WOW! Politics 2014 - Teaching & Learning Resources for the GCSE & A Level Sociology Classroom

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Modern Slavery - in Britain

Monday, December 01, 2014

Slaves? In Britain? Yes - I'm afraid so - and the problem may be much worse than most experts thought according to new data published by the Home Office.

There could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, higher than previous figures, analysis for the Home Office suggests.

read more...»

Greater Protection for sub cultures in Manchester

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Here's an interesting news story about how sub cultures are to receive greater protection from hate crime in the Manchester area.  The change has been prompted by the dreadful murder of 'goth' Sophie Lancaster in 2007.

Follow this link for more information.

Useful tool

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Try using this to ensure students understanding key, and often difficult concepts.  It also will force you to consider your explanations carefully!

Streaming in schools

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Streaming is no longer commonly used in schools, often viewed as divisive and unfair.  However, some schools have adopted the approach and defend it as a means to stretch and challenge the top cohorts.  Have a look at this video about how it works at Crown Woods, in Eltham, London. 

Gender and the Media

Monday, December 03, 2012

In the wake of the Leveson report, surely required reading (at 2000 pages, you may prefer the key points), here is a great summary of some of the issues raised in relation to gender and the press.

Corporate crime

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A great resource to discuss and debate the issue of corporate crime and responsibility in terms of tax etc.  The comments are particularly wonderful. 

Unit 4: Developing AO2 skills at A2

Saturday, November 10, 2012

One of the weaker areas for many students lies in the AO2 skills - analysis, interpretation and evaluation.  Here are some resources that I have used in lessons to help develop these skills through PEEL paragraphs, using brief examples from real essays.

AO2 skills

21 mark essay question Crime and the Media

Rape as an issue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rape comes up a lot during discussions when teaching Crime and Deviance, particularly at A level, but also at GCSE. Whilst it can be a difficult topic for some, I welcome the discussions and am particularly keen to get students discussing current political views.  The American Presidential elections are proving most fertile as grounds to engage students... 

Views of rape as expressed by various candidates 

Parents and Educational attainment

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Supportive parents do more than good schools to boost children's exam results, a study suggests.  The BBC highlight a new report from the US telling us what we probably already know!  Read about it here . 

Sociology Inequality - taught my capuchin monkeys!

Experiments with capuchin monkeys show that they understand the concept of fairness and inequality - perhaps better than humans!  A greater starter for lessons.

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Suicide and the Modern Middle-Aged Male

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A somewhat worrying report here in the Telegraph  which focuses attention on the relatively high rates of suicide among middle-aged men, particularly the poor.

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Education around the World - Compare and Contrast these Classrooms

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A fascinating series of images here in this Guardian photostream  which illustrate a variety of classroom environments around the globe.

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Do you feel rich or poor?

Can the difference between rich and poor be measured, in some way, by how wealthy people "feel"? What factors determine whether someone feels poor or well off?

This feature in the Guardian  features some mini interviews with a variety of adults, each with different occupations, remuneration, accumulated savings and housing.

Some fascinating insights into how individual circumstances and attitudes help shape our perception of personal wealth.

SCLY2 Education with Research Methods: Answering Methods in Context Q5

20% of your whole mark for the paper comes from this essay question and it is a tricky one! This question requires you to APPLY your knowledge of research methods to a particular issue in education, this year’s examiners report from AQA states that still, many students are failing to apply the strengths and limitations of the given method to the particular issue presented in the item and that many responses are simply ‘methods essays.’

When answering this question there are 3 aspects to consider:

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Disadvantage and socialisation

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBC's Panorama showed a fantastic programme this evening, looking at life on a housing estate in Blackburn, 'Trouble on the Estate '.  The programme is available online and provides fantastic opportunities for discussing issues relating to crime and deviance as well as socialisation and social inequality.

Schools in the UK - Social Segregation

A major new comparative study from the OECD suggests that the UK's school system is socially segregated, with immigrant children clustered in disadvantaged schools. The extent of the segregation and potential educational disadvantage appears to be more significant than most other developed economies.

You can read about the report here in the Telegraph.  Lots of good data in there.

The OECD conclude from their research that:

"The socio-economic composition of UK schools poses significant challenges for disadvantaged students and students with an immigrant background,"

Child Poverty in the UK - “It Shouldn’t Happen Here”

The charity Save the Children, best known for helping some of the world's poorest families, has launched an appeal to help UK children, focusing the scale and impact of poverty amongst Britain's poorest communities...

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Trade union membership still concentrated in the public sector

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some useful stats here on trade union membership in the UK  - albeit from the Telegraph's Deputy Political Editor (so the data comes alongside some political comment and opinion).

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Class, Globalisation and the “Corruption” of Britain’s Public Schools

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A number of core themes are addressed in this short opinion piece by the Telegraph's Damian Thompson  in which he argues that the traditional ethos of public schools is being "corrupted" by the the growing influence of very rich foreigners.

Thompson accepts that public schools in the UK have always been happy to accept students from overseas and the substantial income that brings. However, he argues that the process of globalisation and rapid economic growth experienced in emerging markets such as Russia has created a new breed of foreign student:

"for the past 20 years, globalisation has been sharpening the greed of a certain sort of public schoolboy. Often this is combined with vague benevolence, but it’s the benevolence of the billionaire smirking as he writes a cheque rather than that of the volunteer whose aim is to liberate ordinary people."

Thompson also argues that "minor" public schools have taken advantage of this change and now actively seek to exploit the parents or guardians of overseas students.

Should children be allowed to be Fifty Shades of Grey?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

BBC magazine carried an article a couple of days ago about issues surrounding censorship and the media. In short, the debate was whether or not there should be similar controls on book sales as there are on television (the watershed) and film (age restrictions). Certainly a fertile topic for discussion with lots of scope to develop ideas relating to childhood and the influence of the media.

Gender and commercialism

Plenty of people will have seen this by now, but it should be a great talking point for students at GCSE or A Level when discussing gender issues.  I suggest asking them to write their own review!
Bic for Her!

Families - Who’d be a Foster Parent?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A thought-provoking article here which addresses the challenges faced by those in the UK prepared to take on the daunting work of fostering.

According to the Telegraph, there are 87,000 British children in care today. Each one needs a stable, loving environment and children’s homes are a last resort. But with a new child coming into care every 22 minutes, Britain’s fostering system is struggling to cope.

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The Glasgow Effect - Do Poverty, Inequality or Crime Explain the High Mortality Rate?

Friday, August 24, 2012

What is it about living in Glasgow that means people there die significantly younger than elsewhere in the UK?

This feature in the Economist - “No City for Old Men” - explores the fact that Glaswegians die younger than other Britons, but nobody seems to really understand why.

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The Rich Get Healthier…and the Poor Get Poorly?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is there a direct, causal link between social class and poor health? This article in the Guardian reports on the findings of a new survey by the King’s Fund health thinktank which suggests that there is a clear and widening gap in the health of people in England as measured by their social class.

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AQA AS Unit 1 Families and Households Scheme of Work

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I have recently updated my Unit 1 scheme of work (although there are still a few finishing touches that remain).  Please feel free to make use of it or adapt it to suit your students.  If you would like to ask about any of the accompanying resources then please get in touch.

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TV in 80 years?

An interesting take on the future development of television as a starting point for discussion.  Listen here.

teacher student relationships

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A great one for teachers and a good one for students to consider the importance and difficulties of teacher student relationships in school.
Read it here.

the Queen’s speech

Thursday, May 10, 2012

essential reading for budding young sociologists.  Read here.

Sociology Ferret - video clips

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some great and fun videos created by a sociology teacher and her students to illustrate some of the key ideas in A level sociology.

Media and the law: privacy issues

Sunday, April 01, 2012

New legislation proposed by government would allow them to monitor all emails, calls and web use, without requiring permission from a magistrate.  A great debating point for any lesson, and am important issue.
Read a brief article about it here.

Teen gangs programme

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This looks like a potentially interesting programme, tonight at 9pm.
teen gangs

AQA AS and A2 revision handouts

Monday, March 19, 2012

These form part of the revision pack I put together for students.  They include a checklist of topics (from the specification) and examples of all past questions up to the most recent summer exam (I hold back the January exams for mocks).

The AS guide is for Unit 1: Families and Households and Unit 2: Education with Research Methods
The A2 guide is for Unit 3: Mass Media and Unit 4: Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods.

Please feel free to adapt and use.

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History of Marriage

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a neat little summary of the history of marriage.  10 key moments.


Monday, March 05, 2012

The question of what it means to be ‘British’ is one that appears to have greatly vexed the Government.  They blame a lack of ‘Britishness’ for any failings in society and have a test specifically designed to weed out those not ‘British’ enough to own a British passport.  Teachers are expected to instil British values in students and it is promoted in society.  But what on earth is it?

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privatising policing

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The recent news story about the privatisation of certain police services has already sparked some vibrant reactions on facebook and other social media.  I am using it as a starter in my next crime and deviance lesson to consider what impact it might have on policing and society in general.  It offers a great opportunity to reflect on different theoretical perspectives. 

This is how it has been reported on the BBC.

GCSE sample answers - education

Sunday, February 26, 2012

An exercise looking at, and marking, sample 5 mark answers to help develop an understanding of the marking criteria at GCSE.

Remember to take the marks out when giving to students!



Friday, February 17, 2012

For those wanting a more humorous way into discussing the weaknesses of interviews as a method of research, this letter by Mark Twain might prove useful.

Parenting the French way

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A fascinating article about cross-cultural differences in parenting.  It would make a great resource for discussing the question of ‘child-centred’ families.

Population statistics

Saturday, February 04, 2012

I’ve seen a number of interesting stories and programmes exploring ideas relating to population levels.  The most recent was this morning on the BBC, asking if the number of people alive today (about 7 billion) outnumbers the number of people that have ever lived on earth.  Most of these debates centre on the fear that at some point there will be too many people for the world to handle.

read more...»

Media and Image

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This is a fantastic commentary of the images of women portrayed by the media, commenting on how they project an impossibly flawless ideal.  Jean Kilbourne argues, not just that this image leads to increasing eating disorders and mental health issues among teenage girls, but that the objectification of women’s bodies contributes to a growth in violence against women.

Watch the video and see if you agree.

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TED - videoed talks

Monday, January 23, 2012

TED is a fantastic resources of talks on a multitude of subjects.  Go and have a browse - you are sure to find something interesting / fun / challenging / useful / eye-opening… 

I like this selection on ‘what makes us happy?’

Methods: strengths and weaknesses

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some card sorting activities on methods, for GCSE or A level.

Wikipedia ‘blackout’

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia’s decision to stage a 24hour ‘blackout’, in response to threatened US legislation, should make an interesting discussion starter for anyone studying media and / or crime and deviance.

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Feminism and Technology

Sunday, January 15, 2012

This year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) has caused some controversy, with companies employing ‘booth babes’ to help promote their products.  You can watch a news clip here, featuring interviews with attendees and ‘babes’.

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Evaluating Research methods

A simple evaluation template for research methods.

Policing the riots

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Home Office report on policing the riots.  Essential reading for Crime and Deviance students.

Violence and terror - Bauman

Monday, December 12, 2011

Zygmunt Bauman: ‘No one is in control. That is the major source of contemporary fear’ – video.  For Zygmunt Bauman the world is marked by a division between power and politics. While politics is defined by nations, power no longer recognises national boundaries

Health - animated lecture

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great animated video about research into the benefits of exercise.  Watch it here.

Mass Media: Facebook

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Facebook provides plenty of fodder for lessons on the mass media at A level or GCSE.  Try this story summarising what people are actually talking about on facebook the most.

Traditional family?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A survey by the Centre for the Modern Family suggests that few people feel part of a ‘traditional’ family.  Read about it here.

Crime and Deviance - London riots

Monday, December 05, 2011

The government published last week their interim report on the violence during the summer.  You can find it here.

The LSE and the Guardian newspaper also carried out research, interviewing many of those involved.  The findings are summarised in an article here.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Useful article about the impact of the introduction of the contraceptive pill.

Press Ethics

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Any student studying Mass Media for Unit 3, should be aware of the Leveson inquiry - a goldmine of examples!  The BBC have been doing a rolling commentary on the witness statements, including that by Campbell here.

Family incomes

I’m having trouble uploading resources to the website currently, but there are plenty of stories in the news that provide a good basis for discussion.  One on the BBC today questions how easy it is to live on £40,000pa (the average combined income for two adults in the UK).  Read it here.

GCSE quizzes and games

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If anybody else is feeling like me at the moment, then it is a good time to (re)discover Chris Gardner’s excellent website: lots of quizzes, games and notes for GCSE Sociology, several of which I use profitably with AS level as well.

Research methods: questionnaires

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A great online exercise for evaluating questionnaires.

Growing populations

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The growing population of our planet is of great interest to sociologists, and of concern to many.  This neat app on the BBC lets you work out what ‘number’ you are - a great little starter for discussion.

Gender and educational achievement

Saturday, October 22, 2011

An interesting link I came across recently which explores the issue of boys underachievement at GCSE in more depth.  There is a chapter you can download, along with a presentation, both of which contain useful information that could be adapted for use with sixth-former, or potentially GCSE students.

African-Caribbean underachievement

Friday, October 21, 2011

Interesting and baldly stated article about reasons for underachievement by black boys.  A good starting point for a lesson.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

For those studying Mass Media, there’s an interesting article on the BBC today about the impact of communications technology on our lives.  Focussing on the World Economic Forum in Davos, the author reports on some of the advantages and disadvantages raised by business leaders and development experts.

Gender and education

Friday, January 28, 2011

Following the departure of Sky Sports’ broadcaster Richard Keys and Andy Gray for sexist remarks, the question of gender is a pertinent one for discussion.  Is Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson right to suggest that the row is ‘baffling and worrying’?  Or, should we be more concerned that the gender pay gap for full-time employees is 10.2% (2009, ONS)?

read more...»

Glass Ceiling , Gender and Pay

Thursday, December 09, 2010

An interesting article on gender and the glass ceiliing here in The Independent today.

Social Capital - Again

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Apologies, I missed this one.  On this recent episode of Thinking Allowed, sociologist Ben Fine pokes his head above the parapet and has the nerve to suggest that the concept of social capital is a load of codswallop. Not very useful. The wrong way of looking at things. Sounds fair enough to me. But students - evaluate!


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Looks like a good programme from Laurie Taylor on subcultures. Work on women and heavy metal from a researcher at York University and pop fandom from a Texan student who has relocated and conducted her research from the sunny climes of University of Sunderland. Expert comment from Angela McRobbie.

Risk and Resilience in Nottingham

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Well, I bet it’s Notttingham or maybe somewhere nearby like Derby.  Most interesting guest this week on Laurie Taylor’s show is Kaye Haw from Nottingham University.  Unfortunately there is only a link to an abstract of her article on young people, but it looks like one to check out.  A job for me when the marking season is over perhaps. And I’ve caught up on a few other resource productions.

read more...»

More Debate on Black Music

Friday, May 28, 2010

I’ve done a couple of postings on black music - here’s another link. Paul Gilroy, Anthony Giddens Professor of Social Theory at the LSE was speaking yesterday on R4 Thinking Allowed.  Gilroy argues that contemporary black music is of a lower quality than the music produced by previous black musicians and has lost its moral stance.

Lords, Commoners and The Queen

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


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Unequal Opportunities

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This report suggests that despite the expansion in higher education we are not seeing higher levels of social mobility. Not all universities are equal, so it seems, and the key to ending up in a higher ranked occupational category and indeed income group, is to get to one of the Russell Group of leading universities.

Wartime Childhood

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We’re always looking for good material on childhood aren’t we? So why not check out this edition of Thinking Allowed which features Laurie Taylor talking to historian John Welshman, who has written a book on the experience of evacuee children in WW2.

Education and Social Elites

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A topical one today if you’re revising education and social mobility/education and the social structure. Have a look at this interesting article on the BBC Magazine webpage.  Tomorrow I’ll try to upload a pic I took of the media village on Westminster Green.

Sociology and Opinion Polls

Monday, May 03, 2010

More on the sociology of opinion polls today - Tim Harford on More or Less discusses whether opinion polls can have an effect on voting behaviour. A nice little audio clip about 6 or 7 items down the page.

Social Capital

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There’s been a lot of talk about social capital in AS/A sociology for a while now. So I’ll take this opportunity to suggest some reasons for caution in using the concept.

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Families or Friends?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The idea that our family will look after us when we get old is an attractive one, for perhaps obvious reasons and maybe it has always been a bit of a myth. Now a study by psychologists suggests that maybe it is friends, not family, who are more important in later years. It seems to me that you can use the evidence from this article to add to evaluations of the functionalist account of the changing role of the nuclear family.

Gender, Family and Happiness

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Research into well-being (or more crudely, ‘happiness’ ) is all the fashion in psychology. Now sociologists have got in on the act and some new research has just been published by sociologists from the University of Cambridge in a new book titled, Gender Equality in the 21st Century, suggesting that men and women associate personal happiness with the happiness of their families, although they do so in different ways.The Cambridge study was carried out by Professor Jacqueline Scott, Dr. Anke Plagnol and Dr. Jane Nolan and appears in a new book, Gender Inequalities In The 21st Century, published by Edward Elgar.

read more...»

More League Tables

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Well, in today’s Guardian check out this fascinating table of international university rankings.  Students - I side with the comments on The Guardian which cast considerable doubt on this heap of massaged statistics.  Your task is to explain why these statistics are probably, most likely, sorely lacking in both validity and reliability

. I’ll even allow you to use the posted comments as a source of ideas.

CEP Research Paper on the Politics of Crime

Monday, April 12, 2010

The second Centre for Economic Performance Election Analysis describes UK crime trends and research evidence relevant to the parties’ proposed policies - available here

More on voting and the perils of psephology

Friday, April 09, 2010

David talked of the validity of polling yesterday. Some historical context might be useful here. In the 1992 Election there was a general consensus that Labour should win, borne out by the majority of polling. The Election results demonstrated that the polls had been wrong, with the Tories winning relatively decisively. So what went wrong with the polls?

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Changing Conjugal Roles

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Here’s some useful new evidence to throw into the pot on conjugal roles.  Of course, the findings have to be put firmly into context - the majority of men are not the primary carer for their child or children, but they do suggest social change is occuring and that there is more flexibility and variety in arrangements.

Class and the General Election

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How can social scientists get a representative sample of the population and gauge the outcome of the General Election? Newsnight has some ideas and so do we.

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Declining Religion?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

We’ve posted on this before I know, and a general election has just been called (no doubt more on that later), but this week’s Thinking Allowed has some provocative stuff on secularisation, so I’ll give it a plug here.

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Measuring Ethnic Inequalities

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sorry to have been silent for the last few days, I’ll fill in later today or this week.  Anyway folks, before people pack up for the holidays here’s a very useful research note from sociologists at the University of Surrey’s Social Research Unit.

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Women in the DRC

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This - The World’s Most Dangerous Place for Women -  is simply one of the best documentaries I have watched in a long time. OK, its long for teachers who want to fit it into a lesson, but I’d say its definately worth it and you can always use the 37 minute preview so that you can get some discussion in before the end of the lesson.  I watched this with my 13 year old daughter. She hadn’t been watching it, but the film is so powerful that it caught her attention and she was, I think it is fair to say, gripped by it.  This is the sort of thing teachers need to grab with both hands and use. And as I pointed out to my daughter, this is not just TV; this is geography, politics, sociology and psychology. Sometimes we focus so much on the concepts and the syllabus that we miss out the context and the real stories about real people and places. And those are the things which people find so interesting.

The Changing Face of Media Ownership and Control

Friday, March 26, 2010

The internet has changed everything - or at least, I believe the claim has been bandied about here and there. So anyone can bung up a website and start publishing news and comment and can compete with the big ‘boys’ (and big girls in the media? Gosh, is everything gendered?).  But now we hear that The Times will start to charge for access to their online editions.  So have things really changed that much, or is it more that there has just been a shift in technology and the old patterns of ownership and control still persist in much the same ways? Well, I haven’t got any pat answers to that question, although regular readers will know I’ve often expressed irritation and scepticism at those who rather quickly leap to the conclusion that sociological theories (and some or many, textbooks) are out of date.  Read this article from the BBC and see what you think. Are the big media corporations going to maintain their grip on mass communications in the new digital age?

Social Change and Immigration

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This clip from the Today programme on R4 gives a great bit of social reportage. Listen especially to the interview with the market stall holder.  It poses a number of interesting questions: 

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Mass Media and Censorship

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If you are studying or teaching the mass media topic in sociology, the latest news about Google and the Chinese Government should feature somewhere in your classroom discussion.

In sociology lessons, the ability of states to control the media is frequently commented on, but the examples are usually close to home - in the UK the D notice system and so on, or historical - propaganda under the Nazis or in the Soviet Union.  So China provides a really good example of a contemporary society where state control of the media - in a pretty heavy-handed way- is very much a reality.

This article on the BBC site gives a usefully summary of current developments.  Interestingly though, it is a capitalist corporation - Google - which has decided it does not want to help enable a Government - indeed formally, a communist government, to curtail public freedom of expression. That might show how the Marxist and Pluralist debate in sociology can in fact get quite complex. You may wish to consider though, whether capitalist states are quite so blameless as some of them are portrayed. Don’t all governments at times manipulate the truth and manage information?


Burglary and iPods

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why is burglary in Decline? Laurie Taylor in Thinking Allowed talks to expert James Treadwell about the latest British Crime Survey statistics which show 744,000 domestic burglaries in England and Wales, a drop of more than a million since 1995. That’s a pretty notable trend. Treadwell’s research seems to suggest that the answer lies in the plummeting cost of a DVD player and the rising popularity of the iPod.

Class and Voting

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back in the 1980s you couldn’t easily do a sociology course without the old chestnut of class and voting coming up.  The working class were statistically more likely to vote Labour, the middle class Conservative, the theory went.  Of course, there were significant qualifications.  A big section of the working class voted Tory - they were deferential and would for instance, argue that those from higher social classes were best qualified to lead the country.  A small section of the middle class would go against their assumed self-interest and vote Labour.  Can we still make the same or broadly similar claims today?  Many sociologists have argued that class has fragmented and these broad patterns are no longer so easy to discern.  See how far things have changed by watching this report from the Daily Politics.

Racist Humour

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I remember writing a post some time ago which posed a few questions about racism and humour. Well, now it seems some of my questions can be answered by Simon Weaver of Loughborough University, who has made study of this area the focus of his academic work.  You can hear him speaking on Thinking Allowed, R4.

Rap, Race and Social Class

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I heard the crime writer Dreda Mitchell on the radio at the weekend, so of course I looked her up.  This article in The Guardian makes a nice point about the social position and impact of rap music.  Here’s a chunk of Mitchell’s article:

“The real problem with rap is that far from undermining society’s values it’s reinforcing them, and the most fundamental of all our society’s values at the moment is that you are what you own. Commercial rap’s money and success ethic won’t do any harm to middle-class youth; they have access to the professions and property where they can participate in it. For working-class youngsters, taught by our culture since the 1970s that they’re losers and failures, it’s part of a profoundly poisonous cocktail of attitudes. Pride and self-respect are at the heart of this debate and it’s the lack of those, or the wrong sort, that’s really driving the violence on our streets.”


Monday, March 08, 2010

This article on Jacob Zuma and polygamy in South Africa caught my eye the other day.

There are some interesting elements of explanation here, though also some rather normative comments from a researcher at the University of Pretoria.  Of course, feminists and many others, would agree that polygamy is a social system which will be quite likely to lead to highly imbalanced gender relations. The point is to study these things sociologically. That said, I do remember being shocked when a sociologist tried to point out to me back in the 1980s that women - in Britain - had all sorts of power within families.  I suppose he was right - in a way. But for me, the more radical feminist views provided the more accurate perspective; women were dominated.  I guess I would probably take a similar view about South African, or indeed any other, form of polygamy.  Sociologists are always influenced by their values, and I’m no different.

When I Grow Up - Last Four Days

Friday, March 05, 2010

Very interesting programme on R4 which uses data from the Nuffield study and brings in updates on social mobility,education and parental influence.  Four days left to listen to it on iPlayer.

You can find out more about the Centre for Longitudinal Studies by clicking on the highlighted text.  I will post more on the CLS next week.

Sociology, Science and the Weather

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I thought this report on the BBC the other day provided a great example for teaching the sociology of science. 

It’s easy for the critique of science to get over-simplified.  Sociologists, and indeed, philosophers of science like Kuhn and Popper aren’t really saying that scientists are going around deliberately spreading lies and falsehood.

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Education and the State

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Cambridge University is hosting what look to be some quite interesting lectures on the relationship between education and the state. Speakers will include David Hargreaves, Stephen Ball, Anna Fazackerley, Estelle Morris, John Bangs and Philip Blond. Due to the marvels of ICT the lectures will be available as podcasts. Probably challenging material for AS/A students, so hey, teachers, do your students a favour and guide them through, make a handout, or something like that.  I’m sure these lectures will provide some much needed material to freshen up our rather jaded AS/A take on education and the state.

Girls and Gangs - New Material

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Readers will probably have heard of an old study about girls in gangs - from the 70s or 80s I think, but the R4 Today programme, today (!), carried a feature item which provides some interesting material to update that.  Should be very useful for anyone looking for something fresh for crime and deviance.  Follow the links.

For Race on the Agenda

I think if you go back to ROTA in due course a pdf of their report will be available - doesn’t seem to be up yet. Looks like a good site though.

For R4 Today item

Parental Influence

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can your parents drive you to drink? Well, that’s not really a fair summary of this article from the BBC, but it does raise some interesting questions about primary socialisation.  Some sociologists have argued that the success of socialisation can be exaggerated.  Does this example prove or disprove that claim?

Research is Not Easy

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just a few personal musings today about the practical difficulties of research.  Later this week we have a new blogger joining us on Soc Blog - Mark Gillard.  Mark teaches in Cambridge. Somewhere. He may tell you a bit about himself.  We are planning to get some chunky contributions going fairly soon. I will be doing a series of ‘revision notes’ and some powerpoints. I will be starting off with the revision notes and will aim to do about one per month.  First one will be on research methods. Because I like research methods.  And no, I haven’t forgotten my review of The Lolita Effect. I started it, but it is dire, so I will struggle on and get it done.

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Sociology on the Web

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I’ve been spending a bit of time today looking for sociology resources on the net.  See below.

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A Methodology Quote

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here’s a methodology quote for you all to discuss:

“Methodologies, especially quantitative ones, that pretend to be totally free of bias and perspective are not only deceiving themselves and their audience. They pretend to be free of bias in order to assert their own intellectual superiority, especially by comparison to “soft"methods such as participant observation, ethnomethodology, sheer fiction.”

Ben Agger, 2004 The Virtual Self, p94

Inequalities, Lifechances and Education

Monday, February 15, 2010

Here’s a BBC report detailing the continued gap between the affluent and those at the bottom of the social ladder.  This seems to have been going on for as long as I can remember and gives pause for thought about sociological perspectives. Maybe one thing Marx got wrong was his underestimation of capitalism’s incredible ability to tolerate inequalities. It seems a system far from being close to collapse through revolution as envisaged by Marx.  Perhaps more likely now, some might argue, is collapse due to man made environmental catastrophe. Discuss.

Consumerism and Identity

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A sort of lengthy quote for the week this, really. A long-ish quote from Zygmunt Bauman on consumerism and identity. It really is worth thinkng about and discussing.

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