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Author Topic: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism  (Read 2315 times)

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Offline girlsink

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Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« on: March 15, 2010, 12:28:41 PM »
I wrote a paper about the HIV epidemic; it basically posits that policy initiatives, public assumption, and awareness campaigns are formed via biases in policymakers' agendas. It also suggests that the current emphasis on the prevalence of hiv amongst black americans is a overrepresentation that serves a deliberate discriminatory function.

It's uploaded here to google docs:

http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AZsY3EUrQca2ZGM4am41bTZfMWNrcDQyYmd3&hl=en

It's eight pages. If anyone would be interested in reading it and giving their thoughts as to the accuracy or the the validity of the two claims, I would be glad to hear it.

Offline blackwingbear

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2010, 01:29:45 PM »
It's eight pages. If anyone would be interested in reading it and giving their thoughts as to the accuracy or the the validity of the two claims, I would be glad to hear it.

Good read, and I can see where you are coming from and where you are trying to take it - however, you might consider another opening sentence. That one lends itself to being misconstrued as indicating that HIV/AIDS IS a "gay disease". That deliberate discriminating factor is something you were attempting to expose with this and I doubt you'd want to trade one set of discriminatory info for another.
It's all a sham. Politics is a big game, same as the media - and same as religion. The point is to distract & control. If we're looking at what they tell us is the "big issue", we're not looking at what they are doing. In time, there will be different causes and different minorities to pick-on. All in the name of keeping the system going, and the people distracted.

Online mecch

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 04:00:07 PM »
I studied critical theory. I think your argument is promising, but you haven't referenced it enough to actual publications / studies / artifacts that prove the social construction.  I'm sure there is lots you can quote and refer to, but your references are meager for a critical theory paper - one would want to throw more texts into the argument, or carefully unpack one text.
Where are the media representations, oprah, the down low, the way its been framed by different hegemonic institutions, white, black, black and gay, medical, legislative, etc. ?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 04:04:50 PM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline girlsink

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2010, 04:05:39 PM »
Well, the paper had an 8 page limit and I had to directly address 1. social constructionism, 2. policy framing, and 3. an actual initiative. So most of it reason why I couldn't go in depth on related issues were due to length constrictions (part of the assignment is to be concise). I would definitely have liked to go into all those other issues, like Oprah and the DL and I had a great angle from Hilary Clinton on the campaign trail making a racial argument about HIV, as they have come up FREQUENTLY and I have quite a lot of opinions on them  :D but then I would have delved too far into pushing my own agenda, and I wanted to try to be as objective as possible... hard enough to do when you are making a claim about racial and sexual discriminations.

I was mostly wondering if you guys would have thought it was off base for someone to make the claim that public policy for HIV funding is all crazy and backwards. Like one of the things I would have liked to have done would be to compare federal spending for HIV based on the programs' targeted demographic. I think that the information out there is so misleading and tailored that information like that isn't even readily available... it seems that the government/media wants people to understand HIV under specific circumstances that THEY dictate, and any opposing views are hard to find. Or, more accurately, if one were to make a claim about HIV that goes against whatever the current awareness campaign is, it gets discounted. Like people aren't allowed to interpret the data on their own. So I wasn't completly sure if it was true that funding and policy has taken a turn to targeting certain people while ignoring others who could use the help more.

And I wasn't sure if it would sound like I was ax-grinding to say that there is an overrepresentation of black Americans with HIV. It certainly seems that way to me, and I do believe the things I talked about, like those OFT cited statistics, serve to support that end. But I wasn't sure if other people would think it was valid to say there is a deliberate overrepresentation of other groups.

It's kind of like how you'll get some people saying or thinking things like "all gay men have HIV"... I have seen the same kind of bigoted hate speech employed by racists a lot lately... "White women shouldn't date black men or they'll get HIV", same with white men/black women... Then that would have dovetailed into making the point of HIV claimsmaking as a function of white privilege... but again, did not have the length to explore that suggestion :D
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 04:18:45 PM by girlsink »

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010, 04:11:51 PM »
Hey Girl,

A decent piece of work you've turned out there. I have only one small quibble. "HIV virus" is a redundancy. When you expand it out you're saying "Human Immunodeficiency Virus Virus." ;)

</pedant>

MtD

Offline girlsink

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2010, 04:19:16 PM »
Lol. Good point.

Online mecch

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 06:26:54 PM »
Are you writing for a public or a teacher? Even in your comeback paragraph in this thread, I don't think its clear that you have references to back up what you are saying. Footnoting statements makes them stronger cause then its not you claiming it, its you referencing it and shaping it.
 
I dont remember you saying what model of social contructionism/constructivism you are using.  Is this for a sociology class or critical theory or political economy or what?  Is the teacher a Marxist?

One of the things you might consider the next time around is that you don't have to prove or argue that anything is constructed because everything is. If that is a given in your class, in your framework.  Is it?
So the art is taking the texts (programs, laws, media, politics, whatever) and reading against the grain for for a new meaning. Yours is political.  

If you are saying there is deliberate over-representation of blacks in HIV meaning constructions, you don't exactly spell out why it would be deliberate. Who would profit and how, from such constructions?  How would that serve epidemiology or science or politics or funding or anything?  I think you could read Althusser on the interpellation, being a subject, and ideological apparatuses of the state. In other words, our meaning is being stamped on us, and we can't escape such constructions and subject positions applied to us, although we can resist them -- and that's good.  So you could NAIL very specifically why this might be, in your words, a "deliberate" or strategic plan. Whats the goal? Keeping a minority in place to be exploited? Is is a bait and switch - HIV being used to subject, to keep a status quo, to prevent revolution or re-distribution of meaning? Why? A way to divvy out scarce resources to power holders only?  Is it oddly somehow related to Farrakhanesque "HIV is US government conducting a global black holocaust?" Solving overpopulation? Avoiding redistribution of wealth?  Maybe a few quotes to Frantz Fanon??

Well anyway, its was fun to read and thought provoking so thanks for posting!

“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline fearless

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2010, 09:15:10 PM »
I'd have to agree with Mecch about a lack of references to support your argument. Without them, your paper appears/comes across as full of emotion and emotive language, but lacks sufficient evidence to support your central claims. I did a science degree way back in the day and for a 1,500 word essay we were expected to have at least 30 references.

You might want to reconsider some of the loaded language used. It shows your hand and makes the paper come across as an opinion piece, rather than a dispassionate treaty of the facts. For example, in the opening sentence you use the loaded term "statistical propaganda" when referring to what are merely "statistics".

I cannot agree with this point "MSM, like intravenous drug users (IDU), is a population that, by definition, engages in a particular risk behavior that can be defined by transmissible acts..." If you mean anal sex and that it is risky by its very nature, I don't by it. Surely, there are MSM that simply do not engage in anal sex.

Just my thughts
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Offline girlsink

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2010, 10:27:29 PM »
It is more or less supposed to be an opinion piece. It's not a research paper and the purpose was not to cite a bunch of articles that support my point. The assignment only required the use of two sources. I'm not a science major, or a critical theory student.

I suppose it's hard to see the approach for the paper without having been in the class. Writing the paper in the way Mecch suggests would have been, for the purposes of the class, reinventing the wheel... it's not written for a journal. It's an essay to go along with several themes of public policy which were covered in class.

ETA: if it helps, here are the instructions from the syllabus:

Having selected a social problem, trace key milestones in the evolving history of its definition, then of the mobilization(s) around it (or lack thereof). Discuss a few insights that the theories lead you to about why mobilization, or silence, around this problem has occurred in the way it has.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 10:32:22 PM by girlsink »

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2010, 10:35:02 PM »
Yus, I suspected it might be an opinion piece and in that sense it's ok. I have a friend doing undergrad work in the States and he does quite a few of these sorts of papers.

In Australia (where Little Steve and I are from) and presumably Europe, opinion papers are not commonly sought from undergraduates. It's more formal research essay writing.

MtD

Offline blackwingbear

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2010, 04:28:05 AM »
I cannot agree with this point "MSM, like intravenous drug users (IDU), is a population that, by definition, engages in a particular risk behavior that can be defined by transmissible acts..." If you mean anal sex and that it is risky by its very nature, I don't by it. Surely, there are MSM that simply do not engage in anal sex.

Just my thughts

I noticed that also... *harrumph* Seems a loaded statement as I know MANY heterosexuals engage in anal-sex (not to mention the celibate homosexuals I know), which are automatically discounted in this train of thought.
It's all a sham. Politics is a big game, same as the media - and same as religion. The point is to distract & control. If we're looking at what they tell us is the "big issue", we're not looking at what they are doing. In time, there will be different causes and different minorities to pick-on. All in the name of keeping the system going, and the people distracted.

Online mecch

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2010, 07:32:26 AM »
Ah OK its opinion. Why not simplify the jargon, and shorten the sentences, and go right in for the jugular.

Anyway I'm sure its a good paper for your class.

Maybe you want to share with us in three sentences the gist of your argument.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 07:39:12 AM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Ann

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2010, 10:31:37 AM »

In Australia (where Little Steve and I are from) and presumably Europe, opinion papers are not commonly sought from undergraduates. It's more formal research essay writing.


My daughter did quite a few opinion papers while at uni in the UK. She had to back her opinion up with research though. I suspect the ratio of research papers to opinion papers will vary depending on what the course is about.

And yeah, LOTS of straight people engage in anal sex. It's not just MSM.
Condoms are a girl's best friend

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline girlsink

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2010, 10:41:49 AM »
Hm... I suppose it was my understanding that anal sex by itself was not the whole of the risk behavior of MSM but that it was anal sex coupled with the higher risk of exposure.

Quote
Why not simplify the jargon, and shorten the sentences, and go right in for the jugular.

Because that's not how I write. Even though it's not written for publication it's still an academic paper. I can't stand essays full of offhand, casual speech.

Offline Ann

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2010, 11:15:39 AM »

Hm... I suppose it was my understanding that anal sex by itself was not the whole of the risk behavior of MSM but that it was anal sex coupled with the higher risk of exposure.


When you consider that hiv is primarily transmitted through unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, then unprotected anal is pretty much the main risk factor in MSM.

Although some claim to have been infected through oral sex, studies have shown that in poz/neg couples who used condoms, correctly and consistently, for intercourse but no barrier for oral activities, not one of the negative partners became positive.

I don't think I understand what you mean by "coupled with the higher risk of exposure". If condoms are used, the risk is no higher than for anyone else.
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline blackwingbear

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2010, 02:37:06 PM »
Hm... I suppose it was my understanding that anal sex by itself was not the whole of the risk behavior of MSM but that it was anal sex coupled with the higher risk of exposure.

What, are MSM supposedly natural carriers of the virus now according to popular consensus?
It's all a sham. Politics is a big game, same as the media - and same as religion. The point is to distract & control. If we're looking at what they tell us is the "big issue", we're not looking at what they are doing. In time, there will be different causes and different minorities to pick-on. All in the name of keeping the system going, and the people distracted.

Offline Nestor

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2010, 02:51:04 PM »

Matty the Damned said:

I have only one small quibble. "HIV virus" is a redundancy. When you expand it out you're saying "Human Immunodeficiency Virus Virus."

I've been fighting related redundancies for years.  My three favorites: 1. PIN number; 2. ATM machine; and 3. TOEFL test.  The worst is that the third is routinely commited by English teachers, and even in English textbooks! 

After years of crusading against these things, I've come to be more philosophical about them; what element of human nature and linguistics is behind the phenomenon?  It seems we have a mania to abbreviate everything, but then nature rebels; there is a point past which we are not really comfortable with abbreviation, and we re-insert the full word. 

In the case of HIV, however, there is a better reason.  The fact is that we routinely say "HIV" when referring, not to the microbe that has made a home for itself in our bloodstreams, but to the condition which it causes.  It is logical to want to distinguish the actual microbe from the condition.  One or two scrupulous writers actually write "HI virus" when the mean the actual microbe, and "HIV" when they mean the condition.
Summer 2004--became HIV+
Dec. 2005--found out

Date          CD4    %       VL
Jan. '06    725    25      9,097
Nov. '06    671    34     52,202
Apr. '07    553    30      24,270
Sept. '07  685    27       4,849
Jan. '08    825    29       4,749
Mar. '08    751    30     16,026
Aug. '08    653    30       3,108
Oct. '08     819    28     10,046
Jan '09      547    31     13,000
May '09     645   25        6,478
Aug. '09    688   30      19,571
Nov. '09     641    27       9,598
Feb. '10     638    27       4,480
May '10      687      9    799,000 (CMV)
July '10      600     21      31,000
Nov '10      682     24     15,000
June '11     563    23     210,000 (blasto)
July  '11      530    22      39,000
Aug '11      677     22      21,000
Sept. '12    747     15      14,000

Offline girlsink

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2010, 09:54:56 PM »
What, are MSM supposedly natural carriers of the virus now according to popular consensus?

I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion. I responded to someone asking how being a MSM automatically = "risk behavior" as opposed to, for example "male" or "female" or "homosexual" or "heterosexual."The latter four things are just nouns, but MSM is a behavior, by definition, right? "Men WHO HAVE SEX with men." I apologize if I'm ignorant to ways of having sex other than vaginal, anal, and oral, but seeing as how literature would tend to indicate that oral sex is only a theoretical risk when it comes to HIV transmission, that would mean any man infected by another man got it from a form of anal sex, right? Taking that into consideration, you could even go with the argument that one who has only had oral sex is still a virgin (ie never had sex). But I don't know if many people would go for that. Anyway, my point is that "homosexual" is not necessarily the same as "MSM." The whole reason why CDC defines it as "men who have sex with men" is because it deliberately describes the risk rather than an orientation, right? Idk. I suppose there was probably a better way to get that point across.

 

I've been fighting related redundancies for years.  My three favorites: 1. PIN number; 2. ATM machine; and 3. TOEFL test.  The worst is that the third is routinely commited by English teachers, and even in English textbooks! 

I thought about Matty's original comment when I went back and looked for instance of me writing it as such, and I had said "The HIV virus"... if I would have left off the second "virus" the sentence would have talked about "The HIV" lol

Offline Grasshopper

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2010, 05:18:01 AM »


And yeah, LOTS of straight people engage in anal sex. It's not just MSM.

THIS many straight people:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdJ3kQ15wIg&feature=related
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 05:49:46 AM by Grasshopper »

Offline Ann

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2010, 10:48:10 AM »

Taking that into consideration, you could even go with the argument that one who has only had oral sex is still a virgin (ie never had sex). But I don't know if many people would go for that.


Bill Clinton "went for" that, rather famously. "I did not have sex with that woman!!!"



I thought about Matty's original comment when I went back and looked for instance of me writing it as such, and I had said "The HIV virus"... if I would have left off the second "virus" the sentence would have talked about "The HIV" lol


As your reader already knew the subject matter was hiv, you could have simply said "the virus". :)
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Nestor

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2010, 04:26:18 PM »

Girlsink,

I read your paper yesterday, and while I would like to comment on several things, I only have time at the moment for one point.  I think your main idea is very strong.  I've long felt that even true statistics can be, and often are, manipulated in such a way as to give a false impression to cursory readers.  (My favorite example is the article that screams: "People who eat [fill-in-the-blank] are at [some scary-sounding percentage's] greater risk for cancer!!!!!!"  Then when one examines the study, one finds something like, out of twenty thousand people who didn't eat the thing, five got cancer, while of twenty thousand who did eat it, eleven got cancer--not exactly terrifying.)  In the same way, to hear, constantly, that almost half of all HIV cases arise among black Americans really could tend to create a link, in the public mind, between black people and HIV; the other side of the coin which you point out--only 1.2% of black Americans have HIV--puts things in a totally different perspective.  I think you've made a very strong case that statistics cited as they are can create a distorted and unfortunate impression. 

My problem comes with the use of the word "deliberate".  It may well be that this is deliberately being done for racist purposes, but then again it may well not be.  It has often been the case the the end result of well-meaning liberal intervention has been similar to what that of intentional racism might have been.  So, if we are going to discuss the reasons for and effect of this kind of rhetoric and the frequency with which these statistics are cited, I really think it is necessary to examine some actual examples of people using this rhetoric and analyse them in an attempt to determine what the motive might be.  My own tendency would be to assume good faith unless there was glaring evidence to the contrary and move on to the more promising field of analysing the results.  I think you're right in saying that this can be counter-productive, and you've made a very strong case for the need for context in setting out statistics. 

As for redundancy in acronyms: today in my class I had my students listen to an interview on NPR, and a Phd, best-selling author and authority in his field said "ATM machine".  I think it's time to give up the crusade. 
Summer 2004--became HIV+
Dec. 2005--found out

Date          CD4    %       VL
Jan. '06    725    25      9,097
Nov. '06    671    34     52,202
Apr. '07    553    30      24,270
Sept. '07  685    27       4,849
Jan. '08    825    29       4,749
Mar. '08    751    30     16,026
Aug. '08    653    30       3,108
Oct. '08     819    28     10,046
Jan '09      547    31     13,000
May '09     645   25        6,478
Aug. '09    688   30      19,571
Nov. '09     641    27       9,598
Feb. '10     638    27       4,480
May '10      687      9    799,000 (CMV)
July '10      600     21      31,000
Nov '10      682     24     15,000
June '11     563    23     210,000 (blasto)
July  '11      530    22      39,000
Aug '11      677     22      21,000
Sept. '12    747     15      14,000

Offline fearless

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2010, 08:02:21 PM »
It is more or less supposed to be an opinion piece. It's not a research paper and the purpose was not to cite a bunch of articles that support my point. The assignment only required the use of two sources. I'm not a science major, or a critical theory student.

Thanks for that clarification. As Matty said, that is not normal down here. In fact. WOW! we used to have red pen scratched through our handwritten papers (ues, i'm that old) for anything that resembled an opinion rather than fact or a statement backed up by sources. But, then again, I did do a science degree.
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Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2010, 08:16:01 PM »
Thanks for that clarification. As Matty said, that is not normal down here. In fact. WOW! we used to have red pen scratched through our handwritten papers (ues, i'm that old) for anything that resembled an opinion rather than fact or a statement backed up by sources. But, then again, I did do a science degree.

It was the same in the Liberal Arts. No-one was interested in the opinion of an undergrad. You spent three years learning how to answer a question in 2500 words in proper academic form.

MtD

Offline Ann

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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2010, 10:15:26 AM »

My problem comes with the use of the word "deliberate".  It may well be that this is deliberately being done for racist purposes, but then again it may well not be. 


Quite often stats on new hiv infections are presented in what may seem to be a distorted way - yes, on purpose - not to promote racism or any other "ism", but rather to help funnel funding into prevention efforts in the harder-hit communities.  It's not about wanting to damage any one segment of society, but about wanting to HELP.
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Re: Wrote a paper on HIV as a function of social constructionism
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2010, 06:03:47 PM »
Ann,

That's actually what I was trying to say.  The lines from Girlsink's paper to which I was referring said:

"Where statistical data was originally used as a crutch for homophobic people to point the finger at gay and bisexual men as the main perpetrators of HIV, statistical data is now used to target ethnic minorities and women. It is the same type of media emphasis that determines public perception; though numerical data has remained the same, it can be presented in a way that zeroes in on a particular population. It can be suggested that statistics concerning prevalence of HIV infection can be presented in a way that is deliberately misleading in order to direct attention to the population that best suits the agenda of policymakers; simultaneously, of course, diverting attention from populations that may have outlived their usefulness."

I agree completely that most if not all of the people who do deliberately "distort" stats are doing so from altruistic motives.    

The sentence above does not openly state that there are racist motives for the misleading presentation of statistics, and uses so many distancing words  ("it can be suggested that...statistics...can be presented...") that if analysed closely it ends up saying little if anything.  But it implies a lot, and to me the first sentence I quoted above, which mentioned the use of AIDS by homophobic people as a weapon for use against gay men, seems to suggest a parallel: now, in a similar way, AIDS is being used against black people for racist purposes.  Since I doubt that that is being done deliberately, (by mainstream public-service, disease-prevention-type groups) I suggested that if such implications are going to be made, close analysis of specific "propaganda" would be a good idea.  


« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 06:07:33 PM by Nestor »
Summer 2004--became HIV+
Dec. 2005--found out

Date          CD4    %       VL
Jan. '06    725    25      9,097
Nov. '06    671    34     52,202
Apr. '07    553    30      24,270
Sept. '07  685    27       4,849
Jan. '08    825    29       4,749
Mar. '08    751    30     16,026
Aug. '08    653    30       3,108
Oct. '08     819    28     10,046
Jan '09      547    31     13,000
May '09     645   25        6,478
Aug. '09    688   30      19,571
Nov. '09     641    27       9,598
Feb. '10     638    27       4,480
May '10      687      9    799,000 (CMV)
July '10      600     21      31,000
Nov '10      682     24     15,000
June '11     563    23     210,000 (blasto)
July  '11      530    22      39,000
Aug '11      677     22      21,000
Sept. '12    747     15      14,000

 


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