SOC 1700 - Social Problems, Creative SolutionsCredits: 4
For most people in the U.S., the answer to the question “What causes social problems?” is simple. They look within individuals for personal qualities that lead to problems: personality traits, character flaws, free will, and other individual characteristics. They ask the “Who questions”: Who caused it? Who is responsible? Who has a problem and who gets the blame?
Sociologists, in sharp contrast, ask the “What questions” about social problems: What social structures, power relationships, and social processes contribute to widespread social problems such as crime or poverty? What cultural beliefs, values, and norms encourage harmful behaviors such as violence, sexual assault, and alcohol/substance abuse? In short, what kind of society promotes persistent social problems, and what is the link, if any, between social problems, social inequality, and social injustice?
This course will explore how some of the most pressing social problems in the U.S. - such as crime, violence, addiction, sexism, racism, class inequality, and heterosexism - are created by unequal power relationships, hierarchical social structures, and taken-for-granted cultural beliefs and social practices.
This course is based on the assumption that learning, at its best, opens minds, changes lives, and is fun. Instead of analyzing abstract ideas that are often hard to relate to, we will constantly connect the issues we explore to your questions, beliefs, and dreams.