American Sociological Association

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  1. Does the Center Hold? Reflections on a Sociological Core

    Is there a distinct disciplinary core (or foundation of agreed on knowledge) in sociology? Should we define a core in our broad field to build consensus? If so, what should it look like? We address these questions by presenting three viewpoints that lean for and against identifying a core for department curricula, students, and the public face of sociology. First, "There really is not much, if any, core." Second, sociology is "a habit of the mind" (a sociological imagination). Third, key content of a sociological core can be identified using a long or short list.

  2. The Center Does Hold: The Sociological Literacy Framework

    This article provides a critique and an addition to observations raised by Ballantine et al. in this issue. After reviewing the strengths of Ballantine et al.’s article about the need for a core in sociology, I argue that this debate has gone on long enough and needs to be reframed around areas of agreement.

  3. Living Theory: Principles and Practices for Teaching Social Theory Ethnographically

    This article details the principles and practices animating an "ethnographic" method of teaching social theory. As opposed to the traditional "survey" approach that aims to introduce students to the historical breadth of social thought, the primary objective of teaching ethnographically is to cultivate students as participant observers who interpret, adjudicate between, and practice social theories in their everyday lives.

  4. Social Issues and Problem-based Learning in Sociology: Opportunities and Challenges in the Undergraduate Classroom

    This article discusses the use of problem-based learning (PBL) in the undergraduate sociology classroom. PBL shifts students from the role of passive listeners and learners to active knowledge builders and communicators through the use of concise and engaging social problem cases. PBL creates opportunities for building substantive area knowledge, research skills, and problem-solving capacities and fosters student enjoyment.

  5. Student Engagement, Accountability, and Empowerment: A Case Study of Collaborative Course Design

    This article describes an experiment in collaborative course design in a midlevel sociology course. Unlike most of the literature on collaborative teaching and learning, which often deals with collaboration among students, this article discusses collaboration between the instructor and students. The students in this course collaborated with the instructor in designing the course—choosing the readings and developing the assignments—from the first day of class. Student feedback on the experiment was overwhelmingly positive.

  6. What Should Activist Scholars Teach in the Social Problems Classroom? Social Problems Literacy for Civic Engagement

    What should activist-scholars teach in the social problems classroom? In this conversation, I challenge the assertion that advancing a sociology of social problems is an overly academic enterprise of little use to students and other publics. I introduce the potential of a pedagogical framework for promoting social problems literacy: a set of skills that promotes critical, sociological understandings of social problems toward aims of supporting civic engagement and activism.

  7. What Does It Mean to Span Cultural Boundaries? Variety and Atypicality in Cultural Consumption

    We propose a synthesis of two lines of sociological research on boundary spanning in cultural production and consumption. One, research on cultural omnivorousness, analyzes choice by heterogeneous audiences facing an array of crisp cultural offerings. The other, research on categories in markets, analyzes reactions by homogeneous audiences to objects that vary in the degree to which they conform to categorical codes. We develop a model of heterogeneous audiences evaluating objects that vary in typicality.

  8. None of the above: Strategies for Inclusive Teaching with "Representative" Data

    This conversation explores emerging debates concerning teaching to and about marginalized populations often left out of "representative" data sets. Based on our experiences studying, teaching, and belonging to some of these unrepresented populations, we outline some strategies sociologists may use to transform the limitations of data sets traditionally labeled as representative into tools for delivering core sociological concepts.

  9. Enhancing Student Compositional Diversity in the Sociology Classroom

    It is well documented that interaction between diverse students encourages positive learning outcomes. Given this, we examine how to enhance the quantity and quality of student diversity in university classrooms. Drawing on sociological theory linking life experiences with ways of knowing, we investigate how to increase classroom diversity by considering when, where, and how courses are scheduled and delivered.

  10. "It's on the MCAT for a Reason:" Premedical Students and the Perceived Utility of Sociology

    Biomedical socialization and premed culture have been shown to promote reductionist and depersonalized approaches to understanding human difference, a serious problem in contemporary health care. In 2015, the Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) launched a new version of its Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) that included material from sociology, providing sociology departments an unprecedented opportunity to instruct premed students on contextualizing human difference and being sensitive to the diverse trajectories of people in the health care system.