. The male’s mother begins to search by asking friends and family or even by looking at girls they think are suitable in places such as weddings, dinner parties, gatherings etc. Before anything is official and before the mother talk’s to the girls parents, she usually asks the male for his opinion before anything is official.

Nowadays, in Qatar, you can judge the success of a marriage based on the rate of divorce. Articles show that Qatar has one of the highest rates of divorce in the World. Many may perceive it as being the result of an arranged marriage and others see it as the interference of the parents in the couple’s relationship.

A number of reasons could result in divorce. These include; the social conflict caused by exogamy, with constant interference from the society and family. Another reason could be because of marriage based on love, one or both of the couples did not consider family responsibility and only based their marriage on love. Furthermore, other purposes for divorce is the result of arranged marriage, the couple did not get the chance to get to know each other before marriage therefore it resulted in a lack of communication and they may not share the same interests. Many possibilities can be the cause of unsuccessful marriages, whether from arranged or love. Also, vice versa, the success of a marriage can be either from love or arranged marriage as well.

This video shows the seriousness of arranged marriage - "a daughter's refusal to stay in an arranged marriage led to her death and resulted in her father's arrest". It shows to what extreme some cultures or families follow their traditions.

Social Change Meets Local Resistance

I was looking out the window today thinking about what social changes have occurred in Qatar that I can talk about? I mean, compared to revolutions that are happening all over the Arab world, there seemed to be nothing going one, plain and simple. But as the cars passed by in front of my eyes, I thought, “wait a minute, if it wasn’t for that gas in those cars right now, this place would look different in everyway possible.” That is dramatic social change that started seventy years ago, and is still occurring day-after-day.

            In the past decade Qatar faced huge developments. Construction sites covered larger parts of the city than established buildings. The population has grown dramatically in the process, creating an increase in traffic and pollution. Urbanization was clear too, as people from villages in the outskirts of Doha moved to the city center to secure a job and improve their lifestyle. All of that change was fueled by a growth in the economy and a government that opened up the country to the world after many years of isolations.
Translation: "Where are you man! At last the VISA is out we're going to Doha!!
 And we and the sheep, chicken, and fish will be pals in one plate!!

            However, not all locals accepted the degree of openness to the world. Some believed that the country is growing too fast, and others saw that it is important for  change to be adaptive to the local culture. For example, the recent introduction of pork in some markets in Doha caused some furious heads to speak up in radio through Watani Alhabib Sabah’alkhair show, or through blogging and social media. A group of online activists called for a national boycott to the The Pearl where pork would have been sold in open restaurants for the first time. Some cartoonist expressed their own views in the local newspapers on their own way (see picture above)! And rumor says it, the government had decided to listen to those concerns and limit down the selling of alcohol and pork in the country. Nothinng official come out yet.


Prejudice & Racism

Racism is a certain kind of prejudice, based on faulty reasoning and inflexible generalizations toward a specific group. The word prejudice comes from the Latin noun praejudicium, which means a judgment based on previous decisions formed before the facts were known. If a person allows their prejudiced beliefs to block the progress of another, it is discrimination. Those who exclude all members of a race from certain types of employment, housing, political rights, educational opportunities, or a social interactions are guilty of racial discrimination.

Racism is an unmerited fear or dislike of a people because of their ethnic heritage. When colour is not a reason, other reasons such as language, religion, nationality, education, sex, orage become the reason of prejudice.

Sociologists, believe that racial discrimination happens more often and most harshly when two groups with different skin colours and unique physical features come into contact with each other and the two compete for the same thing. A insult directed at a particular ethnic group is likely to get these results in a confrontation: pain, anger, shame, hostility, guilt and embarrassment. Students admitted that they had used racial slurs when angered.

Race hatred often leads to violence. People whom form groups to defend America from a minority takeover fall into the category of extremists. For Example, Mooz-lum is a 2010 American independent film written and directed by Qasim "Q" Basir and starring Danny Glover. Mooz-lum (i.e. "Muslim") tells the story of an African American Muslim family whose lives are changed by the September 11 attacks and their aftermath. The plot is about Amid a strict Muslim rearing and a social life he has never had, Tariq Mahdi (Evan Ross) enters college confused. New peers, family and mentors help him find his place, but the 9/11 attacks force him to face his past and make the biggest decisions of his life.

Social Movements: The Arab Spring

Revolutionary social movements against government have become very common now. It all started with Tunisia where the tipping point occurred to inspire many countries around the world to stand up and hold their own revolutionary social movements, asking for changes in the governments and the ruling system.

If the voices of the people are heard and the government takes their interests seriously, then the social movement will end soon. However, if the people felt their voices are not being heard and nothing is going to happen about their interests they will keep on protesting. Sometimes the ruling party will resist the change even if it meant killing the people of the country like what is happening in Syria and what was happening in Libya. In that case the revolutionary social movement will try to get armed and fight back or stick with a peaceful protest. To get to that place and start moving, the people know that they will have to give many sacrifices. At this stage many people feel they have nothing to lose. Many people suffer of deprivation, objective and relative. Many people don’t have clean water to drink or a shelter for protection, others feel that they are not getting what they deserve relative to what others working close to the government are getting. They feel that the money of the country is not being distributed in the right way, they feel its being stolen by those close to the government.

As a Syrian my self, I know that the movement that is taking place in the country surprised many people in Syria. Even though the people of many Arab countries were rising against their governments at the time, many expected that Syrians will not move because they would be scared by what happened in the 80’s when the former president, the father of the current president, killed over 40,000 civilians when the Muslim Brotherhood movement was flourishing. However, as I said earlier, it seems that many people don’t have anything to lose, they know what’s the consequence of their action, but they just don’t care anymore.

Of course, the Internet has played a significant role in these movements. For example, In Syria the media is not allowed in. So, the media coverage comes from revolutionists who record videos of the events and send it thought the Internet to different news channels. Moreover, the Internet has played as a platform for the revolutionists to communicate and organize the movement across political boarders. Revolutionists inside Syria communicate with other revolutionists outside the country, and those outside the country also organize protests against the Syrian government, like in Qatar and France.

Monday, December 5, 2011

From across the globe

As I sit day after day in sociology class, I realize how everything around me is derived from knowledge and understanding. The topic we zoomed in to this week was education. The focus was on the European Union, and how it functions in the world today. Education is a big word, or should I say, a big world. We follow complex systems and curriculums each and every day.

Schools are used as formal education. There is a set curriculum to be followed. My old school, for example, followed a British system, where the students in grades 9 to 12 or 13 took external examinations such as IGCSE’s or AS or even IB. These examinations allowed the students not only to experience the diversity of other cultures such as that of Britain, but also to see what is being schooled to children half way across the globe from them.

The child in a school like this is not only taught how to diversify his/her ideas, but also learn the culture of another country. This is what we call a ‘hidden curriculum’ where a child receives skills or benefits beyond the knowledge in the content of a book. Life skills, something such as being taught that ‘sharing is caring’ and ‘to stand out, is to excel’ is something that is not directly written in a book, but is conveyed within the classrooms.

Nowadays, schools have integrated a class titled ‘PSHE’ which stands for Personal, Social and Health Education. This class teaches children to take care of their health and balance their diets. Not only that, it helps them organize their thoughts and time in effective ways. It had become such an essential part of the core school curriculum that if a student did not take it, they simply could not pass to the next class.

The only problem with such educations and in private arenas is that it costs much more to send a child to an international school with a British system, than to place that child in a government school.