97 posts categorized "Relationships, Marriage and Family"

August 30, 2013

Good Times and Social Problems

Pratt-HarrisPhotoBy Natasha C. Pratt-Harris, Assistant Professor & Criminal Justice Program Coordinator
Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Morgan State University      

When I was a college student, I scheduled classes around syndicated episodes of Good Times, a 1970s sitcom about the intact African American Evans family of five who lived in a housing project on the south side of Chicago. Although the show had been off the air for nearly 15 years and I had watched every episode, I found myself running back to my dorm room between classes to watch the show. 

I am sure that if YouTube or a smart phone were around then, I would have had more ease in satisfying my Good Times fix.  While I thought I was being purely entertained, I was an evolving sociologist who was experiencing social problems on the tube.  My near-obsession with the show made sense when I became a professor.  When I teach social problems in the classroom, I often discuss the Good Times story lines.  I had come to realize that what I once thought was purely humorous could become a tool in an online class. 

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August 23, 2013

Living in the Land of Excessive Choices (sort of)

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

 When I was in college I practically lived on cereal. It was the 1980s, I had just became a vegetarian, and I was attending a college in the Midwest that had not really mastered the culinary arts for the non-meat-eating student. They tried, but a slab of warm, unseas oned tofu swimming in oil just didn’t cut it.

With limited options, the cereal bar became my best friend. Although some students might bemoan having breakfast for three meals a day I literally ate it up. What I liked best was that I had six different types of cereal from which to choose. As someone who grew up on Cheerios and Wheaties, having three times as many choices—much less having them available all day long—was cereal heaven. I loved mixing and matching flavors and with only 120 combinations (5! for you mathletes out there—I never included Raisin Bran in the mix), I was able to try every conceivable mixture in a year.

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August 05, 2013

Discrimination, Prejudice and the Law

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

When the U.S. Supreme Court makes decisions, it is to enforce and clarify the limits of the law. We, the people, rejoice when legal decisions come our way or compliment our point of view. When those decisions are not aligned with our way of thinking, we complain.

In 1965, the Civil Rights Act and other laws that were passed which resulted in advancements in opportunity and equal rights based on race, ethnicity, and gender. In response to the Civil Rights and women’s movements, many states eased their laws restricting abortion and in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s  Roe v. Wade decision improved women’s access to reproductive health care by legalizing abortion and asserting a woman’s constitutional right to control her own body and make decisions about her fertility. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made two decisions that improved access to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

In each set of decisions, some people applauded the changes, some protested.

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July 16, 2013

Everyday Sociology Talk: Annette Lareau on Social Class and Parenting



Annette Lareau of the University of Pennsylvania discusses the findings from her book, Unequal Childhoods.

For more videos, see www.youtube.com/nortonsoc

July 04, 2013

Psychology is Social

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

The world is interdisciplinary. In education and academia, we’ve divided the world up into multiple perspectives or academic disciplines; it’s good to be reminded that we’re all looking at the same things from different perspectives – and that those perspectives sometimes converge.

I’ve encountered some news stories and books that illustrate that the more research we do, the more we realize that psychological issues and sociological concepts converge. While we typically reserve the field of social psychology for those areas in which psychology and sociology overlap, recent research confirms that psychological issues involve social contexts – and sociological concepts – more than previously thought.

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May 12, 2013

Honoring Parents

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

How do you spend the two days of the year that we honor the challenging and important job that parents do? Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated in the U.S. in May and June, respectively. Both days generate many family interactions, restaurant orders, greeting card sales, and phone calls.

On the surface, these days appear to be equivalent and equally valued holidays that are meant to honor those who generate and raise children. However, the history and current practices highlight some differences in what mothers and fathers mean to our society.

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April 08, 2013

Data are Everywhere

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

From day one in my statistics course, I tell my students that data are everywhere. Even though the word makes it sound like data is everywhere, the word data is plural thus they are everywhere.

Facebook helped me make the point recently when they posted a note and shared information gleaned from posting patterns (empirical data!) during the week that the Supreme Court heard arguments on marriage equality.

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April 04, 2013

Gay Marriage: It’s Personal

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman       

Recently, gay marriage and gay rights have been at the forefront of the nation’s attention. As the Supreme Court heard two historic arguments on same-sex marriage, the top story in print, on the airwaves, and over the Internet has revolved around these issues.  

My interest in such matters started much earlier, specifically in January 1991. At the time, my brother and I were driving back to New York from Washington, D.C. after attending a rally protesting the Gulf War. We spent the whole weekend together talking about things both serious and frivolous. It wasn’t until we were about two exits away from our hometown when my brother woke me up from a nap saying that he had something to tell me. I thought he was going to say that he got pulled over for a speeding ticket. Instead, he told me he was gay.

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February 04, 2013

Revisiting Research

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

The journal Social Forces has published many classic studies in sociology in its ninety year history. To celebrate,the publisher has offered free public access. Even better, each of these articles has updates or reflection articles from the original authors.

While new research is always being pursued, it is important to realize that classic work still has an important contribution to make – that’s why you end up reading so much of it in sociology classes. On the other hand, it is important not to just accept the older work as consistently applicable but to reflect, reassess, reapply the findings to see if they retain their power of explanation. If the findings are no longer as relevant, we can  learn about how life has changed or what the research might have missed, created as it is rooted in a particular time and place.

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January 17, 2013

Thinking Sociologically About Holidays

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

Did you or anyone you know find this last holiday season stressful? Sociology can help us understand some of the reasons why holiday celebrations might be difficult—and why people keep doing things the same way each year nonetheless.

As you begin to get back in your non-holiday routine, now is a great time to use our sociological imaginations to think about the many sociological concepts that help us understand end-of-the year routines.

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