What creates the barriers that separate us, and what can diminish those barriers? This course discusses patterns and processes of Social Inequality, main theories on their determinants, and it discusses important forms of human action to increase equality.
The first part of the course deals with one of the best researched areas in the social sciences. It discusses modern and classic concepts of Class and Status, as well as the process of status attainment. The roles of family, gender, education, partner choice and social mobility are scrutinized. Classic as well as state of the art articles are read.
The second part of the course deals with one of the most varied and interesting areas in the social sciences. It discusses forms of human action meant to decrease social inequality: family solidarity, mutual aid, philanthropy and the genesis of the welfare state. State of the art theories are discussed, with empirical examples from contemporary and historical societies.
After completing this course students are able to:
- understand and critically reflect upon the main theories on Social stratification and Inequality available within the social sciences;
- apply these to concrete contemporary examples;
- chair class sessions, raise interesting questions and draw relevant conclusions from discussions.
The class meets twice a week for two hours. The didactic format is based on lectures, critical discussions of the literature, assignments and feedback on assignments, class debates, possibly video’s, and students-chaired meetings. Two hours will be devoted to lecturing and explaining the materials by the instructor. The other two hours will be devoted to student-chaired discussions.