Friday, April 27, 2012

Research Tools for Students and Faculty: Dropbox

Dropbox is a great way to organize files and have information stored online without cluttering computer space and completely accessible from any internet connection. There are a multitude of ways that Dropbox has helped me stay organized for my graduate work and I am happy to share them all here.

First, Dropbox is an online file storage system that is similar to an external hard drive or "cloud" system. Downloading Dropbox and saving a folder to your desktop means that everything saved there is automatically saved and uploaded to your online Dropbox account. When you go to your online Dropbox account, you can manually upload documents (or photos depending how much space you have) to different folders. For me, I use folders to indicate which of my computers the files originated from and this is also where you can "share" folders with friends. I will talk more about the uses of these features below. Before that, I will mention that Dropbox is free for 2GB of memory (a fair amount of space if all you are interested in uploading is documents). Extra space is billed on a monthly/yearly basis from 50GB ($9.99/month) to 1TB ($895/year). These different packages allow for extra data for storage of media files, photographs, and larger documents (to replace an external hard drive). But if you are just saving the essentials, the free version has space. Additionally, referring people or using referral links to sign up will give each person (the one who shared the link and the new sign-up) 500MB of data, which can easily add more free GBs of space to your account and others!

Here are a list of ways that I've used Dropbox to simplify my life:

  • Upload a link to a file from your Dropbox to your website (e.g., your C.V.) so that when you save changes to the file on the computer, they are automatically updated on the website
    • just click "get link" next to each uploaded file for a unique link to the document that people can see but not edit
  • Instead of using Google Docs or emailing tracked changes back and forth, groups can share updated versions of shared projects/documents/brainstorms to a shared Dropbox folder
  • Organize research files into folders by ideas, projects, dissertation chapters, conference papers, publications, etc.
  • Organize class work into folders that can be accessed anywhere - from your office, home, class, transit, etc. you can even get Dropbox on your phone or tablet!
  • Never worry about hard drive failures, computer viruses, lost thumb drives, and keeping track of emailing yourself files
  • Share any file quickly by email or print directly from the Dropbox website
  • Share photos with friends without uploading everything through email/social media
I would recommend Dropbox especially because of its ease to keep track and organize files that one can access anywhere. Having documents with research ideas combined with PDFs of current literature, slides from a conference presentation of those ideas, etc. can help keep researchers organized and on track of which articles (which I always save by last name) actually belong to each research idea. Have a PDF that belongs in multiple folders? Simply copy it and have the file in multiple places, which can be done with documents as well so different versions will have different changes recorded.

Though I doubt most researchers would need to pay for the service, it is always an option if you have larger and more image-heavy files. Give the free version a try and see if you get use out if it, I think once you upload your files, you will really see how versatile and useful this file storage system is!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eliminating the Electoral College: A Solution to Voter Skepticism

Voter skepticism and overall political aversion is a staggering problem for American political life. Where more people chose not to vote than do and where college students do not even know many prominent political figures (see further discussion here), how do we overcome these issues to create a more aware, active, and optimistic public?

One can always link the importance of emotions over reason to modern day cynicism. This has been a constant theme as the transition from logical fidelity to narrative fidelity requires a shift from analyzing arguments logically to evaluating stories emotionally. If the story of American politics conjures up feelings of regret, shame, disgust, and anger, one is more likely not to participate in that story or that it is not faithful to their picture of themselves or the country. In light of decreased political participation across all groups, perhaps there is less voter participation at the polls, but that the venting of frustrating has moved elsewhere. As more and more people turn to the Internet to express frustrations, remix images for humor, and participate in online interactions, voter participation has dipped over nearly all age groups and educational levels (Hollihan, 2008, Uncivil Wars, chapter 12).

I do not feel that the skepticism in society can be controlled or diminished until politicians change their methods of garnering support, reaching out to voters, and campaigning. Considering that the money and the votes are found more prevalently today in public opinion polls, name recognition, and negative advertising and debating, I do not have confidence that this will change in the future, but perhaps there is hope in some new legislation that can influence these decisions.

One important way I feel that people can be more empowered is by eliminating the electoral college. Although this has been a proposition for a long time and many efforts have been thwarted, I feel that this is one of the most important ways that people can feel reinvigorated by the power of their vote. If a direct popular vote is enacted, then candidates could no longer (or at least to a lesser extent) preference certain states for advertising and visiting. More of the public would have greater access to political information and engagement opportunities. In addition, I believe that voting numbers would increase as Republicans in “blue” states and Democrats in “red” states could still attend the polls and be confident that their vote was going to the candidate of their choosing instead of being lost in the electoral votes.

Many voters were undervalued in the elections in 2000 and 2004, when the popular vote gave the opposing candidate the win, but the electoral college (and the US Supreme Court) gave George W. Bush the presidency. How supportive of the governmental system can the public be expected to be when the direct voting will of the public is denied? When people in safe states can go an entire political campaign without hearing much at all from candidates but when swing states are inundated with information, advertising, and messages, how politically knowledgeable and active can we expect our nation to be? I believe that by removing the electoral college from presidential elections, more people will feel empowered to vote for candidates, much of the attention from candidates will be dispersed to all states, and people will not feel left out or cheated by the system.

Although there are many more steps that can and should be taken to make politics more engaging and equal for the public, the suggestion above is obviously an overly optimistic account of how easily politics can change. Part of the issue, of course, is that those in the system are the ones with the power and that make the decision to change the system. So, any type of legislation that will disadvantage incumbents is likely to fail. Fortunately, there has been legislation in the past and a current movement that has been ratified by 9 states with bills still moving through state legislatures, so perhaps this change is on the horizon.

What other changes would you be interested in seeing? Changes to campaign finance reform? Easy of access to voter registration? Increased civics requirements in public schools? There are many ways that the political system can be changed for the better, and I hope that more gain traction in the years to come.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Research Tools for Students and Faculty: Google Citation

Once in graduate school and during the tenure process, academics are concerned with one thing: branding. Creating one's own website (site comparison forthcoming), formatting and meticulously combing one's CV, and  constructing an online presence are all important parts of one's academic brand and profile. In order to facilitate  one's online identity as a scholar, I'm going to take this post to explain two important ways to ensure that your academic publications and profile are the top results for your name.

Google Citation is an off-shoot of Google Scholar that creates profiles for academics by linking their publications within the scholar database. When someone searches Google Scholar to look for a publication or a topic area and finds an article of interest, they can select the author and be linked to their profile. Within this profile is the author's other articles in the Scholar database, the number of articles that have cited each article over the years, and links to those articles. Becoming familiar with Google Citations helps a scholar in two ways: creating a branding opportunity and tracking one's citations and web of scholarly interaction.

Google Scholar often auto-creates profiles for the more prolific authors by finding similarly cited names and linking the articles together. For new scholars and academics however, we can do part of the work for Google by creating our own profiles and linking our own publications there. The benefits to this (instead of letting Google create own for you) is that your profile will be available for searches and attached to your articles sooner and will be completed with more information. Scholars can upload their own profile photograph, create a verified email address for contact, key areas of research interests, links to other sites (like a research blog or professional website), and manually add articles that Google Citation might not have added (due to differences in citation style or name changes).

Keeping track of one's citations is a great way to create connections with other scholars with shared citations and cited each other's articles. With the multitude of journals and publications across field lines, scholars are often not aware of the people citing their articles or similar or tangential work in the same line of inquiry. This is great way to contact other scholars for panels at conferences, to find colleagues at institutions that might be hiring, or to find co-authors.

These benefits can be doubled if one has multiple citation sites. Other databases similar to Google Scholar have their own author profiles. Consider making one at each of the more popular search engines to make sure that your work is being connected to your brand. Other notable citation sites are ResearcherID at Web of Science and Scopus.

Keeping track of all of these sites is one more task on the ever-growing list of to-dos for academics, but this is an important one. Being able to link all of one's publications increases the likelihood of being found by other scholars and overall creates a stronger brand for the graduate student and faculty academic.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levels of Visual Framing: A New Method for a New Paradigm

Framing as a theory of communication in the news media has received much attention and coverage from scholars since its inception by Erving Goffman (1974). A paradigm shift in framing studies has only recently occurred, however, as scholars are increasingly looking at the importance, salience, and enduring-power of visuals to complement and amplify the effects of verbal statements. Though there have been scholars engaged in visual framing studies (i.e., Abraham & Appiah, 2006; Borah, 2009; Brantner, Lobinger, & Wetzstein, 2011; Frosh, 2011; Geske & Brown, 2008; Lake & Pickering, 1998; Mullen, 1997; Parry, 2011), an article published last year highlights the disjointed nature of these inquiries and proposes a systematic method for analyzing and interpreting such use of visuals as a framing device (Rodriguez & Dimitrova, 2011). My review of this article will highlight the usefulness of the proposed method as evidenced by my use of the method for my final paper in Media and Politics at USC with Dr. Tom Hollihan analyzing the covers of TIME Magazine and their representation of international leaders and domestic figures during times of global conflict.

Rodriguez and Dimitrova (2011) begin by outlining modern framing literature and the steps that scholars have taken to incorporate visual framing into their analyses. Describing current visual framing studies as lacking “conceptual and methodological consistency, Rodriguez and Dimitrova outline a four-step process which I have adopted to test its benefits and drawbacks (2011). For the sake of brevity, I have included here one image to illustrate the process.

TIME Magazine Cover: General Douglas MacArthur -- Aug. 27, 1945

Here is an image of General MacArthur during World War II which is included in my larger paper analysis and will be the example for this post. The first step of the process is to describe in full what is in the image from the foreground, background, large items, and small detail. The second step is to describe stylistic features such as the use of color, size, camera angle, visual effects, and manipulation within the image. Level three interprets symbols and objects in the image for meanings. The final level creates an overarching and coherent narrative and interpretation of the image by combining description, stylistic elements, and symbolism.

Though this is a simple process, its clear outline and distinctive steps provides more comparative analysis between scholars than merely a description of the image or another interpretation with less structure. Although I believe this simplicity might leave some important aspects of the visual framing process lacking, this process was sufficient in providing the framework for the analysis of the TIME Magazine covers for my paper. Before I outline some possible areas of improvement, here is the analysis of General MacArthur's cover as interpreted using Rodriguez and Drimitrova's process (2011).

The cover image shows a drawn picture of General MacArthur in full military attire from the shoulders up looking off to the left. MacArthur is standing before a flag, which has a blue background with a red circle in the middle with white stars circling it and slightly puncturing its edges. His expression is one of determination and focus as he is framed by the large background of the flag. The image color scheme is that of red, white, and blue, patriotic colors framing the large and centrally featured military figure. MacArthur's flag symbolizes America with its blue background and white stars wounding and attacking the red dot of the Japanese flag in its center. His appearance in the front of the image from the shoulders up may symbolize his disposition as a statue, unwavering and strong. MacArthur is represented as a powerful, patriotic American leader and military commander who has surrounded Japan with American military might and has damaged the enemy, perhaps to the point of incapacitation. Unworried about the scene behind him, MacArthur is looking towards the future, perhaps to the next battle to be won or foe to be defeated.

This process provides a consistent description as featured above to which I compared all of the cover images selected for the paper across various conflicts, time periods, and geographic representations. One benefit of this model is thus the ability to compare images across different spaces and with different origins to one another to elicit overall patterns and schema of portrayal. Although I used only TIME covers, this process could be used to compare images from different publications, media, and sources.

The detriment I find to this method is the lack of what I believe is a necessary fifth stage. The description focuses solely on the image itself and loses much symbolic and interpretive value that could be gleaned from contextualization. I would add a fifth layer to this process by also encouraging scholars to contextualize the image, interrogate its source and purpose for being used, as well as possible historical significance, temporal events relevance, and the creator's background and agenda. Included in this fifth stage would also be insights into the political economy of the news media and how that influences image selection and manipulation.

For example, pro-life and pro-choice groups may use the same image of pregnant woman to advocate for their position, but without contextualizing the group and its message, the interpretations would be the same from Rodriguez and Dimitrova's process. Additionally, viewing an image of George W. Bush's “mission accomplished” picture may be interpreted as a patriotic, military celebration of a war's success. But knowledge of the Iraq War and its specific staging as a propaganda device (Hollihan, 2008) creates a more accurate and inclusion interpretation of the image as a comical public relations attempt to commemorate a failed invasion based on fabrication that led to scandal and mockery in the media.

These are just a few examples of when an image's source can be just as important as the image content, which is why I would offer its inclusion in importance to contemporary scholars who are interested in studying the power of visual framing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Firsts in American Politics: Romney vs Obama 2012 and the Future of Diversity

Submitting proofs for my first published article in communication this week was surreal. A project I had worked on for so long had finally been recognized by the academic community. I was even more thrilled to find out that the article (about the 2008 presidential campaign) is going to be published in early November, just in time for the 2012 election. The timing could not be more perfect, then, to address today's blog post about the 2012 election season and momentous “firsts” in American politics.

Though it is cliched, I believe this discussion of the 2012 campaign could not be contextualized without first mentioning the importance of the 2008 election in achieving a historic first: the first African American president of the United States. Just as voting transitioned from white males to black males (all males) to females, the presidency appears to be transitioning in the same fashion. Hilary Clinton, though quite successful and truly a formidable contender for the 2008 democratic nominee, was unable to break the patriarchal hierarchy that is American politics. Additionally, the 2012 election may bring a new first: the first Mormon president. Though I have discussed the importance of this in a previous post, I would like to mention here briefly how the labeling of Mormonism as a “secretive cult” only further reinforces how standardized the candidates for presidents have truly become. When someone like Romney, wealthy, white, and male can be facing an abandonment of Republican voters because his religion (though he believes in a Christian God and Jesus Christ) is considered too far from mainstream Christianity to be considered a good, moral man. I use this as an example of how far American has yet to go in order to be truly accepting of all types as viable political candidates.

Many countries around the world, developed, developing, undeveloped have elected minority and female leaders, though US politics has continually remained white and male. Our 112th Senate is only 17% female and the House with a similar ratio (17.5%) of females and in total, 86.5% of Congress is Caucasian.  Why is the land of the free and the home of the brave ruled by a representative democracy that could be called anything but representative?

In her new book, Sister Citizen, Marissa V. Harris-Perry outlines the importance of Obama's presidency but also how still underrepresented black Americans (and specifically black women) are in the political system and in the voting process. A stirring read, it outlines the dichotomy of representation that I have alluded to above. Only through increased voter participation and an adjustment of current voting regulations (as I discussed in last week's post), do I feel that politics will truly mirror and represent the people. Our country was founded on this lack of representation and the evils of persecution and exclusion, so where is our revolutionary spirit?

This all reminds me of a tour I took of the capitol, where there is a statue of four female figures with one bust yet uncarved. This statue remains unfinished for the first female president. Its existence as an unfinished process is a beautiful tragedy, for it simultaneously highlights how far inclusion has come, but how we still have a journey ahead of us. We can no more say that we have reached full inclusion for all genders than we have for all races, sexualities, or even religions. The political system has many firsts yet to come and although Obama's election was a momentous day and the first step in that process, I look forward to future elections where the primary debates can be an array of people, instead of carbon copy rich, white males.

The competition between the first Mormon president or the first two-term black president is approaching with the next tidal wave of politics. But the first female president, the first Hispanic president, the first Muslim president, and the first LGBTQ president is on the horizon, far off but visible, perhaps in our lifetimes we can achieve as many “firsts” as possible.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Research Tools for Students and Faculty: Boomerang

I was only recently introduced to Boomerang for Gmail, but it has already proven extremely useful for balancing the necessity of being prompt on emails and the rest of my graduate study. This extension for Gmail allows you to write emails and schedule them to be delivered at a later date and time in the future. The benefits and variety of uses are endless for this simple email tool, which I will list below. In addition, messages that are emailed to you can be "boomeranged" back to the top of your inbox at a later date, so it appears as a higher priority at a time that you are available to address it.

Uses as a student/faculty member:

  • work late into the night but schedule messages for the next morning
    • remain professional with your time stamps
    • have the email be at the top of their inbox in the morning without sending it then
  • schedule emails when you know people will be available
    • if a professor has office hours, schedule an email to remind them the morning of that you will be stopping by
    • if a professor/student only comes to campus on certain days, have an email sent on that day when you know they will be checking their work email
  • stay ahead on your to-do list
    • there may be a time sensitive email with a deadline (teaching assistant preferences, request for clearance to take classes, coordinating study groups, etc) that you know well in advance but it is not appropriate to be too early, so scheduling it for later (even months in the future) can take it off your plate well ahead of time
    • let your email be your to-do list by scheduling emails to yourself to remember to print articles, look something up before class, or ask a question of a professor when you know you'll have some free time in your day
  • be proactive and persistent for getting responses
    • selecting "boomerang if I don't here back" emails allows you to be reminded of unanswered questions without doing math or remembering yourself if it has been long enough to re-send an email
My list is not by any means inclusive and if you have found any more uses, please feel free to comment! Boomerang has already been a great help to me in my graduate work and I hope that others find it useful as well!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Power of Online Sentiment Data: Article Review

An article in the April 2012 issue of Human Communication Research entitled, “Emotions, public opinion, and US presidential approval rates” argues that emotions in online discussion forums can be directly linked to approval ratings of the president. Not only does this article find an application for aggregated data from online sources, but it also uses the emotional content of the forums to create conclusions about the state of public opinion. If people, especially youth, are becoming more cynical and skeptical of political activities, they pull away from the system, but still need an outlet to express their emotions. Gonzalez-Bailon, Banchs, Kaltenbrunner (2012) separate out emotionally-charged words from online discussion forms labeled “politics” using the ANEW (Affective Norms for English Language Words) list. These words are rated based on three types of emotional factors: valence, arousal, and dominance. Valence indicates strong feelings, whether positive or negative (e.g., happiness or sadness), arousal indicates physical changes (e.g., excitement, anger), and dominance indicates response or actions (e.g., submission, awe). The conclusions were that the invasion of Iraq used the most words associated with a high arousal and that this use of arousal words helped emotions “crystallize into generalized sentiment” (Gonzalez-Bailon, et al., 2012). Thus, important events and the effects on public opinion can be assessed through online forums where “public officials can use it to respond faster to issues of public concern, and ultimately improve the channels for democratic governance” (Gonzalez-Bailon, et al., 2012).

This article has important implications for researchers that are attempting to create coherent narratives for public opinion from online spaces such as discussion forums and social media sites. The current issues regarding such data is how to code and make sense of the information and how (if possible) to generalize this data to the general public as these populations tend to be extremely narrow and race, gender, and age specific. The Gonzales-Bailon et al. article is an important step in understanding online information by using emotions as the tool to glean political views and opinions and also the validity of using such skewed online populations to make conclusions about the public. Using emotions as a standard is complicated, but the ANEW list creates a formalized standard for the comparison. It would be interesting to see if these emotions corresponded to other important political events besides presidential approval ratings and what other emotion-charged online discussions could be analyzed using this same method.

A current example of this type of data analysis is being performed in the Annenberg Innovation Lab on the Twitter Sentiment Team to determine how tweets regarding republican primary candidates can predict success and overall popularity among the candidates. Take a look at their real time dashboard to learn more: AIL Twitter Sentiment Dashboard.

As people become more withdrawn from traditional methods of participating in politics, perhaps the solution is to assess opinions online instead of hoping for a reversion to traditional practices.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012 and the Importance of the Pope

With Easter celebrations occurring today, I cannot help but think about the importance of Catholicism, the Pope, and religion in general on our world. Although I have posted previously that atheists should stand up for their beliefs, I believe still in religious expression and freedom, as long as the actions and behaviors that stem from these beliefs do not harm or infringe upon the rights of others. To these more extreme interpretations of religion, I am exploring the rhetoric of Rick Santorum and of the Westboro Baptist Church, so be sure to check my blog for updates on those topics soon.

First, I would like to discuss the importance of religion in modern society, from political to health to social issues, before discussing the specific importance of Pope Benedict XVI and his recent trips to Latin and South America.

In light of religion, Catholicism as an exemplar, and its influence on global policies, religious rhetoric and the ways that people incorporate religion into their lives is of the utmost importance. Considering that more than 80% of the world considers itself religious, with nearly 1 billion people believing specifically in Catholicism, the words and messages of the Pope, a social and cultural icon, have great influence in the modern day proceedings around the world. Religious leaders still have positions of prominence in many countries, from America's religious right to the Iranian Ayatollah, and their opinions can influence constituents and thus policy-makers in making decisions for entire countries and regions.

For example, the Catholic Church has repeatedly advocated against contraception use in Africa, despite the threat of HIV/AIDS transmission in the population. African religious leaders and missionaries tending to the sick there also preach abstinence and avoiding contraception, making it difficult for those advocating for condom use and safer sex to reduce HIV transmission to gain a foothold in many African populations. Religious influences may subvert scientific treatments for the disease and restrict those who have access to contraceptive measures that may restrict the transmission of the virus.

As Hilary Clinton stated in her UN speech this year, there is a new human rights issue plaguing the nation. The human rights of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender individuals have been denied in many countries, including America, for reasons that have roots in tradition, morality, and faith. The Catholic Church has been against recognizing homosexual unions, allowing adoption for same-sex couples, and offering gender neutral or more inclusive options for identification. Followers of Catholicism define marriage as being between a man and a woman. These teachings are not limited to Catholicism as many religious groups oppose contraception and rights for the LGBTQ community. However, in both the US and internationally, Catholicism can be considered an exemplar of religious influence in politics, social order, and community building.

Because the Pope heavily influences the Catholic community through encyclicals, proclamations, and visiting speeches, his words, ideas, and priorities can change the tides for political, social, and cultural policies and traditions. His influence may be epitomized by a recent Miami Herald article which states "Pope's visit to Cuba leaves little reason for hope". This may be a comparison to claims that Pope John Paul II helped spur the fall of communism as Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba was one of mixed reviews. While a New York Times article referenced the Pope's urging of political reform, this request fell on deaf ears as politicians stated that political reforms would not be following the economic ones. Can we really describe this visit as a failure, though? It was the first visit to Cuba since John Paul II's visit in 1998 and symbolically shows that the Pope and Catholicism has not forgotten Cuba. Above all, I think that Benedict's visit reinforces the idea that he and perhaps many Catholics feel that the Pope does have the power to influence governments. If not, I feel there would not have been such negative reviews of the visit, as if him arriving and speaking there would change the entire political climate of the country.

In the case of the Pope, it is hard to delineate where one's expectations are too high or too low. His influence in global power is unmistakable and perhaps unmatched, but there are limits to the effectiveness of single visits and requests. In respect to the Easter holiday today, I admire the faith placed in the Pope to exact political change in Cuba but also critique how quickly this faith can turn to disappointment. The Pope is one man, and surely the world would not want one man, no matter their background or faith, to have such power and control over governments, nations, and people. But, it appears that the Pope does, because people and the media give him this power. Considering Pope Benedict XVI's tendency to be more conservative and to follow the letter of the Bible, there may be more changes in the Catholic community to come.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ethical Meat and Bourdieu's Distinction

A recent news article caught my eye about "frankenmeat" or "ethical meat" which is meat created from stem cells. The positives are overwhelming: less damage to the environment, people can enjoy steak without harming animals, and vegetarians no longer have to abstain from their favorites making the switch more palatable for many people. My initial reaction to this article was one of disgust, as the consumption of flesh is forever linked in my mind to the harming of animals. Eating flesh, no matter its origins, would literally make those who have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle ill, as bodies over time lose the enzymes needed for the consumption of meat. These enzymes can be restored through slowly adopting the eating habit, but one might ask, "why bother?". The article above makes the argument that vegetarians have the obligation to eat this meat in order to drive down prices to compete with animal-producing meat, thus creating a viable alternative. My response to such audacity is to question why the onus of purchasing this "ethical meat" is on the vegetarians, those who have already made a conscious decision to improve their dietary habits for the sake of others. Are those who are consuming meat getting a free ride? They are allowed to continue their harmful consumption while vegetarians are burdened with changing the entire food market on our stomachs alone? This type of argumentation allows for regular meat-consuming people to ignore the scientific advances and play ignorant to other possibilities. Instead of dumping responsibility onto vegetarians, this article should be encouraging everyone to consume the "ethical meat" to drive down prices and save the environment. Are these not values that everyone should share?

The most offensive part of the second article is the conclusion that vegetarians simultaneously refuse to eat meat on the subject of "taste" as well as values, as if children everywhere have the obligation to eat "frankenvegetables" because they don't like the taste of regular ones. The matter of food preference should not be minimized merely to taste, but should be recognized for what it is: a commitment to a healthier lifestyle that is better for the environment and animals. To do otherwise reinforces the stereotype of the "snobby" vegetarian who is trying to convert everyone to vegetarianism. In fact, eating and food is a personal choice, often laden with cultural, social, and class distinctions. Bourdieu wrote in "Distinction" that food preferences, as well as cultural and artistic preferences, are directly linked with educational and economic status. Many cultures engage in dietary habits based off of traditions such as sacrificing red meat during lent for Catholics or refraining from non-kosher meats for Jews. This aspect of vegetarianism, as the adoption of a lifestyle in line with traditional and societal values, and the subsequent importance, is forgotten. Many vegetarians, even though they might approve of "ethical meat", such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) does, do not have any obligation to consume it themselves. There is no requirement for being a vegetarian to convert others to the cause, nor to carry on those same values in other aspects of their life (such as recycling or volunteering at an animal shelter). Everyone decides their own values and adjusts their behavior accordingly, and that is exactly why this is a personal decision, not for any politician, journalist, or scientist to decide. If there are more options available for people to enjoy meat and not to harm animals, I would be hard-pressed to think of people (besides perhaps avid hunters) who would be opposed to an abandonment of violence towards animals. Thus, the onus of consumption falls to no one, it is merely a choice, another option, that most everyone could agree is preferable to harming animals and the environment. The greatest ability for change, then, is to target those who are currently consuming meat and changing their habits, creating government subsidies for this meat, or investing more in its development for cheaper methods of production, instead of force-feeding it down the throats of vegetarians already helping the cause.

In conclusion, no one, not even those who currently eat meat have any obligation to consume "ethical meat". Dietary habits are personal choices that should be decided as such, without economic, social, or political pressures. Even if it were as easy to change markets as the article suggests, there is no reason to isolate vegetarians as carrying that burden. Everyone should consider their own habits and determine whether "ethical meat" is right for them. Just as economic class influences taste preferences in food (Bourdieu, 1984), the high price of the "ethical meat" most likely prohibits most people from trying it or adopting it as a common dietary addition. In time, however, the prices may fall and become more accessible to all economic classes. This change in price, however, does not need to be assigned to a portion of the population to achieve. Instead, the focus on scientific advancement and governmental support can help create better, more appetizing, and cheaper forms for global consumption.