Thursday, January 26, 2017

He doesn't speak Spanish, but he probably speaks Mexican!

As you enter, please take the following true-false quiz from James Henslin's Down-to-Earth Sociology book:

1. More U.S. Students are killed in school shootings the last 15 years than during the 1980s and early 90s.

2. Although women used to earn considerably less money than men, their salaries have just about caught up with those of men.

3. After a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake, people tend to panic and social organization disintegrates.

4. Most rapists are mentally ill.

5. Over 50% of those on welfare are able to work, but choose not to.

6. Compared to women, men maintain more eye contact in face-to- face conversations.

7. Couples who live together before they marry are usually more satisfied with their marriages than couples who do not live together before they marry.

8. Most Husbands of working wives who get laid off from work take up the slack around the house by increasing the amount of housework they do.

9. Because bicyclists are much more likely to wear helmets now than just a few years ago, their rate of head injuries has dropped.

10. Students in Japan are under such intense pressure that their suicide rate is double that of U.S. students.

Next, please answer the following questions on the page after Gang Leader for a Day in your packet:

Review from Abandon Ship Lesson:
1.  What does it mean to study macro sociology?
2.  What does it mean to study micro sociology?
3.  How is the Abandon Ship activity an example of the social construction of reality and the sociological imagination?

Questions from the Gang Leader reading:
4.  How was Venkatesh's survey flawed?  What are the limitations of using it?
5.  How does Venkatesh decide to study his subject in the end?  What might that research reveal that he would not have known from the survey?

Sudhir Venkatesh explores so much in his book Gang Leader for a Day. You can read an excerpt from the book and download Venkatesh reading and talking about his book from NPR.   I want to use the excerpt to show you that sociology is scientifically based using research.   There are different ways that sociologists do research and each way has its benefits and drawbacks.  In this case, Venkatesh sets out to do a quantitative survey, but then he changes to a qualitative ethnography observation.  Can you identify some of the ways sociologists might do research and the advantages and disadvantages of each?  (See your textbook for more info on this.)  If you could design a study to examine something from our school, what would you study and how would you research it?  Can you think of both quantitative and qualitative ways to study it?   Can you see how sociologists need both quantatative data and qualitative data to study their subjects? Which do you feel is better for measuring how much you learn in class, quantitative tests like multiple choice or qualitative testing like essays?
Here is Venkatesh speaking on the Colbert Report and he explains that there are important ways of doing research correctly:
Here is a quiz based on sociological research.  Take the quiz and answer True or False for each.  Answer quickly using common sense.  Then scroll down to the bottom of this post to check your answers and see what the point is.

For more about Venkatesh:
Here is Venkatesh speaking about his book and the research he did.  Lastly, here is an interview at between Venkatesh and Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here).

For more examples of research:
Here is an example of some sociological research from the Pew center.  Notice how the researchers conducted their research.  Choose a study and look for:
1. What were the study's findings?
2.  How did they gather evidence for this finding?
Another example is JSTOR, an online database that you can search by subject.  Click here for the SHS JSTOR Advanced search.  Scroll down to select "sociology" then search any subject you would like.

Answers to the Quiz:
Okay, ready?  All of the answers to this quiz are based on sociological research.  What is important is that research often reveals contradictions to common sense.  That is why sociology is based on research and evidence and not just one person's opinion about society.  So, the answers to the quiz are all false.  That's right!  Go check.  There are reasons that explain each answer.  So, don't be tricked into thinking that sociology is common sense.  Sociology might study everyday life and common issues but the understanding of this might be anything but common sense.


  1. Mr Salituro, I enjoyed the reading and the clip of the author so much. I think I am going to read the rest of Venkatesh's book. It has really peeked my interest. Thank you for making me aware of his work.

  2. I think that Venkatesh was so brave while conducting this research. Even though they teased him for his survey, he kept going back and trying different ways to try and learn these people's lifestyle. I loved the reading! I thought that it was very interesting! When I go to the city, I never really think about the surrounding areas, and end up at the touristy parts of the city, never the areas where J.T. lived and where any gang activity is apparent. This reading has sort of made me more aware of what is also going on in the city, stuff that you don't just see everyday when downtown.

    1. I agree! I think the persistence that was encouraged by his relentless curiosity he showed was very admirable.

  3. In the NPR article, Venkatesh states "I thought I was coming in there to be the expert and I ended up being humbled practically every day." I think that this notes an important merit of qualitative data over quantitative data. It shows that, by pushing one out of their comfort zone, immersion fosters the open-mindedness necessary to learn about other cultures.

  4. Watched the video on YouTube.. It was really interesting how Sudhir managed to get into the group and get into the higher ranks of the gangsters.

  5. Its great how Venkatesh was able to gain so much respect from a gang that many people fear of. This just shows that although these people do illegal things they are very open to talking to people and expressing what they are all about

  6. Your post made me realized how researcher is truly a hard work! I learned that one has to be more curious and ask a lot of question that relates in order to know more. Researches has to include a lot of legitimate sources as well. I also learned how it's not easy to research and do sociology because it has to be a quality research or one person is not legit.