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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 January 2021 we passed 700 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 among our many, many, posts. 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.

SCTV Archive: This is actually useful if you want a quick way to look back through the posts we’ve made by month / year. Just click the selection 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…

Top Posts and Pages: identifies the posts that have had the most views so you can benefit from the Wisdom of the Crowd. Or something.

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. We’ve also started to create a few sub-categories you might find useful. For example, the main “Sociology” category has sub-categories like “Crime” and “Family”. Selecting one of these sub-categories serves-up the post archive for your selection.

Finally, use the Subscribe Now box to be notified by email each time a new post appears on the Blog. This address is only ever used to send automatic notifications and, because we value your privacy, will never be passed to a third-party.

We like to think we’re better than that.

As indeed we are.

Augmented Reality: A Variable-Sum Game?

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

The distinction between digital optimism and digital pessimism is a well-known one in the sociology of the media and comparisons of their respective positions are a fairly commonplace feature of any discussion of the social impact of different forms of new media.  This is particularly the case in relation to something like social media where the debate is increasingly framed in terms of overly-optimistic claims for it’s innate goodness and equally-pessimistic claims for its innate badness.

“Augmented Reality”

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with examining and evaluating new media in this way, if you want to add a slightly more-nuanced reading of something like social media to the debate, Jurgenson’s (2012) novel reinterpretation / reinvention of the term “augmented reality” might fit the bill.

“Augmented reality”, if you’re not familiar with it, refers to the idea of overlaying the real world with digital layers that enhance or augment what we’re seeing. You could, for example, be in a museum looking at a picture and, by pointing your phone at it you reveal a variety of details about the artist, the picture and so forth on the screen.  

Alternatively, if you’re into less high-cultural pursuits think Pokemon Go – a game that uses a phone’s GPS function to overlay virtual creatures on real-world locations.

(more…)

Media Methods and Representations: The Bechdel Test

Saturday, May 14th, 2022
Alison Bechdel's “The Rule” (1985)
Alison Bechdel’s “The Rule” (1985)

The Bechdel Test is a very simple type of content analysis, created by Alison Bechdel in a 1985 episode (“The Rule”) of her comic-strip “Dykes to Watch Out For”, that tests how women – and by extension men – are historically represented in Hollywood films.

Aside from throwing-up, so to speak, some interesting and frankly-quite-surprising results (the Bechdel test web site has a database of films that passed (or more usually, failed), the Test itself is a simple and efficient way to allow students to “do” some Content Analysis in a context that’s easy to arrange and manage.

In basic terms, ask each student in your class to watch a film of their choice (in their own time…) and, while their watching, record whether or not it satisfies 4 simple criteria:

1. Does it have at least 2 women in it?

2. Do they have names (i.e. are they something more than background extras)?

3. Do they talk to each other?

4. Is their conversation about something other than men?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, the film fails the test.

Applying the Test

Five Functions of Identity

Friday, May 13th, 2022

A great deal of discussion about identity in a-level Sociology can be fairly abstract and concerned with the mechanics of construction: how and why, for example, particular identities are created and assumed.

In the midst of all this some relatively simple questions sometimes get obscured – an idea addressed by Adams and Marshall (1996) when they suggest five functions of identity: here the focus on what identity does for the individual and, by extension, society, ‘rather than how identity is constructed’ – and we can use a relatively simple education example to illustrate these functions:

1. Structure: Identities provide a ‘framework of rules’, used to guide behaviour when playing certain roles, that helps us understand our relationship to others.

2. Goals: We develop a sense of purpose by setting goals for our behaviour. A ‘student identity’, for example, involves the desire to achieve goals like educational qualifications.

3. Personal control: Identities provide a measure of ‘active self-regulation’ in terms of deciding what we want to achieve and how we plan to achieve it. An A-level student, for example, understands the need to take notes to help them remember the things they might be tested on in an exam.

4. Harmony: When adopting a particular identity (such as teacher or student) we have to ensure the commitments we make (the things others expect from us) are consistent with our personal values and beliefs. A teacher or student who sees education as a waste of time is unlikely to be able to successfully perform this particular role.

5. Futures: Identities allow us to ‘see where we are going’ in terms of likely or hoped-for outcomes (what we want to achieve). A student identity, for example, has a future orientation: the role may be performed to achieve the goal of going to university, which requires the passing of A-level exams, with the eventual aim of securing a particular type of employment.

Update

If you prefer your learnin’ with some funky backbeats and the full “Countdown To…” treatment that’s already been meted out to stuff like Culture and Revision (not necessarily in that order) then you will probably lose your mind over Countdown to Identity…

Rules of the Exam Game

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

One of the things that can be difficult to get students to grasp is the importance of exam technique: the idea that what they achieve in their final exam is not just a function of what they know but also of how they express what they know.

Exams, in short, are a social process governed by rules specifying things like what counts as valid knowledge and, perhaps more-importantly, how students can validly realise their knowledge. It can sometimes be a struggle to convince students that it’s not enough to simply know things; you have to be able to answer specific questions in a way broadly demanded by the examiner.

Being successful at A-level Sociology therefore, as with every other subject at this level, is a combination of learning relevant knowledge and being able to apply that knowledge in ways acceptable to an examiner.

The Good News here is that by understanding and exploiting the rules of the sociology game students can successfully achieve their objectives.

The somewhat Less Than Good News is that convincing them of this can sometimes be an uphill battle.

To this end I’ve put together a couple of simple exercises, based on reconstructing and deconstructing real exam answers, designed to show students how taking the time and effort to master the mechanics of answering exam questions can pay dividends in the long run.

1. Reconstructing the Deconstruction

The initial exercise involves students reconstructing an exam answer and, for the purpose of illustration I’ve chosen an AQA Methods in Context one. Since all A-level sociology students have to answer Research Methods questions it’s an area with which they will be broadly familiar, regardless of the specific syllabus followed. You can, of course, do this exercise with an exam answer of your own choosing / creation.

Most UK exam boards now seem to make exemplar answers available to teachers so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find an answer or two that fits the bill. If you’re having trouble you can either write one yourself (and maybe swap answers with other teachers?) or there are plenty around on the web for OCR (H580/01, H580/02, H580/03) and AQA. There are also commercial products – try searching for something like “crime & deviance 10 markers model answers” – that have been written as exemplars.

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Psychology: What Can You Do With It?

Monday, May 9th, 2022

In a previous post we looked at some of the expanding career choices available for sociologists and this post does much the same for psychology students by drawing your attention to the

Your Journey into Psychology area of the British Psychological Society website.

The main focus here is on 9 major areas of psychological employment:

  • Forensic
  • Health
  • Clinical
  • Educational
  • Neuro
  • Sport and Exercise
  • Counselling
  • Occupational
  • Academic, Research and Teaching
  • Each area is subdivided into the following sections:

    What they do involves a short text description of the area. Some also have a short accompanying video of what sounds like students talking about what that area involves.

    Places of work, as you might expect, gives students a brief overview of where a particular type of psychologist is likely to work.

    Training Route provides details of the qualifications required.

    Expected salaries gives a (very) broad indication of the level of remuneration you’re likely to earn.

    Searching for Jobs provides information about possible employers.

    Each area is completed by sections of additional information and useful web links if you want to dig deeper.

    Careers Guide

    The site also has a pdf Careers Guide available that covers similar ground to the website in terms of identifying possible career destinations (from forensic psychology to counselling) but with a slightly different emphasis: where you might work, who you might work with, training and work experience and, possibly most useful, “A Day in the Life” of someone working in each area.

    Psychology Online Toolkit: Revisited

    Sunday, May 8th, 2022

    A couple of years ago I featured a post on the collaboration between the British Psychological Society (BPS)and  the Association for the Teaching of Psychology (ATP) that produced the proto Online Teacher’s Toolkit.

    This was something I welcomed at the time but felt was a little, how shall I say. underwhelming in terms of content.

    Well, in the time I haven’t been paying attention they’ve added a great deal more stuff to the Toolkit and it’s started to expand into something all A-level / AP Psychology teachers should find really useful (that’s an observation, not an instruction). This includes, in no particular order:

  • A Student’s guide to personal statements
  • Personal Statements Activity 
  • Writing Personal Statements – A Psychology Student’s Guide to Learning
  • Teaching mathematical skills through key studies in Psychology 
  • How to report on experimental psychological investigations
  • How to report on psychological correlational investigations
  • Psychology open evening advice
  • A list of transferrable skills gained by studying psychology
  • Suggested reading within psychology to spark your students’ interest
  • A selection of podcasts by Lucinda Powell from Changing States of Mind
  • Health psychology careers case studies
  • Psychology Careers Guide
  • A Psychology Student’s Guide to Evaluation
  • Memory for Learning
  • Memory for Learning: Teacher’s Notes
  • Advice on carrying out psychology practical work during Covid-19 restrictions
  • Taking the Fear out of Maths
  • Using pedagogical theory in psychology teaching
  • And if you’re looking for a little visual help with Maths in Psychology, why not have a look at our Step-by-Step Walkthroughs…

    Home Office Research Findings

    Saturday, May 7th, 2022

    Between 1992 and 2008 the Home Office published around 250 “Research Fundings” – a heady mixture of sociological research, British Crime Survey data, evaluations of crime policies and the like – in a short-form that consisted of 4 – 6 pages built around summaries of:

  • Key Points
  • Methods and Methodology (where relevant)
  • Key Findings
  • Conclusions.
  • These are very student (and teacher) friendly, particularly the Key Points summaries that, by-and-large, preclude the need to actually read the rest of the findings if you’re pushed for time, have a Very Short Attention Span or just can’t be bothered.

    Although the selective trawl through the available Findings might prove both interesting and informative, depending on what you may or may not need for teaching purposes, the Archive does have a couple of potential drawbacks:

    1. Some of the very early bulletins look as if they’ve been badly-photocopied from an original document that was itself badly-copied from someone’s proto-attempt to use primitive (circa 1990) DTP software. By 1996, however, someone at the Home Office had clearly made an executive design to up their design game, buy some reasonably-decent software and generally think about their end-users. At this point things start to become much more presentable, not to say readable.

    2. The bulk of the archive covers the years 1995 – 2007 which, as you will appreciate, is starting to make the research a little dated (or historically-interesting if you prefer). Having said that, it’s not too old to be badly outdated and many of the areas covered – from published sociological research on areas like gender and crime to early evaluations of schemes that have now become established on the UK crime scene – have a certain historical relevance and attraction.

    A couple of the reports in particular caught my eye:

    Firstly, Gender differences in risk factors for offending: Farrington and Painter (2004). This drew conclusions from the  Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, a longitudinal survey of crime and delinquency “in 411 males, mostly born in 1953. The Study began in 1961–62, when most of the boys were aged 8–9”. It is, if memory serves, still going strong…

    Secondly, Mike Sutton’s (1998) Handling stolen goods and theft: a market reduction approach. If you’re not familiar with this interesting approach to crime reduction I’ve previously written a handy outline that should bring you up to speed. I’d like to think it’s because I’m nice like that but, on reflection, I’m definitely not.

    Choose Sociology

    Friday, May 6th, 2022

    “My name is Rachel and I’m a non-academic sociologist…”

    If you’re in any way involved in the process of enrolling students on sociology courses you’ll be familiar with the two basic questions students – and sometimes their parents – ask:

    What Is Sociology…

    This is the easier of the two to answer and since you’ll probably have your own way of answering it there’s not a great deal of point to me adding my twopennyworth – although I would say that if you’re feeling a little adventurous, particularly once you’ve got your victims students safely sat in your classroom, you might like to have a bit of fun by taking the Foucault Route to exploring this question.

    If you need a bit of help, however, the British Sociological Association have a free Why Study Sociology? you can use to brighten-up your classroom.

    And / or cover-up that mould strain on the wall.

    And What Can You Do With It?

    The aforementioned Poster ends with the words:

    Studying sociology…equips you with the skills for many careers”.

    And while this is always good to hear if you’re planning to enter the job market, it’s a little vague.

    Luckily, the BSA site has a handy link to possible “Sociologist Careers” you can use to gen-up on the kinds of occupations sociology students enter.

    While I’m sure the Police, Voluntary Agencies, Social Work and Teaching are all, in their own ways, worthwhile and fulfilling careers, I’d hazard a guess they’re not likely to set the pulses of your prospective students racing. To be fair, there is also a vague section called “Research” that suggests “large organisations” might want to employ sociologists in some form of futurological, stargazing, capacity, presumably to try to predict trends in something-or-other.

    And while this may sound a bit more exciting than “social work” (however worthy etc.) I’m guessing it might not translate too easily into your favoured “Welllllllllll, there are lots of…umm…careers open to sociologists…” spiel.

    It’s not helped, obviously, by the fact that if said prospective students are also considering studying something like Psychology it’s a lot easier to point to “Psychologist” being a recognised job title you’d find in a wide range of businesses.

    And possibly more-attractive to doubtful parents than hearing

    learning about sociology is handy for subsequently teaching other people about sociology…”.

    However, the key point here is the specific skills sociologists can bring to the workplace, rather than a particular type of work. Sociologically this is known as second-domain analysis: the idea someone applies knowledge and skills learnt in their first domain (sociology) to the needs and requirements of a second domain, such as an organisation or industry.

    More prosaically, it’s the difference between developing a range of skills that can be applied to different types of work and having the specific skills required to do a particular job. So while some types of work clearly require specific academic skills, an increasing number require a more-general set of skills focused on a particular area. If, for example, a business involves understanding things like group behaviours, dynamics, order and change, a sociological background would be advantageous to both the organisation and the individual tasked with understanding these things.

    The Embedded Sociologist

    This is where the concept of embedding comes into play and the article Embedded Sociologists (2011) should familiarise you with the concept and highlight ways sociological knowledge has been applied in different organisational contexts.

    As an example, looking at something like Sociology in the Tech Industry reveals a range of areas where embedded sociologists can bring their academic expertise to bear. These include:

  • Public  policy: analysing, understanding, monitoring and measuring the impact company or industry policies have on different social groups.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: helping to develop industry and organisational policies around areas like education (such as the digital divide), social environments (the impact different corporate polices on things like free speech, harassment and bullying have on different communities) and inequality (how technological developments “alleviate or compound racial and socioeconomic inequities”).
  • Human Resources: Sociologists can play a crucial role in areas like diversity and social inclusion / exclusion within companies. The can also have an important input into developing non-discriminatory organisational cultures – understanding, for example, why a particular organisation or industry is unappealing to women, people of colour or those from a less-privileged background.
  • Training: These kinds of roles within companies cover a wide range of areas and ideas, but examples might include sociological insights into developing inclusive corporate cultures, diversity training, organisational impacts on the social environment and the like.
  • Research: While a conventional knowledge of research methods – including methodological concepts like reliability, validity and representativeness – can be useful to organisations, sociological understanding can be brought to bear on things like the impact of different media technologies and a range of social media questions: why people use different identities, online ethnography, social well-being and so forth.
  • While this list is neither exhaustive nor particularly representative, it is indicative of the kinds of careers and roles sociologists can have outside a relatively narrow range of “public service” occupations.

    And anything that helps to widen the horizons of your prospective students will hopefully encourage them to Choose Sociology…

    Countdown to Culture

    Friday, April 29th, 2022

    It’s a strange-but-true factette that in the 8 years – and nearly 800 posts – this blog has been active one post has stood head-and-shoulders above all others.

    Quite why an innocuous little post outlining 7 Functions of Culture should have garnered 30,000-odd views in the 5 years since it was first posted is anyone’s guess.

    Personally I haven’t a *&^%^$£ clue.

    However, not being slow to recognise that Something Might Be Happening here, I thought it might be interesting to see if I could take what’s essentially a plain-text list and turn it into something much more in-the-moment.

    Yes, you guessed it, it’s a video list!

    Or. as your students are guaranteed* to know and love it, a 3-minute romp through 10 functions of culture (I didn’t so much find three extra functions as do a bit of judicious editing) that covers the following functions:

  • Communication
  • Perception
  • Identity
  • Social Solidarity
  • Social integration
  • Values
  • Motivation
  • Stratification
  • Production and consumption
  • Norms
  • * This is only guaranteed for adverting purposes. It’s not actually guaranteed.

    Countdown to Revision

    Monday, April 25th, 2022

    Or, to give it its full title the “Top Tip Revision Countdown List”.

    This is a short (2-minute) film I put together (and for “put” you should probably read “cobbled”) as a slightly different way of highlighting some of the things students should be doing – and avoiding – when and if they get down to revising.

    In other words, I was at a loose end and thought it might be fun to take something like Collins’ free Revision Tips Poster idea to see if I could convert it into something slightly more mobile.

    Sadly, that was the extent of my ambition and, considered in those terms, I believe I have succeeded.

    As you will appreciate if you watch it, it’s designed to be a spoof of the kind of list-vids Channel 5 produce by the shedload.

    Having said that, the information it contains is pretty solid.

    If you’re interested Collins are also giving away a Revision Plan template (also known as “A Calendar”).

    Every Little Helps.

    Apparently.

    Ask A Psychologist

    Saturday, April 16th, 2022

    In addition to offering free KS3 and 4 Debate Kits the “I’m A Scientist” web site also features a dedicated Psychology Zone, funded by The British Psychological Society, (other Zones – Health, Helium and Molecule – are available should you be interested), the main purpose of which is to enable students to participate in short question-and-answer sessions with real, live, psychologists.

    Each session lasts a maximum of 40-minutes and has to be booked in advance through the web site. This is free for schools, presumably because the Zones are sponsored. The one drawback here is that each Zone is only available at specific times during the year, with the next Psychology Zone scheduled for June 2022.

    The session includes some suggested Lesson Plans that help teachers and students understand the general process and all Chat is moderated by the site. Only students registered with your class can participate in each Chat session and a transcript of all the questions asked – and their answers – is available for download at the end of the session.

    Real. Live. Psychologists.

    While the Zone is up-and-running, which typically seems to be for about a month at a time, your students can submit follow-up questions through the site, participate in any after-school Chats that have been arranged (these are open to all participating students, not just the ones in your class, but they are fully-moderated) and vote for their Scientist of the Week (who can win a £500 prize – presumably for being the most-helpful / charming / amusing – I’m not sure, really).

    Finally, at the end of the Zone run the student who asked the best question wins a gift voucher. How this works I have no idea but it’s probably worth it if you win.

    GCSE Sociology: Debate Kits

    Thursday, April 14th, 2022

    One of the Good Things about Teaching (and, indeed, Learning) Sociology is that it offers up plentiful opportunities for classroom discussion in ways that can be a hugely-beneficial teaching and learning experience.

    A main downside to building discussions into your lesson plan is, of course, that without a strong structure designed to get students to think about different viewpoints and draw appropriate conclusions, discussion can rapidly dissolve into a distracted mess of competing opinions on and around everything but the question at hand.

    There are, as you might expect, a shed-load of practices and strategies available to anyone interested in ways of developing structured discussions, both in the offline and online classroom, but if you’re of the opinion there’s always room for different ways of doing things you might want to consider the Science Debate Kits aimed at KS3 and 4 students (14 – 16 year olds in the UK).

    Although the blurb around the kits refers to them as a STEM resource, the basic underpinning principle – students take-on a range of structured roles for the purposes of discussion – is one that’s easily-adapted to something like GCSE Sociology or Psychology.

    So while many of the prepared Kits (debates around Food Hygiene, Space Travel and IVF) are broadly aimed at KS3 and 4 Science a number have a more-general audience that could be used as is in GCSE Sociology. This includes debates around areas like Unisex Toilets, Drug legalisation / Decriminalisation and Big Data. In this respect each pre-constructed Kit provides:

  • General instructions about the debate.
  • Facilitation tips
  • Brief Learning Notes (covering the Lesson Objectives, Outcomes and Curriculum Outcomes beloved of SMT and OfSted)
  • Teacher Notes covering a more-detailed Lesson Plan, Background Notes and Suggested Homework.
  • A set of Character (role-playing) cards containing details of the character being played by each student in the debate.
  • While these ready-made Kits are undoubtedly useful as both a time-saver and pointer as to how the debate can be structured, many KS4 Sociology teachers are likely to find the Blank Debate  Template Kits more-useful. This will be particularly the case if you want to explore issues that aren’t covered in the existing Kits or if you want to adapt existing Kits to a more-sociological orientation for your students.

    Either way the Kits (and the associated website) could prove to be a valuable resource that’s well-worth exploring if you’re looking for ways to introduce debates with a clear narrative flow into your classroom.

    In addition, although the Kits are designed for 14 – 16 year olds there’s probably nothing to stop you adapting the broad principles involved to higher-level discussions post-16. You could, for example, try combining the Trial-by-Jury discussion format with the Science Kit role-playing format to create a very-interesting (or not, as the fancy takes you) discussion hybrid.

    And you don’t get more sociological than that.

    Foucault and Introducing Sociology?

    Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

    I always found giving students an “Introduction to Sociology” – whether as part of a recruitment or induction process, first lesson or whatever – something of a chore because it was difficult to:

    a. Sum-up Sociology in a short, pithy-yet-evocative sentence or two.

    b. Build on the description I offered to get students to reflect on the subject they were thinking about studying.

    After a few years (what can I say? I’m a slow learner) I sort-of distilled everything down into the idea that sociology is the study of our relationship to others (the recruitment version) or, if I was doing things a bit more formally, I’d go into how Sociology is the study of social order – how it’s created, maintained and changed.

    Since I’ve stopped teaching and have consequently had far more time than is actually necessary to reflect on stuff – why is it always the way that you think of your best lines the moment you leave the room? – I thought of a more-provocative way to “introduce sociology” to new / potential students.

    Somewhat surprisingly if you’ve ever tried to read any of his stuff, the inspiration for this better way is Michel Foucault (Dreyfus, Hubert and Rabinow, Paul (1986) “Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics”).

    He summed-up for me the essence of sociology in a neat, pithy and it must be said, delightfully abtuse, way:

    “People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does”.

    The genius of this idea is not only that it seems, at first glance, convoluted and wonderfully-nonsensical, but that it repays careful unpacking and consideration. You can, in other words, simultaneously bemuse and dazzle and enlighten your students by discussing these three ideas in turn:

    1. As thinking, rational, beings we’re all perfectly aware of the things that we do.

    2. For most of the time we have a reasonable idea about why we do the things we do or behave the way we do – although that’s not necessarily always the case.

    3. This is where the “sociology” part of things really comes into play: as sociologists we’re trying to

    understand how what people do and why they do it impacts on others. The role of the sociologist, in other words, is to show how the consequences of individual choices and behaviours ripples through society.

    And this, I hope you’ll agree, opens up a wide range of ideas for discussion and dissection – from introducing the Sociological Imagination to talking about socialisation, roles, norms, values, culture, identity…in a meaningful way.

    Sociology Magazine No.1: Risk Society:

    Sunday, April 10th, 2022
    Maybe the start of something big?

    Some time ago we shelled-out for new Publishing software to replace the tried-and-trusted PagePlus we’d been using for donkey’s years. It’s replacement, Affinity Publisher, was not so much a change as a continuity under another name: Affinity is published by Serif who also published PagePlus (please keep up at the back).

    To cut a long story short, I decided it was probably time to:

    a. Learn how to use it: this was not as difficult as it might seem given that most of the stuff I understood from PagePlus was present in Affinity. It was more a case of finding my way around the new interface.

    b. Change the way I published stuff as pdf documents: I’d always done this in a textbook stylee.

    Unfortunately this was a textbook style popular about 25 years ago so I thought it might be interesting to have a mess around with something different. Something a little more ambitious. A little more, dare I say it, modern?

    So I decided to have a go at a magazine-style document.

    And for the debut version of the New Magazine style I thought it might be interesting to re-publish the Risk Society document we produced from the interview we did with Beck a few years back (I’m putting the finishing touches to a new Risk Society script that I hope we can find time and space to film over the next couple of month if you prefer to wait for the film of the book).

    I’ve decided to call it Ulrich Beck: Risk Society to differentiate the two.

    There’s nothing particularly wrong with the original. I think it’s perfectly serviceable but I was looking around for something on which to practice and this is what I chose.

    The decision was also influenced by the fact I really wanted to create a Flipbook Magazine (I’m sometimes a little meta like that) containing some video (roughly 5 minutes) and since we’ve put out a couple of risk-related clips – Beck explaining Risk Society and Prof. Brian Wynne on Reflexive Modernisation – I thought this was something that might work. If there’s a hyperlink to the Flipbook Magazine it has. If there isn’t I’d take it as (un)read that it hasn’t.

    Either way, at least you and your students get to enjoy the spiffing (if not a little spoofy) new Magazine format.

    Learning Skills Booklet

    Saturday, April 9th, 2022

    Around 30-odd years ago at the FE College at which I then worked, I took it upon myself to create a whole bundle of “Study Skills” materials covering things like Essay-writing, Note-taking, Time Management, How to revise and so forth. I’ve still got them somewhere.

    Probably in the attic, because that’s where most of them ended-up: unwanted and unloved.

    The idea was to create some kind of nascent “Study Skills Department” that would sit alongside A-level teaching and support students in their academic work.

    As you might expect, it was an initiative that met with not so much as a deafening silence as active bemusement. Why, exactly, did you need to teach “so-called Skills” to A-level students who should have them in abundance simply because they were studying at this level? The idea students might benefit from “learning how to learn” was seen as not so much a radical idea as more a general waste of eveyone’s time…

    Spin-forward to the present and the idea of not teaching study skills probably seems as odd as the idea of teaching them once appeared and it’s into this space that this interesting little (if 20-odd pages counts as little) booklet authored by Andrew Mitchell falls.

    As you might expect, there’s nothing particularly new or revolutionary here, but it is free and it’s often useful to have stuff neatly gathered into one convenient place.

    So, if you’re looking for some fairly standard and painless “Learning Skills” information to use with or distribute to your students this covers all the usual suspects: from advice on “How to be a good ‘independent learner’” to a range of study skills and how to apply them in contexts like homework, revision, exam preparation and technique.

    There’s also a section dealing with stuff like Time Management, Presentation skills, critical thinking  and something called “Emotional study skill” (no, me neither – probably includes something about “Mindfulness” though ) if you need it.

    AQA GCSE Sociology: Core studies

    Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

    The AQA GCSE Sociology Specification helpfully lists 25 “Core Studies” that it describes as:

    A list of readily available classic and seminal texts that will help introduce students to sociology, stimulate their ‘sociological imagination’ and develop their ability to compare and contrast different sociological perspectives”.

    And while the Spec. is careful to point-out that “These are not the only texts that can be studied”, they’re probably a good starting-point.

    A wink, after all, is as good as a nod to a blind horse.

    However, while these texts may or may not be considered “seminal”, I’d probably take issue with a couple pf things:

    1. The claim they’re “readily available”, unless by “readily” you mean “In a University library somewhere. Possibly. But don’t quote me”. I searched online for Parsons “The Social Structure of the Family” for example, and aside from a short Tutor2u overview I could find absolutely nothing available.

    Not even on Amazon.

    2. Even if you were fortunate enough to find copies of the 25(!) texts, I’m not sure they’d do you much good. There’s no way on earth a teacher, let alone a GCSE student, is going to want to wade through the original texts of people like Parsons, Durkheim, Marx, Oakley, Bowles and Gintis…

    Obviously, I hear you say, you’re not supposed to take the AQA Spec. literally. What’s really required is a “Just the Facts” approach to these texts.

    To which I’d respond that you’re absolutely right.

    But I’d also add that it would be very useful if someone (not me) had anticipated all the potential problems and produced a document containing one-page summaries of all the key points GCSE students are likely to need for each text.

    I’m not sure where you’d find such a document, but I’m betting it would be really useful if you could.

    Harry Potter and the Functions of Crime?

    Monday, April 4th, 2022

    Teaching something like Durkheim and the Functions of Crime can sometimes be a little difficult for students to grasp, so one way to make it more accessible might be to teach it by associating it with something more well-known and accessible, such as the Harry Potter books.

    More-specifically, Jenn Simms has drawn parallels between the role of Bellatrix Lestrange and the Death Eaters in the novels and the key points of Durkheim’s arguments about how deviance is both normal and functional.

    The atrocities committed by the Death Eaters definitely count as deviance. They destroyed the Millennium Bridge in London, killed Muggles and Muggle-born witches and wizards just for entertainment and tortured the Longbottoms to the point of insanity. How could that possibly be functional for society?”.

    Crime is Functional because…

    1. It promotes social cohesion by “defining the norms of a society”. Norms are something we rarely, if ever think about – precisely because they are an engrained part of our normal lives. It is only when norms are broken – when someone deviates from the norm – that we start to think about the “unspoken rules” that promote social cohesion by specifying how we should all do something.

    In the Wizarding World, one function of deviants like Bella Lestrange is to continually remind the society of its values and norms. When she and others tortured the Longbottoms and the rest of the community quickly and rightly considered them deviant criminals for it, their actions nonetheless helps define – for example to young children growing up learning the ways of their society – that respect for life is a value that they hold and not harming others is a norm in their community”.

    2. It establishes and maintains social boundaries (a boundary setting function). For Durkheim, an important way our social and personal identities are created and maintained is by comparing ourselves with others, something that leads to the interesting and somewhat ironic observation that we can only see ourselves as individuals (our personal identity) by belonging to a much a larger group or society. Without society, there couldn’t be individuals because we would have no reason or ability to compare ourselves to others.

    In terms of crime and deviance, therefore, the behaviour of those who break legal and moral norms serves to reinforce ideas about where the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour lie.

    Criminals like Bella and the Death Eaters serve as an out-group against which the rest of the law abiding members of society define their social identify. Dumbledore touches on this when he asked Snape to kill him quickly to spare him the “messy” death Greyback would deliver or the prolonged suffering he would experience at Bella’s hands given that she likes to play with her food before she eats. In defining their actions as deviant and bad, Dumbledore was drawing a social boundary with decent compassionate euthanizers like Snape on one side and deviant torture happy murderers like Death Eaters on the other”.

    3. It  promotes social solidarity and social integration. Public displays of condemnation and punishment both strengthen social integration by making the law-abiding feel they having something in common and promote social solidarity by allowing non-criminals to share a moral commitment to uphold the law.

    “The court trials and public sentencing to prison Bella and other Death Eaters provided “rituals that helps build solitary” cohesion, among the rest of the law abiding population”.

    4. It promotes both social order and social change. Despite Functionalism being generally characterised as a perspective that has little or no interest in explaining social change, Durkheim argued crime and deviance are functional precisely because they provide a broad mechanism and vehicle to promote (evolutionary) change. Deviance has an innovatory aspect (something echoed, for example, in Merton’s later Strain Theory) because it necessarily challenges prevailing social norms. In this respect, social responses to deviance may promote changes in the law (Homosexuality in the UK, for example, was only decriminalised in 1967), the introduction of new forms of technology to combat crime and the like.

    The DA’s meeting notification coins, which were designed by Hermione and instrumental in alerting fellow students during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower and the Battle of Hogwarts, were modeled on the Death Eaters’ Dark Mark. Moreover, because of the Death Eaters’ crimes Harry, Ron, and Neville made significant improvements to Auror’s department, thereby better protecting the wizarding community from future harm of this kind”.

    And if you want to reinforce all of this with a bit of video, here’s a preview of our updated version of Durkheim and the Functions of Crime…

    Revision Tools: Personal Learning Checklists

    Tuesday, March 29th, 2022
    Personal Learning Checklist

    Personal Learning Checklists (PLCs) are a useful revision tool for both students and teachers because they allow both to identify areas of strength and weakness in an overall revision strategy: students, for example, have a list of everything they’re expected to know by way of preparation for their exams and teachers can identify any areas students feel they need additional help with in the weeks leading-up to the exams.

    Revision help can, in this respect, be precisely targeted to individual students – some of whom need it and some of whom don’t – rather than broadly aimed at everyone.

    Basically, they’re a win-win situation for all involved.

    The downside to all this general positivity is that if students don’t create their PLC as they go along, it means being faced with a huge amount of work to do at the end of the course. Time that’s normally spent revising (or “staring blankly at some notes for a few weeks” as it’s sometimes sadly known).

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    For A Few (A-Level Sociology) Organisers More

    Sunday, March 27th, 2022

    Every now and then – between creating short-but-beautifully-crafted films and resources that both push the a-level envelope and suggest interesting new ways of doing familiar things – I like to revisit old hits as a way of reassuring myself that, when it comes to creating interest and generating those sweet, sweet, Likes, you just can’t beat something that’s proved hugely popular in the past.

    And one of the biggest Recurring Hits has to be Knowledge Organisers, an idea whose brief moment in the spotlight I thought had long-since passed, replaced by some New Kid in Town offering some new-fangled educational take that turns everybody’s fickle eyes.

    But what do I know?

    Knowledge Organisers are very much still in the spotlight, helped perhaps by the incredible amounts of time and effort some teachers have put into creating some fairly stunning efforts.

    So much effort for so little recognition.

    It was ever thus.

    And In the spirit of profiting undeservedly from the labour of others I thought I’d dip into my grab-bag of carefully conserved resources (aka stuff I found while looking for other stuff) to share a little of the love.

    I promise you won’t be disappointed. Although if you are, don’t blame me. Seriously, none of these are mine. Look at the metadata if you don’t believe me.

    In a slight departure from the norm I’ve split the Organisers into two types, the first being blank Organiser Templates and the second being the usual completed Organisers. I wanted to start with Blank Templates because I think they’re useful for teachers who want to encourage their students to create their own, personal, Organisers. These are probably best-created as students progress through a course, rather than at the end of Modules or Units and they can be set as a kind of running homework to encourage consistent completion.

    It may be a lot of extra work for students over the course of a couple of years  but they’ll see the benefits in the long run, not the least being they won’t have to spend time they probably won’t have between a course ending and exams starting creating these revision aids.

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    Video Mentoring

    Thursday, March 24th, 2022

    Sociology, as you probably know, is consistently one of the most popular A-level subjects even though it’s competing for student time with subjects that are, with a couple of exceptions like Psychology and Business Studies, taught throughout secondary schooling.

    However you choose to frame the success of Sociology in attracting students, one of its more troubling aspects is that it’s driven by a substantial body of teachers who find themselves – particularly in the school sector – as Doo’ers and / or SaSSies.

    Doo’ers are those who teach Sociology in a “Department of One”, while SaSSies teach “Sociology as Second Subject” – a catchall category that includes, at one extreme, teachers who hold a degree in a subject that has some overlap with Sociology, such as Psychology or Geography, and at the other those having to pick-up A-level Sociology from scratch.

    Sometimes, of course, SaSSies are also Doo’ers (and vice versa). And ss someone who’s experienced “Second Subject Syndrome” I can honestly say it can be a pretty stressful experience.

    Although the conditions that have combined to create these – and similar – situations are unlikely to disappear any time soon, this doesn’t mean nothing can be done to help Sociology teachers who find themselves needing assistance: from the simple reassurance that “you’re doing things right” to more-extensive help with things like planning, resourcing and teaching.

    This is where the concept of Video Mentoring comes into play.

    If we leave to one side the actual mechanics of online teaching, many teachers have probably found that actually setting-up and using video conferencing software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams isn’t particularly difficult or daunting. And the suggestion here is that once enough are familiar with its use, it can play an important role in connecting teachers as a way of exchanging ideas, information and, if necessary, reassurance.

    Some of you will already be familiar with things like online TeachMeets and Video Mentoring simply extends and solidifies this basic idea: established and experienced Sociology teachers lend their expertise to those who might be struggling to run a Department of One or who may need help and guidance in teaching a subject that may be neither familiar nor easy to grasp.

    How?

    In terms of nuts-and-bolts, Video Mentoring is extremely simple using something like Zoom. It might, for example, involve an experienced teacher volunteering to meet virtually with a group of inexperienced teachers once a month, every couple of months or whatever suits the participants best. The general objective would be for an experienced teacher to provide support for their inexperienced peers, although the precise nature of that support is something a group would have to decide among themselves. It might, for example, involve help and guidance with dealing with exam boards, how to set and mark different types of homework and so forth. Additionally, the mentored group could develop into a forum for exchanging resources.

    Ideally each mentoring meetup would be relatively short – not even the most-dedicated and well-intentioned teacher wants to spend hours each month on mentoring – and evolve into a self-supporting group where the initial role of the Mentor would be gradually reduced.

    You may, at this point, be thinking this sounds all-well-and-good, but an obvious logistical problem with setting-up mentoring groups is how the potential group members make contact with one another?

    In an ideal world this might be something British Sociological Association would be able to organise (you could always suggest it to them…), but I’m not sure they have the resources (or, maybe, even the inclination). A more-viable way to set-up Video Mentoring Groups would be through existing Facebook groups – a simple forum where potential Mentors could volunteer for the role and be easily contacted by potential Mentees (not sure if that’s a word. But it is now).

    UK Facebook Groups for different Exam Boards: these are all private groups so you need to ask to join.

    AQA: Sociology Teachers

    OCR: Sociology A Level For OCR Specification

    Edugas: Eduqas sociology teachers

    WJEC: Sociology WJEC Eduqas/ Cymdeithaseg CBAC Teacher Network

    These, as you might appreciate, are just a few intitial, not particualrly well thought-through, ideas about how we could use video conferencing and mentoring to bring UK Sociology Teachers together in a supportive and inclusive way.

    I‘m hoping others may be able to develop – and maybe even realise – these ideas…

    Sociological Scenarios™: Research Methods Revision

    Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

    Revision is probably one of the least-interesting things you’ll ever do as either a student or a human being, and if you haven’t been revising throughout your course, you’ll be faced with a few weeks of staring blankly at your “Notes” (a word I use optimistically) trying frantically to remember “stuff” that you can somehow successfully apply in your exams. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, along comes the Research Methods revision you’ve been putting-off until the bitter end…

    Methods “revision”: there is a better way.

    Thankfully, with a bit of preparation and forethought it doesn’t have to be this way (at least not for Research Methods – I don’t know about the other stuff because I haven’t thought about it yet).

    A simple way to make Methods revision more interesting, stimulating and productive (i.e. you’re probably going to remember things) is to use Sociological Scenarios™ as a way of creating a context and purpose for your revision. Scenarios are also an interesting way to actually teach Research Methods, but that’s another story I’m going to keep for another day.

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    Risk Society: Simplified

    Monday, March 14th, 2022

    For Beck, the types of risk that existed in the past in countries like Britain and America and the types of risk in contemporary societies are qualitatively different. New types of risk have three main qualities:

    Ulrich Beck

    1. They are largely invisible and undetectable without science: climate change is an example here.

    2. They are universal: these risks are everywhere and affect everyone, regardless of class, wealth, etc. Examples here include climate change or man-made background levels of radioactivity.

    3. They are irreversible. We don’t, for example, know what the long-term environmental or health risks of various forms of genetic modifications (GM) – from crops to insects to foetuses – might be. If they prove to be dangerous, they cannot be recalled. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.

    Key Question “Why now?”

    The answer involves understanding two related historical processes:

    1. The Modernisation of Society

    In Britain the modernisation of society began around the mid-16th century and involved a series of huge political, economic and cultural challenges and changes. Such as:

  • feudalism by capitalism
  • agriculture by industrialisation
  • rural communities by urban developments
  • religion by science.
  • And just as pre-modern societies were gradually replaced by modern ones, some have argued something similar is happening now. Modernity itself is in the process of being replaced.

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    LSE Intelligent Question Podcasts

    Thursday, March 10th, 2022

    This series of monthly podcasts from the London School of Economics (and Political Science) “asks intelligent questions about economics, politics or society” of, mostly, LSE academics.

    Plus anyone sentient who happened to be in the building at the time.

    Possibly.

    I may have slightly misunderstood.

    The pods (as I’m determined people should call them) have been published since April 2017 and, by my quick calculation, run to [checks sums] 49 individual programmes as of March 2022.

    Given the overall remit noted above, these are of varying interest to both A-level Sociologists and Psychologists so it may take a bit of rooting around to find stuff that will interest and be useful for your teaching and / or students.

    The format is generally similar for each podcast, with each having a general theme that’s then broken-down into shorter segments through questions posed by what sounds very much like a student presenter.

    Which is No Bad Thing because it all sounds very professionally produced.

    Most pods (as, apparently, “the kidz” are now calling them) come-in at around 20 – 45 minutes depending on the main topic and any secondary topics they’ve decided to include (although one or two run to over an hour, which is probably way-too-long for an academic “question and answer” type podcast).

    While you can access the full list of available pods online to peruse at your leisure, a recent pod caught my eye and, indeed, my ears, relating to the question Can Mothers Do It All? This involves a relatively student-friendly (i.e. no-longer than 10 minutes) segment with “LSE Academic” Shani Orgad talking about her research on Motherhood, Work and the Failed Promise of Equality and is well-worth sharing with your students.

    Educational Achievement and Intelligence 2

    Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

    The previous post in this two-part examination of the relationship between educational achievement and intelligence focused on the questions “what is intelligence?” and how can we define it? Keeping in mind definitions of both intelligence and achievement may be socially constructed, this post looks at three broad explanations for their relationship: positive, negative and agnostic.

    agnostic

    This explanation argues we don’t know if there is a real relationship between intelligence and achievement for two reasons:

    Firstly, there is no generally-agreed definition of intelligence so we don’t know what is being measured.

    Secondly, even if we select a quantifiable subset of intelligence there is no great consensus over how it can be reliably and validly measured.

    Further problems arise if intelligence is conceptualised as a relationship – something fluid and dynamic created by individuals as they go about their lives and expressed in different ways and contexts – rather than as something people have; a quality that has a certain permanence. This position suggests intelligence is a capacity developed through cultural practices and ways of learning, rather than a set of abilities with which we are born. As Kaplan argues “Intelligence is difficult to define precisely, but we can all agree that it refers to intellectual ability as opposed to intellectual achievement”; people can, in other words, be intelligent without necessarily being able to demonstrate their intelligence by passing exams.

    positive

    This explanation argues we can assume IQ tests measure significant aspects of intelligence in the form of skills relating to various cognitive functions; these include the ability to solve mathematical problems or understand logical arguments. Since these skills are very similar to those valued in both education and the workplace it would make sense to test the relationship between intelligence and achievement in this way. From this position IQ clearly correlates positively with educational achievement:

    • Deary et al (2006), for example, found a 0.8 correlation (1 = a very strong, possibly causal. relationship and 0 = no relationship) between “Cognitive ability tests taken at 11 and national school examinations taken at 16″. Their main finding was “the large contribution of general mental ability to educational achievement“.

    • Mackintosh (2002) notes “Schoolchildren’s IQ scores correlate in the range 0.5 to 0.7 with their current and subsequent educational attainment: the correlation between 11-year-olds’ IQ scores and their GCSE grades at age 16 is over 0.5“.

    Although this evidence of a positive relationship is significant, the level of disagreement among researchers is a potential drawback; the difference between 0.5 and 0.8 is actually very large – and these two studies are talking about the same general group of UK pupils.

    In general this approach makes a positive connection between social selection on the basis of educational qualifications and intelligence. In America, for example, Murray and Herrnstein (1994) argue race is inextricably linked to different levels of intelligence (a continuum that roughly runs from black at the bottom, white in the middle to Asian at the top) and this explains why black Americans achieve less than their White or Asian peers.

    In the UK, Saunders (2002) argues intelligence, while not determined at birth, differs between social classes; social and developmental factors mean middle-class children are, on average, significantly more intelligent than their working-class peers. Social selection based on class differences in intelligence operates in two ways:

    Firstly, middle class parents in professional employment have demonstrated their higher levels of intelligence. They have achieved high employment status through competing against their working class peers and coming out on top.

    Secondly, the knowledge and experience parents gain through this social process gives their children a distinct competitive advantage, partly because the latter have more to lose by educational failure (downward social mobility) and partly because middle class parents instil in their children the importance of educational qualifications, since this is how they achieved their current social status.

    Saunders argues, therefore, that social selection, like its natural counterpart, ensures the most academically able rise to the top of the class structure. Intelligent working class children are educationally successful and rise into the middle class while middle class children who fail to capitalise on their social advantages fall back into the working class. Social selection ensures, therefore, that middle class children will, on average, always be more intelligent than working class children.

    negative

    Explanations here generally follow two lines of reasoning:

    Firstly, it would be very surprising if there was not a positive correlation between IQ test scores and educational achievement, mainly because the skills valued and taught in schools and tested in public examinations are those measured in IQ tests. The relationship, from this perspective, is a statistical artefact resulting from how something is measured; those who, at 11, are good at verbal reasoning or solving mathematical problems are highly likely to be similarly proficient at age 16.

    One way to test the validity of this argument is to look at achievement at the highest levels of the education system, where the skills required for success are substantially different; Petty (2011), for example, argues IQ tests such as the American SAT, the British 11+ and the Australian HSC “are very bad at predicting performance in university“.

    Secondly, educational achievement is not related to intelligence, per se; rather, it is related to a range of cultural factors inside and outside the education system that allow some pupils to achieve, while severely limiting the ability of others to do the same. This achievement is simply validated by higher measured levels of IQ. In other words, cultural factors relating to class, gender and ethnicity underpin and explain both higher IQ and achievement levels. As Goleman (1995) argues “The vast majority of one’s ultimate niche in society is determined by non-IQ factors, ranging from social class to luck“. From this perspective, therefore, the crucial explanatory relationship is between cultural learning and both measured achievement and intelligence.

    Petty argues that a defining feature of IQ tests is that they “reflect the social order” because “the people who make up the IQ tests are from the educated middle class. What they are saying to others who score high on IQ tests is “You must be intelligent, you think just like me”. The values that are reflected in IQ tests are those of the middle class“.

    Educational Achievement and Intelligence 1

    Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

    To understand how intelligence relates to educational achievement it needs to be defined; we need, in other words, to know what intelligence is before we can examine how it can be measured and subsequently related to different levels of achievement.

    what is intelligence?

    Although on the face of things intelligence might appear relatively easy to describe and demonstrate, Sternberg (1987) suggests that not only is it hugely difficult to define its meaning is also vigorously contested, in that “There seem to be almost as many definitions of intelligence as there are experts asked to define it”. For convenience, however, we can group these definitions into two broad categories:

    1. Capacities: This general categorisation of intelligence is based on the idea humans have certain faculties, aptitudes and competences that allow them to behave “more intelligently” than other animals. Sternberg’s (1986) triarchic theory, for example, argues intelligence has three related components:

    • Meta-components involve the capacity to solve problems and make informed, correct, decisions.

    • Performance components involve the ability to actually carry-out meta-component actions, such as seeing a relationship between two or more ideas.

    • Knowledge-acquisition components refer to the capacity to acquire new information and make logical choices between different options.

    Intelligence, in this respect, is defined in terms of the ability to use each capacity to process information and choose appropriate responses, depending on the particular situation.

    2. Abilities: This is a narrower definition, one that focuses on the ability to perform particular tasks or solve specific problems. Binet (1916), for example, the creator of one of the first tests to measure intelligence, defined it as “the capacity to judge, reason and comprehend well”. Jensen (1973) argues that while human intelligence is complex and difficult to precisely define, it is possible to test and quantify some important aspects of what he calls “general intelligence” or the “g” factor, a subset that relates to “abstract reasoning ability”. By focusing on abilities, therefore, it’s possible to develop tests that measure the extent to which individuals are able to do things like identify rules, patterns, reasons and logical principles in three particular areas:

    • Mathematical

    • Verbal or Comprehension

    • Spatial.

    While categories based on capacities or abilities recognise different dimensions to “intelligence” it is still something conceptualised in the singular – it’s something you have or you do not. Gardner (2003), however, has introduced a further layer of complication through his theory of multiple intelligences. This questions the assumption “intelligence is a single entity” passed between generations, with children inheriting their parents’ general intelligence.

    Gardner (1999) argues there are at least 7 distinct types of intelligence ranging from the conventional linguistic, mathematical and spatial abilities through musical intelligence to interpersonal IQ – the extent to which an individual can empathise with others. This latter form is sometimes called emotional intelligence and, as Ogundokun and Adeyemo’s (2010), study of Nigerian secondary school students found, it is possible to measure and quantify. They found, for example, a strong correlation between levels of emotional intelligence and academic achievement.

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    Left Realism: Key Ideas and Criticisms

    Monday, March 7th, 2022

    Left Realism is one of the major criminological theories at A-level  and, for this reason, it’s one that students need to know well. The following, therefore, is a basic overview of Left Realism’s key ideas: from how they conceptualise crime through to what they see as the main problem of crime and possible solutions to how crime can be researched and explained. The overview concludes with a couple of criticisms you may not have encountered before…

    Key Concepts

    There are three key concepts students need to know and understand:

    1. The aetiological crisis of explanation: aetiology refers to the idea of first or primary causes, a classic example in relation to crime being the conventional left / liberal criminological view that economic conditions, such as poverty and deprivation, are the key cause of crime. The problem for Left Realists such as Lea and Young was that while economic conditions clearly played some role in crime, the empirical evidence produced by crime statistics and rates showed that during the 20th century crime in Western societies appeared to rise regardless of macro economic conditions. It rose, in other words, during both economic upturns (“booms”) and downturns (“busts”).

    This being the case, Left Realism argues we need a more-sophisticated way to explain crime based around:

    2. The Criminological Triangle (Relative (economic) deprivation, political marginality and subculture). The idea, in basic terms, that decisions to commit crimes result from a combination of circumstances – economic, political and cultural – such that criminality is highly-likely if three conditions are met: the individual feels relatively deprived as compared to others in a similar social position, they believe their legitimate concerns and expectations are being ignored (political marginalisation) and they are in contact – in real and / or cyberspace – with others who share these characteristics (subculture).

    3. The Square of Crime: the focus here is on how different types of social relationship (between police and public, offender and victim, and so forth) create different social reactions and, more importantly, different (policy) solutions to the problem of crime. Young (1997), for example, sketches the broad relationships involved in the understanding of social reactions to crime and conformity in terms the ‘square of crime’, where social reactions are mediated through a range of different interdependent relationships, such as between the police and offenders – how, for example, the police view ‘potential and actual offenders’ – or how the general public view the police: if the public have a generally positive view of the police, for example, they are more-likely to be cooperative and supportive of them, which in turn makes it easier for the police to do their job and makes them more-effective in their role.

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    Left Realism: The Islington Crime Surveys 1986 – 2016

    Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022
    2nd Islington Crime Survey

    One of the initial features of Left Realism, as it was developed by writers such as Young, Matthews and Lea, was the use of a very particular survey method aimed at gathering large amounts of data about a relatively small location: the local crime survey carried-out, in this instance, by Young et. al. (1986) in Islington, London.

    While there was nothing methodologically unique about the Islington Crime Surveys – the first combined a relatively simple structured interview with selected follow-up personal / victim  interviews – a number of things made these surveys sociologically interesting:

    1. The focus on relatively small-scale localities. Although similar surveys had been carried-out nationally through the British Crime Surveys (now called the Crime Survey for England and Wales) that began in 1982, Left Realist’s considered their focus was too wide and this was a problem, they argued, because crime affects individuals and households in different localities in different ways. The problems faced by police and public in a city area such as Islington, for example, may be quite different to those faced in suburban or rural areas. Consequently, Left Realism argued it requires specialised survey data to identify specific local crime problems in order to develop local crime solutions to particular local crime problems.

    Local crime surveys, of which Islington was probably the most well-known, were, as Young et al. put it: a “response to the growing recognition that crime is focused geographically in certain areas and socially amongst particular groups of people: a fact the national crime surveys are unable to deal with. Local surveys have proved successful in pin-pointing areas with a high crime rate and have enabled the impact of crime and policing to be broken down in terms of its social focus, that is on social groups based on the combination of age, gender, social class and ethnicity”.

    In basic terms, the argument here was that policing effectiveness depended on a clear understanding of the types of crimes and victimizations that were prevalent in a locality. To use a general example, if minor street crimes were not identified as “a problem” in local surveys police and public resources could be moved to deal with offences that were perceived as local problems.

    As Young et al. note: “The wide coverage of the national crime surveys prevents them from producing detailed information about the experience of crime in specific localities. Local crime surveys have, in addition, widened the scope of the crime survey to allow new areas to be investigated, for example, racial and sexual harassment, drug abuse and other forms of antisocial behaviour; the public’s policing priorities with respect to particular types of crime; opinions on the control and accountability of police forces and penality”.

    2. Fear of Crime: Following from the above, Left Realism was concerned with demonstrating empirically that in many areas of the country people had a well-founded “fear of crime” precisely because the area in which they lived was likely to have higher levels of street crime than the national average. Such fears could not, they argued, be written-off as the irrational or unfounded outcomes of moral panics, for example. To this end, therefore, “The primary aim of the crime survey was to provide a more accurate estimate of the true extent of crime than that provided by the official statistics compiled by the police”.

    3. Crime Victims: They focused on crime victimization and asked about a very narrow range of offences: the first survey, for example, only focused on “crimes of robbery, snatch and pick-pocketing”.

    1st Islington Crime Survey Questionnaire

    4. Crime Prevention: Local crime surveys demonstrated “the impact of victimization and police effectiveness” to agencies concerned with the development of crime reduction / prevention policies.

    The point of this general preamble – aside from I like to think of it as a valuable resume in its own right – is to make you aware that if you want to explore these seminal crime surveys in more detail you now can:

    1st Islington Crime survey

    2nd Islington Crime Survey

    While these artefacts are historically-interesting (or not, depending on your view of Left Realism), the first survey is probably the most-accessible to students because it contains details of the questionnaire and interview schedule used.

    In addition, a new Islington Crime Survey was commissioned in 2016 to replicate the original carried-out 30 years previously and this represents a point of comparison that you may find both useful and interesting:

    Islington Crime Survey 2016 – Part 1

    Islington Crime Survey 2016 – Part 2

    Reference

    T Jones ; B MacLean; J Young (1986) Islington Crime Survey – Crime, Victimization and Policing in Inner-City London

    The English-Romanian Adoptees Project

    Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

    Between 1967 until his violent overthrow in 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu effectively ruled Romania and under his control the government outlawed abortion for “women under 40 with fewer than four children”. One consequence of this was the abandonment of large numbers of children – estimates are frequently put at around 100,000 – to the country’s orphanages because their parents could not afford to care for them.

    After the fall of Ceausescu, the outcry over the cruel and terrible conditions in these orphanages led to many of the children being adopted by couples in Europe and America – and this is where the English-Romanian Adoptees Project (ERA) comes into play as was the first study to follow a cohort of children who had suffered periods of institutional deprivation through into adult life.

    To their surprise, researchers found that problems experienced by many of the Romanian adoptees were neurodevelopmental, suggesting that deprivation had affected brain development.

    The film, featuring lead researcher Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, provides a clear introduction to a study that is changing the way we think about deprivation and development.

    The film is available on-demand to buy or as a 7-day rental.

    A Science of Falling in Love?

    Friday, February 25th, 2022

    Poets, historians and philosophers have, for centuries, provided answers to age-old questions like:

  • Why do we fall in love?
  • What makes us fall in love?
  • And what happens to love once the first fiery spike of attraction fades?
  • But more-recently scientists have joined the debate to explore “the brain in love” and this short film, now available to buy or as a 7-day rental, features contributions from Oxford University academic Dr Anna Machin and Laura Mucha, acclaimed author of Love, Factually, as we follow a young couple as they fall into – and out of – love.

    Along the way students are introduced to a range of neuroscientific evidence that can be used to illustrate and explain the addiction, obsession and madness of the condition we call love – and also how and why it frequently evolves into various forms of long-term attachment.

    Making Friends with Methods

    Thursday, February 24th, 2022

    Many students seem to find research methods difficult and, if we’re being honest, a little dry.

    The two conditions may well be related.

    In our selfless – and possibly never-ending – quest to make sociological research methods just a little bit more moist, our latest film builds on our previous efforts (Case Studies, Self Report Methods, Participant Observation and Triangulation) by suggesting how teachers can sell the idea of research methods as transferable concepts built upon the foundation of ideas like representativeness, reliability, validity, subjectivity and objectivity.

    More-generally the film, featuring Dr Patrick White of the University of Leicester, examines the idea of research methods through three key questions:

  • What are research methods?
  • Why do students have to study methods?
  • How can methods be evaluated?
  • The film is available on-demand to buy or to rent.

    Sceptical Sociology: New Media and Digital Nativism

    Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

    Like any scientific endeavour, one of the virtues of sociology is its scepticism – and one area that’s always ripe for a sceptical approach is new media and the various claims made on its behalf.

    One such claim is Prensky’s (2001) concept of the “digital native”, something that has become widely used in both press and public to refer to a generational difference between those (natives) who have grown-up in the digital age and those (immigrants) who came to the digital realm later in life.

  • Natives, in this respect, generally refers to those born in the 1980’s (often labelled millennials, because they broadly came of age around the turn of the new millennium) who have effectively lived their whole lives surrounded by and immersed in digital technologies.
  • Immigrants refers to those born before the widespread development of digital technologies. They are in this respect latecomers to the digital party, even though many will have different levels of experience, confidence and facility with digital technology. Immigrants are, nonetheless, generally portrayed as outsiders in this new digital realm. While they may, for example, “understand the language” of digital tech and speak it relatively fluently, they are not, for Prensky among many others, “native speakers” of this language – with all that this may imply.
  • This distinction is not, on the face of things, too outrageous to contemplate, particularly if writers such as Prensky had simply restricted themselves to observing how this generational difference might be akin to the difference between learning a new language and being a native speaker.

    It may seem plausible, for example, that the digital natives who have grown-up with various forms of digital technology are likely to be much more fluent in its use than their elder(ly) peers.

    Equally, the distinction might involve a range of ways of doing (such as finding your news on social media rather than in newspapers or on television) and being (living your life on Instagram or TikTok, perhaps, or maybe in the soon-to-be unleashed multi-dimensional Facebook metaverse that looks and sounds, to me at least, very much like an unironic Matrix reimagining…) that are qualitatively different in some way. As Prensky, for example, argues, digital immigrants:

  • don’t go to the Internet first for information.
  • print things out as opposed to working on screen.
  • read manuals rather than working things out online.
  • The significance of these qualitative differences for writers such as Prensky (presupposing they actually exist) is, however, a desire to extend them, such that they become the basis for a wide-ranging and fundamental critique of contemporary forms of educational teaching and learning.

    Which, when you stop to think about for a moment, is some stretch of the imagination.

    Undeterred, however, Prensky argues that:

    “It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize. “Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures,“ says Dr Bruce D. Perry of Baylor College of Medicine…it is very likely that our students’ brains have physically changed – and are different from ours – as a result of how they grew up. But whether or not this is literally true, we can say with certainty that their thinking patterns have changed.”

    Despite the equivocation about whether or not digital natives “have a different brain structure” to their immigrant peers – although if it’s not “literally true” then it’s literally false – the claim they have a different way of thinking lays the ground for a critique of contemporary education systems based on the idea they were designed by and for the digital immigrants of the distant past.

    The upshot of this is an educational disjunction between those who control the education system (digital immigrants) and those who consume it (digital natives) which has resulted in a type of education that is no-longer fit-for-purpose. Educational systems need, in a nutshell, to be reinvented to bring them into line with how digital natives think and learn. Which according to Prensky means:

    Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work. (Does any of this sound familiar?) But Digital Immigrants typically have very little appreciation for these new skills that the Natives have acquired and perfected through years of interaction and practice. These skills are almost totally foreign to the Immigrants, who themselves learned – and so choose to teach – slowly, step-by-step, one thing at a time, individually, and above all, seriously. “My students just don‟t _____ like they used to,” Digital Immigrant educators grouse. I can’t get them to ____ or to ____. They have no appreciation for _____ or _____ . (Fill in the blanks, there are a wide variety of choices”.

    While, as I’ve suggested, the digital natives concept might have some (limited) currency, it’s questionable that it can be extended in the way Prensky claims, for a couple of reasons identified by Helsper and Eynon (2009):

    1. The validity of the generational dimension to digital nativism is open to question. As they argue:

    Those in support of this digital native / immigrant distinction tend to assign broad characteristics (e.g. a specific learning style, amount and type of technology use and / or set of learning preferences) to an entire generation and suggest all young people are expert with technology. Yet, while the proportion of young people who use the Internet and other new technologies is higher than the older population there are significant differences in how and why young people use these new technologies and how effectively they use them”.

    2. The extent to which differences between digital natives and digital immigrants can be explained by age differences rather than differences in class, socialisation, experience and the like is also questionable.

    Moreover, Helsper and Eynon’s research makes a number of observations and draws a range of conclusions about the concept that we can summarise as follows:

    1. “Generation alone does not adequately define if someone is a digital native or not”. There are a range of factors involved here, from class and gender to different levels of learning and experience.

    2. The use of digital technology and media is to some extent age-stratified in the sense younger people:

  • have a greater range of ICTs in their household
  • tend to use the Internet as a first port of call
  • have higher levels of Internet self-efficacy
  • multi-task more
  • use the Internet for fact checking and formal learning activities.
  • use the Internet more
  • are more likely to come from media-rich homes
  • are more confident about their skills
  • are more likely to engage in online learning activities.
  • Despite these differences, however, age alone is neither a sufficient nor necessary explanation. As Helsper and Eynon conclude:

    Generation was not the only significant variable in explaining these activities: gender, education, experience and breadth of use also play a part. Indeed in all cases immersion in a digital environment (i.e. the breadth of activities that people carry out online) tends to be the most important variable in predicting if someone is a digital native in the way they interact with the technology”.

    In this respect they conclude:

    1. While digital natives and immigrants exist in the sense there are notable differences in the extent to which different individuals and social groups are comfortable using digital technology and media they are not “two distinct, dichotomous generations”.

    2. “While there were differences in how generations engaged with the internet there were similarities across generations as well, mainly based on how much experience people had with using technologies”.

    3. Internet use in particular reflects “a continuum of engagement” rather than “a dichotomous divide between users and non-users”. People, in other words, of various ages use the Internet for a wide variety of purposes.

    4. Their research “supports other research that has demonstrated that there are significant differences within cohorts of young people in terms of their preferences, skills and use of new technologies”. Young people are not, in this respect, an “homogeneous generation of digital children”.

    References

    Prensky, Marc (2001) “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” parts 1 and 2.

    Helsper, Ellen and Eynon, Rebecca (2009) “Digital natives: where is the evidence?”

    For the Price of a Cup of Tea…

    Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

    You can now get a subscription to Psychology.

    Free Will

    Films that is.

    Every Single One we’ve ever made. Plus all the one’s we’ve yet to make.

    For just £2 a month (or $2.7 if you’re dialling-in from America).

    Granted we’re probably talking about some sort of Speciality Tea here and if we’d stuck to coffee that would have definitely worked.

    For sure.

    But, against that, “The price of a cup of coffee” has been done to death and, as far as we know there’s no Belle and Sebastian tune celebrating the latter. Sort-of. If you’re not really paying attention to the words.

    More importantly, what you currently get for your £2 a month are the following films all neatly categorised as follows:

    Research Methods

    Laboratory Experiments, Experimental Design, Field Experiments, Natural Experiments, Observational Methods, Self Report Studies, Case Study Research,  Correlations, Sampling, Reliability and Validity, Variables, Reductionism

    Issues

    Ethics and Ethical Issues, Using Non-Human Animals in Research, Ethnocentrism, Socially Sensitive Research, The Usefulness of Psychological Research, Beyond Milgram Obedience and Identity, Beyond Genetics, Rethinking Obesity: Nature via Nurture, Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity, Aftershock: Milgram, Obedience and Identity, Mental Illness: A Cage and Freezing Water

    Debates

    Of Mice and Monkeys: Animal Research in Psychology, Psychology and Science, Nature-Nurture, Determinism and Free Will, Individualistic and Situational Psychology, The Ethics of Abortion, Are You What Your Mother Ate? The Agouti Mouse Study, Loftus and False Memories, Lost in the Mall, The English-Romanian Adoptees Project

    Attachment

    Bowlby and Maternal Deprivation, Ainsworth and the Strange Situation, MindMindedness and Attachment Security, A Science of Falling in Love?

    Sleep

    Why do we sleep?, The structure of sleep, Insomnia Causes and Treatments, Sleep, Memory and learning

    Crime

    On Being Sane in Insane Places, Offender Profiling, Media and Aggression, Jim Fallon: Natural Born Killer?

    Revision

    Natural Experiments

    Laboratory Experiments, Field Experiments, Natural Experiments, Experimental Design, Naturalistic Observation, Correlations, Self-Report Methods, Case Studies, Reliability and Validity, Sampling, Variables, Reductionism, Nature-Nurture, Determinism and Free Will, Psychology and Science, Individualistic and Situational Psychology, Ethics, Socially Sensitive Research, The Usefulness of Psychological Research, Ethnocentrism

    How To Films

    Spearman’s Rho, Sign Test, Chi Square Test, Mann-Whitney Test, Probability Tests, Wilcoxen Sign Rank Test

    Most of the films are fairly short – around 5 – 10 minutes – and they’re mainly designed to introduce students to key psychological concepts, theories or methods. Having said that we’ve included a range of revision films and some “How To” films designed to walk students through various mathematical tests. There are also a few longer films that deal with an area or writer in a bit more depth (the work of Milgram and Loftus being cases in point).

    And in case you’re wondering, we’ve gone for a monthly subscription model so you only need to pay for the subscription when you need it.

    If you’re unlikely to use it over the summer months, for example, then you can drop the subscription and pick it up again when you do plan to use it (although since the films are all available On-Demand from any machine – desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone. Even your fridge if it’s connected to the Internet. Possibly. We’re not certain about that last one) – you might want to let your students have access to the film library when they’re not in school / college.

    In which case, you can.

    We’re flexible like that.

    BSA Video Resources

    Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

    If my Inbox is any guide – which, of course, it really isn’t – the British Sociological Association has been making a concerted effort recently to “reach-out”, as we say, to A-level Sociology Teachers through their Discover Sociology off-shoot site.

    And by reaching-out I mean adding a steady drip of resources to those already on the site. The latter, in case you’re not familiar with what’s on offer, almost-exclusively consist of annotated commentaries on a variety of topics (Education, Media, Health…). While these are generally interesting the sheer volume of external links to text and video resources produced outside the site means they need to be regularly checked to ensure everything’s working as it should. Which, unfortunately doesn’t always seem to be the case because there are a lot – and by “a lot” I mean more than a few – of broken links dotted throughout the site / resources.

    Finn Mackay

    Be that as it may, the latest stuff to wend itself my way is a series of video resources (although some may quibble over the question of whether or not “five” constitutes “a series”) by some major UK academics. These are, in no particular order:

    Finn Mackay: Feminist theory, feminist activism and radical feminism (13 minutes)

    Grace Davie: Believing without Belonging (9 minutes)

    Louise Archer: Educational inequality (23 minutes)

    Nigel South: Green criminology (19 minutes)

    Louise Ryan: ‘Older Migrants and Changing Relationships to Places Over Time: in Contexts of Brexit and the Windrush Scandal’ (13 minutes)

    Rebecca and Russell Dobash: Domestic Violence (20 minutes)

    (more…)

    Sociology Through Active Learning

    Saturday, January 29th, 2022

    It’s been a while since I last posted any orphaned texts and Sociology Through Active Learning is one I’ve been meaning to post for some time but haven’t managed to get around to it until now.

    Broadly, it’s a text designed to provide teachers with a range of activities to use with their students, both individually and collectively, to help develop the kinds of skills (knowledge, analysis, evaluation – you know the drill) useful to students.

    And by “students” I’ve a strong suspicion the text was originally aimed at an American Undergraduate audience (possibly an introductory (101) undergraduate program).

    Having looked through the various activities, however, there’s not a lot here that can’t be adapted to an A-level / High School audience if any of them take your fancy and you’re looking to add a bit more interest to areas like:

  • Theory and Methods
  • Culture
  • Socialisation, Interaction and Group influence
  • Stratification
  • Organisations, Bureaucracy and Work / Occupations
  • Race and Gender
  • Crime and Deviance
  • Family
  • (more…)

    Pygmalion in the Classroom: Revisited

    Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

    Whether you’re looking generally at Education and Methods in Context or specifically at teacher expectations as an “Inside School” factor in differential achievement, a useful study to have in your locker is Rosenthal and Jacobson’s “Pygmalion in the Classroom” (1965) experiment. Accessible examples of experiments are quite rare in sociology and “Pygmalion” can be cited as either a field or laboratory experiment, depending upon how tightly you define the latter (which is an interesting evaluative point in itself).

    Pygmalion.

    Rosenthal and Jacobson’s research focused on the so-called Pygmalion Effect, named after the mythical Greek sculptor who fell in love with a statue he’d created and which was given life by Aphrodite the goddess of love. A more familiar contemporary version is George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalian (1913), in which Henri Higgins, a professor of phonetics, wagers a colleague that he could transform an uncouth working-class flower-seller (Eliza Doolittle) into someone able to pass as a Duchess in upper-class English society, simply by teaching her how to speak, dress and behave in ways expected by the latter.

    The underlying ideas here are those of transformation and improvement through certain types of interventions. In the Shaw play, for example, these interventions involved an upper-class professor teaching a lower-class woman how to successfully pass herself off as a member of “polite society”, despite her lack of education and “class”.

    Shaw’s basic argument here was that differences in social class were not somehow the result of “natural differences” but rather the outcome of cultural choices and by managing the expectations of significant players – in this imaginary instance the ability to convince Eliza she could develop ways of speaking and acting that would allow her to pass as a member of the upper-class – you create a powerful expectancy effect that brings about the desired transformations and improvements.

    This relates to Rosenthal and Jacobson’s study in the sense that it was designed to test the idea that differences in educational achievement were not simply based on “natural differences” in “intelligence”, measured through success or otherwise in school examinations, but were actually based on the expectations teachers had for their pupils. In other words, they wanted to test whether or not changing the way teachers saw the abilities of their pupils would bring about a change in the measured intelligence of those pupils.

    In order to achieve this Rosenthal and Jacobson, just like their fictional counterpart Henri Higgins, introduced a series of transformations and improvements into selected classrooms through a range of interventions, most-notably those that involved “telling teachers that certain children could be expected to be “growth spurters” (i.e. academic improvers) based on the students’ results on the Harvard Test of lnflected Acquisition” – a respectable-sounding “scientific test” whose existence was entirely fabricated by the researchers.

    In the Classroom.

    As we know “the test was non-existent and those children designated as “‘spurters'” were chosen at random” and what Rosenthal and Jacobson hoped to determine by this “was the degree (if any) to which changes in teacher expectation produce changes in student achievement” – something, we further know, that broadly occurred in relation to both gender and ethnicity: those children who had been randomly identified to teachers as “special children” on the basis of a (non-existent) IQ test did indeed see an increase in their IQ level a few months later.

    The problem here is that while Rosenthal and Jacobson quite-reasonably conclude that “The results of the experiment…provide further evidence that one person’s expectations of another’s behavior (sic) may come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. When teachers expected that certain children would show greater intellectual development, those children did show greater intellectual development”, this is often uncritically expressed as the idea that if teachers expect their students to achieve academically they will (and, by extension, if they don’t, they won’t).

    The problem here, however, is that the research reality is somewhat more nuanced…

    Revisited

    The conclusion usually drawn here is that teacher expectations raised achievement across the board in those students who were “predicted to be spurters”. But this is not the case, as Rosenthal and Jacobson note, because “each group profited more from teachers’ prophecies in the area of intellectual functioning in which they were already a little advantaged”.

    This is an important qualification because it argues expectancy effects are not universal, as evidenced by Rosenthal and Jacobson’s pre-and-post intervention conclusions:

    Pre-interventionPost-intervention
    (Before “special children” were identified)  
    Boys had higher verbal IQ than girls.
    Girls had higher reasoning IQ than boys.  
    (After “special children” were identified)  
    Boys increased their verbal IQ
    Girls increased their reasoning IQ.  

    The progress made by boys and girls wasn’t uniform (universal) across the different subtypes of “intelligence” supposedly being tested:

  • in measures of verbal IQ those boys who began with a higher verbal IQ gained the most.
  • in measures of reasoning IQ, those girls who began with a higher reasoning IQ gained the most.
  • In other words, it was only where the results of the pre-test conformed to general teacher expectations about ability that there were significant post-test increases in IQ.

    The significance of this more-granular breakdown of experimental results is that it suggests is teachers hold graded expectations of different groups, such as boys and girls, rather than necessarily holding an overall picture of the abilities of such broad groups. Where boys, for example, began with a higher baseline set of teacher beliefs about their verbal ability this was the area in which they improved following Rosenthal and Jacobson’s intervention, with the reverse being true for girls and reasoning ability.

    What this demonstrates, therefore, is that expectancy effects are neither uniform nor universal and we can’t simply conclude that “positive labelling”, in-and-of-itself, is a key variable in increased levels of attainment. Rather, the teacher’s underlying beliefs about student ability coupled with an acceptance of the “scientific study’s” ability to identify “bloomer children” seem to be critical variables.

    If, for example, the underlying belief is that girls are better at subject X than boys, the Pygmalion Effect improves female achievement in this specific area. If teachers have no such underlying belief, there is no such effect.

    This is significant because conventional readings of Pygmalion in the Classroom tend to emphasise the idea that teacher expectations (or labelling if you prefer) are the crucial variable in the sense that if teachers have a positive view of their pupil’ abilities (whatever this may actually mean in reality) their pupils will display higher levels of academic achievement (with, as we’ve suggested, the reverse being true by implication).

    Rosenthal and Jacobson were, however, keen to point-out that this simple reading was incorrect when they noted the results of the same basic experiment carried-out at schools with different student intakes.

    In broad terms, while Rosenthal and Jacobson’s original experiment (at “Oak School”) involved pupils drawn from a “lower-class community” with a substantial proportion of “minority-group members”, subsequent experiments at “two elementary schools located in a small Midwestern town” drew their pupils from a mainly “middle-class community” with few minority-group members.

    In the latter case, a similar identification of “special children” not only found “No expectancy advantage for either boys or girls as measured by total IQ or verbal IQ” but also a reversal of the “reasoning results” found at the original (Oak) school:

    Pre-interventionPost-intervention
    (Before “special children” were identified)  
    Boys had higher verbal IQ than girls.
    Girls had higher reasoning IQ than boys.  
    (After “special children” were identified)  
    Boys increased their reasoning IQ
    Girls did not increase their reasoning IQ.  

    Now it was the boys who showed the benefits of favorable (sic) teacher expectations. Those who had been expected to bloom gained over 16 IQ points compared to the less than 9 gained by control-group boys. Among the girls it was the control-group children who gained about 15 IQ points while those of the experimental group gained just over 5”.

    The significance of this reading, therefore, is that while we may be reasonably sure teacher expectations play some role in student achievement, this is neither universal – applicable to “every school in every situation, regardless of intake, class and ethic background and so forth” – nor uniform: expectation outcomes depend to some unknown extent on the initial expectations teachers have about their school and pupils, allied to the social and intellectual qualities of the students involved.

    Crime and Deviance Study Guides

    Sunday, January 23rd, 2022
    Interactionist Study Guide

    The great Crime Clear-Out continues with 3 Study Guides that I probably half-inched at some point from the Queen Elizabeth High School Moodle site (which is okay because whoever put them there – along with some other crime-related bits-and-bobs that might be worth a butcher’s – seems to have got them from Greenhead College).

    From what I can gather the Guides seem to have been created 10 or so years ago (or maybe slightly earlier), a point I mention not because the basic theory and concepts used are out-of-date but because a few of the resources mentioned in the text – particularly a couple of pieces of video – no-longer seem to exist. I have, therefore, edited these references out of the text.

    Aside from this I’ve left everything much as the (unknown) author/s intended, including the references to an equally-unknown textbook / guide, sections of which students are encouraged to read before answering some of the questions. I’ve deliberately left the Guides in Word format so that if you want to use them with your students you can edit / adapt these references accordingly for whatever textbook you use.

    More

    Globalisation and Crime

    Saturday, January 22nd, 2022
    Click to download

    For someone who explicitly rejects the notion of “postmodernity” as it’s conventionally applied in sociology (and elsewhere come to that. I try not to discriminate) I seem to have spent a great deal of my time writing about it in one form of another. This has mainly, I think, been because if it’s a widely-used term you need to address this fact, whether or not you particularly agree with it.

    And so, while clearing-out some of the vast amount of crap materials I seem to have accumulated  over the years for the dual-purpose of both getting shot of it and posting some selected pieces that may-or-may-not prove useful to teacher sand / or students, I came across this particular little gem I put together a few years ago (10 – 12 or so, to be slightly-less-imprecise). This was probably on the basis that AQA (or some such) had decided to spring the topic of globalisation and crime on unsuspecting teachers and I thought it might be helpful to write about it.

    Which indeed I seem to have done. And while I’ve evidently posted it elsewhere, I don’t seem to have ever got around to posting it here. Until now you might be relieved to know.

    Having read this far, you’re probably thinking there needs to be some sort of pay-off for all the effort.  

    And indeed there is, in the shape of this 30-page (more if you count the copious references) pdf booklet entitled Globalisation and Crime.

    For some reason – probably because I felt the concept of globalisation needed quite a bit of explanation at the time – the booklet’s split into two distinctive parts.

    (more…)

    What Works to Reduce Crime?: A Summary of the Evidence

    Monday, January 3rd, 2022
    Download full Report

    It’s probably safe to say that a key driver of crime policy in countries like Britain and America over the past 50 or so years has been the notion of situational crime control. The idea, in a nutshell, that there can be no “solution to the problem of crime”, as such. The best we can do, both individually and as a society, is to limit its extent and impact.

    To this end we’ve seen a wide range of theoretical (Routine Activities, Broken Windows…) and practical (from strategies to techniques) ideas and initiatives designed to reduce crime by making it harder to commit and a recent (2014) Scottish Government review of “what works” (and by extension, “what doesn’t work”) in relation to reducing crime and offending – What Works to Reduce Crime?: A Summary of the Evidence – looked at the evidence across three areas of crime control:

  • Targeting the underlying causes of crime.
  • Deterring potential offenders by making the cost of offending greater than the benefits.
  • Increasing the difficulty of offending by reducing opportunities to commit crime.
  • This, as you might expect, is a comprehensive review that covers an awful lot of ground. It runs to nearly 70 pages of text (plus extensive bibliography) lightened only by 4 simple (but nonetheless useful) PowerPoint graphics and, for reasons known only to the authors, a single, forlorn, table on page 24 dealing with “Trajectories of criminal convictions”. And if you’re wondering why this particular topic merited such special treatment, you may want to think about getting out a bit more.

    With the best will in the world, the Report isn’t something that’s likely to be read in full by many – if any – of your students because it’s so densely-packed with all-kinds of information, both statistical and otherwise. It is, however, a document you can mine for all kinds of information about situational crime prevention that can then be condensed and passed-on to your students in a format they’re more-likely to appreciate.

    Or not.

    You never can tell.

    Microsoft OneNote: For Free

    Saturday, January 1st, 2022
    Some Notes.

    OneNote is just one of a number of Note-Taking / Management programs / apps that have been around in one form or another since the dawn of personal computing (Probably. I haven’t actually checked) and I mention it here for two reasons:

    Firstly, it’s something I’ve used a great deal over the years as a way of organising and cataloguing the notes I create for stuff like lectures, books, articles and, of course, these “popular blog posts”. In other words, I’ve always found it incredibly useful and I trust you’ll find likewise.

    As you may or may not be aware, OneNote has always been bundled with Microsoft Office, a suite of programs that is itself as old as the hills, a fact reflected in the inclusion of both a database and spreadsheet as part of the basic package. And while I’m not decrying the utility of such programs (although it’s probably safe to say that when it comes to teachers and students they’re probably not first on the must-have list) I mention them because in order to get access to the programs you really wanted (basically Word and PowerPoint) you had to buy these as well.

    Or shell-out the frankly-extortionate amounts Microsoft demanded for standalone versions of each.

    (more…)

    Developing Evaluation: 1. Plus, Minus, Interesting.

    Monday, December 20th, 2021

    I’ve recently been looking through some old copies of Social Science Teacher (there was nothing on tv) at a couple of exercises developed by Jill Swale to help students develop their evaluation techniques – and while I’ll post something about a much more elaborate way to encourage this exam skill at some point soon, the first is really just a simplified recap of something I’ve written about before: Swale’s ideas about how it can be useful to integrate something like de Bono’s “Thinking Hats” into both wider class discussions and shorter evaluation exercises.

    Click to download a selection of possible answer templates.

    It’s a technique you can use to encourage student evaluation at whatever point that’s appropriate in a lesson by simply posing a question that gets your students thinking about three things:

    1. What would be the plus points (and to whom would they be advantageous)?

    2. What would be the minus points (and to whom would they be disadvantageous)?

    3. What would be some interesting questions to which a sociologist might want answers?

    In the original post the questions were all based around crime and deviance but it is, of course, possible to develop relatively simple, but probing, questions on almost any topic you like. Swale, for example, provides the following question on the sociology of education:

    Imagine that the tripartite system was reintroduced, with the 11+ exam and the three types of schools intended in 1944 (including plenty of technical schools which were rarely built)”.

    Instructions

    Divide the class into small groups and get each to choose someone to record the groups’ suggestions / answers to the questions. This person can, of course, contribute to the discussion.

    Spend 3 – 5 minutes considering each of the:

  • plus points.
  • minus points
  • interesting points
  • Once all points have been covered in the groups they can be brought together for a whole-class plenary (which can, if you want, lead into something like a written homework essay).

    Although the examples used here are sociological there’s nothing to stop psychology teachers adapting the technique to their subject.

    Similarly, although this was originally designed as a classroom exercise it’s actually one that could be easily-adapted to online sessions…

    Media Effects: Althusser and Interpellation

    Friday, November 26th, 2021
    Interpellation: Media ideas are woven into the fabric of our thoughts and lives…

    In a previous post I suggested how it might be possible to breathe new relevance into the classic 2-Step Flow model of Media Effects (A New Digital 2-Step) and this post takes a similar Back to the Future approach to media effects by digging-up and dusting-down an idea – Interpellation – that’s been around since the 1970’s but which, for one reason or another, doesn’t seem to have attracted much attention at High School and A-level.

    This is a little-surprising because it derives from the work of Louis Althusser, the French Structuralist Marxist whose work generally features in these curricula in relation to concepts of Ideological and Repressive State Apparatuses (ISAs and RSAs respectively).

    Interpellation is directly related to Ideological State Apparatuses because for Althusser (1972), ideology –  “the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” – was a key component of (mass) media texts that, in turn, are an integral part of Ideological State Apparatuses in contemporary capitalist societies.

    Prisoners and Jailers

    The conventional way to think about ideology in contemporary societies is that it works on individuals.

    It is, in other words, a force (of ideas about the world) that flows down from institutions like the media onto individuals who are largely powerless to prevent its effects. In contemporary capitalist societies people, in other words, are constantly bombarded with ideas and interpretations supportive of the status quo,  the weight of which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to ignore or escape. We are all, in this respect unwitting and largely unwilling prisoners of our media jailors.

    Individuals, from this perspective, are broadly receptive objects of whatever ideas and interpretations about the world the media propagates. The media, in this respect, tells us what to think and how to think about the social world by presenting it as “normal” and largely unquestionable.  We may or may not like what we see, read and hear but, to coin a phrase, “It is what it is”.

    Somewhat ironically, Althusser’s ISAs are frequently presented as the epitome of this worldview, with a largely-unfavourable contrast drawn between his structural Marxism and the more-humanistic Hegemonic Marxism of writers such as Gramsci and, to a slightly lesser extent, Poulantzas. The concept of interpellation, however, forces us to both soften and reinterpret Althusser’s ideas because it suggests we should constitute individuals in capitalist societies as ideological subjects rather than objects.

    In other words, we should seek to understand media effects in the context of individuals as prisoners who are, in turn, their own jailors. We are all integrated into and intimately involved with the reproduction of the ideas that imprison us…

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    Free Introduction to Sociology v3e Textbook

    Monday, November 22nd, 2021
    Download Pdf Version

    This blog has featured quite a few free sociology texts over the years and while these should be generally-useful to teachers and students who want to mix-and-match their basic sources, the self-imposed limitation of only featuring out-of-print versions of English and American textbooks means students probably still need a reasonably-current textbook.

    These, as you’re probably only-too-painfully aware, are increasingly expensive. Take one of my textbooks for the International market: The 1st edition of the Cambridge International AS and A-level Sociology Coursebook still costs around £30, while the 2nd edition is closer to £36 or $56 in the US.

    While it’s probably scant consolation that I’m not the one making any money from these prices, this is where something like the latest version of the free, open-source, Introduction to Sociology textbook from the Openstax organisation comes into play. Arriving 3 or 4 years after the previous version, the latest text is available in two basic flavours: an offline pdf version and an online version.

    While this is the “official version” of the text, it’s in the nature of the open-source beast that teachers are free to “distribute, remix, and build upon the content, as long as you provide attribution to OpenStax and its content contributors”.

    Although, in practice, this usually just means adding bits and pieces to the basic text as-and-if your students need it, it’s perhaps nice to know that the authors are happy for you to change anything you want. With the online version it’s been made easier for teachers / students to highlight and add notes to the basic text. To do this you’ll need to register as either a student or educator.

    This is free and gives access to a range of resources and content tailored to each group. Students, for example, can use the aforementioned highlighting and note-adding functions, as well as getting access to Guides on Getting Started, Reading and Notetaking and Time Management.

    You’re also free, under the terms of the Creative Commons license, to copy the book as many times as you like, which is handy as a means of ensuring that all your students have access to the text at no extra charge.

    Or indeed any charge at all.

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    Explaining Hate Crime

    Thursday, November 11th, 2021

    The concept of “hate crime” in English law is currently (2021) defined as:

    “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender”.

    It’s a definition that has developed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion, particularly over the past 50 or so years, that has some notable features:

    Firstly, it’s wide-ranging in terms of what constitutes “an offence” in law. In basic terms it can be any behaviour as long as it is “motivated by hostility or prejudice”. In reality, this crystalises into three main types: “physical assault, verbal abuse and incitement to hatred”.

    Secondly, it is restricted to a narrow range of protected categories. While “hostility or prejudice” towards someone who identifies as transgender is an offence, gender hatred is not currently included in these categories: in England and Wales, for example, neither misogyny (a hatred or contempt for women) nor misandry (a hatred or concept for men) is a criminal offence.

    Thirdly, it somewhat unusually defines criminal behaviour in terms of the “perception of the victim or any other person”. It is, in other words, up to the victim to decide whether or not an offence has taken place.

    History of Hate

    While the above, for what should be fairly obvious reasons, makes it difficult to precisely identify and explain how and why hate crime offences come about or to track demographic changes over time, there is one particular area of “hate crime” that has been on the statute books for over a century (“Threat or conspiracy to murder”) that is relatively easy to track and, in some respects, explain. The Home Office publishes a useful summary of recorded crime data from 1898 – 2002 that shows an interesting trend over a 100 year period:

    In 1900, for example, there were 8 recorded crimes for this offence.

    In 2000 the recorded number was 14,000.

    If we look at the past 100 years, the changes are even more remarkable:

    In 1921 there were 16 recorded offences.

    In 2021 this figure was around 40,000…

    Even if we allow for things like population changes (around 25 million more people in England in 2000 compared to 1900) and differences in the way crimes may presently be recorded compared to the past, it’s evident that we need to explain these changes sociologically if we are to make sense of them.

    Explanations

    As luck or good timing would have it, Neil Chakraborti (2021) has offered four explanations of this upward trend in hate crime that we can paraphrase in the following terms:

    1. Ease of Access: the relatively recent development of social media (Twitter and Facebook in particular) and email has made it much easier and simpler for an offender to send something like a death threat:

  • There is very little effort involved in contacting your target.
  • The effect is immediate – with social media, for example, it is instantaneous.
  • Potential offenders have much greater access to victims through something like social media.
  • This may also account for part of the increase in “murder threats” in that ease of access coupled with lack of effort means there is little or no time for the potential offender to reflect on their behaviour: unlike in the past, for example, there is little or no time to think about whether “threatening to kill someone” over some real or perceived wrong is an appropriate way to (instantly) behave…

    2. Anonymity: Although people generally overestimate the level of anonymity they enjoy online – anyone can be traced if you throw enough time and resources at finding them – there is undoubtedly a sense that individuals who feel or believe themselves to be “acting anonymously” give greater reign to abusive behaviour. Chakraborti also suggests that perceptions of anonymity provide offenders with a greater sense of “personal invincibility” – the idea that the threats they make will come at no personal cost because victims will never be able to find them.

    3. Cultural changes: A third element involves cultural changes in both communication (the aforementioned ease with which messages can be targeted) and consciousness: that is, the idea that for a significant number of people their particular world view is both easily offended and requires a strong defence from these perceived attacks. This seems particularly the case for those who perceive themselves as being involved in some sort of culture war, whether this be “the war on woke”, attacking “cancel culture” or whatever their current perceived sense of threat might be.

    This elevated sense of cultural threat combined with ease of communication serves to create responses, such as death threats, that those not invested in cultural battles and exchanges would consider over-exaggerated. To the perpetrators, however, these may represent entirely appropriate responses to heightened levels of what they may perceive as a personal, existential, threat. This is not, of course, to excuse such behaviour, but it might go some way towards explaining why it occurs at the levels it currently does.

    4. The normalisation of hate: Where various forms of hateful language have become part of both the social and physical media discourse, their effect is underestimated. Hateful language in the form of death threats, for example, becomes seen as just another part of normal cultural / political discourse to the extent that perpetrators fail to see the seriousness of the threats they make.


    Research Methodology: Neo-Positivism

    Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

    As Jurgenson (2014) notes, positivism reflects the idea that, “if enough data can be collected with the “right” methodology it will provide an objective and disinterested picture of reality” and it is, in this respect, based upon two fundamental beliefs about the social world:

    1. It involves patterns of behaviour that are capable of being discovered through systematic  observation / research.

    2. It has an objective existence, governed by causal relationships, over and above the control of individual social actors.

    Big Data…

    This idea of objectivity is both a key strength – it suggests a social world that exists in a state that can be both described and explained separately from the hopes and desires of individual social actors – and weakness here: in order to systematically research an objective social world the researcher must be objective too. They must, for example, avoid participating in or influencing the behaviour being studied. This, however, has always been easier said than done, given the existence of the observer effect: the claim that any attempt to measure human behaviour changes that behaviour it in some unknown – and unknowable – way.

    In other words, although there are a variety of research methods available to positivist researchers – from questionnaires through lab experiments to naturalistic observation – most involve an artificial situation in which the research is conducted, an awareness on the part of those being studied researched they are being researched or some sort of interaction, however minimal, between researcher and researched.

    Or in some cases, all three.

    Neo-Positivism…

    Revision Mapping Mass Media

    Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

    While the recently-posted Research Methods Revision Maps have a certain timeless and transcendental quality(?) when it comes to being reasonably up-to-date and applicable to a wide range of sociology specifications, the same probably can’t be said of this batch of Media Revision Maps. They were created for the AQA Spec around about the time my second AQA textbook was published, around 2006, so be aware that:

    a. They’re rather dated in terms of content (there’s not a massive amount about new media, for example).

    b. The Specification has changed over the years, making some of the stuff covered by the Maps a little redundant. The Maps were also produced when Media was an AS / A1 Unit, as opposed to the A2 Unit it subsequently became…

    Having duly noted this, the actual content of the Maps isn’t necessarily the most important element (although, having said that, it probably helps if it’s reasonably current and relevant…) and it’s not like it was written before the invention of the printing press, television or even the Internet.

    In addition, the majority of the theoretical and conceptual material should be broadly okay – basic stuff on things like media effects and audiences, for example, is still covered in most Specs. and, if nothing else, provides a basic introduction that can be updated as-and-if required – but stuff like statistical data will invariably need to be updated with newer material.

    However, the main takeaway here is the notion of creating the Maps themselves, as a revision aid that focuses student attention on the key ideas and connections in whatever content they’re covering.

    1. Different explanations of the relationship between ownership and control of the mass media

    2. Different explanations of the relationship between the mass media and ideology

    3. Different explanations of the processes of selection and presentation of media content

    4. The role of the mass media in representations of age, social class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and disability

    China In Your Hand: Gig Economy Research

    Monday, November 1st, 2021

    Avid consumers of this blog (anyone?) will be aware that from time-to-time I get the chance to post examples of the research work done by Dean Aldred’s A-level students from the Shenzhen College of International Education in China and this post is given-over to two short pieces of research into the lives and experiences of gig economy workers in Chinese society.

    1. Annie Tang: Are takeaway workers being exploited in China?

    This examination of the Gig Economy in China looks at the Takeaway industry and, more-specifically, the hours, personal and family life of the workers involved. This was achieved using semi-structured interviews involving a combination of open and closed questions to generate both quantitative and qualitative data.

    The research describes in some detail the lives and working conditions of the 4 male participants in the study and while the sample size was small – making it difficult to generalise to wider populations of age, gender and ethnicity, for example – how Tang arrived at her (snowball) sample is an interesting example of research problem-solving when things don’t go as initially planned. It’s an important takeaway (pun sort-of intended) for students evaluating different types of research methods and methodology.

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    Revision Mapping Research Methods

    Sunday, October 31st, 2021

    While I’ve previously posted a Revision Map on Sociological Perspectives I never, for some reason, got around to posting further Maps (at least, not in pdf format – there have been Flipbook versions).

    Until now.

    In order to remedy the omission, therefore, I thought I’d start with a range of Maps dedicated to Research Methods. Although they were originally constructed around an old(ish) A-level Specification it probably doesn’t matter overmuch because when it comes to Methods there’s only so much you can ask and most Specifications – A-level and High School, English or American – cover much the same sort of stuff. This means the content’s still generally relevant to contemporary Specifications.

    Revision Mapping, in case you’re not familiar with the concept, is based on identifying keywords in a particular context and linking them to further keywords to build a highly-structured map of a specific concept, theory or method.

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    Podcasts Without Pictures: The Sociology Show

    Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

    Educational podcasting – both with and without pictures – has become increasingly popular over the past few years as the wider availability of computer audio equipment, plus the ease of uploading and hosting content, has made producing such resources much quicker and easier.

    The Sociology Show.
    In case the branding’s not clear.

    We’ve featured some examples of these podcasts in the past and while most are aimed at various types of revision – both for exam and as a catch-up resource – the latest podcast to pique our interest offers something slightly different, while also offering something slightly similar.

    The Sociology Show, created and hosted by Matthew Wilkin, has been around since April 2020, during which time it has amassed a library of nearly 150 episodes ranging in length from 10 to 45 minutes (give-or-take), depending on what’s being covered and by whom.

    By this I mean there are broadly, three types of podcast:

    1. An academic talking about their research. These tend to be longer than average – around 30 – 45 minutes – mainly because academics like to talk slowly, and at great length, about the things that interest them. Mainly their research and themselves, although not necessarily in that order. Probably.

    Overall there are an impressive number of sociologists you might have heard of (Hobbs, Hakim, Venkatesh…) and a substantial number who, it’s certain to say, you won’t. And while it’s a little serendipitous, listening to a few of the latter may well reap dividends when it comes to greater understanding of a topic. And Sociology as a whole, come to that.

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    New GCSE Sociology Knowledge Organisers

    Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

    Following from a safe distance the recent batches of A-level Knowledge Organisers (A Few More A-level Sociology Knowledge Organisers and Even More Sociology A-Level Organisers) comes something similar for GCSE. These are largely for AQA but there are a couple of sets aimed specifically at WJEC/Eduqas.

    Chase Terrace Academy: Although I’ve previously posted Organisers for Crime and Deviance, Families and Methods, this set seems to have been revamped and rebranded.

    Sociological Approaches and Methods

    Families and Households

    Crime and Deviance

    Social Stratification

    The Highfield School

    What Is Sociology?: Indeed.

    Hugh Christie School

    GCSE Sociology Knowledge Organiser: A beautifully-crafted booklet created by Daryl Taylor for the Eduqas Specification that covers Key Sociological Concepts, Processes of Cultural Transmission, Social Change in the UK, Research Methods and Families.

    WJEC/Edugas Exam Board: Organisers created and distributed by the Board.

    Applied methods of sociology enquiry

    Crime and deviance

    Social differentiation and stratification: theories

    Social differentiation and stratification: equality/inequality and factors that may influence access to life chances and power

    Social differentiation and stratification: poverty as a social issue

    Theories of education

    Key sociological concepts and processes of cultural transmission

    Sociological research methods

    Types of families and family diversity

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    Even More A-level Sociology Organisers

    Thursday, October 21st, 2021
    Image that has nothing to do with post content and only exists to make a point. Although what that point is, I’m not sure.

    A little like the iconic red buses of yore, you wait a couple of years for a new batch of a-level sociology knowledge organisers and then two come along at once.

    Or a few days later at any rate.

    Bit like red buses when you come to think about it.

    Still, a gift horse is a gift horse and having spent no little time trying to sort the wheat from the chaff I think I’ve managed to put together an interesting set of resources for your teaching and learning edification.

    Churston Ferrers Grammar School: A big, bold and colourful set of Organisers that may or may not have been created at said school. While the metadata says “yes” I couldn’t find any trace of them on the actual school site and had to dig around a few different places to find what I’ve found.

    Action Theories

    Functionalism

    Big, Bold, etc.

    Functionalism: This is more-or-less the same as the above (there seem to be a few minor text changes), but with the addition of a small number of quite cute graphics.

    Feminism

    Marxism

    Modernity and Postmodernity

    Positivism v Interpretivism

    Social Policy

    Sociology and Science

    Sociology and Values

    (more…)