Students contrast a scholarly text with a popular news article and discuss the relationship between the arguments and the limitations of them.
Goal: To critically assess weaknesses and limitations of popular arguments through the application of institutional and behavior theory.
Introduction/Background: In her sociology sections, Nicole used a controversial pop-sociology article written by Kay Hymowitz, the author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, as a case study for Professor Mary Brinton's theory on the relationship between institutions and individual behaviors and actions.
- Before Class. Students read an excerpt of Brinton's book, in which she gives scholarly sociological treatment to the supposed bad behavior of "the lost generation."
- The class first went over Brinton's theory, mapping it out on the board.
- After this discussion, the class came to understand the main question as: "How did the range of life choices used to be constructed and how are they coming to be constructed now?" At that point, Nicole handed out the pop-sociology article by Kay Hymowitz, which was printed in the Wall Street Journal. The students took about 8 minutes to read the article.
- Afterward, they discussed Hymowitz's argument and evidence, and the limitations of her analysis.
- Lastly, they then discussed how they would conduct a study of Hymowitz's "child-men" using Professor Brinton's work as a model. What questions would they ask? How could they better research the topics presented in Hymowitz's work.
See below for the article and lesson plan.
Submitted by Nicole Deterding, Department of Sociology