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

October 05, 2020

Merton’s Role Set: Chairing a Sociology Department

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

Have you met the chair of the sociology department? What do they do, anyway?

When I was an undergraduate at a large public university, I didn’t know who the chair was, let alone what they did. Heck, I am the chair of a sociology department right now, and I’m still figuring it out! But, I think it’s important for you to know what chairs do, particularly in our current, historical moment.

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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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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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July 20, 2020

Bandage, Sort, and Hustle: What is it like to be an Ambulance Worker?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The recent COVID crisis has drawn our attention to the risks health care providers take in treating patients. Ambulance personnel are on the front lines, often the first responders in treating injuries and illnesses.

As this recent PBS Newshour interview reveals, not only are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in high-outbreak areas regularly exposed to COVID, they bear the emotional scars of feeling like there is little they can do to help the COVID patients they transport, all while earning relatively little pay.

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July 13, 2020

Who Gone Check Me Boo? The Backlash to Women and Power

author photoBy Myron Strong

In season two of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, a now iconic scene is featured where co-star Sheree Whitfield demanded to know “who gone check me boo?” Her powerful retort came in response to her blatantly disrespectful party-planner refusing to follow her instructions. While meeting with him, the planner started screaming profanities and calling her names saying that someone needed to “check her.”

His aggressive manner prompted Sheree to verbally remind him that not only does he work for her, but also that she was in control. Sheree’s calm but strong-willed comment illustrates how she refused to back down. As she asserted her point of view, the male party-planner felt insecure and powerless--prompting him to say that someone was going to check her to which she defiantly replied, “who gone check me boo?”

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May 25, 2020

What the COVID-19 Crisis Means for Work Expectations: A Sociology Student’s Perspective

author photo Jackson tumlin author photoBy Colby King and Jackson Tumlin (sociology student, University of South Carolina Upstate)

I am always working to make my Sociology of Work and Organizations class meaningful to students by, among other things, getting them to connect with people who work in areas they are interested in. In the course this spring, though, as the COVID-19 crisis upended the economy and changed how so many of us do work, I got to see how students were applying course concepts in how they were thinking about work.

In this class we typically cover how work is changing, including the development of the new economy, which Stephen Sweet and Peter Meiksins describe as involving new patterns in work, including things like flexible work arrangements and interactive service work. We study how technological change and flexible work arrangements have made new kinds of work possible. Many of these new jobs are more rewarding for workers. We also see how, even with these new patterns of work, many aspects of the old manufacturing-based economy, which emerged from the Industrial Revolution, remain.

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April 29, 2020

What's that I Feel? Role Strain!

author photoBy Jennell Paris

Professor of Anthropology, Messiah College

Most of the time I feel fairly comfortable in the roles that correspond with my social statuses. I know what to do, as a daughter, or a church member, or a U.S. citizen.

As a professor these days, I'm feeling something unpleasant. I can't find the right word for it: overwhelmed, verklempt, disoriented, stumped? Whatever it is, it's not good. The word I'm after is not a mental health term like depression or anxiety. It's sociological: role strain, when the expectations or duties of a role become overwhelming or confused.

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March 25, 2020

The Working Class and Service Industry Workers: The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Economy

author photoBy Colby King

As the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen quick and dramatic changes to how people work and how our economy functions. I wrote a few days ago about one worker, a migrant laborer, was made to dress as a hand sanitizer dispenser at Saudi Aramco. Since then I have seen stories that highlight the risks and challenges of working in the COVID-19 economy, especially for the working class and service industry workers. As Todd Schoepflin wrote here last week, these are the people “who are working to hold the fabric of society together.”

These dilemmas came into focus for me the other night as I talked with my cousin Randy on the phone. Randy lives in Colorado and works multiple jobs part time, as a lighting designer for theaters in Colorado and driving for a rideshare app. When Governor Polis of Colorado banned gatherings of more than 10 people, it had an obvious impact on Randy’s lighting gigs.

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March 17, 2020

Applying Sociology of Work and Organizations Concepts to the COVID-19 Pandemic

author photoBy Colby King

During spring break this past week, I was grading midterm exams from my Sociology of Work and organizations class while also following the news about the spread of COVID-19. Karen Sternheimer wrote the other day about how we can apply the sociological imagination to better understand the ongoing situation with the disease. I also saw ways in which the pandemic vividly illustrates some of the sociological concepts in the exam I was grading.

On March 11, Megha Rajagopalan at BuzzFeed posted a report about how a migrant worker at Saudi Aramco’s headquarters was made to dress as hand sanitizer. Pictures of the worker were shared on Twitter. In the pictures you can see the man is wearing a face mask and gloves, and over his khakis and shirt he is also wearing a box with the words “HAND SANITIZER” at the top and “Office Services” at the bottom (in English) and also an actual hand sanitizer dispenser attached to the front of the box.

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March 12, 2020

Applying the Sociological Imagination to COVID-19

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

By now you have likely heard of the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Maybe your school or workplace has shifted online for the time being, or you have noticed a shortage of cold and flu related items at your local store.

While this is a rapidly changing situation, we can use this example to help us understand several sociological concepts:

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