48 posts categorized "Todd Schoepflin"

August 01, 2022

Sociological Songs

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

When I listen to music, I always have an ear out for sociological themes in songs. I also like to reference song lyrics and show music videos in class to highlight sociological ideas. What are your favorite sociological songs? Here are some of mine.

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June 27, 2022

Awareness of Social Class

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

I was once asked about when I gained awareness about social class. It struck me as an interesting question. My answer focused on my middle school years when I began meeting people from an affluent part of my hometown.

My childhood was mostly contained to a small radius around my working-class and middle-class neighborhood. When I made new friends in 7th grade, it was easy to observe they lived in bigger homes that were further apart than in my neighborhood, affording people more privacy. A few of my friends in my neighborhood had above-ground pools, whereas new friends had in-ground pools. Yards had wood fences rather than the less expensive chain link fences that I was accustomed to on my street. We learned to jump those chain link fences if we hit a ball into someone else’s property or if we were running through yards when being mischievous. Being around peers with parents who had higher incomes and seeing up close that money flowed more freely for these friends, raised my social class awareness.

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April 25, 2022

Pandemic Photo Essay

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

If you look through the pictures on your phone, what do they reveal about your experiences during the pandemic? What memories stand out in your pictures? So much has happened in our lives and in society in the past few years. Looking through my pictures helps me process some of what we’ve been through.

I took this first picture on March 17, 2020, at a stop to the liquor store. This sign reminds me that we didn’t know exactly what we were in for, and it was early enough in the pandemic that we could make light of suddenly hard to obtain items such as toilet paper.

Picture1

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January 24, 2022

Me and My 70,000 Friends: Tailgating and Togetherness

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

I’ve always enjoyed going to Buffalo Bills games. I like watching football live and being part of a crowd. I’ve written before about the tailgate scene which adds fun and unpredictability. I’ve attended three games this year and have been reflecting on why I’ve been enjoying these games in person more than usual.

In one sense, I think it’s a simple matter of escapism. If watching sports normally feels like a break from the regular routine of life, I would say that watching a football game in a stressful and ongoing pandemic definitely feels like an escape for me. It’s a full day of not thinking and worrying about pandemic ills.

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January 13, 2022

The Sociology of Luck   

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin      

“Even the losers get lucky sometimes,” sang Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “You got lucky babe, when I found you,” they sing in another. Paul McCartney and Wings have a song titled “With a Little Luck.” Social Distortion has a song called “Bad Luck.” Daft Punk has a song “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams. The expression “lucky as sin” appears in the song “Young Man’s Game” by Fleet Foxes. In “Superstition,” the legend Stevie Wonder sings about broken glass and bad luck as he warns us not to believe in things we don’t understand. 

We say good luck to each other in everyday life. We have expressions like “Better to be lucky than good” and “See a penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” To explain the misfortune of a loved one, we sympathetically remark: “If it wasn’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.” We might explain our favorite team losing a game because “that’s the way the ball bounces,” suggesting it was a matter of bad luck, or that the opposing team won because they caught a lucky break. Luck means something to us.

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November 15, 2021

Attention in Everyday Life

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

I think about attention a lot. For years, I’ve taught Charles Derber’s The Pursuit of Attention in my Social Psychology course. Derber recognizes that attention is a fundamental human need. It’s normal and healthy to want attention. What’s unhealthy is when too many of us crave attention more and more of the time.

We can look at celebrities as massive attention getters. We can easily name famous people who have soaked up our attention through the years: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Harry Styles, Lil Nas X. On a smaller scale there are influencers who fight for attention on YouTube and Instagram, and people using their talents to catch attention on TiKToK.

Reality television captures our attention in the form of pranks and shenanigans in shows like Jackass or shows that relish in interpersonal conflict and air dirty laundry like The Jerry Springer Show, or ones that showcase rich and glamorous lifestyles like Keeping up with the Kardashians, or ones that highlight relationship problems and dramas such as Catfish and 90 Day Fiancé.

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October 04, 2021

I Have Questions about Norms!

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

Each time I mow my lawn, I think about norms. It sounds silly, but the phrase “conventional mowing hours” comes to mind when I’m deciding what time to cut the grass. I’ve lived in my current neighborhood for ten years. I’ve rarely seen anyone mow before 9:00 a.m. I’d be going out of my way to irritate my neighbors if I mowed at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. We learn through observation and social interaction what’s considered to be socially acceptable behavior. A lot of norms operate as unwritten rules about what we should and shouldn’t do in everyday life.

When you intentionally break social norms, you might generate interesting reactions. Breaching experiments demonstrate the power of social norms, as explained in this post by Bradley Wright. It would be a breaching experiment to cut my lawn using scissors, or to fire up the lawnmower at midnight. If you’ve ever watched Impractical Jokers, you understand what breaching experiments look like.

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September 06, 2021

Eating in Everyday Life

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

My 13-year-old has suddenly stopped eating meat. This came as a surprise to my wife and me, considering his voracious appetite and penchant for eating a variety of meats. It wasn’t long ago he was eager to participate in the chicken sandwich wars, comparing offerings from popular fast-food establishments. We live in Buffalo, which I consider a meat-centric place. After all, this is home of the chicken wing, and lesser-known meat treats that Western New Yorkers are proud to be associated with, like beef on weck sandwiches. Many a fund raiser in our region rely on chicken dinners sold in the parking lots of churches, schools, and fire halls.

My wife and I both come from meat and potato families. In my childhood, dinner was usually comprised of meat, a starch, and a vegetable. I remember eating pork chops, chicken, beef tacos, steak, and subs with cold cuts. My mom’s family is Italian. Our family Sunday dinners were pasta with meatballs and sausage. My kids have grown up eating breaded chicken cutlets that my dad makes, and my mom’s meatballs. Growing up Catholic, meat was only something to avoid only on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. What family traditions have shaped the way you eat? What religious customs can you think of that influence how people eat?

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May 31, 2021

Social Class and the College Experience at "Renowned University"

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

With my Social Stratification course recently concluded, I’m reflecting on a book filled with sociological insights about the college experience. The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, by Anthony Abraham Jack, is a book I highly recommend and one that my students enjoyed reading and learning about during the course.

We learn a lot about "Renowned University," a pseudonym for a highly ranked and selective college where the majority of students are affluent, with one third of undergraduates coming from a family with an annual income of at least $250,000, and one eighth of undergraduates from a family with an income of $630,000 or higher. Jack notes that many students come from some of the wealthiest families in the world.

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May 10, 2021

Teaching in a Pandemic: The Good, the Surreal, and the Challenges of Teaching Sociology Online

Colby King author photoTodd SchoepflinBy Colby King and Todd Schoepflin

In this podcast, Colby King and Todd Schoepflin share some of their experiences teaching this year. One example that stands out to Todd is the experience of teaching at home at the same time his kids had remote music and gym lessons. Home and work were blended in new ways. Instead of commuting from work and sitting in traffic, he could spend that time preparing dinner. Colby explains the consistent feeling of role conflict (“Am I a parent or professor?”) and feeling like he wasn’t thriving in either role. He also points to a valuable resource in his wife’s parents, who were able to help with childcare.

Continue reading "Teaching in a Pandemic: The Good, the Surreal, and the Challenges of Teaching Sociology Online" »

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