sociology for the public


Decoding academicese.


Consider the places and spaces where you acquire food, prepare food, talk about food, or generally gather some sort of meaning from food. This is … Read More

The Precariat

Economist Guy Standing explains how millions of people are in the precariat, and in defining this emerging class, points to the dangerous political and social consequences as well as the exciting progressive revival that this class could produce. Read More

Open Access

Librarian Jill Cirasella describes some problems with the traditional system of scholarly journal publishing and explains how scholars can make their works open access, or freely available online. She discusses some of the benefits of open access, as well as some of the challenges to achieving widespread openness. Read More


Scholar Melissa M. Wilcox provides a historical overview of the development of self-chosen terminology among same-sex attracted and gender-nonconforming people in the twentieth and twenty-first century, particularly in Western Anglophone cultures. She explains why certain terms are preferred over others, as well as when and why the preferred terms have changed. Read More


The funny cat pictures and viral videos known as "internet memes" fill our inboxes and social media sites. Scholar Alice Marwick provides an overview of memes, a history of the term and its overall significance. Read More


Johanna Bockman unpacks a hefty term, neoliberalism. She cites its roots and its uses, decoding it as a description of a ""bootstraps"" ideology that trumpets individualism and opportunity but enforces conformity and ignores structural constraints. Read More

Immigration Reform

The phrase immigration reform has been around since the early history of the country, and its meaning varies according to different social perspectives of whether to admit more immigrants or limit their numbers. Sociologist Nestor Rodríguez argues that while immigration reform may open the door for some new immigrants, invariably it keeps other immigrants out, sometimes because of restrictive regulations adopted by the administering government agencies. Read More


Speciesism, coined in the 1970s, means the implicit superiority of one species, usually humans, over all others. Sociologist Lisa Jean Moore discusses this term and how sociologists are primed to use the concept in teaching and research. Read More

Academic Capitalism

Social scientists have been seeking conceptual terminology that captures how and why universities are engaging in direct and indirect market activity. Sociologist Steve G. Hoffman argues that, in the United States, several key trends have developed from the late 1970s to the present period that warrant the term "academic capitalism." Read More


The neurodiversity movement emerged as an extension of the disability rights movement to include the those individuals with neurological differences. Micki McGee posits that neurodiversity is also a response to the neoliberalism of the past three decades that has (1) shifted responsibility for individuals with neurological and cognitive challenges back to the family, and (2) fostered a crippling speed-up in our workplaces while simultaneously requiring new levels of sociability and flexibility that render more people debilitated or disabled. The article concludes that demands for the rights of neurologically diverse populations may challenge the very framework of liberal personhood. Read More