Social inequalities and collective responses to them, both locally and globally, are the focus of this immersion. Students explore the interplay between social and cultural dimensions of the rapid globalization of societies, and the concurrent inequalities of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and culture. The egalitarian strivings that emerge from these inequalities also will be examined. Courses offer the unique standpoints of two academic disciplines, sociology and anthropology, to analyze the roles of powerful social institutions and culture industries, and to identify and explain social inequalities and resulting conflicts and egalitarian hopes.
Notes about this immersion:
This immersion is closed to students majoring in sociology and anthropology.
All three elective courses cannot come from one discipline.
At least one course must be taken at the 300 level or higher.
The program code for Social Inequalities Immersion is SOCINEQ-IM.
By exploring critical issues of globalizing culture, we examine how ideas, attitudes, and values are exchanged or transmitted across conventional borders. How has the production, articulation, and dissemination of cultural forms (images, languages, practices, beliefs) been shaped by global capitalism, media industries, communication technologies, migration, and tourist travels? How are cultural imaginaries forged, exchanged, and circulated among a global consumer public? How has the internationalizing of news, computer technologies, video-sharing websites, blogging sites, and other permutations of instant messaging served to accelerate cultural globalization? Students will be introduced to anthropological perspectives on cultural globalization, the transmission of culture globally, and the subsequent effects on social worlds, peoples, communities, and nations.
This course introduces students to processes of interconnection, local, regional, national, and global, that have altered and continue to impact life in Africa, taking into account the enormous impact of Africans on one another and on those of us living outside of the continent. In the course, we will focus on how past, present, and anticipated future events in African movements of people, ideas, and things, across time and space effect the reception of new events. We will pay particularly close attention to how the relationships of time and space are formulated and understood by Africans in the present. While the historical past is never completed, but continuous in the present, its diverse contours lead to differently remembered, embodied, and enacted expressions. We will evaluate these diverse expressions in pre-colonial, colonial, and neo-colonial encounters as they have changed ideas of self and other, political philosophies and political economic systems, genders and sexualities, generational relations, religions, expressive arts, violence, and health on the African continent and around the globe.
Immigration to the U.S.
This course examines immigration to the U.S. within the context of globalization. We examine the push- and pull-factors that generate immigration, and changing immigration policies and debates. We consider how changes in the American workplace have stimulated the demand for foreign workers in a wide range of occupations, from software engineer to migrant farmworker and nanny. We review the cultural and emotional challenges of adapting within the American cultural landscape, transnationalism and connections with the homeland, the experiences of refugees, and how immigration has changed since 9/11. Special attention is given to immigration from Latin America, the largest sending region.
Native North Americans
This course examines the persistence and change in Native American cultures using archaeological, ethnohistorical, socioeconomic, ethnographic, linguistic, and autobiographical sources among others. In addition to broad regional and historical coverage, we will read about and discuss culture change, colonialism, federal law, gender, race, and places in Native American contexts. Our goal is to understand the lived experiences of Indian people and the many forces that shape Native American lives.
American Indian Languages
With a focus on the indigenous languages of the Americas, we explore language contact among peoples, study various writing systems, and the sociolinguistic and cultural contexts in which these languages are spoken. Students learn how indigenous languages have been studied and classified. In addition to providing an overview of the languages' structural and typological attributes, we will also discover their histories as well as present-day challenges.
Language and Sexuality
In exploring the relationships between language and sexuality, we investigate the language used by members of sexual minority groups, discuss how sexual orientation shapes language use, and examine the role of language in the social construction of sexual identity. We will focus on several aspects of the language used by and about gay men, lesbians, and bisexual and transgendered people.
Comparative and Historical Linguistics
All languages change through time, but how do they change? Where do these changes come from? In exploring traditional and contemporary approaches to historical linguistics, the study of language change, we compare different languages, different dialects of the same language, or different historical stages of a particular language, and investigate the history of languages and also language groups (or families). We investigate hypotheses about the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of languages long dead, and we explore how languages can give us insights to understanding human prehistory.
Heritage and Tourism
Tourism is a global industry and an important part of the human experience. There are many forces within tourism that act upon people’s lives, and in particular their environments, economies, cultural heritage, and identity. This course will explore tourism and its many dimensions. Beginning with an examination of kinds of tourism, this course unpacks tourism’s ancient trade and pilgrimage roots as well as its class dynamics of post-industrialization. Other aspects of tourism to be explored include strategies and effects of tourism development and production, nationalism and cultural identity, commoditization and marketing of culture and the ethics of development, labor and infrastructural changes, social inequalities, ecological impact, sustainable tourism, the experience of tourists, ritual and authenticity, and the relationship between tourists and tourism workers. This course provides opportunities for cross-cultural analysis of tourism sites, for participant-observation of the tourist experience, and for evaluation and recommendation of tourism site development in and around Rochester.
Culture and Politics in Latin America
This course introduces cultures of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped them. We examine Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and its modern-day legacies, including ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, and literature have engaged critically with the forces of fascism, revolution, socialism, dictatorship, and neo-colonialism. We consider indigenous activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and Latinos in the U.S.
Genocide and Post-Conflict Justice
The destruction and survival of societies often hinges upon the ideas and the social, cultural constructions of identity and belonging. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical memory, and accounts of extreme violence become interrelated, potent sources of destruction. Slavery and exclusive ownership of resources leave people starving or living in perilously polluted environments. Globalizing cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. Group identities may be sites of crises within nation-states and global political, economic, and cultural processes. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide, and post-conflict justice. Students will use critical, anthropological approaches to assess ethnocides and genocides from the 19th century forced assimilation and slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Sudan, to understand the impact of globalization on techniques and technologies of genocides, the legal, moral/personal responsibility for genocides, media representations of genocides, and the affects of cultural, historical memory and social, global inequities upon future genocides. Students will use anthropological perspectives on genocide to assess post-conflict concepts of justice, reconstruction and reconciliation and local-global debates about their cultural resonance and effectiveness.
The Global Economy and the Grassroots
Economic globalization has given birth to global grassroots social movements. This course examines how global economic integration is brought about through multilateral institutions, multinational corporations, outsourcing, trade agreements, international lending, and neoliberal reforms. We consider impacts (cultural, economic, and health) of these trends on employees, farmers, small businesses, consumers, and the environment in the developed and developing worlds (with special emphasis on Latin America). We examine beliefs, alternative visions, and strategies of grassroots movements responding to these challenges.
Culture and Politics in the Middle East
With a focus on everyday life in families, communities, and nations, we examine the diverse cultures and peoples of the Middle East in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped their lives in the past and present. We examine European colonialism and its modern-day legacies, including ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, labor migration, urbanism, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, oral traditions, and literatures have engaged critically with the forces of political change and neo-colonialism. We consider political activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion, revolution, and war, and the impacts of and creative responses to globalization. The cultural, political, social, and religious dynamics of Middle Eastern peoples will be discussed from a humanistic perspective.
Native American Cultural Resources and Rights
Indian nations have substantial interests in access to and control of their cultural resources. In addition to land, those resources may include objects, traditions, and symbols. Many of those interests may be treated under tribal, federal, and/or international law as forms of property (including access to sacred sites, possession of funerary objects, masks), intangible resources (such as intellectual property of tribal names, symbols, stories), and/or liberty interests (including religious freedom, preservation of tribal languages, customs, Indian arts and crafts). Classroom lectures will be supplemented with roundtable discussions and instructions by museum professionals, guest speakers, and Native American representatives. At the conclusion of the course, students will comprehend the breadth of federal legislation regulating tribal cultural resources as well as the complex legal and social issues facing museums, academic institutions, and the community.
Nationalism and Identity
Nationalism is often described in terms of strong sentiments and acts of self-determination on the part of members of a nation as distinct from the state that is necessarily a territorially and politically defined entity. This course will explore leading theories related to the origins of contemporary nationalism and nationalism's importance within the context of state societies, especially in Europe. The past as an invented historical or imagined reality will be highlighted, as invented pasts contribute to claims for exclusive national culture and both exclusive and contested identities. The relationships between culture, literacy, and capitalism will be applied to understanding select historical and ethnographic cases of nationalism.
This course examines the impact of global dynamics on cities from the early 20th century to the present. By tracing urban formations from metropolis to global city, emphasis will be placed on the making of identities, communities, and citizens in the architectural spaces, cultural places, ethnic zones, and media traces of urban life in the context of globalization.
By exploring issues of gender and sexuality in a global context, students will be introduced to anthropological perspectives on the experience of men and women, as gendered subjects, in different societies and historical contexts, including colonialism, nationalism, and global capitalism. In turn, we will explore how cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity are configured by race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Course materials are drawn from an array of sources, reflecting various theoretical perspectives and ethnographic views from different parts of the world.
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture.
Economics of Women and the Family
Economics of Native America
Global Slavery and Human Trafficking
This course will describe the historical and contemporary conditions that have given rise to the distinctive cultural orientation of African Americans in the United States. Students will be provided with an explication of African American culture as it is perceived by the majority of African Americans. Furthermore, the course will outline an operational articulation of the African American experience, and analyze the characterological responses that result from it.
The Changing Family
Families are the microcosm of society. Sociological concepts and theories define the family as a fundamental institution that both mirrors and propels societal change. The field of family studies explores various parameters of family systems, including gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, division of labor, marriage and divorce, children, and generational relations. In the wake of significant changes in family forms, experiences, and prevailing household arrangements, the scope of sociological inquiry has expanded to meet the new realities of American family life.
Minority Group Relations
The course will provide a context in which to examine the multiple and contradictory social relations of domination, subordination, resistance, and empowerment. The kinds of questions we will explore focus on how power, knowledge, meaning, and cultural representation are organized. We will analyze a variety of political and ideological themes which bear upon the formation of minority group relations, their identity and how these themes complicate the processes by which people construct their understanding of the nation, world, of others, and themselves. Through reflection on theoretical texts and fictional works, as well as film and other popular media, we will consider for ourselves how culture is differently represented and signified, and how the politics of understanding and misunderstanding minority relations work through practices within and outside cultural institutions.
This course examines various forms of social inequality, including economic, political, health, higher education, race and sex inequality. It uses a variety of sociology's ideas to explain why these kinds of inequality exist, how they persist and what can be done about them.
Sociology of Work
This course analyzes and assesses social relations of paid labor. Sociology's major ideas about the ways we work will be examined and applied to numerous important topics such as: workplace organization, unions, labor legislation, health and safety, workplace culture, interplays between work and family, experiences of work as alienating or satisfying, inequalities at work, and social mobility.
Women, Work, and Culture
In this course, we analyze historical and contemporary patterns of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and the organization of work. Using the theoretical perspectives we analyze the work historically undertaken by women in societies and its relationship to broader political and economic structures. While our primary focus is on the U.S., we will also conduct a cross-cultural analysis of gender and work in developing and industrializing societies. Specific issues include gender discrimination (e.g., wage discrimination, sexual harassment), sexuality, reproduction, and women organizing to control their work and working conditions.
Gender and Health
This course examines connections between gender and health that are both conceptual and empirical. Students will explore the causes of gender-based differences in health outcomes through case studies of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS epidemics and violence. Students will also examine global gender and health trends. The course concludes with an examination of gender inequity in health care and policy implications of these inequities.
Disaster, Public Health Crisis, and Global Responses
Disasters as global states of emergency result from complex relationships between human populations and environmental hazards. Disasters threaten sustainable development, especially in the global south and among the world’s most vulnerable people. Global states of emergency incur significant human and economic costs, which, in addition to increasing demographic, environmental, socio-economic and related pressures, result in increasing population vulnerability. Explanations of the causes and consequences of disasters include examinations of how human vulnerability is impacted by interactions among diverse social, economic, and other factors with environmental hazards. We will discuss social vulnerability theories; sustainable development theories; the causes and consequences of disasters and interventions to manage and reduce these risks.
Housing Policies in the U.S.
Housing is a critical component in securing basic human survival. In the 21st century, the fundamental human right to adequate housing and shelter for every person has been recognized by the international community. Governments have an obligation to their citizens to ensure that this right is protected. In the United States, the right to housing is understood to provide homes that are affordable, safe, and habitable, and to offer basic services such as water, heat, and electricity. In response, this course examines the role of government in providing sustainable housing through federal and other programs. Where people live has effects on their health, educational attainment and opportunities for employment. This course examines historical and current housing policies and practices in the United States and their consequences on diverse social issues, including racial and other forms of segregation, poverty, educational attainment, economic opportunity, pollution, and environmental degradation. The course also applies a global comparative framework to examine housing issues in other countries.
Global Exiles of War and Terror
Daily we watch, seemingly helplessly, as people are displaced from their communities, homelands, and countries and subsequently seek asylum around the world, sometimes within our own local communities. Causes of displacement include war, violence, persecution, and modes of terror that increasingly affect the lives of women and children. In addition to the loss of human life and potential, the ensuing consequences of violent displacement include poverty, disease, physical and psychological trauma, hopelessness, and vulnerability to human rights abuses. In this course, we explore how the rights and dignity of refugees can be protected. We also examine resettlement processes and, for those who are eventually repatriated, we address how they can successfully reintegrate into reconstructing societies that remain barely functional. Most importantly, we consider how the trauma of displacement can be minimized.
Society, Environment, and Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition has evolved to recognize the importance of social factors in determining both individual and population health. This course uses the WHO’s 2008 Report “Closing the Gap in a Generation,” as an overarching theoretical framework in analyzing upstream and downstream factors that contribute to health outcomes. Using a sociological lens, this course explores diverse factors that have positive and negative impacts on individual and population health. These include macro-factors (climate change, environmental pollution, global and/or national economies) and micro-factors (the built environment- neighborhood conditions, green spaces, poor or low quality housing, and rest and leisure spaces). The course also integrates individual behavioral choices, educational attainment and the larger role of societal discrimination against subgroups within societies, the role of institutions and their impacts on population health. The course emphasizes that health is impacted by the social circumstances into which people are born, in which they grow up, live, work, and age; the distribution of power or unjust power relations; and the level of social exclusion or inclusion.
With a focus on forms of (in)justice in urban communities worldwide, we investigate the impact of race, class, and gender and related systems of unequal power relations on perpetuating patterns of social, political, economic, and environmental oppression (policing, hunger, pollution, violence, disease). How do ways of governing urban populations affect the lives of inner city residents and their demands for justice when attempting to navigate the everyday urban worlds? Specific course topics include both historical and contemporary perspectives on urban (in)justice locally, in Rochester NY, and nationally, across the U.S., and in a global comparative framework. Thereby the effects of crime, violence, and inequality on people in urban neighborhoods are also examined among and within nations. By the end of the semester, students should be able to identify and explain various theories that seek to explain (in)justice patterns in the urban context at local, national and global levels.
Urban poverty has been recognized as a persistent problem in the United States since the middle of the last century. In many cities, poverty is associated with high levels of teenage pregnancy, low levels of employment, limited educational attainment, chronic community-based health problems, and high levels of crime. This course examines causes, consequences, and proposed policy solutions to urban poverty. Special emphasis will be paid to U.S. urban poverty.
This course describes and applies competing explanations for major transitions in a variety of institutions, including the economy, work, politics, family and education. These transitions are seen within historical and global contexts, but the interplay of these changing social structures with individual experience is explored as well. Topics include economic, racial and gender stratification, culture, labor-management relations, and the source and consequences of technological change. Students will learn to understand, assess, and manage social change rather than to simply react to it.
* Students must take courses from at least two different disciplines.
† At least one course must be taken at the 300-level or above.