On Thursday, we will be reviewing Prezi.com for our upcoming group projects. Each group will create a Prezi for their upcoming presentations, so this will give us a chance to get on the same page with the software and out group members.

On Tuesday, group 1 will give their presentation on foster care and adoption. Their presentation and information will be posted here in this blog posting comments. You can access their Prezi here. Their presentation information will be on the exam, so you can check back here as a study guide as well.

A few highlights of their presentation:

  • Foster care is temporary whereas adoption is permanent
  • African American children are 41% of foster care population, whites 40%, Hispanic 15%
  • 21% of adoptions are transracial
  • Reasons for adoption: infertility, desire more children, parent was adopted themselves, couple has previously adopted a child, single individuals who want children
  • Same sex couples face institutional discrimination; Florida is the only state to outright ban same sex couples, other states limit adoption to married couples
  • Types of adoptions: public, private, kinship, step parent, transracial, international

We will also watch the beginning of the documentary Aging Out. Individuals who turn 18 while in foster care are those who are “aging out.” The numbers range from 20-30 thousand per year, out of a total foster care population of 400,000.

There is a really interested documentary about international surrogacy called “Google Baby” that shows the world of bringing together sperm, eggs, and surrogate women who live in India and produce babies that are genetically of their mother and father adopting couples.

5E9A7894Dr. Brian Frank, our guest speaker on Thursday October 16, 2014, is a member of Lambda Family Circle, an organization that supports GLBT families. He spoke with our Sociology of the Family class as well as Sociology of Deviant Behavior during the fall of 2013 to share the story of his family. He and his partner Steven adopted their son in New York state through the foster care system. His personal story sheds light on the sociological processes surrounding the creation of family in the United States. You can access his PowerPoint presentation here: Siena Fall 2015

In class, we will be watching The Business of Being Born, a documentary that overviews the crisis in the medical establishment in regards to birthing in the United States. Reading comes from the book, Cut it Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America by Theresa Morris, which explores the question: why are c-section rates skyrocketing in the United States?

In class on Tuesday, October 7, we will be covering four articles that discuss research about both marriage and divorce. While the divorce rate in the United States hoovers around 50% for first marriages, it is not a random happening, but based influenced by particular sociological issues. Our discussion will be based on this prezi.com that covers the four articles.

If interested in Stephanie Coontz’s discussion on the history of marriage, see the following video:

The Gottman Institute is a renowned organization that studies and presents on issues of relationship and marriage satisfaction. Their claim is the ability to predict whether a couple will divorce or not, based on laboratory observations of how couples fight and resolve conflict. In addition, while researchers agree that marriages are based on different perspectives (each couple member) and on good and bad aspects of the relationship. For Gottman, he feels that couples need a ration of five positive traits for each negative trait in order to have a happy, healthy, and long lasting marriage.

In this video, John Gottman talks about their research on “the masters” of relationships.


On Thursday, we will have our exam take place in class.

OnlineDatingYou can post your blog response about online dating in the comments section below. Your post will be due before class on Tuesday. Assignment criteria:

Write a short essay of 250 words or more about a particular sociological aspect of online dating. How is your topic sociologically interesting? This can focus on a particular website and its business model, how much money it makes, how the website works, the ways it controls behavior of participants. You can focus on how certain demographic groups interact online. How demographic groups are targeted by certain websites. How social power is created online. Dating among a particular institution: religion, profession, etc.

You should open with an illustrative story. Then present your argument. Then present your data. Do not include long quotes from the source(s), write in your own words. Include your reflection on the topic. Introduce your link (author, title) and include it in the text or at the bottom, but definitely refer to it specifically. Have a conclusion.

Here is an article “Dating Services in the U.S.: Market Research Report.” In this report we learn that the business makes $2 billion/year, with an annual growth rate of 4.8% and employs 7,649 people, through a total of 3,851 businesses.

In class on Tuesday, we will watch the documentary When Strangers Click.

On Thursday the 25, we will briefly review some points on teen pregnancy.

We will also turn to our next assignment, a blog posting about online dating, focusing on the business aspects of the industry, niche markets, statistics and so on. Please do look for some social science type articles on the topic, which can be academic or websites that are based on research.


This week in class, we will be discussing issues of sexuality and youth. On Blackboard, please find and read the articles, “Avenue to Adulthood,” and “Hooking Up and Dating: A Comparison.” Come to class ready to discuss these articles. Bring your notes and talking points. This Prezi overviews the book Destinies of the Disadvantaged: The Politics of Teen Childbearing, by Frank F. Furstenberg.

Feminist filmmaker Therese Shechter analyzes the social construction of the idea of female virginity in her documentary, How to Lose Your Virginity. This website provides sex education for teens: scarleteen.

Paula England is a preeminent researcher on the hookup culture among college students across the country at 18 public and private universities.

The short documentary below, Slutwalk: A Day in Her Heels, overviews the activism behind the North American Slutwalk movement, which addresses the issue of rape culture. What percentage of women and men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18? For American women, how many will be sexually abused during their lifetime? See statistics here at WOAR

In class on Thursday, we will watch some video links that further apply the sociological perspective to social issues as well as start to delve into the topics of pop culture.

The Lottery of Birth (2013) overviews some of the sociological concepts that we have been examining:

This movie is from a website called Films for Action, which provides documentaries about social justice issues. The Media Education Foundation creates movies that critique popular culture from a sociological perspective. Browsing their movies will give you some ideas on how to look critically at pop culture, We will watch two clips from the MEF movies: Consuming Kids and Mickey Mouse Monopoly.

Consumer culture is an example of our actions being political and not neutral. Check out some statistics on the use of resources by “developed” nations.

Worldwatch Institute: State of Consumption Today
CNN: World’s Wealthiest 16% Use 80% of Natural Resources  

Walt Disney: Corporate Rap Sheet overviews lawsuits based on Disney subsidiaries use of sweatshop labor

Considering our overview of Obedience to Authority and the Lucifer Effect, how do understand our relationship to the inhumane treatment in factories around the world that produce the everyday items that we purchase?

How about our relationship to media images that stereotype based on gender, sexuality, race, (dis)ability, such as the charge that Disney movies produce stereotypical characters written by white man? Images are not neutral, but always comes from a particular social location (the writer, producer) and an engagement with power. One power is the power of producing such images that represent people other than one’s own race and gender; images that will be shown widely, while other non-traditional images are not produced on the same scale. In Mickey Mouse Monopoly, Chyng Feng Sun asks, “The question for me is not whether Disney should or should not appropriate other cultures’ stories, or whether ancient China was less or more oppressive than Disney’s portrayal? The question is, what type of stories get invented, circulated, perpetuated in the public imagination, and why?”

On Tuesday, we will be reviewing the studies conducted by Drs. Zimbardo and Milgram:

The Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Zimbardo

Obedience to Authority, Stanley Milgram

Feel free to use parts of this Prezi on Obedience to Authority if it is useful to you.

Each group will review a chapter related to one of these experiments and present it in class on Tuesday. You can post a link to your blog post below in the comments section.

The Structure of Social Groups (definitions

(Group discussion: Be ready to define/example any of the following terms)

Social organization
Social structure
Social relationship
Master status
Social control
Social group
Primary group
Secondary group
“iron cage” of rationality
the group affects perceptions
the group affects convictions
the group affects health and life
the group affects behavior
social system
social stratification

Group assignments for next class activities 

1: Milgram 1
2: Milgram 6
3: Milgram 11
4: Zimbardo 10
5: Zimbardo 13
6: Zombardo 16


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