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Posts Tagged ‘theory’

Not Just Another Sociology Book

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

A text that’s well-worth adding to your collection, even if it’s something you’re only likely to use infrequently when you want to give your students a bit of extended reading around a writer or topic.

From time-to-time I’ve posted links to a variety of Sociology and Psychology textbooks that, for one reason or another (because they’ve gone out-of-print, been superceded by newer versions and so forth) are no-longer current.

The latest edition to the list is The Sociology Book, now in its 2nd edition if you’re interested in buying it,  that’s part of an extensive and diverse series themed around a basic, but attractive conceit:

Take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject,  in this case Sociology, (but also Psychology, Religion and Feminism among many others) and explain them clearly and concisely – or as the Publisher’s blurb puts it:

“The Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.”

As luck and an extensive search of the Internet would have it, you are now in a position to evaluate this bold claim using this free version of the 1st edition, published in 2015.

The general format of the book involves:

  • dividing it into discrete categories – social inequalities, culture and identity, families, globalisation (plus a few more that are unlikely to interest a-level sociology students or teachers).
  • select a range of well-known writers (such as Parsons, Foucault, Stacey and Beck on Families, Mead, Baudrillard, Goffman and Anderson on Culture) and write some nicely-illustrated pages about their work in a way that’s generally accessible to a-level students.
  • The way each writer and their ideas is covered seems a little arbitrary – some, such as Weber, get 6 pages while others, such as Urry, get a single (not, it has to be said, very enlightening for such a deep and complex theorist) page – but overall the standard of writing and presentation is pleasingly good.

    While I’m not sure about the “creative design” (think Sociology Review) and “innovative graphics” (unless short, boxed, “Timelines” and a few colour pictures count as cutting-edge) I’m generally on-board with the “straightforward and engaging writing”.

    And while it’s not a text you’re likely to use everyday, I’d still argue it’s a useful one to add to your collection.

    Lessons In A Tube

    Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

    A YouTube to be exact because this post reintroduces TheTeacherSociology Channel that I first posted about a couple of years ago in relation to their extensive range of (AQA) exam-help videos.

    TheTeacherSociology has recently expanded her repertoire – presumably in response to the current need for on-line teaching – to create a range of tutorials focused on Theory and Methods. While again aimed at AQA teachers / students there’s plenty here that is relevant to teachers / students following other Specifications. They’re generally relevant to any sociology course that includes Theory and Methods (which, all-things-considered, is likely to be pretty much all of them).

    The tutorials tend to come-in at between 25 and 35 minutes (although reliability and validity, for example, is around 5 minutes, probably because once you’ve outlined the basics there’s not a lot more to add) and they can be used as off-the-peg lessons for teachers to use in a variety of ways, depending upon the circumstances in which they find their teaching.

    The tutorials generally follow the “podcast with pictures” format but in addition to the general explanation of a topic the tutorials include activities and exercises (with accompanying resources if necessary) students can do to consolidate their (individual) learning.

    The currently-available tutorials are:

    Postmodernism…

    Postmodernism

    Social Action

    Feminism

    Marxism

    Functionalism

    Reliability and Validity

    SHS Sociology Resources

    Friday, May 22nd, 2020

    Padlet, in case you don’t know it, is a file-sharing site that lets you organise files into Boards, the contents of which can then be shared with anyone who happens to want them.

    Topic Sheets…

    You can upload all kinds of files (such as documents or videos), or link to files on other web sites. It’s a very visual and a very handy way to organise files and would probably be my go-to site for sharing stuff if it hadn’t decided to charge for the privilege.

    While there is a free version, last time I looked it was limited to 3 Boards for new users – which sounds okay(ish), but for teachers who want to organise information into Specification categories for their students it’s not really much cop (the Padlet I’m about to feature here, for example, consists of 66 Boards…).

    And there are alternatives, such as Wakelet, that do much the same sort of thing for free.

    Nor do they display anoying and somewhat baffling messages like “Don’t forget to drink water” when I log-in.

    Like breathing, this is not something I regularly forget to do.

    Go figure.

    Just some of the Boards…

    Anyway, the purpose of this rambling preamble is simply to draw your attention to this very useful set of Padlet Sociology Boards from shs_sociology (Laura Lakin).

    The aforementioned 66 Boards are broadly organised into half-a-dozen (or “6” as it’s sometimes known) Specification-friendly categories:

  • Education
  • Family
  • Methods
  • Theory
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • These, in turn, contain all kinds of resources and links that are well worth exploring, although one of the most interesting, for my money, is to the different Topic Sheets available. These are a bit like a Knowledge Organiser / Learning Table in the sense they include key concepts and their definitions, but they also expand this a little more to include stuff like links to other topics, practice questions and the like.

    If you’ve got a bit of time to spare and enjoy nosing around other people’s files these Boards are worth the effort.

    Of Methods and Methodology 6 | 3: Theoretical Research Considerations

    Thursday, April 30th, 2020

    Theoretical research considerations – from methodological perspective to questions of reliability and validity – form the third part of the P.E.T. (Practical, Ethical, Theoretical) triumvirate of research considerations and they represent an important counterweight to the idea that sociological research simply involves choosing the right tool for the job.

    In everyday life, when faced with a problem like hanging a picture on a wall, most of us would reach for a hammer – mainly because we consider this the most appropriate and efficient tool for the job.

    When carrying out sociological research, therefore, it would make sense to do something similar: choose a research topic and then select the most appropriate method with which to collect data.

    Seeing research methods as tools – what Ackroyd and Hughes (1992) called the “Toolbox Approach” to sociological research – is, on one level, a perfectly sensible approach: if you want to collect quantitative data about some form of behaviour it’s not a great idea to use a method better-suited to collecting qualitative data – and vice-versa.

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    Sociology Flipbooks

    Saturday, April 20th, 2019

    A Flipbook is a way of displaying a pdf document online so that it has the look-and-feel of a paper-based magazine, one whose pages you can turn using a mouse (desktop) or finger (mobile).


    A Flipbook.
    Not Actual Size.
    Unless you’re using a mobile.
    Then it might be.

    That’s it, really.

    I could talk about stuff like whether this creates a greater sense of engagement among students than the bog-standard static pages of a pdf file, but since I’ve got no idea (and I don’t know of anyone who’s bothered to try to find out) that would just be me trying to find a deceptively- plausible way to encourage you to try them.

    So, if this Big Build-Up has piqued your curiosity and / or whetted your appetite for Flipbooks you’ll be pleased to know I’ll be adding a variety of the little blighters to this page on what might be charitably termed an ad-hoc basis (translation: whenever I can be bothered or can find the time).

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    Sociology in Focus for A2: Free Textbook

    Sunday, February 10th, 2019

    Sociology in Focus for A2 is, as you may have guessed, the companion volume to the previously-posted AS text and it’s no great surprise that its design and layout perfectly complements its AS counterpart. This includes the by-now standard colour-coded sections, lots of pictures, activities and questions that, at the time, were considered a quite radical design departure that was not, it hardly needs to be said, to everyone’s taste.
    The main concern, particularly but not exclusively among those who were concerned about this kind of thing, was that something had to make way for all the activities, pretty pictures, questions and even prettier pictures.

    And that something was, inevitably, the amount of text that managed to squeeze its way on pages crammed with all kinds of attractive, if sometimes largely superfluous, imagery.

    While it’s relatively easy to get away with this at AS level, it’s somewhat harder to pull-off the same trick at A2 level.

    So does it manage to pull it off?

    Well. Yes and No.

    The text, although limited in length, is generally well-written and informative and sometimes takes students into areas – particularly related to sociological theory – they aren’t usually expected to venture. Unfortunately, by meandering off the beaten track the text runs the risk, at times, of failing to adequately cover the bare essentials.

    Although it’s a moot point as to whether this text alone adequately prepares students for A2, this is where you and your students are quid’s in: you can use bits-and-bobs to supplement the more up-to-date texts you undoubtedly use in your day-to-day teaching.

    Alternatively, it’s a nice, big, bold, colourful text with lots of ideas for activities. And questions.

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    Sociology Revision Cards

    Monday, November 26th, 2018

    Back in the day, before the invention of Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers, students had to make do with Revision Cards – lists of all the key ideas and concepts you might need to know for an exam (you’ll find a selection here if you want to take a trip back to a time before mobile phones ).

    Anyway, I chanced upon a mix of PowerPoint and Pdf Revision Cards (dating from around 2014 so they may require a bit of editing to bring them into line with the latest Specifications) on Chris Deakin’s SociologyHeaven website. I’m guessing the PowerPoints were designed for whole-class revision but if you want to give your students the slides as Revision Cards just use the Export function to create pdf files.

    If you find the Kristen ITC font used in the files a bit too racy for your taste, just convert the text to something like Arial.

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    Sociology Revision Booklets: 2. Theory and Methods

    Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

    The second batch of a-level revision booklets covers that ever-popular topic, theory and methods.

    As with previous offerings, both design and content can, at times, be a little variable and for this I take no responsibility whatsoever. Because I neither designed nor wrote any of the content. I am technically distributing it for your revision pleasure, however, so I do feel a modicum of responsibility for the materials.

    Not enough, obviously, to indemnify you in any way, shape or form for any losses you may occur through using any of these resources. But enough to advise you it’s something of the nature of the beast that there’s frequently a trade-off between getting your hands on free resources and the currency of those resources. You need, in other words, to go through the resources you decide to use to check they conform to your current Specification: things, as they are wont to do, sometimes change. You also need to make sure you find ways of covering newer material that may not be included in these revision booklets.

    That said, I’ve picked out some resources I think you might find useful and, where known, I’ve credited the appropriate source. Some might say this is so you know who to complain to if there’s anything you don’t like or understand but I would respond that it does you no credit to think that I might think like that. Or something.

    Anyway, without further ado, you can if you so choose pick-up these free resources:

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    SociologySaviour Blog

    Monday, December 25th, 2017

    I was looking for pictures of Arron Cicoural for a new film we’re editing on Labelling Theory when I stumbled across the rather interesting SociologySaviour Blog,  that unfortunately now looks as though it hasn’t been updated since mid-2016. This is something of a shame because the material it contains seems well-written and useful – although this isn’t something the navigation system could be accused of being. It’s all a bit minimalist and confusing until you scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find links to four categories:

    Crime and Deviance: extensive notes on wide range of topics
    Beliefs in Society: notes on a smaller range of topics
    Sociological Theory: brief notes on a small range of perspectives
    Research Methods: doesn’t seem to have ever been developed.

    Basically, the site has a lot of notes on Crime, a lesser range on Beliefs and Theory and a short indication of notes that would have appeared under Research Methods but which, for whatever reason, never seem to have been added.

    Be that as it may – and we can only guess the reasons for the project’s apparent abandonment – the notes included are really quite good: short, to-the-point and, as far as I’ve read, accurate.

    Spaced Study: Free Resources

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

    Spaced Study or Spaced Practice is a theory of learning that argues, in a nutshell, that students study more effectively and retain more of the information they learn if the study period is “spaced” – or spread out over a number of hours / days – than if studying is “crammed” into short intensive blocks.

    Interestingly, unlike so many “contemporary study techniques” this technique not only sounds like it should be effective, there’s also a lot of scientific research both historic and contemporary, that actually supports the basic idea.

    If you can’t be bothered to read this document (or, as I prefer to think, you’ll take my word for it…) the Very Wonderful Learning Scientists have helpfully distilled the basics into a teacher / student friendly form.

    While this is all-well-good-and-worth-a-try, you might be thinking, do you have the time – spaced or otherwise – and, more-importantly, resources to convince your students that Spaced Study is more effective than something like Cramming?

    If you don’t – and I’ve a feeling you’re probably not alone in this – the equally-wonderful Hectic Teacher has come riding to your rescue because she’s produced a range of completely-free Spaced Study Booklets so you don’t have to.

    Which is nice.

    As you’ll find if you click the link there are 5 booklets available on her Blog covering some of the most popular AQA A-level Units (Family, Education, Beliefs in Society, Crime and Deviance, Theory and Methods).

    Sociological Theories And Frameworks

    Monday, November 13th, 2017

    This is a web page where you can find a bite-sized run-down of a range of:

    a. Sociological frameworks – from those fairly central to a-level, such as Functionalism, Feminism. Conflict theory, Critical theory and those (symbolic interaction, phenomenology) that tend to be a little more optional.

    b. Sociological theories – some fairly central ones, such as labelling and strain theory and some that are more-specialised, such as disengagement theory.

    Labelling Theory

    The information included for each framework or theory varies – some, such as Functionalism, are just given a brief introduction and general overview while others are covered in much greater detail. Labelling theory, for example, is given:

    1. A short general introduction.
    2. A brief outline of its origins.
    3. A more-detailed overview of its content
    4. A selection of key texts
    5. A short evaluation.

    You might find that some frameworks, such as critical theory,  probably go quite a bit beyond a-level so it’s probably best to review each of the frameworks / theories before you let your students loose on them (as I’ve demonstrated you can link directly to any of the frameworks / theories you think might be useful for your students).

    In addition, the hosting website carries an interesting range of other sociological topics – from general stuff such as What is Sociology, through key concepts such as gender, to Units such as Crime and Deviance.

    Left Realism

    Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

    A relatively easy way for students to get a handle on Left Realism is through three simple visualisations that can then be used to build-up a picture of this general approach to both explaining crime and deviance and suggesting solutions to the problem of crime. These visualisations involve:

    • A three-cornered approach to deviance
    • The criminogenic triangle
    • The square of crime.

    A PowerPoint version of the above is also available for download.

    We can explore these ideas in more detail in a number of ways.

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    Updating Crime & Deviance

    Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

    Day Workshop with renowned sociologist and film-maker, Dr Steve Taylor

    Strain, Labelling, Realism etc. are still important because they underpin a lot of research in the contemporary study of Crime and Deviance. But supposing your students could demonstrate this with new concepts & 21st. Century research examples?

    This Workshop consolidates the key theories and concepts and then illustrates their application with clear, easy to understand up to date research.  For example, students read about moral panics, but how much more impressive could an answer be if they were able to bring in the recent concept of ‘amoral panics’?

    Content: 

    • Crime, Deviance, Order and Control: clarifying sociological approaches.
    • Globalisation & Crime: filling the gaps by linking to familiar sociological approaches
    • Researching Crime: methods clarified, evaluated & illustrated with new ideas & interactive Q & A practice.
    • Theory & Method: this challenging topic laid bare, simplified and illustrated.

    Free Crime and Deviance films provided!

    Additional Sessions on Family, Youth Culture & Research Methods, if required.

    What Teachers say 

    “Delivered with a real affection for the subject with pace and professionalism   Partly as a consequence of working with Steve we had an excellent set of results”: Stephen Base Verulam College

    “Excellent day. He brings in contemporary evidence and great links to exam skills”: Ann-Marie Taylor Coleg Cambria

    “Brilliant exam focused training”: Mandy Gordon, Highfield School

    “Our students loved it, Steve got them to think outside the box”: Pauline Kendal, Bedford Sixth Form

    What Students Say

    ‘He was even better than in the videos. Loved it.’

    ‘Makes the theories come alive by linking them to the studies’.

    ‘Liked learning about the new studies, especially the gang ones.’

    ‘I feel so much more confident after Steve’s class.’

    ‘I could never understand theory and methods and now I do.’

    Cost: inclusive & regardless of number of schools attending

    Day: £500

    Half day: £300

    For more information, contact:

    Email: steve@shortcutstv.com

    Tel: 07771-561521

    Postmodernity and Sociological Theory

    Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

    This is the second of a two-part series looking at the relationship between modernityClick to download as pdf, postmodernity and the development of sociological theory. If you want to “Start at the Start”, so to speak, with Modernity, feel free to access these Teaching Notes.

    Otherwise, if you’re just here for the Postmodernity stuff, in this set of Teaching Notes the focus is on two main areas:

    1 Identifying the basic economic, political and cultural characteristics of postmodernity.

    2, Outlining a range of sociological theories we can loosely associate with postmodernity.

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    Modernity and Sociological Theory

    Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
    Download Modernity Notes

    This is the first part of a two-part series looking at the relationship between modernity, postmodernity and the development of sociological theory.

    In Part 1 (Modernity) the focus is on:

    1. Identifying the basic economic, political and cultural characteristics of modernity
    2. Relating these characteristics to the development of Consensus and Conflict Structuralism.

    Part 2 (Postmodernity) is available here.

    Sociology and Modernity

    “Sociology”, according to Taylor (2000), “is a product of modernity”; its origins as an academic discipline can be found in the development of modern societies and to understand why this is significant, we need to think about how and why we classify social development.

    Conventionally, therefore, it’s usual to talk about our society in terms of:

  • Pre-modernity – a type of society existing before the late 16th century
  • Modernity – a type that developed out of the pre-modern period and which stretches to the late 20th century.
  • Postmodernity – a type considered by some sociologists to be characteristic of our society in the early 21st century.
  • It’s important to note that not all sociologists agree with either this term or with the claim that it represents a new form of social development. Giddens (1998) and Habermas (1992), for example, refer to this period as ‘high’ or ‘late’ modernity. We will, however, use this term throughout this set of notes.

    Although this type of simple classification needs to be treated with care – there’s a tendency to see categories as hard-and-fast periods – where one ends another begins – whereas in reality we may still, for example, find characteristics of one period coexisting for a time with characteristics of another period.

    We can, however, use this very basic classification to identify some key features of modern society that arguably differentiate it from both its pre- and postmodern counterparts. Once we’ve done this we can then examine how modernity relates to different types of sociological theorising.

    Read More…