99 posts categorized "Social Institutions: Work, Education, and Medicine"

April 08, 2014

Dispatch from a Professional Sociology Conference

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Oh, the anticipation of a professional meeting! As Im walking into to the airport to fly away to the conference, I think of all the times I have done this. I found sociology in 1981 and it quickly became my major. Its been twenty years since Ive been out of grad school and Ive been teaching full time--and going to conferences--ever since.

My first meeting was in the late 1980s in Las Vegas. That first meeting, I gave my first conference presentation. It was terrible. (My presentation, not the meeting.) I was terrified and practiced my talk over and over. Then when the time came to present my paper, I stayed seated and read my paper. By the end I was boring both myself and the audience. Many people were encouraging, supportive, patting me on the back, but, oh, it was so bad.

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March 28, 2014

The Dark Side of Seeing Only the Bright Side

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

As a self-starter, I like self-help books, and have read or listened to number of audio books in the genre. I have listened to many books on discovering one’s passions and creativity, on personal finance, relationships, career building, and those promoting emotional well-being. I can truly say that I have learned a lot from them, and they have taught me how to understand myself and others better.

But even while listening, on occasion I am reminded of the limits of self-help books. For instance, many personal finance books suggest that readers control their spending—stop buying that daily latte, and eventually you will have a million dollars. Well, I don’t drink coffee, and I’m sure there are many people who cannot save or invest for a million dollars even if they don’t either. As a college professor, I am in the economic group that would likely benefit more from this kind of financial advice, say, compared with a low-wage worker who struggles to pay bills each month. Advising someone in these circumstances to skimp on coffee is not going to help them.

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March 21, 2014

The Context of Understanding World Events

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

How aware are you of world events? As you are reading this, whats happening in the world?

As I write this, there are things happening with Russia and the Ukraine and Crimea. The missing Malaysian airplane is still missing. I wonder if theyll find it by the time you read this?

There are many things going on in the world that concern people--if they know about them.

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March 18, 2014

Stop and Frisk Through a Sociological Lens

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

If you live in or near New York, no doubt you have heard of a policing policy called “stop and frisk.” For those unfamiliar with the practice, stop and frisk involves police officers questioning and searching pedestrians for weapons if they deem them to be suspicious. This is different from an arrest, and there need not be a crime under investigation to justify a stop and frisk.  Instead, the idea is that this practice could stop a crime before it even happens.

In 2013, a judge ruled that stop and frisk was unconstitutional, as it was mainly used to stop—and many would argue harass—people of color on a daily basis. When Mayor Bill DiBlasio took office in 2014, he vowed that the police would discontinue the practice.

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February 19, 2014

C. Wright Mills, Public Sociologist

Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 1.32.27 PMBy Arlene Stein

Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University, and co-editor of Contexts

While there are certainly aspects of our lives which are unique to us as individuals, so much of what we experience— the ways we eat, we think, we live— are products of how and where we are situated. Society, in other words, makes up people. 

At the same time, we also act upon the world--we make history. We do so by raising children and teaching them, to the best of our abilities, to be good citizens; by participating in the world of work and being a part of different organizations, by developing relationships with coworkers, subcultures, and at times, by joining social movements. 

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February 17, 2014

Sociology and Mindfulness Meditation

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

Clear your desk of your books and water bottles. Sit in a comfortable, but upright position. Bring your attention to your breathing. Notice your stomach expanding on your in-breath and contracting on your out-breath. At the sound of the chime, try to stay focused on your breathing for 10 breaths, with each inhalation and exhalation counting as one breath. If your mind starts to wander, try to note when this happens and then gently bring your attention back to your breathing until you hear the chime. 

These instructions describe a short exercise I do in some of my classes when I introduce students to mindfulness meditation.  Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully present in the moment. By sitting still and just following our breath, mindfulness meditation helps cultivate awareness, attentiveness, and calmness. The roots of mindfulness meditation are generally associated with Buddhism but it is often presented in a secular fashion in the West.

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February 13, 2014

Notetaking and the Digital Divide

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

I always see a handful of laptops staring back at me in class. I am, perhaps, more surprised that I still see students handwriting notes at all. When I ask why they still handwrite notes, those who can afford a laptop claim that they have better information retention when they put their mac or pc aside. Now there’s some science to back this up… and it doesn’t just have to do with staying off Facebook during your Urban Sociology class.

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February 03, 2014

The Olympics and the Politics of Sport

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

 I love being a sociology professor. I really do. But as a young kid growing up, I did not lay awake at night dreaming about teaching and writing. Instead, like many young boys I aspired to be a professional athlete. More specifically, I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. Ever since I was a nine-year old watching the 1976 Montreal Olympics, I was trying to figure out what sport would give me the best chance to make the U.S. national team.

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January 02, 2014

Sociology and Discomfort

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

Over the last few weeks two professors’ job security has been shaken over students’ complaints after feeling uncomfortable by the content and presentation of course material. Both have made national headlines and raise serious questions about academic freedom. 

The first was Dr. Shannon Gibney, a Communications Professor who was reprimanded by the Minneapolis Community and Technical College administration when three white students complained about a lesson on structural racism.

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December 26, 2013

How to Get the Most Out of Your Break

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

As one semester ends and the break begins, we all tend to drop everything, fall over, and sleep for awhile. Whether it’s winter, summer, fall, or spring break, we celebrate the end of studying and doing the work of higher education.

You may not think that professors do the same but we, too, enjoy the change in work schedules and patterns. We take time off even though most of us keep prepping our classes and thinking of ways to advance our research and/or teaching goals.

I’d like to offer some suggestions for making the most of a break – so that you detox from the one semester and get ready for the next.

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