By Karen Sternheimer
When I was a graduate student, I worked as a research assistant on several projects for criminologists. Perhaps the most interesting and challenging project I participated in was a study of homicides in Los Angeles.
This was a comprehensive, multi-faceted study. I was given a great deal of responsibility for collecting data from police homicide files. The senior researchers had gained a court order that enabled us to have access to hundreds of files from 1993 and 1994, peak years in homicides for the city and county. I led the team that went to police and sheriff’s headquarters, reading files along with a team of students that I supervised who would read the files and then use a coding sheet to note key details about the incident. Over the course of the study I personally read hundreds of police murder files.
Continue reading "To Live and Die in L.A." »
By Peter Kaufman
What happens to you when you study sociology? Do you see the world differently? Do you find yourself analyzing and interpreting things that you previously took for granted? Do you say things that might have surprised your pre-sociological self? Do people respond to you, or even question you, in ways that they never used to before? Do you wonder how you could have made it to this point without sociology in your life?
Continue reading "Because I’m a Sociologist...." »
By Teresa Irene Gonzales
I was recently listening to an episode of The TakeAway on NPR; the host was interviewing Shirin Lao-Raz Salemnia on her commitment to fostering an interest in coding among young girls. This got me thinking about my own experiences as a young, female computer technician during my late teens and early twenties.
I began working in information technology when I was 19. I didn’t know many women who were also interested in mainframes, computer networking, hardware technologies, et cetera. In fact, I was both the youngest person and the only woman in my computer engineering courses, and at both of my tech-related jobs. I didn’t really know how to process the explicitly gendered and sexist, and implicitly racist comments and treatment that I received (I once had a VP pat me on the head and say he’d call one of the guys to help him out). At the time, social networking was in its infancy and I didn’t know how to connect with others who had similar interests and/or challenges as me.
Continue reading "Girl Code and Heteronormativity in STEM Fields" »
By Sally Raskoff
As you learn more and more about sociology and how to use your sociological imagination, keep an eye out for the many everyday items that cross your path. You can use those items to know more about our society.
For example, the following two-sided laminated flyer came my way a few days ago, thanks to a good friend. She had received it in her mailbox.
One side is bold, red, white, and blue, announcing “College Men” who can move your stuff. They are friendly, use tools and trucks, and “customers prefer us 1 bijillion times more than the other guys.”
Continue reading "Junk Mail and the Sociological Imagination" »
By Karen Sternheimer
Without a doubt, for me the most challenging part of being a college professor takes place during the first three weeks of the semester, part of what is known as the “Add/Drop Period” at my university. I get dozens of emails asking to for a spot in my classes—even when the class is closed—and have to explain to frustrated students why I can’t add them to a class.
These challenges result from the difficulty many people have in understanding social structure and social institutions. On the surface, although seeking admission to a course seems like a transaction between individuals—an individual student seeks a single spot in a course—this process is not as much about individuals as it is about broader institutional forces.
Continue reading "Adding and Dropping Classes: Another Lesson in Social Structure and Social Institutions" »
By Jonathan Wynn
Summertime is time for a little fun reading, and I have always been a sucker for science fiction. I recently read four sci-fi books, Robopocalypse, The Martian, On Such a Full Sea, and The Affinities. The Martian as a kind of updated Robinson Crusoe story and Sea is set in dystopian U.S. (”New China”) feeling the aftereffects of climate change, where the rich live in “Charters” and the poor live in work-cities. Robopocalypse is, well, self-explanatory.
Robert Charles Wilson’s The Affinities tells the tale of a corporation called InterAlia that sorts people into 22 “affinity groups.” These groupings reminded me of recent research on social media: how Facebook, Twitter, etc. can paradoxically limit the range of information and opinion we consume. This social media self-segregation, according to a recent Atlantic article, partially explains why some white folks don’t fully understand important events, like the Ferguson, Missouri story.
Continue reading "Summer Sci-Fi and Social Media Segregation" »
By Aaron J. Howell
Assistant Professor of Sociology SUNY-Farmingdale
Racial politics have come to the forefront of political and social debates in the United States (U.S.) over the last year. The Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray (just to name a few) cases have caused many communities to rethink police-community relations and begin to have some honest conversations about race.
Continue reading "Black and White Understandings of Urban Uprising" »
By Sally Raskoff
In 2009, I posted a blog about sex categories, intersex, sport, and cultural norms about identity.
Has much changed since then? In professional sports, categorizing eligibility to compete as a female is based on testosterone levels. They have moved from typing genitals—are the ”right” parts there? To chromosomes—is she an XX? To hormone levels—are her testosterone or androgen levels in the appropriate range that signifies female?
Continue reading "Why Does Gender Matter in Sports?" »