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Stealing Sugar


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Stealing Sugar

  1. 1. Caison-Childs Research Institute Stealing Sugar: An exploration of cultural appropriateness
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>With the introduction of a 4-month old into southeastern NC society, odd adult behaviors began to emerge </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple violations of personal space have generated compelling questions regarding propriety, social expectations, and parental obligations </li></ul>
  3. 3. Review of the Literature <ul><li>Pregnant bodies are public (Reich, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>People feel comfortable touching a pregnant woman (Bordo 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, it follows that the product of the pregnancy (i.e., the baby) is also viewed as public property </li></ul><ul><li>This belief in the baby as public is actualized in numerous ways, one of which is termed “stealing sugar” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Objective <ul><li>To explore the nature and degree of the belief in the baby as public property through an in-depth investigation of the practice of “stealing sugar.” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Research Questions <ul><li>RQ #1: What is the geographic distribution of the conceptual understanding of “stealing sugar”? </li></ul><ul><li>RQ #2: What are the perceptions of the sociodemographic profile associated with “stealing sugar”? </li></ul><ul><li>RQ #3: In what situations are “stealing sugar” acceptable/appropriate? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Method <ul><li>Interview via email </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1) Do you know what stealing sugar is?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2) What is stealing sugar? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3) Who does this? (i.e., gender/age/socioeconomic status) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4) In what situations is this activity acceptable? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5) Is stealing sugar part of your cultural framework or do you just understand from contextual clues and/or exposure to other cultural groups to which you are not a native member (e.g., you learned of this when you were in grad school in another state/region/country, etc.)?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If the latter, which cultural group? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6) Is there anything else about this topic that you would like to contribute? </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Method (cont.) <ul><li>Friend-of-a-friend (Milroy, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>Field interview with key informant (see Appendix A) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Response Sample <ul><li>34 responses </li></ul><ul><li>Geographically diverse: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NC, CA, NY, IA, NJ, AZ, VA, MN, ON, QC, NL, Appalachia (NC), SC, NS, OH, WA, TX, IN, MS, MD, PA, MI, WV </li></ul></ul><ul><li>18 women/10 men/3 Anon </li></ul>
  9. 9. RQ #1: Geographic distribution
  10. 10. RQ #2: Sociodemographic Perceptions <ul><li>Numerous responses from cultural backgrounds not participating in stealing sugar claim those who do to be of lower socioeconomic status </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Socioeconomic profiles of respondents who claim to “steal sugar” themselves suggest this belief to be false as these respondents derive from a broad range of socioeconomic statuses </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. RQ #2: Sociodemographic Perceptions (cont.) <ul><li>Respondents claiming familiarity with this practice were evenly split regarding who would be likely to steal sugar - men or women </li></ul><ul><li>Respondents felt that theft of sugar was predominate among older individuals, typically grandparents </li></ul><ul><li>Though some respondents felt the practice emblematic of African American culture, the sum of the responses did not bear out this claim as both White and African American respondents expressed experience with “stealing sugar” </li></ul>
  12. 12. RQ #3: Acceptable/ Appropriate Situations <ul><li>No consensus on overall appropriateness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Numerous respondents noted the “skeevy”, unsanitary, potentially felonious, or otherwise undesirable nature of this activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These responses common among those who do not culturally participate in this action </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>However, some felt this activity to be acceptable among close relations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Typically among parents and grandparents and often in a game-like format with ritualized sayings and actions (I.e., youth appearing to evade grandparent who is chasing them to “steal their sugar”) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Conclusions <ul><li>Fairly isolated to the Southern United States or to those with high southern contact </li></ul><ul><li>Perceptions of containment to African Americans or lower socioeconomic status groups appear to be unfounded </li></ul><ul><li>Typically practiced by those in the grandparent category </li></ul><ul><li>Can be a game between youths and close adult relatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When a game, often not initiated by the adult </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When not between a child and closely related adults, often viewed as “icky” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Implications for Practice <ul><li>Parents, infants and toddlers should beware in sugar-stealing states of the likelihood of this phenomenon </li></ul>
  15. 15. Directions for Further Research <ul><li>Empowerment of youths through awareness campaigns </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preventing “Stealing Sugar” - a proposed child safety curriculum to be taught in all pre-K/day care/mom’s day out programs in states where “stealing sugar” is likely to occur (see RQ #1) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Studies of effective parental blocking strategies to prevent the theft of sugar </li></ul>
  16. 16. Appendix A: Field Interview with 4-Month Old Key Informant <ul><li>J//… n99iiiiii7uyhgn </li></ul><ul><li>gv vvzz xxft7uyt5 </li></ul><ul><li>Ggghmm,m,,,,,,,Ω ugvcc </li></ul><ul><li>lokikmv90po, </li></ul>Note: Despite being non-verbal, when asked what she thought of people stealing her sugar, the key informant typed this response
  17. 17. References <ul><li>Bordo, S. (1993). Unbearable weight. Berkeley: University of California Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Milroy, L. (1987). Language and social networks (2nd Ed). London: Wiley-Blackwell. </li></ul><ul><li>Reich, J.A. (2003) Pregnant with possibilities. Qualitative Sociology 26 (3): 351-367. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Special thanks to Gerard Farrell, M.D. who provided the impetus for this ambitious research project with this email, “So what the hell is ‘stealing sugar’?” </li></ul>