Podcast: The Social Breakdown

Podcasts, as you may have noticed, have become something of “A Teaching Thing” over the past few years, partly as the technology to create them has become increasingly simple and accessible and partly because they can be an interesting way to get information across to students in a relatively chatty, informal, kind of way.

As you might expect, different formats have evolved to cater to different interests, different needs and, probably quite importantly, the different budgets of those who create them: from the “one teacher talking into their laptop” operation to more-sophisticated approaches that use some sort of studio set-up coupled with multiple speakers / presenters.

I’m not sure that actually makes any sense.
But what the heck.

In the main there’s a basic choice between podcasts that focus on interviews with semi-famous sociologists, such as Matthew Wilkins’ The Sociology Show, those that involve teachers “riffing about the subject I teach and the subject I love“, as with Ben Hewitson’s allsociology: take 1, and those, like The Social Breakdown, that employ an ensemble-based technique involving 3  or 4 presenters all chipping-in their tenpenceworth on some topic or other.

Each have their advantages and drawbacks and it’s probably a case of trying what’s available  to see which, if any, you like.

As you might have sensed from the title, this post is basically a quick shout-out to an ensemble-based podcast, The Social Breakdown, that features 3 presenters talking about a whole range of different topics – from the relatively simple and standard (What are norms?) to the more-esoteric and distinctly less-accessible (Grounded Theory and why it’s not actually “a theory”, for example).

The podcast is mainly aimed at an American undergraduate audience so some of the episodes

(Changing the Narrative for Native Hawaiian Wellbeing) are unlikely to interest a UK audience, while other episodes (the aforementioned Grounded Theory – does anyone actually think this is still useful?) are likely to pass over the heads of most A-level / High School students, sometimes with good reason.

While the presenters avoid one of the big pitfalls of ensemble podcasting – listeners rarely having as good a time as the presenters seem to be having – there’s still a faint air of superciliousness that seems to cling to the proceedings (and, if we’re being stereotypically prejudicial – which we, and by “we” I mean “me”, usually are – American sociologists as a species).

It always seems like they’re talking at you, rather than to you.

Or maybe it’s just me?

Either way, judge for yourself because there’s some interesting stuff here.

But if you’re a teacher it’s probably a good idea to recommend particular podcasts to your students rather than cast them adrift without guidance.

Which, when you come to think about it, is probably what teachers do (offer guidance, not cast students adrift).

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