We all live together in a society composed of increasingly smaller groups. Even if you focus on the individual level, people still take part in various social relationships and belong to one or more cultures. Putting these groups together forms a complex and intricate web. A sociologist can spend their entire career studying just one facet of this web in a given location. In Fall 2017, Florida International University professor Alfredo García’s classes looked at the Basic Ideas of Sociology and used their knowledge to expand Wikipedia’s coverage of sociology related topics.
Have you ever heard of a closed community? Closed communities are societies that intentionally try to sequester themselves away, thereby limiting exposure to other cultures. One student expanded this article to include more information about the concept and give examples of closed countries, such as North Korea. Other articles edited concerned topics such as self-estrangement, primary socialisation, and the cultural transformation theory. These sociology students also looked at the hand wave, a nonverbal communication that can be used as a form of greeting, farewell, or to gain the attention of a person or crowd.
Students also worked on an article about social class differences in food consumption. Prior to this course, the article contained no information about food deserts, areas that lack easy access to grocery stores or other markets that would provide fresh, healthy, and affordable foods to local citizens. Food deserts most frequently occur in poorer areas where inhabitants can lack transportation to grocery stores and funding to purchase better quality food items. Less healthy and cheaper food items, such as fast food and highly processed salty and sugary goods, are often more accessible in a food desert. Thus, people living in these areas must often choose a diet that will not provide them with the nutrition they require. This in part contributes to another aspect that the student included in the article – that some foods are believed to be more “upper class” because of the cost to obtain and prepare the foods, while other, cheaper foods are considered “lower class”.
For some, Wikipedia is the easiest way to learn about a new concept or topic, which is why contributions by teachers using the site as an educational tool can make such a big difference. If you would you like to include Wikipedia editing as a learning tool with your class, contact Wiki Education at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can gain access to tools, online trainings, and printed materials.
Image: File:Colin Firth – 66th Venice International Film Festival, 2009 (1).jpg, by nicolas genin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.