276 posts categorized "Class and Stratification"

April 15, 2024

Animals and Inequality

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

When our cat was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, our vet very gently let us know that one option would be not to offer further treatment besides palliative care to keep her comfortable. She acknowledged that if her cancer could be treated, that it would be costly, and that there would be no shame if it was not an option for us.

This came as a shock, considering a week before this conversation we thought we had a perfectly healthy 11-year-old cat. As it turns out, the type of cancer she has is aggressive but treatable, and we requested a referral to a veterinary oncologist. During this consultation, the oncologist carefully detailed that the cancer wasn’t curable but could be treated, and laid out the costs of providing such treatment. She also let us know that if the cost of treatment was out of reach, or if we decided we couldn’t or didn’t want to proceed, that was a perfectly reasonable option.

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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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March 18, 2024

Let’s Talk Parental Engagement in Schools: Parental Engagement as a Social Construct

Alyssa Lyons author photoBy Alyssa Lyons

What does it mean to be an engaged parent in schools?

As both a sociologist and the mother of an eleven-year-old in the New York City public school system, I’ve often wrestled with this question. Whenever I attend school-based events, principals, teachers, and staff tell me, along with other parents, that being engaged in the school and in my child’s education is instrumental to their academic success. 

And it isn’t just educators and social science researchers singing the praises of parental engagement. Politicians and policymakers suggest that parental engagement can function as either a buffer or mitigator in addressing educational inequality on both a state and federal level.  In March 2022, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona implored schools to reconsider their relationship with parents and families, suggesting “parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers.”

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February 26, 2024

Here’s a Tip: It’s about Inequality

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Many news stories about inflation have focused on tipping—sometimes called “tip-flation.” If you haven’t read any of these stories, you’ve probably paid for something when a tip screen came up, recommending a certain percentage for gratuity in addition to the amount due.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of nearly 12,000 Americans, respondents perceive that the pressure to tip has increased in recent years. Nearly half of respondents said that whether to tip depends on the situation, and 40 percent said that they didn’t like when tip amounts are suggested. The most common times when more than half said they left a tip included servers at sit-down restaurants, a hairdresser, and food delivery. Respondents were less likely to tip taxi or ride share drivers, or at fast casual restaurants or coffee shops.

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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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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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October 30, 2023

Place Matters: Inequality and Geography

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

The history of the places we live matters. From the infrastructure that provides access to roads, water, sewer systems, and utilities, often built long before we live someplace, to things like nearby schools and hospitals, where we live is a window into our life chances.

In their recently published book, The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America, Kathryn J. Edin, H. Luke Shaefer, and Timothy Nelson examine the factors that lead to “deep disadvantage.” They define this as having an income of less than half of the poverty rate, health disadvantages, and limited opportunities for children (p. 4). These spaces are mostly rural, and often overlap with places of enslavement in the past (p. 10). Throughout their book, they explore the link between past injustices and the lack of opportunities in the present.

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October 23, 2023

How I Became a Professor: My Parents’ Gifts for Pursuing the Impossible Dream

Stacy Torres author photoBy Stacy Torres

 The good things of prosperity are to be wished; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.

                                                                                                 –Seneca, Letters to Lucilius (28 CE)

Whenever I think about the winding path that led to my current position as a sociology professor, I can’t help but hear the lyrics of the iconic Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime.” How did I get here?

How do any of us become who we are? As a sociologist who studies aging and the life course, the myriad influences that shape us on our life’s journey fascinate me.

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October 09, 2023

The Mouth of Privilege

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Like many people, I’m not typically excited to go to the dentist, but I appreciate having the ability to do so, especially after reading Mary Otto’s book Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.

The book provides in-depth reporting on the tragic death of Deamonte Driver, a twelve-year-old boy who died after an infection in his tooth spread to his brain. Otto documents how despite the attempts of his mother to get he and his siblings dental care, their lack of private dental insurance and status as Medicaid recipients, created an inability to receive regular dental care.

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