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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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July 18, 2022

Death and Emotional Labor

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Since the pandemic started in 2020, I have “attended” three funerals online, two for elderly relatives who had cancer and one for the elderly father of a friend who had Alzheimer’s disease. Being thousands of miles away, the online option saved me the time and expense of making last-minute travel arrangements. I appreciated the privacy of watching the funerals alone, as I can get emotionally overwhelmed by other people appearing emotionally overwhelmed.

Of course, this is part of what the funeral ritual is for: to comfort the bereaved, and to be in a place where one can openly express sadness. In most social settings, there are unwritten rules that encourage us to stifle any impulse to weep uncontrollably. Typically, we try and hold back sobs and tears whenever possible. At a funeral such rules are loosened, but they still exist. This reflects Erving Goffman’s notion that we work to “regulate… face-to-face interaction” in his book Behavior in Public Places (p. 8).

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July 11, 2022

Class and Geographic Mobility in Academia: Global Perspectives on Class Cultural Mismatch and Linguistic Imperialism in Higher Education

Colby King author photo Kamil Luczaj photo (1)Calvin-odhiambo

By Colby King, Kamil Luczaj, Assistant Professor of Sociology,  University of Information Technology and Management (Rzeszow, Poland), and Calvin Odhiambo, Associate Professor of Sociology, USC Upstate

In January 2022, we held a panel discussion about our research as well as our individual experiences, describing what we know about how social class inequality and geography play a role in social mobility. We discussed how social class mobility intersects with race, language and dialect, geographic background, and gender in career opportunities, particularly how these issues heighten class cultural mismatch, creating challenging circumstances even for successful academics experiencing upward class mobility.  

Dr. Luczaj is a sociologist from Poland. He is interested in international academic careers and working-class cultures. His research addresses the complex relationship between class position and migration experience. For example, he has published a study on foreign-born scholars in Central Europe, and a meta-analysis on foreign-born scholars “on the peripheries.”

Originally from Kenya, Dr. Odhiambo’s experiences as an international academic illustrate many of Dr. Luczaj’s research findings. Dr. King is not an international academic, but has experienced social class mobility through his academic career, and has also written about efforts to support students, faculty, and staff in higher education from first-generation and working-class backgrounds.

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July 04, 2022

Pools and Privilege

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

It’s possible that I learned to swim before I could walk. As an infant, my mother took me to a group swimming lesson at the local YWCA, where mothers introduced their babies to the water. While she held me, I learned such skills as floating, blowing bubbles, and kicking. I also became comfortable in the water, which I have been throughout my life thanks to years of swimming lessons as a child.

I’m a regular lap swimmer now, which provides numerous physical and mental health benefits. And while people at my community pool sometimes compliment my consistency and endurance in the water, I owe most of this to the hidden privileges of having access to pools most of my life. Sure, lots of people don’t swim regularly who could—so I’ll take some credit for suiting up on a regular basis (especially on cold days!)—but many of the factors that lead me to swim are class-based privileges that often go unrecognized.

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June 27, 2022

Awareness of Social Class

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

I was once asked about when I gained awareness about social class. It struck me as an interesting question. My answer focused on my middle school years when I began meeting people from an affluent part of my hometown.

My childhood was mostly contained to a small radius around my working-class and middle-class neighborhood. When I made new friends in 7th grade, it was easy to observe they lived in bigger homes that were further apart than in my neighborhood, affording people more privacy. A few of my friends in my neighborhood had above-ground pools, whereas new friends had in-ground pools. Yards had wood fences rather than the less expensive chain link fences that I was accustomed to on my street. We learned to jump those chain link fences if we hit a ball into someone else’s property or if we were running through yards when being mischievous. Being around peers with parents who had higher incomes and seeing up close that money flowed more freely for these friends, raised my social class awareness.

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