Complete this week’s assigned readings from Practical Skeptic – Core Concepts, and view all of the multimedia and other materials for this module. Answer the following questions related to any five of the following readings in Practical Skeptic – Reader, 3 from the culture set and 2 from the socialization set (about 1-2 paragraphs per reading): Culture Reading 8 – Queer Customs What does Kluckhohn mean by the phrase “culturally standardized unreason”? Offer some examples of such unreason from your own culture. Reading 9 – Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Do you think you would enjoy a vacation in the land of the Nacirema? Why or why not? Where do the Nacirema live? Reading 10 – Act Your Age What does Laz mean by “age as accomplished”? Discuss the benefits of using this model as an approach to studying age in America? Do you believe it is equally valuable in all cultures? Defend your answer. Reading 11 – Code of the Streets Based on this article, what is the major similarity between so-called “decent” families and “street” families? Describe the “vicious cycle” this characteristic creates for the latter families. Reading 13 – The Girl Hunt: Urban Nightlife and the Performance of Masculinity The author of this study illustrates a point often made in the sociology of gender literature: that gender is enacted rather than possessed. This particular article deals with enactment of masculinity in the modern urban scene of dating and hunting for a mate. Describe the ritualistic behaviors observed by this author while observing “the girl hunt” in this study. Socialization Reading 21 – Anybody’s Son Will Do Erving Goffman (1961) described “total institutions” as living/working environments that cut people off from the wider society and regulate every detail of their daily lives. Based on what you have learned from Dyer’s description of how this total institution resocializes a person, what sorts of procedures would you institute in your total institution to help ensure its success? For example, what sorts of things would you do to your “recruits” when they first arrive at your total institution? Reading 22 – Suspended Identity: Identity Transformation in a Maximum Security Prison Schmid and Jones describe a process of identity transformation in a maximum security prison. Why do you think the “suspended identity process” is more valuable in this context than straightforwardly grasping a new identity? Compare a similar experience you have had (not necessarily in prison) involving this process of identity transformation with another experience in which the new identity was more easily accepted. How did these circumstances differ? Reading 23 – How Women Reshape the Prison Guard Role Sociologists often describe role-taking – that is, we describe how the requirements of a social role change a person’s behavior. However, this article describes the “role-making” of those who move into the social role of prison guard. How do these two concepts differ? What is the basis for the role-making in this article? What are the consequences of this role-making within this research environment? Cite any sources, including assigned readings, according to APA citation guidelines. Save your answers in a Word document. Submit your answers to After viewing the originality report for your paper from, make any necessary changes to your paper before submitting it to the Submit tool.



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Identity Transformation in a Maximum Security Prison

The suspended identity process is valuable in its application in the prison context since it represents a strategy for inmates to hold on to the hope of future freedom. The suspended identity model suggests that prisoners modify their identity to suit the prison environment as a way to protect their right self (Schmid, & Jones, 1991). The identity change is a strategy to survive the prison environment until their release. Protecting one’s true identity from the harsh environment of prison provides an opportunity for the prisoners to hold on to hope for the future.

I can compare this experience to my experience in the scouts’ summer camp. The camp was aimed at training teenagers the behavior of discipline and life skills. The program was meant to modify the individual to conform to an expected way of life. By protecting who I believed I was, I was able to combine the newly acquired identity with my core self.

Comparing my experience with that of the prisoners, the significant difference is that prisoners have no freedom to leave, but in the scout’s summer camp I had the privilege to go if I wanted to. Because prisoners are held captive, they develop a need to hold on to hope for the future. They do this by protecting their true identity which makes the suspended identity model a significant part of their prison stay.

Anybody’s Son Will Do

The article offers a lesson that it is possible to change behavior through isolating people from the rest of society and dictating all aspects of an individual’s life through strategies such as repetitive behavior, implementing strict institutional rules (Ferguson, 2007). Consequently, to ensure the success of my total institution, the immediate concern would be enforcing strained ground rules. The rules should be followed and non-negotiable. The next step would be ensuring that the individuals understand the reason behind their presence in the institution. During the process of guaranteeing total behavior change, repeated behavior would be a significant strategy in ensuring that the members are conditioned to adopt the new culture.

Act Your Age

The phrase age as accomplished means that society associates certain behaviors and rules to specific age groups. Thus the society expects individuals to behave in such a way that identifies with their age. (Laz, 1998)

The model is beneficial in that it portrays age as a factor of accomplishment. The society judges the performance of an individual based on the expectations of culture on people of the specific age.  However, different cultures have different expectations for various age groups, and thus the model is only appropriate in a particular context of culture. Further, the upbringing of individuals also influences their behavior and how they act depending on the norms and rules stipulated in their culture.

Body Ritual among the Nacirema.

I would undoubtedly enjoy a vacation in the land of the Nacirema. Their culture encompasses shrines, ceremonies, and rituals that excite my interest in their application and relevance to the Nacirema society. The vacation would offer a perfect opportunity to witness magic at first hand which forms the basis of their culture. The Nacirema lived in the Carib of the Antilles, Canadian Cree and Yaqui of Mexico (Miner, 2001)

Code of the streets.

The most significant similarity between the street and decent families is that they both live in an imperfect environment and all strive to attain or maintain a decent life.  The desire to either keep or achieve a decent life creates a basis for the occurrence of a vicious cycle fueled by various factors. Factors such as stereotyping, racism, inequality, lack of respect and a sense of hopelessness create a formidable barrier for the street and decent obstacles making their desire to attain a decent life more difficult (Anderson, 1994). Consequently, this creates a situation of resentment among those that can’t achieve their aspirations and those that have already achieved.  The bitterness builds a vicious cycle of hopelessness, violence, and inequality.



Schmid, T. J., & Jones, R. S. (1991). Suspended identity: Identity transformation in a maximum security prison. Symbolic Interaction, 14(4), 415-432.

Ferguson, S. J. (2007). Mapping the social landscape: Readings in sociology. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages.

Laz, C. (1998, March). Act your age. In Sociological forum (Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 85-113). Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers.

Miner, H. (2001). Body Ritual among the Nacirema. Conflict, Order and Action: Readings in Sociology, 52.

Anderson, E. (1994). The code of the streets. Atlantic monthly, 273(5), 81-94.


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