8 posts from June 2011

June 30, 2011

Power and Decision Making

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

In California, the sexual orientation of a judge has become news following his judgment about Proposition 8. Prop 8 was passed by California voters in 2008, and served to amend the state’s constitution to deny access to marriage for same-sex couples. Recently, the judge’s sexual orientation has been disclosed as “homosexual,” and some are suggesting that the decision he made was biased because of his personal status.

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June 27, 2011

Social Change, Popular Culture and Social Cohesion

KS_2010aBy Karen Sternheimer

As Todd Schoepflin recently blogged about, technology has dramatically altered our cultural landscape in the last few decades. Besides altering the way in which we clip_image002communicate, technological changes have also altered popular culture, which has become more and more segmented. With podcasts, YouTube, and other ways to get individualized content, we’re less likely to enjoy the same music, movies, news, and television as audiences were in decades past.

Sociologists Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, authors of Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History, wrote in 1992 that televised events like the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the Watergate hearings, and the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination created a sense of social bonding. These were events that basically everyone watched, reaffirming a sense of connection.

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June 23, 2011

Producing Emotion: What's Real on Television?

new janisBy Janis Prince Inniss

As a trained marriage and family therapist and social science researcher who sometimes conducts in-depth interviews, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to ask questions that are likely to provide the most revealing answers. As a result, I am interested in TV interviews.

However, as I watch interviews on television, I wonder how it is that the interviewers always seem to know exactly which path will lead to such funny, thoughtful, pithy, and poignant tales. And how is it that the interviewers always seem to avoid the exact controversy that drew me to watch this or that celebrity in the first place? Are their interviewing skills that stellar?

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June 20, 2011

The Statistics Myth and Mystery

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

Have you heard that Statistics is the toughest course? Are you concerned that you’ll never pass it because you’re not good at math? Students are often very afraid of the Statistics course, yet it is the math course of choice for social science majors.

I teach the dreaded Stat course and would like to share with you some wisdom from my students and my experience. There are a few keys to unlocking the mystery of the Stat course and shattering its myths. While any one of these keys may help, all of them used together will support your success in the course and in later social science courses or work. File:Afraid Words.JPG

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June 16, 2011

Why Can't We Have a Straight Pride Parade?

todd_S_2010aBy Todd Schoepflin

Occasionally, when talking about sexual orientation in my Sociology courses, a student will ask “Why can’t we have a straight pride parade?”

It hasn’t happened a lot, but enough students have asked the question to make me want to offer a response. I want to point out that the question tends to come out of nowhere. It’s not as if I lecture on the history of gay pride parades, or offer a sociological analysis of gay pride parades, which might open the door to such a question. Rather, the question gets asked during general discussions of sexual behavior. The question tends to surprise me, so I haven’t yet offered a consistent response in class.

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June 13, 2011

Sociological Memoirs

KS_2010aBy Karen Sternheimer

clip_image002If you have taken a sociology class, you might wonder what led your professor to become a sociologist and to study the topics that they study. There is usually an interesting story behind their choices. A handful of sociologists have written memoirs that help us connect the relationship between their past experiences and research.

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June 06, 2011

Asking Sociological Questions

new janisBy Janis Prince Inniss

If you’ve been a long-time visitor to our site—welcome back and thanks—you’ve hopefully gained some sociological insights into several topics. But you may still wonder what sociologists do.

The main reason that I love sociology is that I think of us as debunkers. What do we debunk? Just about anything having to do with our social lives. Most of us think that our experiences are a full and true reflection of society overall, but sociologists fight against this assumption that our individual experiences are necessarily reflections of the larger society.

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June 01, 2011

Enraptured with Sociology

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

I heard that the “rapture” was supposed to happen on May 21st. But it is apparent that it didn’t happen.

The group who believed that the world would end on May 21st could be considered a cult. In sociology, a cult is a “fragmentary religious group that lacks a permanent structure.” They have fragmented out of an established legitimately recognized religion, yet it may not last because of a lack of structure. If it lasts over time and achieves legitimacy from a host culture, then it could achieve the status of a religion. Of course, that’s not their current goal.File:Teachings of Jesus 40 of 40. the rapture. one in the bed. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer Bible.gif

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