Sociologist Dingxin Zhao argues that in an authoritarian society, social movements are radical while in democratic states, social movements are reformist. In his book, The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, Zhao argues that even though Western societies position the media as an independent agent, Zhao’s research shows that the media tends to portray the views of the dominant culture. By representing the majority, the media are actually conformist.
In an authoritative regime, the media are under state control. Zhao argues that in China in the mid-1980s, the media tried to escape state control by reporting positively on the student protest movement. Similarly, Zhao argues that universities are more radical in an “underdeveloped authoritarian regime” than in Western societies. In China, the university system “over produced” students who then joined radical social movements.
Zhao’s comparative focus on state institutions and social institutions remains ever useful.
Photo: Dingxin Zhao (University of Chicago) speaking at the Third Chinese Political Sociology Workshop. By UChicago Beijing via Flickr.
Here’s a brief visual overview about how sociology is used beyond universities. Applied sociology is the use of sociological concepts and methods to answer specific client questions and to address community concerns.
Physics and astronomy are amongst the least diverse sciences in the USA (with biology being relatively more diverse). In 2012, only one PhD in Astronomy was conferred to a Black American scholar and two to Latin Americans; in Physics two were to African Americans and three to Latins.
In 15 minutes, Buddhini Samarasinghe and I will be speaking with Dr Inger Mewburn. Inger is the Director of Research Training at the Australian National University. Her background was in architecture, but she’s specialised in education research since 2006. We will discuss Inger’s research on the gender experiences of PhD students as they negotiate their relationships with their supervisors and administration. She will also discuss her popular blog, The Thesis Whisperer, which provides practical advice for students across STEM fields. Inger will share insights for women research students and also tell us about her career, and provide tips for navigating a successful path in academia.
In a study published earlier this year, Inger and colleagues find gendered patterns in the way postgraduates negotiate their supervisor and administration relationships. Women are more likely than men to struggle with university bureaucracy. Even filling in progress reports can be fraught with anxiety about how they may be negatively judged. Women are also less likely to report problems with their supervisors, while men find it relatively easy to approach their supervisors for help and support.
Inger will discuss how these gender differences are linked to institutional processes that prevent women from realising their full potential in STEM. We’ll discuss how we can better support women PhD students navigate the academic system and prevent the so-called leaky pipeline.
This morning, I co-hosted a STEM Women on G+ event along with Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe. We spoke with two women who work on Google’s IT Residency Program. We asked them about how women can get involved with this program and how it helps them manage working in a male-dominated field. Erin Leverton manages the program which runs across several cities (including Sydney). They recruit new graduates like Samantha Schaevitz who spoke with us about her experience transitioning from studying computer science and working at the IT helpdesk in her university, to training on the program, and then getting a permanent role at Google as an engineer.
It was especially interesting to hear that Google recruits people who have strong social skills and training in other fields, rather than simply just for their technical speciality. For example Erin also had a language background (Spanish) as part of her degree and she gave a couple of examples of people hired from the social sciences (psych and neuropsychology). I enjoyed hearing Sam talk about the applied science aspects of her job. Specifically, how working on software engineering projects as part of the program took her in new directions that she would not have otherwise have thought of while studying.
Watch our chat on the video below and look out for a write up on the STEM Women blog! http://stemwomen.net
Join us with 20 minutes – I’ll be co-hosting this Hangout on Air for STEM Women with Buddhini Samarasinghe. We’re chatting with Erin Leverton and Samantha Schaevitz from Google’s IT Residency Program (ITRP), who’ll tell us about how women can get involved in engineering roles with Google!
ITRP is an opportunity for new graduates to jumpstart their careers in IT, and the program is making tremendous strides for women in IT (http://www.google.com/jobs/students/ITRP). We will discuss how the ITRP creates opportunities for women in Tech, and hear first-hand how being a part of ITRP has benefited our panellists.
Applied Sociology in Action: Student Protests in Taiwan & Australia
New on my blog, I look at the similarities in the public reactions to student protest in Taiwain and Australia. In March, sociology students in Taiwan were criticised for being released from class to attend peaceful protests occupying a government building. They were protesting a trade-in-service agreement with China. On the one hand, Taiwan’s Education Minister said that teachers should support their students’ education rights. On the other hand, he criticised teachers for supporting this through peaceful protest. Instead, he argued that teachers should have done this _”through rational debates and discussions.”
Today in Australia, students are being similarly critiqued for protesting the deregulation of university fees as a result of the impending national budget. Universities Australia told the ABC program Lateline on 3rd of June that increased fees will mean up to a 60% increase in debt for some university degrees. This translates to an additional 6 years of repayments for full-time workers. For a part-time worker who takes time away from paid work to start a family, the research suggests this could mean up to 20 years additional debt.
Much like the Taiwanese students, Australian students have been criticised for disrupting another popular ABC political program, Q&A, as part of their demonstration, and for ongoing peaceful marches around the country. The student protests were even called, effectively, “undemocratic” and “unproductive” by conservative commentators.
The idea that students should be relegated to quiet debate behind closed doors is the antithesis of social justice movements and civil rights action. Only people in power, who are not at risk by new laws, would make such an argument. It’s clear that class and power play out in similar ways in two very different democratic contexts in the Asian region.
Read more on my blog: http://buff.ly/1hX192f #sociology #socialscience #education #students #australia #taiwan
In this video, I discuss the careers panel that I sat on as part of the annual conference for The Australian Sociological Association (TASA). I focus on the panel discussion about how to translate theory into practice when you’re working outside academia. I also cover workplace ethics in the video, as well issues about managing professional identity outside of academia and the importance of networking. I was asked about how I manage my research consultancy business. I talk about how to market yourself and how to establish a professional reputation with prospective clients using social media.
Very excited to be co-hosting this Science on Google+ event along with Buddhini Samarasinghe. We are chatting with paleontologists Jason Osborne and Dr Aaron Alford about their efforts to improve citizen science. In particular, we’ll talk about outreach to students through data collection. I especially love their work that gives youth from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to participate in practical science, including a chance to publish their findings.
Join us on STEM Women in less than 30 minutes as we talk about how parents can support girls’ education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)! We’ll discuss how parents might use experiments, storytelling and other activities to connect with and bolster their daughters’ STEM passion.
Dr Buddhini Samarasinge and I will speak to Professor Rajini Rao, Dr Bill Carter and Dr La Vergne Lestermeringolo Thatch about the challenges and rewards that come with encouraging girls to pursue a STEM career someday!
A write up of the discusison can be found on STEM Women.