On the first day of class, we will jump in to group discussions that explore definitions of sociology and topics related to the family. 

In groups, please discuss these questions and report back to the class. Feel free to use the computers to assist you. 

Group 1: What is the difference between psychology and sociology (areas of research, theories, perspectives, etc.) 

Group 2: What are social institutions? What are their significance sociologically?

Group 3: What are examples of how institutions influence family formation or issues?

Group 4: How are families represented in the media? What is the social impact of these representations?

Group 5: What is the relationship between identity and family?  


Be sure to write down or keep track of this website in order to check the syllabus, plans for each day of class, assignments, and so on. 


For next class, think about what you can write about your identity (gender, race, nationality, socio-economic class, geographic location, etc.) as it relates to your relationship to the idea of family in general, and your family in particular. In class, we will watch clips from documentaries exploring identity. You will write your first blog post as a comment on the class blog after the second day of class, and you can start the assignment in class. Be sure to save it as a Word document in your dropbox. 


Our course for spring 2014 has officially come to an end. Have a great summer, to everyone. In the fall, I will teach Family again, as well as a course called Popular Culture. Keep in touch!

 Please view this Edward Bernays video, or else watch one of the short clips below. We will spend the next several class periods working on a project about marketing products. The first thing we will do is explore and research who Edward Bernays was and his work on marketing. Please look up as much information on him as you can find, including both academic as well as online sources. We will create a storify.com page for this assignment. You can
begin your storify.com page with information on Bernays. Include a written introduction to Bernays at the beginning of the storify, and introduce each link in your own words. Include a summary about his
work in your own words (!), with your own insight. Include a variety of links: videos, webpage, and at least one academic source (book, academic article).



Also watch Consuming Kids:


Next: pick a product, an idea(ology), or a genre of products. This
product should be something that you yourself do not consume, and you
are encouraged to pick a product that is from a different country,
culture, subculture, or something with which we are all not familiar.
(Do not pick the Iphone!!) Do some research on this object:

1) What are the global statistics on this product (# sold, $$ amount earned)? What company owns
this product? What company owns that company? Find out what the parent
company is, at the very top? How much money is spend on marketing it
in the world? Domestically? How much is spent by consumers purchasing
the product? During which years was this product popular?

2) How is this product marketed as far as selling desire? What
fantasy/desire is being sold along with this product? How do people
incorporate this product into the fantasy of themselves? In the
material reality of their life? How is this product used? What is its
social image?

3) How does this product fit into Bernays‘ philosophy of marketing?
What would he say? How would consumers respond?

4) Pick a second product that is either something that you yourself are inventing, or pick an historical product that is long outdated. Describe and show the marketing around this product. Who was the target market, how large were they, how were they reached?

FORMAT: Create a storify.com page titled something combining your
product, desire, and Bernays‘ philosophy. Have an introductory
paragraph about Bernays. Have a second paragraph introducing your
product/ideology and how it relates to Bernays. Have a summary of your
storify.com (“I am going to show, a, b, c…”.). Have a conclusion
that overviews your presentation and your perspective (have a strong
argument that you are making! “I am arguing X!”). This should be a total of 250 words, your own discussion between links. Please have a critical analysis of the topic and an overview, and argument; do not just summarize the next link and next link. 

We will present some of these in class during our final days…

For an example of the marketing and “desire” around a product, check
out the movie Narco Cultura (Netflix), which demonstrates the rise and
marketing of narcocorridos, a popular Mexican/American music.

We will workshop this project for one or two days in class and then present. This can be considered the final project for the semester.


On Tuesday, April 22, we will have  guest speaker Brian Frank, a founding member of Lambda Family Circle. He will join us to discuss gay parenting issues, as well as his own personal story of his family. He and his partner Steven met some twenty years ago and both of them had very different coming out processes. While Steve came out early in life; Brian came out in his late twenties, and his family never accepted his sexuality or partner. When they were first together, few avenues existed for the creation of GLBT families. However, in the past two decades, many different pathways to parenthood have developed: adoption, surrogacy, alternative insemination, transparenting, and polyamory. Brian and Steve became foster parents to several children before adopting Darius.

Please write a summary response (and post here on this blog posting) to Brian’s talk of 150 words and include a link to an online source related to his class. This is due before the next class period and will count towards your participation points.

On Tuesday, April 15th, we will have guest speaker and filmmaker Bhawin Suchak (director of YouthFX) joining our class to show his documentary The Throwaways. Please take notes during this video and relate it to our sociology lens: power, institutions, and demographics. Post your response to the movie before the next class period: a minimum of 100 words, and relate it to topics we’ve covered in our class. Cite at least two academic references.

presenter5768x1024 Conference Preparation (10)

On April 12, 2014, we will be attending the Sociology Student Symposium. Please attend the conference, as much as you can, between 10-5pm. You will write a 300 word minimum summary/response to what you saw, be sure to include details such as presenters’ names, titles, content, and so on. Also try to include photos/videos that you took at the event. You can upload these to a website such as Flickr.com and post a link to the set. Post these responses and photo links to the response page on the symposium website here AND create a blog post on your website. If you cannot attend the event, you can review a minimum of five student online research websites and that can be the basis of your review. You can find online student presentations here. These posts are due before the next following class period.

Be sure to attend the keynote lunch in the norm at 1pm!

I still need volunteers for the breakfast and lunch shift, please email me to volunteer.

The format for the posting: Have an introductory “story,” image or concept that provides a unifying theme for your post. Second, provide an overview for your post, including an outline of the topics/presentations you will be covering. (“In this post, I will be focusing on the issue of…”). For example, you might want to focus on panels with a similar theme. (“I will be showing, a, b and then c…”). Have your voice lead the discussion, rather than a summary of presentations, include your perspective and critique. Have a conclusion, (“in this post, I have demonstrated x, y and z… Therefore, my summary point is…”). Here is a link to the images that I took on my iphone at the conference, http://www.flickr.com… You can also see a posting of this summary on my website http://wordpress.com… Include your name in your posting. In your discussion, include full academic citations (both in text and a bibliography) of at least three academic sources (these sources can be based on your own research, our class readings, or the sources that the presenter cites).

300-500 words minimum
3 academic sources minimum
link to photos/videos you took at conference
post your symposium response on BOTH your website and on the symposium blog (not our class blog).


Thursday due GoAnimate: http://goanimate4schools.com/school/sienacollege

Find your videos exported to YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SociologySiena

For homework: please check out you fellow student’s videos and comment on at least two of them. Click here for videos.

For educational documentaries, see: Media Education Foundation

Our webpages on “Socio-Economic Status and Inequality” are due. Please post a link to yours, along with your name and a one sentence description in the comments section below. We will also have an article to read for class on Blackboard, “Social Stratification, Inequality, and Poverty.” In class, already watched the documentary Inequality for All, by Robert Reich. Be ready to have an in-depth conversation about the chapter and relate your research website to the topic as well. Some of you will be called upon to talk about your webpage on inequality. See Prezi on this discussion here.

We will have a group exercise project:

Group 1: Class and Inequality

Defining the working-class, middle-class and upper-income class by income, wealth, social status, and so on. Please list as many defining traits as you can so as to demarcate where the division is between these three classes. Please use the computer to do any necessary research. Lead the class in an activity to define three economic classes, focuses especially on cultural capital (aka Bourdieu) status markers.

Group 2: The Poverty Line

How was the poverty line developed? Outline this history. What was the argument for this? How has it kept up with the times and inflation? What measures do other developed nations utilized? How are these different? Research on the web, post links on class blog.

Group 3: Living in Poverty

The poverty line for a family of 4 is X. How does a family live on this income? Please figure out how much income this is, and then all the expenses a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children) would need in order to live on a monthly basis, after taxes. Look up expenses and be as accurate as possible. Craigslist for an apartment, etc.

In class on March 4th, we will watch the documentary When Strangers Click, about on-line dating (pre-2005). We will also read the article on Blackboard by authors Casper & Bianchi, called “Cohabitation.” Come to class having read the article and ready to write or talk about it. Finally, I would like to meet with each of you individually during class to talk about your research website. Please see your grades on Blackboard beforehand and be ready to discuss. You can also go ahead and update your pages as recommended (tho this will not raise your grade).

social-media-researchDuring this next section of our course, you will be completing the first two “pages” of your research website, entitled, “Sociological Questions,” and “Research Methods.” These pages should explore the following topics:

  • Sociological questions

What are your main sociological questions on this topic? How do demographics, power and institutions relate to your topic? What are your hypotheses? Why is this question sociologically significant?

  • Research methods

What research methods have sociologists used to study this topic in the past? What methods would you use if you were doing a more in-depth research project on this topic? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various methods in relation to this topic?

Since this is a website, and not a written research paper, each website page should have embedded links, pictures, video clips, and links to the sources used. Each page must cite at a minimum of 5 academic sources, so please link to these sources, use proper in-text citation, and include a full reference list at the bottom of the page, in either MLA or Chicago Manual formats. Please post links to both pages in the comments section below. They are due by the beginning of class.

Please read the article entitled, “Studying the Social World,” and be ready to discuss it in class, as well as your two websites. Here is a Prezi covering the main ideas of this article.
Further resources include:
American Sociological Association’s code of ethics
Institutional Review Board at Siena College


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