MY SUPERPOWER IS SOCIOLOGY, WHAT’S YOURS?

 

*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***

INTRODUCTION

What does it mean to be a sociologist? This is a question that I have spent the last seven years of my life trying to answer. We know how to define sociology; but what does it mean to be a sociologist? Here is my take on this question. Being a sociologist is in many ways like being a superhero. Everyone who comes into the field has an origin story of how they became a sociologist (or a sociology major). They have experiences that acted as a calling to this field, and that act as a motivation or a drive which allows them to do the work that they do. Also, everyone in the field has unique skill sets, which are kind of like superpowers, that allow them to tackle pressing social issues present in society.

Although sociologists, like superheroes, are unique in many aspects, one way in which they are all alike is how they discover and present information about social phenomena. The primary way that sociologists communicate about the world is through the research process. Constructing a research project at first can seem like a rather daunting task, especially to an undergraduate student who has never done something like this before. But, it is something that can be accomplished with ease (well, hard work). In this paper, I discuss my own origin story that explores not only how I became a sociologist but also how I found a passion for research. I then talk about how I used that passion to create and develop my own original research project that I presented and refined until I reached a thesis topic for my master’s program.

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Telling Fish to Climb Trees: Standardized Testing and its Flaws

 

 

“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid. “-Albert Einstein

One of my ongoing struggles is my performance on standardized test. In elementary school and middle school, it was the PSSAs, in high school, it was the ACTs and SATs, and now that I am in college it is the GREs. One thing that these test all have in common aside from the fact that they are standardized is that the majority of them predicted that I wouldn’t do well where I was going. For middle school, this wasn’t that big of a deal. However, in high school and, now in college, as I am looking at advanced degrees this is a huge deal. I have proved time and time again that my test scores don’t speak to my intellectual abilities, yet I face the same struggles everytime I look for a new degree to pursue. Admissions committees don’t believe that I am a strong enough candidate because this test says so.  We live in a society that puts so much emphasis on attaining degrees and building a career, but we regulate entry to these programs with a tool that systematically oppresses and discriminates against students who aren’t a part of the majority. In this blog post, I will be discussing the standardized test, what they are, and the limitations that they have in regards to predicting a student’s potential to perform well.

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Social Psychology and Disability

*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***

        At some point in everyone’s life, they will either have known someone with a disability or have had a disability themselves. Disability can manifest from genetics, a spur of the moment injury or ailment, or as a result of the aging process. When we study disability what we see is a lot of intersectionality across race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, etc. and this is because disability doesn’t care about who you are or where you come from it is a natural part of life, and it can affect anybody, at any time. The onset of disability reminds people that they are not invisible or eternal, but they are in fact human. How does this reality impact our attitudes and perceptions of individuals with disabilities? What are challenges that individuals with disabilities face in regards to identity? How do individuals with disabilities embody their identity? These are all questions that can be answered through research in a subfield of sociology known as Social Psychology. Social Psychology is a subfield of Sociology that explores how feelings, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, intentions and goals are constructed and how these concepts contribute to our interactions with other people and environments. Social Psychology merges the disciplines of sociology and psychology together allowing the disciplines to share and create methodologies, and theoretical constructs. Social Psychologist study topics such as social structure and personality, expectations states theory, self-concept, self-esteem, symbolic interactionism, dramaturgical analysis, socialization, emotion, embodiment, and identity. By utilizing the concepts brought by the field of social psychology, disability scholars can better understand how individuals construct and embody their identity.

In this blog post, I will begin by conceptualizing the term disability. I will conceptualize the term disability by discussing combating definitions of disability. Then, I will introduce the social psychology of disability covering topics such as attitudes and perceptions, effects of stigma, and disability identity. Finally, I will end the blog post by summarizing the key points that were made throughout.

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What Sociology Can Tell Us About Intellectual Disabilities

*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***

Defining Intellectual Disability:

Intellectual Disability (ID) is a new diagnostic term that is being used in the DSM-V, to replace the older terminology of Mental Retardation (MR). According to The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), Intellectual Disability is defined as “a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability is said to originate before the age of 18” [[i]]. To understand what this definition is saying we also need to understand what intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviors are. Intellectual functioning is also referred to as intelligence and specifically talks about and individual’s general mental capacity which is measured by a standardized IQ exams. A note here would be that IQ exams are not always entirely accurate, so it is important to pay attention to the other diagnostic criteria as well to avoid misdiagnosis. Individuals with ID usually fall two standard deviations below the mean leaving them with an IQ score of 70-75. Adaptive behaviors, on the other hand, are skills that people use to complete tasks in their daily lives that usually fall into three categories: conceptual skills, social skills, and practical skills. It is important to know that intellectual disabilities exist on a scale that ranges from moderate to severe and that these individuals have the ability to be autonomous and live happy and fulfilling lives. To further break down what the term means, and to discover the characteristics see the video below

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