"Examining Media Depictions of Officer Involved Shootings in Relation to the Social and Political Constructs of Race."
Lisa G. Long, PhD
W.E.B DuBois began discussions over 100 years ago claiming that race was a social construct in our United States of America. Many sociologists and scientists have continued these debates and discussions regarding the social and political construction of race, particularly, skin-color. Currently, our country is experiencing a perceived “great-divide” over race and politics. One could argue that this current divide has been stemmed by recent events that have occurred between law enforcement officers and members of the Black community.
The author will examine the impact that mainstream media and social media have had in causing this current divide. Are their depictions of recent events accurate, or simply a ploy to continue to perpetuate the social and political construction of race in America? Heider’s attribution theory examines an individual’s cognitive processes and how such create or impose causal order in decision making. When people experience particular environmental stimuli, they then give credence to these causal inferences. In addition, the social identity theory can be used to further explain or emphasize the differences in one’s causal inferences.
Mainstream media and social media are seen to be responsible for the dissemination of information in today’s society. It is important to examine the methods that are being used as well as the political agendas of each of these media outlets. The examination will culminate in a discussion regarding recommendations and suggestions as to how the media and social media can mitigate some of the division that we are currently experiencing as a nation. Additionally, the author will further examine the idea that race is a social and political construct.
"Teaching Sociology and Empowering Change Agents: Course Content, Frame Resonance, and Narrative Fidelity."
Wade P. Smith, Ph.D.
While much attention has been given to the topic of teaching sociology, the body of work exploring this topic has focused primarily on thinking critically about what we teach and identifying ways we can improve upon how we teach. Limited attention has been given to exploring the social and political consequences of teaching sociology. Given the substantial number of students that enroll in sociology courses on college campuses each year and the inclusion of sociology courses in many high school curricula, more attention to this topic is warranted. Given that sociologists devote considerable theoretical attention to the causes and consequences of beliefs, ideas, and worldviews, we should, I argue, grant more analytical and theoretical attention to the consequences of teaching sociology—that is, the consequences of promoting a specific worldview in the sociology classroom. I thus theoretically consider the social and political consequences of both what we teach and how we teach. Specifically, I apply conceptual frameworks from social movements and social problems literature to theoretically explore the social and political significance of teaching sociology. I demonstrate that teaching resources and class content are often presented in a style that mirrors “the basic rhetorical recipe” of social problems claimsmaking. Moreover, I argue that the conceptual and theoretical claims made in the sociology classroom often align with the conceptual and theoretical claims of social movements and social problems claimsmakers. In turn, sociology instructors contribute to the frame resonance and narrative fidelity these movements and claimsmakers seek. In conclusion, I argue that in teaching sociology we empower change agents.