“Should We Raise the Minimum Wage?” “Is Music a Cultural Universal?”

Read the two articles provided and answer specific questions given at the end of each article in paragraph format (a minimum of 100 to 200 words for each answer, meeting Minimum Standards as outlined in the Course Assignment Expectation page).

Selections:

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“Should We Raise the Minimum Wage?”

“Is Music a Cultural Universal?”

Should We Raise the Minimum Wage?

In the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage, and he signed an executive order putting this into effect for individuals working on new federal service contracts. Congress did not pass legislation to change the national minimum wage more broadly. The result has become a national controversy, with various economists taking different sides on the issue, and public protests being staged by several groups of minimum-wage workers.

Opponents of raising the minimum wage argue that some workers would get larger paychecks while others would lose their jobs, and companies would be less likely to hire new workers because of the increased cost of paying them (Bernstein 2014; cited in CNN).

Proponents of raising the minimum wage contend that some job loss would be greatly offset by the positive effects on the economy of low-wage workers having more income (Hassett 2014; cited in CNN).

Sociologists may consider the minimum wage issue from differing perspectives as well. How much of an impact would a minimum wage raise have for a single mother? Some might study the economic effects, such as her ability to pay bills and keep food on the table. Others might look at how reduced economic stress could improve family relationships. Some sociologists might research the impact on the status of small business owners. These could all be examples of public sociology, a branch of sociology that strives to bring sociological dialogue to public forums. The goals of public sociology are to increase understanding of the social factors that underlie social problems and assist in finding solutions. According to Michael Burawoy (2005), the challenge of public sociology is to engage multiple publics in multiple ways.

Located at https://cnx.org/contents/AgQDEnLI@12.5:gpZqu-uw@16/1-2-The-History-of-Sociology within the textbook.

Questions:

Have you ever held a minimum wage job? How much (at the time) was the hourly wage?
After reading the article, are you pro-minimum wage or anti-minimum wage? Please explain your stance.

Is Music a Cultural Universal?

Imagine that you are sitting in a theater, watching a film. The movie opens with the heroine sitting on a park bench with a grim expression on her face. Cue the music. The first slow and mournful notes play in a minor key. As the melody continues, the heroine turns her head and sees a man walking toward her. The music slowly gets louder, and the dissonance of the chords sends a prickle of fear running down your spine. You sense that the heroine is in danger.

Now imagine that you are watching the same movie, but with a different soundtrack. As the scene opens, the music is soft and soothing, with a hint of sadness. You see the heroine sitting on the park bench and sense her loneliness. Suddenly, the music swells. The woman looks up and sees a man walking toward her. The music grows fuller, and the pace picks up. You feel your heart rise in your chest. This is a happy moment.

Music has the ability to evoke emotional responses. In television shows, movies, even commercials, music elicits laughter, sadness, or fear. Are these types of musical cues cultural universals?

In 2009, a team of psychologists, led by Thomas Fritz of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, studied people’s reactions to music that they’d never heard (Fritz et al. 2009). The research team traveled to Cameroon, Africa, and asked Mafa tribal members to listen to Western music. The tribe, isolated from Western culture, had never been exposed to Western culture and had no context or experience within which to interpret its music. Even so, as the tribal members listened to a Western piano piece, they were able to recognize three basic emotions: happiness, sadness, and fear. Music, it turns out, is a sort of universal language.

Researchers also found that music can foster a sense of wholeness within a group. In fact, scientists who study the evolution of language have concluded that originally language (an established component of group identity) and music were one (Darwin 1871). Additionally, since music is largely nonverbal, the sounds of music can cross societal boundaries more easily than words. Music allows people to make connections, where language might be a more difficult barricade. As Fritz and his team found, music and the emotions it conveys can be cultural universals.

Located at https://cnx.org/contents/AgQDEnLI@12.5:-HOYsFU6@10/3-1-What-Is-Culture in the textbook at OpenStax.

Questions:
After reading the article, were you surprised/not surprised how the Maga Tribe reacted to western music?
In general, does music play a significant part in your life? Does music play a role in how you deal with emotions? Does music emit emotions (positive/negative/both positive and negative)? Explain your answer.
Do you consider music to be a cultural universal? Explain your answer.

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