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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.

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?

    There’s a lot more of it. A Lot, 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.