The way neighborhoods are transformed as investors, capital, and newcomers arrive cannot be understood without talking about cafes, lattes, food security, avocado toast, and race. Dr. Alison Alkon and Dr. Joshua Sbicca join us this week to discuss how food is both a gentrifying force and gentrified itself. The conversation was initiated by a new edited volume by our guests (and Dr. Yuki Kato who could not make it) titled, A Recipe for Gentrification! Tune in to learn more about how neighborhood foodscapes change, and how these changes warrant sociological analysis. All you food and environmental justice peeps, this one’s for you!
Over the past three years, those of us in higher education have become more and more aware of the role politics play in academia. And on July 6th 2020, things came to a head when the Department of Homeland Security announced that international students who take only online courses in Fall 2020 were required to transfer schools, find in-person classes to take, or leave the country. Roughly a week later, DHS rescinded the order. So, we have our friend and colleague, Nathalie Rita, with us to discuss the role of politics in the academy, the role of the academy in politics, and the precarity of international students in the United States. Tune in to listen to our special pre-election episode, and please GO VOTE!
Higher education, politics, election, international students, immigration
This week we sat down with Dr. Mary Kate Blake, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology from Valparaiso University, for a rundown of sociology of education. What is the sociology of education? How is education a structural component of society? Why is it so important to the economy and the labor market? We discuss the impacts of high school counselors, the journey of going to college, and of course, what education is like during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sociology of education, college, labor market, COVID-19
Penn and Ellen are avid fans of Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel. ‘Gourmet Makes,’ ‘Back to Back Chef,’ ‘It’s Alive with Brad’, and that one where Chris recreates dishes blind-folded– WE LOVE THEM ALL. But at the start of June, it was revealed that there is shocking inequality in Bon Appetit: white chefs appearing in videos were being paid for their time, while chefs of color were not, and leadership was engaging in other racist practices. So, we had to get together for a breakaway and talk about this drama, and how the culinary industry is rife with inequality. Tune in here!
Politics, politics, politics– what a fascinating part of our society that feels all-consuming sometimes. This week we’re going to explore politics using a Symbolic Interactionist lens and the fantastic work of Dr. Murray Edelman to make sense of what’s going on in our state and federal governments every day. Is politics an earnest attempt at changing our society for the good? Is it just a spectacle meant to distract us? Or maybe somewhere in between? Tune in here to learn more and stay healthy out there!
For a refresher on what Symbolic Interactionism is, check out:
Edelman argues that politics is made up of two types of symbols:
Referential Symbols: “economical ways of referring to the objective elements in objects or situations: The elements identified in the same way by different people. Such symbols are useful because they help in logical thinking about the situation and in manipulating it” (Edelman 1967:6).
Condensation Symbols: “evoke the emotions associated with the situation. They condense into one symbolic event, sign, or act patriotic pride, anxieties, remembrances of past glories or humiliations, promises of future greatness: some one of these or all of them” (Edelman 1967:6).
Kellyanne Conway’s misleading ignorance of where COVID-19’s name comes from can be read about here.
Ellen’s sci-fi obsession was recently quenched with VOX by Christina Dlacher, which has relevant themes about the power of language in politics
Other great dystopian sci-fi books surrounding politics and power? The Power by Naomi Alderman, The Handmaid’s Tale & The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, and many many more. If you wanna geek out or have more recommendations, contact Ellen!
Sociology is obviously concerned about connecting private troubles to public issues, as C. Wright Mills once said. Sociologists are also deeply interested in the relationships between people, and the intimate relationships we have with family members. This week, we have a fantastic guest, Dr. Sarah Patterson, who is helping us make sense of these connections. Sarah will be talking with us about families, family demography, and Intergenerational Solidarity Theory. What makes families work or struggle through their interactions? And do families promote positive social solidarity among all its members? Come join us for the conversation!
You find Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/spattersearch
And find her research at: http://thespattersearch.com
Check out the podcast she co-hosts, New Books Network’s Sociology
I-Fen Lin and Hsueh-Sheng Wu’s 2017 article on how children tend to overreport the time and money they spend on their parents, “Intergenerational Transfer and Reporting Bias: An Application of the MIMIC Model”
Also, here is a source on family solidarity after a parent has passed (a question Ellen posed mid way through the conversation) that Sarah emailed us after we finished recording, from Matthijs Kalmijn and Thomas Leopold titled, “Changing Sibling Relationships After Parents’ Death: The Role of Solidarity and Kinkeeping”
We’re using our understanding of the three schools of sociological theory to breakdown deviance and crime this week. What is deviance? What is crime? How are they different? How does society create the definitions of what is a deviant behavior and what is a criminal act? We discuss power and inequality, as well as look at deviance and crime through the lens of the three schools of sociological thought – structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Check out our previous episode on the three schools of thought, SOC207, if you haven’t already so you understand our discussion today! Thanks for listening and please give us a rating, too!
1) Expectation of a norm (or “mores” i.e., thou shall not murder, thou shall not steal for personal gain, intended or unintended violence towards children etc.)
2) Violation of a norm
3) Personal and/or societal reaction to the norm being broken (informal and/or formal sanctions)
Deviance is a socially defined construct and refers to any action, belief, or human characteristic that members of a society or a social group consider a violation of group norms for which the violator is likely to be censured or punished.
We quote Howard Becker (1963), saying, “Deviance is not a consequence of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the [creation and] application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’ ” This comes from his book, Outsiders.
We’re back with another PhD’s Guide on an important and timely topic: the graduate school application process! This week, we’re talking about the general do’s and do not’s when trying to impress those higher education programs to accept you as a worthy candidate. The tips provided in this episode are not specific to sociology departments, so you peeps of all academic persuasions (and even peeps with distant interests in grad school) TUNE IN, perhaps we can help!
Remember, heed only the advice that you think is appropriate. We’re just here to tell you our perspective, and our perspectives are never 100% correct all the time. This is YOUR academic journey, so you decide how you wanna do it! And we wish you the best of luck on this application journey!
Application due dates run from late Fall to early Spring, so double check the dates for each institution that you apply to!
When writing your statement of purpose, highlight 1 or 2 profs from the program you’re applying to that you’d like to work with
Practice writing your statement of purpose. Carve out more time than necessary. Though short, these essay prompts are taken seriously! Rule #1 stay within the word limit. You’ll have plenty of time to write lengthy papers once you’re accepted, so keep it short and tight for now.
If the university does interviews, PRACTICE! **Most programs will not require an interview but even going to the campus and introducing yourself to some faculty can separate you from the rest of the pack! So talk and walk with confidence. You have nothing to lose.
Be aware of yourself. Don’t use grad school as a way to bide time. The amount of time and resources you’ll spend on an education that you’re not truly interested in is NOT worth it!
Do not be stingy or picky–consider all sources of funding! $$$ is tight these days.
Email us if you have any other questions. This is an important time of year.
Like all living things, humans are creatures of habit, routine, and– most importantly– learned and patterned behavior. So this week, the Social Breakdown team has the interesting task of teasing out difference between the socialized and patterned behaviors of conformity and obedience. We use Stanley Milgram’s shock experiment to understand how obedience plays into social roles, status, and hierarchies. Also, how do culture and institutions affect this social phenomena? Join us for the conversation!
obedience, social psychology, socialization
Obedience: Complying with an order, request, or law, OR submission to another’s authority.
How is obedience different from conformity?
1) Obedience involves an order; conformity involves a request.
2) Obedience involves following the order of someone with a higher status; conformity usually involves going along with people of equal status.
3) Obedience relies on social power; conformity relies on the need to be socially accepted.
If you want to read more about Erving Goffman’s discussion on how obedience and conformity are used in institutions, like the military, you can read his book, Asylums (1961)
44 min long documentary on the Obedience Experiment with Stanley Milgram narrating