Many people have heard the phrase, “take a walk in my shoes,” but what does this really mean? Is it possible to understand what someone is going through without sharing the same experiences? The answers to these questions may seem obvious, but it’s more complicated than you think! So this week, we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of distinguishing empathy from sympathy, and defining the two. As the world is facing unprecedented times and world leaders are contracting COVID-19, perhaps a little bit of empathy is important… or is it not? Join us for another fun dip in social psychology and emotions!
Empathy, sympathy, sociology of emotions, social psychology, COVID-19
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
Welcome to senior year! It’s Fall 2020 and we are off to a great start with part 3 of our “You’re all sociologists!” series. For this premiere episode, we catch up on what the gang has been up to after summer vacation and we discuss how to take sociology to the next level. What does being a sociologist mean during this time of social unrest and political turmoil? How can we use the sociological imagination to help us understand the current social issues? Grab your thinking hat and join us for a new semester of advanced sociology!
Keywords: sociology, society, sociological imagination, public sociology
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!
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:
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”