We’re continuing our #BlackLivesMatter miniseries and exploring what it means when people demand that we defund the police. Annually the U.S. spends around $115 billion on police departments– an amount that has tripled over the past 40 years. So supporters of #BLM are calling for divestment from police as one way to combat police violence and aggression. What does defunding look like? How would it happen? And wait, wait, wait, with less police won’t crime go up?! Tune in here to learn more.
#BlackLivesMatter, social movements, race, racism, police brutality, police violence
Check out this article from the Guardian “What does ‘defund the police’ mean?” that finds that over the past 40 years, the budgets for police departments across the US have tripled in funding amounts to roughly $115 billion this year.
Note: This is a re-release of an old episode we did back in November 2017. While we were not discussing resistance and social movements in the context of George Floyd’s murder and the #BlackLivesMatter protests, we still believe the content is relevant today.
Resist! It’s such a buzzword with deep historical roots, but what exactly is resistance? What does it mean to resist and to struggle? How can we resist? What are some strategies or ways to resist? Many social issues are now at the forefront of the global conversation, especially with Trump’s presidency, from racism to sexual harassment, to basic human decency. Resistance is a difficult and long-drawn out process – it’s not for us, it’s for our children. It’s not for today, but for tomorrow. Change can’t happen without resistance, so join us this week to learn more!
Sociology, resistance, social movements, social change, protest
The #BlackLivesMatter social movement has been gaining momentum after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25, and protests have been seen around the world and in every state in the U.S. We here at the Social Breakdown have been trying to figure out how we can do our part in the movement, and this miniseries is one of the results. So, the first episode of our #BlackLivesMatter miniseries is about the BLM movement itself. Who created it? How is it organized? What is BLM calling for? And why should you not say, “But, but, don’t All Lives Matter??” Tune in here to learn more.
#blacklivesmatter, social movements, protest, police, race, racism
The Pew Research Center recently published an article titled, “10 Things We Know About Race and Policing in the U.S.” where they found, “Black adults are about five times as likely as whites to say they’ve been unfairly stopped by police because of their race or ethnicity (44% vs. 9%), according to the same survey. Black men are especially likely to say this: 59% say they’ve been unfairly stopped, versus 31% of black women.”
Also, do your part and email, call, and tweet at the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher and demand the arrest and charging of the three officers who killed Breonna.
Ellen ended the episode with a quote from an NPR Fresh Air episode where Queen Terry Gross interviewed Historian Eric Foner on the Reconstruction period, which you can listen to here:
The insightful quote from Dr. Foner: “ I think African Americans have a very different view of what freedom is than most white people, and that’s because of different historical experiences. I think – this is a gross oversimplification, which you can find many exceptions to, but still I think a lot of truth in it – most white people in this country think freedom is something they have and that somebody often is trying to take away from them. Most black people in this country think that freedom is something they are aspiring to achieve. It’s a process. It’s something to be fully gained in the future. And that is a basic difference which affects their views on many, many aspects of our society, whether it’s the law, the criminal justice system, the economic system, et cetera.”
There’s a lotta roles grad students play in the university, and one of them is being a teacher. So, we have a PhD’s Guide to Teaching today to help all of you newbies prepare for teaching in higher education. How do you format an in-person class vs. an online class? How long does a new course take to plan (HINT: A lot longer that you think!)? And why should you NOT friend your students on Pokemon Go? Tune in here to hear our 10 tips for teaching, and please stay safe and healthy out there!
Learn your institutional resources! Your university likely has a center for teaching that you can ask for assistance. For example, here at UH we have the Center for Teaching Excellence that holds informative workshops like ‘how to deal with problem students’ or ‘how to get started teaching online’ or ‘how to manage a large classroom.’ Go to these workshops and hone your teaching craft!
Bonus tip: USE YOUR SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION and have empathy for your students’ situations (especially now that we’re in the COVID-19 era)! Maybe they’re working a full-time job to put themselves through college; Maybe they have family problems or mental health issues they are dealing with. Remember that students have lives of their own, and in the same way when you’re having a bad day and still have to show up to teach, students may be having a bad day and barely want to sit in class and learn about Marx. Check these resources out to get a better perspective:
Medical error– defined as unintended or failed plan of actions related to treatments– is an understudied in medical sociology. Patient harm from medical error can occur at the individual and systemic level however, and it might shock you to learn that it happens more often than not– it’s technically the third leading cause of death in the United States! Listen to our discussion on what societal factors contribute to medical error. Leave us a rating and review if you enjoy our podcast!
Medical error, medical sociology, medicine, hospitals, doctors
We’ve got a new series for you where we answer listener questions about sociology, theory, grad school, and more! So, in our inaugural episode we’re answering a HUGE question: How do you define “society”? Sounds easy, but trust us (and the ~20 min length of this episode), it ain’t! Tune in here to learn how we define society and its close connection with culture! And if you have your own question to ask, don’t be shy and send it to us. We’d love to try to answer it!
We’re building off of last week’s episode on pop culture today with a deep dive into film analysis with a special guest, Prof. Brian Brutlag from The Sociologist’s Dojo! Brian talks with us about two seemingly unconnected concepts– Zen Buddhism and the White Male Savior Complex– and how they’re now being used together in film narratives. Tune in here to learn more about how we can use sociology to make sense of film trends and stories, and also how we can use it to analyze cinematic flaws. You can check out Brian’s blog at thesociologistsdojo.blogspot.com, and you know where to find us!
Popular culture, Zen Buddhism, white male savior, film, masculinity
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
Some earlier related episodes that you may find helpful!
Soft power is a term coined by economist Joseph Nye to refer to “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment” (JSTOR).
Japan has been especially good at navigating soft power in popular culture with the use of mukokuseki or items/characters that lack in group membership, nationality, race/ethnicity, etc. They are stateless!
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!
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!
Use the app Libby for to turn your phone essentially into a free Kindle that can access your local library’s collection
Or do the ever illegal Google search of “TITLE OF BOOK free PDF”. You might come up illegally lucky!
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: