246 posts categorized "Class and Stratification"

May 03, 2021

John Fetterman, Working Class Hero?

Todd Schoepflin Colby King author photoBy Todd Schoepflin & Colby King

John Fetterman is currently the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, and before that served as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, from 2005 to 2019. He is running for a Pennsylvania senate seat in 2022. His website describes him as “a different kind of Democrat,” one who “doesn’t look like a typical politician.” In media outlets, much is made of his size (he’s 6'8") and his tattoos (dates of homicides in Braddock when he was mayor are tattooed on his right arm). For example, one article about Fetterman is titled “Unconventional in his size and rise”. He’s twice appeared on The Colbert Report, been profiled in GQ, and had his clothing style analyzed in an article about the politics of workwear. His home (once an indoor Chevy car dealership) has received attention, and his family life has also been in the spotlight.

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April 12, 2021

Consumption, COVID, and Economic Inequality

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

For some people, the COVID pandemic has had a silver lining: more savings. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, American savings rates reached a 60-year high of 33.7 percent in April 2020 up from 12.9 percent in March 2020. (We have data on savings rates going back to 1960.)

This means that month Americans saved an about a third of their income, on average. This percentage has remained high, at 20.5% in January 2021, the most recent data available at the time of this writing. For context, the previous high was 17.3 percent in May 1975. The National Bureau of Economics Research reported that 27 percent of stimulus payment from the CARES act was saved as well.

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April 05, 2021

Vaccine Disparities and COVID-19

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

As I write, both of my parents just received their second COVID-19 vaccinations. This is of course a great relief, since they are in their 70s, but their experience highlights some of the inequities built into the scramble to get vaccinated.

While the U.S. supply cannot keep up with demand at the moment, in some countries there is no supply at all. According to UNICEF, and reported by NPR, about 130 countries had no vaccine as of mid-February. In the U.S., the distribution varies quite a bit per state, with some states vaccinating at twice the rate of others. (See this NPR Tracker to find out how your state compares.)

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February 08, 2021

Amanda Gorman’s Sociological Imagination

Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

The breakout star of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris inauguration was not Biden or Harris, or even Bernie Sanders! Amanda Gorman takes that title as evidenced by the media swirling around her, her new modeling gig, and the fact that her as yet unpublished books took the top two spots on Amazon’s bestseller list the following day.

At age 22, Gorman is the youngest poet to recite poetry at a United States inauguration and is the nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. In the poem she read at the inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” I heard a sociological perspective. Therefore, I was not surprised when I learned that Gorman was a sociology major at Harvard who graduated cum laude and see how that may have shaped her poetry. My intention here is to highlight some of the sociological aspects of “The Hill We Climb.” Disclaimer: I am not an English literature professor; my intention is not to provide a definitive or literary analysis of the poem, but instead to highlight its sociological connections.

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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.

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December 28, 2020

“On Your Time”: First Generation College Student's Reflections

Colby King author photo Colby King author photo E_Miller
Colby King author photoBy Colby King, Mo Swint, Emma Miller, and Wren Bareiss 

Mo Swint and Emma Miller are sociology majors at USC Upstate; Wren Bareiss is an Associate Professor of Communication at USC Upstate

If you’re among the first generation in your family to get, or on your way to getting, a college degree, you’re not alone.

Dr. King was the first in his family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and he has written about his first generation college perspective here for the Working-Class Perspectives Blog. He has also written here at the Everyday Sociology Blog about how useful it can be for first generation college students to find models of success that they can follow, and about how building diverse social networks while in college can be a really valuable exercise, especially for first generation college students. The four authors shared their stories as part of a panel at Class Action’s annual First Generation College Student Summit, which was held remotely on Saturday, November 14.

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September 21, 2020

Health, Racial Inequality, and Residential Segregation

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos, Sociology Doctoral Student at Rutgers University – New Brunswick

We often talk about health as a strictly biological concept. After all, poor health outcomes such as heart disease and cancer are heavily dependent on biological factors such as our genetic makeup and our age. Public discourse is also rife with notions that viruses, such as COVID-19, “do not discriminate” and affect all of us equally – regardless of the vastly different social circumstances under which people in the U.S. are living.

Sociologists, however, have long emphasized that health outcomes are far from strictly biological. In fact, the subfield of medical sociology – one of the American Sociological Association’s largest sections – is entirely devoted to the study of how social contexts and structures influence health, illness, and healthcare. Although certain poor health outcomes are indeed influenced by factors outside of the social world, medical sociologists stress the importance of social influence in examining e.g. who gets sick and why.

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August 24, 2020

Internships and the Cost of Geography

author photoBy Colby King

This year, National Public Radio (NPR) received 20,520 applications for the 27 internships they are offering this fall. That was nearly 8 times the number of applications NPR received for 55 internship slots the year before, according to a report in Current, a trade journal that covers the public broadcasting industry in the US. Executive Director Julie Drizin notes how we are currently in “truly tough times to be job-hunting.”

I found this report after seeing behavioral economist Jodi Beggs retweet it, saying, “Wow I feel like we just learned something pretty important here.” In the report, NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara as suggests that this increase in applications is likely a result of the internships being offered remotely this year, and not requiring participants to move to the expensive large cities in which they are typically offered.

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August 05, 2020

Gender, Ethnicity, and the COVID Recession

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The recent economic downturn has impacted millions of Americans. As of this writing, about 30 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits. Those earning less than $40,000 have endured the greatest job losses; according to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of these workers have lost their jobs in recent months. In contrast, just over one in ten households earning more than $100,000 have experienced job losses.

You might have seen news reports that women have been more likely to experience job losses during the current recession. The Great Recession of a decade ago hit construction and finance particularly hard, and came to be known as a “mancession” because those fields tend to be male dominated.

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July 27, 2020

Is College for Jobs or Expanding the Mind: Why Not Both?

Colby King Author Photo Michelle corbin author photo Albert fu author photo Joseph cohen author photoBy Michelle Corbin, Albert Fu, Colby King, and Joseph Cohen

Michelle Corbin is an Associate Professor of Sociology Worcester State University; Albert Fu is a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at Kutztown University;  Joseph Cohen is an Associate Professor at Queens College in the City University of New York

Just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the upheaval in our academic work, the four of us engaged in a conversation about thinking of college education as vocational training. The discussion began on Twitter, where Canadian Economist Todd Hirsch argued that college education “should not be about jobs. It should be about expanding the mind, critical thinking and learning how to learn. To think otherwise about our university system is missing the point and purpose.”

Fellow sociologist, Albert Fu, disagreed, first asking “Why can’t it be both?” and argued that the “anti-job” or anti-vocational training view of college is elitist. Seeing an opportunity for an enlightening conversation, sociologist Joseph Cohen invited Albert, along with Colby King, and Michelle Corbin on to an episode of The Annex Sociology Podcast to discuss the issues around this debate.

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