The BSA Teaching Group’s National A Level Competition invites essays and short videos from sociology students allowing you to win an Apple iPad Mini and £500 for your school. Enter now via by emailing your submission to Claire Simmons, Membership Development Officer.
The A Level Competition is open to anyone currently studying at A Level, AS Level, Scottish Higher Level or equivalent post-16 qualification in sociology, and we encourage you to be as creative as possible with your answers!
This year’s question ‘What can Sociology contribute to the debate about “fake news”?‘ The aim of this question is to get you thinking about news and public information and to link to the modules you have studied or are about to study. To enter all you need to do is submit a 2,000-word written piece or a 10-minute podcast or video clip. The closing date for this is Friday, 15 December 2017.
Entries are expected to refer to results obtained from their own primary method of research using a suitable sample. This could be an observation, an interview or a questionnaire based study. All research carried out for this competition has to abide the ethical guidelines of research, as stated in the BSA’s Statement of Ethical Practice. If you have any questions regarding the competition criteria, please contact: Claire Simmons.
How to enter:
Membership Development Officer
British Sociological Association
Belmont Business Park
Terms and conditions:
Year 13 Sociology students enjoyed a really fruitful visit to the University of Sussex. After a quick pit stop for drinks and snacks, the day started with a talk by an ex-student giving introduction to student life. We learnt about the ‘dos and don’ts’ of writing UCAS personal statements, the myriad of societies on offer, degree types, scholarships, accommodation and much, much more.
Dr. Paul McGuinness then delivered a really interesting lecture examining the differences between classic and positivist approaches to criminology. For example, we learnt about the enlightenment period and the influence of social contract theory upon neo-liberalism. The lecture was not ‘dumbed down’ at all for our students and whilst some found the language and style quite daunting and very different to A-level lessons, it gave them a valuable insight into the teaching at universities. Moreover, much of the lecture content is directly applicable to the A-level specification so the lecture should give our students a real advantage when they are trying to access the higher grades.
After a tour of the campus and canteen lunch, students attended their second lecture of the day with Dr. Jamie Barnes who deconstructed culture and gender by applying some of the key arguments of Marcel Mauss, Pierre Bourdieu and Iris Marion Young to help challenge conventional thinking about these social factors. The highlight of the lecture was when Dr Barnes asked the students and teachers to model gendered behaviour, whilst slightly embarrassing, it was a fun way to help emphasise how gender is ‘embodied’ and whilst our behaviour appears natural, it is far from it.
Marcel Mauss (1872-1950)
Culture – generated meanings from living together.
Ideologies become embedded into us which appear natural.
The social is expressed through the collective which becomes inscribed in the body.
Things that appear natural are not. Even simple things such as swimming are done differently in every culture.
Pierre Bourdieu – ‘The Peasant and his Body’
‘Habitus’ – the socially acquired embodied systems of dispositions history is turned into nature.
Gender – what does the way we act say about the embodiment of gender?
Iris Marion Young – Throwing like a Girl’
Strongly disagrees with Erwin Strauss who argues that girls and boys throw differently due to biology.
‘Every human existence is defined through its situation’ (Simone de Beauvoir). Femininity is a set of structures particular to a culture.
‘We feel as though we must have our attention directed upon our bodies to make sure they are doing what we wish them to do, rather than paying attention to what to do through our bodies’.
Women fail to make full use of spatial and lateral positions – sitting, standing etc.
Women are aware of being objectified (male gaze).
Gender scripts are very defined and hard to break – women who do try and break out of them are often publicly chastised and seen as a deviant. Famous female sports players such as the Williams sisters have often been denounced for being too masculine and it being unfair for the other female players!
Wonder Woman is a very good contemporary example of a more powerful representation of females which has been welcomed by many female audiences. However, the film still clearly sexualises the women – so have things changed that much?
How do these ideas link to the family topic?
Embodiment of gender scripts clearly relates to the feminist argument that patriarchal biological determinist arguments are unfounded. New Right and functionalists argue that it is natural for women to fulfill the expressive role but Young and Mauss in particular help explain why this is not the case. Women are socialised to be caring, to be feminine and gentle. There is nothing natural about it. There is no reason why men cannot be socialised in this way too and increasingly with the rise of the new man, it appears that this is already happening to some extent. Feminism has had a massive impact upon how British people view the roles within the family and without doubt, many males are happy to pursue a much more expressive role than their forefathers.
A must listen for Y13 students:
The argument has a political (right vs. left wing) and scientific dimension.
The classic approach could be considered to directly relate to governing whilst the scientific approach is directly linked to Lombroso.
During this time the ideas of Cesare Beccaria were influential:
The idea of the social contract also became ubiquitous: that free rational individuals sacrifice part of their freedom so it maintains peace and security.
Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham utilised a ‘hedonistic calculus’ to argue that individuals used a cost benefit analysis between pain and pleasure. Therefore, most people don’t commit crime if the pain will clearly outweigh the pleasure. The action is right if it creates happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the reverse of happiness—not just the happiness of the performer of the action but also that of everyone affected by it.
E.G Lombroso – profiling according to head size, extra nipples etc.!
How do these ideas link to the beliefs in society topic?
The enlightenment is a key period in social history because it was perhaps the first time the hegemonic status quo was challenged by an organised group of intellectuals which then spread to the public consciousness. One of the reasons some countries in Europe are considered to be more secular is because they experienced the enlightenment. On the other hand, the USA didn’t which has therefore has lead to greater levels of religiosity.
How do these ideas link to the crime and deviance topic?
The classical approach is still very influential particularly upon neo-liberalism (a common ideology throughout the world) which views individuals as rational actors therefore when they commit a crime, they need to be punished fully. The right wing press are an influential part of this ideology. This is very different to the left wing approach which tends to look at wider social factors such as social class.
It could also be argued that there is a subconscious observance to the positivist approach – perhaps legal professionals follow what Cicourel labels the ‘typical deviant’ – someone who might look too dissimilar to the criminal types identified by Lombroso.