`Cruising,’ relationships are topics at recent forum

By Kate Pelusi
November 16, 2000

Mike Fenn

by Kate Pelusi
assistant copy editor

No matter what generation you are from, there seems to be some sort of popular culture ritual that involves some sort of aimless adolescent group gathering such as scouring the malls and movie theaters or in the case of English/communications professor Charlie McCormick, “cruising.”

Professor McCormick along with Dr. Kathleen McKinley of the sociology department presented their current research in one of Cabrini College’s faculty forums.

These forums were started about three years ago as a way for faculty members to display the research from their projects and to receive comments and criticisms from their findings.

McCormick started his speech out with a story of his days as a teenager in Synder, Texas. He explained that every Friday and Saturday night he and his friends would pile into cars and constantly drive the same route all night. This is a phenomenon known as “cruising.”

Cruising started in the 1950s along with other forms of unofficial adolescent movements. This ritual grew even more when slews of Hollywood movies were produced about these “hot rodders.” The most famous “Rebel without a Cause.”

In the 1960s, cruising became more traditional and began to become separated from the Hot Rod culture, since the cruisers were less interested in their actual cars and most Hot Rodders were older.

In the 1970s, cruising became less traditional perhaps due to the oil embargo and the surfacing of shopping malls. At the present, cruising has become a topic of many legal debates. For instance, in Salt Lake City, adolescent cruising was criminalized.

McCormick is now conducting research on adolescent cruising in Aberleen, Texas. Through his research, McCormick has found some initial interpretations of adolescent cruising. He found that cruising is a way for teenagers to identify with themselves and find out who they are without the constrictions of their parents. He also concluded that the phenomenon is not nearly as prevalent in the white middle class as it once was.

McCormick also hypothesized that surfing the web is perhaps a modern- day version of cruising.

McCormick said of his past days as a cruiser, “Little did I know I would be spending so much time thinking about cruising.”

The second part of the forum was Dr. Kathleen McKinley’s presentation on her research of “Mothers and Daughters.”

In 1990, McKinley was involved in a “dorm course” at Cabrini. Students would pick a topic they were interested in, and a professor would come to the dorms and conduct a class about the topic. At one point, Dr. McKinley was teaching a dorm class on Relationships. One book that was used for the class was a 1978 book by Nancy Chodorow called “The Reproduction of Motherhood.” Dr. McKinley and the students did not agree with many of the theories about the relationship of mother and daughter.

This is what prompted Dr. McKinley to begin her research on Mothers and Daughters.

In her studies, Dr. McKinley found that the education level of the mother could make a difference in her relationship with her daughter. When a mother has a high education, the daughter is often less connected with her mother. Dr. McKinley explained that a lower connectiveness between mother and daughter is not necessarily a bad thing since it can lead to daughters becoming more independent.

Dr. McKinley also reported that African-American mothers and daughters have better relationships than white mothers and daughters. Daughters with children have poor relationships and older mothers have good relationships with daughters.

A large part of Dr. McKinley’s research is the findings in a National Survey of 13,000 people. This survey is interviewing parents, their children and most recently their children’s children.

If you are interested to see what your professors do besides teach your classes, attend the next faculty forum. They are interesting and perhaps you will find a common interest between you and the professors.

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Kate Pelusi

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