Seminar in Social Inequalities Fall 2015 – 1

This course is designed to meet the needs of students who are completing an MS in Sociology through the Online Applied Option (OAO). Students from other programs are invited, indeed encouraged, to take part. However, it is essential that everyone who is considering this course read the description of the OAO.


The study of social stratification and inequality are at the core of sociological thinking. However, many of the students who participate in this seminar experienced undergraduate classes that focused on content, which they quickly forgot. Therefore, I have designed a course to meet the needs of those who have forgotten the content of their undergraduate sociology course in social inequality, as well as those who have never taken an undergraduate course in this area. This design element is partially met through the first book that I have chosen for us to read. Sernau’s (2014) Social Inequality in a Global Age. This is the same book that I would select if this were a an undergraduate course. Sernau offers a great explanation for why this book appeals to me, He says,


 “…although instructors are often passionate about the topic, they have their own angst in teaching it. They want students to understand the foundations of classical theory in a way that actually illuminates their current studies; they don’t want students to see those foundations as just the work of “ old, dead Germans.” Instructors want to incorporate exciting new material on race, class, and gender while still giving students a solid grounding in the core concepts. They are often eager to include material on the globalized economy while still helping students understand changes in their own communities. And above all, they are struggling to find ways to help students see the relevance— even the urgency— of this material to the society we are currently making and remaking. Their plea has been for materials that are organized but not pat, hard-hitting but not preachy; they are looking for ways to help students both care deeply and think deeply about the topic. This book is an effort to answer that plea.”


The Sage Publications website offers you an opportunity to learn more about this title. I will offer additional information about rental and purchase in a later post.


The Sernau text alone, however, does not provide what is needed to stimulate the higher order thinking skills this graduate level seminar requires. While it places social stratification and social inequality in a global setting, the focus is still on the United States. VCU has both a student body and a focus that is international. This seminar also needs a set of readings that approach inequality from an international perspective,  For that purpose, I selected, Pascale’s (2013) Social Inequality and the Politics of Representation: A Global Landscape which “.. takes a fresh look at inequalities in 20 countries on five continents.”

The Sage Publication’s website also provides an interesting preview of this unique collection.


Participants in the seminar will engage in discussions of the readings, write blogs, and create an online audiovisual presentation. Until the website for the course is complete, I will offer updates about the course through this blog. Follow this blog to receive new updates by mail.




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