Below is a guest post by Dr. Nancy Malcom from Georgia Southern University. Dr. Malcom was kind enough to share with us a manuscript she prepared that shows us how to use visual sociology, the sociology of sport, and Facebook to get our students to see the sociology that surrounds them in their everyday life. Dr. Malcom wrote a brief introduction to the manuscript below and you can download the entire manuscript here.

Sociology is everywhere everyday. To you and me this is a statement of the painfully obvious, but to our students’ untrained eyes sociology is largely hidden in their day to day lives. “Seeing sociology” is nearly a prerequisite to learning sociology. Given how important it is for our students to develop, I wanted to create an activity that focused their eye on the sociology surrounding them.

The Sociology of Sport lends itself particularly well to visual sociology given how omnipresent images of sports (specifically professional sports) are in our day to day lives. Even students who are averse to ESPN can not escape images of athletes in action on advertisements, websites, and magazines.

The assignment in brief:

  1. Students take photos of sports related phenomena they see in their lives
  2. Students post the photos on a private class Facebook page
  3. Students analyze the photos using concepts discussed in class
  4. Students discuss their analysis with their classmates via the comments section of each image on Facebook.

My students really seemed to embrace the assignment. My goal with the assignment was to show them that sports are a social institution that both reflects and reproduces the larger society. After seeing the photos they submitted, reading their analysis of the photos, and following their discussions I feel this assignment really met it’s goal.

There are many things you should consider before implementing this in your classes; all of which are discussed in detail in the manuscript. Even if you are not technologically gifted, I’ve tried to make the directions clear and relatively easy to follow. If you have a personal Facebook page that you’ve used before, then you should have most of the basic skills required for the assignment. But again, this is covered in the manuscript. I hope you enjoy it.

Nathan here again. So I hope your appetite is sufficiently whetted. If you’ve ever thought about using Facebook in class or orchestrating a photo assignment online, I really can’t suggest this piece enough. Download it now.