Photo by Sudanshu Goyal, Flickr CC
Photo by Sudanshu Goyal, Flickr CC

While the gender gap in time spent on household chores is slowly declining, ideas about women as the primary caretaker of the home and caregiver for the children is still very present. These ideas in turn influence how men and women feel about parenting. A recent Huffington Post article features a new study that found mothers report more stress and fatigue than fathers. The researchers attribute this to the division of parenting tasks — married mothers are more likely to mange basic childcare tasks and are more likely to be alone with children, while married fathers are more often in charge of children’s play and leisure activities. Moreover, even when moms have leisure time, they are more likely to be interrupted or to report multitasking during this time.

According to sociologist Ann Meier,

“Having data systematically collected from thousands of parents allows us to confirm what parents have known for years — that parenting is meaningful but also stressful and tiring. Many mothers will recognize their experiences of interrupted sleep and daily feeding and bathing. Hopefully, many dads will see that their partners will likely be happier if they trade some of their leisure time with kids for more of the ‘work’ of parenting.”

911 Call Center in Seattle. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr CC
911 Call Center in Seattle. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr CC

The relationship between communities and police officers is getting an increasing amount of attention, particularly the effect police violence has on communities. The Atlantic recently reported on a new study by sociologists Matthew Desmond, Andrew Papachristos, and David Kirk that explores how trust in the police often decreases after a community experiences police violence. After analyzing 911 calls made in Milwaukee from 2004 to 2010, the researchers found that instances of police violence had an impact on the number of 911 calls being placed.

The study began after the highly publicized beating of Frank Jude by police officers in Milwaukee in 2004, after which the authors found that 22,000 fewer calls were placed to 911. They discovered a similar pattern following the killing of Sean Bell in Queens, New York in 2006, and the assault of Danyall Simpson in Milwaukee in 2007. The researchers concluded that instances of police violence, both locally and nationally, have lasting effects on African American communities as whole. David Kirk says,

“Once the story of Frank Jude’s beating appeared in the press, Milwaukee residents, especially people in black neighborhoods, were less likely to call the police, including to report violent crime. This means that publicized cases of police violence can have a community-wide impact on crime reporting that transcends individual encounters.”

Papachristos added in a statement,

“Police departments and city politicians often frame a publicized case of police violence as an ‘isolated incident’ … No act of police violence is an isolated incident, in both cause and consequence. Seemingly isolated incidents of police violence are layered upon a history of unequal policing in cities.”

Photo by US Department of Education, Flickr CC
Photo by US Department of Education, Flickr CC

An ongoing concern within K-12 education is how to go about diversifying the teaching profession. While some blame the negative narratives that discourage many young people of color from ever considering a career in K-12 education for the lack of diversity, others point to weak retention practices.

But which students want teachers of color in the first place? Well, a recent study finds, all of them.

Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng and Peter Halpin recently examined how sixth- through ninth-grade students from more than 300 schools across the country answered 30-question surveys about their teachers. Students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds reported significantly more favorable perceptions of their Latino teachers in all seven survey categories, and more favorable perceptions of black teachers in at least two or three of these categories. These findings held even when Cherng and Halpin accounted for students’ age, gender, socioeconomic background, and academic performance.

The bottom line? Students of all backgrounds prefer teachers of color. Cherng, a former math teacher turned sociologist, told NPR that the findings are surprising:

“I thought student awareness of the racial hierarchy would influence the results,” in favor of whites, he says.

He suspects that teachers of color may draw on their experiences to contextualize issues like race and gender for their students in a variety of disciplines, and says his future research will examine the relationship between teachers’ multicultural beliefs and their strengths in the classroom.

Photo by meesh, Flickr CC
Photo by meesh, Flickr CC

America has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and it is important to consider the long-lasting impacts that the criminal justice system can have on a person. This goes beyond the struggles of life inside or finding a job once they’re free — they can also lose their right to vote. In fact, due to laws which strip voting rights from people with convictions, over six million Americans will not be able to vote this November. This aggregate estimate comes from a new report by our very own Chris Uggen, TSP Editor and University of Minnesota Regents Professor, and his research team (which you can read about at Quartz, New York Times, Yahoo News, Democracy Now!, The Denver Post, Vogue, and others). Uggen explains,

“The message that comes across to them is: Yes, you have all the responsibilities of a citizen now, but you’re basically still a second-class citizen because we are not permitting you to be engaged in the political process.”

Public opinion is mixed on this issue, but people are generally okay if released prisoners within general society are allowed to vote, meaning legislation may be behind the times. In fact, consider that the 2000 election between Bush and Gore ended with a neck-and-neck finish in Florida decided by less than six-hundred votes. Today, Florida has one of the highest rates of felon disenfranchisement, and in 2000, such voters could have decided the race.  

And speaking of “race,” laws which restrict felons from voting are in many ways a black-and-white issue. Because of such legislation, one in thirteen American black adults are not able to vote. As Uggen explains, felon disenfranchisement particularly hurts the African-American vote, a logical conclusion since the criminal justice system is already known to be racially disproportionate. These laws are often defended staunchly, but things may change in the future, and in large part thanks to work like this. 

Photo by John Morton, Flickr CC
Photo by John Morton, Flickr CC

As the election edges ever closer, the phenomenon of Donald Trump continues to grow. Trump has a realistic opportunity to become the next president of the United States, but a recent jump in immigrants applying for citizenship this year might change the outcome once November comes.

Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC, recently wrote an article in the LA Times about the increasing number of applications for U.S. citizenship.  From March to June of 2016, the number of immigrants who applied to become naturalized citizens is up 32% over the previous year, and many of these naturalized citizens might be eligible to vote this coming November.  A new report from the Center for the Study of Immigration Integration examined how significant an impact this increase in naturalized citizens might have if they are eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Pastor explains,

“[T]he newly naturalized voters we counted could make a difference. In Florida, they constitute more than 6% of the voting age population. In Nevada, that share is more than 5%; in Virginia, 4%; and in Arizona, 3%. The results in recent general elections in these states have been so close that these new citizens — if they are registered and turn out — could tip the tallies.”

Photo by Andy Rogers, Flickr CC
Photo by Andy Rogers, Flickr CC

When it comes to looking at patterns of police force, a recent study by sociologist Joscha Legewie notes a relationship brewed from conflict. As described in an article featured in Science Daily, Legewie finds that a pair of fatal shootings of police officers by black suspects in New York lead to an increase in the use of force in subsequent days by police against blacks, but not against whites and Hispanics. Legewie says that this finding,

“…Extends beyond acts of extreme violence against police officers. It suggests a general set of processes where local events create inter-group conflict, foreground stereotypes, and trigger discriminatory responses.”

Legewie stresses,

“Discriminatory behavior arises not only from static conditions but also from temporal sequences of events and responses. This process is applicable to all kinds of everyday interactions, both with the police and with others who might engage in discriminatory behavior, such as landlords or teachers.”

Photo by John Walker, Flickr CC
Photo by John Walker, Flickr CC

When it comes to evaluating immigrant groups, some groups, such as Hispanics, are often derided or seen unfavorably, while other groups, such as Asian immigrants, are held in high-esteem as the “model minority.” But as described in a new article in LA magazine by sociologist Jennifer Lee, we need to rethink the way that we define “success” for America’s immigrant populations. 

As Lee and co-author Min Zhou describe in their book The Asian American Achievement Paradoxthe advantages that Asian second-generation immigrants often have over other immigrant groups is that many of their parents have college degrees. As other research has established, you are much more likely to graduate from college if your parents have. Lee and Zhou found that the proportion of Chinese second-gen immigrants who went to college is in fact the same proportion for Mexican second-gen immigrants. Lee explains,

“Graduating from college is no easy feat, but it’s far easier when your parents have paved the path before you…Often overlooked is the remarkable progress that the children of Mexican immigrants in L.A. have made. In just one generation they have doubled the high school graduation rates of their parents, doubled the college graduation rates of their fathers, and tripled that of their mothers. Factoring in where they began, the children of Mexican immigrants come out ahead of all immigrant groups.”

Unlike other immigrant groups whose parents are more likely to have college degrees, Mexican second-gen immigrants have experienced the most “success,” overcoming the odds of often being the first person in their family to attend college. 

Photo by DonkeyHotey, Flickr CC
Photo by DonkeyHotey, Flickr CC

It’s no question that the nomination of Donald Trump has caused a highly publicized divide in the Republican Party, but that divide may have taken roots decades ago. A recent Washington Post article by Josh Pacewicz explains that intra-party contention began as a conflict between establishment Republicans and party activists. As far back as the 1970s, Republican Party leaders became increasingly partisan on major issues, with establishment Republicans showing more interest in business than in hot button issues. When the corporate mergers of the 1980s forced businessmen to focus more on economic development, the door was left open for party activists to start exerting their influence on the party.

In his 2006 interviews with Americans living in the Rust Belt, Pacewicz found that the Republican Party was at war with itself: the business community versus the activists. One local businessman and big-time GOP donor interviewed said “the GOP has repositioned itself to a fault. [Those] of us in the middle don’t know what to do; [we’re] so disgusted.” An activist he interviewed, on the other hand, explained that instead of just being a donor, she was willing to go out and knock on doors and make phone calls. As she put it “Why should all the tickets [to political events] go to these Country Club Republicans?” As Pacewicz says,

“A full accounting of Trump’s rise needs historical context. And it was a long-brewing conflict between establishment Republicans and party activists — eventually won by the activists — that laid the groundwork for the current foment within the GOP.”

But we won’t tell The Donald that.

Photo by Kayla Kandzorra, Flickr CC
Photo by Kayla Kandzorra, Flickr CC

Professors of sociology often struggle to introduce sociological concepts in new and thought-provoking ways to their students. According to a recent article in Bowling Green Daily News, Professor Bertena Varney is tackling this issue in an unconventional way and using the Harry Potter series to engage her students with various sociological topics. In her “Inequality in Society” class at Southern Kentucky Community and Technological College, Varney sorts students into the houses of Hogwarts and each day a specific house leads class discussion on social issues. For example, the students apply the Harry Potter terminology of “muggles” and “squibs” to a discussion of the disabled and mentally challenged.

Not only do the students use Harry Potter to understand concepts, but they also engage in community service, tutoring, and social media in order to compete for the house cup, which awards the winning house fifty points of extra credit at the end of the semester. Varney also views this immersion structure as providing students with future skills outside of the classroom, saying:

“Once you get them thinking about other people besides themselves, they take off. It teaches them a lot of social skills and problem solving … [and] it’s easier for students to find out how they can work together to make the world a better place. ”

When professors use magical teaching methods like Varney, students are so entranced by the material that anti-cheating spells are no longer necessary!  

Photo by woodleywonderworks, Flickr CC
Photo by woodleywonderworks, Flickr CC

Social media continues to be a pioneer of new social trends and reshaping society through its ability to connect individuals across cultures and geographies. One of the latest trends involves the process of mourning through social media.

University of Washington recently covered Nina Cesare and Jennifer Branstad‘s new research, presented for the first time at this summer’s annual sociology meetings, that finds that people who use Twitter to mourn a death do so more publicly than compared to other social media sites, like Facebook, where mourning is more private. They explain,

“While posts about death on Facebook, for example, tend to be more personal and involve people who knew the deceased … Twitter users may not know the dead person, tend to tweet both personal and general comments about the deceased, and sometimes tie the death to broader social issues — for example, mental illness or suicide.”

The researchers describe this change as an opening up of the public conversation surrounding death and mourning and an expansion of the “inner circle” that typically mourns the death of a loved one. Cesare explains,

“…I think the ability of Twitter to open the mourning community outside of the intimate sphere is a big contribution, and creating this space where people can come together and talk about death is something new.”