Office Hours: 10:30-11:00 am T/TH, or by appointment
A thought on Social Science
“Students are often converted to a particular view of the world before they know that different world views exist…It is vital, then, that students be sure they understand a new idea before they pass judgment on it…Sometimes ideas that are familiar or better known are automatically given higher status than ideas that are unfamiliar or less well known. This higher status may be bestowed on familiar ideas in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.”
(Slife, Brent D. and Richard N. Williams. 1995. What’s Behind the Research?: Discovering Hidden Assumptions in the Behavioral Sciences. London: Sage.)
In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle will result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university.
Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment. It is the university’s expectation, and my own expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.
Required Texts: Macionis, John J. 2010. Social Problems. Fourth edition. Prentice Hall: New Jersey.
Gladwell, Malcolm. 2008. Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown and Company.
Griffin, John Howard. 1996. Black Like Me. Signet. – or, you may choose the alternative (Wilson, William Julius. 1987. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.) Articles specified in the class schedule are available on Blackboard.
This course examines problems in contemporary American society associated with: (1) poverty and wealth; (2) race and ethnicity; (3) gender; (4) aging; (5) crime and criminal justice; (6) violence; (7) sexuality; (8) alcohol and other drugs; (9) physical and mental health; (10) economy and politics; (11) family life; (12) education; (13) urban life; (14) war and terrorism; (15) population and global inequality.
Objectives: This course should enable students to:
examine the construction of social problems and the conditions under which they arise, are perpetuated, are ameliorated, or are disregarded.
use major sociological theoretical perspectives to understand and analyze contemporary social problems.
evaluate research on social problems in reference to the principles of the scientific method (distinguish between anecdotal evidence, myths and empirical evidence).
manifest an understanding of the scope (who, what, where, how) of contemporary social problems.
assess the relationship between social policy (conservative-liberal) and social problem solutions.
Evaluation: Grading will be based on 1 assignment, 2 short papers, 5 reading quizzes, 3 midterm exams, and a final exam.
Specific guidelines for each paper will be posted on Blackboard. To receive full credit papers must be typed in 12 pt, double-spaced and stapled. DUE TO THE SIZE OF THE CLASS, PAPERS CANNOT BE E-MAILED. YOUR PAPER WILL BE CONSIDERED TURNED IN WHEN A HARD COPY IS RECEIVED. Papers can be turned in late but you will be penalized 5 points a day.
Five quizzes will be given throughout the semester as a way to encourage you to do the class readings. The quizzes are not of the “pop” nature. Specific dates and required reading material are listed in the course schedule. Quizzes cannot be made-up unless your absence is university approved.
Four exams (3 midterms, 1 final) will be given based on the chapters, readings, and class discussions covered to that point. Text readings and class discussions (class attendance is critical as the tests will include material that is presented only in class) will help you prepare for each exam. The PowerPoint slides that accompany the lectures may serve as a good starting point for your test preparation but they do not contain everything you need to know for the exams. Exams will not be given EARLY or LATE unless your absence is university approved.
NOTE: University policy dictates (see the BYU website) that final exams CANNOT be taken early. No exceptions will be made to this policy so please plan accordingly. Student Engagement Exercises:
For all of you excellent class attendees, there will be 6-8 opportunities throughout the term for a little extra credit (30 pts total)- just for engaging in a couple of classroom activities. Ahh, to think it actually does pay to come and hang out with us all!
Class Points: Norms Assignment 25 points 25
Paper #1 75 points 75
Paper #2 100 points 100
Reading Quizzes #1, #4 & #5 3 @ 10 points 30
Reading Quiz #2 (“Outliers”) 40 points 40
Reading Quiz #3 (“Black Like Me” or Alt.) 30 points 30
Exams 3 @ 100 points 300
Grades: Grades will be assigned based on total points accumulated as follows:
A 564 – 600
B- 480 – 497
D+ 402 – 419
A- 540 – 563
C+ 462 – 479
D 378 – 401
B+ 522 – 539
C 438 – 461
D- 360 – 377
B 498 – 521
C- 420 – 437
E 000 – 359
The following course schedule is a guidelineNOT a contract. Exam, quiz, and discussion dates may change throughout the semester. Schedule changes may or may not be announced on Blackboard; however, all schedule changes WILL be announced in class.
Readings for Today
Overview of the Syllabus
(The Penny Game)
The Sociological Imagination
(Breakfast, Bread, and Diamonds)
Ruane, Janet M. and Karen A. Cerulo. 2008. “Conventional Wisdom Tells Us...”
(Personal vs. Social)
Macionis, Chapter 1
Reading Quiz #1
Sociology: Studying Social Problems (Theoretical Perspectives)
Sociology: Studying Social Problems (The Scientific Method)
Begin reading Outliers. Slife, Brent D. and Richard N. Williams. 1995. What’s Behind the Research?
Cougareat/Cannon Center Norms Assignment Due @ the beginning of class
Poverty and Wealth
Macionis, Chapter 2
McNamee, Stephen J. and Robert K. Miller Jr. 2004. “The Meritocracy Myth”. Kiyosaki, Robert T. and Sharon L. Lechter. 2000. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”.