9 posts from March 2020

March 30, 2020

How to Speak Sociologese

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

At the Everyday Sociology Blog, we pride ourselves on avoiding academic jargon whenever possible and clearly defining concepts whenever we do use words that might not be familiar to most readers.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are some words and phrases that should be used very specifically while speaking and writing sociologically, and in the social sciences more generally. The list below is not exhaustive, but a reminder that we should use our words carefully to clearly communicate sociological concepts and findings. Think about the following examples when reading and writing:

Continue reading "How to Speak Sociologese" »

March 25, 2020

The Working Class and Service Industry Workers: The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Economy

author photoBy Colby King

As the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen quick and dramatic changes to how people work and how our economy functions. I wrote a few days ago about one worker, a migrant laborer, was made to dress as a hand sanitizer dispenser at Saudi Aramco. Since then I have seen stories that highlight the risks and challenges of working in the COVID-19 economy, especially for the working class and service industry workers. As Todd Schoepflin wrote here last week, these are the people “who are working to hold the fabric of society together.”

These dilemmas came into focus for me the other night as I talked with my cousin Randy on the phone. Randy lives in Colorado and works multiple jobs part time, as a lighting designer for theaters in Colorado and driving for a rideshare app. When Governor Polis of Colorado banned gatherings of more than 10 people, it had an obvious impact on Randy’s lighting gigs.

Continue reading "The Working Class and Service Industry Workers: The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Economy" »

March 23, 2020

Together, Alone in the COVID-19 Pandemic

author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Yesterday I sat on my porch with my family, listening to the across-the-street neighbors sing Yiddish folk songs on their porch. With an accordion and fiddle, they nodded and smiled to people passing by, but no one stopped. We exchanged some waves and the kids yelled out occasionally. We were together in the moment, but also on our own, alone. It’s been a strange few weeks.

While our Everyday Sociology Blog comrades have all been tapping away at different aspects of how the COVID-19 has shaken the structure of our society, I would like to spend a little time on the facet of distancing in this moment.

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March 19, 2020

Coronavirus: Early Impressions of Sudden Social Change

Todd Schoepflin author photoBy Todd Schoepflin

I can’t believe I was in a classroom less than a week ago. It feels much longer than that. In one of my courses last week, a student started a conversation about Coronavirus. It gave us an opportunity to talk about our various emotions and reactions to an emerging and uncertain situation. In the next class (and final class before spring break recess), I thanked the student and told her I was grateful that she initiated a discussion about a sensitive and difficult subject.

During my office hours on Thursday March 12, two student athletes stopped in to drop off papers that were due. They asked if they could be excused from class due to a team meeting in which they were expecting to find out their athletic season would be canceled. One of my students was visibly upset and fighting back tears. I thanked them for coming by, told them not to worry about missing class, and said I was sorry their season was suddenly ending. I started thinking about all the student athletes who have worked so hard, putting in countless hours at the gym, during practice, in games, only for their pursuits to end unexpectedly. And then I started thinking of students in their senior year who are so close to the finish line and whom are surely excited about a graduation ceremony. But customary rituals like a commencement event are up in the air at colleges nationwide. It’s too early to tell how our lives will continue to be disrupted in ways ranging from minor inconveniences to major emergencies.

Continue reading "Coronavirus: Early Impressions of Sudden Social Change" »

March 17, 2020

Applying Sociology of Work and Organizations Concepts to the COVID-19 Pandemic

author photoBy Colby King

During spring break this past week, I was grading midterm exams from my Sociology of Work and organizations class while also following the news about the spread of COVID-19. Karen Sternheimer wrote the other day about how we can apply the sociological imagination to better understand the ongoing situation with the disease. I also saw ways in which the pandemic vividly illustrates some of the sociological concepts in the exam I was grading.

On March 11, Megha Rajagopalan at BuzzFeed posted a report about how a migrant worker at Saudi Aramco’s headquarters was made to dress as hand sanitizer. Pictures of the worker were shared on Twitter. In the pictures you can see the man is wearing a face mask and gloves, and over his khakis and shirt he is also wearing a box with the words “HAND SANITIZER” at the top and “Office Services” at the bottom (in English) and also an actual hand sanitizer dispenser attached to the front of the box.

Continue reading "Applying Sociology of Work and Organizations Concepts to the COVID-19 Pandemic" »

March 16, 2020

Behind the Research: Understanding Panel Studies

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The Pew Research Center recently released a study about online dating. They found that about thirty percent of U.S. adults have used an online dating site or app, and that just over one in ten have used one in the past year. About 12 percent of respondents reported being in a serious relationship or marrying someone that they met online.

When most of us read about or hear about studies like these we don’t think much about how the findings are generated. Who are included in the study, and how do researchers find them?

Continue reading "Behind the Research: Understanding Panel Studies" »

March 12, 2020

Applying the Sociological Imagination to COVID-19

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

By now you have likely heard of the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Maybe your school or workplace has shifted online for the time being, or you have noticed a shortage of cold and flu related items at your local store.

While this is a rapidly changing situation, we can use this example to help us understand several sociological concepts:

Continue reading "Applying the Sociological Imagination to COVID-19" »

March 09, 2020

The Working Class is More Diverse than You Might Think (and We’ve got Stories to Share)

author photoBy Colby King

We have been hearing a lot about the working class the last few years, in part because many observers of national politics see the white working class as an important voting base. With the 2020 presidential race underway we can expect to see continued debate about how the white working class is likely to vote.

In these discussions, the working class is largely presented as white, male, employed in manufacturing, and often rural. But, these discussions that focus specifically on the white working class give a misleading representation of who comprises the working class altogether.

Continue reading "The Working Class is More Diverse than You Might Think (and We’ve got Stories to Share)" »

March 02, 2020

Social Institutions: Central to our Lives—and Beyond

Sally Raskoff: Social Institutions Central to our Lives - and Beyond

Download this episode

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Social institutions, the building blocks of societies, are not only central to our lives, but they continue to be part of us even after death. Social institutions such as family, medicine, government, religion, and the economy are part of the process of death as well as its aftermath.

In this podcast conversation, Sally Raskoff and I discuss our experiences with these social institutions following the deaths of family members. We do not just mourn with family members when someone passes away. After a death it also takes work to disentangle all of the threads from other social institutions (think closing bank accounts, taking a name off of a title deed to a house, ending pension and Social Security payments, to name a few tasks for survivors).

In this brief conversation, we touch upon the involvement of family members with hospitals and hospice, mortuaries, religious practices, and the long-term process of dissolving economic arrangements.

As you listen to this podcast, think about the following questions:

  1. What roles do social institutions play in our lives that are often hidden? How does the death of a loved one reveal these connections with social institutions?
  2. How does the involvement with these social institutions vary by age, gender, and socio-economic status?
  3. How else might social institutions be part of our lives, and how might these connections linger beyond death? What other social institutions might be an ongoing part of our lives and their aftermath?
  4. Are there social institutions that we can never fully separate from, even after death?

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