SOC 389K • 3-HUMAN MORTALITY
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Mortality is one of the three core population processes. Improvements in life expectancy (or decreases in mortality) over the 20th Century in the U.S. and around the world has arguably been one of the most notable achievements of our time. Yet much remains to be understood about how mortality is shaped by variables operating in the social, psychological, geographic, and biological spheres. Further, according to many notable scientists of our day, much potential for improvements in life expectancy remain; thus, understanding factors related to mortality has important potential implications for health promotion and public policy. Studied from a sociological lens (e.g., a social demographic approach), mortality analysts are centrally concerned with how different aspects of social stratification and different variables in the social environment are associated with risks of mortality by age and cause of death. To this end, a mortality risk variable (often as simple as a 0,1 dichotomy) provides social demographic researchers with a neatly measured and convenient avenue with which to study how the social world works. Thus, the social demographic study of mortality can be defined as the study of how social stratification and social processes are associated with differentials in cause and age at death between and among meaningful human groups. This will largely be our focus. The specific aims of this seminar are: 1) To introduce the study of human mortality from the perspective of social demography. 2) To further the understanding of how social processes and stratification during life can be better understood by investigating how and when people die. 3) To promote the enhancement of student research skills by actively working on, and developing, an empirical research paper on this topic during the semester of the seminar.