Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.
Rosa Luxemburg
If [one] wishes to escape from prison, the first thing [one] must do is realize that [one] is in prison; without that realization no escape is possible.

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In order to create an authentic connection with others we must first deal with the sources of our own oppression; we must break the silence of our invisibility; but we must speak in our own voice, first to ourselves and then to each other. For in moving beyond our own individual lives we can come to appreciate the connections between us, the continuity and the change, and dispel the fears which keep us apart.
Celia Alvarez, El Hilo Que Nos Une
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How do you perform your gender? What's up with gay marriage? Is America really getting over the racial divide? What is the reality behind the American Dream? These are the kinds of questions we address in this course. Ultimately, we will focus on social stratification: institutionalized inequality in the distribution of social rewards and burdens. The underlying question regarding stratification is, "Who gets what, when, and how?" Individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds—in terms of, for example, race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, etc.—receive unequal portions of wealth, power, and prestige within our society. When these dimensions of stratification overlap, the issue becomes even more complicated.

Because of the complexity of stratification, this course focuses primarily on two broad areas: (1) the intersections of race, ethnicity, and class and (2) the dimensions of gender and sexuality. In the last section of the course, we will look at additional dimensions of stratification, how we can address social inequality, and the social policy implications of a stratified society.

Topics Included:
  • Overview of Stratification
  • The Matrix of Privilege and Oppression
  • The Social Construction of Reality
  • The Social Construction of Gender
  • The Social Construction of Sexuality
  • Stigmatization and Queer Identity
  • Controlling Images and the Media
  • The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity
  • Identity Formation and Race
  • Cultural and Structural Oppression
  • Addressing Racial and Ethnic Tensions
  • White Privilege
  • Ideology: The "Culture of Poverty" and Blaming the Victim
  • Conflict Theory and Social Inequality
  • The Personal Experience of Class