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Year 13 Sociology

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

A previous post (Year 12 Sociology) outlined a range of resources created by Stephanie Parsons to support AQA Paper 1 topics (Introduction to Sociology, Family, Education) and this post points you in the general direction of her 2nd year A-level site, Year 13 Sociology.

Lesson Plan
Year 13 Lesson Plan

The landing page has a mix of posts on a range of topics (Marxist Perspectives, prisons, green crime, cults) so it’s probably worth having a nose around to see if there’s anything relevant to your particular interests. There are also a range of Paper 1 Revision Resources available.

Aside from this, the major resources – mainly, but not exclusively, detailed lesson plan slides that include extensive Notes and Activities – cover three areas:

1. Crime and Deviance: Includes resources on:

Functionalism

Marxism

Subcultural Theory

Labelling theory

Left Realism

Right Realism

Environment (Ecological)

Class

Gender

Globalisation and crime

Media and crime

Green crime

Human Rights

Crime and Punishment

Police, Courts and Prisons

Crime Prevention

Victimology

Ethnicity

Theory and Methods / Beliefs in Society

Google Classroom Reference Guides

Monday, April 6th, 2020
Google Classroom Reference Guide for Teachers

If you’re new to – or just thinking about using it – Google Classroom is a perfectly-serviceable way to keep your students connected.

And while it’s not as sophisticated as some of the alternatives, it’s free and allows teachers and students to communicate and share files online – a quality that’s suddenly and urgently come into its own.

So, if you’re ready and willing to take the plunge – but need a little guidance about how to do it and what it can offer – Shakeuplearning has put together a couple of free reference guides – one for teachers, the other for students – that shows you what to do and how to do it.

To get the guides you will need to subscribe to the site (it’s free, only requires an email address and you can unsubscribe if you don’t want to use the site further).

Just scroll down the page to where it says “Fill Out the Form Below to Get Your FREE Cheat Sheets!” and away you go.

Thinking About: Left Realism

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Left Realism is, as you probably know, one of the staple “crime theories” in a-level sociology (and if you didn’t, you do now) about which a lot has been written, not least by me in in various forms – from Notes through PowerPoint Presentations to Flipbooks.

However, a couple of things that tend to go missing in any discussion of Left Realism – and the “Criminogenic Triangle” of relative deprivation, subculture and political marginalisation in particular – is a sense of students being able to test the theory for themselves.

In this respect, a recent Guardian article, “Threat from far right may be receding since Tory election victory” caught my eye as a potentially-useful discussion piece in “These Trying Times”® because it explicitly links the idea of political marginalisation to crime and deviance in a way students should be able to apply to their understanding of Left Realism.

In addition, this reminded me about a piece I did some time ago (actually, a long time ago…) that included a simple Thought Experiment designed to get students thinking about the Criminogenic Triangle and how its elements might potentially be applied to different social groups (the elderly, middle class males, etc.) to “test” whether or not Left Realism “predicts” their deviance.

As you might expect, it’s Not Very Scientific and is really only designed to get students thinking about how Left Realism might be applied to any explanation of deviance and conformity among different social groups.

On re-reading the list I’ve used, one thing that stuck me was how applicable the Criminogenic Triangle might be to the virtual world of chatrooms and conspiracy theories as a way of explaining how and why some individuals take their anger and frustration out of the virtual and into the actual world through “violence against strangers” (in the form of mass shootings, for example).

“Society Now” Update

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
Society Now Magazine

A couple of years ago I posted about Society Now magazine, “a free full-colour magazine published four times a year by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and features a range of articles that “showcase the impact of the social science research” funded by the Council” and now seemed like an appropriate time – 6 further issues down the line from the original post – to remind teachers and students of the magazine’s continued existence.

While the articles aren’t necessarily as a-level focused as something like Sociology Review – they’re aimed at “the general interest reader” rather than sociology students – there’s plenty for students to discover in the mix of short and medium-length articles across a range of social scientific issues.

Given that students are currently likely to have a bit more time to read-around the issues and ideas they’re formally studying at a-level, Society Now might be a useful additional resource to introduce…

Year 12 Sociology

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

A web site that is both a name and an accurate description of what it contains, Year 12 Sociology has a range of resources created by Stephanie Parsons, mainly based around what seem like Lesson Plan PowerPoint slides that have been saved as pdf documents.

What you seem to get in each resource is a complete lesson on a particular topic, one that includes things like short notes, questions and student exercises, but without the teacher talking.

Obviously.

The Resources…

Of Methods and Methodology 6 | Practical Research Considerations

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Sociologists do research for a wide range of reasons and in this post we’re looking at a range of practical research considerations relating to, firstly, choice of topic and secondly, choice of method.

As luck would have it (you didn’t seriously think I planned this stuff, did you?), this all fits neatly into my “5 Things You Need To Know” patent-not-pending revision technique…

choice of topic

Decisions about what to study may be influenced by a range of personal and institutional factors:

1. The interests of the researcher, for example, are likely to be a key influence on any decision about what to study., one that reflects their areas of expertise and specialism. To take a slightly extreme example perhaps, the Glasgow Media Group – and Greg Philo in particular – have specialised in research into mass media bias for over 40 years – from “Bad News” (1976) to “Bad News for Labour” (2019).

2. A second area of influence involves things like current debates and intellectual fashions: the popularity of different research topics, for example, wax and wane for a range of reasons, not least being the availability or otherwise of research funding – an issue we’ll address in a moment.

One driver of research choices in this respect, at least in the UK, is that institutional, departmental and personal funding in universities is sensitive to the popularity of a piece of research. An important way this is measured is in terms of how many other researchers around the world cite an individual’s research. The more the citations, the greater the measured popularity and the higher the level of future research funding for a university department.

A research topic that is currently popular and / or intellectually fashionable may stand a greater chance of attracting citations because the pool of interest – among other researchers, the media and general public – will be that much larger than for a much smaller, more niche, research topic  (Southerton et al’s (1998) “Research Note on Recreational Caravanning” being a personal favourite).

Money, money, money…

3.  Funding is one of the more prosaic – but nevertheless hugely important – practical considerations in relation to topic choice. Research, in simple terms, costs money – whether, like Cant et al (2019), you’re emailing a questionnaire to sociology teachers to explore their opinions on the status of sociology in English schools, co-ordinating a group of academics and field researchers in a lengthy study of religion and spirituality (Heelas and Woodhead, 2004) or simply, like Ferrell (2018) or Venkatesh (2009), engaging in extensive and lengthy forms of participant observation.

While finding the money to fund a piece of research that may last anything from a few weeks to, in Venkatesh’s case around 10 years, may dictate the researcher’s choice of topic – if the funding’s not available, it’s unlikely to be studied – a further dimension are the questions:

Who pays?

And why?

Those who commission and pay for sociological research, from universities, through charities and private Think Tanks to government departments, are likely to want – and in some cases demand -an important say in the ultimate choice of topic to be studied. In both the UK and USA, for example, the trend over the past 30 – 40 years has been to commission sociological research designed to help government policymakers make decisions. If your choice of topic (and method…) doesn’t fit with this brief or aid in this process it may be harder to attract funding.

There’s more. A whole load More

Of Methods and Methodology: 5. Triangulation

Friday, March 13th, 2020

methodological pluralism

While it’s necessary, for the sake of illustration, to differentiate between different sociological methodologies, this doesn’t mean positivism and interpretivism simply occupy their own unique social space into which the other cannot enter – an idea reflected in the notion “positivists” would not use qualitative methods for methodological reasons, because such methods “lack reliability”, for example, while “interpretivists” would not use quantitative methods because they “lack validity”.

Rather than see methodologies as being entities whose basic principles are set in stone, it’s more-useful to see them as mental constructs created for theoretical convenience; to help us understand and evaluate, for example, methodological principles such as reliability and validity. In this respect the question of whether we should expect to meet such methodologies in their “pure forms” in the real world of sociological research may be somewhat wide of the mark given that, as Wood and Welch (2010) argue:

There is now increasing awareness that both quantitative and qualitative styles of research may have a contribution to make to a project, which leads to the idea of mixing methods“.

This idea can be expressed as methodological pluralism, something Payne et al (2004) define as “tolerance of a variety of methods”. It refers, in other words, to the idea of combining research methodologies in ways that allow each to complement the other to improve overall research reliability and validity.

The logic of this argument is that different research methods have different methodological strengths and weaknesses; questionnaires, for example, may produce reliable data, but with low validity (although, once again, this relationship is by no-means set in stone – depending on what is being measured, questionnaires are not methodologically incapable of producing valid data), while the reverse may be true for covert participant observation. 

Rather than approach research methodology from the perspective of a “design problem” therefore – how to test a hypothesis (positivism) or answer a research question (interpretivism) we can approach it from a methodological perspective – how to collect data that has the highest possible levels of reliability and validity, regardless of the actual methods or data types used. In this respect, if methodological pluralism represents the theoretical justification for using mixed methods – because no research method or data type is intrinsically “positivist” or “anti-positivist” – triangulation is the means through which this theory is put into practice.

More on Mixed Methods…

Crime as a Cause of Crime? Evaluating Routine Activities

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Felson and Cohen’s Routine Activities approach (1979) has arguably been one of the most-influential recent theories of crime, one that sits squarely within contemporary New Right / Realist explanations for crime and deviance.

This post looks at a couple of useful ways students can evaluate the approach.

A Quick Outline…

The main objective of this post is to introduce a-level sociology students to some points of evaluation for Routine Activities and in order to do this, students need to be familiar with the basic approach. If they’re not, this quick outline should bring them up-to-speed.

One advantage of the approach is that it’s easy to describe, at least in Felson and Cohen’s (1979) original argument that crime involves three essential elements:

1. A Suitable Target

The Predatory Triangle

2. A Motivated (latterly, a Capable or Likely) Offender

3. The absence of a Capable Guardian.

This formulation has, over the years, seen various additions (see, for example, Clarke and Eck, 2003) although whether these represent an attempt to refine the approach or merely a papering over of the theoretical cracks, I couldn’t possibly say), but one of the most significant refinements has been to express these elements as part of what Felson and Cohen call “the Predatory Triangle”.

While it might not seem much, this visual representation shows how the three elements are linked, such that, as they argue, a “Lack of any one of these elements is sufficient to prevent the successful completion of a direct-contact predatory crime”.

In other words, for a crime to take place a likely offender needs to meet a suitable target in the absence of a capable guardian. Or, as Felson (1998) puts it, by way of an example:

“A burglary needs a capable and motivated offender to find a suitable and accessible target, in the absence of anyone or anything there to keep the two apart”.

There are a couple of points we can note in this respect:

1. A crime occurs (or, in a weaker formulation, “is likely to occur”) when these three elements meet in time and space.

If you want to give Routine Activities an historical context, in common with other Right Realist approaches such as Broken Windows it’s based on Ecological (how behaviour is influenced by social and physical spaces) and Control theories of behaviour. An element of Rational Choice Theory is often thrown into contemporary versions of the approach to “explain” why offenders are motivated or demotivated in relation to criminal intent.

2. “Routine Activity” is an important part of the overall crime equation because it refers to the idea that “motivated offenders” come to identify suitable targets – and the extent to which they are protected by “capable guardians” – through their everyday experiences.

As with most New Right / Right Realist approaches, the main focus is on crime prevention. While there is necessarily some discussion / speculation about “criminal motives” – Felson and Cohen refer, for example, to “structural conditions” that produce “motivated offenders” – there isn’t a great deal of interest in trying to explain why people are motivated towards crime.

Crime, in this respect, is seen as a more-or-less unfortunate by-product of social and / or psychological background (depending on the particular theorist); crime is a “fact of life” and the best a society can do is to control it.

In this respect the basic “Predatory Triangle” has clear implications for the control of crime:

1. Motivated offenders can be deterred.

2. Suitable targets need to be “hardened” or protected in ways that make them seem unsuitable to offenders.

3. Capable Guardians – from the police, through careful and well-informed populations to various forms of technological guardianship (such as CCTV) – need to be extensively deployed.

Evaluating RAT

Revising Perspectives

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

I’ve been trawling through some of the old ATSS material I seem to have collected and “stored” (oddly, enough, behind bookcases and stuffed towards the back of filing cabinets) over the years and came across this simple revision activity by Warren Kidd.

I’ve adapted it very slightly from the original but in the main it’s more-or-less as Warren wrote it.

Preparation

1. A set of cards (playing card size will be fine) labelled with the perspectives you want to test: e.g.

  • Marxism
  • Functionalism
  • Interactionism
  • Feminism
  • Postmodernism
  • You can vary the labels as you see fit for whatever is being revised / tested. You might, for example, want to test neo-functionalism, neo-Marxism or different types of feminism (such as liberal, radical or post-feminism).

    Example Perspectives Cards (with some blanks). You can cut-out-and-keep the pre-prepared cards on use the blanks as a template for making your own set.

    2. A set of cards, probably around 15 or 20, depending on the size of the class and what’s being revised, labelled with either general topics (crime and deviance, mass media…) and / or issues and debates within a particular topic.

    If, for example, you’re revising a single topic, such as crime and deviance, select issues / debates that reflect key theories / concepts / themes within that topic. In this instance one issue / debate might be “Does Prison Work?” or “Who are the Criminals?”. You can, if you wish, include the topic being revised.

    Example Issues Blank Cards: To use these cards you will need to add your own issues / theories / concepts etc.

    How to play the activity

    Of Methods and Methodology: 4. Postmodernism

    Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

    A methodology is a framework for research that focuses on how it is possible to collect reliable and valid data about, in this instance, the social world. It’s shaped by two main considerations:

    1. Our beliefs about the fundamental nature of the social world (ontological concerns).

    2. How we believe is possible to construct knowledge about the world (epistemology).

    In turn, these ideas shape our choice of research methods when we come to actually collect data.

    Unlike the three previous posts in this short, but pithy, series (Positivism, Interpretivism and Realism in case you hadn’t noticed) the status of “postmodernism” as a form of sociological research methodology is, at best ambivalent. However, in terms of the basic definition I’ve used to introduce these posts it does represent a perspective on how it’s considered possible to generate reliable and valid information about the world and, for this reason, I’ve decided to invite it to the party.

    Feel free to disagree.

    Basic Principles

    1. A postmodernist methodology is founded on two basic ideas:

    Firstly, the critique of modernism focused on the idea that concepts like ‘universal truth’ and ‘objectivity’ are inherently subjective constructions that need to be considered as narratives within a scientific discourse. In other words, such ideas represent stories that describe the social world from a particular position of power, rather than unequivocal, objective features of that world.

    Secondly, postmodernism is constructivist, in the sense of seeking to describe how narratives and discourses develop and disappear as people construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct the social world. Such constructionism involves thinking about two main types of subjectivities:

    • Personal: how people experience and reflect on the social world in terms of their particular beliefs, values, norms, identities and so forth.

    • Social: personal experience grounded in the experiences and activities of others. Traditionally, for example, one way of expressing this idea is to think about areas like primary and secondary socialisation and how the behaviour of others (such as parents, friends and the media) impacts on how we see both ourselves and the social world. More-recently however we see social subjectivities developing around various forms of social media.

    Postmodernism and the social media rabbit hole…

    2. In an inherently subjective social world it follows that all explanations of that world are relative. Or, as Troest (1999) puts it, “we have no way of objectively distinguishing that which is true from that which is false”. This claim has important ramifications for sociological research because, if true (?) it follows that concepts like reliability and validity are simply social constructs that reflect one view of methodological order. They are, in other words, simply part of one “narrative of science” that is no more – and no less – valid than any other description of science. Taken to its logical conclusion this argument, Curran and Takata (2004) note, means that for postmodernists there is no possibility of ‘a unifying overall truth’ about the social world. That would just be one more metanarrative to add to the expanding list…

    There’s More: Oh God There’s more

    Selective Comprehensives: The British Dimension

    Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
    Click to download Report

    The 2017 Sutton Trust Report into attainment levels in Comprehensive Schools in England discovered, probably to no-one’s great surprise, that the top performing Comprehensive schools were far more socially-selective than their lower-performing Comprehensive counterparts.

    Overall, the top 500 Comprehensive schools had an intake of around 9% of pupils who were eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), a rough-and-ready proxy measurement of both poverty and social class. The average FSM intake in English Comprehensive schools is around 17% of pupils.

    (more…)

    Of Methods and Methodology: 3. Realism

    Monday, March 2nd, 2020

    A methodology is a framework for research that focuses on how it is possible to collect reliable and valid data about, in this instance, the social world. It’s shaped by two main considerations:

    1. Our beliefs about the fundamental nature of the social world (ontological concerns).

    2. How we believe is possible to construct knowledge about the world (epistemology).

    In turn, these ideas shape our choice of research methods when we come to actually collect data.

    Although an understanding of Realist methodology isn’t essential at a-level, if students can grasp its basics it’s very useful as a source of evaluation for alternative methodological approaches, such as positivism and interpretivism.

     It also adds a slightly different dimension to arguments over whether sociology is a science.

    Realism, particularly at a-level, is often portrayed as a kind of methodological hybrid, one that combines a belief in the existence of objective social structures (positivism) with the idea they are subjectively experienced and socially constructed (interpretivism). While this is, in some respects, a valid way of looking at it, realist methodology is perhaps a little more subtle and complex than this simple formulation might suggest – an idea we can explore in the following way:

    1. For Realists, societies consist of social structures that can be objectively studied because these structures have an independent existence from the people who move through them. Social structures, therefore, represent ‘real forces’ that act on, shape and in some ways determine our everyday political, economic and cultural lives.

    2. While the real features of social systems make it possible to establish causal relationships, Realism breaks with positivism because it adds the proviso causality will be limited in time and space: what is true in one society / social context may not be true in another. This follows because for Realists there is a further dimension to understanding human behaviour – a subjective one that recognises and takes on board the importance of human meaning and interpretation.

    (more…)

    Of Methods and Methodology: 2. Interpretivism

    Saturday, February 29th, 2020

    A methodology is a framework for research that focuses on how it is possible to collect reliable and valid data about, in this instance, the social world. It’s shaped by two main considerations:

    1. Our beliefs about the fundamental nature of the social world (ontological concerns).

    2. How we believe is possible to construct knowledge about the world (epistemology).

    In turn, these ideas shape our choice of research methods when we come to actually collect data.

    Basic Principles

    Unlike their positivist counterparts, for interpretivists the crucial difference between the objects of study for social and natural scientists is that people have consciousness.

    This is significant because this awareness of both Self and our relationship to Others gives people the ability to act; to exercise what we might loosely call free will over the choices they make about how to behave in different situations, rather than simply react to external (structural) stimulation.

    People, therefore, are “inherently unpredictable” in the sense they do not necessary react in the same way to the same stimuli. Unlike a natural world governed by linear progressions – A causes B causes C – the social world is a non-linear system that makes individual behaviour difficult to predict. The best we can do is suggest a range of probabilities about what will occur in terms of people’s behaviour in the context of different situations.

    A further complication here is that behaviour is not simply a condition of the Self: that is, someone choosing to do – or not to do – something. Rather, it’s also a condition of the Other. How other people define and interpret someone’s behaviour is just as – if not – more important.

    Read on MacDuff…

    Of Methods and Methodology: 1. Positivism

    Friday, February 28th, 2020
    No.1 Positivism

    A methodology is a framework for research that focuses on how it is possible to collect reliable and valid data about, in this instance, the social world. It’s shaped by two main considerations:

    1. Our beliefs about the fundamental nature of the social world (ontological concerns).

    2. How we believe is possible to construct knowledge about the world (epistemology).

    In turn, these ideas shape our choice of research methods when we come to actually collect data.

    Basic Principles

    As a general approach Positivism argues it’s both possible and desirable for sociologists to study social behaviour using similar methods to those used to study behaviour in the natural world – a belief we can examine by identifying some of the key ideas underpinning this approach.

    1. A basic principle of this methodological approach is that social systems consist of structures that exist independently of individuals.

    Institutions, such as families, education systems, governments and so forth, represent behaviour, at the macro (or very large group) level of society. As individuals we experience social structures as forces bearing down on us, pushing us to behave in certain ways and shaping our behavioural choices. An interesting example of how an institutional structure works is language.

    To be part of a society we must communicate using language, both verbal (words) and non-verbal (gestures). As conscious individuals we exercise some choice over which language we speak, but our freedom of choice is actually limited for two reasons:

    There’s more. Oh Yes…

    Types of New Age (Religious) Movement

    Thursday, February 27th, 2020
    New Age Religious Movements PowerPoint.
Click to download.

    A previous post looked at New Age Religious Movements (NAMs) in terms of the idea of different “streams” – a way of broadly classifying NAMs according to the different types of transformation they promise (such as intellectual and lifestyle) the individual and / or society.

    This PowerPoint Presentation complements this idea by looking at a broader typology of New Age Movements that classifies them in terms of three types:

    1. Explicitly Religious: These types, examples of which include Krishna Consciousness and the Divine Light Mission, demonstrate a much stronger and more-overt religiosity than some of their New Age counterparts. The focus of these well-organised groups is spiritual / religious-type experiences that can be applied in various ways to the individual’s life and work.

    2. Human Potential types focus more-specifically on various forms of individual, organisational and societal transformations, with the emphasis on releasing “inner spirituality” rather than worshiping an external religious form. Stark and Bainbridge (1987) called these “client movements” because they focused on providing a “service” to members / practitioners based around a “provider-client” relationship. The services provided, in the form of things like teachings, practices and tests, are frequently sold to practitioners – the latter often quite literally “buy-into” the spiritual services on offer.

    3. Mystical types tend to adopt what Stark and Bainbridge classify as an “audience” (or leisure) approach to spirituality and they tend to embody what we traditionally perceive, somewhat stereotypically perhaps, “New Age” forms of spirituality to take. This type is invariably syncretic: spiritual movements embodying beliefs drawn from a mix of “ancient” religious, secular and philosophical teachings that can be picked up, modified and discarded almost at will.  

    The Presentation identifies a range of significant features of each type and offers an example or two, illustrated by short (30 – 40 seconds) video clips.

    New Age (Religious) Movements (NAMs)

    Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

    A short – but critical – piece on New Age Religious Movements and some possible reasons for their emergence and popularity in postmodernity…

    Melton (2001) suggests “the term New Age refers to a wave of religious enthusiasm that emerged in the 1970s” which, for Cowan (2003), have two defining characteristics:

    1. NAMs represent new ways of “doing religion” and “being religious”, with the focus on finding solutions to individual and social problems through “personal transformations”; the individual must change their life in some way. In this respect Brown (2004) notes NAMs focused specifically around “transformations of the self and society”, include:

  • astrology.
  • channelling (direct communication with spirits).
  • work with one’s “inner child”.
  • “a laundry list of unconventional healing techniques”.
  • Langone (1993) identifies four main “streams” within NAMs involving different ways to “transform the self” through personal lifestyle changes.

    These categories may at times overlap – occult practices might involve beliefs about lifestyle changes – but one feature common to all NAMs is the belief “spiritual knowledge and power can be achieved through the discovery of the proper techniques”.

    (more…)

    The D.O.V.E. Protocol: 4 Functions of Religion

    Friday, February 21st, 2020
    Four Functions of Religion PowerPoint: Click to download
    Four Functions of Religion…

    Classical functionalist theories of religion, associated with the work of writers like Durkheim (1912), Malinowski (1926), Alpert (1937), Parsons (1937) and more-latterly Luhmann (1977), generally see religion as a cultural institution: one mainly concerned with the creation and promotion of cultural values that function to support and maintain social order.  Underpinning the notion of order, in this respect, are two ideas:

    1. Religion serves a structural or collective role in bringing people together “as a society”.

    2. Religion serves an action or individual role in giving meaning and purpose to people’s lives.

    The Functions of Religion Presentation is designed to introduce students to these general ideas by encouraging them to think about “the functions of religion” in terms of four broad categories:

    1. Discipline involves the idea a sense of shared beliefs and values is created by following a set of religious moral rules and codes.

    2. Organisation reflects the idea of people being brought together as a society through shared rituals, ceremonies and meanings.

    3. Vitalisation reflects the idea common values and beliefs represent vital dimensions of culture, socialisation and control.

    4. Euphony recognises there are times of pain and crisis in life that require individual or collective efforts to re-establish harmony.

    Each category contains a few pointers to examples of each, 30 seconds of video clips that illustrate some aspects of these ideas and a simple question you might want to use to stimulate a bit of further debate (which you can obviously edit / change if you want to add a question or two of your own).

    Five Things To Know About…

    Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

    I’ve long been a fan / proponent of the “5 Things I Know” approach to teaching sociological perspectives – the idea that if a student can grasp 5 significant things about a perspective they can apply that knowledge to answer just about any “theory / perspective” question they may encounter in an exam.

    Theory Take 5 Pdf version - click to download.
    Theory Take 5 Cards

    Vicki Woolven has taken this idea a creative step further with her brilliant-looking Theory Take 5 cards. These identify 5 key points associated with a sociological theorist that students can apply in their answers to 8 – 15 mark exam questions – although there’s nothing to say this level of knowledge couldn’t equally be applied to essay-type answers.

    The cards cover 30 theorists distributed across areas like Family, Education and Crime and are available in both pdf and PowerPoint formats.

    The latter is useful if you want to add your own cards to the deck because you can use it as an editable template (and it’s easy enough to save the cards in pdf format from PowerPoint).

    These are slightly-edited versions of the originals to remove a reference to Weber as a “Marxist”.

    More Crime and Deviance Resources

    Monday, February 17th, 2020

    Following on from the previous set of crime resources, this is a mixed-bag of PowerPoint Presentations and Word documents covering various aspects of crime and deviance.

    While there is coverage of various issues and debates here, the main emphasis is on student activities and tasks – and while there’s nothing particularly spectacular or cutting-edge about the various resources there may be something here you’ll find helpful or inspiring.

    Resources…

    Theories of Self and Identity

    Sunday, February 16th, 2020
    Self and Identity PowerPoint: Original version
    Original version…

    This is quite a large (18 slide) PowerPoint Presentation, complete with a core list of lesson outcomes, covering personal and social identities and, in the main, perspectives on The Self and identity (Functionalist, Marxist and Interpretivist).

    While you may find the content useful I’m a bit more ambivalent about the “lesson outcomes” – not so much that they exist but more the way they’re presented alongside each information slide:

  • All will be able to identify what different theories say about identity(E-D)
  • Most will be able to explain why different theories explain identity as they do (C-B)
  • Some will be able to use critique the various sociological theories on identity (B-A)
  • While it’s fine to show a class what they need to do in order to achieve various (A – E) exam grades it seems to me a little pointless – not to say potentially self-defeating – to pre-emptively divide your class into 3 grade groups and suggest that “only some” will be capable of applying critical evaluation to a perspective.

    If you’re comfortable with this, you can download this version of the Self and Identity Presentation.

    Self and Identity PowerPoint: Alternative version
    Alternative version…

    However, if you’d prefer an alternative version, this is one I’ve changed slightly to present what I think are a slightly more-positive set of whole-class outcomes:

  • Be able to identify what different theories say about identity(E-D)
  • Be able to explain why different theories explain identity as they do (C-B)
  • Be able to critique the various sociological theories on identity (B-A)
  • As they say, you pays your money (or, in this case, don’t pay any money because of the kindness of the author in sharing their creation) and you makes your choice…

    Ashampoo Office Suite

    Friday, February 14th, 2020
    Wordprocessor…

    A useful Suite of programs – Wordprocessor, Presentation software and, errm, Spreadsheet – that may be just what your students need, particularly if money’s tight…

    This free Office Suite consists of 3 programs for precisely no money.

    Which is nice if you want, but can’t afford, a Microsoft Word-compatible Wordproceser (Textmaker) and / or PowerPoint-compatible Presentation software (the imaginatively-titled Presentations). There’s also an Excel-compatible Spreadsheet (PlanMaker), but that’s not something anyone really wants to either think or talk about.

    Textmaker is a fully-featured Wordprocesser that will do pretty-much whatever teachers or students need to do by way of everyday formatting, checking and saving text, either in its native format or as a Word document. It doesn’t support the latest version of Word so some esoteric features that you rarely, if ever, use (probably stuff like shaded tables) aren’t supported. You can, however, export documents as pdf files. Which is probably more useful than it sounds.

    Presentation software…

    Presentations: As long as you’re not looking to do anything too sophisticated with this PowerPoint clone it will serve you well. Anything that simply involves putting text and graphics on a screen to create a slideshow is just fine-and-dandy and you can export your finished presentation in a PowerPoint-compatible format – although, again, it doesn’t support the latest features of the latter (good luck trying to import mp4 video…).

    Overall, the Suite clearly has some limitations:

  • In terms of functionality it’s around 5 or 6 years behind the (Microsoft) times. In relation to Wordprocessing this isn’t too much of a problem – when you think about it, how many of the latest bells’n’whistles do you ever really use? – but you’ll probably find Presentations a bit more limited and limiting if you want to do anything too sophisticated or cutting-edge (i.e. anything more than combine text with graphics).
  • In terms of look and feel, the Suite is a little more problematic – it has the look and to some extent the feel of Windows software that’s a good 10-years behind the times. Whether or not that’s important to you, I don’t know.
  • On the plus side, it’s free, will probably do just about everything you want a wordprocessor / presentation program to do and without all of the Microsoft bloatware “features” it’s pretty lean: you can put the whole Suite on a USB stick and run it from there if you need portability.

    While it’s not going to win any prizes for either looks or cutting-edge features, Ashampoo Office Suite is something you might like to consider if you’re on a limited – or indeed no – budget.

    Crime and Deviance Resources

    Thursday, February 13th, 2020
    Globalisation and Crime

    For some reason I seem to have collected quite a lot of crime and deviance resources that are just sitting-around taking up space on my hard drive when they could be doing something useful like helping students revise or teachers plan lessons.

    And from this intro you’ll probably have guessed that what follows is an esoteric – not to say serendipitous – collection of resources (Presentations, Worksheets, Booklets – there’s even a Quiz in there somewhere) that I’ve bunged together under a general heading (“Resources!”) and posted on the web.

    And because there’s quite a lot of stuff I’ve generally kept description to a minimum – partly because if something looks even vaguely interesting you can download it and assess it for yourself and partly because it’s a bit of a chore and I’m making the space to spend a bit of Quality Time with Teddy my dog.

    So, in no particular order of quality or significance:

    Resources…

    Has the position of children within the family and society changed?

    Wednesday, February 12th, 2020
    Changing Childhood?
Click to download PowerPoint presentation.

    Following from – and in some ways complementing – the Family and Household Revision Guide I posted yesterday comes this Childhood PowerPoint Presentation, authored by Lisa Wrigglesworth, that provides an overview of some of the key ideas and concepts in the sociology of childhood. These include:

  • march of progress thesis
  • child-centred families
  • toxic childhood
  • conflict: inequality and control
  • age patriarchy
  • the new sociology of childhood.
  • The objective is to examine the question of whether or not the position of children within the family and society has changed and, if so, to what extent?

    Although the Presentation was created in 2017 a lot of the references are slightly-dated – and while this doesn’t invalidate the observations made you might want to add one or two more contemporary pieces of research to bring things up-to-date.

    Family and Household Revision Guide

    Tuesday, February 11th, 2020
    Family Revision PowerPoint
Click to download

    This is an extensive PowerPoint Presentation I’ve picked-up from somewhere (who knows…), stored on a hard drive and rediscovered when looking for something else.

    So, no surprises there.

    It is, though, fairly recent (probably 2017) and reflects the content of the latest AQA Specification – which is a little more unusual.

    I’ve no-idea who put it together – which is a shame because it’s a bit of a labour of love covering 70 informative and colourful slides split into 6 sections. These cover:

    1. Couples: the domestic division of labour, resources and decision-making, personal-life perspective on money, domestic violence.

    2. Childhood: social construction of, globalisation, history, changes in position, the future of childhood.

    3. Family Theories: Functionalist, Marxist, Feminist, Personal Life perspective (Interactionist).

    4. Demographic Changes: Births, fertility, death, ageing, migration.

    5. Changing family relationships: divorce, partnerships (marriage, cohabitation), parents and children, step-families, ethnic families,

    6. Family Diversity: Modernism and nuclear families (Functionalism, New Right), postmodern families, personal life perspective.

    While the Presentation’s aimed at a very specific UK Sociology Specification with its own particular quirks (such as an insistence on rebranding action approaches to family life as “the sociology of personal life”) there’s enough general information in the Presentation to make it worthwhile for teachers of other Specifications, such as OCR, Eduqas or CIE.

    Just chop-out the slides you don’t need.

    Discovering Psychology

    Monday, February 10th, 2020

    Discovering Psychology was “A video instructional series on introductory psychology for college and high school classrooms and adult learners” consisting of 26 30-minute TV programs narrated by Philip Zimbardo and produced in association with the American Psychological Association.

    The programs were originally aired in 1990 and a set of “updated resources” to accompany the programs were created in 2001. Although they’re obviously a little dated, both technologically and pedagogically, in some respects, in others they represent an interesting resource for teachers and students alike.

    I don’t know where the original films now reside, but it’s possible to find some of the programs on YouTube if you want to search for them.

    Whether any search is going to be worth the effort is a moot point, but the resources now available probably are worth exploring for their mix of Notes, classic experiments and key word glossaries.