Soc. 920:421:01 Work and Inequality
Monday & Thursdays 12:00 to 1:20 p.m.
Lucy Stone B205, Livingston Campus
Department of Sociology
Office: Rm. A-342, Lucy Stone Hall (Livingston campus); phone: (732) 445-5848
Office hrs: Mondays and Thursdays, 10:30 to 11:30 (or after class)
I. Course Description:
Issues of work and inequality are central to sociological research. Sociologists of work and stratification have long studied how inequality gets produced and reproduced. These core issues will be the focus of this course. We begin with an overview of why class still matters in contemporary American society. We'll see how people come to work in the jobs they do, but also how important class remains in defining our life chances, as well as our opportunity to pursue the American Dream. We will then discuss how inequality has been rising in recent years, and the effects of rising inequality on that quintessential American group, the middle class. In analyzing categorical (i.e., group) inequalities, we'll focus on the "big three:" race, class, and gender. We'll spend two weeks on each form of inequality. As more overt forms of discrimination have lessened, researchers have begun to examine the more subtle ways in which inequality is reproduced. We'll talk about some of this new research, specifically focusing on mechanisms of inequity. Finally, we conclude by focusing on how inequalities are exacerbated for working families. We'll discuss one set of remedies that puts working families at the core of how to rethink the global, knowledge economy.
There are sociology prerequisites for this course (some combination of theory and methods courses). If you have any questions about prerequisites, please talk with me.
There are seven required books. In addition, I will make additional readings available online (see section V for links to readings, and section VI for full citations). The required books are available at the Livingston College Bookstore:
New York Times. 2005. Class Matters. New York : Times Books. Henry Holt and Company.
Robert H. Frank. 2007. Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class. Berkeley : University of California Press.
Mary Pattillo-McCoy. 1999. Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class. Chicago : University of Chicago Press.
Irene Padavic and Barbara Reskin. 2002. Women and Men at Work. Second edition. Thousand Oaks : Pine Forge Press.
Annette Lareau. 2003. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley : University of California Press.
Robert M. Orrange. 2007. Work, Family, and Leisure: Uncertainty in a Risk Society. New York : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Thomas A. Kochan, 2006. Restoring the American Dream: A Working Families Agenda for America . Cambridge , MA : MIT Press.
This is a senior (400-level) seminar, so I have high expectations of you. I anticipate that you will attend each class session. Because this course is a "seminar" and not a "lecture" course, there will be less lecturing, and more discussion. The success of the course depends on your active participation, and the small class size should facilitate this goal. Because it's a small class, your presence is missed if you are not there. Assigned readings should be completed prior to class, and you should come to class prepared to ask and answer questions. If you absolutely must miss class, please let me know before hand. For an interesting article on this issue, see Elia Powers, Elephant Not in the Room. Please note that missing class will reduce your final grade!
I've assigned both books, academic articles, and media articles (the latter tend to be quite short). To keep the number of readings down to a reasonable number, I've moved some to "recommended." While these are not required, I nonetheless recommend them to you if you'd like to do extended reading on the topic, or use them for your papers. I will continue to add relevant articles as I come across them (check the syllabus date to keep track of whether I've done any updating).
Grades will be based on:
1) Class participation/attendance, including written commentary on readings (30 percent total)
You will be expected to turn in 8 analytic reviews on readings over the course of the semester. These reaction papers should be a max of one double-space page (no smaller than 12-point font). You choose when to turn these in, although five to six must be completed by the end of October, with the remaining two to three due in November. These are reaction papers to the assigned reading. They are due on the day we discuss the reading, and they will not be accepted after. You should not summarize the arguments of the book or article. Rather you should contend with the author's arguments, and give your own critical opinion. I don't mean: "I like X, I don't like Y," but something more analytic. What do you think of the author's argument? Do you agree, disagree? Why? For advice on how to write good analytic reviews, see Clarke, On Writing and Criticism. Adapt these suggestions to keep to a maximum of one page.
2) Three short papers (double-spaced, 3-4 pp. max.; 30 percent total)
Throughout the semester, you will write several short papers, responding to readings and class discussions. I will give you more specific directions in class, but the (tentative) general topics of these short papers, and their due dates, are:
Short paper #1 (due September 13th; 10 percent): Estimating Class: Access the class graphic web page (see week 1), and figure out the class status of your family of origin. For occupation and education, use either parent's information. For income and wealth, use your best estimates of family income and family wealth. Describe what the findings tell you about your family of origin's class. Assess their indicators of class? Do you agree that they are good indicators of "class." Were you surprised at your family's class? Has class affected your opportunities? Take a stand, make an argument, and justify it.
Short paper #2 (due October 25th; 10 percent): Real World Reflections: We are talking about topics that are very much applicable to the "real world." To make that connection more concrete, find a newspaper or magazine article that addresses an issue we've talked about in our readings and/or discussions. Describe how course concepts illuminate the issues the article addresses. Take a stand, make an argument, and justify it.
Short paper #3 (due November 5th; 10 percent): Living on a Low-Income Budget : Devise a budget for a low income individual (single, without kids) living somewhere in New Jersey. Use newspaper or online "help wanted" (or other) sources to find a low wage job (e.g., food service workers, nonprofessional hospital workers, maintenance workers). If the wages are not in the ad, find someone who works in that occupation who can tell you what he/she earns (estimate weekly wages, based on a 35- to 40-hour week). Given that wage, devise a budget (a specific list of expenses, including rent, utilities, phone, food, clothes transportation, entertainment). These need to be reasonable budget estimates, backed up by evidence. Write an explanation recounting how you estimated your numbers and describe how that person can makes ends meet. Juxtapose with those young people you saw in "Born Rich." Take a stand, make an argument, and justify it.
3) Final research paper (double-spaced, approx. 15 pp. with a minimum of 7 to 10 academic references; 40 percent).
You have two choices for a final paper:
a) Standard option: This is a traditional academic paper that addresses a topic related to work and inequality. In this case, choose any topic you would like to examine in greater detail (e.g., the minimun wage, occupational sex segregation, work-family behavior, race and/or sex differences in earnings, changing inequality in the U.S., global inequality). These are quite broad, so you need to zero in on a more specific topic and set of research questions. Clear it with me ahead of time. This is your chance to write an academic paper, with academic references. This is probably the best option if you need to demonstrate your writing and analytic ability in a paper you can use to apply to graduate school. Use primarily academic references for this paper. It's okay to supplement with excellent articles from reputable media sources (e.g., Fortune, the New York Times), but these should be few in number in comparison with academic references.
b) Alternative option: Choose one occupation, and research it. This could be an occupation you might be interested in, or it might just be an occupation that interests you for other reasons (for example, I've long been interested in typesetting and composition, and how its technology and sex composition dramatically changed since 1970). I'm looking here for much more than a history of the occupation, although you can describe that briefly. Research the occupation, likely from 1950 or 1970 to the present. Has it changed in recent years, and how will it change in the near future? Has technology changed the nature of the job, or will it? Has the social demography of the job changed (e.g., by sex, race, immigrant status)? What's happened to the occupation's wages? Has the education required for job entry changed? What skills, knowledge, or abilities does the occupation require? Is the occupation geographically concentrated? Develop a set of questions that you investigate in your research. Make an argument, and then marshall data you find to justify it. You'll find this website useful for your investigation: O-Net Online.
Whichever choice you make, you must submit the following along the way:
--Two-page description of your paper topic with 2-3 annotated academic references; you will discuss this in class either October 8th or 11th; email to class one day before presentation (due October 8th or 11th)
--Outline of final paper, with at least 7 academic references (due November 29th)
--Presentation of final paper (due December 3rd, 6th, or 10th) (prepare a few power point slides to accompany your presentation)
--First draft of full paper (due December 6th)
--Final draft of full paper (due December 14th)
Summary of due dates:
--8 analytic reviews (reading reaction papers; due throughout the semester)
--September 13th: Short paper #1
--October 8th or 11th: Description of paper topic with at least 2-3 annotated academic references (email to class one day before you present)
--October 25th: Short paper #2
--November 5th: Short paper #3
--November 29th: Outline of final paper with at least 7 academic references
--December 3rd, 6th, or 10th: Class presentations on final paper with power point slides
--December 6th: First draft of paper
--December 14th: Final draft of paper
IV. Academic Integrity:
This course will be conducted in full accordance with the university's "Policy on Academic Integrity." Academic dishonesty includes (but is not limited to) quoting or paraphrasing without attribution; submitting work for more than one course without the instructor's permission; copying from, or assisting, other students on exams; plagiarizing major portions of assignments; using a purchased paper; presenting other's work as your own; altering a graded exam; theft of exams. [For the complete policy, click here. For a humorous video, click here.]
Note: it is very easy to cut and paste from the internet, and/or copy verbatim selections from articles or books. This is called plagiarism. It's also pretty easy to find plagiarism nowadays. You can use internet sources (preferably academic sources you find online through IRIS), as well as print sources, but paraphrase the work you use and properly cite it. Avoid over-quoting, but if you do use an author's exact words you must put them in quotes and cite, with page numbers.
I will not accept any assignments or papers from students involved in dishonest behavior, and I am required to report such students to their college dean. Students engaging in dishonest behavior hurt all students. As the Policy on Academic Integrity states: "Students are responsible for knowing what the standards [for academic integrity] are and for adhering to them. Students should also bring any violations of which they are aware to the attention of their instructors."
V. Course Outline:
Part I: Overview, Theory, Rising Inequalities
Week 1 (Sept. 6): Introduction
[check the class status of your family of origin]
Week 2 (Sept. 10-13): Real People, Real Lives: Work, Class, and the American Dream
9/10: Douglas S. Massey, Ch. 1: "How Stratification Works" (pp. 1-27); New York Times, Class Matters (pp. ix-133)
9/13: New York Times, Class Matters (pp. 134-243)
Week 3 (Sept. 17-20): Theory, Rising Inequalities
9/17: Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E. Moore (in Grusky and Szelényi), "Some Principles of Stratification"; Melvin M. Tumin (in Grusky and Szelényi), "Some Principles of Stratification: A Critical Analysis"; Robert H. Frank, Falling Behind (pp. vii-42)
9/20: Robert H. Frank, Falling Behind (pp. 43-125); Tamara Draut, Strapped (pp. 1-26)
Tamara Draut, Strapped (pp. 27-58)
Frank Levy and Peter Temin, "Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America"
Louis Uchitelle, The Disposable American
Part II: Categorical Inequalities: Race, Class, and Gender
Week 4 (Sept. 24-27): Race I
9/27: Dalton Conley, Being Black, Living in the Red, Ch. 1: "Wealth Matters" and Ch. 2: "Forty Acres and a Mule" (pp. 1-53)
Douglas S. Massey, Ch. 3: "Reworking the Color Line" (pp. 51-112)
Dalton Conley, Being Black, Living in the Red (rest of book)
Week 5 (Oct. 1-4): Race II
10/1: Mary Pattillo-McCoy, Black Picket Fences (Intro-Ch. 5; pp. 1-116)
10/4: Mary Pattillo-McCoy, Black Picket Fences (Chs. 8-Conclusion, Appendix A; pp. 167-225)
Mary Pattillo-McCoy, Black Picket Fences (Chs. 6 & 7)
Week 6 (Oct. 8-11): Proposal Presentations
Half the class will present Oct. 8th, the other half Oct. 11th. Two-page description of final project should be emailed to the entire class one day before you present.
Week 7 (Oct. 15-18): Class I
10/15: Robert Max Jackson, "Keyword: Inequalities"; Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods (pp. 1-32)
10/18: Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods (pp. 35-103)
Katherine S. Newman, The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America
Week 8 (Oct. 22-25): Class II
10/22: Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods (pp. 163-97; 233-57)
10/25: Born Rich, DVD video/Discussion (in class)
Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods (pp. 107-60; 198-232)
Week 9 (Oct. 29-Nov. 1): Gender I
10/29: Irene Padavic and Barbara Reskin, Women and Men at Work (pp. 1-95)
11/1: Irene Padavic and Barbara Reskin, Women and Men at Work (pp. 97-175
Week 10 (Nov. 5-8): Gender II
"Staying at Home" clip [60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl, reporter (in class)]
Lynette Clemetson, "Work vs. Family, Complicated by Race"
Pamela Stone, Opting Out? (rest of book)
Joan Williams, Unbending Gender (pp. 13-39)
Week 11 (Nov. 12-15): Mechanisms of inequity
for 11/12: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
[Before doing the reading for 11/12, go to this web page, click on "Demonstration" (on the left), "Go to the Demonstration Tests," read the information, and proceed. Select and take the "Race IAT." Avoid distractions, leave about 20 minutes to take the demonstration test. Print out your results, and bring to class. Feel free to take any other tests as well.]
11/15 (Gender): Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (pp. 245-54); Barbara Reskin, "Including Mechanisms in our Models of Ascriptive Inequality;" Patricia A. Roos, "Gender (In)Equity in the Academy"
Part III: Inequalities and Working Families
Week 12 (Nov. 19-20): Working Families
11/19: Kathleen Gerson and Jerry A. Jacobs, "The Work-Home Crunch"; Robert M. Orrange, Work, Family, and Leisure (pp. 1-93)
11/20: Robert M. Orrange, Work, Family, and Leisure (pp. 95-237)
NOTE re Thanksgiving week: Tuesday=Thursday (we meet Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 19th-20th ; Thursday Nov. 22=Thanksgiving); plan accordingly
Deborah Carr, "My Daughter Has A Career; I Just Raised Babies"
Patricia A. Roos, Mary K. Trigg, and Mary S. Hartman, "Changing Families/Changing Communities"
Week 13 (Nov. 26-29): Remedies
11/26: Thomas A. Kochan, Restoring the American Dream (pp. 1-100)
11/29: Thomas A. Kochan, Restoring the American Dream (pp. 101-221)
Week 14 (Dec. 3-6): Student presentations
Week 15 (Dec. 10): Student presentations
One third of the students will present on each of the last three days of class. We'll determine presentation days during the first two weeks of class.
VI. Full Citations on Additional Readings:
Lisa Belkin. 2003. "The Opt-Out Revolution." New York Times, October 26.
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. 2003. "Racial Attitudes or Racial Ideology? An Alternative Paradigm for Examining Actors' Racial Views." Journal of Political Ideologies 8:63-82.
Deborah Carr. 2003. "'My Daughter Has A Career; I Just Raised Babies': The Psychological Consequences of Women's Intergenerational Social Comparisons." Social Psychology Quarterly 67:132-54.
Deborah Carr. 2005. "The Psychological Consequences of Midlife Men's Social Comparisons With Their Young Adult Sons." Journal of Marriage and Family 67:240-50.
Lynette Clemetson. 2006. "Work vs. Family, Complicated by Race." New York Times, February 9.
Dalton Conley. 1999. Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Tamara Draut. 2005. Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead. New York: Anchor Books.
Herbert J. Gans. 2008. "Race as Class." Pp. 262-68 in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper (eds.), The Contexts Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Kathleen Gerson and Jerry A. Jacobs. 2008. "The Work-Home Crunch." Pp. 198-06 in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper (eds.), The Contexts Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Malcolm Gladwell. 2005. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
David B. Grusky and Szonja Szelényi (eds.). 2006. Inequality: Classic Readings in Race, Class, and Gender. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Robert Max Jackson. 2008. "Keyword: Inequalities." Pp. 147-52 in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper (eds.), The Contexts Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Frank Levy and Peter Temin. 2007. "Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America." Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Economics, Working Paper Series 07-17, May. Cambridge, MA. [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=984330]
Douglas S. Massey. 2007. Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Ann Morning. 2008. "Keyword: Race." Pp. 257-61 in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper (eds.), The Contexts Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Kathering S. Newman. 2007. The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America. New York: Beacon Press.
Lonnae O'Neal Parker. 2005. I'm Every Woman: Remixed Stories of Marriage, Motherhood, and Work. New York: Amistad.
Barbara F. Reskin. 2003. "Including Mechanisms in our Models of Ascriptive Inequality." American Sociological Review 68:1-21.
Patricia A. Roos. 2007. "Gender (In)Equity in the Academy: Subtle Mechanisms Reproducing Inequality." Unpublished paper, Rutgers University.
Patricia A. Roos, Mary K. Trigg, and Mary S. Hartman, "Changing Families/Changing Communities: Work, Family, and Community in Transition." Community, Work and Family 9:197-224.
Louise Marie Roth. 2006. "Selling Women Short: Gender and Money on Wall Street." Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Pamela Stone. 2007. Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Louis Uchitelle. 2006. The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Joan Williams. 2000. Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It. New York: Oxford University Press.
Min Zhou. 2008. "Are Asian Americans Becoming "White." Pp. 279-85 in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper (eds.), The Contexts Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
VII. Help on Research, Thinking, and Writing:
Becker, Howard S. 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While You're Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Becker, Howard S. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Germano, William. 2005. "Passive Is Spoken Here." Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2005.
Jasper, James. "Why So Many Academics are Lousy Writers"
Miller, Jane E. 2004. The Chicago Guide to Writing About Numbers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Miller, Jane E. 2005. The Chicago Guide to Writing About Multivariate Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [this encompasses Miller, 2004]
Rosenfield, Sarah. "Some Things To Think About While Reading Papers"
Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. 2000. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Allyn & Bacon.
American Sociological Association, "Writing an Informative Abstract"
And, for some humor: "How to Write Good"