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April 15, 2024

Animals and Inequality

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

When our cat was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, our vet very gently let us know that one option would be not to offer further treatment besides palliative care to keep her comfortable. She acknowledged that if her cancer could be treated, that it would be costly, and that there would be no shame if it was not an option for us.

This came as a shock, considering a week before this conversation we thought we had a perfectly healthy 11-year-old cat. As it turns out, the type of cancer she has is aggressive but treatable, and we requested a referral to a veterinary oncologist. During this consultation, the oncologist carefully detailed that the cancer wasn’t curable but could be treated, and laid out the costs of providing such treatment. She also let us know that if the cost of treatment was out of reach, or if we decided we couldn’t or didn’t want to proceed, that was a perfectly reasonable option.

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April 08, 2024

The Changing Status of Phone Calls

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I recently disconnected my landline. I feel the need to explain why I had a landline for so long: when I first moved to my home,  cell reception was unreliable in my location. I also had the same phone number for nearly 20 years, so it seemed like keeping a landline made sense for a while.

In recent years, cell towers were installed on my street and the landline became more of a nuisance, mostly used by robo-callers and scammers, until I set it to only ring if a number from an approved list was calling. When the phone would ring throughout the house, it became jarring, even intrusive. So, when the price doubled for the landline, it was time to cut the cord.

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April 01, 2024

Challenging Stereotypes in Unscripted Love Tales: A Reality Check through Symbolic Interactionism

Monica-Radu Professional Headshot-2024By Dr. Monica Radu, Associate Professor of Sociology Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work, & Sociology, Southeast Missouri State University, [email protected]

The rise of reality TV has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences worldwide, including sociologists (like myself) who find themselves drawn to the intriguing social dynamics portrayed on these shows. So, what's the fuss all about? Why do sociologists, in particular, enjoy the reality TV craze?

Many reality shows serve as unintentional social experiments, placing individuals in unfamiliar and often challenging situations. Sociologists are keen to study how participants navigate these scenarios, unraveling insights into human decision-making, adaptation to change, and the impact of external pressures on behavior.

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March 25, 2024

How the Moynihan Report Birthed Parental Engagement Policy in Schools

Alyssa Lyons author photoBy Alyssa Lyons

While parental engagement has become a popular buzzword in political circles in recent years, the language of “parental involvement” didn’t appear in U.S. federal educational policy until 1965 with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Not without coincidence, this was the same year that academic and social scientist Daniel Patrick Moynihan published the Moynihan Report: The Negro Family, the Case for National Action. An incendiary racist, classist, homophobic, and sexist document, the Moynihan Report claimed that racial inequalities in wealth and education between Blacks and whites were the result of a broken and fractured Black family structure where Black matriarchs managed the household. Moynihan further suggested that establishing a stable Black family structure was central in alleviating poverty and inequalities.

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March 18, 2024

Let’s Talk Parental Engagement in Schools: Parental Engagement as a Social Construct

Alyssa Lyons author photoBy Alyssa Lyons

What does it mean to be an engaged parent in schools?

As both a sociologist and the mother of an eleven-year-old in the New York City public school system, I’ve often wrestled with this question. Whenever I attend school-based events, principals, teachers, and staff tell me, along with other parents, that being engaged in the school and in my child’s education is instrumental to their academic success. 

And it isn’t just educators and social science researchers singing the praises of parental engagement. Politicians and policymakers suggest that parental engagement can function as either a buffer or mitigator in addressing educational inequality on both a state and federal level.  In March 2022, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona implored schools to reconsider their relationship with parents and families, suggesting “parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers.”

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March 14, 2024

"Fast Car" and Country Music

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Perhaps the highlight of the 2024 Grammys was Luke Combs’ duet with famously limelight-averse Tracy Chapman, singing Chapman’s “Fast Car.” While I had been pondering this song for over a year, it took the Grammy performance to really get a sense of what was going on here, especially with Beyoncé’s new songs promising to spark new controversy over what “country music” should be.

Combs’ version of the song is likely the one that most college-aged Everyday Sociology Blog readers know, but when most of your older professors (like me) were of a similar age, Chapman’s song was a big deal. These days, most hit songs come and go but, in 1988, the song was in heavy rotation. It was on the radio; it was in the mall.

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March 11, 2024

Embracing the Icon, Debating the Message

Bossick Headshot

By Mike Bossick, Professor of Sociology, Central Piedmont Community College

I was asked to give a presentation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day about racism and poverty. The more I thought about Dr. King’s message of racial and economic justice in the context of recent backlash to the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I wondered whether most people support the sanitized folk hero version of MLK, or his message of radical racial and economic justice? Keep in mind that anyone under the age of 55 wasn’t even alive when MLK was assassinated in April, 1968; much of our culture’s collective memory comes from soundbites, summaries, or short excerpts of his work.

While MLK, the famous Morehouse alumni and sociology major is revered today, that wasn’t always the case. The Pew Research Center compiled public opinion data originally collected by Gallup showing MLK’s favorability rating between 1963-1966 as ranging between 33-45%. In addition, National Public Radio (NPR) discusses evidence in the MLK/FBI documentary stating that the FBI under director J Edgar Hoover feverishly sought to discredit King. Keeping him under heavy surveillance, they sent him compromising tapes they recorded and even created and sent an anonymous letter suggesting he should kill himself. Clearly, the former sentiment from the public and the FBI does not align with MLK’s 2011 favorability rating of 94% when the MLK Memorial opened in Washington, DC.

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