Volume 27, Number 1, September 2017
Using this issue
This document briefly describes the resources provided as SociologyReviewExtras for this issue, and then offers suggestions for using each of the articles in this issue.
This issue has the regular feature of suggestions for using the articles. In addition, there is an exercise on educational inequality to help you practise the skill of understanding and using data. There is also a concept test based on the topic of ‘Families and households’. The PowerPoint presentation looks at some aspects of crime and punishment.
Blacklisted! (p. 2)
You should complete the activities suggested by the author at the end of his article. It would also be a good idea to discuss with your teacher the possibility of inviting Jack Fawbert to come and give a talk to your class. Expenses for this depend on where your school/college is located, so this would need to be checked out carefully. In addition, look at the most recent crime statistics and discuss with your classmates the balance between different types of crime.
Can you find examples of corporate crime in the list? You might also take a look at how the BBC reported the latest crime figures, which also contains a discussion of how the statistics are collected. The link also includes a clip of Det Supt Simon Warwick of the Metropolitan Police talking about how officers tackle crime.
Education in prisons (p. 18)
This article provides a useful opportunity, especially for second-year students, to design a questionnaire on the topic of the purpose of imprisonment and the issue of prisoner education. It is best to work in small groups of three or four. When you have completed your questionnaire, each group should make a copy of their result for each of the other groups, so that each one can be discussed, and possible problems or issues identified. Note: this should be treated as a classroom exercise, rather than something you are going to administer to ‘outsiders’.
You should read the article carefully first. Below are some guidelines to help you:
- We will assume that the purpose of your research is to explore people’s attitudes to imprisonment.
- Decide how you will obtain your sample and how large this will be.
- What problems might there be in (a) obtaining an appropriate sample and (b) ensuring that it was representative?
- Will it be self-administered (e.g. an online questionnaire), or by trained researchers? (Give reasons for your decision.)
- What ethical and practical problems might there be, and how would you overcome these?
- Would you have closed or open-ended questions, or a mixture of both? (Give reasons for your choice.)
- How would you introduce the topic of prisoner education? For example, you might at some point include a statement such as: ‘There is growing evidence that education in prison can reduce rates of reoffending,’ and follow this with some supplementary questions.
- How would you analyse the replies?
- Are there any other issues that you have identified?
‘I don’t want to be the best… just normal’ (p. 24)
Use the material in this article to prepare and write an answer to the following specimen question. You should also consult your class notes and textbooks on this topic.
Official figures for 2016 showed that in state schools, Attainment 8 scores* for Chinese, mixed-ethnic and Asian pupils at GCSE were higher than the national average, while those for white and black pupils were below the national average. White pupils eligible for free school meals were the lowest-attaining major ethnic group. As in previous years, girls in all groups continued to do better than boys, with an average Attainment 8 score of 52.3 compared to 47.7 for boys. Some have suggested that the relative failure of white working-class pupils is a result of a lack of aspiration on the part of both the pupils and their parents, while others see it more as a disenchantment with the power of education to improve social mobility, and a view that the white working class is being ‘left behind’.
*Attainment 8 refers to the score obtained by a pupil’s best eight GCSE results. Maths scores are weighted double, as are English if both Language and Literature are taken.
With reference to the Item and your own knowledge, assess the view that the relative failure of white working-class boys is largely due to a lack of motivation and a working-class culture that fails to acknowledge the importance of education. (30 marks)
Some points to consider
- Look up some statistics — are there local authority areas where white working-class boys are doing better than in other areas? Why might this be?
- Why might Chinese and Asian parents have particularly high aspirations for their children?
- To what extent is there a shared white working-class culture?
- What studies can you cite that reinforce or cast doubt on the suggested reasons for the relative failure of white working-class boys?
- What information can you take from the article that casts doubt on the view expressed in the question?
Attitudes to contraception (p. 30)
This article raises some important issues about gender in the context of young people and sexual activity. Read it carefully and make brief notes of any points that you consider would be helpful in answering a question on gender differences, particularly in the context of young people. Think also about what differences there might have been in earlier generations. For example, were ‘one night stands’ as common? Was contraception as easy to obtain, particularly for young people? Was it still the case that avoiding pregnancy was seen as the responsibility of women? What difference has the availability of the contraceptive pill made? List some of the reasons for any changes that you identify.
Joan Garrod is a managing editor of Sociology Review
Hodder & Stoughton © 2017