85 posts categorized "Relationships, Marriage and Family"

October 18, 2012

Surviving Sociology Midterms

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

Are you about to take midterms in a sociology class for the first time? If so, here are some tips for how to think sociologically, which will help you on any format of exam you might be taking.

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September 03, 2012

Gay Marriage Made Me Get Married

WynnAuthorPhoto1By Jonathan Wynn

Call me old fashioned, but before I went to Robyn’s father to ask for her hand, I went to Human Resources. I wanted to know if my partner could share my health care benefits as a civil union or a common-law marriage. “Nope. Massachusetts allows anyone to get married, so we don’t recognize ‘registered partnerships.’” The advisor on the other end of the line giggled and added, “It looks like you’re going to have to get hitched, son.” She hung up the phone still chuckling.

We’d been together for seven years. “What happens when a feminist rapper and a sociologist get together?” sounded more like a joke in search of a punch line rather than a description of a couple in search of a registry. As a musician who values feminist ideals and gay rights, Robyn was uncomfortable with the patriarchal and heteronormative trappings of marriage. As a sociologist (and son of divorced parents, and both sets of grandparents), I was keenly aware of the issues and personal struggles with marriage as an institution. We were also uncomfortable with both the religious norms and the billion dollar wedding industry surrounding it as well.

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January 17, 2012

Everyday Sociology Talk: Brian Powell on Defining Families

 

Karen Sternheimer interviews Brian Powell, author of Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family.

For more videos, visit http://www.youtube.com/nortonsoc

November 17, 2011

It Takes a Village—To Create Binge Drinkers

imageBy Sally Raskoff

How much do you take for granted as common sense? Are there some things out there in the world that you know are true not because they have been studied scientifically but because something just seems logical and everyone knows it’s true?

Sociology teaches us to be cautious about such “truisms.” Some of the time, those common sense notions are wrong! But we won’t know unless someone studies them, and then someone else replicates that study, and someone else tests it yet again, and so on. We do this until we’re pretty clear that most of the time, we know what’s going on. And then, yes, we need to do another study to see if what we knew is still accurate.

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October 27, 2011

Removed from Death

imageBy Sally Raskoff

I tried to go to our local mall the other day but couldn’t get into the parking lot. All the nearby streets and the mall access had been closed on the corner of the mall where I was headed. I finally found a parking space overlooking that corner. I saw police barriers, road closures, and some officers waving people away while others held clipboards and stood in small groups talking to other officers.

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July 14, 2011

Marriage, Max Weber, and Verstehen

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

Max Weber talked about verstehen as a very important concept for sociologists and social scientists. When studying people, even at the macro level of society, it is important to really understand what’s going on at the micro level of interactions and individuals. That’s what verstehen is all about: understanding what goes on in the lives of people from their particular perspective so that one can better understand how things work at the larger level of society.

In sociology, we analyze the importance of social rituals and social bonds. Symbols and rituals tie us together and reinforce our bonds as we celebrate or mourn together.

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July 11, 2011

Sociology vs. the Obvious

KS_2010aBy Karen Sternheimer

What is sociology?

This question may seem obvious (especially—I hope—if you have taken or are taking a sociology class), but when I asked this question on a midterm years ago, I observed a troubling pattern.

While the majority of students successfully responded in some form that sociology is the systematic study of patterns of human interaction with special focus on social institutions and processes of power and inequality, a few students regularly answered as follows:

“Sociology is just what you think about things in society,” or

“Sociology is what peoples’ opinions are about their community,” and similar responses to this effect.

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June 30, 2011

Power and Decision Making

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

In California, the sexual orientation of a judge has become news following his judgment about Proposition 8. Prop 8 was passed by California voters in 2008, and served to amend the state’s constitution to deny access to marriage for same-sex couples. Recently, the judge’s sexual orientation has been disclosed as “homosexual,” and some are suggesting that the decision he made was biased because of his personal status.

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May 12, 2011

"Reality" TV, Stereotypes, and Teen Parenthood

clip_image002By Kim Cochran Kiesewetter

Instructor, Sandhills Community College

I think most people would agree that there is little to nothing “real” about reality television… which is why we enjoy is so immensely. Millionaire Matchmaker? I may or may not have subjected my poor spouse to more than one episode of that particular show’s highly uplifting material. When it comes to “reality” TV though, no one wants to watch the every day exciting-ness of most of our lives and producers of these shows are well-aware of that fact. They choose subjects that ensure that the people involved are sure to bring drama, suspense, and emotion to boot. It brings in the ratings!

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May 02, 2011

Heterosexual Norms and Friendship

new sallyBy Sally Raskoff

Have you ever wondered if men and women can be “just friends”?

I started thinking about this the other day when I heard some people talking about these issues. When a woman and a man forge a friendship, especially if one or the other is already in a committed relationship with another person, why do some people think it’s weird?

The people I heard discussing a married friend were very distrustful of the ability of the friend to maintain her marriage to one man and her friendship with another. While they might have more relevant information than I do about their friend’s past commitment history, I will volunteer a sociological reason for their suspicion.

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