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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2007

SOC 352M • Studies of US Poverty

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47737 MW
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
SSW 2.106
SSW 2.106

Course Description

This course will explore the implications of persistent poverty in the United States, drawing on a range of approaches including both qualitative accounts of poverty and statistical analyses. We will review the major social theories that have contributed to definitions and explanations of poverty. We will explore the kinds of approaches social scientists take to the study of poverty and the kinds of explanations that result. Furthermore, we will discuss the ethical issues that emerge from undertaking research on other people, particularly those impoverished, and then releasing the findings to them and to others. We will emphasize, in particular, the diverse groups that make up the United States and their distinctive experiences with poverty marked by gender, race, and ethnicity. In all of our studies, we will examine the impact of poverty research on current social stereotypes, social policies, and institutions in the United States. The course will draw on lecture presentations, exercises, and the viewing and discussion of images of poverty in film. At the end of the course, each student should be able to:

1. Review the basic threads of social theory that have led to current definitions of poverty
2. Distinguish among and critique diverse definitions of poverty
3. Discuss and critique the social science techniques that have been brought to bear on the study of persistent poverty
4. Discuss the impact of poverty on individuals, families, and communities
5. Define a number of key concepts in social welfare policy
6. Relate public perceptions of poverty to the development of policy.

Grading Policy

Three exams
A journal of six entries exploring services for impoverished families in Austin
Film Reviews
Participation in exercises and film viewing


Readings will be drawn from a number of sources.


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