Fall 2018
Sociology 130
Monday/Wednesday: 8:30am – 10:20am

Office: O’Connor 336
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:30 – 12:30 or by appointment
Phone: (508) 626-4864
E-mail: isilver@framingham.edu


Discussions of social problems are everywhere. They’re mentioned in Instagram and Twitter posts, news reports, and political speeches. We see them dramatized in movies, TV shows, and YouTube videos. Therefore, you come into this course already familiar with many of the issues we will discuss, and they may personally affect you too. The course offers fascinating new ways to understand these important topics, exposing you to the hidden stories behind social problems.


All readings are draft chapters of a book I am writing for this course titled Seeing Social Problems: Exposing the Hidden Stories. These chapters are posted below. There is NOTHING to buy!

*Please bring assigned readings to class. Either print them or access them electronically in class via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.


Each day there is a new chapter to read, there is also a written assignment due. You are to answer any three questions of your choosing from those listed at the end of the chapter.

There are 10 written homework assignments throughout the semester. To earn full credit (3 points) for each, please follow these guidelines:

  • Number your responses.
  • Write one paragraph per response – more is okay.
  • Include details from the chapter. BSing counts for nothing.
  • Post your work on our Blackboard site no later than 8:30am on the due date.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

30%       Homework assignments
20%       Paper 1
30%       Paper 2
20%       Attendance and participation

*Extra credit opportunity! You may earn up to 10 additional points toward your final grade by attending Prof. Silver’s talk on Monday, October 1st at 5pm in the McCarthy Center Alumni Room and writing a critique about it.


I understand sometimes there are justifiable reasons for missing a class, but if you miss more than two it will start to affect your grade. If you have to be absent, there is no need to give me a doctor’s note. It is your responsibility to catch up on material you missed.


Students should be aware of the University’s policies concerning academic honesty, which are stated in the undergraduate catalog: “Integrity is essential to academic life. Consequently, students who enroll at Framingham State University agree to maintain high standards of academic honesty and scholarly practice. They shall be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the published policies and procedures regarding academic honesty.” Infractions include plagiarism, cheating on exams and quizzes, unauthorized collaboration with other students, and submitting work in more than one course for academic credit without prior approval of the instructor. The FSU Catalog defines plagiarism as “claiming as one’s own work the published or unpublished literal or paraphrased work of another.” Penalties for academic dishonesty may include receiving a failing grade for the course, academic suspension, and dismissal from the University.


By taking this class, you agree to abide by Framingham State University’s policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity. The University is dedicated to providing educational, working, and living environments that value the diverse backgrounds of all people. The Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (“MCRA,” M.G.L. c. 12, §§ 11H11I11J) protects the rights of all residents of and visitors to Massachusetts to be free from bias-motivated threats, intimidation, and coercion that interfere with their civil rights. The MCRA protects the right to attend school, live peacefully, and enjoy other basic rights.

Wednesday, September 5th

Course Introduction

Monday, September 10th

No class – Rosh Hashanah

Wednesday, September 12th

*READ: Opportunity for Few: The Withering of the American Dream


Monday, September 17th

No reading!

Wednesday, September 19th

No class – Yom Kippur

Monday, September 24th

*READ: “Dangerous Black Men:” Policing, Race, and Violence


Wednesday, September 26th

No reading!

Monday, October 1st

*READ: Fat Chances: Weight Anxiety in a Society that Prizes Thinness


*Extra credit opportunity! You may earn up to 10 additional points toward your final grade by attending Prof. Silver’s talk at 5pm in the McCarthy Center Alumni Room and writing a critique about it.

Wednesday, October 3rd

No reading!

Monday, October 8th

No class – Columbus Day

Wednesday, October 10th

*READ: Parental Fears and Kids’ Realities: Uncovering the Roots of Teenage Pregnancy


Monday, October 15th

No reading!

Wednesday, October 17th

*READ: Everybody’s Doing It: Getting Ahead by Cheating


Monday, October 22nd

No reading!

Wednesday, October 24th

No reading!

Friday, October 26th

Midterm paper due via email.

Monday, October 29th

*READ: Living in Infamy: Mass Shootings as Enduring Expressions of Masculinity


Wednesday, October 31st

No reading!

Monday, November 5th

*READ: #MeToo: Why Gender Violence is Everyone’s Problem


Wednesday, November 7th

No reading!

Monday, November 12th

*No class – Veterans’ Day

Wednesday, November 14th

*READ: “Stranger Danger: Protecting Kids from Threats Lurking Everywhere


Monday, November 19th

No reading!

Wednesday, November 21st

*No class – Thanksgiving break

Monday, November 26th

*READ: Have Kids Gotten Meaner? An Up-close Look at Cyberbullying and Suicide


Wednesday, November 28th

No reading!

Monday, December 3rd

*READ: “You’re Such a Downer:” Living with Mental Illness


Wednesday, December 5th

No reading!

Monday, December 10th

*READ: Conclusion: Looking with Eyes Wide Open

No homework assignment due!

Wednesday, December 12th

Course wrap-up

Wednesday, December 19th

Final paper due via email.