Fall 2017
Sociology 130

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 12:30pm – 1:20pm; Friday: Online

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 about 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. This course offers fascinating new ways to understand these important issues that you already know something about and which may directly impact your own life. The course exposes you to ways of thinking that uncover the hidden stories behind social problems.


There is NOTHING to purchase. All readings are draft chapters of a book I am writing for this course titled Social Problems: The Hidden Stories.

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


Each Friday where indicated on the schedule below, you are to post a reading response on Blackboard. This is the online part of the course, in lieu of meeting face to face on Fridays.

To be eligible to receive full credit, please post your response by 5pm on the Fridays when they are due. Your posts should have two parts:

  1. A 2-3 paragraph critique of the reading. A critique is not a summary. Whereas a summary just goes over the main points in the reading, a critique goes beyond what the reading says. It highlights interesting themes or issues from the reading by referring to specific parts or directly quotes particular passages. There are a variety of ways to frame your critique:
    — Something you found interesting and why.
    — Something you found confusing and why.
    — An important topic left unexplored.
    — Strengths/weaknesses of a study’s methodology.
    — How a concept or idea applies to your own life.
  2. Raise 2 or more questions for our class discussion. These should not be “yes/no” questions. Instead, come up with “how” or “why” questions since these can generate more discussion.


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.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

60%       Reading responses
20%       Class attendance and participation
20%       Final paper


Given the Sociology Department’s commitment to maintaining the highest academic standards, 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.

Monday, September 25th

No reading

Wednesday, September 27th

*READ: “Introduction – Seeing Beyond What You Already Know”


Thursday, September 28th

No reading

Friday, September 29th

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


Monday, October 2nd

No reading

Wednesday, October 4th

No reading

Thursday, October 5th

No reading

Friday, October 6th

*READ: “All Lives Matter: Race, Crime, and Policing”


Monday, October 9th

No class – Columbus Day

Wednesday, October 11th

No reading

Thursday, October 12th

No reading

Friday, October 13th

*READ“The Color of Drug Abuse: Handcuffs for Some Addicts, Help for Others”


Monday, October 16th

No reading

Wednesday, October 18th

No reading

Thursday, October 19th

No reading

Friday, October 20th

*READ: “Fat Chances: Being Overweight in a Society That Prizes Thinness”


Monday, October 23rd

No reading

Wednesday, October 25th

No reading

Thursday, October 26th

No reading

*OPTIONAL EXTRA CREDIT: Dr. Louis Klarevas, “Treating Mass Shootings for What They Really Are: Threats to American Security.” Dwight Performing Arts Center, 7pm. For credit: Attend the lecture and then write a 1-2 page critique (not a summary) of it. Please email it to me by Sunday, October 29th.

Sunday, October 29th

OPTIONAL READING RESPONSE: Write 3-4 paragraphs: How does the sociological perspective toward social problems build upon the individual perspective? Illustrate by discussing two of these issues: poverty, police brutality, violence by Black men, obesity.

Monday, October 30th

No reading

Wednesday, November 1st

No reading

Thursday, November 2nd

No reading

Friday, November 3rd

*READ: “Mass Shootings as Enduring Expressions of Masculinity”


Monday, November 6th

No reading

Wednesday, November 8th

No reading

Thursday, November 9th

No reading

*OPTIONAL EXTRA CREDIT: Attend Prof. Silver’s talk “Social Problems: The Hidden Stories” at the Framingham Public Library, 7pm.

Friday, November 10th

*READ: “Animals and Us: What Cruelty toward Other Species Reveals about Ourselves”


Monday, November 13th

No reading

Wednesday, November 15th

No reading

Thursday, November 16th

No reading

Friday, November 17th

No reading response due

Monday, November 20th

Visit to Mazmanian Gallery exhibit on family life. EXTRA CREDIT OPPORTUNITY!

Wednesday, November 22nd

No class – Thanksgiving Break

*READ“The Elephant in the Ipad: What’s Lurking Behind Online Predators?”


Thursday, November 23rd

No class – Thanksgiving Break

Friday, November 24th

No class – Thanksgiving Break

Monday, November 27th

No reading

Wednesday, November 29th

No reading

Thursday, November 30th

No reading

Friday, December 1st

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


Monday, December 4th

No reading

Wednesday, December 6th

No reading

Thursday, December 7th

No reading

Friday, December 8th

No reading

*READING RESPONSE #10 DUE: Starting to assemble your ideas for the final paper.

Monday, December 11th

No reading

Wednesday, December 13th

No reading

Thursday, December 14th

No reading

Wednesday, December 20th

Final paper due