Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blog Post #2

1.I decided to combine the two topics, though it may be a bit "too" specific: focusing on how successful minority students (based on race, gender, sexuality, etc) are in college, especially public vs private universities and how they act in college Greek culture.

2. Searching "fraternity privatization college" I actually came across a blogspot talking specifically about fraternities in a privatized college background (without the focus on minorities). Looking at this student's opinions will be useful for dissecting the topic since it has several layers of things needed to research.

3. https://books.google.com/books?id=FE4E9xJHDn4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=greek+life+universities+minorities&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjdwcarwJDSAhXCJJoKHcuOCtcQ6AEIQTAG#v=onepage&q&f=false

 4. I also realize that learning about black history is also something that may be important to focus on. An example is how "The Divine Nine" black Greek organizations may have not existed if univerisities were as privatized back then as they are today.  

Another book I've looked at that may be important is https://books.google.com/books?id=oDuBvb3oT6wC&printsec=frontcover&dq=fraternity+universities+worth+it&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjzp-PzwZDSAhVILZoKHQ7CAs8Q6AEILTAD#v=onepage&q=fraternity%20universities%20worth%20it&f=false " "fraternity gang rape: sex, brotherhood, and privilege on campus", which delves into rape culture.

6. So far I did not find any controversies yet since I've only delved into the surface level of searching each "background" and how they may interconnect with each other (minorities, Greek life, privatization)


  1. Based on what you have written here and on our conversation in class on Tuesday, I think there are still a lot of directions you can go. But it seems you are interested in thinking about fraternities and privatization. Maybe issues of sexuality in fraternities. I'd like to see more where you choose to go before offering multiple suggestions. Instead, I will tell you about a topic that has occurred to me a few times and that I have suggested in some forms to various folks. It might just give you a sense of how a project touching on all these key words might go.

    I took my inspiration from reading The Dark Power of Fraternities in The Atlantic, which many fraternity members tend to reject outright because it seems to be feeding the "negative stereotypes" associated with fraternities. But at the heart of the article (and beginning about halfway through it) is actually a very interesting story about how the insurance industry's attempts to manage the risks associated with fraternities led them to, essentially, "privatize" that risk by making it the responsibility of individual chapters, who pass it to individual members and ultimately to individuals who visit a fraternity. This is the ultimate example of privatization in action, with money being the main issue at stake.

    It occurred to me while reading this (which everyone should read) that this issue of privatization at fraternities goes way beyond this single aspect.... (more in the next installment, as there is a character limit).

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  3. Broadly understood, privatization is basically a shift of responsibility and risk from collective agents (such as governments or society) to individuals. This is what Jacob Hacker calls "the great risk shift" in his book by that name. What happens with fraternity insurance being shifted from large organizations, to individual chapters, to individual members, and on to individuals is just a microcosm for so many other shifts toward "individual responsibility" that take place in the larger privatized system encouraged by American-style capitalism.

    The odd thing, though, is that it somewhat runs counter to the sense of community that is created by fraternity membership. What Armstrong and Hamilton describe as "class reproduction" through "social closure" is at the heart of fraternity membership, which excludes some and creates a small gated community where members are willing to go to any length for their brothers while excluding others (though also doing charitable works that make up for that). This system creates a private privilege shared among the members. At its best, this is no different from how many "imagined communities" exclude and include, like countries with their patriotism and their borders. But usually members of a community take responsibility for each other that goes well beyond even mere community membership. So the way this privatization of insurance enters the fraternity could be very negative, potentially pitting brothers against each other.

    In general, though, this mode of privatization probably serves a system that can justify predation upon outsiders, including "irresponsible" women who come to the fraternity to have a good time and may find themselves ending up gang raped. After all, the logic of privatization, taken to the extreme, is that the individual is always responsible for their actions and there are no rules that require people to take responsibility for helping and watching out for others (especially outsiders). The system of privatization pushes individual responsibility.

    I have not worked out the details of this reading, but it seems like an interesting territory for exploring using case material.