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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2009

SOC 329 • Social Stratification

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46560 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
BUR 216

Course Description

This course overviews the major sociological approaches to the study of social stratification and inequality. We begin with an examination of the concepts of social stratification social inequality, with an emphasis on the major dimensions of stratification in the U.S. Next we examine the major theoretical traditions that form the basis for contemporary class analysis. We then focus on the distribution of income and wealth in the U.S. over the last 50 years and look at recent changes in this distribution and various explanations for change. We discuss the major class divisions in the U.S. and examine effects of transformation of the U.S. economy on particular classes. Next we examine forms and processes of stratification, with a focus on patterns of social mobility and differences in these processes and outcomes by race and gender and over time. The ability to process a certain amount of quantitative information is desirable. A previous course in statistics is highly recommended but not required.

Grading Policy

There will be 4 in-class examinations worth 100 points each. All exams will consist of about 30 multiple choice questions and 5 true false questions. . Between 75% and 85% of the exam material will be drawn directly from topics covered in the lectures. Make up exams will be given only in the case of documented emergencies. In addition to the exams, students will be asked to participate by writing several short (250 word) comments on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on the course schedule. These comments are designed to assess understanding of the current topics and will be graded on a 0-4 point scale. Comments should consist of well thought-out responses to questions or topics posed by the instructor or TA. Student comments will account for one-third of the course grade, or 200 out of the 600 points possible. Grades will be determined as follows: A (> 540), B (480-539), C (390-479), D (330-389), F (< 330).


Marger, Martin N., Social Stratification: Patterns and Processes, 4th Edition, Boston, MA.: McGraw Hill, 2008
Gilbert, Dennis, The American Class Structure: In an Age of Growing Inequality, 7th Edition, Los Angeles, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2003
Grusky, David B., and Szonja Szelenyi, Inequality, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2006


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