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

September 25, 2023

“You Want to Work or You Want to Steal?” The Impossible Choices Migrants Face Without Work Authorization

Stacy Torres author photoBy Stacy Torres

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” said Mark Twain. And history is once again rhyming in the current migrant crisis. The most visible consequences of our broken immigration system have unfolded on New York City streets, where this summer hundreds of asylum seekers slept outside a midtown Manhattan hotel doubling as humanitarian relief center and overcrowded shelter. But this national issue transcends any single region, and the growing desperation offers a cautionary tale for communities across the country.

More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since spring 2022, with more coming daily.  The city reports housing more than 82,000 people, including nearly 30,000 children, with the mayor estimating shelter costs to reach $12 billion by 2025.

Continue reading "“You Want to Work or You Want to Steal?” The Impossible Choices Migrants Face Without Work Authorization" »

September 11, 2023

Co-opting Friends and Feminism on Social Media: Multi-Level Marketing

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

While I’m only an occasional user of social media, a few years ago I noticed that an acquaintance began posting much more frequently, often self-helpy posts encouraging people to seize the day, believe in themselves, and generally live their “best lives.”

Nothing wrong with positivity, I thought, but the shift was abrupt. “We’ve got this, ladies!” and TGIM! (Thank God it’s Monday) became regular slogans, along with a lot more personal (over)sharing—multiple times a day—from someone who had previously been only an occasional poster.

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July 17, 2023

Spam, Scams, and Social Norms

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

There’s really no such thing as good spam. I’m talking about the email variety of spam, not the canned pork from which unsolicited emails got their name (see this Monty Python sketch for its origin). Emails claiming to have money waiting for us, threatening us if emails go unanswered, or promoting questionable products are annoying and typically easy to spot. So easy that email platforms often identify it before we even see it.

Spam is annoying, but it’s also sociological.

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May 01, 2023

Researching Through Loss

Stacy Torres author photo Brittney PondBy Stacy Torres and Brittney Pond

Brittney Pond is a PhD student at the University of California, San Francisco and is a Co-Assistant Director of the Emancipatory Sciences Lab

As qualitative researchers who study older adults and those who care for them, paid and unpaid, our own grappling with loss, grief, and illness surfaces for us throughout the research process, from conceiving a study to writing up results. Few road maps exist for navigating this form of scholarly emotional labor.

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April 10, 2023

How to Like Your Job: Thoughts for Entering the Workforce

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Want to like your job? It helps if you are upper income, have earned a postgraduate degree, and are 65 or older. But this probably won’t help you if you are a recent graduate about to look for a job.

As we enter college graduation season and many new grads are beginning their journey into the workforce, it is important to figure out not just what you want to do but how you want to live.

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March 27, 2023

Getting a Job: Working for AI

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I have been fortunate to have had my job for more than twenty years. I have never looked for a job in the twenty-first century. If I did, the process would be a lot different than it was in the 1990s. Monster.com, the first online resume database, only launched in 1999. And while the internet might have had job listings, old-fashioned snail mail was still the main way to apply for a job for many years after that.

Back in the twentieth century, writing a good resume was key. It still is today, but an algorithm is likely to be the first to “see” your resume. In theory, this is meant to help streamline the hiring process and perhaps even get better candidates. Even a first interview might be submitted as a video, screened by a bot to read a candidate’s facial expressions and keywords used.

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March 20, 2023

Who are You: Work, Education, and Identity

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The phrase “I am a Ph.D.” always strikes me as odd. One might earn a Ph.D. or hold a Ph.D., but to be a Ph.D. suggests that there is no separation between the self, education, and work.

Earning a Ph.D. connotes an extended study and expertise into a field, one that can only realistically be achieved if one has a great deal of personal interest in their topic of study. And earning this degree can create new identity pathways: a title change from Mr./Ms. to Dr., and in many cases “Professor.” These identity changes are linked with career opportunities that an advanced degree might bring. This career path might bring upward economic mobility and new peer groups, both of which shape our sense of self and identity.

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March 13, 2023

Student Parents: Rethinking Assumptions about College Students

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

All too often, administrators at my university informally refer to students as “kids” during meetings. Not only are the vast majority college students legal adults, but some are older than traditionally aged college students (18-24). And some of our students are parents themselves.

The Education Trust recently reported that approximately one in five college students in the United States are parents, and that student parents are more likely to be students of color. This percentage is even higher at  for-profit colleges; an Aspen Institute report based on U.S. Department of Education data found that 45 percent of students attending private for-profit schools were also parents. Of all student parents, 42 percent attend community colleges. Most are mothers, and student mothers are less likely to be married than student fathers. Most have children under 6. According to the report, student parents are also more likely to take on student debt—and more perhaps surprisingly—more likely to have GPAs over 3.5.

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March 06, 2023

What is a Good Member of Society?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I never really thought about this question until reading a recent Pew Research Center report. While we might have a good idea of what it takes to be a good student (go to class, do all readings and assignments), a good parent (provide for a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing as best you can), and a good friend (spend time together, listen to one another, be supportive), there aren’t really obvious answers to being a good member of society.

That alone is telling. In a society marked by individualism, or the notion that we are separate rather than interdependent, we might focus more on how to be a good person or on our interpersonal relationships, but seldom on how to be a good member of the larger whole. Even as a sociologist, I seldom think about what makes someone a good member of society.

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February 27, 2023

An Applied Sociological Perspective on Design

Janning-M-7756 copyBy Michelle Janning, Professor of Sociology and co-designer of Human-Centered Design at Whitman College 

Do you ever find yourself feeling frustrated when an airport security line seems to be moving too slowly? How about when restaurant tables are arranged so close to each other that it’s hard to navigate the trek to the restroom (let alone have a private conversation)? Or when you can’t get work done because the noises coming from a housemate’s conversation are pulsing through your walls?

It’s easy to imagine ways that our built environments (and how objects are arranged in those environments) don’t always meet our personal and social needs. Put another way, we often notice that something is poorly designed when our engagement with the design leaves us feeling frustrated, stuck, or even excluded.

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