Last Updated on October 15, 2019 by Karl Thompson
Some of the best web sites and other sources for keeping up to date with social trends, news and sociological research. Most of these are hub sites through which the latest sociological research is published and analysed.
I’ve broken down my selection into into the following categories, and selected just 3-5 resources under each heading, so as to keep ‘the list’ manageable.
- news sites
- web sites (typically linked to sociology organisations)
- sociology podcasts
- video and documentary sites
- text books
If a resources isn’t here it doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t rate it, it just means I don’t think its as useful as the ones I have included, or it could mean I haven’t come across it, or I just haven’t found the time to link to it!
NB – I’m updating this when I can, latest update April 2018!
Recommended News Sites for Sociology Students
The sites below are those I use to keep myself up to date with the News…
The Conversation describes itself as ‘an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.’
Unlike regular news outlets, The Conversation works directly with knowledge creators, and people who work in universities have spent their whole career studying their subject specialisms in-depth, and have done so in collaboration with their peers, and so can tap into their global knowledge network with relative ease.
The Guardian’s supposedly a bit left of center, but that all depends on how left-wing your own personal politics are, and personally, I don’t think it’s that far to the left….
What I especially like about The Guardian is it’s strong focus on data journalism, which has been going strong since 2010 when it launched its Datablog, the first national data journalism site, which is a great source for finding infographics.
It’s also got a great international development section, so is a great resource for anyone studying the global development topic in the second year.
Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera Arabic was the first independent news network in the Arab world. It has since expanded to a global network in 70 countries and reaching over 300 million people. Its organisation seems to be much more decentralised and localised than other mainstream news companies (such as the BBC) and it claims to put people at the heart of reporting and to offer an alternative narrative to most mainstream news outlets.
The Week is my number one go-to source for keeping up to date with the news, because it basically summarizes all of the best news articles from the previous week from a range of global news sources and is thus a very efficient way of keeping up to date with the news while avoiding all the unnecessary fluff that goes along with the daily news. Unfortunately you can’t access very much of its content online as it’s a subscription magazine service so I’ve included it in the magazine section below.
Sociology Podcasts and Radio Shows
For this section I’m going with 3 from radio 4. If you know of any from other sources, please do share, I’d like a broader range!
I just love Thinking Allowed – it’s a great way of getting up to date information on a whole range of contemporary social research – the typical format is a sociologist summarizing their research and responding to questions from the host, or occasionally it may take the form of a ‘panel interview’ if there’s a broader topic under discussion. It’s hosted by Laurie Taylor who not only has a great voice for this sort of thing (IMO) but is also of A-level crime and deviance fame, if that counts for anything these days.
To give you some idea of just how good ‘Thinking Allowed’ is – just how relevant it can be to A-level sociology, you might like to check out my summaries of some (relatively) recent episodes – as below:
- The consequences of the ageing population
- Why do white working class kids lack aspiration (NB thanks to this, I literally cringe every time I hear the word ‘Aspire’ in the context of education.
- The myth of the america dream
This programme provides an in-depth, analytical (funny that!) look at public policy issues, and it’s presented by ‘distinguished writers and academics, so it really does ‘dig down’ into the issues. Topics for analysis are also very contemporary – although there’s a few weeks delay from when they’re ‘hot news items’ – proper analysis takes a while to put together after all! For example – interesting episodes for sociology students include programmes on whether we unconsciously harbor racist or sexist attitudes; whether it’s genes or our social environment which influence our behaviour, and there’s even an entire 30 minutes devoted to ‘The Spirit Level’ in one episode.
This show explores and debunks the statistics used in political debate. Upcoming in the new 2017 series is a focus on why it’s so hard to count some things – such as the number of dead in Grenfell Tower, or the number of Domestic Violence Incidents. (It’s not always so depressing!). The show is supported by the Open University -which has some quite nice links for exploring statistics further.
More sources to follow – this page is a work in progress. NB the list above is a general lise – relevant to all levels of students and just anyone who has a general interest in sociological issues – the list below (which I will shortly be making into an entirely separate page or post is good sites specifically for A-level students studying for those dread exams.
Good sociology Web Sites (linked to organisations)
The British Sociological Association is the biggest network of sociologists in Britain, and its primary aim is to promote sociology. It does this through its website, and also through a number of public conferences and lectures, some of which focus on specific areas of sociology, such as the ‘Work, Employment and Society Conference’.
Membership only costs around £100 per year (less if you’re a student) and gives you to access to lots of academic journals, such as ‘Sociology‘.
Ah Zygmunt Bauman (RIP) – My favourite sociologist of postmodernity – because of his critical nature and ethical concern for how the hell on (globalised) earth we’re all going to ‘get on’ with our others….
The Bauman Institute (University of Leeds) aims to ‘honour his legacy of a morally-committed form of sociology providing a constantly critical commentary on everyday life’, now there’s a cause I can get on board with!
I had to include at least one university in this list, and the LSE is a good candidate because of its global and interdisciplinary focus, which is the future of Sociology (IMO). The related blog ‘researching sociology‘ is also worth checking out.
NB, I’m including this here not because I’m recommending you to go do a degree at the LSE (although TBH you could do a lot worse), but rather because their sociology web site is one of the best.
Good sociology Blogs
Sociology Images – was founded in 2007 and ‘aims to encourage people of all backgrounds to present brief sociological discussions of imagery that fires their sociological imagination. The blog has multiple contributors and is very broad ranging, having a solid focus on a range of contemporary issues (changing gender norms is a major focus!).
What I especially like about this blog is that when it was founded in 2007, by then PhD student Lisa Wade, is that many people were sceptical about the role blogging might play in an academic’s career, 10 years later, it’s now a very well respected blog which has won teaching awards and is cross posted on various news sites. And according to this September 2017 Post: A New Era for Sociological Images, the blog is just going from strength to strength!
Good sources catering to A level Sociology Students which focus mainly on Sociology
For Starters – The Exam Board (AQA)
Before starting to revise please do check out the The AQA Specification (for Sociology!) – checking out what the exam board thinks you need to know is a good starting point for any student of A level Sociology. The AQA isn’t the only exam board, but it’s the major one and the one I teach, hence the one this site focuses on. NB the exam board doesn’t actually give you that much detail about what you need to know – so you should check out the content of the major text books – this is what they use to set the exam questions!
Chris Livsey’s Sociology Central has some excellent teaching notes – in text book style. NB The site mainly focuses on full text rather than revision resources. A very good site, and quite entertaining if you click around enough. This was one of the first web sites to go online, so it’s a bit old-school, but still useful.
The Earlham Sociology Pages contains an enormous amount of material for Sociology and Government and Politics students – some of the pages are very in-depth, so probably best used as a source of extension work.
Twynham Sociology has some useful revision diagrams and podcasts, although some the former have been designed for the old-style of exam-questions so watch out for that!
Steve Basset’s YouTube channel is the place to go for some excellent podcasts on a range of topics within Sociology – The downside of the playlist is that Steve teaches mainly minority options’ which most students don’t study! But what’s there is excellent – especially good on the theories of development (Modernisation Theory etc.), and all students could make good use of his introductory materials on sociological perspectives
Sociology sections of ‘generic revision sites’
I’m a bit of a purist, so I do prefer material that’s put online by dedicated Sociology teachers – however, there are some useful materials on yer generic revision sites – S-Cool and the like, so use these if you prefer. NB a lot of the material below is just copied straight out of text books – so you can’t go far wrong with it (well, at least no wronger than what’s in said text books, which isn’t necessarily always that right).
The Sociology section of ‘Get Revising’ which is part of the student room has a range of resources – from class notes to mind-maps – uploaded by a range of people, so the quality isn’t standardised, but there is a lot of material, and some useful stuff in there!
The Sociology section of S-Cool has some OK basic revision resources – but it doesn’t cover the whole specification anywhere near comprehensively and it’s a bit basic, but a good starting point if you want the basics!
The History Learning Site – I have to begrudgingly admit that this has some useful material on it as it’s pitched at a nice level for A level students – the reason I begrudge it is because whoever writes the sociology material seems to have copied out a dated (as in 20 years old) text book which is ironically useful because the exam board’s specification is also set 20 years in the past. Honestly, you couldn’t write the script, well I couldn’t because I actually live in the present.
Good sources for further reading/ research
Thinking Allowed – this is a weekly broadcast/ podcast by radio four which typically focuses on two pieces of recent sociological research. Of particular interest are the annnual ethnography awards – which outline some of the best recent ethnographic studies done in the UK and abroad on a range of topics.
Good sites for Class, Gender and Ethnic Inequalities
Sociology Teaching Resources for Sale
You might be interested in my latest (November 2019) teaching resource pack which contains everything teachers need to deliver 10 hour long ‘introduction to sociology’ lessons.
Included in the bundle is a clearly structured 50 page gapped student work-pack, six PowerPoints* to structure the 10 lessons, 10 detailed lesson plans outlining a range of learning activities you can use with students, a massive list of relevant contemporary resources with links, and numerous lesson activities including introductions, plenaries and links to some Socrative quizzes.
These resources contain all the core sociology knowledge students need for a through introduction sociology, illustrated with numerous up to date contemporary case studies and statistics.
The resources have been designed for A-level sociology and cover the core themes on the AQA’s specification but are suitable for new 16-19 students studying any specification.
You might also like these teaching resources for the sociology of education. They are specifically designed for A-level sociology students and consist of several versions of key concepts definitions (80 concepts in total), gapped summary grids with answers covering the entire sociology of education specification and 7 analysis activities.
If you want to get both of the above resources and receive regular updates of teaching resources then you can subscribe for £9.99 a month. I’ll be producing 10 hour long lessons worth of resources every month throughout 2020 and beyond. The £9.99 subscription means you get the resources for 50% off the usual £19.99 price.