Paper Chain MenHave you ever wondered if there was an online community of sociologists sharing ideas and resources in a single place? It turns out, Danish sociologist Lars Damgaard has started just such a community —

About, Damgaard writes:

The vision of is to connect the globalized world of sociologists, sociology students or any other form of sociological allies who share the interest in the subject of sociology.

I am convinced that this vision a good idea, if you agree, please don’t hesitate to inform your colleauges, friends, co-students about the existence of As more and more people interested in sociology join the website the quality of the content of the site will improve.

Like most sites, the content is organized by ‘tags,’ see below for the topics covered on this unique site.

Most popular tags

recognition jazz critical sociologycapitalism max weber sociology of emotions Hegel social stratificationmaster-slave dialectic critique social spacedialectics hegemony sociological imagination Bourdieu feeling rulesoutsiders spirit deviance Gesellschaftpierre bourdieu The Philosophy of Moneyrationality panopticon The Metropolis and Mental Life sociology organismsurvival of the fittest choice philosophyQuantitative methods powerFoucault class analysis marx social action emotions Frankfurt schoolnew features agil philosophy of science marxism Critical theoryparsons Gemeinschaft The Strangerevolution chicago

There is so much to explore! Join the site and expand the community of sociologists.

YouTube website screenshotThe June issue of the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (Volume 5, Number 2) has a great article on multimedia options for the classroom by sociologist Michael Miller at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The article, entitled “Integrating Online Multimedia into College Course and Classroom: With Application to the Social Sciences,” describes “an approach for efficiently incorporating online media resources into course and classroom.”

The article discusses pedagogical rationale for making use of online media resources, as well as types of materials that can and should be used, locating and delivering programs and clips, as well as technical issues, like copyright obligations. The piece also deals with some of the most common problems that instructors and students have when using online materials.

Read the article.

“No student knows his subject: the most he knows is where and how to find out the things he does not know”

~ Woodrow T. Wilson (28th President of the United States)

negative textureAs always, we at Teaching the Social World advocate the use of technology and multimedia materials to spice up any course, and including films during class time is a great way to keep students engaged in the material.

On her website, University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist Pamela Oliver posts a list of great films and clips to show for sociology instructors teaching about social movements. [Note: Oliver replicates this collection of films from a social movements listserv, unnamed on the page.]

  • There is a BBC documentary on the Tienanmen movement which illustrates very well many collective action problems and is substantively gripping and emotional. Its title is “The Gates of the Heavenly Place” and should be available from
  • There are a number of videos about the anti-corporate globalization movement. Most of them have been made by the movement themselves, and thus have a fair amount of boosterism. One of the better ones is “This is What Democracy Looks Like” about the protests in Seattle. Its available from Big Noise Productions Another one is Breaking the Bank – about the protests against the World Bank/IMF in Washington
  • There’s an interesting documentary on Stonewall and the gay/lesbian rights movement that is available through PBS. There is also “Making Sense of the Sixties” that is useful in tracking various movements. I’ve also used the series “Chicano!: History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement” and the series “Eyes on the Prize I” and “Eyes on the Prize II” (civil rights movement) because they are both useful in showing the rifts, grassroots involvement, and government involvement/infiltration in their respective movements.
  • Beyond the many good suggestions already offered for videos to teach about social movements, another rich video series is “A Force More Powerful: Nonviolent Action in the 20th Century.” This new PBS series is six 30 minute stand-alone sessions describing and analyzing six different campaigns: Nashville student sit-ins of 60s with Jim Lawson; Indian independence with Gandhi; South African transition to democracy; Philippines people power revolution in mid-80s; Solidarity in Poland in the 80s; and a sixth that escapes me at the moment. All are excellent, and just the right length for classroom use, followed by discussion. There is also a companion book by Peter Ackerman, with same title.
  • A great film that I always use in teaching social movements is: “Freedom On My Mind” which documents Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. What really makes the film great is the juxtoposition of clips from 64 and interviews with participants 30 years later, including Bob Moses, Heather Booth, and grassroots Black leaders from Mississippi.
  • Another excellent film is “The War At Home” about the movement against the Vietnam War on the Madison campus of the U. of Wisconsin. I also recommend With God On Our Side, an excellent multi-part documentary series made for PBS about the rise of the Christian Right. The documentary series is a supplement to William Martin’s book of the same name. It would be a useful contrast with Eyes on the Prize to show how religion influences social movement activists in very different ways.
  • In my class on the Civil Rights Movement, in addition to segments from the extraordinary “Eyes on the Prize” series and “Freedom on My Mind” already mentioned, I also show as background “A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom,” which connects the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the person of E.D. Nixon, Randolph’s connection to the March on Washington movement, and much more. The segment on the Child Development Group of Mississippi from the 5-part “America’s War on Poverty” series is a useful follow-up to what happened in 1965 after the Freedom Summer of 1964.
  • For my class on Gender and Social Movements I show the excellent two-hour “One Woman, One Vote” program on the Woman Suffrage Movement. I also show between the “One Woman, One Vote” segments program 5, “Outrage,” from the British “Shoulder to Shoulder” series, on the Pankhurst family, to add some excitement and a bit of international perspective.
  • “Before Stonewall” is excellent on the origins of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movements; the sequel “After Stonewall” is good but more difuse and scattered (I don’t show it). I do use “The Times of Harvey Milk” as a wonderful introduction to the politics of the GLBT movement, as well as an essential part of local (northern California) history — it shocks and grips our 20-year-old students who weren’t born when Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated, and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s career was relaunched.
  • On women in the labor movement, there is a very moving segment on the “revolt of the 6000,” the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and its consequences in part 4 of the “New York” series. And finally there is the old standby, “Union Maids,” on women in labor and the left in the 1930s and 40s, now available in video to replace your university’s tattlered celluloid film.
  • I’ve also taught a class on the Conservation and Environmental Movement, which has been less systematically documented in videos than the movements above. “Battle for the Wilderness” is good on the early conflict between John Muir and Gifford Pinchot, between preservationism and utilitarianism in conservation. “For Earth’s Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower,” is a little too much a personal tribute, but it introduces this remarkable leader and his involvement with the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and Earth Island Institute. On the 30-year struggle against strip-mining in eastern Kentucky, I’d recommend “To Save the Land and People, ” a video from Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY. I also use “Butterfly” on Julia Butterfly Hill, which is problematic but involves young students and is a jumping off point for a good discussion.
  • On the student movement of the 1960s, I’ve found “Berkeley in the Sixties” to be most useful; good cuts from past to present, the activists are reflective and often self-critical, and it gives a good feel for the importance of the civil rights movement boosting student protest, the Vietnam War, the rise of Black Power, and the beginnings of the women’s movement. Better in several of these respects than the recent film on SDS (IMHO). Of course again we gain student interest from the local history aspect of Berkeley.
  • Women Make Movies in NYC has some excellent films on the women’s movements in the US, the Beijing Conference, and one on cultural feminism focusing on punk music artists.
  • “Ballot Measure 9” — on activism surrounding the Oregon anti-gay ballot measures. And the PBS documentary, “Mean Things Happening” (part of the Great Depression series), about labor organizing in the 1930s.

Read more.

Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing. 

– John F. Kennedy

Many sociology instructors (especially at the college-level) are required to have students complete formal evaluations of their teaching and course structure, but these one-size-fits-all evaluation templates don’t always relay valuable information back to instructors. For that reason, some instructors elect to use additional evaluations to learn more about what their students thought of the class.

The University of Akron’s Center for Teaching and Learning has a great template that instructors can give to student to have them evaluate the course in greater detail. The template, available for download in this post, includes questions about the student’s learning style and experience, in addition to more conventional questions about the course and instructor.

Have you developed any especially effective evaluation strategies? Comment below and get the discussion going!

Popcorn!Many instructors find that showing movies or even short clips from documentaries or news programs can help keep students engaged and excited about their course content. YouTube is a great resource for short clips on a variety of topics, but can sometimes be hit-or-miss based on the volume of content on the site and relatively little quality control on specific topics.

I’ve found FRONTLINE, the public television program, to be a reliable source for great clips to show in class, plus, they now have an extensive collection of programs (both full and excerpted) available to view online. Frontline covers a variety of issues and often have additional commentary from producers and ‘fact sheets’ or ‘FAQs’ that you could print off and use as handouts during class.

The FRONTLINE episodes are also categorized so that you can easily find appropriate clips for whatever issue you are discussing in class. Some of my recent favorites:

  • When Kids Get Life — about children in the U.S. receiving life sentences for murder, and the juvenile justice system in America more generally
  • Is WalMart Good for America? — about corporatization, labor practices, and business culture
  • A Class Divided — about discrimination and racism in the U.S. — Frontline writes, “This is one of the most requested programs in FRONTLINE’s history. It is about an Iowa schoolteacher who, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, gave her third-grade students a first-hand experience in the meaning of discrimination. This is the story of what she taught the children, and the impact that lesson had on their lives.”

Go to FRONTLINE’s website.

What videos have you found to be especially useful in your sociology courses?

gavelIn the interest of maintaining a diversity of topics for instructors of sociology, I spent some time this week searching through syllabi for courses in the sociology of law. I came across one in particular that I thought offered a number of interesting readings and dealt with administrative issues and overall course structure quite well. The syllabus is designed for a course called ‘Sociology of Law and Legal Institutions‘ by Daniel John Steward of Oberlin College. The syllabus is available online. [Click here]

The course uses the following books, as well as additional online materials and journal articles outlined in the syllabus itself.

Balkin, Jack M. ed. 2002. What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said: The Nation’s Top Legal Experts Rewrite America’s Landmark Civil Rights Decision. New York, NY: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-9890-X.

Friedman, Lawrence M. 2004. Law in America: A Short History. New York, NY: The Modern Library. ISBN 0-8129-7285-6.

Sutton, John R. 2001. Law/Society: Origins, Interactions, and Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. ISBN 0-7619-8705-3.

Stewart articulates the following objectives for the course:

Law will be examined as an institutionalized field of contests over the rules of social life. We will open the semester with readings on the historical development of core institutions such as courts, codes, constitutions, criminals, and counsellors. With this common ground, we will then turn our attention to some of the questions and concerns that sociologists (and other law & society scholars) raise with respect to these institutions. For example: To what extent can we use changes in legal form to understand changes in social relations? How do some legal rules acquire legitimacy for members of a society—and why are other rules ignored or despised? Do legal rules (and their enforcers) inevitably serve powerful political or economic interests—or does law have some autonomy? How do legal institutions enable and constrain movements for social justice? We will consider this last question through a study of the history of racial segregation in schools and the legal and cultural significance of Brown v. Board of Education. Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to:

  • Appreciate the challenge and complexity of living in accord with a rule of law.
  • Cultivate their legal literacy by approaching legal rules and institutions from several perspectives, including those of legal professionals, active citizens, and social critics.
  • Enhance their research and writing skills through the completion of a course notebook.

Day 317 and Pencil Me In!Indiana University has a fantastic web-based tutorial that outlines how to recognize plagiarism, and even includes an ‘identifying plagiarism’ quiz that provides writing samples and outlines the right and wrong way to cite primary or secondary source material.

The Basics:

  • You use another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories.
  • You use facts, statistics, graphics, drawings, music, etc., or any other type of information that does not comprise common knowledge.
  • You use quotations from another person’s spoken or written word.
  • You paraphrase another person’s spoken or written word.


  • Begin the writing process by stating your ideas; then go back to the author’s original work.
  • Use quotation marks and credit the source (author) when you copy exact wording.
  • Use your own words (paraphrase) instead of copying directly when possible.
  • Even when you paraphrase another author’s writings, you must give credit to that author.
  • If the form of citation and reference are not correct, the attribution to the original author is likely to be incomplete. Therefore, improper use of style can result in plagiarism. Get a style manual and use it.

Head to the tutorial page…

Identifying plagiarism — 10 items

Take the plagiarism test and print out a certificate…

As I was looking through some back issues of Teaching Sociology (the ASA journal dedicated to instruction and pedagogy), I was struck by an article published last summer about the use of ‘non-traditional texts’ for undergraduate sociology classes. The piece was especially interesting to me as I was drawn to the discipline through an intro course organized around novels and short stories.

The article, by Ursula Castellano, Joseph Deangelis, and Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, entitled ‘Cultivating a Sociological Perspective using Nontraditional Texts’ was published in Teaching Sociology, Vol. 36, 2008 (July: 240-253).

The authors argue that “novels, mysteries and nonfiction books can provide undergraduate students with an accessible and exciting place to explore sociological concepts. Using storytelling as a pedagogical tool, we teach students key theoretical ideas by analyzing the books in their specific socio-cultural contexts.”

Castellano and co-authors provide concrete strategies for using these types of readings in undergraduate sociology courses to reach a number of student learning goals, including “increasing engagement, enhancing conceptual understanding and improving analytic ability.”

The article even provides sample assignments and exam questions!