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Soc 3013 syllabus summer 2014
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Soc 3013 syllabus summer 2014


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  • 1. SOC 3013 Social Stratification Summer 1, 2014 M-F 9:15-10:45 MH 2.02.20 Instructor: Michael Miller Office Address: MS 4.02.26 Email: Office Hours: M-F 8:30-9:15 Course Materials Schwalbe, M., Rigging the Game: How Inequality Is Reproduced in Everyday Life, 2008. Other course materials will be available online through posted URLs on this syllabus. In addition, ongoing contributions to course content will be made over the semester through our Google+ Virtual Community and our course blog, So Unequal. You will be responsible for keeping abreast of Community and blog posts. The Course Description SOC 3013 addresses the manifestations, causes, and consequences of inequality and stratification at global, societal, community, and interpersonal levels by examining major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings. Particular attention will be devoted to understanding the structure and dynamics of social inequality in the U.S. within the contexts of globalization and economic reorganization. This section of SOC 3013 is a hybrid course in the sense that it combines conventional in- class teaching with supplemental instruction derived through online resources. Specifically, you are required to devote considerable out-of-class time to examining various video and audio programs and clips linked to the course via this syllabus. To learn about my approach to teaching with media, read A System for Integrating Online Multimedia Into College Curriculum Objective The basic goal of this course is to provide you an opportunity to derive depth understanding of inequality and stratification, and their impact on human well-being. This will be sought through class lectures and discussions, readings, and Internet-based media assignments. Degree-Program Requirement Successful completion of SOC 3013 satisfies 3 hours of upper-division electives. Course Management System Blackboard is available by virtue of enrollment in this class. It is a vitally important resource which will allow you access to the course syllabus, assigned materials, and course grades. (Let me know immediately if you have any difficulties with this site.) Student Contributions The course requires your active involvement. At the minimum, you are expected to attend class, read text assignments and cover assigned Internet materials prior to class, and take examinations as specified. You are responsible for adhering to all rules concerning conduct, including those relevant to
  • 2. scholastic dishonesty (see The Student Code of Conduct). You are also expected to reflect the Roadrunner Creed in your behavior, and follow as well, the UTSA Honor Code. To additionally facilitate your success, consider the following suggestions: 1. Do not be a “spectator.” Your success in the class will be proportional to your engagement. This is your class—actively participate. Ask questions, discuss experiences, offer opinions... Get to know other students (exchange phone numbers/email addresses). Talk about the course, share lecture notes, hold study sessions before exams... 2. Read / watch / listen to assigned text and Internet materials before the presentation date. It will be helpful to take notes as you watch videos. 3. Should you have any concern or problem that is affecting, or may affect, your academic status or class involvement, please communicate with me about it. If posted meeting times are inconvenient, you may arrange a conference at another time. Note: all e-mail communication should be directed to me at Support services, including registration assistance and adaptive equipment, are available to those with documented disabilities through the Office of Disability Services. Course Policies and Practices 1. Student Survey. During the first week, please complete a survey about yourself in order to better meet your learning needs. 2. Attendance. Regular attendance is crucial to success in the course. 3. Coming Late. Please enter and take a seat without disrupting others. 4. Notetaking. PowerPoint slides are regularly used in class to overview key ideas. Such slides will include images, graphics, animations, and video. Understand that your notetaking effort should also be directed to what I am saying, rather than solely the slides. Slides will not be posted to Blackboard. 5. Class Ending. Class ends at 10:45—please let me know if I run past that time. 6. Technology Use. Avoid embarrassment: turn your cell phone off before class starts. Under no circumstances can a cell phone be out during an exam. The use of laptop or tablet computers is permitted during class for course purposes only. 7. Grade Reporting. All evaluation results (except those for the final exam) will be returned to you in class (no one else may pick these up for you). Grades will also be made available to you on Blackboard (grades cannot be reported to you by telephone, fax, or e-mail). 8. Drop Procedure. Should you decide to no longer attend, be sure to follow appropriate UTSA administrative procedures. A grade of F will be assigned upon failure to properly withdraw from the course. Evaluation Exams Three exams, including a cumulative final exam, will be administered over the semester. Each exam will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions, and collectively, exams will account for 75 percent of your final grade. Please note: exams from previous semesters are not made available as study aids, nor are exams taken during the semester released. If you miss an exam for a valid reason, you must submit a written request (paper copy) for a make-up exam, including documentation for your absence, at the time of your return to class. All make-up exams will consist of essay-length questions and will be administered immediately after completion of the final exam.
  • 3. Video Clip Assignment Working in a group with three other students, you will locate an online video clip that is highly relevant to social stratification. The clip should be available through streaming (be sure to provide its URL), and should be no less than 30 seconds and no longer than 5 minutes in length. An appropriate lesson context plan for its classroom use should then be developed. Specifically, the plan must summarize the clip, describe how the clip will enhance understanding of social stratification, and as well, include a set of questions that could be asked relative to the classroom application of the clip. At the end of the semester, your group will present the clip and the lesson to the class. In addition, the clip and a summary of the lesson in PowerPoint format will be uploaded to the course blog for class display. The assignment will account for 25 percent of your final grade. Extra-Credit You will have the opportunity to enhance your grade through extra-credit points by virtue of following this process: 1. post an entry about a new piece of Internet media content (documentary film, video clip, image, slideshow, information graphic, interactive, etc.) relevant to social stratification to our Google+ Virtual Community, SOC 3013, Social Stratification (posts should include the URL for the media and a brief summary describing the media content and how it is relevant to particular social stratification concepts), (SOC 3013, Social Stratification is the out-of-class center for sharing online media content relevant to our class. As a Google+ "community," our site is a private destination available only to those enrolled in our class. I am the site moderator, and as such, will control access to membership, and monitor posts and comments contributed by members. To participate in this community, you will need to have a Gmail account (to create account, go to If you already have one, please create another for class purposes. The address for your account should be, with the first three letters representing the initials of your name. (Example: my name is Michael V Miller; therefore my gmail address is Note: If you do not have a middle name, use the letter X.) Additional details about participation will be provided in class.) 2. contact me via e-mail ( about your post, and ask me to provide relevant feedback about it to you, 3. revise the write-up by taking my comments and suggestions into consideration, 4. submit your revised post to me for publication consideration in the blog, SoUnequal, and 5. acceptance for publication of your piece in SoUnequal. Each post that is accepted for publication in the blog will add 5 extra points to your score on the next exam to be taken. Grading Scale Exam scores and final average should be interpreted on the following basis: A = > 89 B = 80 – 89 C = 70 – 79 D = 60 – 69 F = < 60
  • 4. Course Schedule Week 1 June 2 Topic: Course Orientation June 3 Topic: Key Concepts: Stratification and Inequality Text Assignment: Schwalbe – Introduction: Thinking Sociologically about Inequality June 4 Topic: Overview: Stratification Perspectives and Theories Text Assignment: Schwalbe – 1. The Roots of Inequality Video Assignment: People Like Us Provides an excellent introduction by offering insightful vignettes on various aspects of class and status in America. Includes numerous interviews with academics, journalists, and regular people. Determine which video segments you particularly identify with, and those which you found most interesting. Be ready to discuss these in class. (Note: If the video fails to play on your computer, you will likely need to download and install a copy of RealPlayer June 5 Topic: Evolution of Stratification: Transformation of Simple Societies Text Assignment: Schwalbe – 2. Rigging the Game Video Assignment: Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty Why does poverty exist? Identify the roots of human poverty and the varied approaches to resolving the problem. Determine if poverty can ever be resolved. June 6 Topic: Pre-Industrial Stratification: Slavery Reading Assignment: Social Pecking Order in the Roman World Identify major strata comprising Roman society, determinants of rank and power, displays of status, and other elements of this hierarchy. Video Assignment: Slavery Directions: Scroll down to Program 9 – “slavery” and then click on the “VoD” icon on right side of selection. You may then need to register at the site to gain free access to streamed videos. Describe the institution of slavery in the American south and relationships between master and slave. For Your Information: Slavery by Another Name Did slavery end with the Civil War? This documentary examines the wholesale re-enslavement of southern blacks through the criminal justice system.
  • 5. Week 2 June 9 Topic: Pre-Industrial Stratification: Caste Reading Assignment: The Caste System Video Assignment: The Untouchables The Untouchables: Breaking Down Caste Barriers in India Our Journey: How We Know Caste June 10 Topic: Pre-Industrial Stratification: Estate Reading Assignment: Feudalism Video Assignment: The Feudal Order Directions: Scroll down to Program 20 – “the feudal order,” and then click on the “VoD” icon on right side of selection. You may then need to register at the site to gain free access to streamed videos. Historian Eugene Weber’s lecture from The Western Tradition series on the relations between the major strata of the European estate system. June 11 Topic: Rise of Class Systems Text Assignment: Schwalbe – 3. The Valley of the Nine Families Video Assignment: The Rise of Capitalism Directions: Scroll down to Program 7 – “the rise of capitalism,” and then click on the “VoD” icon on right side of selection. You may then need to register at the site to gain free access to streamed videos. Examines the rise of class stratification in U.S. in terms of the history of industrialization and urbanization. For Your Information: The Other Half Discusses the photographic work of Jacob Riis (be sure to view slideshow). June 12 Topic: Class Systems of Stratification: Defining Class Video Assignments: Social Class in America This mid-1950s educational film addresses the idea of class inequality by examining the lives of three white males from different social classes in the same small town as they grow from babies into young adults. What does it suggest about the nature of class, particularly as it is played out in this small town? The Declining Significance of Class
  • 6. This brief blog entry examines an analysis of how television news frames social class in the terms employed to discuss social strata. Website Assignment: Class Matters Become familiar with this New York Times website... June 13 Exam 1 Week 3 June 16 Exam Review Topic: Stratification Theory: Order Reading Assignment: Some Principles of Stratification Why does inequality exist in modern societies and what important role does it play, according to Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore? In your opinion, to what extent is their argument relevant for understanding contemporary June 17 Topic: Stratification Theory: Order (continued) Reading Assignments: The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All The functional perspective is applied to the analysis of poverty in this article by Herbert Gans. The role played by the poor in contributing to the welfare of the non-poor is outlined. However, does Gans argue that the existence of poverty is necessarily a positive force? A Hereditary Perk the Founding Fathers Failed to Anticipate Children of alumni are sometimes given preference over other more qualified applicants in admissions to prestigious universities. How common is this practice and why does it persist, particularly among a people who pride themselves on having a meritocratic society? How would functional theory deal with it? June 18 Topic: Stratification Theory: Conflict Text Assignment: Schwalbe – 5. Smoke Screen Marx: Masters of Money A recent BBC documentary on Marx. Great introduction to the man, his times, and his writings. Reading Assignment: The Communist Manifesto Famous call to revolution penned by Marx and Engels. Why do they see capitalists as progressive during early stages of capitalism, but as later regressive? Why will capitalist societies inevitably be transformed into socialist ones, according to the writers? You may also want to examine this work through Zac Robinson’s video, The Communist Manifesto: A Multimedia Introduction June 19 Topic: Stratification Theory: Conflict (continued) Video Assignment: David Harvey’s Marxist Analysis of the Global Recession
  • 7. David Harvey addresses the latest economic crisis from a Marxian perspective. Identify the major reasons for the recession, according to Harvey. Specify the ways his analysis coincide or contradict your understanding of the recession? Be sure to read viewer comments to the post after viewing video. June 20 Topic: Stratification Theory: A Labor Market Synthesis Reading Assignment: Explaining Reward Inequality Identify the major explanations for reward inequality and how these are organized around the concepts of labor supply and labor demand. Week 4 June 23 Topic: Legitimating Inequality Text Assignment: Schwalbe – 4. Arresting the Imagination Reading Assignment: America’s False Consciousness Video Assignments: The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives Ideology and False Consciousness in a Superbowl Ad June 24 Topic: Economic Inequality in U.S. Reading Assignments: Das Kapital for the 21 st Century? A Review of Piketty’s New Book galbraith/ Among the Wealthiest 1%, Many Variations Internet Assignments: The Great Divergence in Pictures inequality.html Provides graphics and text delineating growing U.S. economic inequality over historical time. Ratio of Pay: CEO to Worker Provides information about the pay of CEOs in largest U.S. corporations, and compares that data with average pay for employees. U.S. Income Distribution: Just How Unequal? Describes a common measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient. What Percent Are You? Identify where your family stands in terms of position within the structure of income distribution. The Richest Americans Identify Americ’s super-rich today. Overviews the magnitude and source of wealth of the richest 400 Americans, and includes a short biography on each. Who are they? How did they make their money?
  • 8. June 25 Topic: Economic Inequality: Does It Matter? Reading Assignment: Wealth Gap Causes All of America’s Economic Woes Video Assignments: Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have a Good Side? Identify the positive functions of inequality outlined in this video. Assess their relevance. Critical Condition What do you do if you get sick, but have no health insurance? Describe the hardships and horrors experienced by the several families featured in this documentary. Front Lines and Food Lines Identify the contradictions that military personnel and their families face as they are forced to rely on food donations. June 26 Topic: Political Inequality Text Assignment: Schwalbe – 6. Regulating the Action Reading Assignments: Who Rules America? Class and Politics World’s Most Repressive Societies Video Assignment: Stigma Examines the policing practice and effects of aggressive stop and frisk on the streets of New York. Identify the political dimensions and implications this behavior. June 27 Topic: Status Inequality Reading Assignments: Conspicuous Consumption The Vicious Cycle of Status Envy afford/ Audio Assignment: The Death of WASP Culture The heir of the Johnson and Johnson fortune describes the demise of White, Anglo, Saxon, Protestant cultural dominance in the U.S. Week 5 June 30 Exam 2
  • 9. July 1 Exam Review July 1-2 Topic: Class Mobility Reading Assignments: Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across Generations Are Americans Better Off Than Their Parents? Harder for Americans to Rise from Lower Rungs Video Assignment: Who Gets the Best Jobs? Social Mobility in Britain View chapter 1 of this documentary redistributed on YouTube. Identify the major arguments about why certain kinds of people get better jobs than others, despite similar educational attainment? In your opinion, how applicable are these findings to the U.S.? July 3 Topic: Political / Status Inequality: Structured Oppression Video Assignment: The Essential Blue-Eyed Examine the dynamics of minority-group construction, exclusion, and hostility through a training session directed by Jane Elliott. Determine how a category of people are stigmatized and marginalized, and how such dominance is maintained by dominant group members. After watching this video, ask if you are in everyday life an oppressor or one of the oppressed? Explain your response. Be sure to view the "debriefing" which immediately follows the main part of the video. For Your Information: Confronting Racism What gave the deli counterman the ability to behave in such manner? Describe the several different ways store patrons reacted when they witnessed other customers being subjected to such negative treatment? How would you have reacted had you been in the shoes of the victims? of the witnesses? July 4 Holiday Week 6 July 7-8 Group Presentations July 9 Final Exam