Kaldor's Intro to Sociology Spring 2014
About this class
Students review important journalism and social science research on issues they care about.
Students in SUNY Brockport's SOC 100 will also respond to posts from students at Champlain College St. Lambert and College of Westchester.
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Summary: This blog post looks at how changing the meaning that is attached to donating to Miracle Flights may help increase their revenue and ultimately be able to provide more free flights to sick children in need of transportation to receive the best medical care possible.
Miracle Flights for Kids is a national non-profit organization that was developed in 1985. Their mission is to fly low-income children who are sick, with cancer or other debilitating diseases, to the proper hospital or treatment facility. Similarly, Miracle Flights also flies sick children to places for second opinions to ensure they are making the best medical decision based on the information provided to them. This organization has already donated over 84,000 flights to families who would not have financially been able to provide transportation to receive the necessary care for their child.
The main assumptions of Miracle Flights is that it provides a safe and efficient method of transportation, free of cost, to children in need of reaching the destination of the best medical services. This non-profit assumes that the sick child needs this transportation in order to visit the best medical facility for their specific ailment. Another assumption is that Miracle Flights takes as much of each donation as economically possible and puts it toward the transportation of children. Miracle Flights is operated entirely from donations from the generosity of the public, organizations, and foundations. This assumes that they will receive enough donations to keep this organization functioning for as many sick children as possible.
The outcomes for Miracle Flights are both short and long term. The short-term outcomes are that the child will board a flight and be transported to a hospital and begin treatment for their illness. The long-term outcomes are that this child’s health will improve because of this treatment and will grow to enjoy a healthier lifestyle that might not have been possible if it was not for Miracle Flights.
The inputs for Miracle Flights are the costs of the plane, the maintenance of the plane, the fuel, the pilot’s compensation, and office supplies (for marketing and advertising purposes). Another input is the costs associated with making sure each sick child, and his or her family, is comfortable (i.e. reclining chair, blankets etc.). Eighty-one percent of all donations go directly to providing these flights.
The outputs for Miracle Flights are providing a free flight to sick children who cannot afford transportation to the best care facility. This organization provides a safe and dignified flight for these children. Every 29 dollars that is donated to Miracle Flights can fly a child 100 miles. To date, Miracle Flights have traveled over 46 million miles to help these children.
Based on this logic model, there are methods this organization could use in order to better achieve their goals. Adapting the ideas of Blumer could help Miracle Flights better achieve their goal of flying more sick children to the best medical facility. The main component from Blumer’s writings that can be applied to Miracle Flights is to use symbolic interaction in order to get more people, preferably more wealthy people, to donate to this organization. By using Blumer’s ideas and attaching more meaning, or a different kind of meaning, to this organization, Miracle Flights could see a great increase in their funds. Currently they rely on the generosity of individuals, organizations, and foundations. They also partner with corporate airlines by allowing people to donate their frequent flier miles to sick children and offer the lowest flight prices possible to this organization.
Blumer’s work discusses how individuals attach certain meanings or values to things in society. Once this meaning is attached, it becomes an influence over our interactions with others. People have an internal dialogue in order to fully understand the meanings they have attached to certain things. We also attach meanings and values to symbols in our everyday life. Using Miracle Flights as an example, a person might put a Miracle Flight sticker on their car if they donate to this organization. That sticker becomes a symbol of support for the donator and the organization will hopefully receive more support and more attention by that sticker being driven around town.
It is considered a symbolic gesture to donate to a charity in our society. Donating money makes people feel good about themselves, makes them feel like they are helping others in need, and provides them with a positive status in our country. Since, as Durkheim discusses, people are social products that serve a purpose, it is important for organizations like Miracle Flights to help attach more crucial meanings to the act of donating. There are two ways to donate to Miracle Flights, a one-time donation or a reoccurring donation through sponsorship. The meaning attached to donating, either once or reoccurring, is similar. Miracle Flights would benefit financially by working to attach more symbolic meaning to reoccurring donations. When people donate to a charity they feel good about themselves for that moment and perhaps for a short period of time after that. When people give a monthly donation to a charity, they are able to experience these feelings connected with donating on a constant basis. By helping individuals understand the meaning attached to reoccurring donations, Miracle Flights would be able to increase their revenue and be better suited to meet their long term goal of providing more safe flights for sick children.
Individuals act towards things (Miracle Flights for this example) based on the meanings they have attached to that thing. If people attached some of the longer-term goals that Miracle Flights has to donations, they may increase their annual revenue. Currently, it appears that the main component that a donator would attach meaning to their donation to would be the flight itself. Instead, donators should be attaching meaning to the bigger goal of Miracle Flights, the ability for a sick child to receive treatment at the best facility.
One avenue for improving their donations is to target high-profile celebrities. Many celebrities aim to promote a Good Samaritan image to the public. Many do it for selfless reasons; they have the money and can afford donating some of their revenue. Others do it because it helps them create a positive image to the public eye, which in the long run may help them in their careers. If Miracle Flights were able to get a few big name celebrities to donate money for flights, they could use the story to promote the celebrity, but more importantly get the name of their organization into the public ear. Other celebrities would see the meanings that are attached to donating to this cause and may become interested in donating as well. Similarly, as consumers of popular culture, non-celebrity people may see celebrities attaching meaning to an organization like Miracle Flights and want to feel connected to that particular celebrity, so they might then also desire to donate to Miracle Flights. This approach could greatly help Miracle Flights increase their annual revenue.
I would imagine the sick child, and perhaps more importantly the family of the sick child, attaches great meaning to the flight that Miracle Flights provides. This organization strives to provide a safe and dignified flight to the necessary destination. Anyone who has worked with children before understands the importance of making a child feel safe and secure, and this organization aims to do the same. Families will attach the treatment and (hopefully) healing process of their child to the opportunity given to them by Miracle Flights. If Miracle Flights can broaden the meaning that accompanies donating to this organization, they will increase the amount of miles they can fly each year.
Miracle Flights have had a successful first 28 years in business as a non-profit organization. Their business has a clear logical model, which helps them achieve their short-term and long-term goals. Making some changes in how meaning is attached to the act of donating money to this organization and what types of donations are acceptable can help increase their revenues and ultimately help meet its long-term goal.
I want to start by saying that there are worse things in life than spending one night in jail for a severe offense. In extreme cases, sometimes hard decisions need to be made, and I would rather this man be locked up until help can be given than to let him roam around and possibly hurt someone or himself. That being said, I think the way our prison system is run is extremely unproductive. I'm not sure how it is in Canada, but here in the U.S., there is very little focus in rehabilitating the people who are sent there. I do not think people commit crimes because they are "bad people who deserve to be punished". Most of the time, there is a reason people are making these decisions. A man who murders needs help. If we focus more on helping these people, it is possible that we could extend our society in ways we never thought we could by bringing a fresh perspective that we are currently keeping locked away.
To say that substance abuse is the main cause of homelessness is similar to saying that ice cream is the main cause of obesity. Every situation varies according to the individual in that situation. In some cases, yes, substance abuse can lead to homelessness. More often than not, though, it is due to economic reasons. It makes sense that people turn to drugs after they become homeless because of the combination of their current difficulties and the company they are keeping. I think certain people are more prone to substance abuse, though, and are more susceptible no matter what their situation.
I have always thought about the dangers of mixing mentally ill prisoners with other convicted felons. Their own danger is at risk because other inmates may target them because of this ‘weakness’. They can be singled out if they are acting in a way that other prisoners see as weird.
The court doesn’t really care about the person; they only see them as a criminal and nothing more. They couldn’t care less if they get beat up in jail. That’s what needs to be changed. These prisoners, mentally ill and not, should still be treated as humans. Yes they committed something awful, but that doesn’t make them any less human. Mentally ill felons should be treated more as patients than prisoners.
This is an interesting topic to talk about since there can be much confusion in college relationships. A lot of the time, people just want to hookup and that’s why they go to parties, but other people want a real relationship. So when they go back to whomevers room and one of them makes the move to have sex, the other one is shocked because they wanted more than just a one-night stand.
Your reference study sounds like a good reference, but as you said, it’s somewhat inconvenient for them to not state how many people of each gender were surveyed. In our society, it’s typically the male that just wants a quick fling while the female wants something more substantial. So if the reference surveyed 80% men and 20% women then it is not evenly depicted.
Interesting topic and a good read, thanks!
I got drawn to this article because I have strong beliefs about criminals being treated as victims because they have what could be considered mental illnesses. I come from a family where the majority of my male family members are correctional officers in prisons, and this could be what influences my opinion. Some offenders do need to be hospitalized, however in my opinion, the majority of them need to be put into prison. It really frustrates me when people with mental health issues who can do things to be pro-active about their conditions do not help themselves, and then try to blame their illness. In the article Taylor Mitchell used his illness as an excuse, however bipolar disorder can be treated and kept in check with the proper medications. He has had issues his entire life and his parents as well as Taylor himself should have done something about this a long time ago. In my opinion, and meaning no offense to anyone else, criminals are criminals no matter what.
When it comes to religious beliefs I was raised in a very open family. My parents are not religious at all and they raised me to be open minded. However I spent my school years from kindergarten through tenth grade in private catholic schools before transferring to the public school system in eleventh grade. This made me well rounded when it came to religious beliefs because I got to see both sides of the argument. In the end I chose to not be religious but many of my friends growing up have had the exact problem that is discussed in the article. I feel when parents push their children into a religion too much they end up rebelling against their parents and resenting the religion. I feel that parents should instill some basic beliefs and morals into their children, however I also believe that parents should be flexible and allow children to formulate their own beliefs as well. This allows the children to become their own person and be free thinkers. If they end up choosing their parents’ religion that’s great! If they don’t that’s fine too, all that matters was that they were able to truly discover what they believe.
I can relate to this article because growing up I was the depressive child. I think around 8th grade my depression became noticeable. I withdrew from friends and activities I loved to do. I never felt good enough and started restricting my eating. My mom knew I was having a hard time but didn't start me in therapy until 9th grade. 9th grade is when it felt like everything hit the fan. I started cutting and throwing up as coping mechanisms to deal with family and school life. When my mom found out about the cutting she took me to my therapist who suggested regular arm/leg checks to stop me from cutting. It was invasive and frustrating. I'm sure my mom hated doing it and I know it broke her heart that she couldn't really do anything to help me. Your observation of therapy costs is also extremely accurate. As a single mother with four kids paying for my weekly sessions at $70 a visit was extremely difficult. Not to mention paying for anti-depressants. I think that one child's depression affecting other siblings is situational rather than definite. I believe it depends on the severity of the depression. If a child is suicidal and her killing herself is a constant threat then I definitely think that would take a toll on the others but from what I could tell my cutting and other depression related side effects didn't affect my siblings at all. And although I cut, I don't think I was ever suicidal. I think that a good sibling relationship could actually be beneficial to a child going through depression. It's like a mini support group. I agree with your statement that depression doesn't only affect the one who has it but also everyone around them as well.
This article interested me because when I was in first grade my parents split up and this had different effects on me as I was growing up. My father had an affair and left our family which caused many things to change. He moved out and my mom had sole custody of us. I only saw him a couple times a week and as a result our relationship suffered. I hated my dad’s new wife and resented her kids. Whenever I was with them I had a bad attitude and was disrespectful. Throughout my teenage years I struggled with depression, anxiety, and cutting, among other things. I attribute these afflictions to my parents’ divorce. In your post you kept saying the article claimed that divorce affects a child’s mental wellbeing. I’m curious to know what sort of mental effects they are talking about. I think the phrase “mental wellbeing” is too broad for us to really understand how divorce is affecting these kids. I agree with your analysis about when children are interviewed about their parents their response could be biased depending on whether they are feuding with that parent or if one of their parents is pressuring them into speaking poorly of the other parent. I think that it is completely irresponsible for parents to put their children in the middle of their problems. If they don’t get along they need to keep it between themselves and not make the child feel like they have to choose sides. Divorce effects on children is a huge issue that parents need to think about before they decide to give up on their marriage.
Stepping in Starbucks shoes, I feel that this is a very smart idea. A lot of costumers are college students who like to study as well as drink alcohol, so having beer and wine will increase sales. Being a college student I see the other side to it where as it could potentially get very annoying trying to do work in a bar-like atmosphere. My mom is in love with coffee and when I was younger we would always top at random coffee shops and the atmosphere was amazing, I feel like adding alcohol to start bucks will have an opposite atmosphere due to people being drunk.
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