LSTD 2700: People and Differences
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until
it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
― Jane Addams
Social inequality takes many different forms. There are inequalities in status, socio-economic group, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race. Inequality is multidimensional. It does not respect boundaries. It is witnessed any time there are differences between people, and is present at every stage of our lives.
Yet there is a great deal of controversy about social inequalities.
Are inequalities inevitable? Why do some people have more than others? Does hard work always pay off, or are the positions that people occupy due largely to factors having little to do with personal motivation and effort? Can inequality be lessened? Is inequality necessarily an undesirable thing? This class tries to answer these questions and more by reviewing various modern explanations for social inequality.
Throughout this course, students are encouraged to think about these questions and any personal applications they might have. Although not all students may have personally experienced inequality, all of us have been affected by it in one form or another – some more directly than others. The course is divided into four units that examine social inequality, general explanations of inequality, consequences of social inequality, and stability and change in the system of social inequality. Students are encouraged to write about their experiences and explore how they, or others closely related to them, have experienced discrimination and inequality.
At the end of the class, students will have a better personal understanding of the differences between people and how those differences affect our daily lives. Perhaps more importantly, they will be able to use their newfound knowledge to help close the inequality gap and dissuade discrimination in its various forms.
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