7 posts from March 2013

March 28, 2013

The Sociological Imagination and Personal Crises

SternheimerBy Karen SternheimerC._Wright_Mills_Image

C. Wright Mills famously described how “personal troubles” and “public issues” are related; understanding this relationship is essential for developing a sociological imagination

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a handful of students to encounter serious “personal troubles” during the course of a semester. These are not simply excuses to try and get an extension on an assignment, but serious crises that may prevent them from continuing in my class—or with their education entirely. Let’s consider how these “personal troubles” might be linked with “public issues.”

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March 22, 2013

Steubenville Meets the 24-hour News Cycle

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

You are likely familiar with the Steubenville, Ohio case where two teenaged boys were recently convicted of raping a young woman. 

There have been some great sociological analyses about it. Sarah Sobieraj wrote an OpEd on the ”digital residue” of the case highlighting how social media drew the story out into the light of day, Evan Stewart wrote at The Society Pages on our male-dominated society, the UK’s Guardian discusses the town’s economic woes, and Lisa Wade wrote about the media’s response to the verdict.

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March 18, 2013

Cheating: A Sociological Perspective

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

Did you know that turning in a class assignment copied directly from your textbook without quotes is a form of plagiarism? A student who did this in one of my classes claimed not to.

Each year I encounter some form of academic dishonesty, the most common being copying from another source, directly or paraphrased, without quotes or attribution. The most egregious example: a student copied directly from a book I wrote. (In this case, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery).

Why do people cheat? And how can sociology illuminate—and potentially reduce—this behavior, particularly in academia?

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March 14, 2013

I am a Sociologist Because . . .

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

 What makes you a sociologist? Is it a degree? A title? A job? Are there certain books you need to read? Is there a test you need to pass? Must you freely use jargon and esoteric language? Do you need access to a password or a secret handshake? Despite what you may think or what you may have learned, I believe that being a sociologist requires none of these things.

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March 11, 2013

Are You Normal or are You WEIRD?

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

What if I told you that if you thought you were normal, you might just be weird?

Some friends of mine have a ten-year-old, and I pulled a book off their shelf to read it aloud. The title asks, Are You Normal? It’s a fun book, published by National Geographic and by Mark Shulman, intended to educate kids on how their favorite foods and activities compared with other kids’ tastes, activities, and home life. If you like your peanut butter chunky, for example, it means you are only like 25% of the population. If you are an only child, you might not be normal because only one in seven don’t have a brother or sister. And so on.

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March 06, 2013

Who Makes America?

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Have you watched the recent television shows on the “making” of America?

The first, The Men Who Built America, has been followed by a second, Makers: Women Who Make America.

Sociologically, these shows are fascinating and highlight many societal issues that we analyze in sociology classes. The content of each provides a window into part of the country’s history; yet the naming of these shows and their specific content highlight how we think about gender.

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March 04, 2013

Research Questions: Less is More

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

Robin (not her real name) is a student of mine who came to my office to discuss her research paper for my class, due two weeks from the day she came to see me. She is very excited about her topic, which she selected for the assignment. She would like to study how poverty impacts education.

This is a big question, and an important one at that. But it is too big to explore in any sort of depth, especially within two weeks. Scholars can spend their entire careers researching questions like these; the first step to being able to conduct your own research—especially for the first time and within a tight time frame—is to narrow your focus.

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