My name is Jon Witt. I was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I went to college and graduate school in the Chicago area and received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago. I am married to Lori and we have two unbelievably great kids. Emily is 19 and a sophomore at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and Eleanor is 17 and is a senior in high school. I teach at Central College in Pella, Iowa where we live. We have been in Pella and at Central since moving from Chicago in 1993. Lori teaches U.S. History at Central College and received her Ph.D. in history (also from Loyola).

I wanted an Internet presence not because I want to sell books, but because I believe there’s a need for a site that can provide links that encourage the practice of both personal and public sociology. My goal for this site is to provide a place for ideas, observations, and links of sociological interest. I think sociology should inform our personal and public understanding, so we should be able to find those connections all around us. I plan to post comments based on what I observe around me, as well as suggestions for books, articles, and links. I hope others will feel free to share their comments and suggestions as well.

My current book is titled “SOC” (McGraw-Hill) and it provides a visually engaging  introduction to sociology. McGraw-Hill conducted extensive ethnographic research to better understand factors that shape student learning and willingness to read and the results of this research shaped the format and content of SOC. SOC is part of their M-series of books, all of which provide students with accessible content that will facilitate learning and retention. I really do think everyone needs sociology, so this book represents my attempt to provide the essential insights of the discipline in a way that is accessible and interesting.

My first book was titled “The Big Picture: A Sociology Primer” (McGraw-Hill). My goal for the book was to provide an accessible and interesting introduction to what it means to look at the world sociologically. The sociological perspective can provide us with insight that we can use both individually and collectively. As individuals it can help us to better understand our selves and to shape how we act (what I call “personal sociology”). It also provides us with tools necessary to do a better job in making collective decisions in the workplace or in politics (what I and others call “public sociology“). The book came out in the summer of 2006.

Me, Lori, Emily & Eleanor Keene Creek 2005 Family Picture

35 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Mat W. Says:

    Dr. Witt,

    Just stumbled across this nifty little site. Bearing down for the end of the semester right now. I have two 20 page proposals due and a take home essay final. It’s like Central all over again!

    I miss sociology at Central. It’s not the same here. Too many jaded people. But perhaps I’m just being gloomy. Hope all is well!

    -mat w.

  2. Jennie E. Says:

    Professer Witt,
    Love your book.I don’t know if you know me.I had
    you for a teacher a few years ago.Your the best
    teacher I’ve ever had.I miss Central a lot but
    life does have to go on doesn’t it?Again, I love
    your book.

    -Jennie E.


  3. Hello Jon Witt,

    I came across your site while following up on the McClatchey newspapers report on growing poverty.

    Your blog is the most interesting and valuable I have ever seen. I will be back daily. And I will contact you soon re some ongoing projects that will coalesce some meaningful online audiences. Today you have brought your view of sociology to my view of meaningful. I hope you may become an engaged colleague in good company.

    I cannot write more at the moment. Back soon. The beauty and value of your online communication is astonishing.

    Edith Wiethorn

  4. Jon Says:

    Hi Jon,
    I love your book. I am a soc teacher at another school and I wish I could use your book in my classes. Unfortunately my school won’t let me use it. This is a very good soc book. :)

    A Fellow Soc Teacher


  5. I admire the way your post categories are the chapters from your book, and then more — so that varied-seeming topics find their inherent relationship to the whole.

    A few words of experience with WordPress from you would be critically helpful at this time when I want to launch a project presence on WordPress by Monday.

    I have been writing a summary of a complex civil rights and land rights case which has gone completely awry to date because — it has not yet had the attention of someone who knows how to marshall the available facts so that they add up to create some legal leverage.

    Tomorrow my summary will be reviewed by the Governor of the state where these blatant injustices have been taking place. And of course there is much more.

    Also by Monday I would like to launch the content of this case summary as a weblog on WordPress. And, following your unique weblog example, I want to make the subject posting categories the sections of the summary, which has been written with this organizational strategy as a helpful aid — and with the weblog in mind.

    I’ve read just about every word on WordPress’s website and I do not see any provision for using categories other than their arbitrary selections. My timeline is critical. I can forge ahead with setting up the weblog tonight and I will find out, one way or another. Or, any cue from you would be a real helping hand in time of need — not only for myself.

    You have my email address in the site records. I will be checking or sending email every few hours.

    Thank you if you can help.

    Best regards,

    Edie Frederick

  6. Azurae Johnson Says:

    Hi!

    I’m a college student at TN Technological University, and I decided to take a Sociology class as an elective in Spring. I recently started reading your book to prepare for next semester. Days later, I finished the book because it was so interesting.

    -I like how you made an outline of each chapter.
    -I also love the conversational tone.
    -I also like how you sited each reference within the reading and added recommended resources.
    -I like how you showed that every theory is supported by research.

    There are so many great aspects of this book! I appreciate your work!

    Thanks,
    Azurae Johnson


  7. Hello Jon,

    I would like to revisit and cite a study you posted about some time ago on your weblog — regarding the differences in middle class incomes under Republican and Democratic Presidents.

    Today I can’t find it under the categories Income or Politics.

    Could you send me a link? or even repost it since it is a timely thought.

    Thank you and best wishes,

    EF

  8. Insurgent Sociologist Says:

    I just received an exam. copy of this text. This text is downright insulting to any serious sociologist. It looks like a cheap glossy magazine filled with cutesy pictures I have never seen such a clear case of pandering to the shallowness and idiocy of students. This text should have never been published and the school that awarded the author his Ph.D should retract it immediately. Shallow teachers make even shallower students.

    1. Sarah Says:

      you are making an extremely large judgement not only about a professor you don’t know but about thousands of students who are learning and excelling from this book. your comment was extremely inappropriate and down right rude. And for someone who studies sociology, you really should know better.

    2. A teacher Says:

      Dear Insurgent Sociologist:
      You might consider coming down off your high horse. The book is pedagogically, factually, and theoretically sound. And, by the way, it speaks to students. What else do you want?

      If I might kindly suggest, you could do well to listen to Sarah et al.

      Sincerely,
      A teacher

    3. anonymous Says:

      this PROFESSOR (not A Teacher) whole-heartedly agrees with Insurgent Sociologist! Any Professor who adopts this “textbook” is completely selling out to, and promoting, the dumbing down of higher education and america! students .. please stand up and demand better, you deserve it and an education, not silly pictures and drivel.

      1. Andrew J Parra Says:

        Not to mention the unending opinion based statements in this book. The ‘Race and Ethnicity’ chapter is beyond insulting to anyone with even half of a brain.


  9. I read your posts for quite a long time and should tell that your articles are always valuable to readers.


  10. Hello Professor Witt,
    You’ll probably be glad to meet me. :-) I was so impressed with your work and the backstory of McGraw-Hill’s student ethnography that I convinced my entire department to adopt your book. It is now in the hands of 1,000+ K-State students. We also worked with the publisher to customize the book, including some activities that are aimed to fulfill our mission towards active and experiential learning. Congrats on a remarkable product!
    Susan Williams, Associate Professor, Kansas State University

  11. Sarah Says:

    Dear Prof Witt,
    I’m taking a soc 101 class now as a psych major and i love it! you’re book has been so helpful. I’m reading chapter 12 about gender and age right now and noticed that you put more about boys being picked on when not masculine traits are shown than girls, and i think it is important to include both because girls are treated equally as poorly by their peers (reference…mean girls)

    thanks for listening
    sarah

    ps…whoever “insurgent sociologist” is, you are making an extremely large judgement not only about a professor you don’t know but about thousands of students who are learning and excelling from this book. your comment was extremely inappropriate and down right rude. And for someone who studies sociology, you really should know better.

  12. J Nuetzmann Says:

    Hello Jon Witt- I am a returning student at age 48 to Soc class. My teacher is using this book. I am getting an A so far. I really like this book and the relevant images and style of this book. It is culturally relevant. Television, our news broadcast presentations, are all fast and furious. All culture seems to be at lighting speed. having a text book like this makes me a believer that I can still stay engaged in these techno-modern times. I am riveted by sociology. The book is great. My young adult children think it’s the bomb!

  13. Daniel Wilson Says:

    Could you tell me where you get your definitions that are in the book? Could you give me the definition of net worth? I believe that your definition for wealth means exactly the same thing as net worth. I do not see a definition for net worth in your book. I got the question wrong on a test. I don’t mean to bother you, but I would like to understand why I was wrong in choosing the word networth instead of wealth.

  14. R. Crawford Says:

    Hello Jon Witt: I searched for an e-mail address or blog related to your 2007 primer, “The Big Picture,” but found none, so I will share my comments here. As a sociology instructor, I thoroughly enjoyed using this publication in my intro to sociology classes and was wondering if you plan to update the book and release a second edition. I sure hope so!

  15. Tom Stuart Says:

    Dr. Witt,

    Greetings from Jamestown Business College in up-state NY. We are a 4 year college and are enjoying your SOC2010 text.

    I have one question. On Page 253 in the text you define GNI as Gross National Income being the total value of a nation’s goods and services.

    Are you confusing your definition with the definition of GDP, Gross Domestic Product? GNI is usually used to describe Gross National Income as GDP + foreign investments.

  16. Jonathan Camacho Says:

    Hello Dr. Witt. My name is Jonathan Camacho and I am a undergraduate student in sociology. I am thinking to go for graduate school. However, my passion is social development; especially in Latin America. I am trying to define what field of study will be more instrumental, useful and adequate. Furthermore, a field that will give the necessary tools to work promoting social improvements in Latin america. Right now, there are three fields that I think could be good: Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. However, I having a hard time deciding which will be the best choice and fit. The reason for sharing this with you is that I believe that for your experience in the field of sociology you could have some ideas that could help me. Thanks for your time and I will appreciate any suggestions. Also, I think you book SOC is great.

    Jonathan Camacho

  17. Jonathan Camacho Says:

    Hello Dr. Witt. My name is Jonathan Camacho and I am a undergraduate student in sociology. I wrote a massage time ago and I am very thanks-full for your answer. I have been researching Sociology graduate school. There are many universities that I am interested in. Also there are several sociological subfields that I am interested: Social Psychology, Clinical Sociology, Development, Research, and Theory. However, I do want a program that no only emphasize the theoretical aspect of the discipline; but, the “new” emphasis of Apply Sociology. For this reason, I was wondering if there is any program that you would suggest?
    I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for any help you could offer…
    Jonathan Camacho

  18. Jonathan Eliesser Camacho Says:

    Hello Dr. Witt. My name is Jonathan Camacho and I am a undergraduate student in sociology. I wrote a massage time ago and I am very thanks-full for your answer. I have been researching Sociology graduate school. There are many universities that I am interested in. Also there are several sociological subfields that I am interested: Social Psychology, Clinical Sociology, Development, Research, and Theory. However, I do want a program that no only emphasize the theoretical aspect of the discipline; but, the “new” emphasis of Apply Sociology. For this reason, I was wondering if there is any program that you would suggest?
    I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for any help you could offer…
    Jonathan Camacho

  19. anonymous Says:

    as a professor of 16+ years, i just had to let you know that i think your “textbook” contributes to the dumbing down of america and higher education. i would never adopt or use a “textbook” that more resembles GQ or Cosmo magazines then it does a scholarly text. your “textbook” is pure rubbish!

    1. Susan Says:

      I see that you were too cowardly to leave your name. Try to get over yourself. I imagine your students did long ago.

      1. anonymous Says:

        hahahahaha! did you learn to insult people you have never met by reading SOC2011?


  20. i have been a volunteer for 2 years on social works and this is a very exciting job for me :;”

  21. john bartlett Says:

    dr. witt,
    hi. i’m a first year student of soc. i plan on majoring in soc. i think your book is wonderful. so what if it resembles a magazine and others think it contributes to the dumbing down of the subject. you know everyone has, and is, entilted to thier opinion. i think some people should keep thier opinions to themselves if they are harsh. we have been enjoying your book at my school, mercer county community college in west windsor new jersey. i hope you are ok with your book being used at a community college. we are just as intellegent as university students, we just dont have that kind of money. i’m sure you can ignore some of those mean comments that others have left you. the comments are innocuous-kind like their intellect.
    keep me posted on all your future accomplishments. thank you


  22. You really make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I believe I might by no means understand. It seems too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I’m taking a look ahead on your subsequent submit, I will try to get the grasp of it!


  23. This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would wantHaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  24. Andrew J Parra Says:

    In regards to SOC2011. This book is without a doubt, the most slanted, biased book I have ever had to read in any college course. I could barely choke through all of the non-factual, unsupported opinions that laced the pages. The amount of “white guilt” that you display in the texts is absolutely disgraceful and I sincerely hope that your books are removed from further required text lists in the future.

  25. mike Says:

    I retired 10 years ago, but still love the subject. Good site. I also wrote a text book from a conflict perspective. Amazon still sells if for about .75cents.
    You might find it interesting. What I said in the 70s is more true today… decline of working class, globalization, dist of wealth etc. Anyway very good site

  26. Macleod Carre Says:

    Dear Dr. Witt.
    Our college recently started using your textbook. I have been teaching Sociology for 7 years . I noticed that although your book follows the pattern which most texts use, you do not include a chapter on Media and its impact. I found this curious mostly because I spent 20 years in the media business. What were your reasons for excluding as a separate chapter?

  27. brett Says:

    Why do you print a textbook to poison the minds of America against the white male? You are a white male Jon and you need to stop trying to be a woman and embrace the fact that it’s ok to be a man. If you are going to print all these studies supporting how white men are handed everything in life and they suppress women and they have no problems but they just are out to get everybody then perhaps you should find some studies about women accusing men in the work place of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape just to get rid of them since most businesses now have a no tolerance policy and just fire you at the drop of a hat with no investigation. Or maybe you should find some studies about how white people are discriminated against by races, any study you can find to support your cause somebody else can find one to take the exact opposite stance. This is why Sociology is not a science at all because it’s all based on personal stance. If you go out seeking to prove something you will find a study that supports your cause which is exactly why I’m curious that your cause is against what you are. I don’t deny that their’s racism or prejudice but stating that white men are never subject to it and everybody else is there victim is totally ridiculous and you better do some studies to oppose your points before trying to become an authority on the subject. Listen to this mind of reason Wendy who says it best:

    Wendy Piersall | Excelle
    As a prominent woman in technology, I get asked all of the time about discrimination, glass ceilings, and how to get ahead. I have a lot of thoughts about these issues, some popular, some maybe not so popular. Is there a glass ceiling? Sadly yes, there sometimes is. But what seems like discrimination might be something else–something that’s better addressed in the mirror instead of in the company of men.

    How can I say this? While I’ve longed for the other side of that glass ceiling for many years, I’ve also seen myself becoming the queen of excuses:

    • Will people think I am a bad mom for being so ambitious?
    • Will I threaten my husband if I surpass his income?
    • How can I run a business when I can hardly run the dishwasher enough to keep my kitchen clean?
    • Will I threaten my existing friendships with women if I upset the balance of power or popularity?
    • Who am I to try and be that successful?

    What I and many readers of my blog have found, is that while discrimination is something to be fought and prevented, the more pressing issue to deal with is not the glass ceiling, but the sticky floor.

    When I was at BlogHer, a women’s blogging conference, this year, I attended a session full of women business owners. And one of those participants stood up and said just that, “It’s not a glass ceiling, it’s a sticky floor.” We laughed, of course, but every single woman in that room knew exactly what she meant.

    Women start businesses for very different reasons than men do. Typically women aren’t about the power, the glory, or even the money. Women start businesses to pursue a passion, create more work-life balance, or to find ways to give back to a community. It’s no wonder that with different goals than our male counterparts, we end up in different places.

    Now, I certainly am not justifying any sort of real discrimination here–which we can all agree exists at times. But I do think that there are two factors at play when numbers and statistics get skewed in the favor of men. I think that we, as women, tend to pursue paths that will never lead us to the glass ceiling in the first place.

    If that’s intentional, then we don’t have a problem with it. But if we want to be on the other side of that ceiling, we can’t be focused on the obstacles that get in our way of getting there. If we do, then we are the ones holding ourselves back from all that we deserve. And the solution to that isn’t fighting discrimination: it’s to break through our internal glass ceiling first.

  28. Ray Says:

    Dear Dr. Witt,
    I am an exchange student at AUB ( the Amercian University of Beirut ), and I took a sociology 201 class, and we used your book! “The big Picture”, all the way in Lebanon! I have to say I really loved your book. Everything is so organized and easy to understand with awesome examples. Thank you !

  29. Jack Says:

    “…should be able to find those connections all around us. I plan to post comments based on what I observe around me, as well as suggestions for books, articles, and links. I hope others will feel free to share their comments and suggestions as well.”
    You are saying we cannot be engaged or aware — or that we cannot understand the real world — without knowing a school discipline called “sociology.” Sorry—-don’t believe in this. -Jack

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