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September 01, 2015

Why Does Gender Matter in Sports?

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

In 2009, I posted a blog about sex categories, intersex, sport, and cultural norms about identity.

Has much changed since then? In professional sports, categorizing eligibility to compete as a female is based on testosterone levels. They have moved from typing genitals—are the ”right” parts there? To chromosomes—is she an XX? To hormone levels—are her testosterone or androgen levels in the appropriate range that signifies female?

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August 28, 2015

The Horror of Race in the United States

Peter kaufman 2014By Peter Kaufman

I’m not a big fan of horror stories. I’ve never read Dracula, Frankenstein or even a Stephen King novel, and I don’t regularly watch movies full of chainsaws, ghostly figures, or creepy twins. But recently, I read a sociological horror story that I couldn’t put down. I was engrossed with it. It was beautifully written, painstakingly told, and depressingly disturbing.  Although it did offer details of death and destruction, these were not the scariest passages. What made this story so frightening and unsettling was the plain, unadulterated sociological truth it told.

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August 26, 2015

The Price of Partying

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

Can partying give you a leg up after college?

For most of us, probably not. But for well-connected, wealthy students, honing social skills and networking with similarly well-connected students provides advantages that few have access to.

This is one of Elizabeth A. Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton’s interesting findings in Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. In their long-term study of students at a Midwestern state university, they found that for college women from well-to-do families with ample business connections, academic achievement—or even a student’s major—mattered very little in the long run.

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August 13, 2015

The Ethics of Ethnography

Peter kaufman 2014By Peter Kaufman

When I was an undergrad, I was a political science major. I did not discover sociology until my junior year when I took a course titled Institutions and Inequalities. It was after taking this course that I knew that I was more interested in studying people than politics. What interested me most in this class were the books we were assigned. I still remember the intellectual excitement I felt when I read three classic accounts of how schools function to reproduce social-class inequality: Learning to Labor by Paul Willis, Ain’t No Makin’ It by Jay McLeod, and Learning Capitalist Culture by Douglas Foley.

Besides the similar topic, what these three books have in common is that they are all ethnographies.  An ethnography is a form of research that entails studying people and their culture by directly observing and often interacting with them (participant observation) while they go about their everyday lives. Ethnographies provide rich descriptions of the lives people live because the researcher is witnessing and usually participating in exactly what is happening. Ethnography is one of the main forms of social research employed by qualitative sociologists.

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August 10, 2015

Choosing Your Classes: The Importance of Social Structure and Culture

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

Registering for classes can be both exciting and stressful. I remember being excited by the possibility of new classes and would be among the first to pick up the schedule of classes in the days when it was only offered in print. I know that registering can present challenges too: the classes you hoped to take might be full or you might have some financial aid or payment issues that prevent you from registering.

Registration can also help us understand some basic sociological concepts: social structure and culture.

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August 06, 2015

More Sociology Please

TigonzalesBy Teresa Irene Gonzales

Two recent posts in our Ask a Sociologist section asked about enhancing their post-undergraduate knowledge of sociology.

There are a number of ways to increase your general sociological knowledge, whether you are interested in re-learning some basic concepts, are interested in learning more about sociology outside of a classroom, or have a desire to use knowledge to explore social change and/or social justice work.

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August 03, 2015

The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Peter kaufman 2014By Peter Kaufman

When I first heard of the school-to-prison pipeline I thought that it was some sort of exaggeration. How could it be possible, I wondered, for schools to be a direct path to prison? It doesn’t make any sense that primary and secondary schools are serving as the conduits that fill the cells of penal institutions. Unfortunately, this pipeline not only exists and it is not just a mere trickle; it is a strong flowing and steady stream. Every year, thousands of young people experience a direct path from school to juvenile detention centers and then ultimately to prison.

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