4 posts from February 2020

February 24, 2020

Housing Insecurity: It’s Not Just for Low Earners

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Housing insecurity, or the difficulty in obtaining and maintaining housing due to its high cost, is something that we hear a lot about in the news. Housing insecurity is the consequence of incomes not keeping pace with the rise in the cost of housing; it’s not just that people can’t manage their money effectively, but that many don’t earn enough to afford the median rent in their communities.

And it’s not just people in low-wage, dead-end jobs that are impacted. A recent strike by graduate students at UC Santa Cruz highlighted the challenges that Ph.D. students face in paying for housing, which one student estimated at 60 to 70 percent of her income, even within university subsidized housing. The students called for a cost of living increase to help offset some of the costs, and had suspended their work grading papers at the end of the fall 2019 quarter.

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February 17, 2020

Theories and Hypotheses

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

What’s the difference between a theory and a hypothesis? Which one is absolutely necessary for research and which one is common but not a requirement?

I’ll give you a hint: If you are a sociology major, you might have to take a class called Sociological Theory. You probably don’t have to take a class called Sociological Hypothesis (if you do, I’d like to hear more about it in the comments below because I have never heard of such a class before).

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February 10, 2020

Money and Marriage

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Romantic rituals like Valentine’s Day emphasize marriage and relationships (often via commercial means), and social media posts often celebrate proposals and anniversaries. Marriage means many things to different people, particularly across place and time. But one thing is somewhat consistent: marriage is intertwined with money.

While it might be crude to think of marrying for money in the U.S. in the twenty-first century, financial factors are often part of the reason that people don’t marry (or don’t stay married). Why are the two so inextricably related, even as people may be most likely to marry for love and companionship today?

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February 03, 2020

What’s in a Name?

Jonathan Wynn (1)By Jonathan Wynn

I’ve thought a lot about names since reading a chapter in Freakonomics called “A Roshanda by any other name,” over a decade ago. (Here’s an update in podcast form.) Perhaps some of you have had the paralyzing struggle of having to name a child (or being a parent) while also trying to think about sociology. It’s tough. Sociologist Dalton Conley, somewhat famously, named his daughter E and his son Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles Jeremijenko-Conley.

Names can say a lot. What were the reasons behind your name? Was your name popular? Is your name one you share with other family members? Do your professors do a terrible job pronouncing it? As Karen Sternheimer notes, it’s important to know someone’s name in class. But let’s lend some sociological insight onto the topic.

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