Archive for April, 2016
Psychology – and to a lesser extent Sociology – teachers and students generally need to have an understanding of both the mechanics of Milgram’s classic “obedience experiments” and their general implications. However, as recent research has argued (Social psychology textbooks ignore all modern criticisms of Milgram’s “obedience experiments”) this understanding has not necessarily been advanced by a reliance on standard psychology (and indeed sociology) textbooks.
More recently, however, the work of Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher has been instrumental in reassessing both historical and conventional interpretations of Milgram’s work (Milgram and the historians) and in “Questioning Authority” (Haslam, Reicher and Birney, 2016) they take this argument further using historical evidence and the application of social identity theory. This approach is also reflected in their filmed contributions to Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity.
- Talk the Walk
At this point students need to get to grips with learning the basics of research methods. How you organise this is up to you, but one way is to get students to take ownership of their learning:
• Brief overview of the method
• Primary / secondary data
• Quantitative / qualitative source / data
Virtual Research in a Real Location
The idea here is that we use students’ knowledge of a real location as the basis for virtual research: while the scenario is real – a location such as a high street, shopping mall, school or college – students aren’t required to carry-out any real (time-consuming) research. Rather, they use their knowledge and experience of a real-world location to inform their understanding of research methods.
- Walk the Talk
How to prepare the ground for the Border Walking and subsequent teaching is something for individual teachers, but a couple of things can be usefully observed.
A few years ago I was asked to deliver a Conference on “Sociology and the Internet” to teachers interested in learning more about what was available on the Web and how to incorporate this material into their teaching. The “one proviso” stipulated by the commissioning company was that “there would not be any access to computers on the day”. I thought long and hard about this for all of 5 seconds before politely declining (even though the money was good, even I’m not that masochistic).
“So what?” I hear you think (and yes, I really am that perceptive. And also in desperate need of a link between the first paragraph and the next).
Well, since you ask, I was listening-in on a Twitter chat the other day about the difficulties involved in teaching research methods and I was reminded of the invitation to teach a bunch of people about all the brilliant resources available on the Web without giving them the ability to actually do any research for themselves.
We post a lot of what we think are interesting and useful sociology, psychology and “general interest” articles and links through our Twitter account each week and, as an experiment, thought it might be helpful to publish a weekly digest of these links for those who are Twitterless or who may just have missed something useful…
Keeping abreast of the various statistical sources and data on crime can be both time-consuming and somewhat confusing for teachers and students – both in terms of the volume of data and the reliability and validity of different data sources.
For these reasons the Office for National Statistics statistical bulletin is a brilliant resource for a-level sociologists in terms of both crime statistics and the research methodologies underpinning their production (so it’s good for information covering both Crime and Deviance and Crime and Methods in Context).
In this short (10 minute) interview, (recorded in 2009 in what looks and sounds like a cupboard somewhere…apologies for the less than pristine sound quality and video), Professor Becky Francis talks about her research into educational achievement.
It’s been running since 2010 and we’ve recently decided to give it a complete redesign, partly because the old design was getting a bit long-in-the-tooth and partly because hardware and browser development has moved-on over the past few years.
A subscription to the Channel costs just £17.50 per year and this gives students and teachers access to:
• around 150 minutes of video resources.
• around 70 minutes of podcasts.
• 23 different Text resources, including book chapters and update materials.
• 28 PowerPoint slides and presentations.
If you want to check-out the type of resources on offer the Channel Home Page has links to sample Text, PowerPoint, Audio and Video files.
Aside from the issues it raises about globalisation, social class and social inequality, this article is also useful as a contemporary example of labelling theory. How, for example, the label attached to something, such as “taxation” and “welfare benefits”, changes both our perception of – and behaviour towards – it.
Following from the previous post on sociological perspectives, this map on Media Representations demonstrates how useful these types of revision maps can be for organising student knowledge around quite diverse topics.
As with previous examples, this map is based around keywords illustrated by pictures and fleshed-out where necessary with short pieces of text.
Although revision techniques are many and varied one of my favourite techniques is based on keywords because it’s so highly-adaptable; it’s equally suited to on-course as it is to post-course revision (although I actually believe the former is both more effective and encourages a greater depth of revision).
In basic terms keyword revision simply involves identifying and recording the most important (or key) ideas you encounter on the course. In this respect – and to use a currently-fashionable concept – keywords represent a form of metadata; ideas that provide an underlying structure to further ideas by describing how and why such ideas relate to one another.
To use a simple example, at the end of teaching a family module it should be possible to write the word “FAMILY” at the centre of a whiteboard and expect students to generate masses of relevant data simply by focusing on the keyword and using it (and their underlying knowledge of the topic) to produce further, linked, information. This, in turn, generates further keywords, further data and so forth.
In my various travels around the web I pick-up bits-and-pieces that I think might be useful and this PowerPoint presentation on White-Collar Crime is one such piece.
I don’t know who produced it (the meta data gave “IT Support” as the author, which wasn’t much use) and it seems to be one of a pair (Corporate Crime is the other, but I obviously never found it).
It’s a useful set of slides with information taken from a range of sources – nothing too detailed but it has plenty of examples and has a neat, jaunty, presentation style.
Howard Becker’s idea that “deviance is in the eye of the beholder” is something to which students are introduced early in their course and you probably have a range of ways to illustrate it.
But, as Ian Luckhurst of Bridgwater College suggested to me, this short film not only gets the basic point across in an amusing and memorable way, it also tends to prompt lots of discussion around the topic…
Explanations for differential educational achievement across different class, age, gender and ethnic categories are many, varied and complex, so it’s unlikely any single explanation taken out of the context of the lived experiences of different social groups can fully explain these differences. However, this is not to say it’s not a useful exercise to get students to consider (and evaluate) “single-issue” explanations.
In this respect this article – White children ‘falling behind other groups at GCSE’ – suggests that parental engagements (what parents actually do to support their children’s education) are a more-significant factor in achievement than “parental aspirations” (what parents hope and encourage their children to achieve) and it can form the basis for a some useful classroom exercises:
One of the interesting things about the sociology of crime and deviance at a-level is that it invariably throws-up a range of what we might term “moral dilemmas” – acts that, while they might strictly and legally be called crimes, may be motivated more by an altruistic aesthetic – such as the desire to “right a moral wrong” or provide a wider community benefit – rather than, for example, simple personal gain.
These moral dilemmas – such as the one provided by this article (This student put 50 million stolen research articles online. And they’re free) – offer a good opportunity for students to debate the concept of deviance on a number of levels, such as:
• how and why is it socially constructed?
• deviance and power considered in terms of how, why and in whose interests laws are created, policed and enforced
• deviance and harm (such as financial, personal and wider-social)