Daniel Buffington

Dr. Daniel Buffington / Bear Hall 122 / 910.962.3434 / buffingtond@uncw.edu

On Becoming a Sociologist

I like to imagine that I was always going to become a sociologist. But that wasn’t the case. As an undergraduate, I double majored in Anthropology (Archaeology) and Art History with an emphasis on pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies. While I generally enjoyed both majors and learned a lot, neither fully satisfied my curiosity to understand what was going on in the contemporary world around me. Despite these creeping doubts I felt I was too far along in my degree to change.

It was at this point that a very important event occurred: in order to complete my Anthropology requirements I had to take a course in Physical Anthropology. The professor, who had just finished a stint working for the Human Genome Project, spent half of the semester outlining how human beings differ physically and genetically, all the while point out that this variation did not match up with the racial categories we use in everyday life. For me this was an absolute revelation of the “earth is not flat” variety. I began to question all sorts of things I had previously taken for granted. If physical or genetic differences could not account for variation in the outcomes of racial groups (in sports, schools, jobs, etc), what did? It was from this event that I gained my keen interest in racial and ethnic group relations.

Despite helping to cultivate this interest, it was also clear to me that Anthropology could not address these issues. Anthropology, especially Archaeology, is primarily the study of the past and of someone else’s society. By happenstance my roommate at the time had a keen interest in sociology and loaned several books which persuaded me that sociology was ique among the social sciences in making contemporary social life and one’s own society the center of inquiry. Indeed, no other discipline has made racial inequality such a central concern or been able to demonstrate empirically the way that social forces shape the outcomes of racial groups.

Thus, like many of my colleagues it was what C. Wright Mills called the “promise” of sociology – the ability to link things happening in my everyday life to the larger events of history and society – that convinced me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Sociology at the University of Georgia.

Specialty Areas

Courses Taught

Racial & Ethnic Relations

Introduction to Sociology

Migration and National Identity

Sociology of Culture

Culture

Sociology of Sport
Media and Communication Social Stratification
Sport and Leisure Modern Social Problems
  Racial and Ethnic Group Relations (Undergraduate and Graduate)

Course Syllabi

SOC 105: Introduction to Sociology

SOC 200:Sociology of Sport

SOC 215:Modern Social Problems

SOC 306:Sociology of Culture

SOC 325:Racial and Ethnic Group Relations

SOC 490:Senior Seminar

SOC 524 Social Stratification

SOC 525:Racial and Ethnic Group Relations

 

Current Research Projects

Sport, Global Migration, and National Identity

Impact of Mass Media on Racial and Ethnic Characterizations and Stereotypes

 

I am currently working on three research projects. The first examines the content of texts produced by mass media in regards to sport, documenting the patterned ways in which sport media defines reality for its audiences by framing the racial, ethnic, national, and gender identity of participating athletes. The second explores the effects of this content by researching how audiences use information learned from media to understand their everyday social world.

 

In addition, I am currently in the process of designing my next major research project, which will center on the global migration of elite soccer players. Sport, much like society, is currently going through a phase of intensified global mobility so that most sport leagues around the world contain unprecedented numbers of foreign athletes. My project aims to understand the:

 

  • structural factors that influence soccer migration at the elite levels through quantitative analysis of recent migrants
  • micro-level decision making process of individual athletes through interviews with recent migrants
  • process of adjustment that global soccer migrants go through upon entering a new country through interviews with recent migrants
  • process through which elite soccer players that have multiple national affiliations make decisions regarding which national team to represent in international competitions through interviews with recent migrants

 

In addition, to describing the global migration of elite soccer players, I also aim to compare the mobility of athletes to the mobility of non-athletes in order to understand both what is unique and common about migrations by athletes.

Professional Associations

Southern Sociological Society

American Sociological Association

North American Society for the Sociology of Sport

 

Publications

ESSAY 4, Daniel Buffington

"Blacks Are Naturally Good Athletes"

The Myth of a Biological Basis for Race

book cover ch 4 author Buffington

coauther of "Racetalk and Sport: The Color Consciousness of Contemporary Discourse on Basketball"

book cover


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