Tuesday August 28, 2012
State governments are great places for sociology graduates to seek employment. There are many state departments that have positions appropriate for sociologists, including departments of health, transportation, education, and corrections/criminal justice. For instance, most or all state health departments need analysts. Healthcare analysts are great career options for sociologists who have a background or interest in health and statistics. These jobs often require knowledge and experience with statistical software programs like SPSS or SAS as well as analytic skills and statistical knowledge. The position could entail analyzing the efficacy of a WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, a children's health program, or other health programs. Sociologists are also often good candidates for epidemiological positions with state health agencies, in which they look at epidemiological data for trends and outbreaks. Sociologists who have knowledge and interests in deviance and crime are often good candidates for positions in state corrections departments. Options may include analyst positions as well as policy-making positions. Similarly, in state education departments, sociologists with an interest or background in education may be good candidates for positions that involve analyzing educational data and/or aiding in policy-making decisions.
Thursday August 23, 2012
Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity is a book written by Erving Goffman in 1963 about the idea of stigma and what it is like to be a stigmatized person. It is a look into the world of persons who society does not consider "normal." Stigmatized people are those that do not have full social acceptance and are constantly striving to adjust their social identities: physically deformed people, mental patients, drug addicts, prostitutes, etc. Goffman relies extensively on autobiographies and case studies to analyze stigmatized persons' feelings about themselves and their relationships to "normal" people. He looks at the variety of strategies that stigmatized individuals use to deal with the rejection of others and the complex images of themselves that they project to others. Read more about Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity and see what Goffman uncovers.
Tuesday August 21, 2012
Georg Simmel is a sociologist best known for his neo-Kantian approach to sociology, which laid the foundations for sociological anti positivism, and his structuralist styles of reasoning. He was a first generation German sociologist and friend of Max Weber, born in 1858 and died in 1918. He was a very prolific writer, authoring more than two hundred articles that appeared in a variety of journals, newspapers, and magazines during his lifetime with several more published after he died. He wrote fifteen major works in the fields of sociology, ethics, philosophy, and cultural criticism. Read more about Simmel and his contributions to the field of sociology.
Thursday August 16, 2012
The Culture of Fear was written in 1999 by Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California. The book is all about why America is a country that is engrossed with fear. Glassner examines and exposes the people and organizations that manipulate Americans' perceptions and profit from the resulting anxiety. The politicians, advocacy groups, and TV newsmagazines are "peddlers of fear," according to Glassner, who weigh people down with needless worries and waste billions of dollars in the process. According to Glassner, three out of four Americans say they feel more fearful today than they did twenty years ago. He explores such questions as: Why do we have so many fears these days? Are we living in exceptionally dangerous times? Read more about The Culture of Fear and see what Glassner uncovers.
Tuesday August 14, 2012
Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools is a book written by Jonathan Kozol that examines the American educational system and the inequalities that exist between poor inner-city schools and more affluent suburban schools. Kozol believes that children from poor families are cheated out of a future due to the vastly underequipped, understaffed, and underfunded schools that exist in the poorer areas of the country. He visited schools in all parts of the country, including Camden, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., New York's South Bronx, Chicago's South Side, San Antonio, Texas, and East St. Louis, Missouri between 1998 and 1990. He observed both schools with the lowest per capita spending on students and the highest per capita spending, ranging from $3,000 in New Jersey to $15,000 in Long Island, New York. As a result, he found some shocking things about America's school system. Read more about Savage Inequalities and see what Kozol discovers.
Tuesday August 7, 2012
The Social Transformation of American Medicine is a book written in 1982 by Paul Starr about medicine and health care in the United States. Starr looks at the evolution and the culture of medicine from the colonial period (late 1700s) into the last quarter of the twentieth century. He discusses things such as the development of medical authority and how that shaped the medical system, the professionalization of medicine, the birth of health insurance, and the growth of corporate medicine, all of which are backed by research. Starr divides the history of medicine into two books in order to emphasize two separate movements in the development of American medicine. The first movement was the rise of professional sovereignty and the second was the transformation of medicine into an industry, with corporations taking a large role.
Read more about The Social Transformation of American Medicine and why it is an important sociological piece of literature.
Friday July 27, 2012
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a book about how small actions at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people can create a "tipping point" for anything from a product to an idea to a trend, etc. The "tipping point" is "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." According to Gladwell, there are three variables that determine whether and when the tipping point for a product, idea, or phenomenon will be achieved: The Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. Read more about these three variables and read examples of how the tipping point works.
Wednesday July 25, 2012
A law is a norm that is written down and enforced by an official law enforcement agency. Driving while drunk, theft, murder, and trespassing are all examples of laws in the United States. If violated, the person violating the law could get cited, owe a fine, or go to jail.
Friday July 20, 2012
There are many different theories on what causes a person to perform deviant behavior, including biological explanations, psychological explanations, and sociological explanations. Biological theories of deviance see crime and deviant behavior as a form of illness caused by pathological factors that are specific to certain types of individuals. They assume that some people are "born criminals" who are biologically different than non-criminals. The underlying logic is that these individuals have a mental and physical inferiority, which causes an inability to learn and follow the rules. This in turn leads to criminal behavior. Three major biological theories of deviant behavior include Lombroso's Theory, Sheldon's Theory of Body Types, and the Y Chromosome Theory. It should be noted that since their inception, all of these theories have been discredited. Read more about each of them and how they explain deviance and crime.
Wednesday July 18, 2012
A taboo is a norm that society holds so strongly that violating it results in extreme disgust. Often times the violator of the taboo is considered unfit to live in that society. For instance, in some Muslim cultures, eating pork is taboo because the pig is considered unclean. At the more extreme end, incest and cannibalism are taboos in most countries.