The Sociology Staffroom: Podcasts

As you’re probably unaware, there are quite a few Sociology Podcasts out there and it’s a little surprising I haven’t stumbled across this offering before – particularly because it’s been published weekly since August 2022 and there are currently (May 2023) 36 episodes available.

Most podcasts feature one (or sometimes two) guests talking to the host about a single topic for around 30 or so minutes, although some are shorter – around the 20-minute mark – and a few are a lot longer. Personally I found pushing the 40-minute mark for an academic podcast stretching things just a bit too much. Others may disagree, but we all know that’s not very likely.

As befitting the title, Sociology Staffroom podcasts are aimed at (A-level and GCSE) teachers and cover a wide range of topics, from Working in a One-Person Department (an old favourite for those who remember the dear-departed days of ATSS Conferences), through Supporting Non-Specialists and Growing Sociology as an Option to the culture-eating-itself reductiveness of How to Use Sociology Podcasts (featuring someone who runs their own Sociology Podcast…).

While I’d like to say there’s something here for everyone that’s not actually true and it’s a little difficult to understand why the podcasts are aimed at such a small market. There’s niche and then there’s sociology teachers in England and Wales in a one-person department that has no specialist sociologists niche.

Given the podcasts fall under the umbrella of the burgeoning Tutor2U empire there’s probably a Very Good Reason or Some Sort of Plan involved.  What that plan may be I can only guess (and unusually I’m keeping that to myself because I’m trying very hard not to be cynical).

The somewhat niche appeal of the podcasts (if you’re not in a Department of One…) probably means the Staffroom’s not a place you’re likely to bookmark for a weekly visit. But it may well be somewhere that repays dipping into and out of on a fairly regular basis just to see if there’s anything that piques your interest.

As is often the case with podcasts, much of the enjoyment (or otherwise) tends to come down to the quality of the guests and, in the main, you won’t get a feel for this unless you take the plunge and listen along. I was pleasantly surprised by some (my initial preconceptions about a sociology teacher called Rupert were quickly dispelled by the quality of his storytelling) and equally disappointed by others (who shall remain nameless to protect the earnestly dull).

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