Date of Award
Master of Arts
Harry F. Dahms
Michelle Brown, Robert E. Jones
Adolescence is a time of drastically increased sociological inequality. This thesis explores the possibility of using an educational sociology television show as a means to increase teen empowerment by developing their sociological imagination. After reviewing the causes of increased inequality during adolescence, I probe the link between sociology and empowerment by critiquing Mills’ conception of the sociological imagination. After finding his formulation incomplete, I use Bandura’s social cognitive theory to fill the gaps in the original framework and derive a new expanded sociological imagination focused on increasing efficacy. Efficacy is the social science construct most closely related to empowerment, and without an explicit focus on increasing it, highlighting the links between history and biography (Mills’ original concept) is very likely to cause resignation amongst substantial portions of students. The expanded sociological imagination’s focus on efficacy means that sociology instructors have to either provide mastery experiences or model for students how sociological knowledge can lead to better outcomes compared to a purely individualistic approach. I demonstrate how this can be done in a television program that follows entertainment-education best practices. I also use the expanded model to derive both a list of cognitive components that comprise sociological thinking and a skeletal storyline that can integrate sociology into a television program regardless of the amount of narrative. A case study that is attempting to integrate sociology and television is examined, followed by an exploration as to the type of research necessary to gauge the effectiveness of sociological edutainment programming. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how the E-SI might benefit undergraduate instruction of introductory sociology and its implications for ongoing efforts to bring sociology to high school.
Phoenix, Jon Cariba, "Using Audio/Visual Media to Increase the Sociological Imagination of an Adolescent Audience. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2014.