1. We have know for some time that we face a number of very serious environmental challenges. Why has it been so hard to make progress in build more sustainable societies? What lessons from sociology could environmental activists and their allies apply to understanding why it is so hard to get the U.S government to adopt laws that would limit harmful emissions?
2. Kathleen Gerson summarized the trends of the American family in two words: diversity and fluidity. Explain what Gerson means by each of these terms, and the statistical evidence and examples you regard as most important to exemplify her idea. In your response, you might also want to consider how social institutions and social hierarchies are impacting contemporary family life.
3. Your former high school principal, aware that you have taken an outstanding (!) introductory course in sociology at your college, invites you back to meet with next years freshman students and explain to them what a sociological imagination is. She asks you to pick three examples from your sociology course, and explain to students how a sociological imagination helps you to understand the topic better than if you just read the newspaper or watching the TV news.
4. In what ways are racial and gender inequality similar, and in what ways are they different? Be specific about each dimension of inequality you identify, support it with evidence, and explain why you think race and gender operate in similar or different ways on each dimension you discuss.
5. How, and in what ways do Karl Marx, Douglas Massey, and Jay MacLeod propose we think about the relationship between individuals beliefs and attitudes, on the one hand, and the external constraints of the world they inhabit on the other, in shaping the aspirations and behaviors of the young men examined in Aint No Makin It?
6. Course readings and class lecture discussed various ways that the criminal justice system both reflects and generates inequality. Discuss two ways that the criminal justice system reflects pre-existing inequality and two ways that criminal justice generates social, economic or cultural inequality. Be specific about what groups or vectors of inequality you are addressing and be specific about how they reflect existing inequalities in criminal justice outcomes, or produce new inequalities.
7. Why doesnt American democracy lead to a greater redistribution of the gains from economic growth? Why dont the poor and the middle class vote themselves a bigger share? Describe three aspects of American democracy that the readings identify that might explain these outcomes.