Archive for September, 2014


Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

If you’re looking for stuff to brighten and liven-up your classroom displays, it’s worth having a search through Pinterest for “inspirational” posters and informative infographics.

You can search for Pins on whatever topic you like, but to get you started why not have a look at:

Education infographics

Sociology quotes


Research Terms


Prison: Does it Work?

Monday, September 29th, 2014

“Does prison work?” is a question whose answer depends, to some extent, on the context in which it’s framed. In the UK, for example, the rationale for imprisonment has centred around four main ideas:

  1. retribution or punishment for an offence:
  2. incapacitation – an offender cannot commit further offences while imprisoned.
  3. deterrence – the threat of punishment to prevent offending.
  4. rehabilitation – helping the offender to reform to prevent future offending.

Each of these dimensions frames the question in the sense that “prison works” if it’s objective is punishment (retributive justice) but doesn’t seem to work if the objective is rehabilitation; rates of reoffending (recidivism) are notoriously high.

An important argument, however, is that the rehabilitative function of prison has been overwhelmed in recent years by its retributive function; rehabilitation has been a very low priority for politicians, media and public alike. This is partly explained by:

  • economic factors – rehab can be expensive and labour-intensive.
  • political factors – the idea rehabilitation somehow involves being “soft on crime”.
  • ideological factors; the perception that “criminals” are people who, for various social / psychological reasons, can’t be reformed.

Recent ERSC-funded research, however, has thrown an interesting light on the idea of offender rehabilitation and uses a range of sociological and psychological insights to suggest news ways of transforming rehabilitation to cut reoffending.

If you’re interested in looking at these questions in another way, the Crime and Deviance Channel features Professor Carol Hedderman examining some key questions about the use of imprisonment in our society to control crime.

Family Life: Sons and Daughters

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

This American research by Angelina Grigoryeva has a number of interesting applications in terms of family sociology. These include:

  • gender roles within the family
  • the feminisation of domestic labour
  • women’s triple shift (paid labour; domestic labour; emotional labour)
  • pivot / sandwich generation females
  • The UK Family and Household Study

    Friday, September 19th, 2014

    This is a fantastic free resource that works for teachers and students on a number of levels.

    Research Methods: It’s a good example of a longitudinal study that samples around 40,000 households each year. It’s also an example of a representative survey (class, age, gender and ethnicity) from which it’s possible to make generalisations.

    Health: The survey collects a range of empirical health data.

    Families and Households: The main aim of the survey is to collect data about the social and economic circumstances of the UK population, in addition to their general attitudes and beliefs. It also collects data that is of more-specific interest to students studying the sociology of families and households, both in terms of empirical data and, by implication, sociological theory.

    For example, recent research into divorce and separation based on data from the survey looks at the probability of marital breakdown as it relates to personal and structural economic factors – something that can be used to illustrate and inform debates about the relationship between structure and action at A-level (such as the significance of structural factors – economic recessions – on the choices people make about their relationships).

    The scope and size of the data also makes it a prime candidate for individual student research that can be fed into larger classroom databases. Using resources such as Padlet, Trackk or Paper.li it’s possible to build-up a valuable class resource if students are encouraged to research the site and add what they find to one of these resources.

    Teacher-Pupil Relationships

    Thursday, September 18th, 2014

    teacherOne dimension of teacher-pupil relationships is how the former are able to encourage the latter.

    This article looking at the notion of praise, its benefits and whether it should be given publicly or privately for greatest effect.

    Cute Concepts for A-Level Sociology: Reification

    Thursday, September 4th, 2014

    Reification is similar to the idea of anthropomorphism (giving human qualities to animals. Even if you’ve never heard of the word you’ll be familiar with what it involves from the thousands of YouTube videos, featuring cute cats and dotty dogs, that clog-up your Facebook feed. Also, every Disney cartoon that features talking mice, ducks and assorted farmyard animals).

    The error of reification, however, involves attributing human characteristics to anything that is not human – and this makes it especially useful in some areas of Sociology, particularly those that talk about social structures in human terms.

    It’s a particularly useful concept to apply when you want to criticise Functionalist perspectives that talk about social institutions having “needs” and “purposes” – such as the “purpose” of the education system being to satisfy the “needs” of the workplace for differentiated individuals.

    The beauty of this concept for both AS and A2 students is that you can introduce it as a quick, easy and very effective way of introducing high-value evaluation into exam answers.

    Setting or Streaming

    Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

    While the generally negative effects of educational streaming have long been argued, setting has proven to be a more-problematic concept, given that it combines some of the harder edges of “ability ranking” with softer concerns about attainment , ability groups and negative labelling.

    This useful summary from the Education Empowerment Foundation provides a broad and accessible overview of the evidence.

    Media Censorship

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

    Discussions about censorship at A2-level usually focus – quite understandably – on human agency, whether we’re thinking in terms of various forms of overt government / propriatorial censorship or the self-censorship that’s part-and-parcel of contemporary news values.

    An interesting and slightly different dimension that could be worth introducing is the concept of algorithmic censorship; that is, the various forms of censorship that develop when software is programmed to pick-up or demote different types of news story on sites such as Facebook.

    This article should help to illustrate this idea.