376 posts categorized "Behind the Headlines"

October 18, 2021

Climate Change, Work and the Economy

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

One of the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more people are now working from home, some permanently. While the initial purpose of working from home was to avoid the spread of infection, it also may have some environmental benefits too.

At my university, there is a big push towards sustainability and there is now even a Chief Sustainability Officer working with the president. In addition to liquidating fossil fuel investments, the university has been encouraging alternative means of transportation and telecommuting when possible. So far this semester, aside from in-person classes, all of my meetings have been video conferences, and the decision of several people in leadership positions has been to keep this going even after the threat of COVID-19 ends. This has saved me hours of Los Angeles’s infamous traffic.

Continue reading "Climate Change, Work and the Economy" »

September 02, 2021

Lies My Teacher Told Me: In Memory of James Loewen

Myron strongBy Myron Strong

In my Intro to Sociology courses, I often recall a story I told students when I was teaching at Little Rock’s Parkville High School in Little Rock, Arkansas while working on my masters in secondary education. While analyzing a canonized text on King Arthur to a group of 10th graders, I pointed to many of the problems centered around gender, class, violence, and history. At one point, I got heated and yelled, “they don’t want you to know this!” The students looking somewhat confused, asked who doesn’t want us to know? Surprised by their responses, I scrambled and replied, “the school board.”

I laughed thinking about it and the story warms me, in part because it reminds me of the book the Lies My Teacher Told Me. James Loewen, who passed away on August 19, 2021, published the book in 1995. It became an instant classic as it challenged the Eurocentric, white, patriarchal, narrow views of classroom texts by presenting an alternative text that corrected many of the myths and lies that are taught by the education system.

Continue reading "Lies My Teacher Told Me: In Memory of James Loewen" »

August 16, 2021

Biography and History Intersecting: Thinking Critically about Individualism

Author photo

By Karen Sternheimer

In his book The Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills described the importance of historical events as shaping individuals’ lives. This is not just to say that historical events influence our personalities or preferences, but that sociology calls upon us to consider the interplay between our seemingly private lives and the world around us. The self cannot exist apart from society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to think about the connection between the self and society, as clashes over mask mandates, shutdowns, and vaccinations highlight the tensions between individualism and the larger society that we are part of.

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August 02, 2021

Asian American Hate: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Gender

Myron strongBy Myron Strong

More than a year ago in my post, "Fear, Race, and the Yellow Peril," I explored many of the historical aspects of anti-Asian hate. Racialization of COVID-19 served as a catalyst for the increase of violence that has manifested in mass shootings, violent attacks, shunning, civil rights violations, verbal, and online attacks.

Equally disturbing are that most of the attacks have been directed toward women. This brings to mind dangerous stereotypes noted in the article “From Exotic to Invisible: Asian American Womens' Experiences of Discrimination,” where authors Shruti Mukkamala and Karen Suyemoto explore the consequences of the many stereotypes associated with Asian women. The authors note that Asian women are seen as docile and subservient, overly sensual or erotic ("The Geisha"), the manipulative and untrustworthy "Dragon Lady," or the hardworking, conscientious worker bee.

Continue reading "Asian American Hate: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Gender" »

July 19, 2021

Who is Afraid of CRT?

Myron strong

By Myron Strong

Sociologists Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons recently wrote article for the Brookings Institution noting that the term “critical race theory” (CRT) has been mentioned 1,300 times in less than four months on Fox News. They attribute this to critical race theory becoming a new boogie man for people unwilling to acknowledge our country’s racist history and how it impacts the present.

This boogie man is getting bigger in some of the media and state governments who spread misinformation and propaganda. This plays on the fears of many whites who have not been given the tools to process change, and lack the proper understanding of the historical context for the circumstances of people of color.

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July 05, 2021

Emerging From the COVID Cocoon

Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

Should I sit inside or pool side? Wear a mask or not? Hug people? Fist bump? Elbow bump? These are some of the questions I am mulling more than a week before attending a Fourth of July party. This is a significant event because it marks my return to visiting friends since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

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June 21, 2021

A Generation of Homecomers: Alfred Schutz and the Experiences of “Boomerang Children”

Davison-Vecchione author photoBy Daniel Davison-Vecchione, PhD candidate in Sociology, University of Cambridge

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven many people in their twenties and thirties in high-income OECD countries to move back in with their families because of job losses and financial costs. A September 2020 Pew Research Center report found that most people aged 18 to 29 in the US now live with their parents – the first time this had been the case since the Great Depression. Similarly, a 2019 Office for National Statistics report in the UK found a 46% increase over the last two decades in the number of people aged 20-34 living with parents.

Millennials and older members of Generation Z have been hit by two global recessions in the space of two decades, and are especially vulnerable to short-term layoffs because they are disproportionately in precarious, low-income employment. They find themselves jumping from one rental to the next, only to end up back in the family home, hoping to save up money and move out again. Despite returning to what they expect to be familiar ground, such “boomerang children” often feel curiously alienated or out of place in their hometowns.

Continue reading "A Generation of Homecomers: Alfred Schutz and the Experiences of “Boomerang Children”" »

June 14, 2021

Finding New Normality, From Micro to Macro

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

As COVID cases fall in much of the United States, many pandemic-era restrictions are beginning to loosen. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) revised mask guidelines to local ordinances allowing businesses to fully open, many of us are working on discovering a “new normal” as we go from pandemic to post-pandemic living.

This readjustment takes place at a number of levels, from individual and family at the most micro level, to workplace and community at the meso level, and state, local, and federal policy level at the macro level. These shifts help remind us that we are part of a larger interconnected social system, one which the pandemic served to highlight.

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June 07, 2021

The Power of Religion: Christian Nationalism and Trump Support

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos, Sociology Doctoral Student, Rutgers University

Religion has always captivated sociologists. Émile Durkheim, who is often credited with being one of the “founders” of sociology, wrote extensively about religion in his 1912 book Elementary Forms of Religious Life in which he aimed to explain the role of religion in society. Writing from a functionalist perspective, Durkheim posited that religion served an important function.

Religion, he argued, serves the purpose of producing societal cohesion and expressing our “collective consciousness,” or our shared beliefs and ideas as a group. As such, societal participation in religion can have significant impacts on both social and individual life outcomes.

Continue reading "The Power of Religion: Christian Nationalism and Trump Support" »

May 10, 2021

Teaching in a Pandemic: The Good, the Surreal, and the Challenges of Teaching Sociology Online

Colby King author photoTodd SchoepflinBy Colby King and Todd Schoepflin

In this podcast, Colby King and Todd Schoepflin share some of their experiences teaching this year. One example that stands out to Todd is the experience of teaching at home at the same time his kids had remote music and gym lessons. Home and work were blended in new ways. Instead of commuting from work and sitting in traffic, he could spend that time preparing dinner. Colby explains the consistent feeling of role conflict (“Am I a parent or professor?”) and feeling like he wasn’t thriving in either role. He also points to a valuable resource in his wife’s parents, who were able to help with childcare.

Continue reading "Teaching in a Pandemic: The Good, the Surreal, and the Challenges of Teaching Sociology Online" »

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