SAGE Journal Articles
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Journal Article 1: Bingham, S. C., & Hernandez, A. A. (2009). “Laughing matters”: The comedian as social observer, teacher, and conduit of the sociological perspective. Teaching Sociology, 37(4), 335-352.
Abstract: Much of the sociological curriculum often represents society as tragedy. This article explores the incorporation of a society as comedy component in introductory courses at two institutions using the sociological insight and social critique of comedians. A general discussion of parallels between the comedic eye and the sociological imagination is followed by specific steps for locating, selecting and incorporating comedic clips into various courses. Through comparisons between experimental and control groups, as well as student questionnaires, we found that the use of comedians to model sociological perspectives increased student ability to apply course concepts, decreased student anxiety when tackling new concepts, and engaged a broader number of students during class discussion. We conclude with discussion of challenges specific to these methods—language use and controversial comedians—as well as the broader need to learn from figures who have been historically successful at engaging the public on issues of social importance.
Abstract: Environmental and organizational sociologists have engaged with the growing interdisciplinary study of formal organizations and their natural environment to varying extents, but to date there has been little interaction between the two sociological subdisciplines. Environmental sociology has developed strong understandings of human—environment interactions, how to study them, and political economic systems of environmental destruction and improvement. Meanwhile, organizational sociology provides insights on internal and external drivers of governmental agency, business, and social movement organizational decision making. In an effort to strengthen our sociological understandings of organizational and interorganizational processes that contribute to environmental harm and improvement, this article identifies five synthetic propositions that emerge from these bodies of knowledge: (a) no organization is an island—socially or ecologically, (b) environmental claims require environmental evidence, (c) corporate environmental actions vary and are context dependent, (d) organizational cooperation and cooptation are two sides of the same coin, and (e) cumulative environmental impacts of organizational change are constrained by system tendencies.
Abstract: In this paper, we argue that novels, mysteries and nonfiction books can provide undergraduate students with an accessible and exciting place to explore sociological concepts. Using storytelling as a pedagogical tool, we teach students key theoretical ideas by analyzing the books in their specific sociocultural contexts. First, we put forward three different strategies for using nontraditional readings in the classroom. We then present standardized assessment data to measure how well these strategies helped to meet our student learning goals: increasing engagement, enhancing conceptual understanding and improving analytic ability. We also discuss what we consider to be the pedagogical costs and benefits of using these approaches in the classroom.
Abstract: Critical thinking is often presented as a generic technique. This article develops an alternative that links critique more closely to the sociological perspective. I suggest three answers to the above question: that the sociological perspective is critical for comprehending complex issues, that all sociology is implicitly critical by virtue of its debunking tendency, and that some sociology is explicitly critical by virtue of value commitments that lead to a critique of domination. The article identifies some basic themes of what it means to think sociologically, discusses sociology’s “double critique” in more detail, illustrates the critical potential of scientific, humanistic and critical approaches to sociology, and explores some implications of this approach for how we teach sociology. It concludes by suggesting that the goal of fostering critical thinking in our students might better be met by returning to the critical roots of our own discipline.