By Sally Raskoff
How do you spend the two days of the year that we honor the
challenging and important job that parents do? Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
are celebrated in the U.S. in May and June, respectively. Both days generate
many family interactions, restaurant orders, greeting card sales, and phone
On the surface, these
days appear to be equivalent and equally valued holidays that are meant to
honor those who generate and raise children. However, the history and current
practices highlight some differences in what mothers and fathers mean to our society.
Continue reading "Honoring Parents " »
By Todd Schoepflin
There I was, sitting on a bar stool, having a beer and
shooting the breeze with my brother-in-law Jim, and watching people bowl
together. I don’t get out much, so it was eventful just to hang out at a
bowling alley for a few hours. But a surprising interaction occurred that night.
A woman, who appeared to be drunk, touched my face as she walked by me and said
something about my eyes that I think was intended as a compliment.
Continue reading "Social Interactions" »
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?" »
By Peter Kaufman
I often tell students that I hope
they leave my classes with more questions than answers. This statement may seem
counterintuitive. Our typical model of education is based on the idea that
students’ heads should be filled with knowledge such as definitions, dates, and
all sorts of data. The idea that students would finish their coursework with
more question marks than periods goes against the conventional wisdom of
By making this statement I am
suggesting that if students want to take what they’ve learned in class and
extend it into their social worlds then they will need to know how to ask
questions. If they are merely satisfied with the knowledge that has been
instilled in them then they have probably not been challenged intellectually.
More important, or more troubling, leaving a class without any lingering
questions is likely to inhibit their ability to be life-long learners.
Continue reading "Asking Sociological Questions" »
By Sally Raskoff
The journal Social
Forces has published many classic studies in sociology in its ninety year
history. To celebrate,the publisher has offered free
public access. Even better, each of these articles has updates or reflection
articles from the original authors.
While new research is always being pursued, it is important
to realize that classic work still has an important contribution to make –
that’s why you end up reading so much of it in sociology classes. On the other
hand, it is important not to just accept the older work as consistently
applicable but to reflect, reassess, reapply the findings to see if they retain
their power of explanation. If the findings are no longer as relevant, we can learn about how life has changed or what the
research might have missed, created as it is rooted in a particular time and
Continue reading "Revisiting Research" »
By Sally Raskoff
I’m one of those people who still reads the print newspaper.
Actually, I read three of them, and am periodically aware of how they present
the same news story in such different ways.
Sometimes it takes looking at a variety of different sources to see how
the presentation of a new research study can be misleading thanks to word
choice or conclusions that the reporter draws that the study itself actually
does not make.
For instance, when the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) released their Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) they had some fascinating findings
on abortion rate trends.
The CDC noted that “Compared with 2008, the total
number and rate of reported abortions for 2009 decreased 5 percent,
representing the largest single year decrease for the entire period of analysis,”
and … “From 2000 to 2009, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported
abortions decreased 6 percent, 7 percent, and 8 percent, respectively, to the
lowest levels for 2000–2009.”
Continue reading "Ecological Fallacies" »
Tanya Erzen is an
associate professor of comparative religious studies at Ohio State
University and visiting scholar at University of Washington.
A teenage fan of the Twilight series explains that she thinks Edward Cullen, the
brooding and gorgeous vampire hero, is controlling, creepy and even violent in
his relationship with Bella, an ordinary human high school girl with whom he is
passionately in love. While the fan
criticizes Bella and Edward’s tumultuous relationship, she is simultaneously wearing
a button on her jacket with the text, “Edward can bust my headboard, bite my
pillow and bruise my body any day.” This refers to the part of the story when Bella
awakes with her entire body black and blue after losing her virginity on her
honeymoon. In the aftermath, there are
feathers from the pillow Edward has bitten drifting around the room, and the
bed is shattered into pieces.
Continue reading "Thinking Sociologically about Twilight" »
By Jonathan Wynn
What happens when a woman wants to study images
of women in the gaming world?
Anita Sarkeesian’s blog, Feminist Frequency, is a great resource for anyone thinking about gender in media
and technology. Her YouTube clips on female types in movies are short, pithy,
and smart. Sociology has a long history of analyzing different constructed
typologies, something I wrote about here, and Sarkeesian’s video about the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope (think Natalie Portman
in the film Garden State) is as good
an example as any of how characters are crafted and reproduced in the digital
Continue reading "Women, Gaming, & Violence " »