Tag Archives: work

Sociology Finds Discrimination in the Law

We recommend using these discussion questions and activity with Ellen Berrey’s interesting and well-written article Sociology Finds Discrimination in the Law (read the full article for free here!) which appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Contexts.UnAmerican

1)    How would you define discrimination? How does your definition compare with a more formal, legal definition?

2)    The article states that sometimes people discriminate unintentionally. What are examples of unintentional discrimination?

3)    Based on what you learned from this article, what do you think should be done to rectify the effects of discrimination? Who should be responsible for taking action?

ACTIVITY:

Explore the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website (eeoc.gov) and read up about the different kinds of discrimination. Have you or someone you know been a victim of the types of discrimination described?

 

Families Facing Untenable Choices

This week, we highlight the article Families Facing Untenable Choices by Lisa Dodson and Wendy Luttrell in the Winter 2011 issue of Contexts. The article asks important questions without easy solutions. We recommend using this article in your class to encourage students to explore the hidden ironies of combining working and parenting among low-income mothers.

Before class, have students do a thorough reading of the article and outline the problems faced by low-wage mothers that appear in this article. Then, have them answer this question on their own in class before having a group discussion about the article:

Why are low-income mothers in a lose-lose situation when it comes to being mothers and workers?

100 days oldThis article would be paired well with the article highlighted last week “Children” Having Children by Stefanie Mollborn in the same issue of Contexts.

In addition, we suggest having students listen to the  Lisa Dodson, Wendy Luttrell and Stefanie Mollborn talk about low-income and teen motherhood in an interview with Office Hours on The Society Pages.

Global Corporations, Global Unions

Workers
Check out this article from the Summer 2007 issue of Contexts: “Global Corporations, Global Unions” by Stephen Lerner and use the following questions and activity to easily integrate it into your class.

1)   What benefits do unions bring to workers and employers? Can you think of any drawbacks?

2)    How does globalization represent both a threat and an opportunity for low-income workers?

3)    What does “the race to the bottom” refer to? How does it affect economic stability and working conditions at local, national, and international levels?

Check out  www.seiu.org. How does this union impact your
understanding of the potential benefits and challenges of global unionizing?

The Rhetoric and Reality of Opting Out

Business LookFor any gender, family, or business related lecture, we recommend “The Rhetoric and Reality of Opting Out” (Contexts, Fall 2007) which you can read here.
We’ve created discussion questions as well as an activity for you to use with this article in the classroom:

1)    How does your generation view mothers who stay at home? How have these perceptions changed from your parents’ and grandparents’ generations? Is this change positive or problematic in your opinion?

2)    According to Stone, what is the real culprit behind more and more mothers dropping out of the workforce? What are some underlying problems with many “family friendly” work arrangements?

ACTIVITY: Assume you’ve been given the task of re-designing your company’s workplace environment and scheduling norms so they are better suited for the types of working parents highlighted in this article. How could you change the work culture so mothers weren’t penalized for taking advantage of flexible work arrangements? Could any other problems result from your solutions?

 

Equality

Full Disk Image of Earth Captured Feb. 7, 2011
Lane Kenworthy’s article “Is Equality Feasible?” (Contexts, Summer 2007) is a great article to get students thinking about inequality in society.  Below are some questions that you can use with the article.

1)    What is the Gini coefficient and how can it be used to influence social policy?

2)    Summarize the argument that inequality contributes to affluence in a given country. What is the equality/jobs trade-off?

3)    The author talks about the non-pay benefits of employment. Can these benefits be accomplished in other ways? What are some possible consequences of not having access to these benefits (both for individuals and society)?

4)    Beyond poverty, how does unemployment affect societies?

5) Is equality feasible?

Children and Reality TV

The article “Balloon Boy Plus Ei8ght? Children and Reality Television” from the Culture Reviews section of the Spring 2010 issue of Contexts is short and class-room friendly piece that explores the use of children in reality TV. As a big part of their popular culture, students will likely have a lot of say about reality TV in general and its use of child stars. Use the following questions either as a group or individually to spark an interesting discussion:

1) What are some reality TV shows that you know about that use children as their main stars? Do you watch them?

2) What do you think it is about using children in reality TV that makes so many people tune in?

3) Levey argues in the article that the children are being exploited by their parents and producers. Do you agree? Why or why not?

4) If you had the opportunity to put your children on a reality TV program, would you? What would be the benefits? What would be the drawbacks?

5) Do you agree with the author that the children currently on reality TV will suffer consequences for it down the road? If so, what are some examples?

6) Imagine how your childhood would have been different if you had been on reality TV. Do you think it would have been a positive or negative experience for you?

Or use this activity:

Bring in a clip of a reality TV show that utilizes child stars to share with the class. Discuss the way the filmmakers and the adults on the program are interacting with them. Do they seem to be enjoying their time in the spotlight? Do you think this is child labor?

Permanent Impermanence

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Using article Permanent Impermanence by Syed Ali from the most recent issue of Contexts, Graduate Student Editorial Board member Shannon Golden offers our blog these ideas for use in the classroom. The full text of this article is available for free online!

This article would be great for a class or unit on immigration, globalization, or world cities.

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1) For a class that has covered immigration policy:

-Compare and contrast immigration and citizenship policy in Dubai with that of other immigrant-receiving countries, such as the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, or western European countries.

-Do you agree with the author’s conclusion that Dubai’s policy may represent the future?

2) To focus on the intersection of biography and social structure, the instructor could:

-Provide biographical/narrative case studies of several foreign workers in Dubai, one that would represent a blue-collar laborer, another middle class example, and an upper class professional. Ask students to develop a sociological analysis of these lives using info from the article, illustrating how social structures are experienced differently by different groups of people.

3) Suggested small group discussion questions:

-What are the strengths and weaknesses of Dubai’s immigration policies? What are the intended and unintended consequences?

-Who are the actors who have a stake in determining the policies? Who benefits from this system? Who loses in this system?

- Discuss the following concepts in relation to this article: power, citizenship, labor, home, rights, legality, belonging

- The author discusses Paul Krugman’s writing on “the Dubai effect”: “Writing in 2006, Krugman said that a guest worker program could amount to a dangerous betrayal of the United States’ democratic ideals. It would, he wrote, basically form an entrenched caste system of temporary workers whose interests would largely be ignored and whose rights would be circumscribed. Further, their wages would undoubtedly be less than those of people with greater labor market mobility, though the ripple effects of a glut of guest workers would be expected to lower wages for all workers in sectors where guest workers are “bonded” to their employers, Dubai-style.” (p.29) Do you agree with Krugman’s speculations about what would happen if the U.S. adopted similar policies to Dubai? Discuss the implications of such a change.

4) Have the students read one of the “recommended resources” and discuss its connection to this article.