Idle Youth In Detroit


I chose to analyze for this post the percent of children between the ages of 16 and 19 that are not in school or working. The sociological term for these children are “idle youth”. These youth are not contributing to the community and often are involved in gangs or criminal activities. The question I have is not what are these kids up to? I haven’t the slightest clue what they could be doing. I ask why is Detroit such a high percentage? I mean 18 percent is quite high. At first I thought it was a sample size issue. Maybe the surveyors only talked to idle youth in Detroit, unable to reach those at work or in school. Perhaps a city of greater size would yield a similar percentage. A larger city would have a greater sample size and yield a more accurate percentage amount. I was wrong, the city of Los Angeles was almost 10 percent lower than Detroit. Even though it is a much larger city. I then thought maybe LA is a fluke. It is an immensely larger city , maybe there are more aware of this issue and fund programs there to help youth find jobs or school opportunities. I was sure the national average would be higher than LA but lower than Detroit. I was wrong again. The national average sits right next to LA at a steady 9%. I was coming to the end of my rope. I was dumbfounded at how Detroit could be so I did a quick news search about youth in Detroit. I found an article stating that due to budget cuts and citywide bankruptcy, the city was going to collaborate police precincts and consolidate bus routes. Eureka! I figured it out. The youth of Detroit are idle because they can be. If you look at LA, not a perfect city by any means, but they’re not broke, they aren’t consolidating police precincts and the public transportation seems to be in working order. In Detroit the police are more concentrated in some areas but not in others and there is less public transportation to take youths to work and school. This makes it difficult for youths to get to work or school, but easier for them to loiter around. These hardships easily explain why this statistic is so high in Detroit.


The Sociological Imagination

Everything one does in a day can be traced back to a sociological norm that has been engrained into your daily thought process. This blog post will follow some of the things that I do throughout my day and discuss how they relate to the society and culture that I live in.

Every morning I get up. That’s a standard for all people. However most people start their day with a shower. Whether it is to wake up or to be clean up before they go to class most people shower in the morning. This is to keep up the social norm of being clean. If one does not shower most likely their peers will notice and they may not receive the same respect from the people around them. I do not shower in the morning. I have to shower at night. This is heavily influenced by another sociological norm, my job. After waking up in the morning I drive to work. Owning a car and driving is almost socially required activity in our culture. If you do not own a car at least having a driver’s license is required to avoid social ridicule. If one cannot drive they could also miss out on job opportunities around them. My job relies heavily on my ability to drive.  My job is to clear snow for the university. I work in the cold and a morning shower after I wake up would just lead to me being cold at work later. The urge to work is sociologically imbedded into all of us from a young age. It is a part of our consumerist nature to desire money so that we can have the lifestyle we desire. The next event is not a daily occurrence, but it happens often enough to mention and relates to sociology. I work for Michigan tech grounds crew. Our society would consider it a blue collar job. I get talked down to by a lot of people while I am at work. It is mostly the people who call in work orders for me to accomplish for them. These orders are often moving furniture or picking up something for disposal. These people almost expect that I must be unintelligent or incompetent because my job is labor based. Ironically the next event in my day after being talked to like I’m stupid is to go to school. That is almost a given in our culture. People who have the means to go to school to get a degree in order to attain a job that they like and can afford to live how they want. If a person does not go to college they will not have the same opportunities available to them as someone with a college degree. These events are all based on sociological norms or biases that I experience daily.

There is great sociological stigma around going to work and the type of job you do. First, one is expected to have a job. Whether the job is to be a full time student, have a full time job, or in my case to go to school and work part time. Having an occupation is expected in our culture. Second, the structure of the job you do. In our culture there is heavy emphasis on being to work on time. In other cultures arriving to work in the morning on time is irrelevant. As long as an employee completes their assignments to a high enough standard what time they show up is irrelevant. Last, but not least, the type of job you do can create an automatic impression on those around you. As I mentioned earlier I work as a grounds crew worker for MTU. This causes a lot of people whom I work for to assume that I am not intelligent because culturally plowing snow is not a prestigious job. They do not take the time to think that maybe I am a student and plowing snow early in the morning fits my schedule the best and allows me to go to school during the day. They just assume that because I do physical work for low pay that I am less intelligent than they are. I always wonder when I am at work, what if the sociological norm was to base the prestige of a job on the impact of their job. What if all of the snow plows in the county just stopped working? The county would grind to halt, roads would be impassable, public services would stop, no mail, no food deliveries, no going to school. That’s what keeps me going each day. Yeah I make peanuts for pay, and the job is often physically demanding, people often talk down to you, but the second we all take a day off during a snow storm the university would be in real trouble. I look forward to exploring the origins of stereotypes and what makes society look down on some and up at others as we continue in this class.