SOC129-PhD’s Guide to Writing


Penn is very sorry that she messed up her recording for this episode. The quality is lower than usual, but we hope you can listen pass it and focus on the great content. This won’t happen again, Penn swears.


Here we are with another episode in our PhD’s guide series. This time we are discussing how to write, and how to do it well! Of course we cannot discuss all there need to know about writing, nor are we experts, but we do have some good tips and tricks for you to follow. Join us in our conversation on the DO’s and DON’Ts when it comes to writing, and perhaps we can help you a bit on your journey from mediocrity to a writing greatness!


phd guide, writing


  1. Our writing bible, Howard Becker’s (2007) “Writing for Social Scientists”
  2. Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers
  3. Joan Bolker, another sociology bible, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes A Day
  4. The FREE citation software: Zotero!
  5. 11 Rules of Grammar
  6. Short American Sociological Association citation guide

Breakaway Episode 3: Self-Esteem and Race


Self-esteem is a major concept in Social Psychology and it is majorly interesting! That’s why Ellen and Omar got together to discuss it this week. With the help of writing from academics Morris Rosenberg and Leonard Pearlin, they talk about how race affects self-esteem, and why Asian-Americans routinely report the lowest self-esteem among all races. They also ask, is sociology’s current way of measuring self-esteem the best one? Tune in to hear the convo!

Also don’t forget to subscribe and rate us on your podcasting platform. Thank you!


self-esteem, social psychology, race, mental health


  • A foundational reading from Rosenberg and Pearlin (1978) on self-esteem that we mentioned is, “Social Class and Self-Esteem Among Children and Adults”. It touches on how both race and class can affect self-esteem and how it does.
  • Also, Morris Rosenberg’s (who wrote a TON) book Conceiving the Self is helpful in understanding the roots of self-esteem and the self.
  • If you wanna get a primer on how certain aspects of your life (like smoking, delinquency, happiness, early sexual experiences) can affect your self-esteem Baumeister et al.’s (2003) “Does High Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles?” from the Psychological Science in the Public Interest journal is a good place to start.
  • Article cited when talking about which races report higher and lower self-esteem: Bachman et al. (2011) “Adolescent Self-Esteem: Differences by Race/ethnicity, Gender and Age”
    • “Large-scale representative surveys of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States show high self-esteem scores for all groups. African-American students score highest, Whites score slightly higher than Hispanics, and Asian Americans score lowest.”
    • This supports other more recent findings that “African Americans seem to consistently report higher levels of self-esteem than Whites, whereas Asian Americans report the lowest levels.” Despite African Americans experiencing more and harsher stigmas and discrimination than other races.
    • Leonard Pearlin, the pioneer of the Social Stress Process Model, argues that a disadvantaged social status (e.g., low-income or negatively valued racial group) will be associated with lower levels of self-esteem, higher levels of distress, and more likely to be exposed and vulnerable to stressful life circumstances.
    • Michael Hughes and David Demo in 1989 in their article titled, “Self-Perceptions of Black Americans: Self-Esteem and Personal Efficacy” found that “black self-esteem is insulated from systems of racial inequality, while personal efficacy is not, and suggest that this explains why black Americans have relatively high self-esteem but low personal efficacy. The belief that racial discrimination, rather than personal failure, accounts for low achievement among blacks is irrelevant to personal self-esteem and personal efficacy”
  • If you wanna find anymore sources on self-esteem, just shoot us an email or Facebook/Twitter message us and we can point you in the direction of some great stuff!

SOC128 – The Dark Web (Part 2): The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


We’re back to the deep and dark web! This week we’re looking at the positive (and innocuous) aspects of the dark web. While it may be a place for illicit trade, the dark web is also a space for free speech and anonymity, and people are taking advantage of this by creating anonymous social networking sites and speaking out (and whistleblowing) on important issues. Tune in to hear us discuss the power and moral implications of being able to be anonymous online!


technology, the dark web, society


  1. Refresher on what the Surface, Dark, and Deep web is from TechWorm.
  2. New York Times’ own report on being available on the Tor network
  3. Robert Gehl’s article on Culture Digitally, “Legitimizing the Dark Web: The New York Times’ Tor Hidden Service” from Nov. 17, 2017
  4. Robert Gehl’s (2014) article titled “Power/freedom on the Dark Web: A Digital Ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network”
  5. The Hacker Manifesto
  6. Guardian article, “The Key Moments from Mark Zuckerberg’s Testimony to Congress”
  7. 7. Article on social implications of Japanese population w/ graph, “Defusing Japan’s Demographic Time Bomb”


SOC127: The Dark Web (Part 1): The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


The surface web, deep web, and dark web! What are they? What’s the difference? And what are the social implications of having these different areas of the internet? Since these are such hefty questions, we’ve split this topic into two episodes! In this episode, we’re going to explore the seedy, nefarious side of the dark web: the Silk Road, murder-for-hire, and illicit trafficking. Tune in to learn more about the internet and its many layers!


dark web, internet, technology


  1. “A Beginner’s Guide to Tor: How to Navigate Through the Underground Internet” from Digital Trends

  2. “Legitimizing the Dark Web: The New York Times’ Tor Hidden Service”  (By Robert Gehl)

  3. Difference between the Clear/Surface, Deep, and Dark web (By Douglas Karr)

  4. “Playpen: The Story of the FBI’s Unprecedented and Illegal Hacking Operation” (By Mark Rumold)

  5. Federal Authorities Take Down Being a Haven for Online Prostitution” (By Joseph Tanfani)

  6. Kendrick Lamar winning the Pulitzer Prize for his album, ‘DAMN’
  7. Kanye West’s twitter account (in case you want to read his exchange with John Legend)
  8. Kanye’s song, “Lift Yourself” (the news story).… poopity scoopity! Here’s the song if you want to listen

Below are some good infographics and screenshots of the Dark Web


SOC126-Medicalizing Behavior: Common or “Abnormal”?


Since 2000, which marked the national Human Genome Project (HGP), society has seen a shift in the process of medicalization–and we are here to talk about it! What is “normal” versus “abnormal” child behavior? How has society continued to explain human behavior in biological, genetic or medical terms? How does the pharmaceutical industry influence this process? Join us for the conversation on this week’s episode!


medicalization, deviance, genetics


  1. Terminology brief and short article on the medicalization of deviance
  2. The Medicalization of Deviance: From Badness to Sickness. Prominent sociologist, Joseph Schneider. (Handbook of Sociology of Deviance 2015)
  3. The Problem with Race-Based Medicine--TED Talk with legal and medical scholar Dorothy Roberts
  4. The Medicalization of Society (Full Book pdf) by Peter Conrad
  5. ADHD Fictitious Epidemic (2 minute video)
  6. ADHD as a difference in cognition, not disorder–TED Talk Student Competition Winner
  7. Lecture on medicalization from Peter Conrad
  8. National Human Genome Research Institute

SOC125: Conformity, Whaddup?

This week we’re dipping our toes into the field of Social Psychology by exploring the concept of conformity. What is it? What do we risk if we don’t conform? And what are some social structures that influence us into conforming? Tune in to hear our conversation and remember to check out our website ( for more sources and articles on this topic!


conformity, social psychology, micro-sociology


  1. Elliot Aronson’s The Social Animal
  2. Soloman Asch’s 1950’s Conformity Experiment and here’s some good video footage!
  3. Deutsch and Gerard (1955) article, “A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment”
  4. A more recent article from Stanley Milgrim on “Nationality and Conformity” in the Scientific American
  5. A great example of social conformity in action from the TV show, “Brain Games”

Breakaway Episode 2-The Middle Finger


This week, Ellen and Penn get together to discuss one of their favorite gestures in a breakaway episode: The middle finger! Using work by Jack Katz, they explore why we flip the bird, what a “well-flipped” finger looks like, and the history behind flicking people off. It’s phallic, offensive, and Ellen thinks it’s funny to do in family photos.

Did you know you can reach the sources we cite in each episode at Yup, check it out!


culture, emotion, flicking, flipping, jack, katz, middle finger, profanity, sociology, swearing


  1. Jack Katz, “How Emotions Work” (his section on the well-flipped finger is in Chapter 1)
  2. BBC article, “When Did the Middle Finger Become Offensive?”
  3. New York Times article on why we should curse, “The Case for Cursing”
  4. Article by Richard Stephens, “Swearing Is Actually a Sign of More Intelligence – Not Less – Say Scientists”

SOC124-Life is but a Stage: Goffman and Dramaturgy


“Life is a performance!” Have you ever heard that phrase? Well it’s super dramaturgical! Today we explore the work of Erving Goffman, a micro-sociologists who pioneered the notion that we have front stage and back stage performances (aka dramaturgy). Join us as we discuss what a performance is, the many roles we play, and what happens when your performance is perceived as fraudulent.


dramaturgy, goffman, micro sociology


  1. Erving Goffman biography
  2. “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” by Erving Goffman
  3. Cool video intro into Goffman and Dramaturgy from BBC

Other books by Goffman

  1. Asylums
  2. Stigma
  3. Interaction Ritual
  4. Forms of Talk
  5. Erving Goffman’s daughter Alice Goffman’s book “On the Run”

SOC123-Spranng Break Mini Episode


The SB team have been busy giving you new episodes each week over the course the academic year, but as most of you are well aware… SPRING BREAK IS HERE! And we need a break. So, this week will be a mini episode where we give some recommendations on sociological WATCHING for you to do while we’re on vacation for a couple weeks. (Still read books though!) We will be back on April 4th, so we won’t be gone for too long. Also– don’t forget to do our survey on our website and we’ll send you some Social Breakdown gear .


  1. Penn’s Recommendation
    1. Mind Hunter
    2. The People vs. OJ
  2. Omar’s Recommendation
    1. Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee)
    2. Mad Men (also on Netflix)
  3. Ellen’s Recommendation
    1. Black Mirror

Take our survey to get a sticker!

SOC122: PhD’s Guide to Research Methods


We continue our PhD’s guide series with a broad overview of sociological research methodology. WAIT! Don’t fall asleep! We talk a ton about concepts and theories, but how do sociologists come up with the evidence to back them up? How do we do our research? This episode will give you a little insight into how. We cover the basics of qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as discuss the ethics of human research. Whether you like numbers or words, statistics or stories, there’s a method to suit your mode of thinking! Join in as we discuss the Nuremberg trials, the Stanford Prison Experiment, and a run down of the basics of sociological research.


sociology, sociological imagination, methodology


  1. On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman
  2. Good summary and follow up to the aftermath of this book (NYTimes)
  3. Victor Rios harsh criticism of book in book review
  4. Amazing easy-to-read primer on multiple regression analysis. A 5TH GRADER CAN READ IT. Every sociologist needs this book
  5. Here’s a fun crash course on sociological research methods
  6. Institutional Ethnography–Lecture by the founder, Dorothy Smith


▪ data are reduced to numbers and statistical analyses are commonly


▪ research tool tends to be reliable

▪ results of research are more generalizable to larger and other populations

▪ cannot study individual units of analysis in depth

▪ studies large populations broadly

▪ commonly used methods of data collection used are:

✓ survey

✓ experiments

✓ content analysis


▪ data are text or visual images

▪ can study populations that are hard to find (snowball sampling)

▪ results tend to be accurate

▪ studies a small number of units of analysis in depth

▪ research results generally are not generalizable

▪ commonly used methods of data collection used are:

✓ participant observation (aka ethnography or fieldwork)

✓ historical research

Discourse analysis

Institutional ethnography