Sociology 1005 – Spring 2009

Final! Due Thursday, May 21, 2009, 6PM

Instructions: Pick three of the following five questions, and write one-page responses (no more than 500 words) to each topic question. That means you’ll write three responses, each about a page long. Let me know if you have any questions!

1. Find a newspaper or magazine article posted online (include the link!) that you think would have made a good reading for this class. Write a sentence or so explaining why, then write a reading response to that article (like the six you have done already).

2. We talked a lot about “dirty work” this semester, the distasteful jobs that support society. How has your opinion about this type of work changed over the course of the semester? Given that this work needs to be done, how can we be more appreciative, as a society, and as individuals, of the people who do this work? What did you learn from the readings and class discussions that affects your thoughts on this?

3. The main themes of this class were race, gender, class, technology, and globalization. Now that we’ve come to the end of the term, I’d like to know if my choice of themes makes sense to you. This was an introduction to sociology, the study of people in groups; how did those themes help you think about society, and the ways people interact with each other?

4. Is there anything you will do differently in your life as a result of this class? Are there any choices that you will make differently, or aspects of your life you will think about in a new way? Tell me what you think might change; I’d love to know!

5. Now that we have twice as many readings (and videos, and even games!), I’m going to repeat a question from the midterm: Pick any two (or more!) of the readings (or the videos or games) and relate them to each other, drawing on not just the readings themselves but also the class discussions. Write one page about how they relate.

For fun: Send me a link or a recipe for a food you particularly love, and tell me why you love it. (Here’s mine: Buttermilk biscuits — I only ever make these for Thanksgiving or special meals now, but they remind me of holiday meals growing up in the South, and they are so delicious.)

Finals are DUE on Thursday, May 21, 2009, at 6pm.

If you have any work that you haven’t turned in yet, *please email me* and let me know what’s up.

See you in class!

Last reading assignment: Thursday, May 14, 2009

In both class sessions yesterday we spent some time talking about technology and the future, and it occured to me that many of you might enjoy reading this article about how the New York Times is responding to the current changes in journalism and the economy. There is an innovation and research department at the Times, and the work they are doing there really excites me. Please read the article and come in ready to talk (more) about about where you see news and journalism going. I’d like to hear what you think about the changes the Times is making, and whether you think those will help.

It’s been a wonderful semester! I’ll post the final tomorrow afternoon!

We need technology to fix a lot of things!

This is another reading-that-isn’t-an-assignment. I mentioned it in the first class session, and a few people were really interested in reading it. You’re welcome to write a reading response to it, of course!

The New York Times wrote about the shameful status of state and federal government aid.

As millions of people seek government aid, many for the first time, they are finding it dispensed American style: through a jumble of disconnected programs that reach some and reject others, often for reasons of geography or chance rather than differences in need.

It’s becoming clear that “transparency in government” needs to mean more than simply keeping track of how senators and representatives vote. We need real transparency, a system that will allow everyone who is currently entitled to aid to receive that aid without humiliation and exhausting fights with bureaucracy.

not an assignment, just a reading!

Because of a discussion I was having with friends a couple of days ago, an article Malcom Gladwell wrote for the New York in 1996 came up. It’s terrific, and I want you to have the opportunity to read it. You’re welcome to do a writing response for it, if you’d like, too.

The article is “Black Like Them“, and the magazine provides a good summary: “Through the lens of his own family’s experience, the author explores why West Indians and American blacks are perceived differently.” Gladwell talks about his experiences in New York City and also in Toronto, and compares them.

It’s especially worth making it all the way through the article; in the middle, you may think that he’s making one argument, but by the end, I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised.

Tonight’s class — review

Tonight we’ll talk about all the articles, videos, and games we’ve encountered this semester, coming back to the main themes of the class: race, class, gender, technology, and globalization.

Either tonight or Thursday we’ll have a treat from the greenmarket, too.

Reading (watching or gaming!) responses are due on Thursday, May 14th. If you have any problems with this deadline, please email me to talk about it.

On Thursday, I’ll post the questions for the final, which is due on Thursday, May 21st.

Gaming assignment, Tuesday, May 5, 2009

[Edited to add games links!]

As I described in class Thursday night, your assignment for Tuesday, May 5th is to play one (or more!) of the games that I link to here from the Games for Change website. I’m picking just a few so that our class discussion can be a little more focused, but you are welcome to also play any of the other games at their site that interest you, and to mention them in class.

When you come to class, I’d like to hear about whether you think you learned more from the game than you would have by spending the same amount of time reading about the topic it addressed. Did you feel more intensely about the social situation than you did before you played? Did it seem more real to you, or more important?

Games for Change main game page

[Feel free to have a look at the page right now — I’m going to pick three or four games for us to look at from the whole list, and I’ll post those.]

Darfur is Dying — about the genocide in Darfur

Against All Odds — about the global refugee experience

The Arcade Wire:Airport Security — about airport security

Garbage Glut — waste management in NYC (we’re going to read about this soon!)

Pick at least one game to play and come to class ready to talk about what you think about it.

Thanks for going along with me — I think this is going to be a great class discussion!

Reading assignment for Thursday, April 30th

As promised, here’s a lighter reading, one that brings us back to food, globalization, and culture. 

Sasha Issenberg and Trevor Corson were interviewed in Slate magazine about their books on sushi; their conversation with the interviewer covers a little of the origins and history of sushi, as well as its subsequent globalization. 

I’ll bring in Issenberg’s book to read you a couple of excerpts. I also look forward to hearing what your experiences of sushi are: Do you eat it at all? Do you have it from delis and supermarkets, or at fancy sushi restaurants, or in-between sort of places? Do you think of it as a luxury food, or a lunchtime food, or as an exotic, strange thing that Other People eat?

class tonight (4/21) CANCELLED

Hi everyone — I have strep throat and need to cancel class this evening. There will be a notice on the door at Baruch, of course, but I’m hoping to catch you so you don’t have to go in person to find out.

I’m really sorry for the inconvenience. On Thursday we’ll talk about shrinking cities — I’ve got some really interesting stuff for you to see that I’ll post here.

Email me at if you need to get in touch before Thursday.

I emailed both sections using the  “mail everyone” function in Blackboard — hope it worked!

— Rose

Reading assignment for Thursday, April 2nd

Hi — I’m posting late on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning — my scanner at home is nearly dead, but I managed to get one more chapter out of it!

Our reading for Thursday night is the 2nd chapter of bell hooks’ recent book, belonging. I recommend having a glance at hooks’ wikipedia page; it’s not 100% up-to-date, but from that you can get a sense of her background.

She grew up in Kentucky, in the Appalachians, near the part of Virginia that Barbara Kingsolver moved to with her family. In this chapter we hear about how being from Kentucky felt complicated to her even though it continued to partly define her during all the decades she stayed away.

There’s a lot for us to discuss in this chapter, about race and class and gender. I’m looking forward to hearing your reactions to her biographical writing. Even though bell hooks is speaking in the first person, she’s talking about things that a lot of other people have experienced.