SOC 321K • Social Justice and Everyday Life
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
This class will examine the major theoretical questions about democracy and social justice in terms of everyday life implications. Students will have a chance to explore the world around them in relation to power and politics, and discuss the meaning(s) of democracy and justice. The class aims to give students the tools needed to analyze the concepts of 'inclusion,' 'freedom,' 'rights,' 'representation' and'access' from a socio-political perspective. The reading assignments are intended to elaborate the challenges to democracy and social justice in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and social class relations in contemporary US cities. We will focus on the contingencies of racism and sexism as well as of social stratification, segregation and poverty. We will examine a number of major topics including globalization, collective action and social movements, and civil society and public space. With regard to globalization, for example we will examine the changing nature of urban relations, economy, segregation and labor force. Moreover, in this section of the class, issues such as immigration and the threat of 'terrorism' come to the fore in our class discussions. The reading assignments and the class discussions will also focus on social institutions such as the media, politics, economy, education and family in understanding the construction of the definitions and tenets of democracy and justice, and the struggles over those meanings. The class will be an opportunity for students to develop their intuition to imagine possibilities for a more egalitarian and democratic society. By the end of the semester, students are expected to develop critical thinking in observing and examining the city life in terms of democracy and justice. Active student participation is required in the course.
There will be three exams. There is no cumulative final. The exams will be based on short essay questions and students are expected to demonstrate a thorough, analytical understanding of the readings and the lecture discussions in their answers.
Each student will turn in 10 reaction papers throughout the semester. Reaction papers will be on the assigned readings; expected to be brief, straightforward, creative and analytical. A guide with details on how to write a reaction paper is posted on blackboard.
Participation is required and attendance will be taken randomly through a sign-in sheet.
Kleniewski, Nancy, "Cities, Change and Conflict: A Political Economy of Urban Life, Thomson, 2006
Shipler, David, The working poor: Invisible in America, New York: Vintage, 2005
Abrahamson, Mark, Urban Enclaves, Worth Publishers, 2006
Rothenberg, Paula S., Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, Worth Publishers, 2007