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May 10, 2021

Teaching in a Pandemic: The Good, the Surreal, and the Challenges of Teaching Sociology Online

Colby King author photoTodd SchoepflinBy Colby King and Todd Schoepflin

In this podcast, Colby King and Todd Schoepflin share some of their experiences teaching this year. One example that stands out to Todd is the experience of teaching at home at the same time his kids had remote music and gym lessons. Home and work were blended in new ways. Instead of commuting from work and sitting in traffic, he could spend that time preparing dinner. Colby explains the consistent feeling of role conflict (“Am I a parent or professor?”) and feeling like he wasn’t thriving in either role. He also points to a valuable resource in his wife’s parents, who were able to help with childcare.

Continue reading "Teaching in a Pandemic: The Good, the Surreal, and the Challenges of Teaching Sociology Online" »

May 03, 2021

John Fetterman, Working Class Hero?

Todd Schoepflin Colby King author photoBy Todd Schoepflin & Colby King

John Fetterman is currently the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, and before that served as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, from 2005 to 2019. He is running for a Pennsylvania senate seat in 2022. His website describes him as “a different kind of Democrat,” one who “doesn’t look like a typical politician.” In media outlets, much is made of his size (he’s 6'8") and his tattoos (dates of homicides in Braddock when he was mayor are tattooed on his right arm). For example, one article about Fetterman is titled “Unconventional in his size and rise”. He’s twice appeared on The Colbert Report, been profiled in GQ, and had his clothing style analyzed in an article about the politics of workwear. His home (once an indoor Chevy car dealership) has received attention, and his family life has also been in the spotlight.

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April 26, 2021

One and Done: Gender and Sports Coverage

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

More than 10 years ago I wrote a post called “Doing Research while Watching Sports Center” about a study of women’s sports coverage on local news and ESPN. The study found that women’s sports coverage declined between 1989 and 2009. The authors repeated the study in 2014 and 2019; has news coverage of women’s sports improved in recent years?

The short answer is yes, but the amount of coverage is still lower than it was during their analyses in 1999 and 2004. And the authors found that 80% of televised sports news includes no mention of women’s sports.

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April 19, 2021

The Sociology of the Con

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Now that I’m chair of my department, my colleagues and graduate students occasionally get emails from email addresses that look very close to mine (e.g., “jonwynn@umassbutnotreally.com”) that asks them to “help” me. If they aren’t careful, they’ll write back. One grad student, who is very kind, responded.

The fake Jon Wynn asked her to buy $200 of Amazon Gift cards and send the codes. Walking out of Best Buy (where she bought the cards) something didn’t sit right with her and, thankfully, she called me up. Luckily, we caught it in time. Best Buy didn’t refund the gift cards, as per their policy. So, our department bought them from the grad student, and used them as a prize for undergraduates.

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April 12, 2021

Consumption, COVID, and Economic Inequality

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

For some people, the COVID pandemic has had a silver lining: more savings. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, American savings rates reached a 60-year high of 33.7 percent in April 2020 up from 12.9 percent in March 2020. (We have data on savings rates going back to 1960.)

This means that month Americans saved an about a third of their income, on average. This percentage has remained high, at 20.5% in January 2021, the most recent data available at the time of this writing. For context, the previous high was 17.3 percent in May 1975. The National Bureau of Economics Research reported that 27 percent of stimulus payment from the CARES act was saved as well.

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April 05, 2021

Vaccine Disparities and COVID-19

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

As I write, both of my parents just received their second COVID-19 vaccinations. This is of course a great relief, since they are in their 70s, but their experience highlights some of the inequities built into the scramble to get vaccinated.

While the U.S. supply cannot keep up with demand at the moment, in some countries there is no supply at all. According to UNICEF, and reported by NPR, about 130 countries had no vaccine as of mid-February. In the U.S., the distribution varies quite a bit per state, with some states vaccinating at twice the rate of others. (See this NPR Tracker to find out how your state compares.)

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March 29, 2021

The Challenges of Academia and Finding Positivity during the Pandemic

Myron strongBy Myron Strong

There is a sadness in parts of academia, facilitated by toxic structures like outdated tenure systems, labor exploitation, unrealistic research demands, financial constraints, isolation, and COVID-19, to name just a few. And as I go on Twitter and scroll through posts, there is so much pain from professors and students and I am reminded of Jay Z’s song Song Cry:

I can't see 'em comin down my eyes
So I gotta make the song cry.”

Some social media posts often convey a sense of hopelessness from academics, and even if I cannot see the tears coming down their eyes, I can feel them. Without question academia can be a challenging place and the pandemic and magnified existing problems. Yet how can we begin to fully understand the world and how to solve problems if we are caught in a web or sorrow and misery?

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