SOC119-Mom is the Panopticon: Modern Day Surveillance


Triggered by the U.S. senate reauthorizing section 702 of the FISA act, our conversation this week focuses on privacy and surveillance. With the internet, social media, and all of our new technology, do we have privacy anymore? We start the episode off talking about the classic sociological concept of Jeremy Bentham’s ‘Panopticon’. We also discuss the various ways (and reasons why) our government surveils us, how we tie morality in with privacy, and the consequences of doxxing and revenge porn. Tune in to hear how everyone is watching you!


You can find the transcript for this episode here. Thank you so so much to Elena Milusheva for transcribing this episode! We heart you!


surveillance, panopticon, privacy, modern technology


  1. Senate passes FISA Section 702 reauthorization (CNN)
  2. House Extends Surveillance Law, Rejecting New Privacy Safeguards (NY Times)
  3. What does the panopticon mean in the age of digital surveillance?
  4. Michel Foucault’s Discipline & Punish (1975) chapter on Panopticism
  5. The 10 Biggest Revelations From Edward Snowden’s Leaks
  6. Julia Angwin’s Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance
  7. Chapter 1 of Dragnet Nation
  8. ‘Dragnet Nation’ looks at the hidden systems that are always looking at you
  9. How ‘Doxxing’ Became a Mainstream Tool in the Culture Wars
  10. Revenge porn: the cyberwar against women
  11. Chrissy Chambers: Revenge porn almost killed me
  12. YouTuber wins damages in landmark UK revenge porn case
  13. Third person linked to 2014 iCloud hack that exposed explicit images of dozens of celebrities
  14. 143 million compromised Social Security numbers: everything you need to know about the Equifax hack
  15. ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Online Could Spread
  16. – audiobooks that support independent bookstores
  17. Nintendo Labo

SOC118: Love Struck or Love Sick?


As SZA likes to croon, “LoOOOoovvveeeee, long as we got loooovvVVEEeee.” And that’s this week’s topic! In this episode we explore what happens in our brains when we are struck with love, how sociologists like Charles Cooley and Theodore Kemper see love, and how love can be used as a tool of social control. To better understand this intense emotion, we also discuss Georg Simmel’s important concept of the Dyad. Do you agree with sociology’s view of love? Tune in to hear our discussion!

P.S. Happy consumerist Valentine’s Day, everyone! Xoxo– The Social Breakdown Crew


love, relationships, dyads


1. Biography of Georg Simmel

2. “Dyads and Triads” by Georg Simmel (1950) from The Sociology of Georg Simmel

Dyads are marked with: 

Triviality which “connotes a certain measure of frequency, of the consciousness that a content of life is repeated, while the value of this content depends on its very opposite– a certain measure of rarity” (p. 125).

Intimacy– Trivial acts lead to feelings of intimacy between the dyad, and “is based on what each of the two participants gives or shows only to the one other person and to nobody else” (p. 126). Simmel writes that it is these displays that make an intimate relationship, so “intimacy is not based on the content of the relationship” (p. 127).

3. Love and the Brain” from Harvard University’s Neurobiology Dep

4. Rihanna’s song “Love on the Brain”

5. Charles Cooley’s (1922) “The Social Self” in Human Nature and the Social Order

6. Erich Fromm’s (1955) The Sane Society

Love is union with somebody, or something, outside oneself, under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self.”

“In the experience of love lies the only answer to being human, lies sanity.”

7. Victor Seidler (1998) article called, “Masculinity, Violence and Emotional Life” in the book Emotions in Social Life

“We know how easily declarations of love can operate as forms of control within intimate relationships, as if the declaration is itself supposed to make the issues and conflicts disappear. Love can operate as a form of control. The words can be hollow and empty because they have become a ritualized response.”

8. Commodification of Valentine’s Day example: On Valentines Day we spend $19.7 billion on heart-shaped nick-nacks!

9. Doxxing Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the FCC who pushed for the dismantling of Net Neutrality

SOC117-The Forgotten Founding Father: W.E.B. Du Bois


Ever wonder why sociology emphasizes fieldwork, quantitative research, and participant observation? Or who challenged the notion of the ‘armchair theorist’? In recognizing Black History Month, we pay homage to the often ignored, great modern sociologist, W.E.B. Du Bois. Using the book, The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology (2015) by Dr. Aldon D. Morris, we discuss the legacy and contribution of Du Bois and retell the story of the origins of modern sociology. While faculty and students are gradually incorporating the work of Du Bois in their research and syllabi, the overall discipline of sociology has not yet fully acknowledged Du Bois’ work and contribution as the father of modern American sociology. Tune in to hear the convo!

Be honest, frank and fearless and get some grasp of the real values of life…READ  SOME GOOD, HEAVY SERIOUS BOOKS just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself.”  -W.E.B. Du Bois [emphasis added].


You can find the transcript for this episode here! Huge mahalo to Elena Milusheva for volunteering to transcribe. We truly appreciate it!


Black History Month, Du Bois, double consciousness, social sciences, sociology


  1. The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology by Aldon D. Morris 
  2. The Philadelphia Negro (Du Bois 1899) 
  3. Souls of Black Folk [Double Consciousness] (Du Bois 1903)
  4. Short animated video on Souls of Black Folk 
  5. Lecture from Aldon D. Morris: W.E.B. Du Bois at the Center: From Science, Civil Rights Movement, to Black Lives Matter (2016) 
  6. Current issue of the sociology journal titled, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. This issue features several studies focusing on Du Bois. At the very least, check out the abstracts!
  7. Du Bois and Race Conflict: Crash Course

SOC116-Constructing Race and Black History Month


February is Black History Month (BHM), which means… we gotta talk about it! This week we dig into the history behind BHM, talk about the founder of the holiday (the fascinating Dr. Carter Woodson), and tackle the many critiques and debates surrounding the month. Like, why the heck is BHM on the shortest month of the year?! Why do we usually only celebrate a select few Black figures this month? Is BHM a productive event? Oh also, did you know that race is a social construct? That’s right! Join in to hear the conversation and let us know what you think!

Episode Corrections: 

Omar: I meant to say melanin and NOT melatonin when discussing the social construction of race.

Omar: Barrack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was an American anthropologist. She is not from Germany. In fact, she lived in Hawaii and studied at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Though I said “I think,” I was wrong. [We all should have known that!]


race, racism, black history month, social construction


  1. What is a “Social Construct”?
    1. An idea or concept that is created and accepted by members of a society. These are ideas that are not “natural” or universal across all cultures and societies.
  2. “11 Things That Are Social Constructs” (2016),  Jane Paolantonio
  3. What We Mean When We Say ‘Race Is a Social Construct’”, in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2013)
  4. Article from King and Brown (2014) “Once a Year to be Black
  5. Article from The Atlantic by Melinda Anderson (2016), “Black History Month in Schools– Retire or Reboot?
  6. Biography of Carter Woodson, the “Father of Black History
  7. NPR report on Marian Andersen, “Denied A Stage, She Sang For A Nation” (2014)
  8. Biography of bad-ass Bessie Coleman
  9. Biography and work of poet Audre Lorde

SOC115 – I Do (Not): Marriage and Family in the 21st Century


We’re baaaack! This week we’re discussing two major social institutions that are in the midst of serious change: First, the Family! How does sociology look at the family unit? How is the family used as a tool of socialization? What about those ‘non-traditional’ families? Second, that thing that to many of us symbolizes the start of a family– Marriage! We talk about the economic benefits of getting married, our own personal takes on marriage, and the gradual but very real deinstitutionalization of marriage. Listen, learn, and let us know what you think!


Marriage, Family, Socialization


  1. Different types of marriages:
    1. Monogamy involves a family with one wife and one husband.
    2. Polygamy involves multiple spouses.
    3. Endogamy involves marrying a person with similar social characteristics
      1. The Chinese phrase “Men Dang Hu Dui”, or “The doors must match” is a cultural example of endogamy. As Chao Yang in Television and Dating in Contemporary China writes, the phrase “‘Men Dang Hu Dui’ [is] behind traditional arranged marriage, in which being introduced to a marriage partner from a family with similar social rank was the norm” (p. 118).
    4. Exogamy involves marrying someone with different social characteristics
    5. Bigamy is when you marry another person when you’re already married to someone else
  2. ‘Modern Family’ TV show
  3. ‘Sister Wives’ TV show
  4. Brigham Young, famous Mormon polygamist
  5. 2013 Pew Research Poll that found 88% of Americans marry for love. Awww. Of course this is just one study, but it’s Pew so it’s legitimate!
  6. Cook’s 2015 article on the economic benefits of marriage, “For Richer, Not Poorer: Marriage and the Growing Class Divide”
  7. Amanda William’s 2013 article, “Is Marriage Now Just a Middle-Class Institution?”
  8. Amanda Hess’ 2013 article, “Marriage is the New Middle-Class Luxury Item”
  9. Jeanna Smialek’s 2017 article,“The Decline of Marriage is Hitting Vegas Hard”
    1. Marriage has become a clear dividing line in a stratified country. Its decline is most pronounced among those who didn’t go beyond high school, as better educated people tend to marry each other. America’s working and middle classes are faring badly, and the research points to unraveling families as one cause.”
  10. Deinstitutionalization
    1. Definition: “A weakening of the social norms that define partners’ behavior.”
    2. From Andrew Cherlin’s  2004 article, “The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage”
  11. Ritual
    1. Definition: “any regular pattern of interaction.” Something that is considered “normal”, “regular”, or “the norm”.
  12. Trump calling Haiti and African countries “shitholes” (despite the fact that the largest shithole on this planet is Trump’s mouthhole) (Washington Post)
  13. Senate Passes Bill to Extend Key Surveillance Program” from the Washington Post
  14. What is a VPN–Virtual Private Network
  15. What is a VPN and how does it work? video 

Save the date! Season 2 Premiere!!

Hey everyone,

The SBR team here – we are delaying the start of season 2 by a bit because the new semester is busier than we thought it would be! Season 2 will be premiering on January 24th! Save the date, and in the meantime, check out our previous episodes if you really miss us!

As always, please leave us a review on iTunes. We just broke 3,800 downloads, which is HUUUUUGE!! Thank you for all your support! The more you like, share, subscribe, and review us, the closer we are to stardom!

All the best,

The SBR team

Breakaway Episode 1: The Infamous N-Word


Technically we’re on Winter Vacay, but Ellen and Omar couldn’t wait for the new semester to start up! So, we broke away to have a conversation about the infamous N-word, how it’s used, what it means, and what educators should do when they hear their students use it. Join us in this breakaway episode as we discuss this multifaceted word.

The views presented in this episode are not meant to reflect the opinions of an entire racialized group of people. The opinions reflect the thoughts of Ellen and Omar. Send us your thoughts, as this topic will inevitably come up again in the podcast and in our daily lives.


black, censorship, education, educator, identity, language, nword, race, sociology, language, history

No resources, as this is a breakaway episode.

SOC114 – Mini-Episode: Winter Vacay is here to stay yay!


We’ve taken a break for the winter holidays but here’s a quick check-in from the gang, along with some reading recommendations for those cozy nights!


books, coates, hochschilds, marmot, society, sociological, sociology, literature, reading, emotions, race, medicine, health


  1. Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates (2015)
  2. The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Hochschild (2012)
  3. Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity by Michael Marmot (2005)

SOC113 – Christmas Rituals & Traditions: Mariah Carey VS Chipmunks


Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s hard to avoid it. Not only is it a day of celebration for Christian religions, but it has become commercialized and commodified for the sake of consumption and capitalism. Christmas also has a strong culture associated with it, full of rituals and traditions–from decorating the tree to gift-giving to singing in groups in front of people’s houses. Join us this week as we discuss these rituals, and get some tips from our amazing sociology gift guide!


Christmas, rituals, traditions, religion, holidays, gift giving, culture, sociology, Emerson, Mauss, norms, Durkheim, Xmas


  1. The Penguin Definition of Sociology 
  2. Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life 
  3. Japanese bowing guide
  4. Trump mocked Obama for bowing to a Saudi king. And then he … (Washington Post 2017)
  5. Contributions To Churches Are Studied (New York Times 1994)
  6. Christmas Traditions and Customs 
  7. History of Christmas Trees 
  8. Mariah Carey – All I want for Christmas is You 
  9. Chipmunk Christmas playlist
  10. Marcel Mauss’s (1925) seminal essay on gift giving  “The Gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies”

    “That when an object is given as a gift, it becomes inextricably tied to the giver. To make a gift of something is to make a present of some part of oneself.”

  11. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s (1844) essay “Gifts” 
  12. A Sociologist Studied Christmas Gifts, and Here’s What He Learned (The New Republic 2013) 
  13. Gift wrapping in Japan
  14. Sociology gifts
  15. Donate to a good organization. Check out some of these websites to make sure your charity is legitimate and effective! Charity NavigatorGiveWellBBB Wise Giving AllianceGuideStarCharity Watch
  16. Sorry Megyn Kelly, Santa Claus Isn’t White (Huffington Post 2017) 
  17. What Fox News Doesn’t Understand About Santa Claus (Slate 2017) 
  18. While Coca Cola did not create the image of the elderly Santa in his red suit and black belt and jolly smile, the company played a large role in shaping the global perception of Santa through commercialization and ad campaigns.

SOC112 – (Neo)liberalism and its Discontents


Looking back at its historical origins, the social breakdown crew talks about liberalism and its manifestations in our contemporary world. What is “new” about neoliberalism? John Locke–a British philosopher enshrined in American legal and political doctrine–talks a lot about freedom and liberty, but for whom? To what end? What can be said about conservatism and liberalism as it relates to our sense of self and political affiliations? Join our discussion on neoliberalism and its discontents–we’re not too happy about it either.


You can find a transcript for his episode here! Thank you so so much to Elena Milusheva for helping us transcribe. You rock!


Neoliberalism, liberalism, sociology, economics, capitalism, politics, freedom, culture


  1. John Locke’s biography 
  2. Liberalism: the perspective that all individuals must be equally allowed “civil interests,” which he defined as, “life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like”

    From John Locke’s (1693) Some Thoughts Concerning Education 

  3. A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke (1689) 
  4. Definition of indolency 
  5. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Declaration of Independence (1776) 

  6. John Locke Against Freedom (Jacobin 2015) 
  7. What is neoliberalism? 
  8. Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now (Free Press 2017) 
  9. Battle for the Net: Save Net Neutrality 
  10. Linda Taylor, welfare queen: Ronald Reagan made her a notorious American Villain (Slate 2013) 
  11. The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original ‘Welfare Queen’ (NPR 2013) 
  12. “Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism is Destroying Our Democracy” (The Nation 2017) 
  13. Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz (2003)
  14. Nobel Prize-winning economist Stiglitz tells us why ‘neoliberalism is dead’ (Business Insider 2016) 
  15. America is a neoliberal horror movie: Why “They Live” is the perfect film for our depraved times (Salon 2015) 
  16. U.S. Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin (Gallup Poll 2017) 
  17. Barack Obama: The deporter-in-chief (Al Jazeera 2017
  18. Here’s an offensive word we should retire right now (Chicago Tribune 2016)
  19. Let’s enjoy the white supremacist freakout after DNA tests show they aren’t 100 percent white (Salon 2017)
  20. White supremacist learns he’s 14% black 
  21. Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Wacquant 2009)
  22. “What is ‘Neo’ About Neoliberalism?” (New Republic 2017) 
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