Sociology | Social Inequality
S217 | 10256 | Alderson

In this course we ask "who gets what and why?"  How are power,
privilege, and prestige distributed among individuals and groups in
society and why do some enjoy more than others?  We will examine how
various inequalities (e.g., in income, wealth, property) have
evolved over time and ask how these inequalities shape the life
chances of individuals in different socioeconomic, racial/ethnic,
and gender groups.  Throughout the course we will give particular
attention to the experience of the contemporary U.S. and to the
challenges that recent developments pose for American society.  We
will also systematically compare and contrast the U.S. experience
with that of Japan, another rich industrial society.  The idea
motivating this comparison is that we can better understand our own
society by learning more about other societies.

We will begin by trying to "get the facts straight," describing the
contours of inequality in the U.S. (and in other societies).  Next,
we will examine some classic sociological treatments of inequality
along with more recent applications of these theories.  We will then
return to the topic of inequality in the U.S., examine the fortunes
of different groups, and dig even further into the processes that
generate inequality.  My ultimate goal in this course is to help you
develop a better understanding of inequality in contemporary