272 posts categorized "Social Institutions: Work, Education, and Medicine"

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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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 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 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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November 22, 2023

The Impossibility of University Neutrality in Times of Crisis

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Campuses are being torn apart due to the Israel-Hamas war. Students are protesting, getting arrested on campuses, and being threatened. While acknowledging that there are unspeakable horrors of war happening across the globe, it can still be said that it is the most challenging time to be on a U.S. college campus in my memory.

I am certain that even what I write here—which is tentative based on thoughts that are in-process—could be interpreted for this, against that, or not for anything and, therefore, bad. A lack of certainty, when faced by colleagues, friends, and students with very clear beliefs on very brutal realities, can be interpreted as a moral failure. My scholarship is not on colonialism, war, or international conflict, however. No one could or should look to me for enlightenment on this, and there are far too many people online who have spent a little time on Wikipedia and self-appointed themselves as experts in the history of Middle Eastern conflict.

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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 16, 2023

Writing an Op-ed: Lessons in Public Sociology

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

I have a book coming out in a few weeks on hospitals and their communities. One of my co-authors and I are hoping to write an op-ed that will bring some of the knowledge from the book (particularly the policies recommendations we are making) to the wider public. Sociology should always be looking for ways to reach a wider audience, and do more public sociology.  

When aiming to write an op-ed, one of the things that authors will look for a “news peg.” These are very recent events in the news that a writer can use to make a wider point about some political or social issue. When the Fyre Festival debacle occurred, for example, I was able to co-author an op-ed about the financial risks and rewards for small bands to participate in music festivals. In my local paper, when a recent controversy arose about the renovation of my small town downtown strip, I was able to write about Jane Jacobs’ more pedestrian-focused approach to urban planning.

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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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October 02, 2023

Creating a Class of Our Own: Reflections on First-Generation and Working-Class People in Sociology

By Colby R. King, Marisela Martinez-Cola (Assistant Professor, Morehouse College), Mary L. Scherer (Assistant Professor, Sam Houston State University), Robert Francis (Assistant Professor, Whitworth University), and Myron T. Strong

People from working-class and first-generation-to-college backgrounds have a lot to contribute to sociology and to our universities as students, instructors, and staff. The American Sociological Association’s (ASA) Task Force on First-Generation and Working-Class People in Sociology (FGWC) highlighted this in their report to ASA, which you can read here. (You can also see suggestions for how the report may be used in sociology courses here.)

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