domo match
Photo by Kristine Oplado via

When I took my first sociology course my freshman year of undergrad, I had no idea I would enjoy it more than the biology courses I was taking for my major.  But, I loved it.  In fact, I can still remember the simple classroom activity that caused me to rethink my major.

Our professor asked us to visit a toy store (or a store with a fairly sizeable toy section) and write a short reflection paper about the differences we saw between toys marketed for boys and toys marketed for girls.  She asked us to pay attention to the packaging (What types of colors are used? Who is depicted playing with the toys?) and the toys themselves.  Afterward, students discussed their findings in class, and it was clear that many of the students really enjoyed the activity.  We then discussed gender and gender socialization, and even though I don’t study gender, the way sociologists examine what most people take for granted had me hooked.


We recommend incorporating the article “Controlling the Media in Iraq” by Andrew M. Linder (Contexts, Spring 2008) in a class or lesson on media or international relations. This article is highly readable and the topic is timely and of interest to undergraduates. Use the questions below to get a discussion started on this topic:

A PDF of this entire article is available from Contexts!


1)    How has this article influenced your understanding of the relationship between journalism and war?

2)    The author offers two ideas of how embedded reporters come to write from a military point of view. Discuss the theories of empathy through socialization (at the extreme, Stockholm Syndrome) versus boundaries and limitations placed by the military.

3)    What do you make of the findings that embedded journalists reported more frequently from a soldier’s point of view?