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Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities (edition 2005)

by Alexandra Robbins

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1,028368,246 (3.2)15
Member:jenniferb
Title:Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities
Authors:Alexandra Robbins
Info:Hyperion (2005), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:women, culture, alexandra robbins

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Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Since Robbins attempts to portray her novel about sorority life as research, I will treat it as such. This review is how I would critique any written piece claiming to be research. Lucky for me I’m taking two classes this semester dealing specifically with proper research procedures.

1. Lack of Randomization. Robbins follows around four sorority girls. Four, out of thousands in the country. Although Robbins has reasons that she cannot follow more girls (prohibited by most national sororities and kicked off of a few campuses), this does not mean that her sample of 4 girls (all at one university, three in the same sorority) can be generalized to sorority life across the country. It cannot even be generalized to their university, let alone their sorority specifically. Right here, this point, delegitimizes her entire book as a valid research. But of course, that is not what Robbins is after, she is a journalist, a writer. Her goal is to sell books. If she wanted to do research, she would likely work in the background at a university, not parading around as a nineteen year old (something she proudly admits in the introduction as something not all people in their late twenties can do). Furthermore, perhaps four girls who allow themselves to be selected for such a project agree to participate because there is something they don’t like about the sorority. Unknown.
2. Data acquisition. I have issues with her methods. I don’t really mind that she went undercover, I think interesting things can come from it. But at what intervals did she interview her subjects? Were they equal intervals? How many times did she contact them? I don’t know, because she doesn’t tell us. (BIG no-no in research studies.) She does tell us that the girls would contact her when they were upset. It is any wonder, then, that the information she got from them was damaging to the sorority? When I’m upset about something, I turn to who I think I will get the most sympathy from…if these girls were upset about something in their sorority, and they happen to be part of a ‘research’ project about sororities, it makes sense that is when they would talk to Robbins. But when something was going great, perhaps they chose to celebrate with their sisters, or simply didn’t think to tell Robbins. We don’t know, because Robbins doesn’t tell us. Once again sacrificing legitimate research techniques to create a sensational best-seller.
3. Experimenter/Researcher Bias. Although Robbins claims she set out to write a ‘truthful’ book about sorority life, I have to challenge that a bit. She seems to be out to show what she deems historically white Greek organizations as the worst thing a girl could be a part of. She glosses over the positives that Greek life might bring (like service and philanthropy) to dictate that every sorority girl drinks, is loose, and likely doing drugs. To not be accused of my own bias, these are her words, “The blondes, the super-thin, the rich, the promiscuous, and the girls who smoke marijuana are separated and recognized as being distinctive, nonoverlapping groups.” (116) Basically, you can find whatever you want. If you want to see thin, party girls in a sorority, they are there. If you want to see the student body president or girl who’s working to pay her way through college, you can find that as well.

Going back to issue number one—inability to be generalized—I didn’t find that I could relate to many of the situations these girls found themselves in. Several chapters were dedicated to hazing (and implying that every organization hazes), but I was not hazed. Does that mean it doesn’t happen? No, because I, unlike Robbins, cannot speak for every person in Greek life. I also was not lied to during the pledge process, nor do I feel I was judged based on my wallet or really my looks (anyone who knows me knows I lack all form of style—this was deep into my toe sock phase). I was never pressured not to study in order to party, and remember the house having several study nights. But that’s just me.

I knew that I could not have an opinion on this book without reading it, and I encourage you to do the same. Don’t take my word for it, whether you are pro or anti Greek. But you should take into consideration what I feel to be fallacies in her logic.
( )
1 vote csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Since Robbins attempts to portray her novel about sorority life as research, I will treat it as such. This review is how I would critique any written piece claiming to be research. Lucky for me I’m taking two classes this semester dealing specifically with proper research procedures.

1. Lack of Randomization. Robbins follows around four sorority girls. Four, out of thousands in the country. Although Robbins has reasons that she cannot follow more girls (prohibited by most national sororities and kicked off of a few campuses), this does not mean that her sample of 4 girls (all at one university, three in the same sorority) can be generalized to sorority life across the country. It cannot even be generalized to their university, let alone their sorority specifically. Right here, this point, delegitimizes her entire book as a valid research. But of course, that is not what Robbins is after, she is a journalist, a writer. Her goal is to sell books. If she wanted to do research, she would likely work in the background at a university, not parading around as a nineteen year old (something she proudly admits in the introduction as something not all people in their late twenties can do). Furthermore, perhaps four girls who allow themselves to be selected for such a project agree to participate because there is something they don’t like about the sorority. Unknown.
2. Data acquisition. I have issues with her methods. I don’t really mind that she went undercover, I think interesting things can come from it. But at what intervals did she interview her subjects? Were they equal intervals? How many times did she contact them? I don’t know, because she doesn’t tell us. (BIG no-no in research studies.) She does tell us that the girls would contact her when they were upset. It is any wonder, then, that the information she got from them was damaging to the sorority? When I’m upset about something, I turn to who I think I will get the most sympathy from…if these girls were upset about something in their sorority, and they happen to be part of a ‘research’ project about sororities, it makes sense that is when they would talk to Robbins. But when something was going great, perhaps they chose to celebrate with their sisters, or simply didn’t think to tell Robbins. We don’t know, because Robbins doesn’t tell us. Once again sacrificing legitimate research techniques to create a sensational best-seller.
3. Experimenter/Researcher Bias. Although Robbins claims she set out to write a ‘truthful’ book about sorority life, I have to challenge that a bit. She seems to be out to show what she deems historically white Greek organizations as the worst thing a girl could be a part of. She glosses over the positives that Greek life might bring (like service and philanthropy) to dictate that every sorority girl drinks, is loose, and likely doing drugs. To not be accused of my own bias, these are her words, “The blondes, the super-thin, the rich, the promiscuous, and the girls who smoke marijuana are separated and recognized as being distinctive, nonoverlapping groups.” (116) Basically, you can find whatever you want. If you want to see thin, party girls in a sorority, they are there. If you want to see the student body president or girl who’s working to pay her way through college, you can find that as well.

Going back to issue number one—inability to be generalized—I didn’t find that I could relate to many of the situations these girls found themselves in. Several chapters were dedicated to hazing (and implying that every organization hazes), but I was not hazed. Does that mean it doesn’t happen? No, because I, unlike Robbins, cannot speak for every person in Greek life. I also was not lied to during the pledge process, nor do I feel I was judged based on my wallet or really my looks (anyone who knows me knows I lack all form of style—this was deep into my toe sock phase). I was never pressured not to study in order to party, and remember the house having several study nights. But that’s just me.

I knew that I could not have an opinion on this book without reading it, and I encourage you to do the same. Don’t take my word for it, whether you are pro or anti Greek. But you should take into consideration what I feel to be fallacies in her logic.
( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Enjoyed & am finally donating as I need to cull bookshelves before moving. ( )
  anissaannalise | Jan 1, 2014 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm a sucker for an exposé, even if it is sensationalized a little bit. That being said, I just don't know how much of this was true, to any degree.

As I was reading, I got the distinct feeling that she just wove together entirely fictional stories based on the hundreds of sorority sisters she interviewed. (Which, I'm curious how she swindled so many of them to agree to interviews when there is an entire chapter in the book about the Nationals war on media and how they're forbidden to speak to journalists..)

She did seem very slighted in her view of white v. non-white sororities. She played up everything catty, nasty, illegal and vicious that the 'traditional' Greek houses (white) did but downplayed them enormously when it came to all the multicultural houses. (The paper bag test, excuuuuse me?!) I think all the sororities have their pros/cons and am not really a fan of them myself.

Quite a few reviewers on here have been slamming the author pretty intensely (how funny that they usually say they were sorority members themselves), saying that it isn't just those on Greek Row who participate in shenanigans. Robbins reiterates that exhaustively throughout the book, so I have a feeling that the negative reviews were largely written by people who didn't actually finish the book.

Overall, the writing was dull and relatively lifeless. The last page of the book says you can go to her website for updates on the 4 girls she "followed". You cannot. Her website functions similarly to a former Geocities debacle and has no updates on anyone/thing. ( )
  tealightful | Sep 24, 2013 |
ok ( )
  Mamajeanne | Aug 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786888598, Paperback)

Now in paperback, the New York Times bestseller-with over 91,000 copies in print-that takes you behind closed doors to see what really goes on in America's sororities. Ever wonder what sorority life is really like In Pledged, bestselling author Alexandra Robbins goes undercover to expose the dark side of collegiate sisterhood-the psychological abuse, hazing rituals, and widespread body image disorders-while at the same time introducing us to many of the intelligent, successful women within its ranks. The result is a compelling sociological exploration of the powerful influence that these organizations wield over young women today. With its fly-on-the-wall voyeurism and remarkable insight, Pledged paints a sharp-eyed portrait of the intriguing and paradoxical world of modern-day sororities.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:34 -0400)

A look inside the world of sorority life offers an eye-opening view of the drugs, psychological abuse, promiscuity, racism, violence, and other problems that are rampant among young women in a typical sorority.

(summary from another edition)

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