However, when discussing stereotypes in a classroom, students may be reluctant to discuss their own stereotypes. Videos can be a highly effective way to engage commonly held stereotypes without students feeling singled out. For example, consider the litany of stereotypes (both positive and negative) identified by George Clooney's character in Up in the Air:
Using a famous quote known as the Thomas theorem, we can begin to understand the potentially damaging effects of stereoptypes: "if [people] define situations as real, they are real in their consequences." In other words, when people accept stereotypes as true, then they are likely to act on these beliefs, and these subjective beliefs can lead to objective results. For example, think about some common stereotypes of feminism:
But how can we challenge students in overcoming stereotypes? One technique comes from our friend, Michael Miller. He commented on Black Folk Don't, a website that analyzes stereotypes of black people. For example, consider this clip about stereotypes of black people not tipping:
A second way to challenge stereotypes is through comedy. While some comedians reinforce stereotypes, the good comedians have a great ability to disarm viewers by playing on their stereotypes. Consider this video from In Living Color:
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This "Hey Mon" comedy skit features the hardest working Jamaican family vs. the hardest working Korean family in their battle to outdo each other. The skit highlights and makes fun of the model minority stereotype often applied to West Indian Americans and Asian Americans. It also makes fun of the ways in which each group is stereotyped regarding speech and dress. Viewers may be encouraged to reflect on why the clip is funny and how it draws upon our stereotypes at the same time it challenges them.
For other examples of comedians that attack stereotypes, consider examples of ageism in Betty White's show Off their Rockers, a stand-up performance on Mexican Stereotypes, and this Daily Show clip about code speak and the new racism.
Whatever goodies that glorious white box dispensed, I decided that the facilities, and indeed the experience of using the girls restroom were irrefutably better than could be had in the boys. Some time later, I pieced together enough information to conclude that the box held a supply of tampons or menstrual pads, which had something to do with women and their periods. As to how often girls used these soft cotton marvels of technological innovation was a complete mystery, and I knew even less about how they used them.
That fleeting glance of the white box that day stirred my curiosity, but somehow I intuitively understood that to broach the topic of women’s menstruation was to risk embarrassment, so I never brought it up. I eventually learned the basic mechanics of an average menstrual cycle, but it wasn’t until after high school that I developed some very close relationships with women, and through our conversations, I was finally able to name this bizarre mystique surrounding the topic of menstruation.
I’ve always been a curious guy, so it’s fitting that I became a sociologist. I’ve been thinking about just how pervasive this fear of menstruation is in American society, and I’m wondering why it exists at all. One could look at Hollywood movies as a rough gauge of the ubiquity of the fear. The kinds of stories we transform into blockbuster movies, and even the jokes we tell in those movies, say a lot about our society. Take, for instance, the popular 2007 film, Superbad, starring Jonah Hill as Seth. In one memorable scene, Seth finds himself dancing close to a woman at a party and accidentally winds up with her menstrual blood on his pant leg. A group of boys at the party spot the blood, deduce the source, and one by one, they buckle in laughter. Seth is humiliated by what is supposed to be an awkward adolescent moment, but he’s also gagging uncontrollably from his own disgust.
In contrast, consider the well known menstrual imagery that runs throughout the 1976 horror film Carrie, which is based on a popular Stephen King novel of the same name. Those who have seen the film will likely remember that Carrie, who is a sheltered high school outcast, gets her first period while taking a shower after gym class. Her peers seize the moment as an opportunity to shame and ridicule her, and yet it is Carrie who lands in the principal's office. While the principal awkwardly contemplates how to manage the situation, students point and laugh at Carrie as they walk past the office.
These two films are from entirely different genres and are separated by over 30 years; yet they rely on the same cultural taboos and anxieties surrounding menstruation (as do many, many other films I haven't mentioned). Both films have been commercially successful, suggesting they contain themes and characters that resonate with a broad swath of the American public. The menstrual scenes from Carrie are as unsettling as the scene from Superbad is hilarious because both films successfully capitalized on the collective sense of shame surrounding menstruation.
It’s also important not to lose sight of the fact that this pervasive fear of menstruation also fuels a multi-billion dollar industry, which produces and markets hundreds of products designed to manage and even suppress menstruation (e.g., Lybrel and Seasonique), and it is this relationship between menstrual shame and corporate profit that needs to be exposed and disentangled.
In an interview about her recent book, New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation, sociologist Chris Bobel nicely articulates the connection between menstrual anxiety and corporate profit:
The prohibition against talking about menstruation—shh…that’s dirty; that’s gross; pretend it’s not going on; just clean it
up—breeds a climate where corporations, like femcare companies and pharmaceutical companies, like the makers of
Lybrel and Seasonique, can develop and market products of questionable safety. They can conveniently exploit women’s
body shame and self-hatred. And we see this, by the way, when it comes to birthing, breastfeeding, birth control and health care in general. The medical industrial complex depends on our ignorance and discomfort with our bodies.
Bobel’s analysis helps make sense of why I felt so certain at the ripe old age of 10 that I couldn’t ask anyone about the tampon dispenser on the wall. By then, I had already internalized the patriarchal notion that women’s menstruation is a potential source of shame, or at least that my interest in it would be shameful. Nearly three decades later, when discussing the topic with my students in the introduction to sociology class I teach, I invariably get asked why—given all we know about the natural, reproductive purpose of the menstrual cycle—do we persist in attaching shame and embarrassment to this experience? In order to understand why, I think we need to critically examine the way patriarchy is entangled with capitalism. As Bobel also notes, it is profitable to peddle the patriarchal idea that women’s bodies are potentially dangerous well springs of shame. Femcare companies and the advertising firms they hire devote enormous resources toward replenishing this well of menstrual anxiety, thereby ensuring women continue to purchase a host of products all designed with the intent of managing their menstrual flow or even stopping it all together.
Unfortunately, quelling the persistence of these very problematic ideas about women and menstruation is a tall order. If my argument is that it is untenable for advertisers to effectively tell women they must use femcare products to avoid shame, then it is equally untenable for me—especially as a man—to tell women to do something else. Instead, I'll conclude with what feels to be an embarrassing compromise with a system I'd rather just discard. My hope is that both women and men can become critically-minded consumers of media and the representations it deploys about women and their bodies. The American public, and many other publics, currently confront a number of anxiety-inducing challenges, menstruation isn't one of them.
YouTube officially launched in December 2005 as a simple way for people to easily share videos with each other. By July 2006, 100,000,000 videos were being viewed and 65,000 were being uploaded per day. On October 26, 2006, Google bought the company for $1.65 billion. Now the site reports over 2 billion videos are being viewed per day, and needless to say, it dramatically altered the way celebrities are created and information is transmitted via the internet.
Within the internet, various forms of media like pictures, videos, websites, and news stories are known to go viral. This is defined as "process which gives any information item (picture, video, text, or any other audio–visual–textual artifact) the maximum exposure, relative to the potential audience, over a short duration, distributed by many nodes" (Nahon et al. 2011: 1). There are websites dedicated to highlighting viral content such as The Daily What, BuzzFeed, reedit, and Cute Overload (my personal favorite). Social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook making sharing viral content easier than ever as well.
YouTube's Trend Manager Kevin Alloca says there are three reasons why videos go viral: 1. Tastemakers 2. Participation and 3. Unexpectedness. Tastemakers are those of significant importance who promote a video to a larger audience, be it through a Tweet, blog posting, or link on Facebook. In this video from the TED Talks series, he shows how a simple Tweet from comedian and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel made the infamous "Double Rainbow" video a phenomenon. Participation involves users spreading the videos to others and usually at a very rapid rate. Unexpectedness refers to the nature of the video. For example, your friend might share with you the video "The Sneezing Baby Panda". What at first looks like a mother panda chomping on some bamboo ultimately surprises the viewer by featuring a tiny baby panda sneezing and startling the mother -- it's the unexpectedness that makes you want to share the video. Keep in mind this video has been viewed over 135 million times since November of 2006.
While many viral and YouTube videos involves kittens, puppies, babies, and Justin Bieber, there are also a great deal showcasing social inequalities, thus offering opportunities for social commentary. A few popular ones are featured in the video above. With the opportunity to comment on said videos and share via Facebook, it is easy to create a dialogue and discuss the bigger issues at hand.
Serious videos of poignant Senate hearings, personal confessions, and documentary-type shorts showcase current and debatable issues and are easily accessible to a large audience over the internet and through mobile devices and tablets. A perfect example of such a video and the impact it can create is the It Gets Better Project. After a string of suicides brought on by bullying of LGBTQ or perceived to be youth, syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller posted a simple and inspiring video on YouTube on September 21, 2010. They shared their own experiences with middle and high school bullying, but also recalled how much better their lives got after they graduated. They talked about growing up, coming out, and experiencing life in much more positive and accepting places. Dan and Terry retold the story of how they met and created a family with the adoption of their son. They also talked about how their families, who were initially resistant to their coming out, came around to loving them just the way they are. Dan and Terry wanted to provide hope to LGBTQ kids and teenagers all over the world who were scared and suffering so that they would not resort to taking their own lives.
Within a matter of what seemed like days, the It Gets Better Project exploded and a movement began. More than 40,000 videos have been posted and viewed more than 40 million times. Prominent celebrities such as Stephen Colbert and Ellen, television show casts, everyday normal people, politicians, and even President Obama posted videos assuring kids that it does get better. Since the project's launch, it has developed into a fully-functioning non-profit and advocacy organization, joined forces with The Trevor Project, published a book, and created an MTV special.
However, not all socially-aware viral videos deal with topics in such a serious matter. The parody song "Chow Down (At Chick-Fil-A)" features three drag queens singing about anti-gay sentiments behind the delicious fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. Sung to the tune of "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips, the drag queens lament on how "someday somebody’s gonna make you wanna gobble up a waffle fry" even though Chick-Fil-A says the gays "make the baby Jesus cry". Videos like these showcase social inequalities in a fun and catchy way (find more on the Chick-Fil-A video here)
YouTube user and comedienne Francesca Ramsey's "Shit White Girls Say...to Black Girls" tackles race and cultural sensitivities in a light-hearted and funny way as well. The video is a response to the popular series "Shit Girls Say." In an editorial for the Huffington Post, Ramsey writes, "Over the years I've found that dealing with white people faux pas can be tricky. If I get upset, I could quickly be labeled the 'angry black girl.' But if I don't say anything or react too passively, I risk giving friends and acquaintances permission to continue crossing the line. So I decided to create my own parody." In a way, her video acts as a "cultural guide" and how-to on sensitively dealing with cultural differences.
While I do enjoy and admit to sharing these videos, it is hard to tell if they really do result in change. I still believe they are beneficial. The ability to comment on such videos through various websites like Facebook and YouTube also create an easy way for users to start a dialogue and discuss the video's content. Hopefully valiant efforts like these really are making a difference.
Videos featured in the above clip:
Kevin Allocca: Why videos go viral
Shit White Girls Say...to Black Girls
It Gets Better: Dan and Terry
Telling My Dad I'm Gay-LIVE
Chow Down (At Chick-Fil-A)
Other favorite videos of mine that I could not include in my own video:
5-year-old needs a job before getting married
The Gay Rights Movement
It Gets Better: BD Wong
Joel Burns tells gay teens "it gets better"
Republican Chokes Up At Gay Marriage Debate In Washington
Sesame Street: Grover discusses What Is Marriage?
Zach Wahls Speaks About Family
2. Fifteen Minutes of Fame: The Power of Blogs in the Lifecycle of Viral Political Information
3. It Gets Better Project
4. From Meme to Social Commentary
In my Sociology of Family course Home Economics students produce 10-30 second home movies about any part of their immediate or extended family or community to capture two very specific things: First, the real life tropes common to this kind of documentary-making, (i.e., home as a happy place, home as a time of celebration); and then second, the very small truths about family life which are usually not documented on video or film, (i.e., loneliness, secrets, fights). And the result, which you can see in this collection of these little films posted here, are not, just simply, an excellent exercise in practicing visual ethnography or documentary making. They offer students, (as well as me, their professor), the very rare chance of catching a glimpse of where, exactly, each one of them comes from and returns to, outside of the classroom where we meet every week.
This project was inspired by Alan Berliner's 1986 documentary Family Album, a clip from which is included below.
Berliner's film was profiled on a 2002 episode of the audio documentary program This American Life, which also featured excellent essays about the sociology of home movie making by Jonathon Goldstein, Susan Burton and David Sedaris. For a purely audio example of the small truths about family life technology can capture, see also, This American Life, Episode 82, Haunted, Act 1, featuring the work of Lynette Lyman.
*For another post by Audrey Sprenger about making videos in sociology classes, click here.
What is social change? This is an important question for the first day of a social change course (which I’m teaching for the first time this semester). A quick way to get your students to think about social change is to ask them, “How would a child born today experience the world differently than you have?” Twitter, iPhones, Barack Obama, smoking bans, and TSA airport screens were the most common responses when I did this recently. It’s important to push your students to think as broadly as possible; if the responses are all focusing on technology, push them toward changes in the family, the economy, or religion.
*Note About Video: The video is not for every teaching style. Louis C.K. is relentless in his criticism and he plays up his vitriol for comedic effect. After playing the video, I like to ask my students if they feel he was too harsh and then discussing briefly the role of comedians in our society. I’ve found, by in large, that students believe I am being overly cautious and most see nothing wrong with Louis C.K.’s approach.
I follow up this “Kids these days” line of questioning by asking students to think about what are the social forces that drive change.
Finally, I conclude by asking them to try and connect social changes with micro-changes in their lives. The handout starts by asking them to identify ways the “American family” has changed over the last 50 years. Then I follow that up by asking them to think about how these macro-level changes have affected their lives personally. I was impressed by how well the students were able to place their “personal biography within their historical context” (paraphrasing). Developing the sociological imagination on day one is not a bad way to start a semester, if I do say so myself.
It seems a week rarely passes without a story or a video like this one circulating through the news cycle. As someone who has spent the better part of the last decade studying teenage boys, I have seen much of this bullying behavior first hand. This video, while dramatic, is not so different that the sorts of interactions I saw as I “hung out” with young men and talked to them about their definitions of masculinity.
Our children are bullying and being bullied. Thirty-two percent of young people from fifth to twelfth grade report having been bullied at least once in the past month.1 Nowhere perhaps has the discussion of bullying been more pronounced than in recent reports of the bullying of LGBTQ young people. GLSEN’s 2009 School Climate Survey indicates that eight in ten LGBTQ students (age 13-21) have been verbally harassed at school and four in ten had been physically harassed. Given these numbers, this attention is welcomed and needed.
However, the current popular discourse on bullying, with its focus on individual bullies, rather than a social order that gives rise to aggressive behaviors in groups of people, misses some key components of bullying. This general discussion (not to mention much of the academic research) about bullying often ignores an important component, specifically the role of masculinity. That is, much of the bullying behavior, especially homophobic bullying, between boys, functions to enforce contemporary definitions of masculinity as dominant, heterosexual, competent, and powerful. By ignoring the role masculinity plays in these aggressive, often homophobic, interactions, much of the discussion about bullying makes it seem as if a particular type of person bullies and a particular type of person is victim to it. While this is certainly an important approach when it comes to making life better for our youth, it is also true that this type of aggressive behavior is found in relationships between many boys, even in seemingly friendly interactions. To address all forms of bullying these popular discussions need to look seriously at the role of gender in these interactions and not assume that there is only a certain type of (pathological) person that bullies and a certain type of person who is bullied. The reality of our kids’ lives is much more complex.
Are LGBTQ kids bullied? Absolutely. GLSEN, the GSA network and the Human Rights Campaign (among others) have documented this extensively. But here is the problem. In framing so much of this bullying discourse about sexual identity, the fact that much of this bullying is directed at straight identified boys (from other straight identified boys) disappears. The Safe Schools Coalition documents that 80% of the recipients of homophobic harassment identify as straight. It is unlikely that the targets of the song in the above video identify as gay, and if they do, it is doubtful their tormentors are aware of this fact. So, what is this about? Masculinity.
This sort of bullying when coming from and directed at (mostly straight)boys, has as much to do with shoring up definitions of masculinity as they do with understandings of sexuality (though of course the two are deeply related). When I talked to teenage boys about these types of homophobic taunts, they often tell me such epithets are simultaneously the most serious of insults and have little to do with sexuality. As one boy told me, “To call someone gay or fag is like the lowest thing you can call someone. Because that’s like saying that you’re nothing.” Another claimed “Fag, seriously it has nothing to do with sexual preference at all. You could just be calling somebody an idiot, you know?” Another made it perfectly clear when he told me, “Being gay is just a lifestyle. It’s someone you choose to sleep with. You can still throw around a football and be gay.” In other words, a guy could be gay so long as he acts sufficiently masculine. According to the analysis set forth by many of the young men I talked to about homophobic epithets, the boys in the video are not being harassed because they are gay, but because the fans are trying to emasculate them (apparently because they support the wrong baseball team).
Boys tell me that even the most minor of infractions can trigger this type of homophobia. One boy told me that you could suffer this kind of harassment for doing “Anything…literally, anything. Like you were trying to turn a wrench the wrong way, ‘Dude, you’re such a fag.’ Even if a piece of meat drops out of your sandwich, ‘You fag!’” Boys are continually vulnerable to this sort of harassment should they reveal in any way a lack of competence, femininity, weakness, inappropriate emotions or, yes, same sex desire. It seems that boys are frequently trying to avoid these epithets by acting sufficiently masculine, part of which entails lobbing these epithets at other boys when their performance of masculinity lapses, even mildly and or for a moment.
While these videos show aggressive, indeed scary, forms of bullying, these messages about masculinity frequently also appear in more friendly interactions among boys and young men. Take this famous, and problematically funny, scene from the film 40 Year Old Virgin (and another version of it from Knocked Up), for example:
In it two friends tease each other by answering the question “know how I know you’re gay?” Clearly, neither thinks the other is actually gay. What they are doing here is reminding each other about what it means to be a man. A real man does not sew, cook, wear clean clothes, like certain types of music and certainly doesn’t sleep with other men. Much of the homophobic bullying that goes on among young men (and in this instance, adulthood!) happens between friends, in a seemingly joking way. Joking, however, does not make the messages about masculinity any less serious. Just like the baseball fans, these men are sending each other messages about appropriate masculinity through aggressive joking. This type of joking, where the goal is to humiliate or embarrass another, contains important messages about masculinity and because of the humor involved we don’t often recognize it as a possible form of bullying.
When we begin to think about bullying as something that goes on in boys’ friendships, not just between enemies, it calls into question the dominant framing of bullying as something that happens when one individual targets another individual. If we start to think about bullying as one of the ways boys assert masculinity and remind others to be appropriately masculine, than it is less an issue about one boy targeting another boy, than it is about the “friendly” bullying that happens between boys as they joke. Looking at bullying in this way suggests that it is not necessarily about some individual pathology (though of course it certainly can be), but also be about shoring up definitions of masculinity.
Given this reframing of bullying, we may want to rethink the way we use the word bully for a few reasons. When we call these interactions between boys bullying and ignore the messages about masculinity embedded in their serious and joking relationships, we might risk divorcing what they are doing from larger issues of inequality and sexualized power. In doing so, we run the risk of sending the message that this sort of behavior is the domain of youth, certainly not something in which adults engage. It allows adults to project blame for this sort of aggressive behavior on to kids, rather than acknowledging that their behavior reflects (and reinforces) society-wide problems of gendered and sexualized inequality. It allows us to tell them “it gets better,” as if the adult world is so rife with sexual and gender equality. It allows us to evade the blame for perpetuating problematic definitions of masculinity that these kids are merely acting out.
- Youth and Violence: Students Speak Out for a More Civil Society, Families and Work Institute.
Karen Sternheimer, USC sociology professor and Everyday Sociology Blog writer and Natasha Zabohonski of W. W. Norton Sociology have a solution: Put methods in context with interesting new research on the fashion industry, hip-hop, families, and more. Below are a series of interviews where notable researchers illuminate the world of research.
Questions for students after viewing this interview with Ashley Mears:
- What challenges do you think researchers might face as participant observers?
- How do you think actually working in the modeling industry might help or hinder Mears’ research?
- What are the limitations of the findings of an ethnography like this?
- What world you would immerse yourself in order to do ethnography? What would your main strategies be? What challenges would you anticipate?
Questions for students after viewing this interview with Jooyoung Lee:
- What other challenges might Lee have faced while doing this research?
- How does the researcher’s identity (i.e. race, class, gender) shape the ethnographic process?
- What are the benefits of being an “outsider” while conducting ethnography? Limitations?
Questions for students after viewing this interview with Brian Powell:
- What are the advantages of research using phone interviews? Disadvantages?
- According to Powell, why is the wording of questions so important to consider in survey research?
- What questions that you would ask Americans about family?
Questions for students after viewing this interview with Joel Best:
- What motivated Best to research the myth of Halloween candy poisoning?
- Why do myths persist despite evidence to the contrary?
- What other myths would you investigate? Create a short list, then look for press coverage online to see how news stories have covered this issue. Search online for research on this topic; how do the results of research compare with the news coverage?
Karen Sternheimer and Natasha Zabohonski
This is what I have done with an assignment (available here) where students locate and analyze video clips available online. In the assignment, students post their video to a class blog (hosted on Blackboard, my University's course management software) where they summarize the video, define course concepts used in the video, and then explain how the video illustrates the concepts. In the process, students do the same analytical exercise that we do in the classroom with clips found elsewhere on this site. The learning outcomes are for students to 1) become familiar with using and applying sociological concepts; 2) use their sociological imagination to engage familiar content; 3) teach each other through the course blog; and 4) become more critical media consumers. The upside for me is that I have interesting and engaging assignments with which I can evaluate them (of course, the videos must be short to make this a time effective exercise to grade). While I still grade the assignment on many of the same criteria as regular papers, I have found that this assignment is often fun for me, and can be more interesting than grading regular essays.
When students submit videos for this assignment that I feel would be particularly effective in the classroom, I have also edited and posted them in our video database. For example, in my Sociological Theory course, my students used this video from Food, Inc (their analysis appears here) to illustrate Marx's concept of alienation:
As I have continued to adjust this assignment for different courses, I have tried several different variations that instructors may want to consider if they try out an assignment like this. Students may work individually or in pairs, or I stagger the assignment over the semester to coincide with topics in sequence, or students may present their videos to the class. More recently, I have required that part of students' grades is to post comments on other students' videos. For additional ideas, refer to this Management Education article that discusses a similar assignment. My favorite option is for students to create their own video. I once had a pair of students write their own song that illustrated several of Marx's key concepts and they created a fantastic hip-hop video. With the students' permission, I showed the video in class, and afterward the students gave me this note:
"Your presentation of our video in class we are indeed grateful for because in making music, exposure is the essence of being heard. I also would like to thank you for presenting us with the opportunity to freely express our creativity through an assignment such as this one in an academic setting. It is not often that professors and instructors give students an avenue to express true original creativity through work that is assigned in academic curricula. Much thanks, appreciation, and respect again to you professor and to our classmates for their acknowledgement and liking of the video."
In short, my students enjoyed this assignment (as reported in anonymous course evaluations), they tended to meet the assignment's learning outcomes, and it was a fun assignment to grade! If you have experience with similar assignments, please leave us a comment so we know what also has worked (or didn't work) for you. And you may even consider having your students submit their work to The Sociological Cinema!
The editors of The Sociological Cinema—Valerie Chepp, Paul Dean, and Lester Andrist—were recently named Norton's Sociologists of the Month! As part of this honor, Norton's Andrea Lam interviewed us about the website, media, and popular culture. Read the full interview here.
A CONVERSATION WITH ANDREA LAM
Q: What were the origins of The Sociological Cinema, and what are your goals for the project?
PAUL: Like most good ideas, this one started in a bar. Valerie and I chatted about how much we enjoyed working together (we also co-authored a chapter that analyzes Jack Kerouac’s On the Road from a sociological perspective) and how much we were both enjoying teaching sociology, despite all the other demands on our schedules. Then Valerie made a passing observation about how useful short videos were in her class but lamented that she was spending a lot of time looking for videos that would work. Wouldn’t it be great, she suggested, if there was a place you could go to find videos that were useful for the sociology classroom? Having wasted hours of time on YouTube trying to find clips for class, I immediately embraced the idea. Two pints later, we were already drafting preliminary plans for the site. A couple days after that, we pitched the idea to our friend, Lester, who was also doing a lot of interesting work with video in the classroom. Although he was initially skeptical, he eventually saw the light and signed on. Our department at the University of Maryland has been very supportive—which has included financial support—especially when we were drafting the initial blueprints for the site. Faculty took time to meet with us and provided feedback, and fellow grad student instructors graciously participated in a focus group. I think the three of us agonized about what the site’s name would be for at least a month! We finally launched the site in July of 2010.
ALL: The site is designed to meet several goals. First, we hope to facilitate the development of students’ sociological imaginations via engaging course content through the use of video. Second, we hope to make teachers’ lives easier by providing a resource that can help them to quickly identify useful video clips for the classroom, across a variety of subjects within sociology. Third, and related to the previous point, we believe we are also making teachers’ lives easier by meeting a need that we as teachers have—a need to make the teaching of sociology better given the unique social moment we are in. The Sociological Cinema is an attempt to bring sociology to a generation that is used to living in a digital world, accustomed to consuming information through digital mediums. We hope to help teachers operate in this new pedagogical environment.
Marx (Alienation) - Working at the Factory (The Kinks; lyrics)
Marx (Communist Manifesto) - Working Class Hero (John Lennon; lyrics with video)
Marx (Commodity Fetishism) - Comfort Eagle (Cake; lyrics)
Durkheim (Social Facts) - The Times They are A-Changin' (Bob Dylan; lyrics in video)
Durkheim (Suicide) - Jeremy (Pearl Jam); Lonely Day (System of a Down; lyrics in video)
Weber (Authority and Bureaucracy) - Handlebars (Flobots; lyrics in video)
Weber (Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism) - Workin' on Leavin' the Livin' (Modest Mouse)
Du Bois (The Veil, Double Consciousness) - All Black Everything (Lupe Fiasco; lyrics with video)
Omi & Winant (Racial Formation Theory) - Changes (Tupac)
Symbolic Interactionism (Looking Glass Self) - Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen)
Neo-Marxism (Culture Industry) - Mountains O' Things (Tracy Chapman)
Foucault (Disciplinary Power and Surveillance) - Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash); Big Brother (Stevie Wonder)
Globalization (Global Culture and Consciousness) - Citizen of the Planet (Alanis Morissette; see more songs here);
Globalization (Imperialism) - Bullet the Blue Sky (U2; lyrics in video)
Gender - If I Were a Boy (Beyonce; lyrics in video)
Social Movements - Masters of War (Bob Dylan/Pearl Jam Cover)
Social Change - Change is Constant (Son of Nun)
Wrapping Up the Semester: Knowledge as Power - Wake Up (Rage Against the Machine; lyrics in video); My Generation (Nas & Damien Marley)
And just a few reflections on my experience: Overall my experience doing this was EXCELLENT! It got my students in a good mood to start every class. By timing the song to end exactly at the start of class, I was able to "train" my 95-student class to quiet down on time. It is also important to note that it is important that we--as instructors--start class in a good mood and energetic. The music can help us to do that too! It also provided for an interesting start to the class when I explicitly addressed the song. For example, during one of my days on Marx, I opened with a Tupac song, then started with class "Yes, I just played Tupac to talk about Karl Marx and his ideas about capitalism." Finally, it gave them yet one more way to think about sociological theory as relevant to every day life, and to consider additional sites to practice their sociological imagination. Having done this once, there is no going back! For more ideas for this activity, refer to Nathan's post.