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Triangulation in the Classroom: The Importance of the Media

Author(s): Donald L. Metz


Source: Teaching Sociology, Vol. 10, No. 3, The Use of Mass Media in Sociology Curricula (Apr.,
1983), pp. 319-336
Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1317362
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This articlepresentsthe argumentthat the communicationsmedia are an indispensablepart of


the teachingof sociology. Whenthe social sciencesattemptto ignorethem, they sacrificemuch
of theircredibilityand relevance.Moreover,the mediaoffer clearinstructionaladvantages.Media
reportsmakepossiblea form of praxisinsofaras theyprovidea basis bothfor testingthe adeevents
quacy of sociologicalconceptsand assessingtheirusefulnessin explainingor interpreting
in the contemporaryworld Theycreatean opportunityfor triangulationbecausethey represent
a thirddata set in the classroomto accompanythe scholarlyliteratureand the participants'personal experiences.And they can stimulatereflexivitywhenstudents'attentionis directedtoward
theirown susceptibilityto manipulationby marketingtechniquesand towarda considerationof
the structuredbiases and materialinterestsserved by the media In addition to enhancingthe
contentof classroominstruction,the additionof mediareportscan also improvethe process by
encouragingstudents to become more activeparticipants.

Triangulationin the Classroom


The Importance of the Media
DONALD L. METZ
Marquette University

hat pile of complementary textbooks that threatens to bring


down the bookshelf is a sign of the times. Slang, styles, and
crises change every few years. The world described by a five-yearold child sounds less strange to us than that described by a fiveyear-old textbook. Because of changing empirical circumstances,
our observations of social life seem to become irrelevant, even
if they do not become inaccurate. Indeed, the inherent datedness
of sociological literature might afflict the best research more
harshly than vague research or general theory; the more precisely the researchsample and its context are specified, the more difficult it is to locate populations to which the findings apply as
conditions alter. Our sociological conclusions are timebound, and
we must invest effort not only to make them valid but to keep
them timely.
Vol. 10No. 3, April1983319-336
TEACHINGSOCIOLOGY,
@ 1983Sage Publications,Inc.
0092-055X/ 83/030319-18$2.05

319

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TEACHING SOCIOLOGY / APRIL 1983

THE INDISPENSABLE MEDIA

The semblance of headlong social change that stimulates our


efforts to keep current is in large part due to the communications media. It is in the interest of these media both to seek out
uncommon occurrencesand to make reportsof the most commonplace events seem unique, or at least new. This quest for the
appearance of newness is one area of social life in which there
is little prospect of change. Technology for handling still greater
amounts of information are ready for mass marketing. Thus, the
media present us, as sociologists, with an unavoidable problem - the necessity of continually reinterpretingour messages. At
the same time, they may offer a way of handling the problem that
has some advantages for teaching. We will do well to recognize
that the media have become an indispensable part of modern
sociology.
What follows refers primarily to the print media (particularly
newspapers and magazines), though the comments apply equally
well to the products of some aspects of the cinema, radio, and
television. For the purposes of this article, we can assume that
the products of most of the media aimed at the mass general audience deal with a limited range of topics, converge in content, and
eventually reinforce a similar, if not common, view of reality.
While we are introduced to most topics by the news sector,
documentaries, features, dramaticpresentations,humor, and even
games and puzzles eventually take up these same topics.
Some academic disciplines can safely ignore what goes on
beyond the classroom wall (although we should all at least be aware
of the economic and political pressures battering higher education from outside). Those disciplines that deal with generic units
(the physical sciences), with specific eras (history,the classics, art,
literature), or with formal processes (logic, mathematics,
philosophy) can afford to distance themselves from the contemporary world. A periodic survey of academic publications is sufficient to keep practitionersawareof minor developmentsin these
areas, and certainly of major paradigm shifts (Kuhn, 1962).
Sociology is not one of these disciplines.

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Sociology is constrained by its claim to deal with society, an


entity that is alwaysempiricallypresent. Sociologists cannot escape
to the manageable moments of deep history, to exotic places (as
does anthropology), or to the ambiguitiesof introspection(as does
psychology). Those who try such escapes cannot long remain at
liberty. At some point, sociologists must apply sociological principles to the world of their listeners. It is expected, and it is difficult. It is expected because the listener, who is a self-confirmed
expert on society, is interested in how sociology relates to what
he or she knows. The disappointment of this expectation will raise
questions about the validity and relevance of the discipline. The
application is difficult, however,because listeners representmultiple social worlds, and these worlds are constantly changing. The
media provide a means for redefining a common experience
among these differing worlds and an indicator of how they are
changing. Sociologists must deal, one way or another, with the
"society" presented by the media, with what Nancy Wendlandt
Stein refersto in this issue's introductory essay as the "competing
curriculum."
The strength of the expectation that general principles will be
applied to the empiricalpresentvaries from course to course within
sociology. The history of social thought, statistics, and certain
kinds of sociological theory may be untouched by such expectations. A few other discipline-centered courses intended for
graduate students or for majors may successfully evade them, but
courses designed for general audiences (for example, introductory, social problems, the family) or for special interests (for
example, delinquency, medical, aging) are almost by definition
required to include information on recent events. Medical
sociologists can explain epidemiology by referring to the classic
studies by Pott and Snow, but they are likely to feel compelled
by the anticipation of the students to mention modern examples
like Legionnaires Disease or Toxic Shock Syndrome. Such
references not only clarify sociological conceptualizations and
explanations, they also help to establish the credibility of the
teacher and the discipline in the eyes of the students and the
relevance of sociology to problems of the real world.

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TEACHING SOCIOLOGY / APRIL 1983

THE USEFUL MEDIA


The fact that teaching sociology requires that we give some of
our attention to the media need not be seen as a burden. Indeed,
it is not difficult to argue the contrary-that the media are useful
and can be exploited for the advantage of the discipline. They
can be consciously employed to promote some of our fundamental
classroom objectives.
PRAXIS

The media provide us with examples of concepts and explanations (or principles) that are immediate and salient. They parade
before us - observers, teachers, and students together - an array
of phenomena to be named, categorized, and understood. In the
naming, we achieve a dual purpose: We both illustrate and
legitimate our sociological materials.
Finding illustrations in the media for basic concepts is too
obvious a practice to requirefurther comment. However,the consequences of such illustration are not so obvious. For instance,
Fox and Swazey (1974) use a classical account of the gift relationship (Mauss, 1954) to explain the social complexities of organ
(kidney) transplantation in modern medical systems. One of the
messages of their work is that the social processes of organ donation are not yet institutionalized. The media regularly inform us
about cases of organ donation similar to those mentioned by Fox
and Swazey that raise new problems- of defining death, of determining the obligations of kin in life-threatening situations, of
deciding which of these expensiveproceduresshould be supported
by public funds. These actual cases help us to understand the
meaning of institutionalization, which in turn helps us to make
sense of the cases. The whole procedure is an exercise in sociological analysis. The social reality illustratesthe sociological concept; the concept illuminates the reality; the illumination
legitimates the sociological approach.
This procedure of continually seeking new illustrations can be
thought of as a rough measuring of the congruence between our

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Metz / TRIANGULATION IN THE CLASSROOM

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concepts and empirical reality.Insofar as we attempt to apply our


concepts to a wide range of data, our efforts are a form of testing.
We are asking whether our concepts are useful and how they
might be modified to be more useful. An example of this process from medical sociology is the "sick role,"a concept developed
by Parsons (1951)to describe the norms associated with someone
labeled as sick. His classification applied well enough to people
who suffered from the kind of acute, short-term illnesses that
predominated in health care until recently.However, when we use
the concept to describe present-day situations we find too many
instances where it does not fit - sick-day status defined by contract; permanently disabled individuals; and persons who have
chronic disease, mental illness, or drug dependency, for example.
We learn from our application that the established sick-role idea
should be altered or abandoned. Examples can show how certain concepts are unclear, narrow, or indiscriminate.
Not only do media reports provide an opportunity to test the
adequacy of established concepts, they also confront us with the
need for new concepts. In some instances, popular usage promotes
labels that we academics cannot ignore. Medical sociologists have
not been able to avoid a term like "holistic health," which has
been taken up by journalists, advertisers,social service providers,
and researchersin nursing. In other instances, the media attempt
to describe situations for which there is no adequate terminology
and which seem to demand inventions from social analysts. For
example, emergency medical services, which have received much
attention in the last decade, have serious problems that seem to
be related to an institutional intransigence that can be captured
in a new term like "structural lag"- organizational resistance to
change in spite of a consensus on goals (Metz, 1981). The media
help us to notice new ambiguities.
If we do not take the matter too seriously, we can imagine a
parallel between this kind of testing by example and the Marxist
idea of praxis. In its broadest interpretation,' "praxis" refers to
assessing our understanding of social dynamics by attempting to
initiate social change (Turner,1982). If we stretch that interpretation still further, we can think of our scrutiny of media accounts

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TEACHING SOCIOLOGY / APRIL 1983

as a way of uncovering the practical usefulness of our concepts


and explanations. Though we were not the instigatorsof the events
in the reports, we can to some extent estimate the applicability
of our social categories and principles as though we were. From
this point of view we can see the potentially advantageous effects
of giving media materials a prominent place in course content.
TRIANGULATION

Reports from the media provide potential data for classroom


analysis. They include information from sources beyond the personal experience of either the teacher or the students, and often
from outside the compass of the contemporaryscholarlyliterature.
However, the addition of media accounts does more than vary
and expand the substantive content of a course. It also alters the
process of teaching by allowing for new forms of studentinstructor interaction.
The media's beneficial effects on both content and process in
the classroom have been recognizedrecentlyby thoughtful analysts
of social science teaching. Paul J. Baker (1975; Baker and Jones,
1981), in particular, has combined the sources of data discussed
here with a form of dialectical instruction into a strategy for
teaching rational thinking in a social problems course. His
teaching/learning strategy emphasizes a comparison of three
knowledge systems - common sense, journalistic, and academic.
William Hastings (1979)also gives special attention to news reports
as they affect our understanding of social problems. Although
their work and this article take somewhat different approaches
to the subject, our conclusions are strikingly similar.
In the traditionalcollege classroom, threeperspectivesare potentially represented:the instructor's, the student's, and that of the
academic accounts of the discipline. It is at least arguable that
in fact only two perspectives are expressed, because those of the
instructor and the discipline are nearly the same. Obviously, the
instructor has been socialized to identify with the disciplinary
outlook. Faculty research takes its shape from established conceptual devices. Moreover, instructors will select materials that

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are personally congenial and will interpret for the students those
that are not. In most respectsthere will be little differencebetween
the perspectiveof the instructorand that of the academic accounts
that are prominent in the classroom. We can thus consider the
instructor to be an extension of the literature.
It can also be argued that there is no single student perspective, since each student has a set of experiences unique in time
and place. These differences can be important for discussion and
for evaluating the plausibility of the sociological perspective.
However, they are likely to be limited to matters of psychological
or social psychological import. With regardto sociologically relevant characteristics like age, socioeconomic status, region, and
marital status, students are more apt to present a uniform picture than a diverse one. Thus, there is some justification for
regarding students as having a common perspective.
Because there are just two perspectives in the classroom, the
flow of information is limited to two movements: (1) The dominant movement is the instructor's presentation of academic
literaturefor the enlightment of the students. Instructorsnot only
have formal authority over conduct in the classroom, they also
determine what material is pertinent and how it should be
understood. (2) There is likely to be a much smaller counterflow
of information in which the students reply from their personal
histories, their intuition, or their sense of logic. The strength of
this counterflow depends to a large extent on the characteristics
of the students. Undergraduateswho have entered college directly
from high school-the population the author is most familiar
with - are inclined to be somewhat passive. Lacking direct experience with many of the areas covered by sociology, these younger
students have little to contribute in any exchange. Older students
create a different classroom atmospherebecause they have enough
practical knowledge of the world to question the claims of the
discipline, combined with enough self-confidence to express
criticisms. The predominant pattern, however, is probably that
which combines active instructors and passive students.
We can significantly alter these classroom dynamics by intentionally making materials from the media part of a course. To

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TEACHING SOCIOLOGY / APRIL 1983

ACADEMIC
ACCOUNTS

1
2

6
STUDENTS'
EXPERIENCE

MEDIA
REPORTS

5
Figure 1

the two conventional perspectives we can add a third and thereby


triple the number of possible exchanges. We can diagram the
revised class situation as a triangle consisting of three
perspectives- academic accounts, student experiences, and media
reports-each connected to the other by paths of mutual effect.
In the revised situation, there are four movements of influence
in addition to the two discussed above (see Figure 1).
Two of these four additional lines of influence have already
been mentioned in the discussion of praxis. We can restate them
as follows: (3) Academic accounts help us to understand current
events. Media reports enable us to demonstrate that the discipline
is useful for more than integrating personal experiences and
categorizing historical developments. For instance, when we begin
to hear more and more about vaguely defined maladies like
Tourette's Syndrome or Alzheimer's Disease, the medical
sociologist can explain the social process through which new
disease entities are constructed by referring to Conrad's (1976;
Conrad and Schneider, 1980)work on the medicalization of deviance in hyperactive children.
Influence also moves in the opposite direction. Whether they
provide support or challenge, (4) currentevents help us to understand academic accounts. In addition to providing illustrations,
media reports are invaluable for updating course materials. For

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example, it is impossible for medical sociology texts to be current with regardto such data as hospital occupancy rates, the frequency of Caesareansections, or the proportion of the GNP going
to health care, but the news frequently provides us with the latest
figures on these matters. Further,the media can revealweaknesses
in our theories. Consider the difficulties of a functionalist approach accounting for a government that bewails expenditures
for medical care and publishes scientific evidence and warnings
that cigarette smoking causes cancer and other diseases, yet at
the same time provides subsidies for the tobacco industry.
It is important to note that while a comparison of media reports
and academic accounts enables students to make connections
between the news and sociology, it also allows them an active participation in the classroom that they would otherwise lack. For
example, even though they might not be able to contribute from
their personal experience to a discussion about role strain among
nurses, they might be able to contribute items from the news, from
special features, or even from the depictions that occur on soap
operas. Where media reports are accepted as legitimate data,
students can become researchersdoing secondary analysisof information prepared for the mass market. They can learn by working with secondhand knowledge.
There is also a form of classroom learningthat does not directly
involve academic accounts, but ratheremerges from the conjunction of media reports and the student's personal life. (5) Media
reports can provide a sociological context for the student's apparently unique experience. For one thing, descriptions of current
events can help to combat pluralisticignorance,the feeling of each
member of a population that he or she alone suffers from a condition which in fact characterizes a great number (perhaps even
the majority) of people. For instance, recent publicity about the
herpes "epidemic" in the United States no doubt relieved many
infected people who were feeling uncomfortably unique (while
raising the anxiety of many others, to be sure). In distinctly
sociological terms, this process can be recognized as one similar
to C. WrightMill's (1959)descriptionof the imagination'sawakening to the relation between "personal troubles of milieu" and

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"public issues of social structure." With a little help, lonely individuals can recognize themselves as part of the "lonely crowd."
Again, there is a counter-influence. (6) Personal experiences
can also condition media reports. Of course, news items are
perhaps more vulnerable to personal critique than are carefully
qualified academic accounts. Many students participate in events
that are reported in the media and consequently have the opportunity to observe the difference between the event and the report.
Some, like the student whose attempt to explain the lump in her
breast prompted her to write a critique of the popular literature
on "second opinions," may attempt formally to assess the extent
of bias or oversimplificationin the media. These efforts are clearly
important steps in learning about contemporaryinstitutions. The
problems of evaluating the media will be taken up in the next
section.
The deliberate adding of media reports to the conventional
perspectives of the classroom could be described as a form of
pedagogical triangulation. The term "triangulation"is frequently
used in sociology to refer to a technique of increasing our confidence in research conclusions by basing them on a variety of
types and sources of data, methods (Webb et al., 1966; Glaser
and Strauss, 1967), and even theories (Denzin, 1978). In the
approach suggested in this essay, classroom conclusions are
reachedthrough the reconciliation of three interactivebut distinct
perspectives.A further pedagogical note should be entered at this
point: When students are made awareof this classroom triangulation, their enthusiasm, as well as their knowledge, is likely to be
increased.
REFLEXIVITY

If media reports are to be taken seriously as data for classwork,


we must temporarily suspend our disbelief about their accuracy
and completeness. If we are primarily interested in content, we
cannot concentrate on the manner in which it is derived. On the
other hand, a sociology course would be seriously deficient
without a critical component. Fortunately,in this case the critical
element emerges almost naturally, albeit with a little help.

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One of the reasons for incorporating media reports into course


work is to encourage students to appreciate the variety of the
media and the diverseintereststhey can serve.To this end, students
should be urged to sample different forms of the media (National
Public Radio and local weeklies, as well as network television),
different types within a particular form (National Review and
Mother Jones, as well as Time), and different sections of a particular type (newspaper items on health and medicine are frequently found in the sections on business, sports, entertainment,
and especiallyin the "women's pages"). Such a samplingcan reveal
how different media portray the same incidents in different ways.
The variation in what is covered, to how great a depth, and with
what kinds of language raises questions about the purposes and
procedures of the media organizations and, eventually, about the
influence of interests other than that of publishing "all the news
that's fit to print."
There are different approaches to encouraging critical thinking about the media. Baker and Jones's (1981: 132-134) discussion of critical reasoning is extremely well developed with regard
to both rationale and formal techniques. The emphases of their
approach are very close to those of the author of this article:
explorations of data, hypotheses, and generalizability on the
methods side, and a concern with value conflicts, vested interests,
and policy decisions on the theory side. However, the author differs somewhat from Baker in stressing "targets of opportunity"
whereby the whole class can be stimulated by the emotional
involvement of a few of its members. In a recent semester, the
author's class in medical sociology based its discussion of the
media on three differences of opinion: (1) news articles about the
alleged negligence of an ambulance crew ignored aspects of the
case that the instructor found from his researchto be important;
(2) press coverage of a holistic health conference seemed less
thorough than some student advocates desired; and (3) some
nurses in the class questioned whether a poor patient who needed
a heart transplant was being manipulated by a charity drive
intendedto help her. In each of these cases, the discussions stressed
that without alternative sources of information, we allow the
media to define realityfor us, that the routine proceduresby which

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news is gatheredoften bias reporters'accounts, and that the media


have begun to function as a communication link between scattered supporters of causes. In each case, the continuing story
encouraged students to pay attention to the media and to look
for other sources of information. The medical reporter of the
major local daily met with the class to present the perspective
of the news organizations. Finally, the course examination explicitly asked about the relations of the media and the health care
system.
This shift from uncritical acceptance of the media to careful
scrutiny can be encouraged beyond its natural course to topics
of considerable sociological interest. Three subjects in that
category are the social construction of reality,structuredbias, and
societal functions.
Social Constructionof Reality
To begin with, we need to remind ourselves constantly of the
power of the media to define reality for us. The public (including
sociologists) are inclined to use media coverage negligently as a
measure of the importance of events, though the media must produce a predetermined volume of coverage, whether anything
important occurs or not. Remember when Skylab fell to earth?
Similarly,our sense of the degree of danger on city streetsis determined more by how news beats are defined than by our direct
knowledge of crime. Even our history is altered by the media's
search for good stories; the term "faction" was invented (and is
being employed evermore frequentlyby both publicistsand critics)
to describe the fictional modification of factual accounts to
increase their dramatic impact. This sort of tampering with
historical data has been going on long enough to be considered
traditional and even unavoidable, but the new name for it might
awaken us to our dependence on these sources of information
for the masses. Life continues if we insulate ourselves from the
media, but it is a different kind of life.

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StructuredBias
Students can be encouragedto realizethat what they learn from
the media is selected, assembled, and broadcast to serve a host
of interests besides truth. Here we have an opportunity to promote the judicious habit of asking, regarding any information
source, whose interest it serves. The news items carried by the
advertiser-subsidized magazines distributed free-of-charge to
physicians are different in topic and tone from those carried by
professional medical journals or government publications. But
economic or political interests are only a part, and perhaps the
more obvious part at that, of the pressure for bias in the media.
There are more subtle biases, institutional biases, built into the
social structure of the media and operating separately from the
personal biases of the individual workers. Dependence on official
sources, the timing of deadlines, organization of routine beats,
geographic location of decision makers, and a predominance of
white-male-middle-class-suburban workers all give a persisting
slant to what the media tell us. A number of excellent books
(Goldenberg, 1975;Altheide, 1976;Roshco, 1975;Tuchman, 1978;
Schudson, 1978; Gans, 1979; Fishman, 1980) have recently analyzed this phenomenon.
Functionsof the Media
Focusing on the media is one means of studying how institutions are changing in our society. We seem to be increasingly
relying on the media to serve functions that were once handled
in other ways. Two examples will suffice to illustrate this change.
First, television has become an important instrument for instructing children, not just forpurposes of enrichment and not just
in the classroom, but for teaching basic skills outside the school.
"Sesame Street," for example, drills viewers in the fundamentals
of the alphabet, counting, colors, and other rudimentary concepts. Moreover,much of the education of adults on matters such

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as health comes from media programs and from feature articles


in literature about the media. TV Guide has the largest circulation of any magazine in the United States. Second, convictedwhite
collar criminals now plead that they should not be incarcerated
because the public exposure of their wrongdoing through the
media has been sufficient punishment. Thus the media are
assuming functions once performedby the education and criminal
justice systems. The kind of change heralded by these examples
is not so much a consequenceof content as of technology. Perhaps
McLuhan (1967) hinted at the main point when he titled his book
The Medium is the Message.
The action of examining our own relation to or participation
in the world of the media is a reflexive2one. It mimics the continual disciplinary self-examination Gouldner (1970) called for
under the title of Reflexive Sociology. The activity proposed here
involves recognizing and admitting our own dependence on and
voluntary compliance with the products and pressures of the
media. As a classroom exercise,it holds great promise for advancing self-understanding,the sociological perspective,and knowledge
of contemporary institutions.

THE PROLIFIC MEDIA

Advantages for both the discipline and the students follow from
incorporatingmedia reports in course work. The use of the media
potentially enlivens academic materials, establishes the relevance
(or suggests applications) of the discipline, provides the student
with a more active classroom role, increases the student's selfunderstanding, and furthers our awareness of how reality is
socially constructed for exercisingsuch fundamental sociological
processes as praxis, triangulation, and reflexivity. But opening
the classroom door to the media creates problems as well. Two
of the most serious are (1) the time required from the instructor
to keep up with the current events and to integrate them into the
course, and (2) the possibility that media reports may distract
students from less vivid but more important topics.

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The media are prolific. To keep up to date without drowning


in the flood of popular materials (not to mention the torrent of
new disciplinary products), the instructor must use some basic
survival tactics. Probably the most important is accepting the fact
that no one can know everything.By admittingthis to the students,
the instructor may well gain their respect for his or her honesty
and at the same time give them an incentive to contribute information. Next, one should regularly check a few media sources
that fit into the daily schedule. Telescoping activities helps herelistening to the radio while jogging appears to be the choice of
an increasing number. Summary weekend news programs on the
electronic media are efficient ways to keep up, and many
newspapers(for example, The New YorkTimes) have comprehensive Sunday editions. We can pick up a few things by simply paying
closer attention to routine activities; those despised mail solicitations are a source of potentially useful information. Finally,
materialscan be recordedor clipped and stored in files categorized
according to course topics. This enables the instructorto organize
the media flow to some extent. Clipping files can quickly get out
of hand, however, and the instructor should constantly (and
ruthlessly) discard items that are no longer of current interest.
Electronic media products can be taped and replayed, but they
requirea lot of class time; written summaries are more easily filed
and can be used when alerting students about reruns, which are
increasingly frequent.
Because of the enormous quantity of media materials, the
classroom can easily become a circus if anyone feels free to offer
input at any time. The fact is, however,that many of the students
have little to contribute;these are the ones who benefit most from
class time centeredon currentevents. Further,since most students
have access to the same sources, there is a great deal of duplication in the material they bring in. Thus, the potential flood of
information might revealitself as a trickle. Even so, considerable
control is required to maintain the proper direction as students
become more active participants. A few simple techniques are
useful. To start with, the instructor can preempt some items by
including them in lectures or by using them as a lead-in to the

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lecture proper. For example, the course might have a "principle


of the day" which could make use of statements like a headline
that reads: "Health Insurance Has Made it Possible For Us to
be Ill at Ease." Still, as long as any contributions are solicited
from the class, they cannot be expected to arrive just when they
are pertinent to the main themes of the course. Some traffic direction is required if the intended flow of academic work is not to
be disrupted. Several specific directions can be considered. Contributions that are especially time consuming or peripheralto the
classwork of the moment can be "rescheduled"as a special report
or recommended as the basis for a course project. Contributions
of more relevant items can be accepted at designated timesperhaps during a "newsbreak" at the beginning of the class or
a discussion period near the end. Occasional class meetings can
be devoted wholly to dealing with media matters. One of these
might center on a local newsperson invited to discuss the journalist's techniques for newsmaking. Such devices quickly become
informative and effective classroom routines.
The problems of overabundance are manageable. It is the
author's experience that the benefits of employing the media in
the classroom far outweigh the costs. The unavoidable need not
be unprofitable.

NOTES
1. In a narrower sense, praxis can be seen as the process of shaping social actions
to express a revolutionary consciousness, in the course of which the actor increasingly
realizes the nature of social reality. One consequence of such action is the discovery that
certain of our concepts are reifications, or are otherwise distorted (Appelbaum, 1978).
2. The term "reflexivity" takes a nearly opposite meaning in the employ of
ethnomethodologists. They use it to refer to the practices by which accounts in a particular setting affirm the familiar, commonplace "reality" the participants associate with
that setting (Garfinkel, 1967).

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Donald L. Metz is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Marquette University. His


research and teaching interests include medical sociology and the sociology of
religion. He has recently published a book on ambulance work and is currentvly
writing about emergency service workers and rescue squad volunteers.

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