presenter5768x1024After the conference, some students will be asked to write summaries of their experience at the conference. What did you attend? Which panels (titles, names of presenters)? What was presented? What did you learn? What was your response to the keynote address? The documentary films? Feel free to post your experiences in the comments section below. Please do include pictures that you took at the conference (or linked to them on Flickr or other photo websites), your name and a link to your website (if you have one).

15 comments on “Responses
  1. jr01gior says:

    Josh Giordano’s post on the Sociological Symposium

  2. be11jory says:

    Below is the link from my class blog about the Sociology Symposium. In it, I talk about the 2 documentaries I attended: “The Patron Saints” and “Household: Four Stories of Kinship and Curiosity”

    • be11jory says:

      Brittney Jory:This is my edited version of the post from my page including academic sources. The post can be found on my website here: You can also find photos from the event on my website.

      On April 12, 2014, I attended the Sociology Symposium at Siena College. The theme this year had to do with visual sociology and visual cultures. The symposium consisted of many different presentations and documentaries. The two documentaries I attended were entitled The Patron Saints and Household: Four Stories of Kinship and Curiosity. Although these documentaries focused on different things, I think overall one can see the importance of documentaries to tell the stories of those who we do not hear from in popular media.

      In this post I will be talking about the importance of documentaries and how they help to tell stories that may otherwise go unheard in popular media. As Nichols (1991) points out, documentaries allow us to see social issues of the time presented in a creative way. The main focus of the first documentary, The Patron Saints, had to do with elderly care and how even though this particular nursing home was a good one, these people still lay in bed all day and become completely unaware of their surroundings and who they are. Unfortunately because these people are not in their prime of life, they are instructed on what they can do and when. As Moss & Halamandaris (1977) points out, these people become essentially unimportant to society. This is an important point to make because once we feel someone is incapable of handling their life, we give them low quality care and feel as though we are capable of making all decisions for them until these people do not even want to live anymore. The reason a documentary is needed to explain such a story as this is because the media portrays what they consider to be beautiful people, not the elderly who are sick and unattractive.

      The next and final documentary I attended was called Household: Four Stories of Kinship and Curiosity presented and created by Craig Saddlemire. The basic premise of this movie was the story of 4 unique families who learned about and narrated the story of the other families (this is somewhat confusing so I included the link to the website here to help clear up the idea). I found this documentary to be extremely eye opening and interesting. I think this video really brought our Sociology of the Family class full circle in saying there really is no one family; family is what you shape it to be. Bengtson (2004) alludes to this by talking about how family dynamics and definitions are changing; there is no longer just the nuclear family. These families had many different issues to explain and explore, including things like judgments, homophobia, racism, foster care, divorce, and many more. I thought Saddlemire did a nice job allowing these people to tell their stories in their own setting, while allowing the other families to give interpretations. It really just goes to show we have judgments and insight into all aspects of life, including what it means to be family. The documentary aspect was important again in this case because these are also people we do not generally hear from, and when we do, they are oppressed by judgments in society.

      In this post, I have demonstrated what these documentaries are about and the importance of the documentary in telling these stories. Without documentaries and independent film makers, popular media would not expose these stories. These people’s lives and stories would forever be unheard. Therefore, my summary point is there needs to be more support for people who create documentaries, and people should become more open minded to watching documentaries about things that they may find uninteresting. Even though these documentaries can only tell a few stories, they help to allow people to become more open minded and put a name to the face of oppression.


      Bengtson, Vern L. “Beyond the Nuclear Family: The Increasing Importance of Multigenerational Bonds.” Journal of Marriage and Family 63.1 (2001): 1-16.

      Moss, Frank, and Val Halamandaris. Too old, too sick, too bad: Nursing homes in America. Germantown: Aspen Systems Corps., 1977. Print.

      Nichols, Bill. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

  3. sm07mond says:

    Shannah Mondore’s post about the sociology symposium.

  4. bb26graz says:

    Here is the link to my website page which discusses the panel on Visual Culture and Visual Representations of Race and Religion. It also discusses the keynote address and contains images from both presentations. -Brian Graziose

  5. stephderu says:

    One panel at the sociology symposium (presented by Imani Powell, Alexandra Clark and Will Sollin) discussed the portrayal of women in rap and hip-hop music videos. Women are being displayed as objects in videos such as “Gold Digger” and “Blurred Lines.” Women are not seen as individual beings, but rather as property or for the pure use of male entertainment. Some common themes in rap videos include derogatory statements about women in relation to sex, statements involving violent actions toward women, and references of women as usable and discard able beings. There have been controversial images of extremely exposed women in music videos, which lead to a negative view of feminism (Alexander). These videos have a large impact on young people’s identity formation. I believe these videos are exploiting women, but still try to make it look their acts look glamorous. They use what is known as misogyny (the hatred or disdain of women) by making them feel reduced or unimportant. They make women believe that this kind of behavior is acceptable and it will grab men’s attention, but in reality, there is not much self-respect involved in these kinds of acts. Rap videos that portray men, who may be fully clothed while the women are almost completely naked, send a powerful message to both men and women. Young women who view these videos may develop body objectification issues (Grabe). This kind of content is what our culture has displayed in the media, the message that it is ok for men to objectify women and that women should succumb to the desires of men. One major issue is not only the message being sent to young adults, but to young children as well (Sheng). Children listen to popular rap and hip-hop songs on their radio, iPods, etc. With the internet being easily accessible, children can surf YouTube for entertainment and find a video with the title of their favorite song. Children may not realize what king of content is displayed in these videos. When they view them, they may be shocked to find lots of sexuality portrayed in the video. It could confuse them or it could intrigue them. “Some experts see an unwelcome and damaging push for kids to internalize the on-screen behaviors” (Bernstein 2). Producers, director’s singers etc. are not aware of the consequences of the content they display to the public. Body objectification and negative messages sent to the youth (Sexuality) are just a few of the negative results of hip-hop and rap videos.

    For pictures and references visit

  6. marisashayne says:

    ~Marisa Kucskar
    In this post I will be discussing two documentaries and using information from a wordpress by Natalie Topalian on stereotypes in advertising. The first documentary that I viewed was “The Patron Saints” by Pigeon Projects Films. I found the documentary to be very eye-opening. I have never really viewed how disheartening nursing homes are. I really appreciated the way they focused in on the lives of different elderly individuals. These individuals have different experiences in the nursing home. But what they all have in common is that they do not want to be there. Elderly individuals view nursing homes to be a prison. I think that James, the narrator of the documentary, said it best. James compares nursing homes to foster homes and demonstrates how you are just chaining one institution for another. There is not real freedom in either of these institutions. The commonality that they are sharing is that they always tell you what to do. I also really appreciated the focus on Rosemary. It was astonishing to see that everyone in the nursing home felt so protective of her. They say how she was struggling and how her own brother had done this to her and they had their “maternal” instincts kick in and that made everyone come together like a family. So although these elderly individuals can never leave the nursing home, they haven taken the steps to form connections with each other to make their stay work. I really appreciate the way that the filmmakers chose to portray this topic. They did not try to hide the ugly side of nursing homes. They decided to put it front and center and I respect this decision.

    The second documentary that I will be discussing is “Household: Four Stories of Kinship and Curiosity” by Craig Saddlemire. This documentary was very different compared to the one previously discussed. This documentary focused on the stories for four different families who shared some similarities to one another. The first thing that I thought of after viewing this documentary was that the director really has a great vision. I would have never thought to compare the lives of four different families. That to me takes great talent. The main point made in this documentary is that there is no such thing as a normal family. I like the way that the portrayed “non-typical” families. But the reality is that there is no such thing as a normal family. All families differ from one another. The only thing that families have in common is that they are a group of individuals who love about one another. Love is not based on the color of you skin or if there is a blood connection between you and your children.

    The main points that I will be focusing on in the site of Natalie Topalian include stereotypes in the media and how television is reinforcing these stereotypes. I found it very interesting on how much influence the media has on our perception of individuals. One quote that I took for the wordpress would have to be how stereotypical advertisements affect our perceptions. Studies also show that exposure to stereotypical advertisements influences the attitudes and behavior of those exposed to them (Cohen-Eliya).I found this to be very interesting because it is true. I never really thought about it much before, but advertisements really do influence an individuals attitudes and behaviors. I also found it astonishing that there is such an underrepresentation of minorities in the media and more specifically in commercials. “Studies show that racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in advertisements. Latinos & Asian Americans are underrepresented overall, however African Americans are only underrepresented in romantic and family settings. Asain Americans are over-represented overall, but are more likely than other minorities to have background roles” (Taylor). I have always thought that minorities are being accurately represented in the media. This really has changed the way that I view the media and advertisements.

    I have found the Sociology Student Symposium to be a very eye-opening experience. In this post I have discussed the two documentaries that were presented at the Symposium as well as a site on how stereotypes affect the media and advertisements. As I have previously stated, the main point I have made in the post is how their is still inequality in our society. I also have focused on the fact that there is no such thing as a norm anymore. The minority is the new majority.
    You can also see a posting of this summary on the site.


    1. Cohen-Eliya, M. and Hammer, Y. “Advertisements, Stereotypes, and Freedom of Expression”. Journal of Social Philosophy 35 (2004): 165–187.

    2. Household: Four Stories of Kinship and Curiosity. Dir. Craig Saddlemire. Round Point Movies, 2013. Film

    3. Taylor, Charles and Barbara Stern. “Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the “Model Minority” Stereotype”. Journal of Advertising, Vol. 26, No. 2 (1997): pp. 47-61.

    4. The Patron Saints. Dir. Brian M. Cassidy, and Melanie Shatzky. Pigeon Projects Films, 2012. Film

  7. vm11matt says:

    Documentary: Craig Saddlemire presenting “Household: Four Stories of Kinship and Curiosity.”
    This documentary tells the story of 4 different families that live in walking distance from Craig’s home, and the families will then learn about each other through this documentary. I thought that Shannon’s story was really eye opening. The idea that a whole family had to split up because of a mortgage payment essentially, is something that I think is hard to grasp for a lot of kids my age who are under the impression that it’s going to get easier as we grow up. I think that it’s really hard to empathize with someone else’s issues, especially family issues, but this documentary does a good job of opening viewers’ eyes to the hardships of other families. It does a good job of displaying that “normal” families aren’t necessarily the way they seem on the outside, and likewise, normalcy isn’t easy to define. I also liked the comparison the documentary made about the way a true modern family is compared to Hollywood’s hit show “Modern Family.” In reality, all those families in the show are predominantly white, upper middle class, single household families. That’s not the way families truly are nowadays. Families of mixed ethnicity, that aren’t middle class, and are separated from their extended families is very common in today’s society. So even though Modern Family does show how different families are nowadays compared to previous times, there is way more diversity in families even still that the show does not portray. I think that Barbara’s story would be a good one to show to Siena students. Here at Siena, students are generally blessed with well-off families that can afford college or can support their children as students are learning to pay for school. This stories portrays a family that gets all the love and support from their family like Siena students, but the family has had so many obstacles to overcome because of racial, sexual, and class stereotypes society has.

    Here’s a link to the documentary’s trailer and some info about the author.

    Lunch Speaker: Douglas Harper presenting “Siena College Seeing Theory.”
    Dr. Harper told about how he uses photography as a way to document the lives of the people he looked at. He looked at harvest workers that lived in box cars, people affected by the city as a social factor, and the affect of rural life on sociology. His photos from the migrant workers were the most striking for me. He mentioned that we probably eat the fruit that these workers make a life out of picking, and we probably have never even thought twice about were the fruit came from. Dr. Harper attempted to show us through this analogy that these workers have significant lives in stages and a culture shaped by their labor force that I have never even thought


  8. Anjali Panackal says:

    Anjali Panackal’s response after attending the Sociological Student Symposium:

    • Anjali Panackal says:

      At the Sociological Student Symposium, I attended the viewing of The Patron Saints, a documentary by Pigeon Projects. This is a duo of filmmakers, Melanie Shatzky and Brian Cassidy. The film observed the residents of a nursing home for five years.

      It was a very interesting look at the individuals that our society often forgets purposefully. The characters in this documentary were old men and women close to death, who were all in different stages of dealing with that knowledge. The filmmakers offered no commentary or outside information, instead choosing to focus on the residents themselves.

      There was the central character, James, who had been in institutions all his life. After his parents gave him up in the middle of a divorce, he was in foster homes, prison, and now in the nursing home. There was the old Hungarian man who had lost his wife a few years back and kept everyone up some nights, screaming “No good,” in Hungarian. The filmmakers showed a relatively young, blind, mentally disabled woman named Rosemary, who had been abused into such a state by her brother, and her roommate, who took on Rosemary as a surrogate daughter, her own child dead a few years back.

      There was the woman who kept asking why she was in the nursing home. She asked the filmmakers, the nurses, and her fellow residents the same question several times a day. There was another woman who missed her son Walter. She believed that Walter would realized that he loved her as well and would come and take her away from the nursing home. Such mental dysfunction is very common in nursing homes, and there is no one way to treat such behavior (Fries, 898). There were Latino residents, whose families came in and rubbed their joints and took care of them. In contrast, there were white residents who rarely saw family and when they did had little physical contact with them.

      The quality of nursing homes is variable, depending on the management that runs the organization (O’Neill, 1318). Nursing homes often include beauty parlors and numerous activities for patients. Without these kinds of entertainment, a person’s mental condition can degenerate quickly. The filmmakers were allowed into the nursing home because their presence was similarly beneficial for the residents.

      It was interesting to note that the mostly white residents were taken care of by immigrant workers, of Latino and African ethnicities. This demographic has been seen in other studies (Allen, 36). While white families had no interest in physical contact with their elderly, the nurses and caregivers were entirely comfortable with touching and caring for the residents in the hospital. This must have an interesting effect on the elderly in these nursing homes, and how their care aids in the progression of their declining condition.

      Allen, Priscilla D. and Katie Cherry. “Race Relations in the Nursing Home Setting.” Race, Gender & Class 13 (2006) 36-45.
      Fries, Brant E., David R. Mehr, Don Schneider, William J. Foley and Robert Burke. “Mental Dysfunction and Resource Use in Nursing Homes.” Medical Care 31 (1993) 898-920.
      O’Neill, Ciaran, Charlene Harrington, Martin Kitchener and Debra Saliba. “Quality of Care in Nursing Homes: An Analysis of Relationships among Profit, Quality, and Ownership.”
      Medical Care 41 (2003) 1318-1330.

  9. christencherry says:

    Below is the link to my symposium post.

  10. kl07mish says:

    Kelli Mishoe’s response to the sociology student symposium can be found here

  11. dstreet92 says:

    Link to Dan Streets page with his symposium post

  12. ja19terr says:

    On this past Saturday, April 12th, I attended Sociology Student Symposium to watch fellow classmates and filmmakers present their studies. Throughout the day there were several different panels and three documentaries that touched on many different topics. I had volunteered to sign people in for breakfast and then I attend the documentary, “The Patron Saints,” that was directed by Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky. The documentary was shot in a nursing home over a period of five years. The directors chose to focus on a few subjects in particular and a few aspects of nursing homes that influence the day to day lives of these individuals.
    With the increasing amount of elderly people, there is a growing population that will need further care in the future. Nursing homes or other aided care is necessary with daily activity. According to Gillian Harper Ice (2002), most residents of nursing homes are disabled, weak or have chronic, coexisting conditions. Most patients are in need of assistance in their day to day care. They are highly dependent on the institution’s staff as well as family members not only for physical needs but emotional and psychological needs as well. The patients within the documentary were experiencing a variety of issues, most had cases of dementia. One patient was unaware of where she was or her reason for being there. Other patients, were hand fed their meals, clothed, washed and given medications at all hours. Staff members are aware of their conditions and take care of the patients to the best of their ability.
    Nursing home staff members are often highly stressed. Acting as a caretaker for many patients at one time is a lot of work for minimal pay. One study, shows that although stressful, the work is harder depending on the feelings of the patient/resident (Brodaty et. al, 2003). Staff within this study found that most patients had negative attitudes, not positive. These residents were much harder to please, while most of the staff enjoyed their jobs, 25% claimed that it was not because of the patients. The directors of the film captured a gracious relationship between resident and staff. The film showed patients that only see their families once or twice a year. The staff must double as company and a caretaker. According to Cooper, Selwood, and Livingston, one in four of the elderly are at risk of neglect. A disabled young woman, who they called Ro-Ro in the documentary, was physically abused by a family member and is unable to have unsupervised visits and her roommate had taken on a maternal role in her life. Overall, the relationship between the nursing home staff and residents was professional and caring. The nurses were assertive when the patients were not cooperating, however all nursing staff was helpful and caring.
    The documentary was very moving. Jim, one of the patients, added humor to the film as well. It was upsetting to learn families rarely visit their residents. They were lonely and neglected. I think that many elderly people are uncomfortable being in nursing homes to begin with. A comforting staff seems to ease the resident into cooperating and overall benefiting their health.

    1. Brodaty, Henry, Brian Draper & Lee-Fay Low. “Nursing home staff attitudes towards residents with dementia: strain and satisfaction with work.” Journal of Advanced Nursing. 44(2003): 583-590.

    2. Cooper, Claudia, Amber Selwood, & Gill Livingston. “The prevalence of elder abuse and neglect:a systematic review.” Age and Aging. 37(2008): 151-160.

    3. Ice, Gillian Harper. “Daily life in a nursing home Has it changed in 25 years?” Journal of Aging Studies. 16(2002): 345-359.

    This is a link to my blog:

  13. jr01gior says:

    On Saturday April 12th, Dr. Douglas Harper spoke about “Siena College Seeing Sociology.”

    Dr. Harper’s talk on “Seeing Sociology” was extremely visual, he uses many photos that he took during his studies. Dr. Harper began with his study “Migrant homelessness” in which his book Good Company: A Tramp Life reflects. He showed many images of homeless men, boxcar men and images of ragged people. One particular image was of a box car man in Minneapolis. The man was shaving his face in the picture. Dr. Harper explains how these men spent every bit of the money they had on alcohol, many of these people were alcoholics, and their greatest concern was not the money itself or surviving, but having alcohol. Prevailing theories showed deviance as a role failure and vagabonds as responses to structural strain. Surveys showed that hypotheses reflect hegemonic values and orientations. Some of his new theories include tramp culture as coherent and culture as labor force, including ethnography. Methods would include immersion in culture and photog photo doc of cultural understandings. Another study by Dr. Harper is rural work and social life, in which is his book Working Knowledge: Skill and Community in a Small Shop shows. Dr. Harper uses many images once again to help show his new theories and uphold prevailing theories. These prior theories include human capital, or rural sociology, scientific methods, rationalization of farming and progress in change. These methods include surveys to measure how and why farmers adopted modern methods. His new theories or themes included rural culture as bricolage, informational relationships in rural society, which works off of Levi Strauss and Weber on rationalization. Methods would include photo elicitation, using images to explore culture, micro study of work and document study of social relations. These are just few of the many studies that Dr. Harper has engaged in. Other studies include meaning of agricultural modernization, and his book Changing Works: Visions of a Lost Agriculture, and a city as a social actor, which is book Hong Kong: Migrant Landscapes, discusses. These are just a few more of the many studies in which Dr. Harper has engaged in, however, all of his studies use photos and images of the things he is studying to help convey his ideas. Another study completed by Dr. Harper, which he did not get to present, was the sociology of food, in which is book The Italian Way: Food and Social Life is based on. The prevailing theory includes studies of food culture or studies of environmental, economic and other issues relating to food. Methods include ethnographies of food cultures, histories and economic studies. New theories involve cultural immersion and Mary Douglas’ ideas of structuralism. The related methods include photo studies of family work, family interactions, home interiors and iconic historical images.

    Works Cited

    Harper, Douglas. Good Company: The Tramp Life. Paradigm Publishers, Boulder, 2006.
    Harper, Douglas. Working Knowledge: Skill and Community in a Small Shop. University Of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987.
    Harper Douglas. Changing Works: Visions of a Lost Agriculture. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001.
    Harper Douglas. Hong Kong: Migrant Landscapes. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001.
    Harper Douglas. The Italian Way: Food and Social Life. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2009.

    -By Josh Giordano

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