176 posts categorized "Social Psychology"

April 01, 2024

Challenging Stereotypes in Unscripted Love Tales: A Reality Check through Symbolic Interactionism

Monica-Radu Professional Headshot-2024By Dr. Monica Radu, Associate Professor of Sociology Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work, & Sociology, Southeast Missouri State University, [email protected]

The rise of reality TV has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences worldwide, including sociologists (like myself) who find themselves drawn to the intriguing social dynamics portrayed on these shows. So, what's the fuss all about? Why do sociologists, in particular, enjoy the reality TV craze?

Many reality shows serve as unintentional social experiments, placing individuals in unfamiliar and often challenging situations. Sociologists are keen to study how participants navigate these scenarios, unraveling insights into human decision-making, adaptation to change, and the impact of external pressures on behavior.

Continue reading "Challenging Stereotypes in Unscripted Love Tales: A Reality Check through Symbolic Interactionism" »

February 12, 2024

Ethnomethodological Conversation Analysis

Wayne mellinger author photoBy Wayne Martin Mellinger

Everyday talk-in-interaction is the medium through which our identities are enacted and our relationships are negotiated. It is often through situated activities such as talk that the practical problems of our lives get resolved, the tasks of our workplaces get completed, and the business of society gets managed. Talk-in-interaction is a fundamental mechanism through which culture is enacted, providing the very infrastructure of social institutions. Everyday talk-in-interaction is indeed the fundamental site of human sociality.

Conversation Analysis (CA) is an approach to studying everyday social interactions which focuses on how participants in a conversation collaboratively build meaning and organize their interactions through verbal and non-verbal behaviors. It closely analyses the moment-by-moment unfolding of social life through close examination of ordinary social interactions. These fine-grained studies, now done in a wide variety of social situations and institutional settings, are revealing the basic structures of interaction as experienced in concrete instances of social life.

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January 24, 2024

AI and Sociology

Jonathan Wynn author photoBy Jonathan Wynn

My inbox received two very kind and curious emails from students this semester. One was to our listserv, expressing remorse and solidarity for someone who had a death in the family. The second was a note of gratitude for my teaching this semester. The instincts behind were kind. Both students wanted to share meaningful feelings with our community in the first case, and with me in the second. They were interesting because they were both written entirely by AI.

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July 24, 2023

Smoking, Travel, and Culture Shock

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

As a kid in the 1970s and 1980s, I remember waiting to be seated at a restaurant. There were occasionally vending machines for candy, gum, and even cigarettes in the waiting area. While cigarette vending machines were apparently only banned in 2010 (except in adults-only venues), I don’t remember seeing a single machine for decades.

That is, until I visited Germany recently. We stayed in an apartment-style hotel, run by someone who also operated a bar on the first floor. When we stepped in the bar to check in, I noticed a cigarette vending machine. Oh wow, I thought, hadn’t seen one of those in years! But it was in a bar, after all, and I didn’t think much of it.

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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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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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January 23, 2023

Our Social Caravan

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

Each time I teach a Social Psychology course, I enjoy showing students excerpts from The Saturated Self by Kenneth Gergen. As described in the book, we live in a time when we can meet people from anywhere in the world, and those relationships can endure because of travel capabilities and technologies. The following passages can be applied to both romantic relationships and friendships, but the focus of my post is friendships:

A century ago, social relationships were largely confined to the distance of an easy walk. Most were conducted in person, within small communities: family, neighbors, townspeople. Yes, the horse and carriage made longer trips possible, but even a trip of thirty miles could take all day. The railroad could speed one away, but cost and availability limited such travel. If one moved from the community, relationships were likely to end. From birth to death one could depend on relatively even-textured social surroundings. Words, faces, gestures, and possibilities were relatively consistent, coherent, and slow to change (p. 61, emphasis mine).

Formerly, increases in time and distance between persons typically meant loss. When someone moved away, the relationship would languish. Long-distance visits were arduous, and the mails slow. Thus, as one grew older, many active participants would fade from one’s life. Today, time and distance are no longer such serious threats to a relationship. One may sustain an intimacy over thousands of miles by frequent telephone raptures punctuated by occasional visits (p. 62).

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January 06, 2023

Macro Meets Micro: Time Management

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I’d like to think I’m pretty good at managing my time. At least until I start thinking about time as linked with structural forces, and then I realize there are a lot of factors at play in the regulation of time that are not solely up to the individual.

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November 28, 2022

Tears as Social Phenomenon

Cornelia Mayr Author Photo By Cornelia Mayr

November marks the point in the year when the cold beings to set in. Fields, buildings and streets are blanketed in heavy fog, blurring the city like an old painting. Trees look like skeletons and dawn frost carpets the grass. It is the time when biting winds gnaw on our skin and whip chilly, wintry air into our eyelashes. Our eyes tear up, because it's freezing.

Tears keep our eyes lubricated when it is cold and blustery; wash away smoke, dust or other irritant substances; and protect us from foreign particles that enter the eye’s environment. Though some animals do have the physiological ability to produce tears, humans are the only creatures whose tears can be triggered emotionally.

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October 31, 2022

Competitive Socialization and Exercise

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I’m not training for a triathlon. At least I don’t think I am.

Occasionally, people ask me if I am training for an event like a triathlon because my workout routine at our local rec center is pretty intense, and I can work out for an unusually long time. The staff might notice that some days I’m at the gym before the crack of dawn, go home for breakfast, and return soon after for a few hours of lap swimming. I also watch lots of videos on YouTube with training tips for swimming and running.

Why do I do this, if I’m not training for an event or trying to lose weight, you might wonder? I actually enjoy doing it.

Continue reading "Competitive Socialization and Exercise" »

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