The Society Pages’ second Roundtable, Laughter and the Political Landscape, asked media and communication scholars to reflect on political humor and satire. The Roundtable would be a great resource in any class or section on media and politics. I may be outing myself here as a complete addict of The Daily Show, but how can you not use The Daily Show for a section on political humor?!

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are very lefty (even though Stephen Colbert’s bit is as a staunch conservative), but wherever your students are politically, these shows serve as a great example of using satire in a surface way (focusing on a politician’s physical characteristics, for example), as well as a tool to criticize their character and politics.

The Roundtable poses the question of how political humor works to engage young people in politics. You could use the Roundtable discussion to get a conversation going in your class about how students understand and digest political humor as well as their perceptions of its potential for encouraging political engagement.

Hey Teaching TSP readers. It’s Nathan Palmer from Kia and Hollie have been nice enough to give me a chance to tell you about a site that helps educators find sociological music to play in their classes. If you’re reading this fine blog, then I’m guessing you are as passionate about teaching sociology as I am. That’s why I can’t wait any longer to tell you about SociologySounds. is the easiest way for you to find great sociological songs to play in your classes. Each song features lyrics that are relevant to the sociological topics you teach everyday. We sorted all of our songs by class topic making it a snap to find exactly the right song. Once you find a song you like, you can play that song for free right from Best of all, you can recommend songs and we’ll include them in our catalog. We’ll even give you a proper shout out for each submission as a way of saying thanks![1]

Why You Should Use Music in Your Classes.

Playing sociologically relevant music before class starts is a fantastic way to set the tone. The right song can energize your students, create a poignant moment, or at least be thought provoking. Think of the music as priming your students for what your about to discuss in class.

A really nifty trick is to time the song so that it ends at exactly the time class starts. Then like a game of musical chairs your students know that when the music stops they need to be ready for class to begin. The trick is, you don’t even have to tell them you’re doing this. After a few classes classical conditioning kicks in and they automatically stop talking. If you are teaching 100+ students YOU MUST try this.

The idea for playing music to launch my class came from, of all places, comedy clubs and concerts. Comedians and bands use music to hype the crowd getting them ready for the show. Think of the excitement that washes over the crowd when the music dies, the stage lights go out, and everyone crushes to the front of the stage eagerly anticipating the first song at a concert. A sociology class is not a rock concert and you are not a comedian, but if you could get 1/10 of that excitement before you start class think of how different your class experience could be. I like to think of it as my entrance music before I enter the ring to do pedagogical battle[2].

This is, of course, just one of the many ways to use music in your classes and we are by no means the first to have this idea. There is a wealth of SoTL research on using music in your courses and I’d highly encourage you to use them in conjunction with our site. Here are just a few of the pieces available: Elterman 1983, Martinez 1994, Walczak and Reuter 1994, Martinez 1995, Martinez 1998, Ahlkvist 1999, Albers and Bach 2003.

The 100 Song Challenge: Join Us!

We are launching with a bold challenge. We want to hit 100 songs in our catalog in our first week. Help us reach our goal by recommending a song and spreading the word about us. Send an email to your department, Tweet it to your tweeps, post it on Facebook, or spread the word how ever you can.

We’ll be posting songs as fast as we can and you can follow our progress by checking our song counter. Thank you in advance for all your help![3]

  1. You can also opt to submit the song anonymously if you are shy or if you are embarrassed that you know of a Backstreet Boys song with a sociological message. It can be our little secret.  ↩

  2. Not really. I don’t see teaching as a battle nor my students as an opponent. But I do like the metaphor in that the music gets me hyped up to teach like I’m on fire.  ↩

  3. In case this is the first we’ve met and you are wondering who’s behind this venture or how it makes money: and it’s parent site are public services put out by two sociologists from Georgia Southern University. Both sites make no money (in fact they cost money). We are just a couple of nerdy sociologists trying to give back to our community.  ↩

I just had to repost this video, shared on Sociological Images –a National Geographic documentary which genders animals’ sexuality. It’s worth the watch! (read the whole post here!) This would be an effective video to show in a section on normative gender roles, illustrating the broad reach of our deeply held notions of appropriate masculinity and femininity and the dangerousness of deviation.

Paula Deen Enterprises
The recent post on Sociological Images about fat-shaming got me thinking about Paula Deen, the celebrity chef known for her Southern (and high-fat) cooking, whose recent disclosure of a diagnosis of Type II diabetes is causing much controversy.

The topic of fat-shaming is great for use in the classroom, because it’s most likely a new concept for most students, and can start a great conversation about stigma, the social dynamics of the obesity epidemic, and civil rights. To get the discussion going, you could show these “interviews” from The Colbert Report with Amy E. Farrell, a professor of American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at Dickinson College, about fat-shaming and her book Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture. Despite the craziness that is Stephen Colbert, I think Professor Farrell gets the point across well.



I first heard of using music in classroom from Chris Uggen, but that didn’t surprise me, because he wishes he was a rock star ;) But, turns out that many great teachers are using this method to pull their students in and help them engage with the topic in a fun way. I guess I’m convinced! We wanted to repost two nice descriptions of this method:

2012/366/25 Drop a Needle
1. one from Sociology Source

2. and the other from The Sociological Cinema.

Check ’em out!

I know it’s bad….but I can’t resist: ROCK ON!

IMG_0192-2Amy Schalet’s new book Not Under My Roof explores teenage sexuality and teen pregnancy in the United States compared to the Netherlands.

She wrote about this subject in Contexts in the Summer of 2010 in “Sex, Love, and Autonomy in the Teenage Sleepover.”


We created an in class survey in October 2010 to go along with this topic. See our post here.

Also, watch Amy’s interview on CNN, via Sociological Images.

Here’s a link to another awesome compilation of Soc Images content for an Introduction to Sociology course, Developed by Gwen Sharp, Nevada State College.









via Sociological Images.

Teaching Sociology of Gender this semester?

Came across this fantastic compilation of Soc Images content for designing a Sociology of Gender class, developed by Mary Nell Trautner, PhD at University at Buffalo, SUNY.










via Sociological Images.

This blog post, written by Lyndi Hewitt, originally appeared on the Mobilizing Ideas blog and appears here with the author and institute’s permission. We liked it so much we just had to share! 


For those of us prescient enough (wink) to plan a social movements course for this semester, it’s been quite a ride.  I’ve been teaching a first year seminar on global justice movements and, like many other instructors, altered my carefully planned syllabus in response to the unexpected wave of activism that emerged before our very eyes.

As the students in the course simultaneously processed core social movements scholarship and news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests, I was particularly struck by the fact that many students had very specific and often inaccurate ideas about who the protesters were (and what it cost them to be there) even after extensive, theoretically informed class discussion and news analysis.  So I decided to invite the students to join me for a visit to Zuccotti Park.  Newly equipped with social movements concepts, along with requisite iPhones and video cameras, the students and I ventured into the park on a chilly Saturday evening in early November.  We observed a general assembly, discussed the various issues and frames represented among the signs, and interviewed protesters about their views.  Despite the fact that most of the students were initially skeptical of Occupy Wall Street, they exhibited both intellectual curiosity and great respect for the protesters.  One especially enthusiastic student prepared a short video documenting the protesters’ responses to his questions (which I share with his permission):

The two gentlemen featured prominently, both veterans, had a significant impact on the students. Their remarks around 5:50 encapsulate the disruption of students’ pre-existing assumptions: “I’m tremendously excited by what I see here. These people are extremely sophisticated people. They’re very intelligent people. They’re not bums. Don’t believe the media that we have nothing better to do, okay. We would like to be productive members of society. We were at one time and we would like to be again. We have a lot to contribute.”

Although we’d been discussing the Occupy Wall Street protests and applying social movement theories in the classroom for weeks, the experience of being in the park, seeing the encampment alongside the police, and talking with protesters proved to be a far richer learning opportunity for students. It blew the students’ minds that OWS protesters could be older, hard working, and patriotic; moreover, hearing movement grievances articulated face-to-face catalyzed a depth of understanding that wasn’t achievable simply through reading and watching video clips about those same grievances. Interestingly, our debriefing after the field trip revealed that over half the students had changed their opinions of the protesters as well as the legitimacy of the movement as a whole (all, it turned out, from an unfavorable to a more favorable opinion).

Seeing the OWS protesters through the eyes of my students reminded me how powerful a teacher experience is, and that more time spent in the midst of the action would be valuable for most of us.

Below is guest post from Holly Kearny:

Social science is not new.  It has been around for hundreds of years and is still being studied to this day.  However, there were many founders of the science that looks at the non-natural world and into the elements of human behavior and beyond.  Below, we have listed five of the most famous social scientists and their work.


  1. Auguste Comte – He was the first to coin the term “social science” in the nineteenth century.  He was a French philosopher who believed in the concept of positivism, or that the collected senses made up all worthwhile information.  He was also a prominent figure during the French Revolution in which he called for a doctrine based on science.
  2. Max Weber – This German was a sociologist and political economist who influenced many social scientists to come.  He was one of the first to study methodological antipositivsm, or the belief that the findings that arise in social science cannot be fully interpreted by the scientific method and should focus on the meanings that social actions have.
  3. Karl Marx – He wasn’t just an advocate for workers or communism, Karl Marx was also a social scientist.  Born in Germany, he came from a long line of rabbis.  After his work brought controversy, he sought refuge in Belgium where he theorized that “the nature of individuals depends on the material conditions determining their production.”  He would later join the Communist League and write the manifesto with Friedrich Engels, and it is still a hot topic of dispute today.
  4. Wiliam Du Bois – He proved that social sciences aren’t just for white men.  Du Bois was born in 1868 in Massachusetts and was a stern advocate for civil rights.  In his book “The Suppression of the African Slave Trade,” he even included an attack on civil rights leader Booker T. Washington for not doing more in the campaign for civil rights.
  5. Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith – A dual of social scientists took on an individual’s central stories and why they think and behave the way they do.  The experiment was conducted in 1959 at Stanford University and involved students doing a boring task and then being paid to promote it.  Expectations, outcomes, and more marked this amazing moment in social science history.

Holly Kearny manages the site Her site helps students find the right college to get a teaching degree.