365 posts categorized "Karen Sternheimer"

March 01, 2021

Eldercare, Economics, and COVID-19

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

In 2019, I wrote about my mother-in-law’s struggles with isolation after losing her husband of 61 years. As you can imagine, the pandemic has only made this challenge more difficult.

Adding to the challenge of 2020 were two injuries she experienced, first a spinal compression fracture in January and a pelvic fracture after a fall in May. Both left her in need of constant care, which family members alone have been unable to provide. Fortunately, she has been able to afford—although not easily afford—the help of in-home caregivers.

Continue reading "Eldercare, Economics, and COVID-19" »

February 04, 2021

An Inauguration and a Funeral: Rituals and Rites of Passage

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

On January 20, 2021, along with nearly 39 million people across the country, I watched the presidential inauguration. An inauguration is more than just a swearing-in ceremony; it includes a presidential address, followed by events like the “pass in review,” where the first and second couples (and in non-pandemic times, their guests) watch as a series of military processionals pass by to celebrate a new commander-in-chief from the steps of the Capitol building. Along with three former presidents and their spouses, the newly-inaugurated leaders also laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery at the tomb of the unknown soldier, which included a prayer, the performance of the national anthem, and a military canon salute.

Moments after the ceremony, I attended a funeral for a beloved aunt via Zoom. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, most of my family and I could not travel to be there, and only a small number of family members were allowed to attend the brief graveside service. Along with about 75 others, I watched the rituals on my computer: the prayers, a eulogy, the family members putting dirt in the grave as the coffin is lowered into the ground.

Continue reading "An Inauguration and a Funeral: Rituals and Rites of Passage" »

February 01, 2021

Writing a Literature Review: Connecting Past Studies with Your Research

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Writing a literature review demonstrates that you are familiar with previous research and theoretical concepts related to your research topic. The “literature” includes scholarly publications written by primarily by researchers in your discipline. Reports of research and theoretical discussions are mostly found in peer-reviewed journals and books, which you should read before designing your own study.

A literature review is more than a list of previous research, and it’s more than a description of studies. It is a detailed case that we make to justify how and why our study will contribute to the existing scholarly knowledge on our topic. When writing a literature review, we need to explain why this is important based on the scholarly discussion on our topic, not just why it is important to society in general.

How do you get started?

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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 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).

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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:

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December 21, 2020

What are Gaps in the Literature?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I’m sure you’re familiar with the word “gap.” People might take a “gap year” in their education, maybe between high school and college or between college and graduate school. A gap year is essentially a fancy way of saying you are doing something else and pausing your education.

There might be a gap between a window and a wall, which means that there is space between the two objects, and maybe a draft or a leak depending on the weather.

We might consider a more abstract definition of a gap, such as the gap between expectations and reality, which can produce social unrest, according to one popular theory. The gap between our own personal expectations and reality can shape the way we make sense of our relationships and achievements.

If a gap is a break, or space between thing 1 and thing 2, what is a gap in the literature?

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November 23, 2020

Literature Review vs. Annotated Bibliography: What’s the Difference?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Literature reviews are a central feature of sociological research, and it is vital for students of sociology to learn how to read and eventually write them. Too often, students tasked with writing a literature review often turn in something in between a true review of the literature and an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is basically a fleshed-out works cited page. To get started, you list the full citations of previous publications related to your topic. This list should be formatted according to whichever style you have been instructed to use. Below each citation, include a brief, 2-3 sentence synopsis.

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October 12, 2020

Sampling: Who do You Want to Learn More About?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

These days, if we want to know more about someone, we often need look no further than social media sites or do a basic Google search. But what if we want to know more about a group or a population?

Let’s say you were interested in learning about the student body of a school to find out how they are managing the COVID-19 crisis. We decide an Internet-based survey is the way to go. How do we go about doing this?

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September 28, 2020

Informal Social Control and Pandemic Behavior

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

A few months ago I wrote about what the pandemic-related stay at home orders can teach us about formal social control, the use of rules, laws, and sanctions to try and shape people’s behavior. What can the pandemic teach us about informal social control?

While formal social control involves large-scale institutional actions, informal social control involves the influence of the people closest to us. Our primary groups, which include our family members and friends, have the most influence on us for several reasons.

We often seek their approval, even if we are not conscious of doing so, and thus our behavior may be influenced in order to maintain these close ties. We typically spend the most time with people in our primary groups, so we also tend to view social issues similarly due to our influence on one another and self-selection of friends and mates whose perspectives our compatible with our own.

Continue reading "Informal Social Control and Pandemic Behavior" »

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