Are you Black Friday shopper, like Penn? Or are you ambivalent, like Ellen? This week, the ladies of the Social Breakdown get together for a breakaway episode on the history of Black Friday and the many sociological purposes of holiday shopping. What does seasonal overconsumption do to our emotions, pocketbooks, and the environment? How are sales used to shame shoppers and bury environmental reports cough cough Trump administration cough? Tune in here to learn more!
Black Friday, shopping, holidays, consumption, consumer culture, materialism, overconsumption
- Here’s a good (and free) place to start on the work of Thorstein Veblen, an American economist and sociologist who theorized the concept of ‘conspicuous consumption.’ This is his most notable work, “The Theory of the Leisure Class.”
- “A Brief History of Black Friday” (Mental Floss)
- “What’s the Real History of Black Friday” (History)
- “Black Friday Brawl Videos are How Rich People Shame the Poor” (Washington Post)
- “Stop Shaming Black Friday Shoppers” (Racked)
- “The Energy 202: Trump Administration’s Release of a Climate Report on Black Friday didn’t bury the news” (Washington Post)
- “Death of Small Businesses in Big Cities, Explained” (Vox)
- “Banning Straws and Bags Won’t Solve our Plastic Problem” (World Resources Institute)
This week we go back to the basics by introducing the three schools of sociological thought – conflict theory, structural functionalism, and symbolic interactionism. Knowing these three schools is a must for any aspiring sociologist. Join us as we discuss how Marx theorized the process of social change through conflict, why Durkheim believed society needed religion in order to function, and why people interpret the symbolic significance of guns differently. Which school of thought do you subscribe to?
Sociology, theory, social theory, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, structural functionalism
- Definition of social theory
- Understanding Social Problems, 5th ed by Mooney, Knox, and Schacht, 2007.
- A fun and short video from Crash Course titled, “Major Sociological Paradigms” that may help better understand the three theories
- Conflict – Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto
- Conflict – Arlie Hochschild’s The Managed Heart
- Structural Functionalism – Talcott Parson’s The Social System
- Structural Functionalism – Emile Durkheim’s The Division of Labour in Society
- Symbolic Interactionism – Herbert Blumer’s Symbolic Interactionism
- Symbolic Interactionism – George Herbert Mead’s Mind, Self, and Society
- Symbolic Interactionism – An excerpt from Charles Cooley about the Looking Glass Self
This week, Penn and Ellen breakdown an interesting phenomenon that occurs often on social media – context collapse – when various segments of your social network (friends, family, acquaintances, employers, and complete strangers) are muddled together into one big audience. How does a social media user as yourself negotiate the multiple imagined audiences of the social network? From self-presentation tactics such as censorship and compartmentalization, we discuss the complex ways we navigate the online social life.
Context collapse, internet, social media, identity, imagined audience, Facebook, Twitter, censorship
- “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience” by Marwick & boyd (2010)
- “One Size Fits All: Context Collapse, Self-Presentation Strategies and Language Styles on Facebook” by Gil-Lopez et al. (2018)
- Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think (Engadget)
- Younger users flee their parents’ favorite social network, Facebook, at surprising pace (Chicago Tribune)
For our Halloween spooktacular, we present to you an episode on human aggression! AhhHHHH! This week we’re defining what aggression is, how it is different from violence, and where aggression stems from. Is it an innate trait, as Freud believed, or is it socially learned, as many sociologists argue? We end our talk discussing how we can reduce aggression in ourselves and others. Tune in, learn, and don’t forget to give us a rating wherever you’re listening from!
Aggression, perception, psychology, violence, nature, nurture
We’re building off of last week’s episode on sex and gender and breaking down the more complex ideas of intersectionality and feminist thought. How do you define intersectionality? What is feminist thought? And how can you apply these concepts to how you think and behave in your everyday life? (HINT: Be aware of your privileges, y’all!) We also talk about the amazing scholars– like Patricia Hill Collins, Meda Chesney-Lind, and Kimberle Crenshaw, to name a few– who have founded these important concepts. Tune in to learn more!
Intersectionality, feminism, feminist thought, gender studies, privilege
- “Race, Class, Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection” by Patricia Hill Collins (1993)
- Kimberle Crenshaw interview by the National Association of Independent Schools where she defines Intersectionality as: “Intersectionality is a metaphor to understand how the multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage sometimes compound themselves and how they create obstacles that are often not understood with our conventional ways of thinking about anti-racism, feminism, or whatever social justice advocacy structures we have. Intersectionality is not a grand theory, it is rather a prism to understand various types of social problems. For example, African American girls are suspended 6 times more than white girls, and this is probably a race AND gender problem. Not just a race problem or just a gender problem. So I encourage people to think about how the conversions of race stereotypes or gender stereotypes might actually play out in the classroom, between teachers and students, students and students…and so on.”
- Kimberle Crenshaw TED talk on “The Urgency of Intersectionality”
- Patricia Hill Collins bio on the American Sociological Association website
- Chesney-Lind, Meda. 2006. “Patriarchy, Crime, and Justice: Feminist Criminology in an Era of Backlash.” Feminist Criminology 1(1):6–26.
- In Renzetti & Cruan’s book Women, Men and Society they write, “Patriarchy is a system of social stratification, which mean that it uses a wide array of social control policies and practices to ratify male power and to keep girls and women subordinate to men”
- Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation by Beth Richie (2012)
- Lastly, how can you apply intersectionality in your everyday life, according to the Social Breakdown crew? Be aware of your privileges and how they may affect or be affected by the social context you are in!
Gender and sex– They appear to be the same thing, but in reality they aren’t! This week we dive into the differences between gender and sex through the lense of sociology using work from Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir and other recent research. How have our notions of gender and sex changed over the years? Where are these two concepts headed? And how do our own identities influence the way we behave, feel, and think? Tune in to find out! (And come back next week for our follow-up discussion on feminism and intersectionality.)
Gender, Sex, Social Construction
- Judith Butler’s (1990) Gender Trouble is one of THE foundational texts if you want to get into gender and sex.
- Simone de Beauvoir’s (1949) The Second Sex is another key text to explore, as Butler builds her theories off of de Beauvoir’s work. It is in The Second Sex where de Beauvoir writes the famous line, “one is not born a woman, but, rather, becomes one.”
- New York Times article by Claire Cain Miller (Sept 14, 2018), “Many Ways to Be a Girl, But One Way to Be a Boy: The New Gender Rules”
- A pamphlet from the National Partnership for Women and Families that reports the following on the national gender wage gap:
- “Nationally, the median annual pay for a woman who holds a full-time, year-round job is $41,977 while the median annual pay for a man who holds a full-time, year-round job is $52,146. This means that, overall, women in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual gender wage gap of $10,169.”
- Duncombe and Marsden (1998) chapter “Stepford Wives and Hallow Husbands” in Emotions in Social Life
- Some interesting articles about femininity and the female gaze:
- Articles on the consequences of toxic masculinity:
We’re back with another PhD’s Guide on an important and timely topic: the graduate school application process! This week, we’re talking about the general do’s and do not’s when trying to impress those higher education programs to accept you as a worthy candidate. The tips provided in this episode are not specific to sociology departments, so you peeps of all academic persuasions (and even peeps with distant interests in grad school) TUNE IN, perhaps we can help!
Remember, heed only the advice that you think is appropriate. We’re just here to tell you our perspective, and our perspectives are never 100% correct all the time. This is YOUR academic journey, so you decide how you wanna do it! And we wish you the best of luck on this application journey!
phd guide, applications, graduate school
Some useful suggestions
- Application due dates run from late Fall to early Spring, so double check the dates for each institution that you apply to!
- When writing your statement of purpose, highlight 1 or 2 profs from the program you’re applying to that you’d like to work with
- Practice writing your statement of purpose. Carve out more time than necessary. Though short, these essay prompts are taken seriously! Rule #1 stay within the word limit. You’ll have plenty of time to write lengthy papers once you’re accepted, so keep it short and tight for now.
- If the university does interviews, PRACTICE! **Most programs will not require an interview but even going to the campus and introducing yourself to some faculty can separate you from the rest of the pack! So talk and walk with confidence. You have nothing to lose.
- Be aware of yourself. Don’t use grad school as a way to bide time. The amount of time and resources you’ll spend on an education that you’re not truly interested in is NOT worth it!
- Do not be stingy or picky–consider all sources of funding! $$$ is tight these days.
Email us if you have any other questions. This is an important time of year.
Finally, we are answering one of life’s greatest mysteries. Remember the first episode we did? We mentioned a little question: Why the heck is Japanese porn blurred? More specifically, why is genitalia blurred? We tackle this hairy question first with a discussion of pornography trends and facts in the US and in Japan. Pornography remains a key form of entertainment for people, although it may surprise you that the internet has not changed pornography statistics too drastically. Listen until the end to find out the answer to the big question! It might not be as perverted as you think…
pornography, sexuality, internet
- The Psychology Today article that discussed research from A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sex and Relationships written by computational neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam.
- Random porn fact about the post-nuclear fakeout spike in Hawaii’s visits to PornHub
- Great podcast from writer Jon Ronson about the way tube sites have altered the world of porn called, “The Butterfly Effect”
- “Who Wastes The most Time At Work” from Forbes Magazine, by Sarah Conner
- Scot Boeringer’s (1994) article, “Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Associations of Violent and Nonviolent Depictions with Rape and Rape Proclivity”
- Article from Milton Diamond, Ph.D. and Ayako Uchiyama (1999), “Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan” in which they compared sexual violence data and the increasing availability of porn from 1972-1995:
- An article from 2016 from the Global Times titled, “Japan porn industry preys on women” about violence in the pornography industry in Japan.
- GQ India article on why Japanese pornography is blurred by Paloma Sharma from 2017 that touches on the penal code and the prosecution of Suwa Yuuji, the creator of the manga Missitsu (Honey Room).
That’s right, you read correctly! We are back for year 2, and we’re starting off with some useful tips on time management for those of us trying to shake off the summer and roll into Fall semester. Curious about how to keep up with all of that reading? Interested in some tips to stay on track with a big project? Well, we have some advice for you with this episode, and hope this topic will serve you well on your journey through graduate school and beyond! Just remember, you come first, so plan accordingly! Join us for the conversation and get your brains ready for some 200-level sociology. We’re glad to be back.
phd guide, time management
- Use a planner! Digital or analog. And here is an online planner as well!
- Bullet Journal method at https://bulletjournal.com/
- Figure out your learning techniques. All the learning styles are important.
- If you don’t have a schedule, create your own schedule. Especially when you are in the later stages of your graduate studies and you’re not taking classes anymore. Gotta keep up a regiment! Consistency is key.
- Learn now to say NO! School is too overwhelming with all the classes and obligations (perceived and real). Be mindful of your time and space. Remember: quality of life
- Work backwards for big projects. Knowing how to plan accordingly and be aware that writers block, revisions, and life will get in the way. Be proactive in your lesson planning.
- Know how to active read! It will save you so much time. Remember Penn’s comments on Zotero. Use it!
- Use things like the Pomodoro technique to get through tough writer’s blocks or boring work
- Stay organized so you don’t do redundant things or lose stuff
- Sleep and eat well. Your health, mental and physical, matters. Graduate malaise is real!
- TREAT YOURSELF…this is not only self explanatory, but also the most important!