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Bo Cassell, M.A., M.Div.

Bo Cassell is an Associate Professor of Sociology at MidAmerica Nazarene University. In his 20+ years of experience working with youth and young adults, he has directed mission programs, developed youth conferences, and served as a youth pastor. He is the author of three books, including Water, Fire, Wind: The Elements of Following Christ, and Global Christianity: The Life We’re Called To Live-- both of which were commissioned as the preparation reading for two youth conferences attended by over 17,000 teenagers. He has also written curriculum for WordAction Publishers, and published several articles in Group Magazine, Journal for Student Ministries, Youthworker Journal, and Credo Magazine. A student of missions and culture, he has traveled to over a dozen countries, and set foot on every continent except Antarctica. He is a sought after speaker for leadership and youth ministry workshops, college campus chapels, and youth camps and retreats. Bo is a graduate of Pepperdine University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He holds two Masters degrees, and is working toward a PhD. He lives outside of Kansas City.

Crowdsource Your Dating Life

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

This interesting article was sent to me by a MidAmerica alum. It describes a woman who sets up a smartphone and a second device, which she uses to video stream her first dates to the internet, and pays for feedback from a crowdsourcing agency. First is the interesting sociological idea of turning over your personal life to a group of strangers. Sociologists Georg Simmel talked about the phenomenon of the role of "the stranger" in our lives. It is like the person we sit next to on an airplane, or the taxi cab driver-- we are willing to share intimate details of our lives with this person because we will never see them again, and they are not connected to our social networks.

Which brings us to the second interesting idea, crowdsourcing. This woman in the article is essentially paying for feedback from strangers, and allows them to send her instructions about what to do next on her date. This idea of crowdsourcing is taking Simmel's idea of the stranger to the next level that technology allows. We can now pay strangers to watch our lives and give us feedback. 

To read the full article, click here. 

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How My Intro to Sociology Class Could Have Predicted the Election

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

This 2012 election year I had no prediction for the presidential race. “It’s too close to call,” I would say. But others, like Nate Silver, were able to use statistics to make accurate predictions. I wondered-- why couldn’t sociology help me predict this election?

It turns out it could. With sociology, and some very simple logic, it turns out that sociological ideas could have easily predicted the election. I know, I know. Hindsight is 20/20. But I’m not talking complex social theories. It turns out, that at this point in the semester, my introductory course students had all the sociology information they needed to predict the election-- if they knew what to look for.

So, here are the simple steps to predicting the election, using basic sociology:

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The (Sociological) Truth Behind U.S. Embassy Attacks

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

A few weeks ago, a U.S. citizen released an anti-Islamic video, which sparked reaction around the world, particularly in Muslim countries which were affected by the rapid changes associated with the Arab Spring of 2011. In the aftermath, several U.S. embassies were overrun, and most notably the U.S. Ambassador to Lybia and other Americans were killed.

The question from a sociological standpoint is: why do these things happen? What is the reason for this strong reaction? And especially important... why did they happen in these countries (Lybia and those who have recently experienced toppled governments), and not other Muslim nations? It is because of a conflict between Islam and Christianity? Is it a conflict between religion and free speech?

As usual, sociologists would look to other hidden factors. Many sociologists of religion have noted that fundamentalism is very often concerned with rejecting or resisting the current cultural trends that are going on around them. Specifically, they are reacting to globalization.

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The Olympic Medal Count Leader Is… Grenada?

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

Every few years at the Olympics the media and others keep track of the number of medals won by any given country. All the reports this week were topped by the United States and China leading all nations in the number of medals won by athletes from these countries. It makes it appear that the US and China dominate the Olympic sporting world. 

But is that really the case? If we look at the same medal count through sociological eyes, adjusting for important social factors that sociologists study, such as social class, we find that the US and China fall to the middle of the pack. 

For example, let’s adjust for the number of medals won per capita-- this would compare country wins by adjusting for the pool of athletes available to the country. I remember this being a factor as a high school athlete. In my school of 1200 students, we were constantly having to compete with schools that had over 4000 students. We did pretty well considering that we had a much smaller pool of talent from which to draw. So, what happens if you observe the number of medals won taking into account the population of the country? The medal leader in the number of medals per capita is... Grenada. 

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Sociology Actually: Blanket Norms

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

blanketparkJust for fun, a Summer sociology blog thought...

I was at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival in Kansas City, and sitting with a friend, we were talking about how sociology is actually, all around. Very often the invisible social rules that we all play by are in place to limit our individual desires, and to define the situation that might otherwise be undefined.

As we waited for the play to start, there we began discussing the social rules that govern our behavior. Right there in front of us were a number of rules related to seating in an open air park that were all put in place to balance the tension between what we want to do as individuals, and what we must give up as individuals in order to have the benefits of social order. There were some rules that were formal-- written down by the event organizers-- no sitting in the "aisles" (which in the grass field were outlined by yard lights), and there was a section for taller lawn chairs, and a section for blanket seating which were marked off by signs.

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Tagged in: norms rules Sociology
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Mitt Romney: A Sign of Mormon Acceptance?

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

Whether or not you like Mitt Romney's politics, there is another question that his campaign raises for the American culture. Does the fact that he is a Mormon candidate for president mean the the Mormon Church has reached a cultural acceptance on the level of a Baptist, Methodist, or Catholic? 

Sociologists use the labels of Church, Sect, and New Religious Movement (often called a cult) to describe a religious organization in relationship to its surounding culture. A Church is in low tension with its culture-- citizens may even feel comfortable voting in an election at a "church." A Sect is a group that has rejected cultural values, and thus the culture has in turn looked at them with suspicion. We might think of the Amish as an example of a Sect-- their rejection of technology and choice of clothing are strange to the surrounding cultural environment. A Cult exists in the highest level of tension with the culture at large. The tension is so high, that cults are often viewed as dangerous, and the government may even get involved actively in restraining their activities. 

The Mormons have slowly over the years adapted to their surrounding cultural environment, to achieve more acceptance by the culture.  Thus they have moved from being viewed as a cultural threat (with socially suspicious practices such as polygamous marriages, rumors of secret rituals behind closed doors), to a religious movement that many in the culture view with acceptance and even honor. 

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The Sociology of the Hunger Games

Posted by on in Behavioral Sciences

The Hunger Games are a current set of popular books recently released as a movie. Many students have commented on the sociological content. One of my students, Frank Holleman, wrote a fantastic Facebook post, describing the sociology lessons he saw in it. I asked his permission to share a portion of it. 

Since MNU is having a "Hunger Gamble" meal this week, where students will simulate world circumstances by being put into "districts" to eat, and since we are bringing back our Sociology of Film class this Summer, I thought this was a timely post. Here are one sociology student's thoughts on the Hunger Games:

The whole movie starts off with this sense of poverty. Shooting a deer... to sell it and survive. The children are then assembled and two are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games and get the "privilege" of visiting the capitol. You immediately see the difference of cultures. Peter and Katniss travel in a high luxury train, with baked goodies and the best of best provided for them. The capitol is a display of money, excess and "fashion". While the people of district 12 dress in a very modest and traditional way, the people here look rather ridiculous. Big, fancy, complicated, exaggerated dresses and gender independent make-up that perfectly matches the dresses in its stupidity. Peter and Katniss come out of a world of hunger and through a train ride they arrive in this world of un-necessity and overflow.

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About This Blog

OhBehave is the outreach blog of the MNU Behavioral Sciences Department. In matters related to Psychology, Sociology, and Criminal Justice you will find information and updates geared to keep students and professionals abreast of the latest research, professional developments, and important trends in each field. As we seek a life of purpose, the material presented in this blog is meant to enhance and deepen our understanding of people and our world so that we may intentionally reflect the grace and peace of our creator.