By Jonathan Wynn
When teaching sociology—particularly theory—we'll often hear about how most of the classic readings we assign are written by "dead white guys." And when you look through the canon it is, indeed, very pale and very male.
Few women are credited in shaping early sociology. Marianne Weber influenced her husband Max and Georg Simmel, and was a powerful sociologist in her own right. Harriet Martineau translated and edited Auguste Comte's famous Cours de Philosophi Positive so well that Comte preferred her version of his book over his own. Charlotte Perkins Gilman (of The Yellow Wallpaper fame) and Jane Addams both described themselves as sociologists, taught sociology courses, published articles in the American Journal of Sociology, and were charter members of the American Sociological Society (now called the American Sociological Association). Mary Jo Deegan writes on the exclusion of women in the American Sociological Society here.
Still, I think that it is completely fair to concede that classical sociological theory has a lot of "dead" and "guys."
What about that "white" part, though? Let's examine that more closely.
Continue reading "The Dead White Guys of Theory?" »
By Karen Sternheimer
Do you have certain holiday rituals that you look forward to each year, or at least feel compelled to participate in? Sociology provides us with tools for understanding these practices more deeply.
For Emile Durkheim, one of sociology's key nineteenth century thinkers, shared values and beliefs help to form society itself. Emphasizing particular values during end of year holidays like giving, connecting with family and friends through visits, cards, or well wishes serves a very important purpose. He contends that societies are more than just a collective of individuals, but rather people learn to be part of an already-existing society. Holidays aid in this process.
Continue reading "Sociology and Holiday Rituals" »
By Peter Kaufman
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that in the eight years Everyday Sociology has analyzed a wide range of topics using a sociological perspective. From bumper stickers to babies, marriage to McDonald's, vacations to vaccines, drugs to diapers, and traveling to Twitter, it may seem as if everything relates to sociology.
You don’t even have to read this blog to get a sense of the scope of the discipline. Just look at the course offerings in the sociology department at your local college and you’ll see what I mean. You can take classes on a wide array of themes such as Sociology of Religion, Medical Sociology, Sociology of Violence, Environmental Sociology, Political Sociology, Sociology of Aging, Sociology of Sport, Sociology of Film, Sociology of Death and Dying, Sociology of Sex and Sexualities, and the Sociology of Organized Crime. These are just some of the classes available in my medium-sized department. If we surveyed sociology departments around the world then the list of would be infinitely longer.
Continue reading "The Sociology of Everything" »
By Sally Raskoff
Sociology is everywhere, right? Certainly we can find great examples of sociological concept in fiction.
I intended to do a top 5 list but that expanded to this top 10 and, as you may notice, it crept up to 15 (or more, depending on how you count). So many other books can and should be included, such as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. But these are a good start. Some are not always referenced in lists for sociological reading, while a few are classics. Many are from science fiction, a tradition full of alternate realities and worlds that reflect or mimic our own. Some are easy to read, others are, well, not so much. Some can be used for class assignments or enrichment, while others are suggestions for further reading and practice in applying sociological theories and concepts. I’ve included the main sociological concepts each book addresses within my descriptions too.
Continue reading "Fiction with a Sociological Attitude" »
By Sally Raskoff
I recently had the pleasure of attending a major decade birthday party (40!) at a winery. The party was up a hill in an area separate from the winery’s general tasting/party area. There was a sign at the bottom of the hill that said “Private Party.”
Well into the party, two men came up the hill, looked around, and headed toward the table with the wine bottles. They were engaged in conversation by one of the guests who was not aware that they were not invited. They were both well into their wine drinking and not very logical in their conversational abilities. Some other guests encountered them and let them know that we were aware that they were there and that they were crashing a private party.
Continue reading "Learning Sociological Lessons from Party Crashers" »
By Jonathan Wynn
This summer, entering the fourth year of drought conditions in California, ordinary residents followed Governor Jerry Brown’s call to cut their water usage by a quarter. All cities met their water conservation targets. The Los Angeles Times, however, cites a UCLA study finding that wealthier communities actually used more water than usual during the water restriction.
One of the study’s authors notes that “…[t]he problem lies, in part, in the social isolation of the rich, the moral isolation of the rich.” Richer areas consume three times as much as poorer ones. “This disparity,” the report notes, “reflects different land uses, built densities, climates, and the vast differences in wealth.... [T]he top 5% earns over twelve times more than the bottom 20%.” (Here is a great article on golf courses in the desert areas of Southern California.) It is a wonderful portrait of how housing and spatial segregation shapes the perspectives of residents, not unlike Georg Simmel’s seminal "The Metropolis and Mental Life."
Continue reading "Water and the Tragedy of Extra Credit" »
By Colby King
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Bridgewater State University
The ongoing debate about the confederate flag on the grounds of the South Carolina State House reminds us of the power of the symbols we put in our places, and the way we talk about those symbols and those places.
Continue reading "Social (Re)Construction of Place in Columbia, South Carolina" »
By Peter Kaufman
There is a new sociologist on the block: he does not have a Ph.D., does not teach at a university, and as far as I know, may have never even taken a sociology course. In fact, he attended a technical secondary school where he graduated with a chemical technician’s diploma and worked for a time in a chemistry lab (as well as working temporarily as a bouncer). Who is this new sociologist? He’s an Argentinian named Jorge Mario Bergogli or, as he is commonly referred to, Pope Francis.
Continue reading "Religion, Climate Change, and Poverty" »
By Teresa Irene Gonzales
While looking for videos to share with my Urban Sociology course this past term, I came across a mini-documentary from 2012 on Vice that chronicles the rise of a cultural phenomenon that centers around extremely pointy boots.
Men from the rural town of Matehuala, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico began augmenting their boots to make them pointier with an up-curved slant. While the boots initially were only slightly pointier, the trend expanded and some points increased as high as six feet tall. According to the documentary, the boot trend coincided with the rise of Tribal Guarachero; a mix of pre-hispanic, indigenous, and Afro-Caribbean sounds, and electronica. According to an NPR piece on the pointy boots, men from Matehuala use the boots in dance competitions and the phenomenon grew from there.
Continue reading "Mexican Pointy Boots and Subcultural Theory" »
By Sally Raskoff
NPR recently ran a story with a fun interactive calculator that estimates the chances that technology will automate or replace people in a specific type of job.
Of course, I had to look up sociologists! The good news is that we only have a 5.9 percent chance of being automated. Whew!
Many sociology graduates use their skills to work in marketing or other types of jobs that require survey research. What are the chances of those types of jobs becoming automated? A bit higher, at 23.1 percent. Sociology graduates often go into social work or counseling of some type. Those in mental health and substance abuse fields have only have a 0.3 percent of being automated.
Continue reading "Work and Technology" »