470 posts categorized "Social Problems, Politics, and Social Change"

May 20, 2024

Structural Mobility and the American Dream: Push and Pull Factors

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

You are probably familiar with the concept of the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone who works hard in the United States has the chance to experience upward mobility. What factors make this more or less possible?

First, some history (which I write about in my book Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility). The phrase “American Dream” was first used—ironically enough—during the Great Depression, when the dream was largely out of reach for most Americans (more on this in a moment).

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April 22, 2024

Jail and Prison Education Programs

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

In sociology, we read a lot about the criminal justice system, deviance, and policing. We also learn about education, the hidden curriculum, tracking, and similar topics. It’s a challenge to talk about the interconnections between the criminal justice and education systems in our Introduction to Sociology classes.

There has been some good research on policing in schools—what some call the school-to-prison pipeline. Aaron Kupchik’s Homeroom Securityfor example, focused his work on “school resource officers” as a failed policy on preventing or limiting student crime, while increasing the chances that students will enter the criminal justice system. Yet we still need to expand opportunities for education for incarcerated citizens.

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April 08, 2024

The Changing Status of Phone Calls

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

I recently disconnected my landline. I feel the need to explain why I had a landline for so long: when I first moved to my home,  cell reception was unreliable in my location. I also had the same phone number for nearly 20 years, so it seemed like keeping a landline made sense for a while.

In recent years, cell towers were installed on my street and the landline became more of a nuisance, mostly used by robo-callers and scammers, until I set it to only ring if a number from an approved list was calling. When the phone would ring throughout the house, it became jarring, even intrusive. So, when the price doubled for the landline, it was time to cut the cord.

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March 25, 2024

How the Moynihan Report Birthed Parental Engagement Policy in Schools

Alyssa Lyons author photoBy Alyssa Lyons

While parental engagement has become a popular buzzword in political circles in recent years, the language of “parental involvement” didn’t appear in U.S. federal educational policy until 1965 with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Not without coincidence, this was the same year that academic and social scientist Daniel Patrick Moynihan published the Moynihan Report: The Negro Family, the Case for National Action. An incendiary racist, classist, homophobic, and sexist document, the Moynihan Report claimed that racial inequalities in wealth and education between Blacks and whites were the result of a broken and fractured Black family structure where Black matriarchs managed the household. Moynihan further suggested that establishing a stable Black family structure was central in alleviating poverty and inequalities.

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February 19, 2024

Professor Period to the Rescue!

Thumbnail_Picture - Lisa SmithBy Lisa Smith, Douglas College, Department of Sociology and Menstrual Cycle Research Group

“Does anyone have a pad? A tampon!? 50 cents?”

I was sitting in the stall of a women’s restroom during the intermission for a concert, when I heard the familiar refrain. As a menstruator (because not all people who have periods are women and not all women have periods), I could relate to the urgency in my fellow menstruators’ voice.

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February 05, 2024

Community Development Studies in Sociology, and What Sociology Offers Students

CKing headshot 1 4.3 Calvin-odhiambo IMG_5518

By Colby King, Calvin Odhiambo, Associate Professor of Sociology, and Lizabeth Zack, Professor of Sociology and Department Chair, University of South Carolina Upstate

The recent decision by the Florida Board of Governors to exclude Introductory sociology from the list of courses that fulfill the social science general education requirements for Florida public college students has sparked discussions highlighting the vital role of sociology in academic curriculum. Stacy Torres wrote here about the life-changing role sociology course can play in students’ lives.

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January 24, 2024

AI and Sociology

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

My inbox received two very kind and curious emails from students this semester. One was to our listserv, expressing remorse and solidarity for someone who had a death in the family. The second was a note of gratitude for my teaching this semester. The instincts behind were kind. Both students wanted to share meaningful feelings with our community in the first case, and with me in the second. They were interesting because they were both written entirely by AI.

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January 17, 2024

Florida, Don’t Deprive Public College Students of the Opportunity to Develop their Sociological Imaginations

Stacy Torres author photoBy Stacy Torres

Even though I’m a professor, sometimes I fantasize about going back to college. Everyone should have the chance to experience that electric feeling of discovery. General education requirements exposed me to worlds I scarcely imagined as the first person in my family to go to college. I remember the thrill of encountering new subjects such as philosophy, theology, Spanish literature, art history, ancient Greek and Roman history. Like many high school students, I’d never had the opportunity to take classes in the social sciences, including anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.

I could have never predicted an introductory sociology course would change my life.

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December 22, 2023

Unlearning Oppression

Wayne mellinger author photoBy Wayne Martin Mellinger

Instructor, Antioch University

No child is brought into this world as a racist or sexist or homophobe.  Oppression must be learned through our childhood socialization processes.  While the home environment provided by our parents is crucial to learning both oppressive and anti-oppressive behaviors, cultural institutions such as schools, religious institutions, and mass media also play a central role.

For many years I taught classes at local colleges and universities I called “Unlearning Oppression.”  While the formal titles of these classes were typically “Race, Class and Gender in American Society” I insisted on dealing with ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of oppression too.

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December 04, 2023

There are No Heroes Here: Killers of the Flower Moon and the Treatment of Indigenous Peoples

Rob Eschmann author photoBy Rob Eschmann, Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University

[email protected]

This post contains spoilers for the 2023 film, Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon is as good as you expect it to be, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring spectacular performances from Robert De Niro as Bill “King” Hale, Leonardo DiCaprio as Hale’s easily influenced nephew Ernest Burkhart, and Lily Gladstone as Molly Burkhart, a beleaguered yet resolute Osage woman married to Ernest. Even the story behind the film is inspiring, as Scorsese worked with the Osage Tribe leadership, employed over one hundred Osage as extras, and was intentional about avoiding the Hollywood trope of Indigenous folks in trouble, White man to the rescue.

But don’t expect to like this film. Expect unease. For three and a half uncomfortable hours my heart broke for the Osage community as I held my breath, waiting for some respite, for the calvary to show up and save the day.

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