“The study of social problems has been inextricably intertwined with the field of sociology as a whole.”

—Rubington & Weinberg

This course represents an advanced-level study of social problems while engaging the sociological imagination. We will be drawing a link between micro, meso and macro-level analyses, linking private troubles with larger public issues. Most theory in sociology focuses either on the micro level, such as symbolic interactionism, or at the macro level, such as structuralism, and ignore middle-range theories regarding how the micro-level and macro-level connect and are interrelated. That connection is critical to our understanding of society. With this in mind, we will explore the following questions: How do social problems develop? What impact do they have on individuals and society, and what is the connection between them? What has been and/or can be done about them? In this course, students will conduct a case-study analysis of one social problem, bringing library and interview research together with a service-learning project and analyzing the issue at these multiples levels.

Topics Covered:

  • Defining a Social Problem
  • Private Troubles and Public Issues: The Personal is Political
  • Seminar Discussions: Generations of Exclusion
  • Research Methods: Reconstructing the Survey
  • Seminar Discussions: Critical Race Theory
  • Documentary & Discussion: Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the American Dream
  • Research Methods: Conducting Interviews
  • Seminar Discussions: Education for Extinction
  • Documentary & Discussion: Race, Genetics & Social Meaning
  • Documentary & Discussion: The Ideological Underpinnings of Racism
  • Seminar Discussions: The Asian American Achievement Paradox
  • Midwest Sociological Society Annual Meeting
  • Seminar Discussions: Black Feminist Thought
  • Research Methods: Data Analysis & Presentation Preparation
  • A Courageous Conversation with Guest Alumni Tony Hudson

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