The University of Calgary
Faculty of Arts
Department of Sociology
Sociology 201 - Tutorial Assignment #1
This assignment is based on the video: “A Class Divided” and your tutorial readings.
There is a link on Blackboard that will take you to the video. Ensure that you have access
to it as soon as possible because late assignments are not accepted. You are expected to
watch this video at home and answer the following questions. This assignment is due in
hard copy during your next tutorial. You may team up with another student. If you do,
make sure that you have both names and both student identification numbers on your
Please answer in the spaces provided.
Student ID number
1. What was the name of the teacher in the video?
2. What town did she live in?
Riceville, Iowa 3. In three short sentences, identify three attributes of the town.
1. A small farming town filled with less than 1000 people, surrounded by corn fields.
(not much room for diversity, and a ton of room for discrimination for anyone who
doesn't fit in)
2. The people in this town were all white, english speaking, christian folks. This again
leads to cohesiveness based on physical appearances and ostracizing anyone who is
different leading to growing discrimination within a very small population.
3. The time period is also a very important attribute to the town and the people's
behaviour in it. It was a time where blacks, Indians and many other minority groups were
often discriminated against and treated differently.
4. In one or two sentences, explain why she embarked upon this exercise.
Jane Elliott felt like this exercise was the only way the kids will TRULY understand what
discrimination is and better yet, get a first hand experience at its effects. It's a whole new
understanding of the word when you have personally been victimized by it, rather than
just defining it as a class. The teacher wanted her students to realize this and truly
comprehend how it felt to walk in the victims' shoes. "There was no way to explain this
to little third graders" After watching the news reporting Martin Luther King's brutal
assassination and hearing white commentators say things like "who is going to hold
YOUR people together now" she thought "If this is what grown white men do and say, how will my third graders react?" and felt it was time to do something about this. "I felt it
was time to deal with this in a concrete way, not just talk about it" she told the camera.
Jane felt that just talking about racism wasn't enough. It's a hard lesson to teach, but the
way she handled it left a mark in these students forever.
5. In methodological terms, what research technique was she employing?
The research technique used in this procedure is classical experiment combined with
observation studies of the students and the impacts throughout the process.
6. Identify and define the relevant sociological concepts realized in the outcome of the
Concept #1. Conflict Theory: A social science that targets a social group and shows the
inequality within it.
Every single person in society can be a target for discrimination.
Even if discrimination in this movie was based only on eye colour, it angered and
frustrated many of the little third graders. The group was divided and shown many
inequalities. No matter what the aspect we as a society are being judged on is, as long as
this aspect is looked upon as negative in society and people are being ostracized and
dehumanized because of it, it will more or less have an effect on everyone.
Concept #2. Symbolic Interactionism: patterns of communication and interpretation
If a human being is continuously told they are worthless and "less superior", eventually
they will start to believe it and live down to those expectations. As a society, we tend to care lots what people think and say about us. The way things are
communicated to us and our interpretation of them can be very confusing and in some
cases cause misunderstandings. If we are accused of having negative traits as a human
being based solely on a physical characteristic, we become confused and helpless. There
is nothing that can be done to change ourselves, and we lose orientation and hope in life
when certain characteristic is preventing us from reaching our goals and dreams. This
happened to the third graders in the classroom who eventually believed everything they
were told about being stupid and this influence had negative outcomes in their academic
career. When moved up to the "superior" position, their confidence was boosted up
mainly by influence and they improved in many tasks.
7. Identify three basic findings of this research.
1. Discrimination can lead to incredible behavioural changes in a very short period of
As we saw in the documentary good hearted people turned into mean creatures in the
course of one day. Because of all the separation and power, some felt they had the right
to call others names (brown-eyes) just for the idea of securing their superior place in the
mini classroom - based society. Bul