5.4.16

IN CASE YOU WANT TO TEST SOME HYPOTHESES.

The University of California at Santa Barbara has long been a hot-house for trendy scholarship, including the political geography of ... Girl Scout Cookies?  Steven Hayward of Power Line thinks the abstract of Smart Cookies: The Gendered Spaces of Labor, Citizenship, and Nationalism in the Girl Scout Cookie Sale is funny enough to quote, without elaboration.

It might be more productive to parse it, to deconstruct it for its own biases, perhaps to identify the opportunities for future research, or the lacunae a careful reviewer ought to identify.
Each year thousands of Girl Scouts sell cookies to friends, family, and neighbors to raise money for their troops and local councils. Lauded as the largest girl-led financial literacy program, the annual Girl Scout cookie sale not only teaches girls important business and leadership skills but also prepares girls for their roles as American women in a neoliberal and capitalist society.
Straightforward enough. An economist might take more interest in whether cookie-pushing is more productive than Junior Achievement or participating in Financial Fitness for Life or simply making the basketball team as a way of developing those business and leadership skills.  A doctoral dissertation is supposed to be a manageable project, and perhaps extracting those Minimal Publishable Units out of a dissertation in a sub-field of geography requires the use of trendy radical terminology, thus "neoliberal and capitalist."  Likewise, perhaps the author takes the existing social structure as given, although she and her advisors might do well to reflect, perhaps with a well-read political philosopher, perhaps aided by good coffee or even strong drink, on whether learning business and leadership skills are evolutionary stable.
Girls learn the importance of ‘giving’ through multiple spaces of the cookie sale. Scouts learn to give and care for others under the veil of market capitalism, neoliberalism, and American nationalism, which seeks to reproduce hegemonic gender roles regarding labor, education, and citizenship.
Institutions are civilization.  They won't go away, or take preferable forms, just because you describe them pejoratively.  "Put in secular terms, the problem with a rule is not in the privileges it confers per se, but whether adherence to the rule confers evolutionary advantages to adherents, and whether those advantages can be shared by adherents and by new adopters."  Simple economics question: do girls who sell cookies as Scouts live better as adults than similarly-situated counterparts who did not?  (It would take a brave dissertator, in any field, to want to consider a finer breakdown of the population than Scout or non-Scout.)
Based on a two-year study on the Girl Scout cookie sale, using qualitative methods and rooted in feminist methodologies, this project seeks to understand how ‘spaces of giving’ emerge in the cookie sale and how these spaces shape social constructions of gender, citizenship, and national identity.
Jive alert: that "qualitative methods" and "feminist methodologies" strongly suggest a lot of confirmation-of-priors without much effort devoted to seriously addressing the evidence that might lead the author to a different conclusion.  Easier to speculate about social constructions than to consider that constructions will fall down if they don't confer evolutionary advantages.

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