SOC315 – The Political Spectacle: Symbols in Politics

Abstract

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!

Sources

  • For a refresher on what Symbolic Interactionism is, check out:
  • Murray Edelman’s biography
  • We used two of Edelman’s books quite a bit in this episode, they are:
  • 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). 
  • Penn read a quote from Joel Best’s article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Telling the Truth About Damned Lies and Statistics
  • 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!
  • Virtual dating platforms are taking off according to the NY Times!
  • Movie star Matt O’Damon?

SOC208 – Left Handed Devils: The Social Construction of Deviance

Abstract

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!

Keywords

Deviance, Crime, Criminology, Social Construction

Sources

SOC207 – Three Schools of Thought: Conflict Theory, Structural Functionalism, and Symbolic Interactionism

Abstract

This week we go back to the basics by introducing the three schools of sociological thought – conflict theory, structural functionalism, and symbolic interactionism. Knowing these three schools is a must for any aspiring sociologist. Join us as we discuss how Marx theorized the process of social change through conflict, why Durkheim believed society needed religion in order to function, and why people interpret the symbolic significance of guns differently. Which school of thought do you subscribe to?

Keywords

Sociology, theory, social theory, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, structural functionalism

Sources

  1. Definition of social theory 
  2. Understanding Social Problems, 5th ed by Mooney, Knox, and Schacht, 2007.
  3. A fun and short video from Crash Course titled, “Major Sociological Paradigms” that may help better understand the three theories
  4. Conflict – Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto 
  5. Conflict – Arlie Hochschild’s The Managed Heart
  6. Structural Functionalism – Talcott Parson’s The Social System
  7. Structural Functionalism – Emile Durkheim’s The Division of Labour in Society 
  8. Symbolic Interactionism – Herbert Blumer’s Symbolic Interactionism 
  9. Symbolic Interactionism – George Herbert Mead’s Mind, Self, and Society
  10. Symbolic Interactionism – An excerpt from Charles Cooley about the Looking Glass Self