Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Alternative Careers in Sociology, Vol. I

With apologies to Howzi, from whom I ripped off the idea

Last night I caught the Show Veronica Mars for the first time, a show that as far as I can figure out is about some spunky young lady who solves mysteries, ala Nancy Drew, but is bit more cynical and shows more skin than I ever remember Mz. Drew doing. Anyway, in last night's episode, there was a powerful guest spot from Dan "Homer Simpson" Castellaneta as a...wait for it...sociology professor. Now, for the record, he did not wear a leather jacket with tweed elbow patches on it, only to find out that it's supposed to be a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, thereby ruining a perfectly good jacket (correction, two perfectly good jackets!).

In the episode, the hard-assed sociology prof tempted his students into spending a weekend recreating the Zimbardo prison experiment (well, they didn't call it that, but 'taint to many people who did that exact study) with promises of not having to do the final paper. This got me thinking about two interesting ideas for teaching. The first would be submitting students to studies that would never pass the IRB instead of making them do papers I have to grade.

But the other thought was about how you rarely see sociology profs portrayed on television, or hear about sociologists in general. As Uggen recently pointed out, there are many famous sociology majors floating out there, form Dr. King, to Joe Theisman, to Regis, to Pete Seeger, and even the Gipper himself, Ronnie Reagan. While every list you can find wih a quick and easy google search turns up the same list of names compiled by the ASA a few years back, surely there must be famous sociology majors missed by that one list. It has now become my mission to find those people, and out them for the sociologists that they are.

The sad thing is, I'm legitmately kind of excited about this. Sigh...


Lars said...

Well for starters, there's this (which might start you down a path):

I remeber when this aired because, as a Tarheel (maybe not born, but at least bred), it was a source of both amusement and dismay. I also remember an interview with Jason Williams on Chicago Public Radio that he started Duke as a pre-med major, but it was "too hard" and switched over to sociology, which allowed him to graduate in 3 years.

Here at UNC, someone in the athletic department told me that football players are encouraged to major in sociology because they "just get" the material better.

None of which answers the questions of where are the famous sociology majors, except that I am sure, if you looked, the suspicion that a lot of athletes were soc. majors would be confirmed.

Lars said...


Woz said...

Thanks for the link, Lars. I mentioned in Chris' blog on the subject that I'm sure a great deal of athletes were soc majors, but I'm now thinking it will be hard to prove because the athletes that are famous enough to be recognizable names are probably also the athletes that did not graduate.

Nonetheless, my convenience sample of football games I watch instead of doing my readings seems to confirm my hypothesis...

Faculty Positions said...

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