7 posts from January 2021

January 27, 2021

The Symbols of the Capitol Siege

Jonathan Wynn (1)

By Jonathan Wynn

There are plenty of articles and posts that explore how sociological concepts can inform our understanding the Capitol siege on January 6th, 2021. (There’s a great post, titled “Sociology of the Siege” here). Of all the things going on that day, symbolism was a big part of it.

On the one hand, you have one of the great symbols of American democracy, the U.S. Capitol Building—such a significant symbol that was the alleged fourth target of another symbolic act, the 9/11 attacks. But there, among the crowd laying siege to it, was a wild mass of signs and imagery that was quite difficult to decipher for those who might not know what all of it means.

Continue reading "The Symbols of the Capitol Siege" »

January 25, 2021

Learning from the Literature: How to Find Categories and Themes

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Are you writing a literature review? If you are doing this for the first time, you might be struggling with how to write about the various sources you have found for your project.

First, recall that a literature review is a detailed discussion of academic research related to a specific research question. The two words can be confusing; by literature, we primarily mean the scholarly books and journal articles that have been published on your topic. These sources should peer-reviewed, which means that scholars in the field have determined that the research was of sufficient rigor to merit publication. The sources you include in the literature review should mostly come from your academic discipline—in this case, sociological journals and books by sociologists.

Continue reading "Learning from the Literature: How to Find Categories and Themes" »

January 18, 2021

Is Your Professor a Republican?

Jonathan Wynn (1)By Jonathan Wynn

As I write, the 2020 presidential election is (almost) behind us. Perhaps you are wondering, "What’s the political affiliation of my professors?" It is not an unreasonable question. Some faculty are quite forthright about their political leaning. Some might be more discreet.

I suppose I can admit something here, among friends: I am quite liberal. I have toned down expressing political sentiments as I’ve gotten older but also out of a (perhaps unfounded) fear that some video of me might be taken out of context and uploaded on social media. The political leanings of our students at UMass Amherst reflect the state at large, politically, as being about 1/3 Republican, 2/3 Democrat. I say this knowing that tenure and academic freedom allows for great latitude in these matters. Still, people who are not professors might not realize this, but faculty aren’t exactly eager to have a media fiasco on their hands.

Continue reading "Is Your Professor a Republican?" »

January 11, 2021

Binging Bob’s Burgers: Social Class, Shrimp Cocktail, and First-Generation College Students

LT Rease author headshot LT Rease author headshotBy La’Tonya Rease Miles and Colby King

La’Tonya Rease Miles is the Dean of Student Affairs at Menlo College

Have you been binge watching any particular shows during the pandemic? We were talking recently about how we have both been watching Bob’s Burgers with our families. 

If you have not seen Bob’s Burgers, take a look at this one-minute clip from earlier this year which shows the family operating their burger shop in a socially distanced way.  In the clip, the owner’s children create a song about their boredom.

Continue reading "Binging Bob’s Burgers: Social Class, Shrimp Cocktail, and First-Generation College Students" »

January 08, 2021

Come Together: Applying Durkheim's Ideas to the Capitol Siege

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I am struck by one photo in particular from the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol. It is a picture of members of the House of Representatives sheltering in place in the House chamber. Rep. Susan Wild lies on the floor, mask down, eyes closed, and appears in distress. Her left hand is on her chest; Rep. Jason Crow reaches out and holds her right hand. (You can see this image and the video of them recounting their experience here.) This picture reveals the fear members of Congress felt during these tense moments. Facial expressions range from apprehension to terror, with many members sitting and lying on the floor.

The most striking part of this picture highlights the connectedness between colleagues Wild and Crow. This is a very human image of one person reaching out to comfort another. But it also a very sociological image, one that highlights the interdependence we share (see Todd Schoepflin and Peter Kaufman’s previous posts for excellent discussions of interdependence).

Continue reading "Come Together: Applying Durkheim's Ideas to the Capitol Siege" »

Socially Made and Essential 

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

Backing out of my driveway to head to the grocery store, I’m careful to avoid hitting the garbage tote at the end of the driveway. It’s garbage day. Workers from our town sanitation department are like mail carriers—they won’t be stopped by rain, sleet, or snow from doing their job. It snowed last night, so I’m driving out of my neighborhood on streets plowed by town highway workers and onto a road plowed by county plow drivers.

When I arrive at the store, I see carts in the parking lot that will be collected by a worker and brought inside the store. Upon entering the store, I see someone working in the floral department, while other employees are stocking produce. This store always has an abundance of fruits and vegetables. I think of a video I saw on Twitter posted by United Farm Workers, showing incredible skill level by farmworkers.

Continue reading "Socially Made and Essential " »

January 04, 2021

What is Peer Review?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Within scholarly work, the gold standard is to publish in an academic journal that is peer reviewed. Books published through academic publishers also undergo peer review. This means that before anything is published, experts in the area of study read the manuscript and decide whether it should be published.

Here are some of the basic facts about the peer review process in sociology:

Continue reading "What is Peer Review?" »

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