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September 19, 2022

The Right to Grief Without Diagnosis: Prolonged Grief in These Times is Normal

Stacy Torres author photoBy Stacy Torres

I dreaded the recent one-year anniversary of my father’s death from lung cancer, sensing an expiration date on others’ patience with my grief. The recent inclusion of “prolonged grief disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) — which defines “prolonged” as lasting at least a year for adults—heightened my apprehension.

Is my intense sadness a mental illness or just being human? Rather than pathologize ten percent of grievers that may fall into “prolonged grief,” what if we instead embraced slower grieving?

Continue reading "The Right to Grief Without Diagnosis: Prolonged Grief in These Times is Normal" »

September 12, 2022

The Social Psychology of Kindness

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

In my last post I wrote about how the stress of animal care has led to workers leaving the profession, and how I had hoped a brief note of appreciation after my cat’s surgical procedure might be a small antidote to this stress.

I have been particularly attuned to front-facing workplace stress since my own stints as a server in a restaurant and working in retail during and shortly after college. I know what it is like to be yelled at by a stranger for something you didn’t do or can’t control, and how it feels when there is nothing you can do but smile even when that is the last thing you feel like doing, something called emotional labor.

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September 05, 2022

Emotional Labor and Animal Care

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

My cat recently needed oral surgery to have three teeth removed. It was an expensive procedure, as it required anesthesia and monitoring for most of the day. The local animal clinic is a busy place, too busy for its small storefront location, and humans are required to wait outside due to space limitations and the ongoing COVID pandemic. There is constant shuffling of newly arriving animals and those who have finished their appointments.

But staff there do a great job; they are quick to recognize when a patient arrives outside and immediately check in with the patient’s person. Vet techs later come to greet the animal with care, and the vet comes out after an examination, sits down with the person to discuss their findings. I received several phone calls throughout the day with updates about my cat’s progress, including when she was out of surgery and in recovery. When I came to pick her up a vet tech sat down and talked with me about her medication and follow-up care.

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August 22, 2022

Applying Sociology: Career Pathways to Consider

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

What to do with your degree in sociology? Students and graduates often ask this question, and it has many answers.

I recently wrote about how core concepts in sociology can help guide your career path, and how your career interests can guide your course path through the sociology major. I’ve discussed the tools your degree helps you build, how sociology can aid in an already chosen, non-academic career path, and how think tanks could be a great option for putting research skills to use.

Many sociologists with doctorates also pursue careers outside of academia. Footnotes—a magazine published by the American Sociological Association (ASA)—recently included essays written by sociologists with non-academic careers. The 2022 annual ASA meeting featured a Sociology in Practice Settings Symposium as well as sessions including “Exploring and Using Research Methods in Practice Settings” and “Applied Research with the Federal Government.”

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August 08, 2022

The End of Ending Relationships

Cornelia Mayr PhotoBy Cornelia Mayr

Department of Sociology, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

My colleague and I recently spoke about our experience with death. He asked me whether I have ever seen a dead person in real life. My answer was yes and so did he. Our experiences with death led us to talk about the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one for the last time.

How often do we say goodbye, see you, so long, ciao, adieu, adios, sayonara, auf Wiedersehen, to our family members, friends, or acquaintance--mostly with the taken-for-granted assumption that we will meet another time? In fact, the German word auf Wiedersehen literally means until we see each other again. But what if we won’t be able to see this person again or do not want to? Do we always part our ways harmoniously? If you had known that you will never see a person close to you again, how would you have said goodbye?

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How to Apply Your Degree in Sociology to Any Career

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

One of the most frequent questions students ask me is what they can do with a sociology degree. My answer: it is only a useful degree if you plan on working with people. Or working alone but with clients. In other words, a sociology degree provides a lot of useful applications for any career.

Any degree provides a skill set, and often the skill sets you develop within one major overlap quite a bit with others. Rather than thinking of a degree as training for a specific career (i.e. being a sociology major is for people who want to be sociologists), a degree helps you fine-tune your unique skills and interests for a career which will likely evolve quite a bit over time. According to a 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people born between 1957 and 1964 held on average 12.4 jobs in their working life.

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August 01, 2022

Sociological Songs

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

When I listen to music, I always have an ear out for sociological themes in songs. I also like to reference song lyrics and show music videos in class to highlight sociological ideas. What are your favorite sociological songs? Here are some of mine.

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