Photo by Nicholas via
Photo by Nicholas via

Many romantic couples who live together without being married do so out of wariness about the high divorce rate. Cohabiting, for these couples, can be a “trial” relationship period in which they decide their compatibility before marrying.

Until recently, previous research conclusions and popular conception held that cohabiting couples who eventually married experienced higher divorce rates than those who did not live together before marriage.

A new study by University of North Carolina-Greensboro sociologist Arielle Kuperberg proves this assumption false. Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, Kuperberg analyzed the divorce rate among 7,000 people who had been married at least once. Kuperberg also incorporated other variables, such as the date the couple moved in together. Contrary to 1970s research, Kuperberg found no link between cohabitation and divorce.

Cornell University sociologist Sharon Sassler, in pursuit of research for her book on cohabitation, interviewed more than 150 cohabiters. She found that persons with college degrees date longer before moving in together. Those with degrees date for an average of 14 months compared to 6 months or less for non-degree holders.

As cohabitation becomes more common among couples, sociological research is investigating and dispelling myths about the intricacies of romantic relationships, turning common (and fallacious) knowledge on its head.




Photo by Bandita via
Photo by Bandita via

You can do a lot of things in 29 hours: work a part time job, watch 58 episodes of a sitcom, or listen to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ about 435 times. According to a study from Bar-Ilan University, working moms spend 29 hours a week worrying.

This study, picked up by, demonstrates the “cycle of guilt” experienced by working moms who “feel they are being bad mothers for going to work and bad workers when they put their children first.” Trapped in this catch-22, worry results in less time, not to mention mental energy, for sleep, work, and childcare for working mothers.

Professor Shira Offer suggests that women bear a “double burden” of worry due to the tendency of women to change their work schedules to accommodate family issues. For example, mothers are more likely than fathers to take a day off of work to care for a sick child. That’s not to say men are worry free. Working men are reported to spend 24 hours a week worrying, losing a whole day.

Worry does more than just take up time; it can also contribute to lack of focus and a decrease in performance. If we didn’t spend so much time worrying, maybe we wouldn’t have as much to worry about.



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Many college students are opting for single rooms to avoid dealing with awkward roommates. Photo by Katie Brady via
College students opt for single rooms to avoid awkward roommates. Photo by Katie Brady via

Rites of passage as a new college student often involve  wandering lost around campus, sampling the mystery meat in the dining hall, and – that first awkward social encounter – meeting your roommate. At least that’s how it used to be. The Atlantic shares a new trend in college life, the single dorm room.

More and more schools are offering single room options, bypassing the awkward roommate relationship navigation that has been one of the hallmarks of college life. One university even converted its double occupancy dorms into “super singles.” Having your own room does ensure privacy, personal space, and avoidance of bad roommates, but students and experts are lamenting the loss of the college roommate.

One student explains potential problems saying:

With a private room, it’s very easy to find yourself cut off from a social life. If you just go back to your room as soon as class is over, you’re never going to meet anyone new or have any experiences beyond those in the classroom.

There is more at stake than an invitation to parties; having a social life includes learning how to interact with people of many cultures and backgrounds. Learning how to navigate the social world is crucial for young adults. Sociologist and social sciences dean at New York University Dalton Conley agrees that the loss of the college roommate could be very detrimental.

“Roommates simply teach us to be tolerant and adapt,” Conley says. “In our increasingly customized, digitized, on-demand world, there are not many experiences that provide this sort of socialization.”

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Photo by Emiliano Horcada via
Photo by Emiliano Horcada via

When it comes to love, it’s what’s inside that counts…assuming you measure up.

Business Standard reports on the findings of Rice University sociology professor Michael Emerson, who found that women really do prefer tall men. Emerson’s study data showed that women preferred tall men for two reasons: feminity and protection.

One woman from the study said she wanted to feel delicate and protected at the same time. Sociologically, the preference for taller men seems to play into stereotypical gender roles and patriarchal society. Men weren’t as concerned with matters of height, but when they did weigh in, they preferred shorter women.

University of North Texas sociology professor George Yancy says, “The masculine ability to offer physical protection is clearly connected to the gender stereotype of men as protectors. And in a society that encourages men to be dominant and women to be submissive, having the image of tall men hovering over short women reinforces this value.”

In that case, instead of peering up into a man’s eyes this Valentine’s Day, I might just stand on a chair.

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Photo by Kristine Lewis via
Photo by Kristine Lewis via

A survey about how Americans spend their time reports that men and women are finally working similar numbers of hours per week, at the office and in the home. That means the end of women bearing the bulk of the domestic load, right? Wrong.

The Wall Street Journal Online explores the different ways mothers and fathers spend their time in an article adapted from Jennifer Senior’s new book “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.” Though men are pitching in more around the house, it seems that women are still doing the more arduous domestic tasks, a phenomenon that sociologist Arlie Hochschild termed “the second shift.”

Senior points out one of the fundamental problems: “Not all work is created equal. An hour spent on one kind of task is not necessarily the equivalent of an hour spent on another.”

For instance, taking care of children is often more stressful and strenuous than other solitary and monotonous domestic tasks, like washing dishes. One woman in Senior’s book describes doing the dishes as an opportunity to sit in the kitchen and let her mind wander. When put that way, it sounds a lot less stressful than wrangling toddlers.

Women also tend to be responsible for time-sensitive tasks. Getting kids ready for school or carting them off to extracurricular activities on time can greatly add to a woman’s stress. This leads women to do more multi-tasking than men. Having to manage time so strictly can cause mothers to worry and feel a constant sense of urgency.

Although it seems we have come a long way with men and women dividing chores on the domestic front, when we break it down to the stress and demand involved with individual tasks, women are still bearing the brunt of household management and childrearing.

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Photo by Fora de Eixo via
Photo by Fora de Eixo via

Hearkening back to Tipper Gore’s contested campaign against violent rap music, using rap lyrics as a conviction tool in criminal investigations is not as uncommon as you might think. discussed police work and rap lyrics with Kathleen Horan and the use of rap lyrics as evidence with University of California, Irvine sociologist Charis Kubrin.

Horan asserts that rap lyrics can and are being used to police gangs. Police have been able to locate videos of certain crews taunting other crews in the form of rap music. The lyrics don’t necessarily name a victim or perpetrator but are suggestive of the circumstances of crimes. Horan points to lyrics from one of the Flock crew’s raps, that was posted to YouTube, as an example:

Better take your last breath, yeah.

Next time I see your name comin’

It’s at the [  ? ]

And I didn’t really want to do it

But I had to

Put myself in your shoes

This [ ? ] I’d be mad too…

Horan asserts that, while one rap video isn’t going to be enough to bring down a crew, rap lyrics do and should operate as a component of an investigation.

Sociologist Charis Kubrin tells a different side of the story through the experiences of aspiring rapper Tosin. Tosin was found guilty of making terroristic threats based on the “incriminating evidence” of his rap lyrics. The racial stereotypes surrounding rap music, Kubrin believes, make guilty convictions more likely in these scenarios, and as a result, she argues that rap lyrics are prejudicial and shouldn’t be used in court.

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Although they earn a majority of secondary degrees and constitute a majority of voters, women, particularly low-income women, continue to struggle in education and employment. According to a new report by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, “the key findings paint a portrait of an estimated 42 million women — and 28 million dependent children — saddled with financial hardship.”

American society today doesn’t follow the idealized American Dream of a working father, stay-at-home mother, two beautiful children, and a white picket fence. In fact, forty percent of American households with dependent children have mothers as the primary or only breadwinner. Female workers are still not making the same amount of money as their full-time male counterparts, earning on average only 77 percent as much as men.

After surveying 3,500 adults across the United States, the report also finds that of low-income female respondents:

75 percent wish they had devoted more time and energy to education and career — relative to 58 percent of the general population.

73 percent wish they had made better financial decisions over the course of their lives — and so did 65 percent of the total survey group.

Low-income women are more likely than men to regret tying the knot when they did — 52 percent versus 33 percent.

And nearly one-third of low-income women with children wish they had postponed having children — or had fewer of them.

Shriver argues for the relevance and importance of making gender equality a national priority, saying,“Women are at the center of our country…When women do well, men do well and the nation does well.”

Photo by Alberto G. via
Photo by Alberto G. via

For many students, school violence, including bullying and physical fighting, is a daily concern and a regular experience. But what effects do these experiences or observations of violence within school have on students’ educational achievement?

Sociologist Julia Burdick-Will’s research on this question has uncovered some surprising and seemingly contradictory answers. She found that school violence had a negative effect on standardized test scores but yielded no changes in GPA. Burdick-Will argues that these findings may not be as oppositional as they first seem and suggests,

Violent crime rates affect the amount of material learned by the entire student body, but not the study skills or effort of individual students. GPAs, she points out, not only reflect learning, but also student behavior and standing within the classroom. Test scores are a more objective measure of content knowledge and performance on a given day.

In an age where school funding is increasingly reliant on standardized test scores rather than GPA, Burdick-Will’s findings suggest that unaddressed violence within schools could continue to have “lasting impacts on individual life chances and national levels of inequality.”

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Photo by Emily Baxter from "We Are All Criminals"
Photo by Emily Baxter from “We Are All Criminals”

What separates those with a criminal record from the rest of the population? According to lawyer Emily Baxter, not a whole lot. Baxter’s new project “We Are All Criminals,” highlighted in a recent StarTribune article and a post on Public Criminology by Chris Uggen, examines the illegal activities committed by people without a criminal record. In Minnesota, 1 out of 4 residents has a criminal record, but Baxter’s project, she says on her website, is about the 75% that “got away, and how very different their lives may have been had they been caught.”

By emphasizing the crimes of the unconvicted, Baxter blurs the lines between criminal and noncriminal and draws attention to the detrimental effects that a criminal record has on the lives of those who are convicted. Many of the undocumented and unpunished transgressions confessed through her project were committed when the perpetrators were juveniles, many of whom are now lawyers, doctors, and professionals.

Executive director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis Michael Friedman is intrigued by the project, saying:

“I don’t think I’ve come across anybody who has not committed crimes as a juvenile,” Friedman said. “Allowing society to use juvenile criminal records as a marker for someone’s potential success, or risk for employment or opportunity, is not scientific. It’s dangerous and discriminatory.”

The most intriguing part of her project lies in its look at society as a whole. Imagine if we had all been prosecuted for every crime we committed, even as a juvenile. What would the crime rate look like then?

Credit to Michael Whitney via
Credit to Michael Whitney via

Sociologist Frances Fox Piven is one the most dangerous people in the world (at least, Glenn Beck thinks so). So why would Salon sit down with her? She’s also an expert in social movements. Reporter Josh Eidelson goes in depth with Fox Piven on the continued power of the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, and the power of youth.

One of Piven’s most interesting points regards the power of disruptive movements. She discusses the Occupy Wall Street Movement and its offshoots, asserting that two of its most successful strategies were flamboyance and the ability to disrupt business. These strategies have yielded success for Occupy, but also for a larger ambition for social change. Indeed, as Piven points out, Occupy influenced the rhetoric of American politics and helped show that the grassroots power of other decades is far from gone. She even believes working outside the system is now the most effective path to progress:

“Going to Washington is largely a waste of time. But causing trouble is not.”