Being a Sociologist at a SLAC

I haven’t posted on the blog in a while, and I feel a bit guilty. This is that time of year when it becomes hard to find time for any of the things we’ve got to do. Today in Social Theory I taught Coser on the Functions of Social Conflict. We had a great conversation that ended with me ranting about sports rivalries being a venue for a sort of non-realistic conflict for blue collar folks. I don’t know if that’s reasonable or not, but around here you’ve got a lot of Buffalo Bills and SU fans. The SU fans hate Georgetown with passion, and when I think Buffalo, I think blue collar. Upstate New York has been largely abandoned by 21st century capitalism, so I guess if you can’t change the power the elite have over the economy, you can at least be proud SU beat Georgetown in the last Big East tournament match up ever. That’s a big deal. This section of Social Theory has been really great this year. The students are really engaged even though it’s an 8:30 AM section. There is at least one student who understood Parsons better than I ever did. How about that?

Then in a senior criminology seminar I covered how to do basic descriptive statistics and OLS using SPSS. SPSS crashed in the first section, but we pulled through. The students are relatively intimidated by SPSS, and so a big part of teaching it is just proving it can be done. When it crashes every time you teach it, that makes it a fun challenge! In the next month I’ll be working with 36 students to help them do analysis of all sorts of data relevant to all sorts of research questions. The topics are really good this year, so it’ll be tiring and fun.

At the end of this week I’m presenting 2 papers at the meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society. One is about community in a Catholic parish that has undergone some quite major changes over the last few years. The other is an attempt to theorize obedience by accounting for culture, institutions, and interaction. Neither one is finished, but I did just stay up late to get the first mostly done (before writing this quick post). I’ll spend tomorrow finishing up the second, or at least getting it into presentable shape. Then I’ll prep the two chapters I’m teaching in the crim seminar on Wednesday, and then I’ll prep to teach C. Wright Mills’ ‘Culture and Politics.’ I love that essay. I really hope the hectic nature of this week doesn’t take away from the joy of that lecture.

Oh, and I’ve got a book manuscript to review and two journal reviews due in just a couple weeks. Plus I’m on several committees, and starting a new project with a colleague in Political Science. And there is some assessment work to do, and…well you get it. Many of you ‘know’ it.

So that’s just doing sociology at a small liberal arts college. It’s a great job.