Wright Mills famously described how “personal troubles” and “public issues” are related; understanding this relationship is essential for developing a sociological
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.”
Continue reading "The Sociological Imagination and Personal Crises" »
By 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.
Continue reading "Steubenville Meets the 24-hour News Cycle" »
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?
Continue reading "Cheating: A Sociological Perspective" »
By 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.
Continue reading "I am a Sociologist Because . . ." »
By 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
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.
Continue reading "Are You Normal or are You WEIRD? " »
By Sally Raskoff
Have you watched the recent television shows on the “making”
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.
Continue reading "Who Makes America?" »
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.
Continue reading "Research Questions: Less is More" »