Bumper Stickers Can Facilitate Dynamic Social Interactions

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Walter Goettlich is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Kansas. For his thesis, he drove over 10,000 miles on American highways and byways gathering bumper sticker data, conducting interviews with bumper sticker owners and onlookers, while reflecting on his own reactions to all that he encountered on his journey. Goettlich presented his findings August 12 at the 112th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Montreal. The theme of this year’s ASA conference is “Culture, Inequalities, and Social Inclusion Across the Globe.”

In an open letter before the conference, Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology & African and African American Studies at Harvard University and Chair of the ASA 2017 Program Committee described the goal of this year’s conference. Lamont wrote: “The 112th Annual Meeting of the ASA (Aug. 12-15, 2017) will make its central goal the improvement of our understanding of the nexus of culture, inequalities, and group boundaries in order to promote greater social inclusion and resilience, collective well-being, and solidarity in the United States and globally.” Adding, “Because sociologists are uniquely equipped to study inequalities in all their dimensions, it is high time to focus on the politics of social recognition and their interaction with and impact on the distribution of social and material resources, including how they are mediated by and/or manifest themselves in education, labor, immigration, consumption, law, social movements, health, science, the family, the economy, and beyond.”

Hate Has No Home Here

Bumper stickers may seem like a pithy or glib angle to tackle such a complex and multifaceted agenda. However, bumper stickers can be poignant. For example, in light of the atrocities that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend a simple bumper sticker phrase (“Hate Has No Home Here”) instantly became a touchstone for me and others I…

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