SOC216 – Feminist & Critical Criminology: Problematizing the State (Guest Edition)


Feminism has a bad rep, but it’s an important social movement fighting for equality across sex, gender, race in our society. Right on the heels of Alabama and Georgia passing some of the most restrictive abortion laws that criminalize mothers and doctors who perform abortions, this week’s episode features a guest expert, Dr. Nicholas Chagnon, who helps us untangle the perspectives of critical feminism and feminist criminology. Learn how these perspectives analyze women’s reproductive rights, as well as how they approach criminology from a female-centered perspective.


Find a transcription for this episode here. Big thanks to Mallorie Watts for transcribing this episode! Mahalo nui loa!


Feminism, criminology, critical criminology, feminist criminology, reproductive rights, the nation state


  • A few primer episodes to listen to:
  1. SOC107 – Who You Gonna Call? The Crimebusters!
  2. SOC204 – The Spectrum: An Introduction to Sex and Gender
  3. SOC205 – The Matrices of Oppression: An Introduction to Intersectionality
  4. SOC208 – Left Handed Devils: The Social Construction of Deviance
  5. SOC 214 – Reproductive Politics: The Body as a Site of Political Struggle

SOC215 – Social Stratification, Capitalism, and Inequality: All the Sad Things


This week we’re introducing the alliterative and uber important concept of social stratification: how people are sorted into different hierarchical groups based on the intersections of class, race, gender, wealth, etc. Using the perspectives of Karl Marx and Max Weber, we discuss capitalism’s role in this hot unequal mess. Take a listen to the episode, as we break it down the current state of inequality in the world. And don’t forget to give us a rating and review after you listen! Mahalooooo!


Social stratification, wealth, income, inequality, capitalism, Karl Marx, Max Weber


  1. What is social stratification? Social Stratification involves hierarchical differences associated with economic positions, social status and political power. How people are sorted into different groups based on class, race, gender, wealth, etc. Social stratification has a significant effect on how valuable resources (and by extension, class status and power) are allocated in society (adapted from Ritzer’s Introduction to Sociology)
  2. Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto can be accessed for free here
  3. Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Economy and Society excerpts here
  4. Guess how much money Jeff Bezos makes? Too much.
  5. Amazon employee Vickie Shannon Allen who hurt her back while working in an Amazon factory that did not meet safety standards.
  6. Zuckerberg San Francisco General hospital overcharging their patients for care and medicine
  7. Of course, Ellen brought up Rachel Dolezal again… Wonder what she’s up to?
  8. Free online copy of The Great Gatsby. If you haven’t read it before, you should go back to your 6th grade teacher and ask him/her what in the heck they were teaching that year that they didn’t make you read The Great Gatsby.
  9. After the recent HBO documentary, “Leaving Neverland” about Michael Jackson, The Simpsons pulled an episode featuring the pop star
  10. Stem cell treatment curing HIV/AIDS in the UK– Hooray!

Breakaway 6 – “JPOP, KPOP, and Boy Bands”: A Rant by Dr. Penn


We do a quick breakaway this week on a fun topic – boybands! Why is J-Pop and K-Pop so globally popular? What’s the difference between American, Japanese, and Korean boybands anyway? K-Pop is known for their perfectly choreographed and intricate dancing with pitch perfect singing; while J-Pop aims to be your boyband next door. But you might be surprised to learn that they arose out of very different sociopolitical contexts! Each genre has quite an interesting history in relation to trade, economy, and globalization. We discuss the idea of soft power, and how various industries use their cultural products to become a cultural force around the world.
Boybands, consumption, popular culture, JPop, Kpop

  1. BTS – one of the currently most popular K-Pop group
  2. K-Pop Group BTS Wins 2019 TIME 100 Reader Poll
  3. BTS’ UN speech in 2018
  4. BTS’ DNA – their most watched music video as of April 2019
  5. Soft Power” article by Joseph Nye (for the book, see here)
  6. SMAP – one of Japan’s most famous boybands
  7. SMAP’s “Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana” – one of their most famous songs

SOC 214 – Reproductive Politics: The Body as a Site of Political Struggle


In this episode, the team tackles one of the most sensitive topics within current social discussions – reproductive politics. Using Rickie Solinger’s seminal book Reproductive Politics, we discuss how the women’s bodies have become a site of public political struggle, thereby, determining the level of personal autonomy and privacy available to women. We highlight an aspect of Solinger’s work on fetal personhood, and how the rights of the fetus have been constructed, in some ways, in conflict with the mother’s rights.

*NOTE: This episode was recorded last year in 2018 (hence, the breakdowns are old), but we did not want to release it until we had covered the umbrella topics around reproductive politics. For a primer on episodes to listen to before this episode, check out the following:

  1. SOC109 – Illness & Morality: A Look at Medical Sociology
  2. SOC126-Medicalizing Behavior: Common or “Abnormal”?
  3. SOC204 – The Spectrum: An Introduction to Sex and Gender
  4. SOC205 – The Matrices of Oppression: An Introduction to Intersectionality
  5. SOC 213 – Doulas and Midwives and Women’s Health, Oh My!

Reproductive politics, fetal personhood, autonomy, sex, gender


  1. Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know by Rickie Solinger (2013)
  2. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Judith Butler (2015)
  3. The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity by Michael Marmot (2005)
  4. Breastfeeding in public is finally legal in all 50 US states
  5. Roe v. Wade: The Constitutional Right to Access Safe, Legal Abortion
  6. Does the GOP tax bill introduce anti-abortion ‘fetal personhood’ legislation?
  7. Abortion after the first trimester
  8. Induced Abortion in the United States
  9. Trump just basically said he’s anti-childbirth
  10. The Criminalization of Bad Mothers (New York Times)
  11. State Laws on Fetal Homicide and Penalty-Enhancement for Crimes Against Pregnant Women
  12. Unborn Victims of Violence Act
  13. Woman whose rapist was granted joint custody of child speaks out
  14. How can US rapist win joint custody of victim’s child?
  15. Ronald Reagan, The Silent Scream and the Slow Rise of Fetal Pain
  16. Abortion in the US: Five Key Facts
  17. Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008
  18. Waiting Periods and the Rising Price of Abortion

SOC 213 – Doulas and Midwives and Women’s Health, Oh My!


The Social Breakdown Team is at it again with another really important topic–Women’s Health! On this week’s show Omar and Ellen will be having a discussion with Alexandra, a current University of Hawai’i at Manoa PhD Student, medical sociologist, and a practicing doula! What is a doula? What is midwifery? Join us for the conversation as Alex gives us a brief but important tour of women’s health, mythbusting the differences between being a doula and a midwife, and much more.


Women’s health, feminism, intersectionality, gender, childbirth, medical sociology


  1. Other episodes we’ve released that relate to the sociology of women’s health:
    1. SOC204 – The Spectrum: An Introduction to Sex and Gender
    2. SOC205 – The Matrices of Oppression: An Introduction to Intersectionality
    3. SOC126 – Medicalizing Behavior: Common or “Abnormal”?
  2. Doula: A person who supports a birthing mom, like a childbirth coach. They are not medically trained or experienced in prenatal, birth, and postpartum health care, like midwives are.
  3. Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (2013) by Rickie Solinger.
  4. Brief look at midwifery.
  5. Before judging ‘late-term abortion,’ understand what it means, doctors say (CNN)
  6. FACT CHECK: Dr. J Marion Sims, not Richard Sims, was considered the “Father of Gynecology”, until more of his corrupt racist history and medical experimentation on slaves began to resurface.
  7. For more on colonialism and medical experimentation, see Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid (2008).
  8. Recent Hawaii State House and Senate bill governing midwifery on the Hawaiian islands. It is an example of the institutionalization of the birthing process. It was passed in the House and Senate with amendments on Feb 15, 2019.
  9. For theories surrounding how the female body is the site of political project and struggle, be sure to tap into Judith Butler, Simone De Beauvoir, Michel Foucault.
  10. For scholars on childbirth, Robbie David-Floyd, Ann Oakley.
  11. English and Ehrenreich’s Witches Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers,
  12. Oparah and Bonaparte’s Birthing Justice, which looks at indigenous and women of color’s experience of childbirth, capitalism in childbirth, racism and obstetric violence from mother’s, doulas, and midwives point of views.
  13. Guttmacher Institute.

SOC 212 – Our Imagined Communities: Intro to Migration Studies (Guest Edition)”


This week, we have a guest speaker on to give an introduction to migration studies. This topic has a lot to do with current events such as DACA, The Wall, and various other immigration policies. Tune in to learn more about how Sociology approaches these issues, and how we are all living in an imagined community – a concept put forth by Benedict Anderson to highlight the ideological project of ‘culture.’



SOC211 – “It Ain’t a Rug!”: Edward Said’s Orientalism

We’re getting theoretical this week and tackling Orientalism, a concept and book by the fantastic Dr. Edward Said. If you’re taking a higher-level sociology, anthropology, history, or poli sci class, chances are you’re gonna hear “orientalism” thrown around! What is heck is it? (Hint: It ain’t a rug, a fast-food take out place, or the way to describe how someone looks!) What is its connection to imperialism and colonialism? And how has it influenced scholarship and research in the past and present? Tune in to learn more and be sure to give us a rating!

  1. Edward Said’s book Orientalism (1978)
  2. Biography of Edward Said
  3. Biography of Nandita Sharma
  4. Contrapuntal reading (Oxford Reference)
  5. An article by Roger Owen (2012) titled, “Edward Said and the Two Critiques of Orientalism” from the Middle East Institute that outlines criticisms that have been levied against Said’s theories
  6. Interview with Edward Said where he discusses his background, orientalism, the Palestinian conflict and more.
  7. Edward Said on Charlie Rose (circa 1994)

SOC210 – PhD’s Guide to Research Ethics


This week, we’re bringing the PhD’s Guide series back to cover research ethics! Nowadays, researchers must carefully balance the potential knowledge a study can collect with the potential harm they may cause to the people participating in studies. But that definitely hasn’t always been the case! The treatment of Henrietta Lacks and studies like The Tearoom Trade are perfect examples of research ethics gone wrong. Tune in to learn more, and check out our website ( to read about the various studies we discussed in the episode.


Find the transcript for this episode here! Thank you so so much to Melinda Lloyd for transcribing and supporting us!


  1. What do we mean by research ethics?
    • Ethics is concerned with issues of right and wrong, the choices that people make, and how they justify them. Research ethics is a balance of potential knowledge – the goal is to increase knowledge – and potential harm – the goal is to minimize or eliminate harm. (Paraphrased from George Ritzer’s textbook, Introduction to Sociology)
  2. The American Sociological Association’s blurb about ethics in sociology
  3. A relevant earlier episode that has to do with ethics is our PhD’s Guide to Research Methodology, which you can listen to here!
  4. We discussed how living in poverty can change a person’s brain, which is discussed really well in this article by Tara Garcia Mathewson in The Atlantic titled, “How Poverty Changes the Brain
  5. We talk about the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) on our “Obedience, Whaddup?” episode, which you can find here:
  6. Some informative sources on the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment
  7. “On the Run” by Alice Goffman-which Ellen and Omar are fans of regardless of da haters!
  8. Critiques of Goffman’s book, which are worth a read:
  9. We also mentioned lack of privacy and consent in the Laud Humphrey’s study The Tearoom Trade
  10. “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
  11. Trump serving Clemson athletes fast food at the White House
  12. “Massive Fornite Security Breach Allowed Hackers to Take Over Accounts” from WTHR published Jan 17, 2019.
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