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Welcome to the ShortCutstv Blog

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

This is the part of the site we use to post anything we think might be of interest to teachers and students of Sociology and Psychology – from announcements about new Sociology, Psychology and Criminology films, to teaching and learning Notes, PowerPoints, web sites, software – just about anything that piques our interest, really.

In September 2019 we hit 600 individual Blog posts and to make it easier for you to find a particular post on a particular topic we’ve added a range of functions (on the bar to the right) that should help:

Search Box: if you’re looking for something specific. It’s not very clever so try to Keep It Simple.

Recent Posts displays the most recent posts (yes, really). Not the most useful widget in the world. Obviously.

Archive Posts: This is actually useful if you want a quick way to look back through the numerous posts we’ve made by month / year. Just click the month / year you want from the drop-down list.

Popular Tags: identifies the most popular keywords used in posts (the larger the word, the more posts there are about it). Just click the word to see the posts…

Popular Posts: identifies the posts that have had the most views so you can Follow the Crowd(tm).

Categories: allows you to filter posts by Sociology, Psychology, Simulations and Toolbox – so if you only want to see Psychology posts (or whatever), this is the filter for you.

Last, but by no means least, you can use the Get Notified box to sign-up for an email notification each time a new post appears on the Blog.

We only use this address to send you automatic notifications and it won’t be passed to a third-party, used for spamming you or whatever.

We like to think we’re better than that.

Sociology Now: another free sociology text

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Click to download…

Sociology Now is an American textbook currently on its 3rd edition of which this, probably-needless-to-say-but-I-will-anyway, isn’t it. Instead we have what may or may not be the 2nd edition hailing from 2012.

I say “may or may not” because it describes itself as the “2010 Census edition”.

And while this, in the words of the late, great, Ultravox “Means Nothing To Me”, I’m guessing it probably Means Something to Someone.

In which case. You’re Welcome.

I don’t know why I haven’t given this textbook a previous write-up (although it’s always possible I have and don’t remember doing it) but it seems to be a fairly standard text that, design-wise, occupies that slightly-weird space between tradition and modernity. In other words, there’s a lot of text on the page but, for some unknown reason that page is two-columns.

One of which is white space.

And sometimes there are pictures.

And also some odd “space-age” box-outs labelled things like “MyLab” (which is either Pearson’s way of trying to sell teachers and students More Stuff by setting-up a proprietary Learning Management System (LMS) or a welcome extension of the teaching and learning experience. I’m sort-of leaning towards the latter).

These look as though they were designed by someone like me (a, shall-we-say, enthusiastic amateur) rather than a professional designer.

In fact, the whole book looks like something I’d design in Affinity Publisher. And that’s not really a recommendation (unless you’ve got far better design skills than me, in which case it’s actually a top piece of software).

Once you get past the rather primitive visuals and general design the text covers pretty much all of what you’d expect from an A-level / High School / College book (from culture and society through family and media to crime, religion and science) in an accessible and fairly even-handed way.

And while the emphasis is, quite reasonably, on American society and culture there’s still plenty here that will be useful for a European audience – particularly if you’re looking for a relatively-recent, free textbook to supplement the stuff you’re currently using.

Family: Personal Life Perspective Resources

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Whatever your particular view of the Personal Life perspective in relation to families and households (as an exciting, contemporary, forward-looking development in our understanding of family dynamics, a slightly-cynical attempt to breathe new life into tired old social action / interactionist perspectives by rebranding them as something “new, exciting and cutting-edge” or merely another attempt to confuse the hell out of teachers and their students), if it’s on the Spec. – as either a semi-autonomous section, a la AQA, or folded into broader ideas about family diversity, roles and relationships – then, like it or lump it, it’s got to be covered.

By-and-large this general perspective, as befits its social action antecedents, generally focuses (at least in textbooks) on inclusive forms of family definition that, following Goldthorpe (1987), argue we should define and understand family groups and structures as “complex relational networks” rather than as a specific set of clearly-definable:

  • attributes, such as “common residence” coupled with “economic co-operation”, or
  • relationships, such as “parents and their children”.
  • Contemporary families, in other words, represent a fluid set of social relationships and processes based around relationships that involve labels, such as mother, father, aunt and uncle, values, such as the belief dual parenting is superior to single parenting, norms, such as living together through marriage or cohabitation and functions, such as primary socialisation.

    This latter idea – that something called “a family” can be structurally defined in terms of the specific functions it performs – is something that’s important not to lose sight of when evaluating “personal life” perspectives. This is particularly pertinent when some textbooks over-differentiate concepts of “structure” and “action” when trying to show how “contemporary personal life perspectives” are different to “classic structural approaches”. Social actions, however you want to define them, always relate to some sort of structure…

    Keeping this in mind, I’ve managed to cobble together unearth a few resources you might find helpful when teaching this particular topic:

    Resources…

    Podcasts with Pictures: Esher Sociology

    Thursday, October 15th, 2020

    For some reason I keep stumbling across teacher-created YouTube accounts and the latest I’ve tripped-over is from Esher Sociology – a Channel that currently consists of 50+ films posted over the past 4 years, although the last was 7 months ago.

    Whether this represents a final roll of the dice or just a (summer-long) hiatus, only time will tell.

    Be that as it may, this decidedly no-frills approach to film-making offers a wide range of online lectures across a number of topics – Religion, Crime, Theory, Family and Education – the majority of which sit in the 15 – 30-minute time slot.

    The exception to this general rule is a series of “One Minute Key Concepts” slides focused on a single concept (meritocracy, anomie, social solidarity – there are currently 6 in all) that come-in at around 60 seconds. It’s an interesting idea that I wish we’d thought of (Oh. Hang on a Just A Minute…) and it generally works quite well for something that consists of a single screen of text.

    The main films themselves are fairly standard for the “podcasts with pictures” genre insofar as they consist of a series of narrated PowerPoint slides with bits of extra commentary on the side. The narration is either “a bit shouty” or “satisfyingly authoritative” depending on how you view (hear?) these things.

    One-Minute Anomie…

    Although the films are perfectly serviceable as online lectures students can dip into and out of at their leisure, some run to over 30 minutes and seemed, to me at least, a little heavy-going for a single-sitting: half-an-hour can seem a Very Long Time when you’re basically just listening to a teacher talk about something like Marxist and Functionalist Theories of the Family with very little visual stimulation to lighten the load.

    Technically the films are a little rough around the edges with some annoying sound glitches at times and while they arguably contain a lot of text / information to take on board, some might say that too-much is better than too-little – particularly if students are watching in their own time or as part of a flipped teaching process.

    More Podcasts with Pictures: Ms Sugden’s Online Classroom

    Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

    If you’re looking for video resources for online teaching or flipped learning (or possibly even a combination of the two) Alexandra Sugden’s YouTube Channel is worth checking-out if you’re teaching any or all of the following:

  • Crime and Deviance
  • Research Methods
  • Theory
  • Education
  • Religion and Beliefs
  • The Channel’s aimed at the AQA Spec. but some, if not necessarily all, of the films will be useful for other Specs (Research Methods, for example, is fairly uniform across most College / A-level Specifications).

    The format is a familiar “podcasts with pictures” one with Ms. Sugden narrating a series of static slides in a lecture-style format, with individual films ranging from 3 – 30 minutes, depending on the topic and what’s being discussed.

    This covers everything from general topic teaching to applying the PERVERT method to Research Methods exam questions or constructing example paragraphs when answering essay-type questions (although, personally, I’m not convinced by the claim students can apply strain theory to white collar crime using the concept of relative deprivation. It’s an innovative argument, perhaps, but one that stretches things just a little too far…).

    Gamified Homework: Climbing Homework Mountain

    Thursday, October 1st, 2020

    This gamified homework variation, although having a superficial similarity to its Climb Every Mountain counterpart, combines the idea of giving students a “free choice” of homework with clearly-structured limits as a way of achieving an ultimate homework goal (reaching the top of the aforesaid mountain).

    Game Board

    The basic idea here, therefore, is that students start at the bottom of Homework Mountain and gradual work their way to the top. How they do this – quickly and directly or slowly and indirectly – is entirely up to them.

    Instructions

    1. All students begin at the lowest level of Homework Mountain, on any Homework square they care to choose. The objective is to reach the Peak by answering questions as they climb.

    2. Once a student has answered a question in one round of homework they then select and answer an adjacent question in the next. This continues until they reach the top or no more homework is set. Students can move from one square to the next in whatever direction they choose and there are different possible routes up the Mountain, with varying levels of difficulty:

  • A “direct route” for example, involves a student starting at the central 10-mark question, followed by the 20-mark question above it and the final 20-mark question above that.
  • A more-circumspect route, on the other hand, might involve a student working their way up the left-hand side of the Board, answering questions worth 2, 2, 6, 6, 10 and, finally, 20 marks.
  • 3. Once a student completes the question at the Peak they have finished. A possible variation here, however, is that having ascended Homework Mountain you can require them to safely descend by a different route to the one they took to the top.

    I’ve included an example Homework Mountain Board with questions covering Families and Households. I’ve left this in PowerPoint format for easy editing if you prefer to set your own homework questions. It also makes it fairly easy to refresh the Board with different questions when you move-on to a different Module.

    Gamified Homework: Climb Every Mountain

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

    This second example of gamification takes a slightly different and less organisationally-complex approach to setting homework than its Earn-to-Learn predecessor.

    Click to download Game Board
    Families and Households game board

    It does this by adopting the mechanics of a game board: all students start at the same point and work their way to the top (or end-point) by traversing different levels. In this particular example I’ve created three levels, but there’s no reason why you can’t extend this to add more levels if required.

    To understand how the gamified design works, have a look at the PowerPoint Board file:

    1. The first level of the Board contains a set of relatively low-mark questions. Students can select as many as they like to complete for homework, with the objective being to “escape the level” by matching or exceeding a pre-specified “level mark”. In the example I’ve provided students need to score 15+ marks to go to the next level but this can, of course, be adjusted to whatever score you like.

    A student could, for example, select a couple of higher mark questions (10 and 6) to complete. If they score full-marks they complete the level. If, on the other hand, they score 12 marks they would need to complete further homework questions in order to successfully complete the level.

    2. Once a student has achieved the requirements for level 3 they have completed that set of homework tasks. If you want to extended individual students further you can, if you wish, set “advanced levels” for them to complete.

    I’ve provided the “Families and Households” question Board as a PowerPoint file to make it easy for you to tweak and edit it to suit your own particular course.

    Variations

    Click to download blank game board.
    Blank Game Board

    A variation you may want to consider is that instead of putting homework questions directly on the Board you simply indicate the marks available for each “question square”, as in this blank game board.

    When a student chooses, say, a 10-mark question you can give them a prepared question that corresponds to the mark box they’ve chosen. Alternatively, as with Earn-to-Learn, you could have a prepared list of 2 / 6 / 10 mark questions and students can select the ones they want to do from the list.

    This variation means that you don’t have to physically add questions to the game board, which makes it easy to reuse for other topics. All you may need to do is adjust the marks for each question box, depending on the topic being covered.

    Gamified Homework: Earn to Learn

    Monday, September 28th, 2020

    Although the basic idea behind Takeaway Homework is perfectly serviceable, teachers at Community College and A-level are more-likely to want to use homework as a way of getting students to practice exam-style questions.

    It is, of course, possible to tweak the Takeaway system to, say, require students to complete a single homework task each week, as with this example Takeaway Menu for crime and deviance (there’s also a blank template if you want to create your own questions) that starts with something relatively simple (“Mild”) and builds towards something more-difficult (“Extra Hot”). This is useful if you want to:

  • ease students into exam-type questions, starting small and easy and gradually increasing in length and difficulty.
  • encourage students to practice a variety of different types of exam question.
  • An alternative here, however, is to take this basic idea a step further by introducing an element of gamification (game-like) into the equation. This involves using some of the mechanics of games – rewards, progression towards a specified goal, individual and group competitiveness and the like – to spice things up a little.

    Read On For Instructions about “Earn to Learn”

    Takeaway Homework Menus: The Basics

    Monday, September 21st, 2020

    Takeaway Homework Menus are based on an original idea by “Twitter phenomenon and outstanding teacher” Ross Morrison McGill (100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers) – webmaster of the inspirational Teacher Toolkit site – and if you’re not familiar with the idea, the basic premise is a simple one:

    Starters and Mains…

    Instead of giving all your students a single “Homework Task” (an essay, a set of questions or whatever is appropriate to the course you’re teaching) you give them a menu of possible choices from which they can choose the homework they want to do.

    This could be as simple as a choice of doing one from a selection of 5 or 6 different essays or, as in the majority of Takeaway Homework Menus, students are required to select from different types of task. This usually involves the Menu being:

    1. Organised into sections, such as Starters, Mains and Desserts to maintain the Menu theme. Students may, for example, be required to do homework tasks selected from each part of the menu in the following ways (examples taken from this Express Crime and Deviance Takeaway homework menu, created by Miss Coleman to “Deliver fresh, hot and delicious homework tasks straight to your doorstep!”).

  • Starters may involve small and simple tasks (Write a tweet or no more than 256 characters explaining a Sociological key term covered in the Crime and Deviance unit).
  • Mains are usually more-involved and take longer to complete (Create a ten-question quiz for your classmates based on one area of the Crime and Deviance unit).
  • Desserts are again relatively straightforward tasks but can be used to test different skills to those included in Starters (Choose one piece of marked work in your book and re-do it, ensuring that you are responding to feedback and making improvements where necessary).
  • Desserts and Specials.

    What to include in each section is, of course, something for you to decide – Starters could include simple small-mark questions, while Mains could be a selection of essays – and the format’s flexible enough to incorporate a wide mix of practical and theoretical activities. If you want a further (sociological) example, the eponymous Miss Coleman has created a similar Takeaway Homework menu for social inequality.

    (more…)

    Sociological Sims from Cengage

    Monday, September 21st, 2020

    I’ve continually argued that games and simulations have an important part to play in the sociology classroom – I’ve found, created and posted a fair number partly because they can be counter-intuitive in a way that forces students to confront and reassess their taken-for-granted ideas about social behaviour – from education to inequality – and partly because they have the potential to involve students more-deeply in the actual process of learning through experience and discovery.

    They have, in other words, the capacity to turn passive learning into active learning, something I consider A Good Thing.

    Although the vast majority of the sims I’ve collated are designed for offline use I’ve recently stumbled upon some sims designed, in the brave-new-words of their Publisher, to:

    Build the sociological imaginations of your students by showing them how social structures impact others’ realities”.

    Despite – or maybe because of – this rather bold claim, the reality is sadly a little more prosaic: the reach of online learning frequently exceeds its grasp. This isn’t to say the sims aren’t worth playing, but you do need to keep in mind they’re not particularly immersive and their subject matter can be a little esoteric (and aimed squarely at an American market: most of the evidence and examples cited are US-based).

    On the plus side, however, they combine useful sociological information with simple decision-making (there’s only ever two choices) that has both sociological consequences and provides interesting feedback and information that students might normally expect to learn through something like passive note-taking.

    If this sounds like I’m damning them with faint praise it’s not meant to read that way: I personally enjoyed playing the 4 available sims and I think your students will too.

    They should also learn something from them, which is probably the objective…

    1. Sociologically Strong? Do you have a strong sociological imagination?

    Sociologist C. Wright Mills defined the sociological imagination as the ability to understand the relationship between individual experience and the broader patterns of society. This means being able to examine people’s experiences within their social context.

    2. Second-Shift Ready? Can you manage the second shift?”

    Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild defined the second shift as the unpaid domestic labor, including housework and childcare, that people do after their “first shift” at a full-time job. Often, in heterosexual, two-parent families, women perform the vast majority of second-shift labor.

    3. Your Career, or Your Child? How free are your choices?

    Social structure is defined as the social institutions and social relationships that together constitute society. The social institutions that make up the social structure include the family, education, religion, the government, and the economy. These institutions and the patterns of inequality they contain shape individuals’ choices.

    4. How Would You Fare? How would you fare as a refugee?

    The Civil War in Syria, which began in 2011, is the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. It has forced millions of Syrians to become refugees, seeking asylum in foreign countries.

    Psychology Teachers Toolkit(s)

    Friday, September 18th, 2020

    A few years back (around 7 or 8 to be precisely imprecise), Psychology Teacher Michael Griffin “with the help of TES forums and colleagues” put together a Teachers Toolkit running to around 100 pages of Lesson Notes, Starters and Plenaries, Introductions and Simulations, Studies and Theories, and Self / Peer assessment Strategies.

    Part of the Online Toolkit…

    While, in my less-than-humble-opinion, this remains something of a Gold Standard for teacher-collaboration (it’s well-worth grabbing because it’s likely to save you a lot of time, effort, trouble and tears. I’m not certain about the last one, but the first three definitely) the British Psychological Society (BPS) have teamed-up with the Association for the Teaching of Psychology (ATP) to create a new and slightly-different Online Teachers Toolkit designed to cover four main areas:

  • Open evenings: a host of ideas and activities ideal for face to face or virtual events
  • Classroom posters: ready to print and display – including “what is psychology?” and “common myths”
  • Mental health and wellbeing guidance: tips and advice to support positive wellbeing in your classroom
  • Practical activities: step by step guides for practical activities to enhance learning in your classroom
  • The payload for all of the above are Teacher and Student Resources (from an Open Evening PowerPoint to a range of Activity Packs on areas like Harlow’s Monkey experiments, Stroop Effect materials and so forth) that promise to build into a useful term-by-term collection.

    To be honest, the resources are currently a little, shall we say, underwhelming?, particularly when compared to its illustrious predecessor (no-relation) but everyone’s got to start somewhere so it’s worth giving it a butcher’s and a chance.

    And if this all seems like a lukewarm welcome to the new Toolkit, it’s not meant to be.

    At least the BPS is interested in – and seems to value – A-level teachers.

    Not something of which you could reasonably accuse its sociological counterpart

    The Crime Collection

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

    In a previous post I pulled-together all the free crime and deviance films we have available to create a simple one-stop-shop (so to speak) you could browse, rather than have to search individually for these films.

    I’ve extended this thinking to bring together all the posts we’ve made on Crime and Deviance – and since there’s “quite a few” I thought it might be useful to break them down into rough categories (Notes, Organisers, Activities, PowerPoints and Films) for your viewing convenience.

    Since I’ve discovered this is actually quite a task, I’ll add the different categories “as-and-when” I can, starting with:

    (more…)

    Free Online Psychology Course

    Friday, September 11th, 2020

    In a previous post I drew your attention to the free online Saylor Academy Sociology 101: Introduction to Sociology course and you might be interested to know (or know a colleague who is) there’s also a free online Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology course available.

    Free Online Course

    Although, as with the Sociology course, it’s aimed at American Community College students  – and the various credits and certifications available for completing the course will only be meaningful and useful to US students – this doesn’t mean that actually completing the course won’t help UK a-level students because the overall level is broadly in line with a-level studies. A quick look through the equally-free Open-Stax course textbook that accompanies the course should confirm this for you.

    Alternatively, have a quick trawl through the course syllabus that covers a number of Units that should be broadly familiar to a-level teachers (although whether the actual content is the same / similar is something you’ll need to check):

  • Unit 1: The History and Methods of Psychology
  • Unit 2: Neuroscience
  • Unit 3: Sensation and Perception
  • Unit 4: Learning and Memory
  • Unit 5: Development
  • Unit 6: Personality
  • Unit 7: Social Psychology
  • Unit 8: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Unit 9: Health and Stress Psychology
  • Unit 10: Psychopathology
  • In addition to “read stuff from the textbook, think about it, make some notes and maybe answer some online comprehension questions” there are a number of other resources (such as PowerPoints and short Video Tutorials) liberally spread throughout the Units that might be useful even if you don’t want to go the whole hog with the online course.

    Broken Windows Revisited | 2

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

    Part 1 of this planned 3-part reassessment of Wilson and Kelling’s “Broken Windows” thesis outlined a selection of its general strengths and weaknesses and suggested we need to understand Broken Windows in the context of its origins in the ecological theories of crime initially developed in the early 20th century.

    Broken Windows: The Original Article

    Part 2 examines a key ecological strength of the thesis – that social disorder causes crime – through a re-examination of Zimbardo’s “Anonymity of Place” experiment. It then looks at the elephant in the room when talking about Broken Windows and crime: what causes social disorder?

    While Broken Windows has some distinctive breaks with the general ecological tradition on which it broadly rests, it’s important to understand the thesis in this context because it’s only by understanding the theoretical origins of Broken Windows that we can begin to question some of its central claims: that ecological factors are a sufficient explanation of crime development in this Part and the claim that small forms of disorder invariably lead to larger disorders in Part 3).

    THERE’S MORE. A LOT MORE.

    Free Online Sociology Course

    Sunday, September 6th, 2020

    If you’re looking to give your a-level students a little extra out-of-class tuition, the Saylor Academy

    Sociology 101…

    a non-profit initiative working since 2008 to offer free and open online courses to all who want to learn. We offer nearly 100 full-length courses at the college and professional levels, each of which is available right now – at your pace, on your schedule, and free of cost” might be worth checking-out.

    Although it’s aimed at American Community College students – and the various credits and certifications available for completing the course will only be meaningful and useful to US students – this doesn’t mean that actually completing the course won’t help UK a-level students.

    The overall level is broadly in line with a-level studies, as you’ll see if you have a look at the free Open-Stax course textbook. this This will give you a good idea what’s covered in the course whose syllabus covers 5 Units broadly familiar to a-level teachers:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Sociology
  • Unit 2: Culture, the Socialized Self, and the Individual in Society
  • Unit 3: Social Inequality
  • Unit 4: Institutions
  • Unit 5: Social Change and Social Issues
  • Since not everything covered in them will apply to a-level you’ll need to check each out to point your students in the direction of stuff to cover / stuff you might find useful to cover / stuff that’s not on the a-level Spec.

    While the Sociology 101: Introduction to Sociology course doesn’t push any boundaries – a lot of it consists of “reading stuff from the textbook, thinking about it and maybe answering some online comprehension questions” – there are quite a few video tutorials liberally spread throughout the Units that, if nothing else, you might want to consider pointing your students in the direction of if you want them to have a little extra online help / revision.

    Recent Research Digested: Education and the Disadvantage Gap

    Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
    Download as Pdf file

    The Education Policy Institute’s Annual Report into Education in England, authored by Hutchinson, Reader and Akhal (2020), makes a number of observations and assessments about the state of education in England. Most of these do, however, fall into the “interesting but dull” category so I thought I’d save you a lot of valuable time by reading the document on your behalf and picking-out what I think are probably the most useful bits for sociology teachers and students relating to the “disadvantage gap” (the difference in attainment between “disadvantaged pupils and their peers”)

    You can, of course, always read the Report (or the summary if you prefer) for yourself if you’re so inclined, but if you’re not, these are four of the more-interesting bits:

    (more…)

    Routine Activities Flipbook

    Sunday, August 30th, 2020

    A few months ago (around 6 to be precise) I did a blog post suggesting how you might want to evaluate a Routine Activities approach to crime.

    Then I left well alone and went away – not literally because we were well into the Covid lockdown by then – and did a load of other stuff (making films, mostly – all available at very reasonable rates if you’re at all interested in using video in the classroom) before finally getting around to converting the blog text to a Pdf format and, more-interestingly I think, to html5 Flipbook format.

    Or, to be very precise, two types of Flipbook:

    The first is your bog-standard “Read the text, look at the pictures and flip the pages” version.

    The second is as above (text, pictures, flipping…) but with the added bonus of a bit of streaming video that you – or indeed your students – can view if you want. The short clip focuses on explaining Routine Activities in a visual way in case your students need a bit of a recap before considering a couple of ways to evaluate the approach.

    And if you like the Flipbook Format (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) and can’t wait to get your mitts on more to satisfy your hunger (or something) there are loads more available on Research Methods, Sociological Theory, Crime and Deviance, Revision and Mass Media if you follow the link.

    Poverty and Social Inequality

    Wednesday, August 26th, 2020
    Download Key Findings

    Whether you teach poverty as a topic in its own right or as a dimension of social inequality there’s always a tension between individualised and structural explanations: in basic terms, those that locate the causes of poverty in the behaviour of individuals and those that locate causes in a range of structural factors.

    While “deficit models” – explanations that generally explain poverty in terms of the personal characteristics those in poverty lack (such as talent, personal motivation, hard work, persistence, grit…) rather than the structural features of a society that ensure some will both experience poverty and find it almost impossible to escape it, regardless of their “personal attributes and orientations” – are arguably the dominant form of explanation in our society, I’ve found a couple of resources that might be useful in redressing the (im)balance:

    1. The Poverty Premium reflectsthe idea that poverty is both more expensive for the poor and the fact “the poor pay more” for essential goods and services makes it (structurally) difficult for them to escape poverty.

    A useful resource here is Davies, Finney and Hartfree’s (2019) research (“Paying to be poor: uncovering the scale and nature of the poverty premium”) ) that shows how “low-income households pay more for essential goods and services” and explains how and why this is significant in terms of our understanding of the mechanics of poverty.

    While the full Report goes into a lot of useful detail, the Key Findings summary is likely to prove more-useful for most teachers (and students) because it provides:

  • an A4 infographic illustrating how the Poverty Premium works.
  • a summary of the Key Points from the research.
  • a short explanation of the origins of the Poverty Premium.
  • Overview…

    2. The Poverty Trap is a fairly standard way to illustrate how structural factors conspire to keep people poor and this recent Report by Balboni et al. – “Why Do People Stay Poor?” (2020) – is a useful, empirical, way to demonstrate how poverty is not simply a matter of individual failings.

    While the Report itself may be useful for teachers, students are likely to find a quick overview of its basic argument more understandable and helpful: in basic terms, the research used data collected from a Bangladeshi project that targeted help for the ultra-poor as a potential way to help them escape from poverty and concluded:

    People are poor because of a lack of opportunity. It is not their intrinsic characteristics that trap people in poverty but rather their circumstances. Poverty is not an innate condition”.

    Some More (Free) Psychology Textbooks

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

    I’ve recently, for some reason, been collecting links to a number of free psychology textbooks – either books released under a Creative Commons licence, such as OpenStax Psychology and the almost-but-not-quite rude-sounding Noba Collection, or texts that, for one reason or other have gone out-of-print, been superseded by a newer, shiner, version or simply fallen off a publishing cliff – and thought it might be an idea to post the stuff I’ve collected in time for the New Academic Year (Sort of. Maybe.).

    Introducing Social Psychology (2015): The 8th edition of this textbook covers a wide range of topics (research methods, aggression, deviant behaviour and more) from a social psychological perspective. Hence the title.

    Probably.

    Everything is also in Black and White.

    Quite literally.

    Essentials of Understanding Psychology (2009): Now in its 13th edition, this is the 8th edition of this Popular American Textbook (it says here). Chapters cover most of the usual suspects (Memory, Learning, Perception and the like), plus interesting stuff on areas like Neuroscience and there’s been a lot of thought given to presentation, layout and accessibility. Which, all-things-considered, is nice.

    Discovering Psychology (2011) The 5th edition of Hockenbury and Hockenbury’s textbook (so good they named it twice. Or maybe there’s two of them…) – it’s now in its 8th edition – covers much the same ground as just about every other Psychology textbook (Research Methods, Neuroscience, Learning, Memory, Personality…) but you might find the page layout a little weird (and if you don’t believe me, take a look).

    Introduction to Psychology: This series of texts may take a little bit of explanation, so bear with me. It seems that Charles Sanger created a free Introduction to Psychology textbook (2013) that, under some sort of Creative Commons license could be freely adapted by other teachers / colleges. This means Colleges could take Sanger’s somewhat basic layout and adapt it to their own particular needs – hence this (2018) version from Lake County College that actually looks a lot better than the “original”. There may be other versions, so it might be worth looking around.

    Or alternatively adapting your own…

    Psychological Science (2010): The third edition of a textbook that’s now well-into it’s 6th reincarnation covers much same stuff as every other textbook currently on the market, but its claimed USP is that it offers students a “thorough and interesting overview of contemporary psychological research using the best practices from the science-of learning research. It develops psychological literacy by presenting the material in a way that is directly related to their lives”.

    The truth or otherwise of this bold claim is now something about which you can be the judge.

    Psychology (2015) The 4th edition of this big, colourful, text is filled with pretty pictures, nice illustrations, self-tests, chapter summaries and video links (that only work if you’ve signed-up to the MyLab access feature that constitutes the main USP of the text). Even without the (very expensive…) MyLab, this is a perfectly serviceable text, even though you’ll have to forgo the “Student Voice videos” that introduce each chapter, where “Psychology students share personal stories about how the chapter theme directly applies to their lives”.

    Which, to my untutored ear actually sounds like a plus-point.

    But then, what do I know?

    Not Just Another Psychology Book

    Thursday, August 20th, 2020
    Click to download…

    A nicely-designed text that’s worth adding to your collection, particularly if you you want to give your students a bit of extended reading around a writer or topic.

    Having previously posted The Sociology Book I thought it might be nice, as an added bonus for those who teach both Sociology and Psychology (or Sociologists who have Psychology colleagues) to throw-in the first edition of The Psychology Book (2012) [pdf] that’s long been superceded by a later version (or maybe two. I lose track).

    As with its Sociological counterpart, in keeping with the series theme, the book is constructed around a deceptively-simple concept: take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject and illustrate and explain them clearly, concisely in a way that’s accessible to advanced-level students.

    Also in keeping with the series concept, The Psychology Book is divided it into discrete categories – from Behaviourism to Cognitive and Social Psychology – within which the work of well-known authors is both located and described. The latter is accompanied by helpful diagrams, an author timeline and some pretty pictures.

    Which, all-in-all, sounds good to me.

    Not Just Another Sociology Book

    Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

    A text that’s well-worth adding to your collection, even if it’s something you’re only likely to use infrequently when you want to give your students a bit of extended reading around a writer or topic.

    From time-to-time I’ve posted links to a variety of Sociology and Psychology textbooks that, for one reason or another (because they’ve gone out-of-print, been superceded by newer versions and so forth) are no-longer current.

    The latest edition to the list is The Sociology Book, now in its 2nd edition if you’re interested in buying it,  that’s part of an extensive and diverse series themed around a basic, but attractive conceit:

    Take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject,  in this case Sociology, (but also Psychology, Religion and Feminism among many others) and explain them clearly and concisely – or as the Publisher’s blurb puts it:

    “The Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.”

    As luck and an extensive search of the Internet would have it, you are now in a position to evaluate this bold claim using this free version of the 1st edition, published in 2015.

    The general format of the book involves:

  • dividing it into discrete categories – social inequalities, culture and identity, families, globalisation (plus a few more that are unlikely to interest a-level sociology students or teachers).
  • select a range of well-known writers (such as Parsons, Foucault, Stacey and Beck on Families, Mead, Baudrillard, Goffman and Anderson on Culture) and write some nicely-illustrated pages about their work in a way that’s generally accessible to a-level students.
  • The way each writer and their ideas is covered seems a little arbitrary – some, such as Weber, get 6 pages while others, such as Urry, get a single (not, it has to be said, very enlightening for such a deep and complex theorist) page – but overall the standard of writing and presentation is pleasingly good.

    While I’m not sure about the “creative design” (think Sociology Review) and “innovative graphics” (unless short, boxed, “Timelines” and a few colour pictures count as cutting-edge) I’m generally on-board with the “straightforward and engaging writing”.

    And while it’s not a text you’re likely to use everyday, I’d still argue it’s a useful one to add to your collection.

    Durkheim and the Functions of Crime

    Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

    We’ve been busy on the film front these past few months making a range of crime and deviance films on Hate Crime, Crime and Gender, Situational Crime Prevention and Criminal Profiling (although the latter will probably have greater appeal to psychologists than sociologists) and a final offering in what people would probably be calling a “Festival of Crime” if there were such things as festivals anymore, is an 8-minute (give-or-take) film looking at Durkheim’s ideas about how crime may be functional for society.

    To this end the film is constructed around an overview of three basic functions:

  • The clarification of moral boundaries
  • Social change and law reform
  • The reinforcement of social cohesion
  • These ideas are variously illustrated by :

  • Zero-Tolerance Policing in New York.
  • the imprisonment of Dr Jack Kevorkian for helping terminally-ill patients to die.
  • the UK murder of James Bulger.
  • As ever, the film is short, to-the-point and, I would suggest, a useful way to introduce some of Durkheim’s key, counter-intuitive and somewhat controversial ideas about crime to students.

    Hate Crime in Everyday Life

    Monday, August 17th, 2020

    While spectacular Hate Crimes involving mass murders and indiscriminate destruction invariably grab the newspaper, tv and social media headlines, a wide range of more mundane and pedestrian forms of hate are largely ignored.

    These relatively low-level forms of hate – from casual bullying to wider forms of sexual or racial harassment – rarely explode into the headlines with the visceral intensity of their spectacular counterparts but these “everyday forms of hate” may have significantly greater impacts on the lives of many more people.

    This short film, featuring Professor Neil Chakraborti, outlines some of the less-studied aspects of hate crime by way of providing teachers and students with a general introduction to this area of crime and deviance.

    Hate Crime in Everyday Life from ShortCutstv on Vimeo.

    Hate Crime

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

    Historically, Hate Crime isn’t something that’s featured prominently in most sociology specifications and this lack of prominence has meant that resources for teaching it have generally been a little lacking – so anything that helps to fill-in some of the many gaps is probably to be welcomed.

    The Report-it web site is one such general resource UK teachers and students might find helpful because it contains a range of relatively-simple – but accessible – materials. These have been created under the guidance of The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), a body responsible for the national coordination of UK law enforcement that broadly reflects the views of Chief Constables and Police Crime Commissioners across the UK.

    The materials range from legal definitions of different types of hate crime in relation to different social groups characterised by things like disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender to Reports and Resources that include a range of downloadable materials students could be encouraged to explore as part of their wider reading.

    One of the useful things about this section is that it contains a number of relatively-recent Reports – such as “Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the UK (2016)”, “Attitudes to LGBT+ people in the UK (2019)” and data relating to Hate Crime prosecutions (2010-2015) – that goes a little way beyond what you’re likely to find in textbooks.

    If you’re into classroom decoration (presupposing there’s a return to classroom teaching any time soon…) you’ll also find a range of A4 posters to cut-out-and-keep.

    Alternatively, you can print them.

    And you might be interested to know some of these are available in Welsh and Polish.

    Research Methods Bonus!

    I came across this short (4 minute) film called “Homophobia Social Experiment” that you might find helpful in relation to Crime with Theory and Methods because it uses a simple observational method to carry-out an equally-simple field experiment.

    (more…)

    Lessons In A Tube

    Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

    A YouTube to be exact because this post reintroduces TheTeacherSociology Channel that I first posted about a couple of years ago in relation to their extensive range of (AQA) exam-help videos.

    TheTeacherSociology has recently expanded her repertoire – presumably in response to the current need for on-line teaching – to create a range of tutorials focused on Theory and Methods. While again aimed at AQA teachers / students there’s plenty here that is relevant to teachers / students following other Specifications. They’re generally relevant to any sociology course that includes Theory and Methods (which, all-things-considered, is likely to be pretty much all of them).

    The tutorials tend to come-in at between 25 and 35 minutes (although reliability and validity, for example, is around 5 minutes, probably because once you’ve outlined the basics there’s not a lot more to add) and they can be used as off-the-peg lessons for teachers to use in a variety of ways, depending upon the circumstances in which they find their teaching.

    The tutorials generally follow the “podcast with pictures” format but in addition to the general explanation of a topic the tutorials include activities and exercises (with accompanying resources if necessary) students can do to consolidate their (individual) learning.

    The currently-available tutorials are:

    Postmodernism…

    Postmodernism

    Social Action

    Feminism

    Marxism

    Functionalism

    Reliability and Validity

    ShortCuts to Sociology: free film collection

    Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

    For reasons that need not detain us here I was looking at the various free films we’ve published over the past few years and thought it might be useful to gather them all together in a single post.

    Strain Theory

    This would enable anyone who’s interested in using them with their students – particularly, but not exclusively, for online viewing / work – to both see what’s available in different areas (from crime through religion to media) and have them easily accessible in a single place rather than being dotted randomly around the blog.

    And so, when I was at a loose-end awaiting delivery of some voice-over files for a couple of new films currently being edited (or not, as is currently the the case), I thought that’s what I’d do.

    So I did.

    And here they all are, in a handy single-post list.

    The films vary in length, most coming-in at between 3 or 4 minutes, with a couple of exceptions – the “1-minute” films are, unsurprisingly, all around 1-minute long (give or take) and there are a couple of longer films that last around 8 – 10 minutes. The films are broadly-designed around major sociological ideas, concepts and perspectives (such as Risk Theory, labelling theory or green crime) and can be used to introduce these ideas, prompt discussion and so forth.

    click to see list of films

    Crime and Gender: Closing The Gap?

    Thursday, July 16th, 2020

    The second offering in our short season of new crime films (the first provides an empirical example of Situational Crime Prevention in the form of Painter and Farrington’s Stoke-on-Trent street-lighting experiment) looks at the enduring relationship between gender and crime.

    This relationship, as sociologists have long-observed, is one that, both historically and cross-culturally, is dominated by men – to the extent that statistical analysis consistently shows that in almost every country over 80% of crime is committed by men.

    In recent years, however, the gender gap in countries like Britain and North America has been closing: the male crime rate has been steadily falling while the female rate, particularly but not exclusively for violent crime, has been increasing.

    This short (8-minute) film provides a general introduction to the relationship between gender and crime through various sociological theories – from control, through strain to hegemonic masculinity – that seek to both explain gender differences in crime and why things may be (slowly) changing.

    GCSE Sociology Freebies

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

    The Sociology Support web site has some new and interesting freebies available for GCSE Sociology, the first of which is the Spec Check Pack.

    This consists of neat, one-page, summaries of the AQA Specification content (including an indication of Key Studies) that students (and teachers…) should find useful for both tracking progress through the course and for revision.

    The Pack has four pdf documents covering Social Stratification, Education, Family and Deviance.

    It might also be worth your while picking-up their free “Introducing Structural Theories” resource, again for AQA GCSE, that’s described as:

    A lesson for GCSE Sociology students introducing the main principles of structural perspectives”.

    This can be downloaded as both a PowerPoint Presentation and pdf file.

    As if that’s not enough, there’s also a free CPD “Introduction to teaching excellent sociology for non-specialists” Webinar on Thursday 27th August 4:45-5:45pm.

    You’ll find registration details on the web site (plus details of their new online CPD courses if you’re interested).

    Relighting the Streets: Situational Crime Prevention

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2020
    Buy or Rent the film

    Over the past 50 years an increasingly-influential school of criminology has argued that finding “the causes of crime” or “solutions to the problem of crime” is not possible. The best we can do, they argue, is manage and limit the extent of crime.

    Situational Crime Prevention, in this respect, involves a range of strategies based broadly around the idea that many forms of crime – particularly street crime – can be effectively managed through the control of physical space.

    In Britain, Painter and Farrington’s seminal Stoke-on-Trent street-lighting study has been an influential demonstration of the way continuities and changes in the built environment can influence many types of criminal street behaviour and this film draws on exclusive interview data with Painter to both outline the study and explain its implications for our understanding of the management of crime.

    This short film is designed to integrate into crime and deviance lessons by providing a simple empirical example of how situational crime prevention can be applied to our understanding of the theory and practice of crime control.

    Broken Windows Revisited | 1

    Friday, June 26th, 2020

    Part 1 of a 3-part series that revisits a number of aspects of Broken Windows. This part looks at the general theoretical and empirical background.

    Since its publication nearly 40 years ago Wilson and Kelling’s “Broken Windows” has become one of the most-influential and widely-adopted approaches to our understanding of crime and policing, particularly in America but also across a number of other Western societies, including in some small part, the UK.

    Broken Windows: Wilson and Kelling
    Broken Windows: The Atlantic Monthly

    To understand how and why Broken Windows has come to have such a huge and lasting impact on our thinking about crime and policing we need to understand something about both its theoretical origins and underpinning and its empirical applications.

    Theoretically, there’s nothing particularly innovative about Broken Windows.

    It mainly draws on a range of well-known human ecological ideas and observations about crime popularised 40 – 50 years previously in the work of Chicago School theorists such as Park, Burgess, Shaw and McKay. More-specifically, it owes a theoretical debt to the latter’s work on Zones of Transition and, in particular, the notion of interstitial “inner city” zones in which crime flourished as a consequence of “socially disorganised spaces”.

    There’s more…

    The difference between sex and gender

    Thursday, June 25th, 2020

    For most sociology / psychology teachers Robert Stoller’s (1964) distinction between “biological sex” and “cultural gender” is probably the go-to definition to use when introducing this topic – and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using it you might want to flesh it out a little by pointing your students towards some more-contemporary ideas and definitions about the different between the two terms.

    If that’s the case, the Office for National Statistics has produced a simple and accessible primer you can encourage your students to read – or you can cut-out-and-keep just the bits focused on sex and gender (the article discusses these concepts in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which might be a little distracting).

    Either way, the main areas of interest here in relation to sex and gender are probably:

    1. Definitions and differences, as employed by the UK Government. Other definitions are, of course available, but these are, as you might expect, broadly similar.
    2. Variations in sex characteristics: This paragraph flags the concept of “intersex individuals” – people born with “naturally-occurring instances of variations in sex characteristics” who may identify as a man, a woman or non-binary.
    3. Transgenderism or the reassignment of a person’s sex.

    The main advantage of the above is that the information is relatively short and to-the-point, but if you want to extend this into a wider discussion of something like LGBTQ+, this article goes into things in a little more depth.

    UK Schools: Social Mobility or Cultural Reproduction?

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

    One of the persistent debates around education is the extent to which it serves as an agency of social mobility, as opposed to one of cultural reproduction:

    Mobility proponents, for example, argue education – and the credentials it creates – is one of, if not the, most important sources of social mobility in democratic societies: the sons and daughters of different social classes compete against one another for educational qualifications on a reasonably-level playing field.

    Reproduction theorists, on the other hand, argue education systems have the appearance of fairness and equal competition while, in reality, Higher Economic Status (HES) parents are able, through a combination of their higher levels of economic, social and cultural capital, to “play the system” to ensure their sons and daughters are the ultimate winners in the education game.

    (more…)

    GCSE and A-level Sociology Podcasts

    Thursday, June 18th, 2020

    Audiopi are currently offering teachers and students free access to their GCSE and A-level podcasts until 1st October 2020.

    After that it will cost around £8 per month for students if you want to continue to listen or £150 per year for institutions (other options may be available but I couldn’t be bothered to explore them).

    If you don’t want to sign-up for the free trial right away there are a few sample podcasts available and the couple I’ve listened to are professionally-produced, interesting and informative.

    Although I wouldn’t want the more-enterprising (or cash-strapped) among you to get the wrong idea but it seems that you can download each podcast as an mp3 file during your “free trial”…

    As well as Sociology you – or your colleagues – might also be interested in the Religious Studies and Psychology podcasts.

    These are equally free for the next 3 months.

    Education Workbooks

    Monday, May 25th, 2020

    This set of resources, created by Lizzie Read, covers different aspects of Education across three main categories:

    1. The Role of Education is a 50-page+ resource that includes a Teacher version and a Student version.

    2. Differential Achievement is split into two sub-categories: Class and Gender (with a Teacher version and a Student version) and Ethnicity – also with a Teacher version and a Student version.

    3. Changes in UK Education looks at some changes since 1988 – particularly in relation to types of school – and has both a Teacher version and a Student version.

    As with the first set on Families and Households, these resources were originally distributed as PowerPoint Presentations and I’ve converted them to Pdf files in case you want to use them as Workbooks.

    The files also contain occasional references to particular “textbook pages” that you might want to update, if you follow the OCR Specification, or change / remove if you follow some other Specification. You can do this by editing the following PowerPoint versions of the files (and optionally saving them as Pdf files):

    1. The Role of Education: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    2. Differential Achievement:

    Class and Gender: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    Ethnicity: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    3. Changes in UK Education: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    Family and Household Workbooks

    Sunday, May 24th, 2020

    These resources were originally created and distributed as PowerPoints by Lizzie Read, but I’ve converted them to Pdf files. This format gives them a “Workbook” feel that, I think, works much more effectively if you want your students to work through the materials, either as an “online lockdown resource” or, when you’re able to get back into the classroom, as a general study resource.

    The materials cover two broad aspects of the Family Spec.:

    1. Diversity: There are two packs available, one for Teachers and one for Students.

    They are basically the same with a few additions to the Teacher Pack:

  • It’s split into four discrete “Lessons” for ease of teaching.
  • It contains suggested answers to all the student activities (which may save you a little time).
  • It signposts some “Learning Objectives”, along the lines of what all students should be able to do, what most are expected to do and what some are capable of doing. How useful you find these probably depends on if or how you use learning objectives in your teaching.
  • (more…)

    SHS Sociology Resources

    Friday, May 22nd, 2020

    Padlet, in case you don’t know it, is a file-sharing site that lets you organise files into Boards, the contents of which can then be shared with anyone who happens to want them.

    Topic Sheets…

    You can upload all kinds of files (such as documents or videos), or link to files on other web sites. It’s a very visual and a very handy way to organise files and would probably be my go-to site for sharing stuff if it hadn’t decided to charge for the privilege.

    While there is a free version, last time I looked it was limited to 3 Boards for new users – which sounds okay(ish), but for teachers who want to organise information into Specification categories for their students it’s not really much cop (the Padlet I’m about to feature here, for example, consists of 66 Boards…).

    And there are alternatives, such as Wakelet, that do much the same sort of thing for free.

    Nor do they display anoying and somewhat baffling messages like “Don’t forget to drink water” when I log-in.

    Like breathing, this is not something I regularly forget to do.

    Go figure.

    Just some of the Boards…

    Anyway, the purpose of this rambling preamble is simply to draw your attention to this very useful set of Padlet Sociology Boards from shs_sociology (Laura Lakin).

    The aforementioned 66 Boards are broadly organised into half-a-dozen (or “6” as it’s sometimes known) Specification-friendly categories:

  • Education
  • Family
  • Methods
  • Theory
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • These, in turn, contain all kinds of resources and links that are well worth exploring, although one of the most interesting, for my money, is to the different Topic Sheets available. These are a bit like a Knowledge Organiser / Learning Table in the sense they include key concepts and their definitions, but they also expand this a little more to include stuff like links to other topics, practice questions and the like.

    If you’ve got a bit of time to spare and enjoy nosing around other people’s files these Boards are worth the effort.

    Cherry-Picking Revision

    Thursday, May 21st, 2020

    Cherry-Picking Revision is a simple Presentation based on an original idea by History-teacher James Fitzgibbon. While the basic idea is much the same as his – getting students to identify key ideas they can “cherry-pick” to answer exam-type questions – I’ve converted it to PowerPoint and extended it slightly:

    Cherry-Picking Answers…

    1. To make it a little more interactive.

    2. To provide a range of different “revision options” to use with students.

    3. To potentially cover a wider range of questions, from simple 2-markers to essay-type.

    As you’ll see, once you fire it up, there are now 3 different types of resource contained within the Presentation. While these are all minor variations on the same basic theme, they provide a few different options for any revision exercise, depending on what you’re trying to do with your students:

    Pick-Your-Own: Students select options from a range of ideas to answer a question.

    Cherry-Picking: This has 3 different sub-options you can use it to get students to answer a wide range of questions.

    Pick-The-Best: Students are presented with 7 possible ideas they can use to answer a question, from which they need to pick 2, 3 or 4, depending on the type of question asked, but some are red-herrings they will find difficult, if not impossible, to apply.

    Finally, since the Presentation only provides a single sample question to familiarise you with its mechanics, I’ve provided a Template slide you can use to devise and implement any question(s) you want to use. I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible to create new questions and answers, particularly if you’re not familiar with the creation of slightly more-complicated forms of slide interaction.

    I’ve also included reasonably extensive Notes under each slide to explain the basic purpose of each type in the Presentation.

    Research Methods Booklet

    Thursday, May 21st, 2020

    I came across this Booklet on the Padlet site of Mrs. Booker-Parkinson and, I’m now reliably informed, it was created by Steven Humphrys, based on one of Ken Browne’s many Sociology textbooks. I don’t know which one but since the Booklet’s dated 2018 I chose the most recent.

    Probably.

    I can’t keep up.

    Also, when I say “guessing”, the Word version has a bank page that says “Ken Browne Scan”, which might be considered some sort of a clue.

    Be that as it may, the content covers pretty-much everything a student would need to know and revise about (AQA) research methods (other Exam Boards are available – but since its Research Methods the content’s going to be pretty much applicable across the board, so to speak), organised into a number of discrete sections:

  • Methodologies (positivism and interpretivism)
  • Practical, Ethical and Theoretical research considerations
  • Research design
  • Methods – from experiments to observation via questionnaires.
  • Sampling techniques
  • Triangulation (although this is treated minimally. And then some).
  • Each section is generally presented in terms of two categories:

  • keywords and concepts outlines the basic information required for the exam. This includes the aforementioned (visually signposted) key ideas, some elaborative material and, where relevant, a table of advantages and disadvantages.
  • exam focus provides a range of exam practice questions.
  • As you’ll see from the image I’ve used to decorate this Post, the document formatting is a step up from most booklet’s of this type – and therein lies a slight problem. Word is predominantly a word processor (there’s a clue in there somewhere) and while it has tried to evolve over the years into what it likes to think of itself as some-sort of all-round Desktop Publishing type program, it really isn’t.

    While you can DTP in Word, as this Booklet demonstrates, it’s not ideal because you have to be very careful about the options you set when anchoring text to graphics. To cut a long story short, if you get it wrong and the text moves slightly – which can happen when documents are uploaded to the web – so do the images…

    What I’ve done, therefore, is correct some of the formatting problems that appear in the original Word document and saved it as a pdf file. I haven’t changed any of the text, so both versions are identical (although I’ve removed the blank page from the pdf version). However, if you want a version to edit, choose the original Word one. If you want a version whose contents won’t slide around the page if you cough too loudly, choose the pdf one.

    New Media, New(s) Values?

    Monday, May 18th, 2020

    The concept of news values – the basic principles journalists use to guide their decisions about what constitutes “news” – has been a staple of media sociology since Galtung and Ruge’s (1965) taxonomy (classification) identified the various basic requirements “stories must generally satisfy” if they were to qualify as news.

    As you might expect, this initial categorisation has been reviewed and refined over the years by different researchers – one of the most-interesting and sociologically-useful being Harcup and O’Neill’s (2001) attempt to test the validity of the original classification.

    The outcome was a reduction to 10 categories (from the original 12) to take account of changing economic, political and cultural circumstances – the most-noticeable of which, particularly in a UK-context, is arguably the inclusion of an “Agenda” category, missing from the original, that highlights the significance of “owner views” – individual or organisational – on how the journalists they employ select and report “news” (I’ve left the “Examples” column blank so you can add your own. Either that or I couldn’t be bothered to think of any. I’ll leave you to decide which is the more plausible).

    Harcup and O’Neill (2001)

    While both of these classifications (and many others, such as Chibnall (1977) or Lanson and Stephens, 2003) are, in their slightly different ways, relevant to any understanding of the historical concept of news values, contemporary media developments such as the growth of the Internet and, more-specifically, the rise of social media such as Facebook (2006) and Twitter (2006), add a different dimension to our understanding of news values. This involves, as Harcup and O’Neill (2017) suggest, the need to:

    Examine the extent to which any taxonomy of news values devised in the age before Twitter, Facebook and other interactive platforms, can be taken as read today”.

    The main (sociological) reason for this relates to the relationship between news producers and consumers:

    (more…)

    Visual Media: Study Booklet

    Sunday, May 17th, 2020

    Following hard on the heels of the previous “visual media” offering comes this 18-page Pdf Study Booklet.

    Media Booklet: click to download

    It’s packed to the rafters with information presented in a variety of simple, visually-attractive, ways under six main headings with sub-headings as required:

  • New Media: changes, digital optimism and pessimism
  • Ownership and Control: trends, patterns, theories.
  • Globalisation: cultural changes, imperialism, postmodernism.
  • New Values: bias, moral panics.
  • Representations: class, age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality.
  • Effects: passive and active audiences.
  • As with the previous offerings, there are no indications in the metadata about who created the Booklet, but thank you mysterious, anonymous, person anyway.

    Visual Media: Theories and Representations

    Saturday, May 16th, 2020

    As you probably know by the number of blog posts featuring the word “visual“, I’m a sucker for anything that smacks of “visual sociology” (the clue is probably in what I do…) and I recently chanced upon what I think are two very neat “picture-type” pdf resources covering:

    Media Theories

    1. Media Theories: the material here involves a page on Identity theory and two further pages on representations of youth.

    2. Media Representations: this is organised around 4 categories (Gender, Age, Sexuality and Ethnicity) and consists of a page outlining different theories and a further page packed chock-full with examples of each.

    The materials don’t go into any great depth or detail but I like the way they’ve been constructed and presented (particularly the media theory resources).

    You can use them as a way of presenting some introductory information about both topics or as an example of the type of visual notes students might be encouraged to create for revision purposes.

    Teaching Techniques: Pre-Questioning

    Friday, May 15th, 2020

    “Asking questions” of students is pretty-much a staple of any teacher’s toolkit, which is fair enough, because as Jarrett (2107) notes:

    The “testing effect” is well-established in psychology: this is the finding that answering questions about what you’ve learned leads to better retention than simply studying the material for longer. Testing is beneficial because the act of recall entrenches learned material in our memories, and when we can’t answer, this helps us make our future revision more targeted”.

    Testing, therefore, has a range of educational benefits for both teachers – such as checking how effective their teaching of a particular topic has been – and students in that answering questions appears to encourage better information retention.

    This type of practice, for reasons that are somewhat obvious, can be called post-questioning: students attempt to learn something, by viewing a short film, for example, and are then questioned on what they’ve learnt “after the event”.

    This, you may be thinking, makes sense and is how it probably should be.

    And you wouldn’t be wrong.

    There is, however, another way of asking questions that is slightly more counter-intuitive in that it involves asking questions before students have studied something. This is known as pre-questioning and, on the face of things probably sounds a little pointless.

    Bear with me however, as I outline two types of pre-questioning and suggest exactly how and why they might be useful to your teaching in different contexts.

    Type of Pre-Questioning

    Education: 4. Role and Function: 4. Social democracy

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

    Social democratic approaches refer to a range of ideas about the relationship between the individual and the state that focus on using various forms of social and economic interventions such as State-maintained schooling, to promote ideas about social justice within a broad capitalist mixed economy (one that combines private and state-owned business and services).

    A motor of social change?

    In Britain, for example, since 1945 both Labour and Conservative parties and governments have broadly accepted social democratic ideas about a range of issues – schooling in particular – although it’s probably important to qualify this by saying the Labour Party has historically been a “Social Democratic party” while the Conservative Party has embraced some aspects of social democracy while being, at least over the past 40 years, a generally New Right political organisation.

    Be that as it may, social democratic discourses on the role and function of education focus, for our purposes, on two processes that emerged in the post-2nd world war period:

    1. Technological changes in the workplace involving both a decline in traditional manufacturing and the rise of service industries in areas like finance and, subsequently, computing and information technology.

    2. Social changes focused on ideas about equality in areas like gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class. Various UK government Acts, from the legalisation of homosexuality (1967) through the promotion of racial equality (Race Relations Act, 1968) to the banning of gender discrimination in the workplace (Equal Pay Act,1970), used the legal system as a way of “promoting social justice” throughout various areas of society.

    For social democrats these two processes converged in the arena of education.

    The tripartite system that had evolved into a bipartite grammar / secondary modern system divided along class lines – most grammar school pupils were drawn from the middle classes – was questioned in two ways.

    Firstly, that it failed to meet the needs of a society undergoing rapid technological and sociological changes. The tripartite system produced a small percentage of highly-qualified university entrants (around 10% of 18 year olds by the early 1960s) and a large number of poorly-qualified school-leavers, a situation that failed to meet the economic need for a better-qualified service industry workforce that was growing quickly and in more-sophisticated directions.

    Secondly, the tripartite system failed to meet the requirements of social fairness because it was based on outmoded notions of fixed ability.

    The solution, for social democrats, was Comprehensive schooling designed to address the twin problems of social inequality and technological change.

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    Lancaster Lockdown Psychology Seminar Series

    Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

    Lancaster University, a place where, coincidentally, I spent 3 years of my life studying, have announced a series of “interactive live talks from experts in the Department of Psychology” that are open to anyone.

    All you need is the Microsoft Teams app or you can view – and interact if you want – using a web browser.

    The latter allows you to join a seminar anonymously if you so choose.

    Which is either a commendable attempt to open everything up to as many people as possible or a hostage to fortune.

    I’m hoping it’s the former.

    A little weirdly, the advertising for the series is being posted from a Lancaster University WordPress page that seems to have been created in 2011 but never used for anything.

    Until now.

    So I’m guessing this is something of a mend-and-make-do effort on the part of the Psychology Department, which, if that’s the case, more power to them.

    Anyway, the seminars are 30-minute talks about “contemporary areas of psychological research” with, as I’ve suggested, an interactive element in that you can ask the Speaker questions – anonymously or otherwise. The format, in this respect, is a bit like a lecture: a 30-minute talk followed by 30 minutes for participants to ask questions.

    The Seminars are being held every Tuesday from 7.30 – 8.30pm, starting 12th May, and have the following talks lined-up:

    12th May 2020: Dr Lara Warmelink: Lying: the good, the bad, and the ugly

    19th May:  Dr Calum Hartley: Children’s understanding of ownership

    26th May: Dr Sally Linkenauger: The Pint Glass Illusion:  Large Distortions in the Perceived Shape of Everyday Objects

    2nd June: Prof Charlie Lewis: Developmental Psychology in the Courts: Can we help children provide more convincing evidence?

    9th June: Dr Ryan Boyd: How to Talk About Your Feelings: The Peculiar Relationship Between Words and Emotions.

    Education: 4. Role and Function: 2. Marxism and Neo-Marxism

    Sunday, May 10th, 2020

    marxism

    For traditional Marxism the main role and function of education is cultural reproduction – a concept based on a different interpretation of secondary socialisation to that favoured by their Functionalist (Structural) counterparts. Althusser (1971), for example, argues the reproduction of capitalism involves each new generation being taught the knowledge and skills required in the workplace, as well as children being orientated to “the values of capitalist reproduction”. These might involve ideas like emphasising individual effort and achievement, encouraging inter and intra-group competition (competition between groups – such as men and women – and within groups, such as age categories like young and old) and encouraging ideas about the private accumulation of wealth. In turn, ideas about co-operation, the socialisation of wealth and so forth are marginalised – or rarely, if ever, discussed – within the classroom.

    For traditional Marxists, therefore, schools don’t just select, differentiate and allocate children in the interests of “society as a whole” on some form of meritocratic basis. Rather, their role is to ensure the children of powerful economic elites achieve the levels of education required to follow in their parents’ (exploitative) footsteps. The role of education for Althusser was to educate most people “just enough” to be useful employees and a small number “more than enough” to take up high-powered elite working roles.

    There’s more. Quite a bit more…

    Education: 4. Role and Function: 1. Functionalism and Neo (New Right) Functionalism

    Friday, May 8th, 2020

    functionalism

    Functionalist arguments about the role of education focus on the various ways education links to other social institutions, such as the family and the workplace, as part of an overall network of connected institutions. The education system is, in this respect, conceptualised as a bridge between these institutions in two broad ways:

    1. On an institutional level, modern social systems involve different types of work and must develop ways of allocating and managing human resources to ensure they are used efficiently and effectively (such as not producing too many unskilled workers if there is no demand for their services).

    2. On an individual level education functions as an agency of secondary socialisation to, as Parsons (1959) argues, “broaden the individual’s experience” of the social world and prepare children for adult role relationships in the workplace and wider society.

    Meritocracy?

    For the education system to function efficiently on both levels it must be meritocratic. Rewards, such as well-paid, high status, work, are earned through individual abilities and efforts, such as working hard in school to gain qualifications. Merit-based systems are also competitive: different levels of reward are given for different levels of achievement. Competition must be based on equality of opportunity: if some are disadvantaged, through something like sexual or racial discrimination, society cannot be sure “the best people” occupy the most important, prestigious and well-rewarded adult roles.

    A meritocratic system involves, by definition, different levels of reward for different levels of effort and achievement – which means a major role of education is social differentiation; children have to be “made different”, on the basis of their individual merits, if education is to meet the requirements of a differentiated economy (one with a variety of different types of work, each requiring different levels of skills and knowledge). A meritocratic education system always, therefore, involves inequalities of outcome: children must leave the education system with different types and levels of qualifications appropriate to their efforts and achievements. As Parsons (1959) argues:

    It is fair to give differential rewards for different levels of achievement, so long as there has been fair access to opportunity and fair that these rewards lead on to higher-order opportunities for the successful”.

    Education systems are, in this respect, viewed as functionally necessary for both the individual – as a means of finding their place in wider society – and “society in general” because education performs a vital and necessary differentiation function in advanced industrial societies

    The development of mass education is, therefore, explained in terms of functional differentiation. That is, the idea institutions develop to perform particular specialised functions, such as “work” and “education”. If, for whatever reason, the needs of one institution are not being adequately met, tensions develop within the system that threaten its stability and ability to function – the development of industrial forms of work, for example, required a newly literate and numerate workforce and without these skills the economy could neither function nor develop. Where other institutions, such as the family, cannot meet this new requirement system stability is threatened and equilibrium can only be restored in one of two ways:

  • an existing institution, such as the family or religion, evolvesto perform the required function. This involves differentiation that occurs within individual institutions; different roles need to be developed if the institution is to perform its new function.
  • a new institution, such as formal education, arises to ‘fulfil the need’.
  • While the former is always a possibility, the scale of economic change as societies industrialise overwhelms the ability of existing institutions to cope with the new changes and demands, hence, at some point in their development all societies will necessarily develop a specialised institution (education) as a means of restoring system stability.

    The concept of functional differentiation is particularly important because it suggests how functionalists see the broad relationship between economic and educational (or cultural) institutions; the latter develops and adapts to reflect and support the former. One important dimension to this relationship is that differentiation within the workplace is reflected by differentiation within the education system. A general process across all modern education systems is, for example, some kind of division of pupils along academic and vocational lines – a distinction that’s been variously justified by reference to ideas like:

  • natural differences in intelligence and aptitude.
  • Individuals choosing different educational routes: some favour more-practical and some favour more-academic routes.
  • the particular needs of the economy in the sense, structurally, of a need for people to leave education with skills that will fit them to the available jobs.
  • In Britain, for example, the 1944 Education Act that established free, universal, education, explicitly addressed education’s relationship with the workplace through a distinction between:

  • Grammar schools designed for academic pupils who were destined to move-on to University and professional employment.
  • Secondary Modern schools designed for vocational pupils who were destined to follow a practical or technical route into the workforce.
  • This type of functional division is reflected in secondary education systems worldwide:

  • India has both academic and vocational (school and profession-based) routes through secondary education.
  • Pakistan has similarly developed academic and technical routes.
  • Mauritius organises secondary education in a slightly different way but has also developed a distinction between academic routes into the workplace and a form of prevocational education for around 5% of the school population.
  • The separation of academic and vocational educational routes, therefore, reflects the idea of functional differentiation and specialisation in terms of two basic forms of work:

  • professional careers requiring higher levels of abstract knowledge and lower levels of practical expertise.
  • non-professionalwork requiring higher levels of practical expertise and lower levels of abstract knowledge.
  • While in Britain, at least, the rather clunky physical segregation of “academic” and “vocational” pupils into separate schools largely – but not totally – disappeared with the development of Comprehensive education in the mid-1970s, the functional requirement to competitively “sift and sort” pupils of different aptitudes and abilities into different spheres arguably continues with various in-school practices such as streaming, setting and banding and external testing / examinations at 7, 11, 14 and 16 (GCSE).

    While the specific means of “sifting and sorting pupils” may have changed since Davis and Moore (1945) argued that the education system existed to ensure that “those who are most able and talented intellectually” are allocated work roles that offer the highest rewards in terms of income, power and status, the broad sentiment remains true 75 years later. For traditional Functionalism the most functionally important economic roles must be filled by the most able, capable and competent members of society. The relationship between educational systems and the workplace, therefore, is one where “Education is the proving ground for ability and hence the selective agency for placing people in different statuses according to their abilities”.

    (more…)

    Crime and Deviance: More PowerPoints

    Thursday, May 7th, 2020

    A few years ago(!) I posted a White Collar Crime PowerPoint with a note to say that it seemed like one of a pair with Corporate Crime (don’t ask me how I knew that, I’ve got no idea).

    Green Crime

    But the Bad News was I couldn’t find it.

    Never one to not persevere, I’ve been hunting night-and-day (not literally) for the missing PowerPoint and the Good News is that I’ve now found it. Corporate Crime is now available for your viewing pleasure alongside its White Collar counterpart.

    While some among us might have put their feet up and settled back a little smugly in their comfy chair content in the knowledge of A Job Well Done, others (i.e. me. In case there’s any doubt) kept their sleuthing hat on (not a Deerstalker, sadly) and continued the search.

    Which, I’m very pleased to say, has bourne fruit in the shape of three further Presentations, namely:

    1. State Crime and Human Rights.

    2. Green Crime.

    3. Cybercrime.

    Each Presentation is relatively short and generally takes the form of “defining the problem” coupled with some examples to illustrate the concept and a few class / exam questions to round things off. Having said that, the State and Human Rights Presentation is more-extensive and offers up a couple of explanations / theories that could be applied to understand the problem.

    You need to keep in mind that the Presentations seem to be around 10 years old (and reference material that is consequently a few years older than that) but otherwise all the Presentations represent relatively simple and painless ways to introduce some of the lesser, but nonetheless important, areas of the Crime and Deviance Specification.

    Education: 3. The Purpose of Schools

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

    The final part of the “Structure and Organisation of Education” trilogy (Part 1: Structure and Organisation and Part 2: Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy are, as is the way of trilogies, also available) ends with a !Bang! (if by “bang” you mean “a slightly loud noise”) by looking at various forms of school organisation (from the formal curriulum to the informal curriculum, from streaming to cultural reproduction, from Here to Eternity etc.)

    Although the obvious answer to any question about the purpose of schools is “education”, the meaning of education is neither self-evident nor unproblematic: the former because “education” can encompass a wide range of formal and informal types of learning – from explicit teaching about ox-bow lakes in geography to implicit teaching about gendered relationships in the classroom – and the latter because what counts as “education” is always socially constructed and socially-contested. It always reflects, Weber (1922) suggests, what any society considers “Worthy of being known”.

    What constitutes education in any society, therefore – from how it is structured and organised to which ideas are actually taught in a classroom (or, increasingly, online) – is always the outcome of a power struggle between different interested parties: from business and media corporations through political parties to individual parents and teachers. It is, therefore, against this background of conflict and consensus that we need to outline and evaluate the purpose of schools.

    One way to start to do this is through Merton’s (1957) distinction between manifest and latent functions:

  • Manifest functions relate to the things schools are expected to do; in this instance teaching children the knowledge and skills required by adult society. This idea is explored in terms of the nature and organisation of the formal curriculum.
  • Latent functions refer to things not officially recognised as being part of the school’s purpose and may also be the unintended consequences of the way schools are formally organised – an idea explored in terms of the hidden curriculum.
  • (more…)

    Education: 2. Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

    Part 1 of this series looked at a range of general ideas about the structure and organisation of education in our society, through a broadly historical overview of educational development over the past 150 years. In part 2 the focus is on the structure and organisation of different types of school within the education system.

    Over the past 25 years secondary schooling (broadly, 11 – 18) has seen a range of organisational changes we can illustrate by looking at different types of schools now available to parents in both the private and state-maintained sectors in England and Wales.

    A Public School…

    Private sector

    According to Department of Education data (2018/19) There are around 2,400 Independent schools in the UK (out of a total of around 25,000 primary and secondary schools), funded by parental fees – Harrow, for example, charges nearly £42,000 for the 2020/21 school year  – and investment income. Around half of these schools also claim charitable status which gives them a range of tax reliefs and exemptions.

    According to the Independent Schools Council (2015) these schools currently educate around 7% of the total school-age (5 – 16) population and 14% of post-16 students. Independent schools are allowed to set their own admissions policy (the major Public Schools, for example, operate some form of entrance exam selection process in addition to charging fees) and do not have to follow the National Curriculum (although most do, usually in a modified form).

    The leading 10% of independent schools – those affiliated to the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference – are usually known as Public Schools, a label that reflects their origins as schools for the poor.

    (more…)

    Education: 1. Structure and Organisation

    Friday, May 1st, 2020

    The structure of any institution, such as education, refers to the general relationship between its constituent parts – such as, in this instance, teachers and pupils – and how they are organised to achieve certain aims, such as providing children and young adults with some form of socially-approved, sanctioned and certificated form of education.

    Old School (circa 1905)

    Organisation, therefore, refers to the objectives an institution must fulfil in order to meet its structural aims: it may, for example:

  • develop some way for teachers and pupils to formally interact (such as a classroom – real or virtual).
  • create status hierarchies involving both adults and pupils so that both are externally (from each other) and internally (within particular groups) differentiated. Teachers, for example, are a group externally differentiated from their pupils, while pupils may be internally differentiated on the basis of things like age (different year groups) and measured ability (through techniques like streaming, setting or banding).
  • There are, of course, potentially many different and varied ways to both structure and organise education. The recent (2020) coronavirus pandemic, for example, saw a temporary mass organisational change in UK schooling, away from traditional forms of face-to-face real-world classroom interaction towards virtual forms of interaction such as video-conferencing. This suggests, therefore, that such concepts always reflect ideological beliefs about things like:

  • what education means: is it, for example, the simple memorisation and appropriate regurgitation of “facts” or does it involve a more-holistic approach to both understanding and personal well-being?
  • how it should be organised: in terms of things like schools, age-defined classes, online teaching, off-line teaching, child-centred learning, teacher-led learning.
  • what it is designed to achieve: such as the development of well-rounded individuals and citizens or differentiated individuals designed to meet the needs of business corporations.
  • We can start to understand these questions by looking briefly at the historical development of education in Britain. This will help to establish the relationship between structure, organisation and beliefs that can be used to illustrate and inform our understanding of contemporary educational developments to be considered in more detail later in the chapter.

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    Of Methods and Methodology 6 | 3: Theoretical Research Considerations

    Thursday, April 30th, 2020

    Theoretical research considerations – from methodological perspective to questions of reliability and validity – form the third part of the P.E.T. (Practical, Ethical, Theoretical) triumvirate of research considerations and they represent an important counterweight to the idea that sociological research simply involves choosing the right tool for the job.

    In everyday life, when faced with a problem like hanging a picture on a wall, most of us would reach for a hammer – mainly because we consider this the most appropriate and efficient tool for the job.

    When carrying out sociological research, therefore, it would make sense to do something similar: choose a research topic and then select the most appropriate method with which to collect data.

    Seeing research methods as tools – what Ackroyd and Hughes (1992) called the “Toolbox Approach” to sociological research – is, on one level, a perfectly sensible approach: if you want to collect quantitative data about some form of behaviour it’s not a great idea to use a method better-suited to collecting qualitative data – and vice-versa.

    (more…)