Archive for March, 2015
The concept of social capital refers to the “networks of influence” people are able to create and key into through the course of their lives and an interesting example linked to family, education and work is the contemporary practice of internship. This frequently involves the ability to work for a potential employer for free in the hope / expectation of being offered a permanent position at some later point. It also represents a way to gain valuable (and valued) experience in a potentially competitive job market.
However, since the ability to work for nothing is clearly linked to having some form of independent / parental support it follows that the general practice of internship is shot-through with social inequalities – can you identify what some of these may involve?
We’re starting to release the first batch of films in our new Revising Psychology series – short, informative, videos aimed at students and teachers and designed to both consolidate learning and suggest ways to gain the best possible exam grade.
The films can be rented (48-hours) or bought (individually or in selected bundles) and can be viewed in a variety of formats – desktop, tablet and mobile.
You may be familiar with Robert Putnam’s ideas about social capital (“Bowling Alone”), where he argues that a key feature of late modern societies is the breakdown of large-scale, organised, social networks (such as political parties, trade unions and the like).
His latest work – Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, 2015 – features an intriguing and interesting idea that can be slotted into exam answers whenever you need to reference and explain social inequalities.
Putnam uses the concept of “social air bags” to argue affluent groups are able to protect their children from the consequences of their behaviour in ways that are rarely open to poorer social groups; just as an air bag may protect you from the consequences of a car crash, “social air bags” can protect you from the consequences of various social collisions – from finding yourself in trouble with the law to making sure you don’t fall behind at school.
In a nutshell, the concept relates to the various ways some social groups are better-placed to use their higher levels of cultural and economic capital to protect their children from the potentially negative consequences of their life choices.
Not a particularly easy read, but definitely worth perusing if you use this particular taxonomy in your work.
It’s always useful to have a range of examples – especially contemporary examples – to hand when / if you need to illustrate a particular idea, theory or concept.
In the context of institutional racism, therefore, this example should probably fit the bill (pun intended):
Experiments with “Zero tolerance policing” have taken place in both Britain and America, but the latter has taken this approach (usually underpinned in social policy terms by Wilson and Kelling’s “Broken Windows” hypothesis) further by applying it to schools – a trend that has been taken-up by some UK schools (particularly Academies and Free Schools).
APA research, however, suggests this particular approach carries a range of risks.
Some background reading (and an example article):
From this (neo-Marxist) perspective we’re looking at the media as an agency of social control and, in this particular respect, how the control of ideas – the way people think about the world – can be used to influence behaviour. However, as Newbold suggests, we are not thinking here about direct control, in the sense of forcing people (consciously or unconsciously) to behave in certain ways; rather, the media acts at the institutional (large group) level of culture, not at the level of individual beliefs.
In other words, the media exercises social control through its actions as a socialising agency, advising and guiding audiences and, by so doing, exercising a hegemonic role. We can, for example, see this idea in terms of George Gerbner’s ideas (‘Communications Technology and Social Policy’, 1973) concerning Cultivation Theory, which argues television cultivates distinctive attitudes in its audience, rather than directly influencing their behaviour. As Daniel Chandler (‘Cultivation Theory’, 1995) puts it: ‘Heavy watching of television is seen as “cultivating” attitudes which are more consistent with the world of television programmes than with the everyday world. Watching television may induce a general mindset about violence in the world, quite apart from any effects it might have in inducing violent behaviour’.
Simulations are a good way to involve students in thinking about sociological ideas and issues and this particular online simulation focuses on labelling theory as it relates to crime and deviance. (although it can also be used to get students to reflect on different research methods – particularly interviews and observations).
Short article and infographic on how teachers are using different types of technology for blended learning.
If you’re looking for research examples to illustrate aspects of the nature-nurture debate this new LSE study by Joan Costa-Font, Mireia Jofre-Bonet and Julian Le Grand seems interesting.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is always a go-to source for all types of statistical data on a variety of topics and this one is no exception.
With links to both gender and social inequality “Welcome to unequal England” uses ONS data to show how inequalities impact on some of the most important life chances of all – the ability to live a long, healthy, life.
A range of official statistical data, from the British Crime Surveys to the General Household Survey, provide information about the relationship between victimisation and class – although this data may not always be simple to interpret (different sources use definitions and measures of class). For example, there appears to be an apparent contradiction between two observations drawn from the statistical evidence:
- Crime rates are higher in deprived areas.
- Crime victims are more-likely to be drawn from the highest income earners:
To resolve this contradiction we need to look at the characteristics of offenders (overwhelmingly working class) and the nature of offending – which, in the case of household crimes like burglary, is highly-territorial. Wiles and Costello’s (2000) research, for example, found most crime is local to the offender; the “average distance travelled to commit domestic burglary was 1.8 miles”, which confirmed Forrester et al.’s (1988) research into patterns of burglary in Rochdale.