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I established the sociology consultative forum in November 2013 to bring together representatives from schools, colleges, subject associations and universities to discuss shared areas of interest within the field of sociology. The forum has proven really popular and ever since we’ve held two forums a year.
Our last forum was held at the beginning of October and yet again it was great to receive such positive feedback from members. During the morning we focused on GCSE development. This involved a practical activity with members working in groups to identify and discuss synoptic links within the draft GCSE sociology subject content that went out for public consultation during the summer (to view a copy visit the Department for Education website).
In the afternoon we were delighted to hear Professor Daniel Miller talk about the Global Social Media Impact Study that is currently taking place, investigating how people use social media today. As part of the study, the impact of social media on people’s relationships, especially the family, gender, intimate relationships and friendships is being explored with nine different ethnographic studies taking place around the world. Danny Miller spoke about his findings which included the importance of the meaning of selfies, as well as the ways in which memes are becoming the new ‘moral police’ of the internet (I was new to memes but apparently they are most commonly an image with a funny saying).
There are some brilliant short video clips being produced that will be well worth a look. There was one on ‘Twitter Beef’ – another term I was new to but refers to teenage arguments on social media. ‘The plague of WhatsApp in Brazil’ shows a frustrated mother; her daughter used to clean the house but is now constantly on WhatsApp. Another mother is shown animatedly saying “…at midday she has to put the beans on the stove, she does that, and the beans burn because she’s on WhatsApp…the pan’s burning, the beans are burning…”!
The ‘Globalisation and the Digital Social World’ content on our new A Level Specification is bound to be very appealing to students who it seems cannot imagine a world without a smart phone or tablet to hand! You may wish to look at the Global Social Media Impact Study in conjunction with our Component 3 content, or as an example of ethnographic research methods which is in Component 2 Section A. The videos being produced by the study team could be great as a lesson starter, or using the flipped learning approach for students to watch in their own time with questions to answer in advance of their next lesson. The research project, based at University College London, finishes in May 2017 and what’s great is I believe the team are planning to make materials freely available in February 2016 – a visit to the website is recommended!
Helen Hemmings - Subject Specialist - Sociology
Helen has worked at Cambridge Assessment for nine years (with a brief gap when she spent a year in New Zealand). For the last two years she has worked at OCR initially managing OCR’s Psychology assessments, then moving across to work on Sociology which she is extremely passionate about! Helen studied Sociology at A Level (she still clearly remembers writing her coursework on conjugal roles!) and then as part of her university degree. In her spare time, family life keeps Helen busy especially as she has two young children.