Spring 2016

Sociology 263
Mondays/Wednesdays: 8:30am – 10:20am

Office: Crocker 109
Office Hours: Thursdays: 10-1 or by appointment
Phone: (508) 626-4864
E-mail: isilver@framingham.edu


This course investigates how inequalities pertaining to class, race, and gender manifest themselves and are perpetuated within American society. Our emphasis will be on people’s lived experience within these hierarchies. We will explore a variety of explanations for the persistence of social inequalities.


This course will enable you to:

  • Critically examine the deeply rooted and widely held belief that any person in our society can achieve mobility by putting forth sufficient effort and hard work.
  • Gain awareness of your own place within the American stratification system.
  • Become comfortable with expressing your ideas orally in front of your peers.
  • Write with focus, clarity, and brevity.


The success of this course hinges on the productive exchange of ideas through discussions. While I will at times give short lectures, your active participation is essential. I am convinced that the more you each bring to class, the better it will go and the more that you will take from it. I may call on you to voice your ideas in the event that discussions begin to drag or if it becomes clear that only a handful of people are participating. My reason for taking the liberty to do this is to convince you that what you have to say matters. In a liberal arts course, there are often not “right” or “wrong” answers. Therefore, just contributing something to the discussion can be very constructive in productively moving it along.


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


There is one book to purchase either from the College Bookstore or online by clicking below:

Annette Lareau, Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000.

The links for all other readings are posted below as indicated.

*Please bring assigned material to class. Either print it or bring a device to class so you can access it electronically.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

20%    Paper 1
30%    Paper 2
30%    Paper 3
20%    Class attendance and participation


Wednesday, January 20th

Course overview

*READ IN CLASS: Linda Tirado, “This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense.” The Huffington Post, November 22, 2013.

Monday, January 25th

*READ: Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3.” Education Review 2003.

Wednesday, January 27th

*READ: Annette Lareau, chapters 2-3 in Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000. This is the book required for purchase. If you do not yet have a copy of the book, you may access the readings here: Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

Monday, February 1st

*READ: Annette Lareau, chapters 4-5 in Home Advantage.

Wednesday, February 3rd

*READ: Annette Lareau, chapters 6-7 in Home Advantage.

Monday, February 8th

Snow day!

Wednesday, February 10th

*WATCH: “First Generation”

*READ: Paul Tough, “Who Gets to Graduate?” New York Times Magazine, May 15, 2014.

Monday, February 15th

NO CLASS – Presidents’ Day

Wednesday, February 17th

NO CLASS – Work on your papers!

Sunday, February 21st

*1st Paper Due


Monday, February 22nd

*No new reading!

*SHOWN IN CLASS: “Racism in an Upscale Store”

Wednesday, February 24th

*READ: Isabel Wilkerson, “Emmett Till and Tamir Rice, Sons of the Great Migration.” New York Times, February 12, 2016.

Monday, February 29th

*READ: Alice Goffman, “The Fugitive Life.” New York Times, May 31, 2014.

*READ: Elliot Currie, “Shouldn’t Black Lives Matter All the Time?” Contexts Summer 2015 14(3): 17-18.

Wednesday, March 2nd

*READ: Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow.” Pp. 173-208 in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press, 2010.

*EXTRA CREDIT: Black Lives Matter Town Meeting – 4:30, McCarthy Center Forum.

Monday, March 7th

*No new reading!

*SHOWN IN CLASS: “Racial Profiling of Bike Thieves”

*EXTRA CREDIT: “Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy” – 4:30, Heineman Center.

Wednesday, March 9th

*READ: Devah Pager, Bruce Western, and Bart Bonikowski, “Discrimination in a Low-Wage Labor Market: A Field Experiment.” American Sociological Review 2009 74: 777-799.


Monday, March 21st

Snow day!

Wednesday, March 23rd

*READ: Cedric Herring, “Is Job Discrimination Dead?” Pp. 183-89 in The Contexts Reader. Edited by Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper. New York: WW Norton, 2008.

Monday, March 28th

*READ: Jonathan Kozol, “Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid.” Harper’s, September 2005, pp. 41-54.

Wednesday, March 30th

*READ: Claude Steele, “Stereotype Threat and African American Student Achievement.” Pp. 252-57 in The Inequality Reader. Edited by David Grusky and Szonja Szelenyi. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2007.


Monday, April 4th

*No new reading!

*SHOWN IN CLASS: “Miss Representation”

Wednesday, April 6th

*No new reading!

*SHOWN IN CLASS: “Ten Hours Walking Around New York City as a Woman”

Friday, April 8th

*2nd Paper Due

Monday, April 11th

*No new reading!

*SHOWN IN CLASS: “The Mask You Live In”

Wednesday, April 13th

*No new reading!

*SHOWN IN CLASS: “Dear Daddy, I Will Be Called a Whore”

Monday, April 18th

NO CLASS – Patriots’ Day

Wednesday, April 20th

*READ: Jackson Katz, Pp. 5-43 in The Macho Paradox. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2006.

*SHOWN IN CLASS: Jackson Katz, “Violence Against Women – It is a Men’s Issue”

Monday, April 25th

*READ: Claire Cain Miller, “The Motherhood Penalty v. the Fatherhood Bonus.” New York Times, September 6, 2014.

*READ: Claire Cain Miller, “Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma.” New York Times, November 7, 2014.

Wednesday, April 27th

*READ: Susan Walzer, “Thinking About the Baby: Gender and Divisions of Infant Care.” Social Problems 1996 43(2):219-34.

Monday, May 2nd

*READ: Richard V. Reeves and Isabel V. Sawhill, “Men’s Lib!” New York Times, November 14, 2015.

*SHOWN IN CLASS: Michael Kimmel, “Why Gender Equality is Good For Everyone – Men Included”

Wednesday, May 4th

Course wrap-up

Thursday, May 12th

*3rd paper due