Yesterday in my Sociology of Gender class, we had a discussion on the Contexts article “Is Hooking Up Bad for Young Women?” by Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Laura Hamilton and Paula England (full text free on contexts.org). To get the discussion going, I showed clips of three journalists that the authors mention in the article–each with different perspectives on the sexual cultures of teen and young adult women.

As we watched, I had the students record the main arguments of the authors.

Then, after each video, I gave them 3-5 minutes to brainstorm about how the arguments relate to class material (especially the “Hooking Up” article, but anything from class) AND to brainstorm about personal observations (or “evidence”) that would either support or refute that argument.

VIDEO CLIPS:
1) Interview with Laura Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both (2007).

 

2) Trailer for Jessica Valenti’s film The Purity Myth (2011), inspired by her book of the same title (2010)

3) Interview with Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

After watching all three, I had them get into groups of 2 or 3 and share their observations with the group. Then, as group, they were instructed to decide on three arguments total that they feel their group has the strongest “evidence” to support or refute. (This worked really well and when I cut them off after 10 minutes, many groups were still discussing). Give them a handout like this to record their group’s decisions:

ARGUMENT #1

Author’s argument:

 

Evidence to support or refute:

(from class material AND personal observation)

 

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The 2012 election this fall will afford many opportunities to connect concepts learned in the classroom to events outside of it.  In the most recent episode of Office Hours, Kia Heise and Lisa Gulya speak with Professor Enid Logan about her book,  “At This Defining Moment”: Barack Obama’s Presidential Candidacy and the New Politics of Race.  Like other episodes of Office Hours, this podcast could be assigned in place of or in addition to reading.  It could also be played in the classroom.  We suggest the first twenty minutes (or so), though we would welcome your input on which parts of the podcast you chose to play.

1) What are the new politics of race, and how do they differ from those in the past? What does Logan say that this means for African American politicians and middle class blacks? Why are these prescriptions particularly directed at blacks in America?

2) Logan mentions the term “intersectionality.”  What does that term mean?

3)  What is ‘colorblind racism’ and how, according to Logan, has colorblind racism been central to Obama’s presidency?

4) What does Logan have to say about the respective importance of race and gender to liberalism in the United States? Explain Logan’s conclusion that Obama won the election because he ‘did  race’ better than Clinton ‘did gender.’ Why, according to Logan, was voting for Obama redeeming to many white Americans?

5)  During the 2008 election, Republican candidates claimed they were defending “real” America.  Is Mitt Romney able to do this?  Why or why not? What does Logan say about Obama’s populist appeal?

6) With the vast demographic changes in the United States, what does Logan say about how conceptions of ‘whiteness’ have changed for many white Americans?

7) Logan forecasts that race will not play as prominent a role in the 2012 election as it did in the 2008 election. Why is this the case?  Based on what you have seen, do you agree?

8) What does the term ‘differential racialization’ mean? How does class make a difference? Based on what you have learned from this podcast, where does Obama fall in this formulation and why?

 



In May, we cross-posted a special edition of Office Hours from the all new Contexts Podcast. In this interview, Jessica Streeter speaks with Henry H. Brownstein   and Timothy M. Mulcahy,  co-authors of the Winter 2012 Contexts feature,  Home Cooking: Marketing Meth.

This podcast or feature article (check if your university library has access to Contexts) would work well on its own in any criminal justice or deviance course. But what really struck me while listening to this podcast is how similar their findings are to the show Breaking Bad.

For those not familiar with the show, Breaking Bad tells the story of a square high school chemistry teacher who, when diagnosed with lung cancer,  turns to a life of crime and begins to cook and sell meth to ensure his family’s financial security after he dies.

The authors of Home Cooking: Marketing Meth set up an interesting sociological question of why meth markets are so different from other drug markets. You could show an episode of the Breaking Bad in class and have a discussion about the social worlds of meth users and sellers compared to other drug markets. Or have students watch it at home and do their own analysis for a course paper.

For a comparison, check out “The wire goes to college” from the Summer 2011 issue of Contexts, an exchange between graduate students on the Contexts board and four scholars about the HBO crime drama The Wirewhich examined Baltimore’s drug trade.

Also check out Maria Kefalas book review of the New York Times bestseller Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, entitled “from the music man to methland.

 

 

This past spring, TSP’s Sarah Lageson spoke with University of Delaware Professor Joel Best about his new textbook, Social Problems.  The episode of Office Hours briefly reviews the book and covers a few concepts that are important for anyone teaching social problems.  Best explains what poverty and globalization have in common, how he teaches students about social constructionism, and the impetus behind the book.  He also discusses how social problems are defined as well as his work on the flip side of social problems, social fads.

 

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Below is a guest post from TSP’s Sarah Shannon.  Sarah is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Minnesota and a TSP Graduate Student Board member.  She studies law, crime, and deviance, especially the intersections between crime, punishment, and public welfare programs.

 

We’d all love to bring renowned sociologists and other social scientists into our classrooms as guest speakers, but budget and logistical constraints tend to get in the way. The good news is podcast interviews, such as TSP’s Office Hours, mean that “virtual guest speakers” are a mere click away!

This is how I have approached using podcasts in the classroom – as an opportunity to bring in the real voice of the scholars whose theories and research we cover through course readings and lectures. I’ve found that using audio technology in the classroom can enhance students’ grasp and interest in what might otherwise seem like mundane course material.

For example, last February I interviewed Dr. Robert Agnew for TSP’s Office Hours. We discussed a recent article he published in Theoretical Criminology on the potential consequences of climate change for crime. During our conversation, Dr. Agnew described the potential physical and social consequences of climate change and then applied his General Strain Theory of crime to explain how climate change might become a driver for increasing crime rates in the years ahead.

This past May, I taught a course in criminological theory for juniors and seniors at the University of Minnesota. On the day that we covered strain theory, including Dr. Agnew’s General Strain Theory, I played back the podcast and had students respond to the following two questions:

1)     How does Dr. Agnew apply strain theory to climate change? Be specific.

2)     Do you find his argument persuasive? Why or why not.

Because Dr. Agnew’s description in our podcast interview is so clear, students had little trouble explaining how the theory might apply should climate change play out the way many experts anticipate and most found this very persuasive. One student later commented in course evaluations that this particular activity helped him see how criminological theories apply in “real life.”

Office Hours offers a wealth of other such interviews that, as Teaching TSP bloggers have noted before, can be used in the classroom, covering such topics as crime, inequality, demographic change, social movements, politics, and more!

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the new post on the Editors’ Desk about the Scholars Strategy Network.  As Doug Hartmann explains, this new network of social scientists is working to bring knowledge to a broader public.  As part of this endeavor, they have written almost 90 policy papers, which are short (2 pages), accessible briefs on a variety of issues.  These would be great supplements to course readings, so check them out!

Kew Village

 

Earlier this spring, TSP’s Sarah Shannon spoke with Robert Sampson about his new book, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect.  Below are a few questions that could be used with this podcast in class!

 

 

1)    According to Sampson, what is a “neighborhood?”

2)    Provide a few examples of “neighborhood effects” that Sampson discusses in the podcast.

3)    Why did Sampson choose to study Chicago?

4)    What was the “Lost Letter” experiment, and what was the conclusion that Sampson drew from the results?

Doing some last minute planning for my Sociology of Gender course this summer, and happened upon a Toddlers and Tiaras episode (which I know is old news for most people!) but I had never actually watched it. Very interesting. And would be great for discussion in the classroom on the sexualization of children.

I started poking around Soc Images for some more resources and found so many helpful posts I had to share: on 7 years doing “All The Single Ladies”, girls modeling and sexualized toys, push-up swimsuits for young girls, and more sexualized modeling, , and a two year old in a Madonna cone bra.
 

Here’s a clip from Toddlers and Tiaras:

 

And a whole episode:

Here’s a clip many of you have probably seen of 7 year olds doing Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies”

And another group of 7 year olds doing “My Boyfriend’s Back”

And, finally, here’s the cone bra:

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In one of the latest episodes of Office Hours, TSP’s Sarah Shannon speaks with Stanford University Sociology Professor David Grusky about the social and economic effects of the recession.  This entire podcast could be assigned to students, though you could also considering assigning part of it (the first 20 minutes, for example).

Grusky and Shannon cover many topics in this 50-minute conversation, so there are many avenues for discussion.  Here are a few basic questions that cover some of the main points.

1)   How does the most recent recession differ from past recessions?  In other words, what makes it a “great” recession?

2)   How does the recession affect inequality in the United States?

3)   What are some of the responses to the recession, and how do they differ from responses to the Great Depression?

4)   Why does Grusky see a danger in the focus on tax-based solutions to the current economic problems?

5)   Grusky and Shannon speak specifically about college students several times throughout the podcast?  How is the recession impacting students?  Why is education an important part of this discussion?

Near the end of the podcast, Grusky mentions a website on recession trends that will be launching soon.  Stay tuned to learn more about that website and how it can be used in the classroom!

Last month, as a Special Feature on The Society Pages, Jennifer Lee (a sociologist at University of California at Irvine) provided our readers a sociological take on “Chinese mother phenomenon.”

Lee is responding to Yale Law professor Amy Chua’s highly controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011). In advance of the book, The Wall Street Journal published “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” In the article and the book, Chua argues that Western parents do their children a disservice by not raising them with strict and demanding expectations for achievement.

Lee’s is another piece that is definitely going on my Sociology of Families syllabus in the fall, but it would fit well in any Intro to Sociology class or any class on education, culture, or youth. I would assign both Amy Chua’s WSJ article and Lee’s Tiger Kids and the Success Frame. What I love about Lee’s piece is that it does not reject Chua’s argument outright, but explores it from a sociological perspective. She asks (and answers):

How do we explain the academic achievement of Asians, especially when the patterns defy traditional status attainment models?

This topic is especially suited for most undergrads (18-22 year olds) in that they have only recently left their parents home and generally do not have families of their own. This life stage puts them in a unique position to compare how they were raised with how they want to raise their own (hypothetical) children when it comes to educational achievement.

For further context, check out the audio review of Chua’s book and parenting method on NPR and an excerpt from the book, as well as a response from Amy Chua to reader’s questions and a response her oldest daughter (age 18) to the criticism her mom received after publishing Battle Hymn.