February is Black History Month (BHM), which means… we gotta talk about it! This week we dig into the history behind BHM, talk about the founder of the holiday (the fascinating Dr. Carter Woodson), and tackle the many critiques and debates surrounding the month. Like, why the heck is BHM on the shortest month of the year?! Why do we usually only celebrate a select few Black figures this month? Is BHM a productive event? Oh also, did you know that race is a social construct? That’s right! Join in to hear the conversation and let us know what you think!
Omar: I meant to say melanin and NOT melatonin when discussing the social construction of race.
Omar: Barrack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was an American anthropologist. She is not from Germany. In fact, she lived in Hawaii and studied at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Though I said “I think,” I was wrong. [We all should have known that!]
race, racism, black history month, social construction
- What is a “Social Construct”?
- An idea or concept that is created and accepted by members of a society. These are ideas that are not “natural” or universal across all cultures and societies.
- “11 Things That Are Social Constructs” (2016), Jane Paolantonio
- “What We Mean When We Say ‘Race Is a Social Construct’”, in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2013)
- Article from King and Brown (2014) “Once a Year to be Black”
- Article from The Atlantic by Melinda Anderson (2016), “Black History Month in Schools– Retire or Reboot?”
- Biography of Carter Woodson, the “Father of Black History”
- NPR report on Marian Andersen, “Denied A Stage, She Sang For A Nation” (2014)
- Biography of bad-ass Bessie Coleman
- Biography and work of poet Audre Lorde
We’re baaaack! This week we’re discussing two major social institutions that are in the midst of serious change: First, the Family! How does sociology look at the family unit? How is the family used as a tool of socialization? What about those ‘non-traditional’ families? Second, that thing that to many of us symbolizes the start of a family– Marriage! We talk about the economic benefits of getting married, our own personal takes on marriage, and the gradual but very real deinstitutionalization of marriage. Listen, learn, and let us know what you think!
Marriage, Family, Socialization
- Different types of marriages:
- Monogamy involves a family with one wife and one husband.
- Polygamy involves multiple spouses.
- Endogamy involves marrying a person with similar social characteristics
- The Chinese phrase “Men Dang Hu Dui”, or “The doors must match” is a cultural example of endogamy. As Chao Yang in Television and Dating in Contemporary China writes, the phrase “‘Men Dang Hu Dui’ [is] behind traditional arranged marriage, in which being introduced to a marriage partner from a family with similar social rank was the norm” (p. 118).
- Exogamy involves marrying someone with different social characteristics
- Bigamy is when you marry another person when you’re already married to someone else
- ‘Modern Family’ TV show
- ‘Sister Wives’ TV show
- Brigham Young, famous Mormon polygamist
- 2013 Pew Research Poll that found 88% of Americans marry for love. Awww. Of course this is just one study, but it’s Pew so it’s legitimate!
- Cook’s 2015 article on the economic benefits of marriage, “For Richer, Not Poorer: Marriage and the Growing Class Divide”
- Amanda William’s 2013 article, “Is Marriage Now Just a Middle-Class Institution?”
- Amanda Hess’ 2013 article, “Marriage is the New Middle-Class Luxury Item”
- Jeanna Smialek’s 2017 article,“The Decline of Marriage is Hitting Vegas Hard”
- “Marriage has become a clear dividing line in a stratified country. Its decline is most pronounced among those who didn’t go beyond high school, as better educated people tend to marry each other. America’s working and middle classes are faring badly, and the research points to unraveling families as one cause.”
- Definition: “A weakening of the social norms that define partners’ behavior.”
- From Andrew Cherlin’s 2004 article, “The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage”
- Definition: “any regular pattern of interaction.” Something that is considered “normal”, “regular”, or “the norm”.
- Trump calling Haiti and African countries “shitholes” (despite the fact that the largest shithole on this planet is Trump’s mouthhole) (Washington Post)
- “Senate Passes Bill to Extend Key Surveillance Program” from the Washington Post
- What is a VPN–Virtual Private Network
The SBR team here – we are delaying the start of season 2 by a bit because the new semester is busier than we thought it would be! Season 2 will be premiering on January 24th! Save the date, and in the meantime, check out our previous episodes if you really miss us!
As always, please leave us a review on iTunes. We just broke 3,800 downloads, which is HUUUUUGE!! Thank you for all your support! The more you like, share, subscribe, and review us, the closer we are to stardom!
All the best,
The SBR team
Technically we’re on Winter Vacay, but Ellen and Omar couldn’t wait for the new semester to start up! So, we broke away to have a conversation about the infamous N-word, how it’s used, what it means, and what educators should do when they hear their students use it. Join us in this breakaway episode as we discuss this multifaceted word.
The views presented in this episode are not meant to reflect the opinions of an entire racialized group of people. The opinions reflect the thoughts of Ellen and Omar. Send us your thoughts, as this topic will inevitably come up again in the podcast and in our daily lives.
black, censorship, education, educator, identity, language, nword, race, sociology, language, history
No resources, as this is a breakaway episode.
We’ve taken a break for the winter holidays but here’s a quick check-in from the gang, along with some reading recommendations for those cozy nights!
books, coates, hochschilds, marmot, society, sociological, sociology, literature, reading, emotions, race, medicine, health
- Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates (2015)
- The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Hochschild (2012)
- Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity by Michael Marmot (2005)
Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s hard to avoid it. Not only is it a day of celebration for Christian religions, but it has become commercialized and commodified for the sake of consumption and capitalism. Christmas also has a strong culture associated with it, full of rituals and traditions–from decorating the tree to gift-giving to singing in groups in front of people’s houses. Join us this week as we discuss these rituals, and get some tips from our amazing sociology gift guide!
Christmas, rituals, traditions, religion, holidays, gift giving, culture, sociology, Emerson, Mauss, norms, Durkheim, Xmas
- The Penguin Definition of Sociology
- Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
- Japanese bowing guide
- Trump mocked Obama for bowing to a Saudi king. And then he … (Washington Post 2017)
- Contributions To Churches Are Studied (New York Times 1994)
- Christmas Traditions and Customs
- History of Christmas Trees
- Mariah Carey – All I want for Christmas is You
- Chipmunk Christmas playlist
- Marcel Mauss’s (1925) seminal essay on gift giving “The Gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies”
“That when an object is given as a gift, it becomes inextricably tied to the giver. To make a gift of something is to make a present of some part of oneself.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson’s (1844) essay “Gifts”
- A Sociologist Studied Christmas Gifts, and Here’s What He Learned (The New Republic 2013)
- Gift wrapping in Japan
- Sociology gifts
- Donate to a good organization. Check out some of these websites to make sure your charity is legitimate and effective! Charity Navigator, GiveWell, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Watch
- Sorry Megyn Kelly, Santa Claus Isn’t White (Huffington Post 2017)
- What Fox News Doesn’t Understand About Santa Claus (Slate 2017)
- While Coca Cola did not create the image of the elderly Santa in his red suit and black belt and jolly smile, the company played a large role in shaping the global perception of Santa through commercialization and ad campaigns.
Looking back at its historical origins, the social breakdown crew talks about liberalism and its manifestations in our contemporary world. What is “new” about neoliberalism? John Locke–a British philosopher enshrined in American legal and political doctrine–talks a lot about freedom and liberty, but for whom? To what end? What can be said about conservatism and liberalism as it relates to our sense of self and political affiliations? Join our discussion on neoliberalism and its discontents–we’re not too happy about it either.
Neoliberalism, liberalism, sociology, economics, capitalism, politics, freedom, culture
- John Locke’s biography
Liberalism: the perspective that all individuals must be equally allowed “civil interests,” which he defined as, “life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like”
From John Locke’s (1693) Some Thoughts Concerning Education
- A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke (1689)
- Definition of indolency
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Declaration of Independence (1776)
- John Locke Against Freedom (Jacobin 2015)
- What is neoliberalism?
- Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now (Free Press 2017)
- Battle for the Net: Save Net Neutrality
- Linda Taylor, welfare queen: Ronald Reagan made her a notorious American Villain (Slate 2013)
- The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original ‘Welfare Queen’ (NPR 2013)
- “Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism is Destroying Our Democracy” (The Nation 2017)
- Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz (2003)
- Nobel Prize-winning economist Stiglitz tells us why ‘neoliberalism is dead’ (Business Insider 2016)
- America is a neoliberal horror movie: Why “They Live” is the perfect film for our depraved times (Salon 2015)
- U.S. Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin (Gallup Poll 2017)
- Barack Obama: The deporter-in-chief (Al Jazeera 2017)
- Here’s an offensive word we should retire right now (Chicago Tribune 2016)
- Let’s enjoy the white supremacist freakout after DNA tests show they aren’t 100 percent white (Salon 2017)
- White supremacist learns he’s 14% black
- Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Wacquant 2009)
- “What is ‘Neo’ About Neoliberalism?” (New Republic 2017)
A lot of what we talk on this podcast stem from our status as doctoral students (although Penn is finally a newly certified doctor!), but what exactly is a PhD? The PhD is the highest level of education that people usually don’t go for, and the job market for a PhD graduate is quite bleak. So why does anyone bother getting it? Join us this week as we talk story about our own reasons for pursuing a PhD and what PhDs actually do each day besides just thinking!
Sociology, phd, academia, higher education, grad school, graduate, doctoral, doctorate
- How universities are classified (Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education)
- Example process of submitting an article to an academic journal (Elsevier 2015)
- How to get published in an academic journal: top tips from editors (The Guardian 2015)
- Ph.D. Attrition: How Much Is Too Much? (The Chronicle of Higher Education 2013)
- a phd’s guide to the phd: why phd? (Living Sociologically 2017)
- Data Reveal a Rise in College Degrees Among Americans (The New York Times 2013)
- No college degree? That’s a growing hurdle to getting hired (Chicago Tribune 2016)
- Is a PhD the right option for you? (The Guardian 2012)
Violence can seem very personal and easily attributed to biological tendencies. The recent trend in mass shootings have often been explained by issues related to mental health. It’s easy to blame the individual for acts of violence, but that’s only one way of looking at violence. In sociology, violence actually takes many different forms from verbal to physical to symbolic to systemic. And sociologists have interesting theories to explain why violence occurs. This week we discuss the classic debate of nature VS nurture in regards to violence, and how theorists have posited that there is no such thing as violent individuals, but simply violent situations. Join us as we pick apart this gnarly debate!
Sociology, violence, nature, nurture, psychopaths, collective violence, mob violence
- Defining violence by Elizabeth Stanko (2001)
Violence is “any form of behaviour by an individual that intentionally threatens to or does cause physical, sexual or psychological harm to others or themselves”
- Texas Shooter’s History Raises Questions About Mental Health And Mass Murder (NPR 2017)
- Symbolic Violence
- Pierre Bourdieu’s (1979) Distinction“It is the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity”
- Structural Violence
- Johan Galtung’s “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research” (1969)“a form of violence wherein some social structure or social institution may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs.”
- Hawaii Still Has a Leprosy Colony With Six Patients (The Daily Beast 2015)
- Donald Black’s (2010) The Behavior of Law, Special Edition
- Donald Black’s (2011) Moral Time
- Donald Black’s (2004) The Geometry of Terrorism
“Violence might appear to be an unpredictable outburst or unexplainable explosion, but it arises with geometrical precision. It is unpredictable and unexplainable only if we seek its origins in the characteristics of individuals (such as their beliefs or frustrations) or in the characteristics of societies, communities, or other collectivities (such as their cultural values or level of inequality). But violent individuals and violent collectivities do not exist: No individual or collectivity is violent in all settings at all times, and neither individualistic nor collectivistic theories predict and explain precisely when and how violence occurs”
- Randal Collins’ (2009) Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory
“violence is a set of pathways around confrontational tension and fear. Despite their bluster, and even in situations of apparently uncontrollable anger, people are tense and often fearful in the immediate threat of violence—including their own violence; this is the emotional dynamic that determines what they will do if fighting actually breaks out.”
- Youths and Gun Violence: Chicago’s Challenge
- Nature vs Nurture in regards to violence
- Bad to the Bone: Are Humans Naturally Aggressive?
- Why We Fight
- The violent gene
- Two genes linked with violent crime
- A Gene For Violence?
- The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry (Jon Ronson 2012)
- The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain (James Fallon 2014)
- Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?
- 2011 Stanley Cup Riot – Riots erupt in Vancouver after Canucks loss (CBC News 2011)
- Racism, A History 1 – Slavery To Segregation
- Turner and Killian’s (1987) Collective Behavior
- Honolulu first US city to ban texting while crossing road
- Top 5 Misconceptions About Columbus
- The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School
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Is health a privilege or a right? As a society, how do we come to understand health and its social origins and outcomes? Though medicine has been understood as a social science that dates back to Hippocrates–the Hippocratic Oath–medical sociology is not even 70 years old yet! The climb to intellectual legitimacy and sound research is recent. When it comes to matters of stress, food, doctor-patient interactions, racism and sexism, medical sociologists have a lot to say and a lot to do…come join us as The Social Breakdown begins its journey in everything health!
Sociology, medical sociology, health, policy
- The Importance of the Study of Medical Sociology (Charles McIntire 1991)
- Quick brief on medical sociology of the last 50 years (Rosich and Hankin 2010)
- The Anti-Vaccine Generation: How Movement Against Shots Got Its Start (National Geographic 2015)
- The sick role by Talcott Parsons in The Social Systems (1951)
- A doctor’s “people skills” affects patients’ health (CBS News 2014)
- Cultural Competency in Healthcare
- Losing culture on the way to competence: the use and misuse of culture in medical education (Gregg & Somnath 2016)
- National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (US Department of Health and Human Services 2001)
- Emergency department workers face high stress, burnout (Reuters 2016)
- Freakonomics’ series on Bad Medicine
- Part 1: The Story of 98.6
- Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations
- Par 3: Death by Diagnosis
- Doctors told to dispense with confusing medical jargon (The Guardian 2014)
- Global Life Expectancy ranking and data (World Health Organization 2017)
- Why Sharing Your Progress Makes You More Likely To Accomplish Your Goals (Fast Company 2015)
- The Psychology Behind a Grocery Store’s Layout (Notre Dame College 2013)
- Surviving the Sneaky Psychology of Supermarkets (National Geographic 2015)
- Access to healthy foods worse in poor areas (Reuters 2009)
- The cost of organic food (Consumer Reports 2015)
- The Word as Scalpel: A History of Medical Sociology (Bloom 2002)
“A doctor can damage a patient as much with a misplaced word as with a slip of the scalpel.”
- From Social Structure to Gene Regulation, and Back: A Critical Introduction to Environmental Epigenetics for Sociology (Annual Review of Sociology 2013)
- Healthcare.gov 2018 Open Enrollment