We’re getting light-hearted in these crazy times and introducing you to the sociology of pop culture! In this episode, we use Dr. David Grazian’s work to explore what popular culture is and how it’s different from high culture. Then we make sense of culture’s role in globalization, and show how pop cultural products– like sitcoms, Taylor Swift songs, and anime– can act as forms of soft power. Tune in here to hear Penn and Omar nerd out on the intricacies of Naruto and Studio Ghibli, and to understand just how powerful and important pop culture is to our society!
Popular culture, society, music, entertainment, globalization, soft power, anime
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is rapidly developing around the world and so are our thoughts, emotions, and of course, our sociological perspectives! We have an unplanned, talk story episode on this topic for you today. Join us as we try to put the hysteria and facts into sociological context. We discuss infectious diseases, quarantining, politics, stress, and public health. Share with us your thoughts, comments, and concerns. Be safe out there and wash your hands!
Sociological imagination, public health, politics, epidemics
Have you ever taken a class and been forced to buy a $100 textbook? Have you ever been a teacher and was forced to assign a $100 textbook? It’s difficult to manage for both sides but don’t sweat it – we have the perfect PhD’s Guide to BOOK$ for you. Here at The Social Breakdown, we are all about accessibility! In this episode, we discuss cost saving ways for both teachers and students to navigate textbook assignments in college. There are cheap and FREE ways you can get a lot of your textbooks. Listen to the episode and then go visit your local library to check out a book!
Books, textbooks, college, teaching, accessibility, libraries, free
- Search your library! (Not only your university’s library, but also your county/city/state library. You’d be surprised by what you can find on their shelves!)
- If it’s for a course, likely your prof has put the text on “reserve” at the library.
- Learn how to use their online databases (when you’re looking for articles) and what access your school has. Your librarian is a good person to turn to if you’re having trouble here.
- Use Interlibrary loans!! ILLs are when you can request a book that your university library doesn’t have from another school’s library. FOR FRIGGIN FREE. Your local county or city libraries also have this feature.
- Still can’t find it? Ask your librarian– specifically your department’s librarian– if they can purchase a copy of the book you’re looking for to “add to the sociology collection”!
- Ask your professor. Profs are given the option to get a “desk copy” of the books they assign to their classes.
- Ask your classmates.
- Many courses are offered repeatedly, so you probs have a classmate who’s taken the course before. Ask them if they have a copy to borrow. If you really want it, ask if they wanna sell. It’s a win-win.
- Work with your classmates in that particular course to “share” books. By “share” we mean “scan”. Yes yes yes, there are some ethical and legal implications here. Be careful please!
- Also, if you’re looking for a specific journal article but you’re blocked by a pay wall, ask classmates (social media is a great tool for this too), but you can even go as far as asking the AUTHOR of the article! They’ll prob be happy to send it to you, so finallllly someone’s reading their hardwork!
- Look at free online resources, like
- Check out the book/publishers area at conferences. You’d be surprised how many books you can get for free over there. *Shout out to you, Penguin, for being liberal with your giveaways!*
- Last, check out good ol’ exploitative Amazon or eBay for cheap, used copies of the book. But If your town has used book stores, we recommend those more.
Now all you teachers out there, what can you do?
- Place a copy of the book your assigning on “Reserve” at the library. If you’re just wanting your students to read one chapter, did you know you can get your library to digitally scan the chapter and put it on “Electronic Reserve” where your students have 24/7 access?? YUP! So do that, and you don’t even have to do the scanning yourself! The library staff does.
- Assign older editions of the book (because they’re cheaper!), and supplement it with additional materials, like articles and reports, to update the information.
- At the start of the semester, encourage students to talk to you if they’re having a hard time with book costs. You can be the conduit between new and old students for book sharing/purchasing.
- Purposefully Use FREE materials, and that includes those things outside of books, like documentaries, newspapers, websites, radio, and of course, podcasts!
- Don’t be that prof that assigns a $200 textbook unless it is truly necessary– and we get it, sometimes you really need to. So if you have to, DO NOT change the textbook every semester, so you can give your students a chance to resell or share with future students.
- Clickers! In large lectures, some profs will use clickers to gauge and quiz students. There are now plenty of free apps/websites that you can use in lieu of clickers that students can access if they have a smartphone or laptop. Some include:
“If you wanna be my lover, you have got to–” listen to this breakaway episode! Today, Penn and Ellen get together to talk about all things girl power, from the #Girlboss movement to feuds between celebrity women (which scream, “Georg Simmel’s concept of dyads!”) to how some women don’t want to be called “female.” Tune in here to learn more, and find out which Spice Girl Penn and Ellen wanted to be growing up. Also, send us a rating when you have time, and be sure to subscribe!
Social movement, girl boss, feminism, girl power, female empowerment, culture
It’s almost the most romantic day of the year – good ol’ V-Day. While the gang has looked at family and romantic relationships from a sociological perspective, we’re taking an inner deep dive into ourselves this week with a PhD’s Guide to Relationships! Graduate school is a weirdly autonomous yet lonely time, so this week we discuss our experiences with managing romantic and platonic relationships while balancing a full course load, TA/GAships, and of course, writing a dissertation. Tune in to see how we do it and remember, you’re not alone!
Relationships, romance, friendship, graduate school
Here are the tips we covered this episode that we’ve found particularly helpful in our own lives. Hope they are for you, too!
- Find a person that is equally busy and tired. No explanation needed– you’re both tired and just happy to grab a bite to eat together every now and then.
- Communicate how busy you are! Explain to loved ones that you’re crazy busy, and give them actual concrete examples, like, “Sorry I’d love to, but I have 2 books to read, one response and a bunch of grading to complete by Monday.” Just saying, “I’m busy, I can’t,” can make it seem like you’re using school as an excuse to avoid them, rather than it being a real issue that’s getting in the way of you spending time with them.
- Purposefully make time for them. REAL ASS TIME, QUALITY TIME– not time where you’re staring into the screen of your phone or computer 50% of the time. Try not to be distracted and enjoy your time with your fam, BFF, or significant other. Another tip to this is to schedule a routine time for that person.
- Talk to them about your research! Don’t bore them or use them as a test audience for your next conference presentation, but try to include them in what your brain is consumed with right now. Plus they might make some poignant observations that you can use!
- Invite them to your grad student events. In Hawaii, we have beach days and BBQs where we gather, eat, drink, gossip, and play with our dogs. Bring your partner, friend, parent, sibling, or whoever! This will give them a glimpse into and appreciation for your grad school existence.
- Understand that every relationship requires work. It’s a two-way street baby, and you both need to give, so you can take. So, do your part and make sure your other half is doing theirs. Hold each other accountable!
Ever heard of a theory that wasn’t a theory? This week the gang tackles a difficult qualitative methodological approach called Grounded Theory, put forth by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss. By doing a deep dive into textual and descriptive data, the goal of this approach is to analyze data without letting previous knowledge, biases, or assumptions cloud the analysis. If you ever wondered what it was like to do hands on sociological research, then this episode is for you!
Social construction, music, religion, rock, reality
We’ve got a special guest episode featuring Dr. Matthew Smith-Lahrman for you this week! Matt is a rock ‘n roll guru and professor at Dixie State University, and he joins us to talk about the sociology of rock music. Tune in to learn about how rock music has evolved, its role in the social construction of reality, and his favorite band, The Meat Puppets. Also, don’t forget to subscribe and give us a rating if you haven’t already. Mahalo!
Music, rock, religion, social construction, reality
Andddd we’re back with part two of our series on stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination! In this episode we take a close look at institutional discrimination. First, we explore the sociological concept of the ‘institution’. Next, we look at how discrimination can plague an institution, and why it is that sometimes we don’t even know that we’re participants in this type of biased behavior. We end the episode with some ways that we faulty human beings can reduce and prevent discrimination. Tune in here to learn more, and don’t forget to subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts!
Prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes, racism, institutions
- Again, we used Elliot Aronson’s fantastic book The Social Animal this episode.
- In our last episode we mentioned the Harvard Implicit Association Test, but totally forgot to put a link to the site (which is free and very easy to use)!
- A review of some of our basic definitions from this episode:
- Stereotypes: “To assign identical characteristics to any person in a group, regardless of the actual variation among members of that group.” (From Elliot Aronson’s The Social Animal)
- Prejudice: “A hostile or negative attitude toward a distinguishable group based on generalizations derived from faulty or incomplete information.” (From Elliot Aronson’s The Social Animal)
- Discrimination: Unfair treatment of members of a stigmatized group that denies a member their rights.
- Institution: “Stable patterns of behavior that define, govern, and constrain action. An institution is an organization or other formal social structure that governs a field of action.” (from Oxford Bibliographies)
- What is institutional discrimination? It is when an institution puts into place discriminatory policies and practices that favor the majority group and disadvantage minority groups. These policies and practices are embedded in the existing structures of our society in the form of norms!
- ‘I don’t know his DNA’: Craft brewery manager says he can’t confirm black employee’s race in discrimination lawsuit
- Some of the laws and policies that we cited in this episode were:
- 19th Amendment (1920): Gave women the right to vote “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
- Civil Rights Act (1964): Protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin
- Title IX (1972): Enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Protects people from discrimination based on sex in education including, “recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; discipline; single-sex education; and employment.” in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance (ACLU)
- We discussed the rampant prejudice, discrimination, and institutional discrimination against Micronesians here on the islands of Hawaii. Here are some articles we cited and relevant links:
- Other types of institutional discrimination (along with some good articles) we mentioned were…
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Weight and Size Discrimination
- During quick breaks, Omar was asked about Grammarly. FYI we’re not sponsored by them (or anyone for that matter).
Stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination– all words we use interchangeably, and consequently, words we sometimes use incorrectly! This week’s show is the first episode of a two-part series where we untangle these three concepts from each other, and get a better sense of when prejudice turns into discrimination. Tune in to learn more, and don’t forget to get us a rating when you’ve got a little time on your hands. Mahalo!
Bias, discrimination, prejudice, racism, stereotypes
- We used Elliot Aronson’s fantastic book The Social Animal this episode.
- Some quick definitions from Aronson’s book:
- Stereotypes: “To assign identical characteristics to any person in a group, regardless of the actual variation among members of that group.” (pg. 244)
- Prejudice: “A hostile or negative attitude toward a distinguishable group based on generalizations derived from faulty or incomplete information.”
- Discrimination: Unfair treatment of members of a stigmatized group that denies a member their rights.
- Headsets used to speak to other players in the online gaming world is a portal to hell (at least according to Ellen)! Read about it here in this Washington Post article, “Racism, Misogyny, and Death Threats: Why Can’t the Booming Video Game-Industry Curb Toxicity?”
- Ahhh, so Awkwafina was in the second Jumanji installment. That explains things…
- Ellen said, “Chinese Expulsion Act” but she should’ve said, “Chinese Exclusion Act.” Whoopsie!
- Math Looks The Same In The Brains Of Boys And Girls, Study Finds
- In case you were wondering, Bon Appetite Magazine is on the other side of the Goldfish vs. Cheez-Its debate!
If you hang around grad students, you’ll discover one of our favorite topics to discuss is money. We’re usually grumbling about funding, side gigs, constantly filling out applications for scholarships that we don’t get, and how we wiiiiiiish we had enough money to not have to live with roommates anymore. So in this PhD’s Guide, we’re gonna explore this topic by looking at the typical jobs available in grad school (including average stipend pay), what you should expect funding-wise from your department, and some academic job opportunities you can find to supplement your TA stipend. Tune in here to learn more about the precariousness of being a grad student!
academia, budgets, funding, grad, graduate, masters, money, phd, school
- GA is a Graduate Assistant who may help administratively in a department (i.e. organize a small sized conference, bring in speakers, run the social media account of the department, etc.) and take on light researching duties.
- RA is a Research Assistant who works on a specified research project for either a professor or a research institute that is housed within the university system.
- TA is a Teaching Assistant who helps a professor or lecturer teach large undergraduate courses. Most duties include holding office hours for students, grading, proctoring exams, etc.
- We cited a CNN report from 2018, “How Graduate Students Pay for School”
- Interested in how a university with a unionized graduate student body works? Check out Rutgers! Collective bargaining for the win, y’all!
- Kanye is thinking about legally becoming, “Kanye Christian Genius Billionaire West”
- Washington Post article, “What we know about the mysterious vaping-linked illness and deaths,” in case you haven’t read the 100,000 news reports about it yet!
- Omar mentioned how our response to vaping deaths are driven in part by moral panics. What is a moral panic?