Class Calendar

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Explicit Racism

As you enter, please read this:

Even though race does not exist biologically, it does exist as a social construction. This means that people believe in it and act on it even though it is not real.  One of the ways the construction of race has shaped people is called explicit racism, or directly and consciously believing that one's own "racial" group is superior to others. Another way that Americans have been shaped by "race" is prejudice and discriminationPrejudice is having a predetermined attitude about a group of people usually based on a stereotype.  Discrimination is an action or behavior that results in unequal treatment of individuals because of his or her perceived "race." However, over the last few years, the  United States has elected its first black/ mixed-race President, there are more black actors and actresses on network television, and the cultural norm is that it’s wrong to be racist, SO

(Please jot down a response to this)

 Is racism still relevant? Should we still be concerned about racism or have we moved past racism? 

Checkout these recent events in our country:
Here is a post about racist tweets from the 2013 Miss America pageant. 

Here is a post  about a 2013 racist incident in an unlikely place.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has an ongoing list of racist incidents.

A college student from Queens got more than he bargained for when he splurged on a $350 designer belt at Barneys — when a clerk had him cuffed apparently thinking the black teen couldn’t afford the pricey purchase, even though he had paid for it, a new lawsuit alleges.
“His only crime was being a young black man,” his attorney, Michael Palillo, told The Post.

During the Healthcare debate in 2009, Representative David Scott of Georgia had a 4foot swastika painted over his office sign.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies hate groups in America. This link will show you a map of all the hate groups in the United States.   Is this surprising?  Is this concerning?

This article from the Mail Online, A British online newspaper:
And with Mr Obama reportedly receiving more death threats than any other American president - 400 per cent more than those against his predecessor George Bush, according to a new book...A black U.S. Congressman had a swastika painted over his office sign after he yelled at allegedly racist protesters at a Southern town hall meeting, it emerged today.
In 2012, Joel Ward, a black NHL player scored the winning goal in the NHL playoffs and he became the target of racial slurs.

 Fraternities and sororities hold racial-themed parties that display very directly the racialized stereotypes that persist in the United States. Does this surprise you?  How would you feel/react to a party like this when you go to college?

 Jeremy Lin is an example of the racial stereotypes in sports and how stereotypes can be more or less permissible for different groups within a society. Here is a post explaining that dynamic from the society pages.  Here is a clip of the skit from the daily beast.  Have you seen or heard any explicit racism in your own life?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Social Construction of Race in the U.S.

Because race does not exist in any biological or scientific way that can be defined, each society is able to define it how they want.
Over the years, race has changed in America. The Irish were originally considered not white. Later, Italians, Greeks and other Southern Europeans faced discrimination because they were considered less desirable than Northern Europeans. In the 1920s, the Supreme Court Case Thind vs. U.S. determined that a man of Asian Indian descent was not white or caucasoid, even though he did not fit into the other categories of race at the time (Mongoloid/Asian, Negroid/Black). Instead the court ruled that because most people would say that he is not white, then he is not white. This was just one case of many that shaped race throughout U.S. history. For more on how race has changed and can change, see Nell Irvin Painter's book called, "The History of White People." Here is a review on Salon. All of these are examples of how race has changed over the years in America. It can change, because there is no way to define it. It doesn't exist in any biological or empirical sense, it only exists as a social construction.

Here is how the US census has changed in how it determines race over the years.

Click here to do an activity where you have to categorize people like a census taker would have.  After you do the sorting people activity above, click here to learn about traits.  Is this new information to you? Is it difficult to process? 

Watch this show making fun of how race is socially constructed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Race is a social construction

Please answer these questions:

What are two ways that sorting the balls yesterday was a metaphor for race?

What is the important conclusion from yesterday's lesson?

Then on page 2 of your packet, please answer questions 1-3 about the reading.

 The book by Omi and Winant called "Racial Formation" provides a detailed explanation of how race is formed through a social construction. Read an excerpt here.

If "race" is not biological then it is a social construction.  There is no way to biologically, physically or scientifically group humans into distinct racial groups.  If there was, then racial groups would be the same all over the world.  They would fit into the scientific classification system such as kingdom, order, phyllum etc...  But instead each culture has its own racial types.  For example, when I was in Japan, I asked some Japanese friends what races were in Japan and they said "nihon-jin and gai-jin," Which means "Japanese people and foreign people.  In other words, the Japanese think that there are Japanese people in the world and then there is everyone else.  And then I pressed him further and I said, " But aren't there different groups within Japanese culture?"
My friend finally said, " Ahh yes... there were ancient Japanese who settled the islands from the north and there were ancient Japanese who settled the islands from the south, and you know how to tell who came from where?  Earwax." That's right, earwax! He explained that some Japanese have dry flaky earwax and others have wet greasy earwax.  That determines where your ancestors came from and a different biological group that you are a part of- essentially a different race.  But that makes no sense to us because in the US we never think of earwax as part of race.

Here are the racial groups in Mexico:
  1. Mestizo: Spanish father and Indian mother
  2. Castizo: Spanish father and Mestizo mother
  3. Espomolo: Spanish mother and Castizo father
  4. Mulatto: Spanish and black African
  5. Moor: Spanish and Mulatto
  6. Albino: Spanish father and Moor mother
  7. Throwback: Spanish father and Albino mother
  8. Wolf: Throwback father and Indian mother
  9. Zambiago: Wolf father and Indian mother
  10. Cambujo: Zambiago father and Indian mother
  11. Alvarazado: Cambujo father and Mulatto mother
  12. Borquino: Alvarazado father and Mulatto mother
  13. Coyote: Borquino father and Mulatto mother
  14. Chamizo: Coyote father and Mulatto mother
  15. Coyote-Mestizo: Cahmizo father and Mestizo mother
  16. Ahi Tan Estas: Coyote-Mestizo father and Mulatto mother
 And in Brazil, In 1976, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) conducted a study to ask people to identify their own skin color.  Here are the 134 terms, listed in alphabetical order:
Acastanhada (cashewlike tint; caramel colored)
Alva (pure white)
Alva-escura (dark or off-white)
Alverenta (or aliviero, "shadow in the water")
Alvarinta (tinted or bleached white)
Alva-rosada (or jamote, roseate, white with pink highlights)
Alvinha (bleached; white-washed)
Amarela (yellow)
Amarelada (yellowish)
Amarela-quemada (burnt yellow or ochre)
Amarelosa (yellowed)
Amorenada (tannish)
Avermelhada (reddish, with blood vessels showing through the skin)
Azul (bluish)
Azul-marinho (deep bluish)
Baiano (ebony)
Bem-branca (very white)
Bem-clara (translucent)
Bem-morena (very dusky)
Branca (white)
Branca-avermelhada (peach white)
Branca-melada (honey toned)
Branca-morena (darkish white)
Branca-p�lida (pallid)
Branca-queimada (sunburned white)
Branca-sardenta (white with brown spots)
Branca-suja (dirty white)
Branqui�a (a white variation)
Branquinha (whitish)
Bronze (bronze)
Bronzeada (bronzed tan)
Bugrezinha-escura (Indian characteristics)
Burro-quanto-foge ("burro running away," implying racial mixture of unknown origin)
Cabocla (mixture of white, Negro and Indian)
Cabo-Verde (black; Cape Verdean)
Caf� (coffee)
Caf�-com-leite (coffee with milk)
Canela (cinnamon)
Canelada (tawny)
Cast�o (thistle colored)
Castanha (cashew)
Castanha-clara (clear, cashewlike)
Castanha-escura (dark, cashewlike)
Chocolate (chocolate brown)
Clara (light)
Clarinha (very light)
Cobre (copper hued)
Corado (ruddy)
Cor-de-caf� (tint of coffee)
Cor-de-canela (tint of cinnamon)
Cor-de-cuia (tea colored)
Cor-de-leite (milky)
Cor-de-oro (golden)
Cor-de-rosa (pink)
Cor-firma ("no doubt about it")
Crioula (little servant or slave; African)
Encerada (waxy)
Enxofrada (pallid yellow; jaundiced)
Esbranquecimento (mostly white)
Escura (dark)
Escurinha (semidark)
Fogoio (florid; flushed)
Galega (see agalegada above)
Galegada (see agalegada above)
Jambo (like a fruit the deep-red color of a blood orange)
Laranja (orange)
Lil�s (lily)
Loira (blond hair and white skin)
Loira-clara (pale blond)
Loura (blond)
Lourinha (flaxen)
Malaia (from Malabar)
Marinheira (dark greyish)
Marrom (brown)
Meio-amerela (mid-yellow)
Meio-branca (mid-white)
Meio-morena (mid-tan)
Meio-preta (mid-Negro)
Melada (honey colored)
Mesti�a (mixture of white and Indian)
Miscigena��o (mixed --- literally "miscegenated")
Mista (mixed)
Morena (tan)
Morena-bem-chegada (very tan)
Morena-bronzeada (bronzed tan)
Morena-canelada (cinnamonlike brunette)
Morena-castanha (cashewlike tan)
Morena clara (light tan)
Morena-cor-de-canela (cinnamon-hued brunette)
Morena-jambo (dark red)
Morenada (mocha)
Morena-escura (dark tan)
Morena-fechada (very dark, almost mulatta)
Moren�o (very dusky tan)
Morena-parda (brown-hued tan)
Morena-roxa (purplish-tan)
Morena-ruiva (reddish-tan)
Morena-trigueira (wheat colored)
Moreninha (toffeelike)
Mulatta (mixture of white and Negro)
Mulatinha (lighter-skinned white-Negro)
Negra (negro)
Negrota (Negro with a corpulent vody)
P�lida (pale)
Para�ba (like the color of marupa wood)
Parda (dark brown)
Parda-clara (lighter-skinned person of mixed race)
Polaca (Polish features; prostitute)
Pouco-clara (not very clear)
Pouco-morena (dusky)
Preta (black)
Pretinha (black of a lighter hue)
Puxa-para-branca (more like a white than a mulatta)
Quase-negra (almost Negro)
Queimada (burnt)
Queimada-de-praia (suntanned)
Queimada-de-sol (sunburned)
Regular (regular; nondescript)
Retinta ("layered" dark skin)
Rosa (roseate)
Rosada (high pink)
Rosa-queimada (burnished rose)
Roxa (purplish)
Ruiva (strawberry blond)
Russo (Russian; see also polaca)
Sapecada (burnished red)
Sarar� (mulatta with reddish kinky hair, aquiline nose)
Sara�ba (or saraiva: like a white meringue)
Tostada (toasted)
Trigueira (wheat colored)
Turva (opaque)
Verde (greenish)
Vermelha (reddish)

 Looking at the distinctions in Japan, Mexico and Brazil might not make sense to us because we view race so differently.  However, all of this is evidence that race is a social construction.   Read the passage below and then answer the questions after.

4.  Answer individually:   Did the girl’s race change?  Why or why not?

 5.  As a group discuss, each student share his/her answer to this question.  Change or add to your thoughts above as needed.  Then as a group decide on one answer: Yes or NO?


Here is a link to different censuses around the world.

Click on the link and then note in your packet which race you would be in the other countries around the world.
When you are finished, which countries were you a different race than how you identify yourself in the U.S.?

Here is a link to a survey of who is white around the world.

 And here is a global dialogue about race.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bryan Stevenson and Just Mercy

At NCSS 2016 in Washington DC I had the amazing opportunity to see Mr. Bryan Stevenson speak and to meet him afterwards.

Stevenson is a Harvard Law School graduate who founded the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery Alabama.  From the EJI website, their mission is:
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
The vulnerable people who Stevenson and the EJI help include low-income, minority, and children.   Stevenson became famous for his book called Just Mercy.  The book details Mr. Stevenson's journey from Law student to founding the EJI and the numerous cases which he has worked on.  It is a very powerful narrative that strongly makes the case that inequality in the United States is persistent among the most vulnerable groups in our society.

For Sociology, the book can be used to teach myriad concepts.  But the book might also be useful in other class like:  government, US history, law, criminal justice.

Here is a teaching guide:

Here is a review from the New Yorker.

Here is a review from the New York Times.

Here is Mr. Stevenson's Ted Talk.

At NCSS, Mr Stevenson spoke about 5 things that people need to do in order to create change in the world:

1. Be compassionate.
2. Get proximate.
3. Change the narrative.
4.  Stay hopeful.
5.  Be willing to be uncomfortable.

Here is Mr. Stevenson talking about staying hopeful:

Race and biology; the spectrum

I asked students to classify these balls into different categories. Two things happen:
1)Some students pick a trait such as size or color to classify the balls or, 2)Students classify the balls based on the sport of each such as basketball, soccer, etc...
This is a metaphor for race and how we classify people. 1)First, we choose to use traits such as skin color to classify them, but the divisions between these traits are arbitrary divisions. If you lined up all of the people (or balls) in the world according to a trait, the divisions would be less obvious. It would look more like a spectrum that changes gradually blending into one another.  Here is a post from soc images that displays the spectrum of human colors.

So why all the fuss about skin color? Nina Jablonski explains the significance of skin color in her Ted Talk here: The article Skin Deep by Nina Jablonski and Chaplin from Scientific American explains the science behind skin color and how around the world, skin color would look more like a spectrum than distinct groups. 2)Second, when we categorize the balls into sports or people into races we are constructing a social category that only exists because we say it should. Ask students to define what a basketball is.  The only true definition is "any ball that society says is a basketball."  The same is true for race. Whatever the society says is a distinct race, is a distinct race in their eyes.   Race, like sports, are social constructions.  Here is more about skin color.
What's the point? Click here to see why there is no way of biologically separating people into "races." Race doesn't exist in any scientific sense. This is a difficult concept because I think that race is a biological hegemony in America - that is, it is so accepted that we never question it. For more info you can checkout the April 22, 2005 episode of Odyssey, a radio program that used to air on Chicago Public Radio. This episode about the genetics of race and if you listen carefully to the caller segment, you can hear a very interesting high school sociology teacher commenting. [Listen the program here (the good part is after 35:26)]

Here is an explanation about how genetic diversity spread out over time and how that led to varying populations of diversity but not distinct groups.

Jefferson Fish also explains how race doesn't make sense in the article title Mixed Blood from Psychology Today, 1995.

The idea that race is not biological can be difficult to accept/process because race is so ingrained in our society that we never question it.  It gets validation from many places, including our very own anatomy class! (click here for a clarification of the anatomy forensic lesson).

What are some assumptions you have had about race? Have you learned erroneous information regarding race? Why is this not a part of curriculum in American schools especially in light of the profound impact the idea of race has had on this country?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Post 8: Social Class

For this post, you are required to apply both the movie, The Line, and the reading called Nickel and Dimed.  Please explain the dynamics of social class in the United States.  Explain how The Line and Nickel and Dimed contribute to our understanding of Social Class.  For the sociological content, some of the concepts that were a part of this unit are:  income, wealth, prestige, power, social mobility, poverty and life chances.  For applying these concepts to a unique experience, you might want to use your own family's social class or the social class of your neighborhood/school as an example. This is due next tuesday by class time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Line: The Dynamics of Poverty

Today we watched a video called The Line about different people living in poverty.  There are a number of important concepts that this movie highlights.

Concepts that the movie exemplifies:

Chapter 1: The New Poverty, Dupage County, IL
Suburban poverty is growing faster than urban or rural poverty and is at a higher rate than urban poverty.
Often, these people will go unnoticed.  For example, there are at least 2% of SHS that qualifies for federal financial aid.  That's about 80 students, but often they go unnoticed.  Sometimes this anonimity is purposeful - there is a stigma that comes with poverty and so some impoverished people feel inferior.
The man in the video experienced downward structural mobility.
Divorce played a role.

Chapter 2: The Violence of Poverty, Chicago, IL
Inner city poverty often accompanies violence.
Those in poverty are often living one trauma away from homelessness.
J Kwest
The threat of violence and trauma leave many urban poor not thinking about the future because they do not plan to live long enough to worry about their future.
One medical disaster can result in a downward spiral for the poor.  Divorce exacerbated her situation.  Sheila moves in with her mom and siblings to create a "community home".  Her children feel stigmatized at her school.

Chapter 4: The Labor of Poverty, Charlotte, North Carolina
Left by his father, he had no money and his mother relied on welfare.  He had to pass up college and find a job instead.   Worked as a horse walker for 20 years, but then moved to North Carolina.  He worked hard, never used drugs, but refused to sleep in the street.  Having no skills, he had trouble finding a job.  He had to move into a homeless shelter.  He found work because a minister runs a nonprofit restaurant called the King's Kitchen.

Poverty in the United States

Please take out your packet and open to the Nickel and Dimed reading.
Please answer: 
1. How is she treated by customers and management?

2.  Is she successful at living at minimum wage?

3.  If this was her real life, what limits her ability to move up in class?

-----------------Pause here-------------

Consider this statement:
A lower class person has a higher chance of dying at any age than a wealthy person.
 Brainstorm in your group all of the reasons why this may be true.  Use your reading and the movie to cite examples.

Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed is an experiment with what life is like for someone living at minimun wage (or at least low-wage). Here is an excerpt.

Morgan Spurlock's video 30 days at Minimum Wage is also an experiment at living at minimum wage.

The Line is a documentary about people living at the poverty line.  It highlights the difficulties of different people who share a common struggle: life in poverty.  Here is a link to The Line on Mediacast.  Here it is embeded:

What I want you to see are the effects of poverty on individuals:

Physical Health (Here is a comprehensive list of research on health effects of poverty):
- a lower class person has a higher chance of dying at any age than a wealthy person!  Some other health outcomes for those in poverty:

From the American Journal of Pediatrics; Poverty and lack of nurturing in early life may have a direct effect on a child’s brain development, according to a study that found smaller brain volumes in poor, neglected children.

 Impoverished black children, for example, are twice as likely as poor Hispanic or white children to have levels of lead in their blood that is at least 2.5 micrograms per deciliter. Some researchers have found that even that small amount of lead is enough to cause cognitive impairment in children — especially the kind that impacts their reading ability.

 hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes, heart disease,  

Environment: the poor are more likely to experience asthma and other health issues;
...poor black children are more likely than poor white or Hispanic children to be diagnosed with asthma — another ailment that plagues poor children in Jacksonville and one that is linked to living in older, more industrialized areas.Poor white children, though, are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke, or to be born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy than poor black or Hispanic children.And poor Hispanic children, it found, are twice as likely to have no place to go for health care, as compared to poor white or black children.

Lifestyle = less access to healthy food (i.e. fruits and vegetables); see this link for a TED talk about one man who is arrested for planting a vegetable garden in a poor neighborhood, smoking, Drug use and abuse, exercise less,
One reason may be that violence tracks with poverty, thereby preventing people from being active out-of-doors. Similarly, parks and sports facilities are less available to people living in poor counties (5), and people who live in poverty-dense regions may be less able to afford gym membership, sports clothing, and/or exercise equipment. There are multiple individual and environmental reasons to explain why poverty-dense counties may be more sedentary and bear greater obesity burdens.
 unsafe sex. obesity, cancer, HIV

Medical Care = less access and poorer hospitals, lack of health insurance.

Mental Health = higher stress, children feel effects of stress for life, mental disorders, suicide,

Some people will argue that there is a culture of poverty among those in the lowest income levels. This culture of poverty represents individuals making choices that create or worsen the impoverished situation they are in. But, it is important to understand how these choices come about. A life of deprivation, punctuated by emergencies creates a lack of “deferred gratification." In other words, it is difficult for these people to invest in their own future; many of the poor see the future as more of the same or even worse; enjoy what you can, because tomorrow may be worse; poverty influences attitude & behavior which leads to poverty, etc…

And it is important to note that 20% of the children in the US are growing up in poverty! That's 1 out of every 5 kids in the United States is living at the poverty level! Yes you read that correctly - 1 out of every 5 children in the United States is living in poverty right now!  That's a higher rate than 34 out of 35 Western countries. This is another good reason why the cycle of poverty exists. These children grow up in these conditions and so it makes it easier to see how they become the adults who continue to be stuck in the cycle of poverty.

Growing up in poverty can have serious and long-lasting effects on children’s health, development, and overall well-being. The effects of poverty have a well-documented impact on young children’s developing brains. And children who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience harmful levels of stress, more likely to struggle in school, and more likely to have behavioral, social, and emotional problems than their peers.

Watch Poor Kids on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Here is a link to the National Poverty Center which is full of resources and research on poverty. 

Try the playspent website which guides readers through the difficult  choices that those in poverty must make.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Yesterday we played monopoly with rules that more closely affect the real rules of the US class system. Players started with different amounts of income and different amounts of property; the upper-upper class started with the most, and the working class the least. They rolled the dice to see what class they were. I told them them not worry about who "wins" the game, instead just try moving up to the next level of class. Playing monopoly according to the rules of the U.S.'s class structure should have some revealing insight about the state of mobility within the U.S.'s class structure.
From the Brookings Institute:

Recent studies suggest that there is less economic mobility in the United States than has long been presumed. The last thirty years has seen a considerable drop-off in median household income growth compared to earlier generations. And, by some measurements, we are actually a less mobile society than many other nations, including Canada, France, Germany and most Scandinavian countries. This challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity.

And from the New Yorker,
“Social mobility is low and has been for at least thirty or forty years.” This is most obvious when you look at the prospects of the poor. Seventy per cent of people born into the bottom quintile of income distribution never make it into the middle class, and fewer than ten per cent get into the top quintile. Forty per cent are still poor as adults....The middle class isn’t all that mobile, either: only twenty per cent of people born into the middle quintile ever make it into the top one.

Mobility in America tends to be within the middle classes (from working class to uppermiddle class). The wealthy class tends to stay wealthy and the impoverished class tends to stay in poverty, especially in comparison to other most developed nations.

When someone changes social class within their lifetime, this is called intragenerational mobility.

1. Was anyone from your group able to change classes?  If so, who?  What class?  If not, then who was the closest to moving up or down?

2.  Does your groups' mobility reflect the findings above from the Brookings Institute?

Social class mobility might also be  intergenerational mobility or structural mobility.   Intergenerational mobility means that the children of one group will have a different class than their parents.  This is much more common than intragenerational mobility.  My own family's history reflect this as well.  How has your family's mobility been? Are you growing up in the same social class as your parents? How about from your grandparents? Where do you see your future in terms of social class?
 Structural mobility is when the structure of society changes in such a way that a group is moved up or down.  For example, many people in the 1950s and 60s were able to finish high school and go right to work in a factory.  When those jobs moved overseas, many of those people were thrust downward.

3.  Tell the group about your family's intergenerational mobility.  Did they go up or down or stay the same?

4.  Using the monopoly game yesterday, what are some ways that we could exemplify intergenerational mobility and structural mobility as part of the game?

A second way that we can look at this simulation is in how players react.  Below is a TED talk about how people react to playing the game.  Think about how that reaction might show up in everyday life.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Final Paper

Final Paper – Community Service Reflection
DUE: Mon, Dec 12, 2016
After completing your service hours, you must reflect on your community service experiences.   Please write an authentic paper using details of your own experiences and relate your community service experiences to sociology.

Similar to each blog post, the paper should meet the standards of the class:

Literacy – Please relate your experiences to a variety of different sources (readings, videos, websites, images) from the semester.  Thoroughly explain the connection between the source and your service experience.  Try to be specific about what aspect of the service related to the source.  Your grade will be based on the following scale:
4- Student thoroughly connects a variety of sources from personal research or experience to community service experiences in a detailed and specific way.
3- Student thoroughly connects a variety of sources from throughout the semester to community service experiences in a detailed and specific way.
2- Student connects source from throughout the semester either lacking in variety, thoroughness or detail.
1- Student fails to connect sources from throughout the semester and is lacking in variety, thoroughness or detail.
- Look back over my blog for the various sources we looked at this semester.
- Use your textbook as a source if necessary.
- Use Socimages (link on my blog sidebar)

Sociological Content – Please connect your service experience(s) to the sociological concepts and terms we have used this year.  Please see the attached appendix for some suggestions of how to connect service experiences to sociology.
4- Student is able to connect multiple sociological concepts from different units in a meaningful and accurate way.  The connection is explained with irrefutable conviction.
3- Students is able to connect either multiple sociological concepts in a meaningful and accurate way with irrefutable conviction.  Or, the student is able to connect multiple concepts from various units but might lack some conviction, or leaving some meaning unclear.
2-  Student is able to connect a concept in a way that is either accurate or meaningful.
1- Student is unable to make connections that are accurate, meaningful.
- Use the appendix on the back of this handout.
- The intro unit can be applied to every service opportunity.
- Research the organization that you worked with.  Find out who they help and why – this will give you ideas about how to connect to sociology.

Academic Expectations – Please write the reflection with proper prose, grammar, spelling and format.  Use .5-1.5 inch margins, 10-12 font, and double spacing.  Turn it in on time.
4- Student is able to do all of these.
3- Student misses one of these.
2- Student has 2 or 3 mistakes or is late.
1- Student has more than 3 mistakes or is late and has other mistakes.
- Be authentic.
- Spell check

Appendix A – Connecting to Sociology

            Sociological Imagination – how are the individuals who you served shaped by circumstances larger than their own personal choices.  How are they shaped by when and where they live? Sociological Mindfulness – consider how this experience makes you aware that you are a part of society and you have an impact on it. Social construction of reality – explain how individuals’ feelings and experiences are shaped by society.  Ingroups-outgroups – explain how belonging to a group affects your feelings and stereotypes toward outgroups.

Identify unique elements in your service experience, such as: material culture, norms, values and sanctions. Consider how these cultural elements aid in the functioning of the organization and how they contrast with mainstream elements of culture.  How do American values play a role in the plight of those being served or in your service work?

Analyze the modes of interaction that you engaged in during your service. Where there differences in the way that you acted towards the clients versus other volunteers versus members of the organization?  Did you see any processes of socialization occurring with yourself or with the clients that you were working with? 

Reflect on the whether the organization or clientele of the organization where you were volunteering bears any stigma from the larger community.  Often times, community-service organizations have the primary goal of aiding individuals who carry a deviant identity.  Whether it is poverty, substance abuse, illness, age, disability, etc. Observe how the clients manage their stigmatized identities. How do the workers at the organization treat the clients?  Do the clients manage or reject the label of deviant?  How does the work of the organization help change societal perceptions of the stigmatized?

Social Class:
What role does class inequality play in their organization?  How is the organization funded?  How do community service organizations in general generate enough interest for people to volunteer their time and donate their money to help others?  How does charity fit into the American Dream ideology?  Do you believe that most Americans are willing to sacrifice some of their own wealth to help those in need? Why? Why not?

Reflect on the racial and ethnic dynamic of their organization.  Is there a difference between the racial or ethnic composition of the staff, the volunteers, and the clientele?  Did your experiences of the racial or ethnic composition at the organization parallel your everyday experiences?  Have you gained any insight into a particular group? Explain.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Components of Social Class in the USA

The common thinking about the American class system is that there are no rules in America and anything is possible. "Only in America" is a common myth. The reality is that there are "rules" to the class system, but few Americans see it (then again, few have a sociological imagination!).

Here are the components of the U.S. social class system that create the distribution of wealth similar to the rules of the coin flipping metaphor:

The highest earning Americans have continued to earn more and more over the last 50 years, while the lower earners have earned closer to about the same. The more money you have, the more you can earn.
What do you think the average household income in the United States is?

Click here to see an answer. Note the percentile for each income bracket and note the median.

Note the actual median household income: _______.

Now look for your community's average income.  Click on the American Factfinder and search by zipcode. Then click on "Income" and look next to median family income.

 What percentile is your community in?  What percentile is your family in?  Is this surprising?

Here is a link to Marketplace where you can input your income and compare it to social class data in the US.

Also, This graph displays the inequality by occupation.

Checkout this post from Slate about income inequality. You can scroll down a bit and enter your zipcode and see where it stands by comparison.

Wealth in tricky to understand.  It is everything that a household owns, such as the home, vacation home, cars, 401K, savings, stocks, jewelry, etc...But, you must subtract what the household owes.  So, if my house is $200,000 but I owe $160,000 then my wealth is only $40,000 on the house.   One way to examine wealth is through quintiles (20% increments).  if you lined all the households up in the U.S. by wealth, what percentage would the top 20% own? And then the next 20% and so on...

How much of the wealth in the U.S. do you think each quintile has:

Bottom 20%:______   2nd 20%_______  3rd 20%________  4th 20%_______ 5th 20%_______Top

How much do you think each quintile should have?

Bottom 20%:______   2nd 20%________ 3rd 20%________  4th 20%_______ 5th 20%_______Top

After you have finished answering the questions above, watch this video:

What is the reality?

 The disparity of wealth is greater than that of income (see the pie graph below).  From the Huffington Post, In 2010, "The median household net worth -- the level at which half the households have more and half have less -- was $77,300
How does your family or community compare to the average American?

Average American:  50% own 2 cars,  50% have a 401K, 66% own 1 home, 6% own a second home

This post and video from sociological images shows wealth inequality in the US. 

In the US, here are the percentages of adults over the age of 23 who have attained each degree in 2012:
High school graduate87.65%
Some college57.28%
Associate's and/or Bachelor's degree40.58%
Bachelor's degree30.94%
Master's degree8.05%
Doctorate or professional degree3.07%
For more on education and social class, this Wikipedia entry is thorough.

This link shows that on average, the higher a family's income, the higher the ACT score

And this link shows the higher one's educational level, the more he or she earns.

Here is a post from sociological images that has a lot of info showing the connection between your degree and your income. This graph shows that the less education that parents have, the less education their children obtain.

The price of a home depends on a lot more than the physical structure of the home.
The average home price in the United States in 2012 was $175K.  The average price in BG was $346,000.  And in LG it was $765,000.  Click here to see some houses for sale in Lake County, IL in 2014.  Which do you think are the most expensive?  Which are the least? When you see the actual prices, why do you think that is?

Here you can find data by zipcode about the average home price ( as well as income and other data).

This report from NPR's Planet Money details how where you grow up can affect your income later in life.  And here is a video and stats from CNN Money that show how where you grow up limits or benefits you.

Prestige and power
 People view different occupations with different levels of prestige.  This prestige can translate to real power such as being appointed to boards or committees.  It can also simply give you credibility or respect in social situations.  Here is a chart of prestige ratings.

Power, according to Max Weber, is the ability to impose one's will on others.  Here is an example of powerful leaders coming together to focus their power.

The powerful people are able to keep themselves out of jail, influence politicians and enact laws that are favorable to themselves.  Here is one example from The Daily Show comparing teachers and Wall Street Investors.  Can you guess who has the power?

Here is a link to a Washington Post article explaining that wealthy Americans use their power to create favorable government policies.

And this article from the NY Times shows that an executive at United Airlines accused of corruption charges was forced to resign. Imagine if a teacher was accused of corruption and was forced to resign. That would be it - out of a job and no compensation. But,

United filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday indicating that Mr. Smisek would receive nearly $4.9 million in a separation payment, and 60,000 shares of stock, valued at over $3 million.

Creating a Social Class Ladder in the U.S.
All of these combine to form a rough picture of social class. Here is one representation of how all of those components might work together:

Look over your information for income, wealth, education, location and prestige.  Are they mostly above, average or below? Then try to think where that person falls on this ladder?  Why would you place them there?  Share this your group.

Was it difficult to share with the group?  Why or why not?

After you have thought about your own personal example, classify the four people in this Esquire article and analyze what class they are and why?  Try to use components other than income.  How is each person shaped by their social class?

Here are other resources for examining the components of social class that comprise the "rules" about what is possible in the USA in terms of class:

Here is a link to the Stanford Center on Poverty where you can view slides about inequality in the USA.

Here is a link to 15 statistics about inequality in America.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Social Class (inequality) in the USA by comparison

Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are relative to the rest of the world because the media is saturated with stories of the super wealthy. Here is a website that will rank you among the WORLD's population. That should provide some perspective as to how lucky we are.

However, relative to other Westernized modern countries, the US does not look so equal.  In fact, the inequality in the USA is closer to China, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina and even Cuba!

This map shows the inequality present in countries around the world. The bluer countries are more equal and the more red are less equal:Notice how many countries are more equal than the United States.

And here is a post showing that the US has gotten more unequal over the past several decades.

 Here is another blog's post about the growing inequality in the U.S.

Here is a post from the Society Pages about the damaging effects of income inequality.

Service Ideas for 1 hour

If you need just one more hour for your community service requirement, here are some options:

You can clean out your closet or help your parents clean out stuff around the house and then drive the donations to Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore shop or another charitable organization.  Remember to take pictures of what you donate and where you drop it off at.

Giving Blood
You can stop into a Lifesource and donate blood.  I will count this as one hour.
Feed My Starving Children
They have lots of shifts and some of them are just 1.5 hours.

Northern Illinois Foodbank will take food donations.  You can run a food drive  in your neighborhood.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Flipping Out about Social Class

Today we played a coin flipping game that is a metaphor for social class in the United States.

This game both resembles and departs from real life.

The way it resembles real life:

1. It gives the impression that everyone has an equal chance and that the system is fair.  The coin flip metaphor seems like everyone has a 50-50 chance to succeed.  This is true for U.S. society too.  From Jen Hochschild's book, Facing Up to the American Dream,  Americans believe in the "American dream;" success is attainable for anyone.  
2. However, just like real life, the coin game takes a little luck.  If you are lucky enough to be born in wealth, it is an advantage just like being lucky to win early in the game.

3.  Once you have wealth, it gives you the advantage of having multiple chances to come back.  If you have 12 coins and you are up against someone with 3, you have multiple opportunities to come back.  This is true in real life too.  One example is the President-elect who has declared bankruptcy 4 times!

4.  Even though the game has the appearance of being an equal 50-50 chance, the rules favor a channeling of wealth to the top.  Everytime we play this, the outcome is similar: most money at the top and most people at the bottom with very little money.  This is true in real life as well as the metaphor.  Here is a graph showing wealth distribution in the U.S.:
Compare this graph to a graph of the coin distribution at the end of the game.
Some of the specific similarities include:
How difficult it is to define the middle class.
The huge disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom.
The large number of Americans who have no wealth/no coins.

Because Americans hate the idea of a class system, most Americans prefer to think of themselves as middle class.
However, rather than being a society of equality or a society of people in the middle, American has the highest rate of poverty among the 17 leading industrial nations.  Most wealth is at the top in the hands of very few people and most people are at the bottom with very little.  The rules of our society help create this outcome, but Americans do not notice or acknowledge the rules.  For example, 43% Americans cite “lack of effort” as a reason for poverty.
The United States is considered an "open system" in that technically anyone is allowed to move between the different social classes.  This is in contrast to closed systems such as Britain’s nobility or India’s caste system.  However,  the rules in an open system are unofficial and so harder to see.