Archive for April, 2018

Sociology and You: A Free Textbook

Monday, April 30th, 2018

This American High School textbook just scrapes into the “published in the 21st century” criterion I set myself for finding free, out-of-print sociology texts, but I’ve included it because although it’s obviously a little dated – at least in terms of content if not necessarily design – Sociology and You (2001) was probably one of the first to push at the boundaries of textbook design for “Grades 9 – 12”. This, by my calculations, means 15-18 year olds and if you’re wondering, as we probably all are, how this fits into the UK grading system I’d say the text equates to “high GCSE” / AS-level. But this is only a rough guess – there are bits that could fit into A2 – so if you want to use it with your students it’s probably a case of suck-it-and-see before you let them have copies.

The book itself exhibits most of the features we now take for granted in contemporary textbooks: short bursts of text, lots of big colourful pictures, key terms identified and defined, tables, boxouts, short readings, simple assessments and white space.

Lots and lots of white space.

In other words, anyone familiar with UK A-level texts over the past few years will see this as very familiar territory.

Except, of course, most of the examples and illustrations are drawn from North America. Which is okay if you’re North American (or are really into comparative sociology / North Americana) but not quite so brilliant if you live and study elsewhere.

Keeping this in mind, if you decide to have a look at the text I’ve made it available it as either a complete textbook or by chapter. I’ve provided the latter option because there are some chapters, such as those on “Sport” or “Political and Economic Institutions”, you may not need or want: put bluntly, you’re probably not going to teach stuff that’s not on the A-level Spec.

You can also use the chapter option to see if or how the text might fit with your teaching because, as I’ve noted, judging the level is a little problematic given differences in both the US and UK grade system and the skill levels each requires of its students at different ages.


More Free Sociology Texts

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

This post continues the Great Sociology Textbook Giveaway by stretching the definition of “textbook” to breaking-point with a dictionary, encyclopaedia and, in an SCTV first, an actual text published by a real UK publisher.

Following hard on the heals of the first set of textbooks comes another batch of free Sociology texts I’d like you to think I discovered by digging diligently through the detritus of an untold number of obscure web sites, but actually found by Just Googling Stuff.

This time, while there are some textbooks on offer, notably one from the UK, the net has been widened a bit to include a dictionary, encyclopaedia and a couple of texts devoted to family life and religion.


1. Sociology: 6th edition (2009): This is a slightly-ageing edition of Giddens’ long-running text, currently in its 8th edition (the latter has a website, if you’re interested, that could best be described as “satisfyingly-retro” in both design and content if you were being…errm…charitable). Despite it’s relative age, it’s still as text packed with all kinds of useful information. Some of it may, however, be a step too far for some a-level students, particularly at AS level, so discretion is required over how you use the text. In terms of current Specification coverage most of the usual suspects (Family, Education, Crime, Media…) are included, but so too are areas (such as Nations, War and Terrorism) that decidedly don’t need to be studied.

If you don’t fancy the pdf version there’s also an online flipbook version which is quite fun in a flipbook kind of way.

Sociology Textbooks From Around The Web

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

A couple of days ago I posted a link to a free, open-source, textbook (Introduction to Sociology), the open-availability of which made me think about whether there were any other sociology books lying around in some dusty corner of the web just waiting to be found, dusted-down and presented to a wider audience.

And the answer, since you’re currently reading this post, is that clearly there was. I’ve managed to uncover 7 such texts that should be of at least some interest to a-level Sociology students and teachers. There are, however, a few things it might be useful to point out:

1. The texts I’ve listed aren’t the very latest versions in a series. While I’ve tried not to include very old editions (there’s nothing from the last century…) if you want the most up-to-date versions you’re going to have to buy them.

2. Most of the texts are from American publishers. They reflect American Sociological Specifications and preoccupations and invariably draw much of their illustrative material from American society. While this is not necessary A Bad Thing (depending, of course, on your view of Americentricity) it does mean you’re not going to find many references to non-American examples and illustrations. You’ll also find that data about areas like crime, marriage, education and so forth is pretty-much wholly-focused on North America. While this may be useful for comparative purposes you need to be careful students don’t assume such data necessarily reflects the situation in other countries around the world.

3. Following from the above, these texts are not likely to fit neatly with, for example, UK A-level Sociology Specifications. You will, however, find a lot of the content is universal: theories of crime commonly discussed in UK textbooks, for example, are also likely to be discussed in American textbooks.


An Open-Source Psychology Textbook

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

A free (open-source) Psychology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

As with the open source “Introduction to Sociology” textbook, “Psychology” is a free open-source textbook, now in its 2nd edition, created and distributed by the OpenStax College. It comes in a range of versions, most of them digital (although there’s also an option to by a paper version of the text for around £20 / $38) and will happily integrate an LMS such as Canvas.

The book has been written by a number of contributing authors and seems to have been designed mainly as a primer for American undergraduates taking an introductory Psychology module (“Psychology 101”). The general level should be perfectly acceptable for A-level, although you may need to dip in and out of the book depending on the Specification you follow – the 700+ pages cover a wide range of options:

• Introduction to Psychology
• Psychological Research
• Biopsychology
• States of Consciousness
• Sensation and Perception
• Learning
• Thinking and Memory
• Lifespan Development
• Emotion and Motivation
• Personality
• Social Psychology
• Industrial-Organizational Psychology
• Stress, Lifestyle, and Health
• Psychological Disorders
• Therapy and Treatment

The book also comes with a range of Instructor resources (access to PowerPoint Presentations and Test Banks require you to sign-up for a free account), plus a host of free community-created resources.

Other free textbooks you might want to notify subject colleagues about:

• Mathematics (Algebra, Calculus, Statistics)
• Biology, Physics, Chemistry
• Economics
• History

An Open-Source Sociology Textbook

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

A free (open-source) Sociology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

While the idea of “open-source software” – programs created, modified and freely distributed to users who also contribute in various ways to their subsequent development – has long-been a feature of digital technology, it seems a little odd the concept hasn’t been applied to other areas, such as textbook publishing, given how easy it is to collaborate, design, publish and distribute books largely indistinguishable from those produced by professional publishers.

Whatever the reason, the free textbook “Introduction to Sociology” – created and distributed by the OpenStax College and now in its 2nd edition – is the first sociology textbook I’ve come across organised around open-source principles (as opposed to simply being freely distributed by its author).

What this means is that not only can you use the text as you would any other textbook (giving students individual digital or paper copies, for example, or integrating it into Canvas if you use this free LMS) you also have a wide range of format options, most of which (reading online, downloading to desktop, viewing on mobile devices) are free. If you really must have a properly bound copy this can be purchased for around £16 / $30.

Once you get past the various viewing options you’ll find a textbook created by a number of different authors (all, I assume, employed by Rice University?) designed primarily as a primer for American undergraduates taking an introductory module in Sociology (“Sociology 101”). This level, from what I’ve read of the text, seems perfectly acceptable for A-level Sociology (which probably says something about either the American or the British education system).

While you need to take into account both its target audience (most of the text, illustrations, examples and so forth reference American society – it is, in other words, pretty ethnocentric) and some of the preoccupations of American Sociology (a focus on areas like race and ethnicity, for example, that isn’t given such a central focus by A-level Sociology) the textbook covers areas that will be very familiar and useful to a-level sociologists. These include:

• Culture and Socialisation
• Family
• Education
• Health
• Inequality
• Religion
• Deviance
• Media

Although most of these aren’t covered in any great depth – and you’ll find significant parts of UK Sociology Specifications aren’t addressed – there’s plenty of useful material here for a-level students and teachers. While it’s probably not going to replace your main sociology textbook it could be worth considering as an additional text to supplement the existing resources you use – particularly because of its portability across different devices.

In addition, there are a number of Instructor and Student resources you can sign-up for. To access some – such as PowerPoint Presentations and the Test Bank – you need to register with a school / college email account, but the resources are free once you’ve registered.

It’s also possible, even if you don’t want to contribute suggestions for future updates, to add “community resources” to support the text. While there’s not much available at the moment, one example of these resources is a series of short video lectures you may or may not find helpful.

Globalisation and the Digital World: Revision Stuff

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Colourful PowerPoint Presentation summarising the OCR Globalisation and the Digital World Unit, plus a range of 6 / 9 mark exam practice questions.

It’s somehow typical that you see nothing about this OCR A-Level Sociology Unit for months and then, just as you’ve posted a “6 week course” guide, you stumble across a couple of PowerPoint Presentations that actually complement this quite well.

The first is a Big, Bold and Colourful Revision Presentation by Marc Addison that covers:

• What is the relationship between globalisation and digital forms of communication?
• Developments in digital forms of communication in a global society
• The Marxist Perspective
• The Feminist Perspective
• The Postmodernist Perspective
• The Impact of Digital Communications
• What is the relationship between globalisation and Conflict and Change?
• Cultural homogenisation, hybridity or resistance?

The second is neither Big, Bold nor Colourful because it doesn’t aim to be. It just wants to do its job quietly, efficiently and with the minimum of fuss. So, if you want to give your students some practice 6 and 9 mark questions, based around the PEEL mnemonic, this Presentation should fit the bill nicely.

Globalisation and the Digital World Resource Pack

Friday, April 20th, 2018

A “6 week course”, built around a variety of PowerPoint Presentations and supporting documents, designed to help you teach the Globalisation and the Digital World Unit of the OCR Specification.

I found this set of documents buried on my hard drive the other day and I know very little about where I found it, its creator (J. Ellison who may or may not work at Langley Park School for Boys) or creation (circa 2016). That aside, I do know the title refers to a section on the latest (2017) OCR A-level Sociology Specification called, spookily-enough, “Globalisation and the Digital World”.

More-interestingly, the pack of materials I’ve managed to somehow acquire refers to it being a “6 week course” which, taking this at face-value, means it’s a set of resources and activities specifically designed to teach this section of the course – potentially a huge time-saver, even if you decide to customise the base PowerPoints to the needs of your particular students (you may want / need to do this because some, if not all, of the supporting materials may well be a little too advanced for some students – and then some. The Castells article, for example, is likely to prove well beyond a lot of a-level students so you might want to think about replacing it or summarising it).

The only alterations I’ve made to the original slides are:

1. Removing specific references to textbook pages (because there’s no indication as to which textbook they refer). You may want to edit the PowerPoints to include specific references to the textbook/s you use with your students.

2. Changed YouTube links to play inside the Presentation.

In addition, you may want to add slides containing activities, notes and so forth you currently use in your classes. My way of thinking about this resource is to use it as the base for materials you normally include in your teaching – a basic structure, in other words, around which you can hang whatever resources / activities you normally use / do.


A-Level Sociology Revision: 7. Families and Households

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

As with some of the other topics, revision materials for family life are both a bit scarce and a little bit dated, in the sense that where the UK Specs. have recently changed, older revision guides obviously don’t cover the newer additions.

On the other hand, there’s still a strong continuity between the older and newer Specs. (some ideas never grow old – looking at you “1950’s Functionalism and the Family”) so as long as you keep this in mind the various Notes on offer here may prove useful. You also need to note that most of the materials here refer to the AQA Specification, so if you’re following a different Spec. you need to check which areas are – and are not – applicable. There are probably few things worse than getting into an exam room to find that you’ve revised the wrong Specification (this, of course, is a lie. There are a lot worse things).


If you find yourself in the position of not knowing which Specification you’ve been studying for the past two years then either your teacher has seriously given-up on you or you’ve been mistakenly following the wrong course (Psychology was in Room 101…).

Either way, these Notes aren’t going to help you.

For those of you not in this unhappy situation you should find stuff to aid your revision (particularly if, for whatever reason, you’ve got gaps in your revision notes). I’ve also added a couple of PowerPoints and some Mindmaps to the list, both because I think the latter, in particular, can be a good revision resource and also because I can.

1. Family and Households Revision Booklet (John Williams)
2. Families and Households Revision Guide 2011
3. Families and Households Revision Pack 2016 (S Hickman)
4. Families and Households Revision Booklet 
5. Revision Notes

6. Family Revision PowerPoint
7. The Sociology of the Family PowerPoint (L Ricker)

8. Mindmaps: Feminism | Functionalism | Marxism | Family and Personal Life
9. Spider Diagrams

Culture and Identity PowerPoints

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

To complement the Culture and Identity Revision booklets I’ve assembled a range of PowerPoint Presentations from a variety of sources including some nice little presentations put together by the OCR Exam Board (with accompanying Instruction and Activity booklets).

While the Presentations are probably more-suited to integration into an Introductory Sociology / Culture and Identity teaching session (the Presentations cover areas like culture, socialisation, identity, perspectives and the like), some may have value as a revision tool.

As ever, the Presentations vary in size, complexity and competence (although I’ve tried to weed-out Presentations I didn’t think added much value or which weren’t sufficiently focused on A-Level Sociology). Where known I’ve indicated the author of each Presentation, to whom you should direct any plaudits, questions or brickbats.

1. Culture and Identity (Steven Humphreys)
2. Introductory Concepts (Mark Gill)
3. Social and Personal Identities (Leigh Rust-Ashford)
4. Culture
5. Socialisation
6. Feminism and Patriarchy (Chris Deakin)
7. Class identity (Liz Voges)
8. Primary and Secondary Socialisation
9. Socialisation and Resocialisation (Gobind Khalsa)
10. Class, Gender, Ethnicity (Mark Gill)
11. Social Control (Leigh Rust-Ashford)
12. Culture and Social Identity (Joe McVeigh)
13. Elements of Culture (Rebekah Colbeth)
14. Identity and Hybrid Identities (OCR) | Teacher Instructions | Activity Booklet
15. Culture and Cultural Identity (Jane Lister Reis)
16. Sport and National Identity
17. Culture, Values and Norms (OCR) | Teacher Instructions | Activity Booklet 
18. Culture and Cultural Hybridity (OCR) | Teacher Instructions | Activity Booklet

OCR Topic Exploration Packs

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Four (or possibly five, depending on how you view it) Introductory Packs on Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism and Postmodernism.

If you use OCR for A-Level Sociology you’ll probably be aware of these Packs covering Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism and Postmodernism. For non-OCR users, however, the Packs could still prove useful because they contain the kinds of general “Introductory” information applicable to most UK Exam Boards and general sociology courses elsewhere.

Each Pack uses the same basic format: a series of “Tasks” designed to introduce the “domain assumptions” of each perspective and, in some instances, relate them, with varying levels of effort and success, to an interpretation of different aspects of culture and identity.

The Packs are split into two sections; one has questions with suggested answers, the other has the same questions minus the answers. If you want your students to complete the Tasks digitally (i.e. they can wordprocess their answers) you will need to edit the document to delete the answer section. Oddly, the Marxism Pack just has Tasks minus suggested answers (there is a separate pdf version with suggested answers).

When all’s-said-and-done the Packs are really just a set of simple worksheets trying quite hard to pretend they’re not worksheets – but they’re colourful, nicely put together and most-importantly, free. So, if you ignore all the guff about “formative” and “summative” assessment (I get the impression the authors’, in the main, did just that) what you have are some simple resources that could be easily and effectively introduced into the classroom.

The resources have their faults, both in terms of design and in some instances content (although I couldn’t see anything particularly major – my main gripe is a reference to “Interpretivism” rather than “Interactionism”). The 4 packs also vary quite considerably in quality, with the Feminism Pack probably being the weakest overall. There is also, strangely given the structure / action references throughout, little or nothing on the latter. On balance, however, I’d say the Packs are worth having.

Whether or not OCR have any plans to extend the resources I’ve no idea, but based on past performance they tend to start out with a Big Idea and then signally fail to carry it through. On this basis I’d say get these resources while you can:


Marxism (Student Activity Pack)

Marxism: Although they have different names the only difference between this and the “activity pack” is that this includes “suggested answers” to task questions and is a pdf rather than a Word file (although, having said that, a few of these “answers” are missing for some reason). Otherwise they are identical in terms of content, save for some introductory text that explains how to use the materials. Unfortunately, a conversion error makes one page unreadable in this version, so if you want a pdf version (minus the Introduction) you will need to convert the Word version.