Concepts you should be able to deﬁne and apply:
1. Symbolic Boundaries: conceptual distinctions we make to categorize objects, people and
practices; not literal or physical
2. Social Construction: differences are produced by social experiences rather than
biologically; social, not natural
3. Social Stratiﬁcation: the differentiation among people on the basis of socially significant
identity categories and the resultant differences in access to resources
4. Ascribed characteristics: a category given by birth, to a large extent, uncontrollable by the
individual; race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality
5. Achieved characteristics: abilities, talents, motivations - those controlled by the
6. Sex and Gender: sex is the socially agreed physiological characteristics for classifying
humans as male or female; gender is the social meanings, attributes, competencies,
norms, and conduct associated with the sexes
7. Cultural capital: class based knowledge, skills, linguistic and cultural competencies; a
worldview passed on via the family
8. Exploitation: the process whereby one social group labors to produce wealth that is
privately owned and controlled by another group
9. Bourgeoisie: capitalists; owners of the means of production; employers of wage labor
10. Proletariat: wage laborers; must sell their labor power in order to live
11. Praxis: fusion of action and theory; study society and conceptualize how to change it
12. Capitalism: a system of wage labor and commodity production for sale, exchange, and
profit rather than for the immediate need of the producer; invest capital to produce goods
and services to sell for a profit in a competitive market; economic motivation for profit
13. Alienation: social and psychological consequences of the workers’lack of control over
14. Surplus value: the difference between your wage and the amount of value you create;
total value of labor - wages = surplus value
15. Social Structure: patterned social arrangements in society
16. Racial formation: race is a socially constructed identity
17. Racialized social system: refers to societies in which economic, political, social, and
ideological levels are partially structured by the placement of actors in racial categories;
these are societies that allocate unequal economic, political and social rewards along
18. Hegemony: imperial dominance in which one class has power over the other
19. Structuration: the process by which the rules for how to act, interact, and understand the
world are produced, sustained, and transformed
20. Emotional culture: a set of rituals, beliefs about feelings, and rules governing feeling
which induce emotional focus, and even a sense of the sacred
21. Agency: how individuals and collectives uphold, reform, resist, or transform the social
22. Calling: a duty to God to fulfilled through disciplined, rational labor in a vocation
23. Predestination: the notion that only the elect are chosen by God for salvation
24. Asceticism: abstaining from worldly pleasures; self discipline and self restraint
25. Gender System: binary system of man and woman 26. Sexuality: a social construction and social fact that defines what type of relationship we
27. Sexual Identity: what sexuality you are
RACED, CLASSED, AND GENDERED INTERACTIONS
1. According to Bettie, what are the three different meanings to “women without class”?
How were were symbolic boundaries drawn between the students? They had no cultural
capital - not a lot of social mobility; there was a hole in social class theories because
women are often absent; only talked about gender and reduce everything to gender. The
symbolic boundaries were as follows: those who had money and those who did not; those
who were four-year college bound versus community college or work; college prep
courses vs vocational training.
2. What were the different markers of distinction between the preps and las chicas? Why
does she argue that this distinction is really about class? In addition to appearance, how
else was class performed? Las chicas wore darker and more make-up; they also had
sketchier clothes. The preps stayed with a more natural look and wore different type of
clothes. These distinctions were made by the lower class. Class was also performed
through which paths were taken, be it the vocational or college prep courses
3. Why were las chicas seen as more sexually active than the preps? Las chicas were
actually the same about of active as were the preps. Las chicas wore more promiscuous
clothes; however this wasn’t an indication of increased sexually activity. Las chicas were
just more likely to keep the baby, than were the preps.
4. What did it mean for las chicas to accuse someone of acting white? Las chicas would
accuse someone of acting white for following school and prep norms, acting in
accordance with middle class norms, or having a superficial level of insincerity.
5. What are the different ways preps and las chicas attain adulthood? For the preps, it would
be when they obtained approval from their teachers and parents and when they went to
college and got a career. For Las Chicas, it was to join the workforce, become a parent,
and become independent.
6. What is the impact of the invisibility of class? What are the larger implications of class-
based differences for las chicas? Class differences are often invisible and therefore more
emphasis is put on gender and especially race; “class based differences lead to school
tracking and vastly different futures” Students who were of lower class often blamed
themselves for their poor school performance, as they were unable to understand why are
subject to institutions that hold them down.
7. What does Waters mean by arguing that whiteAmericans maintain “symbolic
ethnicities”? Why is ethnicity optional? Waters is talking predominantly about white
people being able to pick up and drop ethnicities whenever it was convenient; Symbolic
ethnicities are optional because they aren’t officially sanctioned and aren’t really required
by society; also they have no real consequence and may be used whenever they are
beneficial- This wouldn’t be the case forAfrican-American people whose ethnicity
cannot be picked up and dropped whenever it works; they are subject to racism and
cannot then choose not to beAfrican-American. Their ethnicity is socially enforced.
8. Why does Waters argue that there are social costs associated with symbolic ethnicities?
Why is pluralism in this context problematic? People with symbolic ethnicities, who have
lived being able to pick up and drop ethnicities, are used to that life and see ethnicities as very individual This ignores those who have a socially imposed and enforced racial
identityAnd this is problematic because those two different types of ethnicity are
therefore equated with one another, when in fact they are very different from one another.
Pluralism brings with it the “invisible hand” of capitalism and it makes it more difficult
for whites to understand programs like affirmative action.
9. How do Black college students experience ethnicity on college campuses? What is the
paradox of symbolic ethnicity? Black students experience ethnicity on campus very
differently from other students. Many black students will experience racism for the first
time in college and will likely attempt to band together with other black students in the
face of said treatment. They will also have their level of identification with black culture
called into question with people judging how black they act, how much they identify with
black culture, and who they hang out with (other black students or not). Paradox of
Symbolic Ethnicity: It depends on the ultimate goal of a pluralistic society, and at the
same time makes it more difficult to achieve that goal.All ethnicities mean the same
thing and enjoying them is optional, but their heritages should not have any social costs.
10. According to Read and Bartowski, what are the competing discourses of the veil in
contemporary Islam? Those who are pro-veiling say: men and women have disparate
libidos and the man’s needs to be checked by women; it shows commitment to the
religion itself; it highlights the relevant differences between men and women and women
do not belong in the open public Those who are anti-veiling say: it’s sexist; that it
originated before islam and is completely cultural; that it isn’t an appropriate gauge of
11. What are the different motivations Muslim women have for wearing the veil? For not
wearing the veil? How do these different meanings demonstrate social construction
theory? Many muslim women wear the hijab because the Qu’ran says to but also because
they had friends who did and they believe it shows their dedication to their religion. This
is a social construct in that hijab wearing is reflects devoutness and feminine identity
through social interactions. The unveiled believe it is a tool of oppression and that the
burden of men controlling their own sexuality shouldn’t fall on women; they also believe
it’s political and cultural, not religious;
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER
1. Explain the basic tenets of social construction theory. The social construction theory
emerged from symbolic interactionism. It states that all knowledge is derived from and
maintained by social interactions. It also states that socially constructed reality is an
ongoing and dynamic process.
2. According to lecture, what is the gender system approach? The gender system approach
is meant to drive the female and male genders completely away from each other, into two
distinct compartments. It is meant to institutionalize gender and says that there is no
sameness between men and women. There needs to be a distinct category for both
3. Drawing on Lorber, what does it mean to say that gender is an institution? Saying that
gender is an institution is giving it both ascribed and achieved characteristics. Essentially
we are assigned a gender category at birth that is unnatural, but rather social.
4. According to Messner, how are sports a key part of gendering boys? What kind of
masculinity is constructed through sports? 5. What does Messner mean when he argues that sports are both a “gendered institution”
and a “gendering institution”? What were the main differences he found along race and
class lines in terms of motivations and participation in sports? Sports are seen as
masculine, therefore these gendered playing sports also gender players as masculine,
rather than feminine. Gendered institution: institution constructed by gender
relationships; structures and values reflect dominant conceptions of masculinity +
femininity. Gendering institution: institution that helps construct the current gender order;
“masculinizing” of male bodies + minds. Lower status males see athletic careers as “the”
institutional context for masculine identity + status” vs. higher status males make early
shifts towards other institutions because in their classes, education is more valued and
higher education is a more viable option. They have other life opportunities and know the
infeasibilities of making it in athletics and the greater chances of being successful in other
enterprises like business, so they focus more on that than pursuing sports.
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF RACE
1. How does the example of SouthAfrica discussed in class demonstrate the social
construction of race? Race cannot be a static institution. In SouthAfrica, the Chinese
were defined as black to get their post-apartheid benefits. Therefore there has to be fluid
definitions of race.
2. How do racial formation theory and racialized social systems theory explain the social
construction of race? The racial formation theory states that there is a process by which
social, economic, and political forces determine the content and importance of racial
categories. Racial categories are created socially racialized social system: societies in
which economic, political, social and ideological levels are partially structured by the
placement of actors in racial categories. We learn from these that race is a socially
constructed, non-static institution.
3. What are Telles’and Zhou’s arguments about assimilation and “becoming white?”
Assimilating to theAmerican culture and becoming white are essentially signs of
economic progress and a sign that theAmerican Dream is fathomable.
4. From Telles: what happens with educational achievement across generations of Mexican-
Americans? Tells found that educational attainment actually decreases in each subsequent
generation While educational achievement is elusive, linguistic attainment is almost
sudden, and by the 5th generation, there is almost a complete assimilation to English
5. According to Zhou, how have other ethnic groups “become white”? Why is the model
minority stereotype problematic? Other minorities such as the Irish and the Jews who
were once considered non-white achieved that white title by accumulating wealth and
acquiring status. One consequence of the model-minority stereotype is that it reinforces
the myth that the US is devoid of racism and accords equal opportunity to all. This not
only pits minorities against each other, but also against whites.Also it holds the
stereotype thatAsianAmericans have to have higher standards, and distinguishes them
fromAmericans. Expectations = labeling.
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF SEXUALITY 1. According to lecture, what is the social constructionist approach to sexuality? The
definitions of the kinds of sexualitites that are possible; what is considered appropriate or
not; what is sexy and attractive are created by society and learned by individuals.
2. Seidman refers to sex as a social fact. What does he mean? Why does Seidman argue that
we could all, at one time, be sexual outsiders? Seidman refers to sex as a social fact;
sexuality is regulated and shaped by social forces. We could all at one time be sexual
outsiders because we can feel the weight of sexuality being a social fact. We experience
this because you can identify as heterosexual, but you may have different desires and
activities and you could feel that stigma for those. You could be ridiculed and
disrespected because of your sexual practices.
3. According to lecture, what are who restrictions and how restrictions? Each culture creates
who and how restrictions; who restrictions are the gender, age, kin, race, caste, or class of
a potential partner, while the how restrictions are the organs used, and what’s the manner
of sexual intercourse, what you can touch and how often you can touch it.
4. According to Seidman, what is sexual politics? Sexual politics means the social
construction of sexuality. How these identities get created and maintained. This is about
recognizing how sexual hierarchies lead to unequal distribution of benefits.
Heterosexuality therefore gets reproduced through social institutions (marriage,
attention); it organizes national life.
5. What does it mean to say that sexual identities are socially constructed? Sex and gender
do not automatically determine sexuality because sexual feeling, behavior and identity
are not always congruent so, sexual identities must come from external sources.
Therefore there is social construction at work.
6. Why doArmstrong et al argue that one source of gender inequality is the sexual double-
standard? What myths about hooking up do they debunk? Sexual double-standard: Guys
can hook up with many women with low social cost, whereas women worry about being
called a slut. This is a source of gender inequality because from hook ups men are gaining
both social praise and more sexual satisfaction from these encounters than women. Myths
thatArmstrong et. al proved wrong: Myth 1: young people are having more premarital
sex than their parents. IN FACT, amounts are comparable or less. Sexual activity in
"hookups" is relatively infrequent and light. Myth 2: It HASN'T replaced committed
relationships (69% college students: relationship of 6 months or more). Myth 3: Hookup
culture is not new -started in the 1960s (sexual revolution: pill, women's/sexual lib,)
7. According to Weitzer, what is the oppression model in sex work? There is a common and
popular monolithic perspective that prostitution only leads to exploitation, abuse and
misery. This is the common oppression model.Also some say that prostitution is a field
of major male domination over females. So the oppression model holds images of
victimization and essentially states that prostitution should be eradicated.
8. What is the difference between indoor and outdoor sex work? There is a sharp distinction
to be made between street prostitution and indoor prostitution. Most of these stereotypes
in the oppression model derive from street prostitution, rather than indoor. Many street
prostitutes have it terrible. They sell sex for money to feed addictions; they can be abused
by their pimps and are socially isolated and disconnected with help. Now this is where
victimization comes from, however many studies even in street prostitution show that the
numbers of victimization are a lot less prevalent than thought. However, street
prostitution only accounts for 20% of prostitution. The other 80% comes from indoor prostitution, which is much safer, much more independent, has lower rates of childhood
abuse, and these prostitutes are much more educated. They make more money, have
lower levels of arrest, and have a safer job. Research has found that many of the
prostitutes here don't consider themselves oppressed victims, or feel like their work is
degrading. Rather they have a high job satisfaction, have better mental health, higher self
esteem, and higher physical health. Some even said they felt empowered and validated
because they were in control.
9. What myths about sex work does Weitzer challenge? What does research show that
counters conventional notions? Refer to the question prior.
10. What is the argument for legalizing prostitution? Basing this off an international policy,
countries like Sweden and the Netherlands have made it illegal to buy prostitution,
however legal to sell it. This means that, by legalizing prostitution, it gives more power to
those who decide to partake in such a job.Also it allows for a healthier environment,
because women can be mandated to get regular check-ups to test for HIV, can be exposed
to certain types of contraception, and can operate without pimps controlling them.
1. Drawing on lecture, what is the level of income and wealth inequality in the US? The top
10% of earners received more than half of the total income in 2012; the top 1% took
more than 20% of income. DanAriely and Michael Norton conducted a survey in 2005
aboutAmerican’s perception of wealth inequality and found thatAmericans vastly
underestimate the wealth distribution among classes. Nearly all of them thought it should
be more equal. The incomes of the 99%, their wealth plunged 12% during the recession.
The top 1% has gotten 95% of the income gains.
2. What does Gans mean when he argues that poverty leads to a number of functions, both
negative and positive? What are these functions? Poverty has both positive and negative
functions; poverty can benefit those who are better off. These are the latent functions of
poverty - the unintended consequences. Gans explains that those who are living in
poverty are not only labeled as deviant, but also as undeserving, which are the negative
consequences.Americans view that moral shortcomings cause poverty - they engage in
deviant behaviors. The poor are accused of being lazy and taking government handouts.
The functions of poverty for the better off, however, increase the motivation to label the
poor as undeserving. These functions are microsocial (risk reduction, scapegoating),
economic (economic banishment and the reserve army labor, supplying illegal goods, and
job creation), normative (moral legitimation, norm reinforcement, and supplying popular
culture villains), political (institutional scapegoating, conservative power shifting, and
spatial purification), and macrosocial (reproduction of stigma and the stigmatized, and
extermination of the surplus).
3. Drawing on Ledger, what is the Moynihan Report? Why was it controversial? The
Moynihan Report was conducted under LBJ during the 1960s to better understand the
condition ofAfrican Americans. Moynihan was assistant secretary of labor in 1965.
Johnson asked him to write this so he could assess the state ofAfricanAmericans. This
was supposed to be an internal document, but it got leaked to the press. Many critics saw
it as blaming the victim, by focusing on the deterioration of the family. Many believed
thatAAs were becoming scapegoats. However, many now argue, that the report was misinterpreted. This report, ironically as it is, helped fuel the conservative rhetoric aimed
at cutting back federal aid; we need to get tough with the poor.
4. From Ledger: how does mass incarceration cause poverty and the “social ills” of the
“undeserving poor?” Mass incarceration makes it more difficult to get jobs.African
Americans are 8x more likely to be incarcerated than whites;America incarcerates 7x
more than Europe.Also it removes father figures from homes; separates families from
each other. These structural factors play into why there are so many single females.Also
there are discriminatory sentencing practices in the US. More men go to jail, they can’t
provide for their family, and they can’t be engaged.
5. What surprising ﬁndings does Rank uncover about poverty and welfare? How does Rank
explain why so manyAmericans will be in poverty? Rank shows that manyAmericans
will experience poverty and will turn to public assistance at least once in their lives.
Poverty is actually a normal part of life. By 75 years of age, 59% will have experienced
poverty for at least one year and 68% will have faced a year near poverty. Poverty is a
reality that a clear majority will experience. Rank explains this through: time; if you live
long enough, obviously there will be unexpected things that come up that will lead to a
financial burden; the other thing is that there isn’t a strong safety net. There is little help
for Americans who face economic challenges.
6. According to lecture, why has enrollment in the food stamp program increased lately?
What does DeParle’s investigation (discussed in lecture) into welfare recipients reveal
about how they are getting by? Economists and researchers have shown that food stamps
have helped during the last recession. Food stamps serve about 46 million people in the
US. Enrollment grew 45% from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2012 for food stamps. This was partly
due to the stimulus package. However, social programs have been coming under scrutiny,
especially from Republicans - this is bad. Since the changes to welfare in the 1990s, food
stamps were one of the only remaining help for the poor. Food stamps helped lift people
6% closer to the poverty line; it moves them further up. However welfare programs are
lacking. Food stamps are up because cash payments are low. Jason DeParle talked to
Arizona single mothers - found that due to decreased cash assistance, they get by by
selling food stamps and blood, going to food banks, and churches, skip meals regularly to
get by, shoplifted, scavenged for recyclables, and went back to their abusive boyfriends.
7. According to Auyero and Switsun, what types of polluted environments do the poor have
to live with? What about Flammable speciﬁcally? What is the impact on health? Places
like Flammable are drenched in poverty. Poor people do not breathe the same air, drink
the same water, or play on the same ground as others. Theirs’is a poisoned environment
with dire consequences for their present health and future capabilities. Kids in Flammable
pointed to the bad pictures, indicating things like the terrible condition of the
contaminated water, the soil, and the polluted air.
UNDERSTANDING EDUCATIONAL INEQUALITY
1. According to Downey and Gibbs, why should we explore what happens when kids are
out of school if we are concerned about educational inequality? Kids show the most gap
occurs during summer or prior to school even starting. Research has shown that schools
are not the primary score of inequality - this happens at home. However schools can help
level that. 2. What are differences between students that arise in the home? Middle class kids tend to
be more exposed to vocabulary and have a better comprehension of certain skills, such as
reading, as opposed to the working class kids, who don’t have this exposure. Middle class
kids, therefore, have an advantage.
3. What is season comparison research? What does it tell us about educational inequality?
Seasonal comparison research compares differences between school session and summer.
Research indicates that schools are not the primary source of inequality - rather home is,
due to the economic, and cultural structures. Children begin school with some
4. What surprising conclusions do Downey and Gibbs reach about schools and equality?
What are impact studies (Downey and Gibbs)? What do they tell us about teaching
effectiveness? Home life actually matters more than school - parent’s socioeconomic
status is the highest indicator of academic success. Teaching isn’t necessarily the problem
- the problem is the teachers are blamed too much for the failure or success of the
students, when really, the students may have had that disadvantage.
5. According to Farkas, what factors are most important in explaining the black-white test
score gap? What research does he cite? Family structure, child rearing cultures that vary
by class and race, and black families still lag behind white families in terms of
employment, income, resources, and two-parent families. Financial and parental
resources are key in these test scores. This is all about social class - white and black
children that come from the same class are closer together; this is fundamentally about
class, not necessarily race.
6. How does this research demonstrate social-structural factors that contribute to the test
score gap? What are possible solutions that would help close the gap? Closing the
economic gap would go a long way in helping close the gap between black and white test
7. According to lecture, how does cultural capital help explain educational inequality? What
are examples of cultural capital that lend advantages in the educational system? Cultural
capital is class-based knowledge, skills, linguistic and cultural competencies; this is a
worldwide view that is passed on via the family. Cultural capital is one way we can
explain inequality because academic ability is the product of investing time and cultural
capital; also the educational system rewards those who possess cultural capital of the
dominant class. Cultural capital is the best educational investment. Capital can be
reproduced by being invested from generation to generation. This can be seen by larger
vocabulary, better reading skills, etc. Even the systems that claim to be meritocratic
8. According to Lareau, what is concerted cultivation? Accomplishment of natural growth?
What are the hallmarks of each parenting style? Concerted cultivation is the parenting
style of the middle class, while natural growth is that of the working/poor class. So
concerted cultivation is where parents are more involved - parents engage in organized
activities, they cultivate talents, and they speak more to their kids. In natural growth,
parents engage in more leisure time, and they don’t see that organized activities are
important. These parents focus on basic needs; they use directives and have less verbal
discussions with their kids.
9. What structural factors limit working-class families from adopting concerted cultivation?
Working class parents don’t have the time to be as involved with their children; most of the time, both parents are working.Also they don’t have the income to allow their
children to participate in so many activities.
10. What are the differential outcomes of these different parenting styles? How can we
explain this? Middle class kids gain a sense of entitlement; they are more comfortable
with authority, which serves them better for educational institutions. They learn how to
make the runs work to their advantage. They also question authority and view themselves
as equal to adults. For working class kids, they feel a sense of constraint, especially in
institutional settings. Also they defer to authority, just like their parents. They no not seek
or get institutional accommodations. This all has to do with parenting style.
THE WORKING POOR
1. According to lecture, what is historical materialism? Historical Materialism means to
understand the social world and the structure of human society by exam