Joel Best’s 2009 Contexts feature “Sociologists as Outliers” takes a look at how sociologists can learn from Malcom Gladwell’s ability to translate research to a wide audience. In the classroom, students can discuss what sociology contributes to the understanding of social behavior and how we can make our contributions known.
1) Pick a success in your life and identify the social factors that played a role in the chain of events that helped you succeed.
2) The hockey league example illustrates that circumstances can change outcomes. Think of another example where structural forces shape individual outcomes and describe it briefly.
ACTIVITY: Find a news article on the web that quotes a sociologist (see our sister blog, Citings & Sightings). Why was a sociologist particularly well-suited to comment on the topic of the article? What did sociology bring to the discussion that another field might not?