SOC 303. Race and Inequality

Problems of racialized power and inequality: causes, processes, theoretical considerations, and social movements. Multiple perspectives on problems and peacemaking efforts. Majors also take SOC303M. [DCG-d. GE.]

Race is part of our everyday lives. We see race in our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, our jails, and all over the media. It’s a social category that shapes nearly every interaction and institution in the contemporary U.S. Despite the prevalence of racialized issues and meanings in this society, it remains one of the most difficult subjects to talk about, especially in mixed-race settings. The meaning of race changes over time and space and for different social groups, making it a slippery and sensitive concept. It is hard and risky to talk about race and racism, but I invite you to take a chance, even though you may be scared, to be curious, compassionate with one another, and humble in exploring these concepts, theories, and social issues.

In the first half of this course, we will lay a foundation for thinking about race. We will use our sociological imaginations to understand the way race is socially and historically constructed. We will also discuss a variety of sociological theories about race and racism. In the second half of the course, we will work on applying sociological theory to everyday experiences of race and racism. We will explore inequalities in housing, work, education, the prison industrial complex, immigration, and the media. We will conclude our course with some discussion about how to make change.

The ultimate goal in this class is for you to understand a variety of sociological approaches to racial inequality and be able to apply this understanding to current events or issues within your private lives that are marked by race. I hope that this course will also give you some tools for talking about race outside of the classroom, even when those conversations are awkward or difficult.