Sociology | Social Problems and Policies
S101 | 4101 | Everitt


TOPIC:  Education, Careers and Inequality

Sociology is unique from other sciences because it offers social
explanations of what people do and why.  As opposed to psychologists
or biologists, sociologists believe that peoples’ beliefs, actions,
and life conditions come mainly from the interactions they share
amongst each other rather than the inner workings of their minds or
the contents of their DNA.  Sociologists believe that the ways people
communicate with each other, identify with each other, learn from each
other, fight with each other and help each other are the foundation of
human existence.  Sociology is the study of those processes with the
assumption that human interaction forms both individual traits and
societal conditions.

As such, sociologists look to human interaction when trying to
understand social problems.  The main purpose of this course is to
introduce you to sociological explanations of some key problems which
confront our society.  In particular, we will analyze a variety of
problems which relate to the reason you are enrolled in this course:
the pursuit of education and people’s career opportunities.  For
example, why is it that more people are going to college than ever
before, yet there is evidence that the middle class is shrinking?  Why
is it that there is a growing number of people who work 40-plus hours
per week and still live in relative poverty?  Why is it that girls are
largely outperforming boys at all levels of schooling, yet women
continue to earn roughly 76 cents on the dollar that men earn?  We
will wrestle with questions such as these, and draw upon sociological
research to help us better understand social problems in education and
work – problems which all of us will be forced to confront in one way
or another during the course of our lives.

Another purpose of this course is to improve your overall skills as a
student.  My goal is to help all of you become better writers, better
readers, and better speakers.  Therefore, we will do a lot of all
three through a series of discussions, exams, and a short paper on a
social problem of your choosing.