Final Essay 3

  • Thesis should be in bold print.
  • Use at least 10 course readings.
  • Bibliography

We categorize everything. The major categories into which we sort humans—race, class, and gender—in themselves may not be harmful. However, where there are categories, there also seems to be ranking, which leads to such things as racism, sexism, class-based discrimination, etc. This damaging tendency to rank is learned through interaction and encouraged by the distorted picture of the world portrayed in mass media, such as television.

Incorporate the films “White Like Me,” “La Haine” and “Manufacturing Consent”, along with course lectures and readings on impression management, class, race, gender, and media(week4-week8), into an elegant, well-organized, thesis-driven, text-based 7-8 page discussion of ALL OF the following topics:

  • How do we construct a socially stratified reality? Discuss the ways in which we construct our category-driven realities (you may wish to revisit and reference earlier course materials – such as “Five Features of Reality”(Week2) and materials on Symbolic Interactionism(Week1 Week3) – for this part).
  • Discuss how we engage in impression management to construct certain images for ourselves in terms of race, class, and gender.
  • How and why does discrimination arise, how is it perpetuated, and what are its consequences?
  • What solutions can you imagine? Describe them, and indicate how they might actually come about.

The essay which you construct should be integrated around a thesis. The thesis will be one of your own creation, but it must be one which addresses the above topics. Concepts of impression management, class, race, and gender should be briefly, but clearly, defined.


  • White Like Me (duration 1:09:00)

La Haine (duration 1:37:50)

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (duration 2:47:33)

Week 1 Materials

Throughout our course, David Newman’s text, Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition), will provide grounding for your understanding of key themes and issues, while other materials, including articles, videos, and audio, will more closely examine, or provide in-depth examples of, some of those themes and issues. For our first course unit, Miner’s classic Body Ritual Among the Nacirema encourages you to more carefully examine your assumptions, and their role in shaping how you see the world. Chapter 1 of Newman’s text examines the relationship between society and the individual, as well as how the sociological imagination can shape your perspective, while Chapter 2 delves deeper into key sociological concepts, and introduces you to the three major sociological perspectives: conflict theory, structural functionalism, and symbolic interactionism, each of which will be further articulated in Week 3, and revisited throughout the course. Chapter 1 of McGrane’s The Un-TV and the 10 MPH Car explains our experiment; Chapter 2 provides an analysis, grounded in the responses of McGrane’s students to the experiment. The 13 minute excerpt from the film Baraka should be watched after completing the experiment, but before writing about it; this excerpt is a different entry point to many of the same issues raised in the experiment. Video Lecture 1—Introduction: What Is Sociology? will orient you to the course, while Video Lecture 2–Seeing & Thinking Sociologically will introduce you to several concepts basic to a sociological perspective. Finally, Alfonso & Rice’s optional interview from Pranks! is a different kind of entry point to exploring how assumptions shape our perspectives and drive our actions.

Miner, H. (1956). Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 58 (3), 503-507.

Newman, D. M. (2019). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition/6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Chapter 1: Taking a new look at

Week 2 Materials

Newman’s Chapter 3, Building Reality: The Social Construction of Knowledge, sets the stage for the week. He explores various elements and dynamics of how we construct reality through our actions and interactions, then explains how sociological research, properly done, can counteract the bias inherent in the social construction of reality. The value and ethics of social scientific research are explored, along with explanations of the major social research methods. Mehan and Wood’s Five Features of Reality, an explanation of the sociological theory of ethnomethodology, narrows our focus to exactly how we construct reality; there is also a video lecture on this article. You’ll use the five features of reality to analyze EITHER the This American Life story Beating the Erasers OR Rosenhan’s article On Being Sane in Insane Places in your discussion post this week.

Newman, D. M. (2019). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition/6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Chapter 3: Building reality: The social construction of knowledge.

Mehan, H. & Wood, H. (2011). Five Features of Reality. In J. O’Brien (Ed.), The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings on Social Interaction (5th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Choose one of these two options

Drury, S. (2002). Naming names: Beating the erasers (Act 3). This American Life. (duration 22:48)(TRIGGER WARNING: this story references sexual harassment)

Rosenhan, D. (1973). On Being Sane in Insane Places. Science 179.

Week 3 Materials

Each of this week’s materials addresses one of the three core theories of Sociology. O’Brien’s Shared Meaning as the Basis of Humanness explains Symbolic Interactionism. Huston’s “The Power of the Hoodie-Wearing C.E.O.,” which you’ll analyze in this week’s discussion, provides a fascinating and relatable example of the importance of symbols, as well as how one symbol can shape another. Finally, the short video “Functionalism” gives you a quick breakdown of Structural Functiona


Functionalism (duration 5:40)

Week 4 Materials

This week’s readings explore the inside and outside of the self. Newman’s chapter on Building Identity: Socialization explains what the self is and how it is created; Cooley’s classic Looking-Glass Self is a brief explanation of how others, in serving as social mirrors of self, contribute to the creation of self. Newman’s chapter on Supporting Identity: The Presentation of Self explains how we perform our selves, especially according to Goffman’s theory of Impression Management. Staples’ article Black Men and Public Space provides an example of impression management in everyday life, and shows us why it can be so important for survival. Finally, Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk Fake It Till You Make It shows you how to use Impression Management to become the person you’re pretending to be. There are also two video lectures for this week.

Newman, D. M. (2019). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition/6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Chapter 5: Building identity: Socialization.

Chapter 6: Supporting identity: The presentation of self.

Cooley, C. H. (2011). Looking-Glass Self. In O’Brien, J. (Ed.), The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings on Social Interaction (5th Edition) (pp. 126-128). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Staples, B. (2001). Black Men and Public Space. In Kollock, P. & O’Brien, J., The Production of Reality (3rd Edition) (pp. 244-246). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.


Week 5 Materials

  • David Newman’s chapter on The Architecture of Inequality: Race and Ethnicity provides the theoretical grounding for our sociological exploration of race and ethnicity. Langston Hughes’ short excerpt, That Powerful Drop, illustrates the importance of symbols in shaping our understanding of race. Gallagher’s article, In-between racial status, mobility, and the promise of assimilation: Irish, Italians yesterday, Latinos and Asians today, shows us what really matters for assimilation (hint: it’s not the color of one’s skin). Locke’s powerfully articulate statement, Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race’, explains the harmful ways in which race distorts perception. Jamie Kapp’s comic strip explains the concept and effects of White Privilege, which will prepare you for White Like Me, in which anti-racist educator Tim Wise explores race and racism in the US through the lens of whiteness and white privilege. There is one video lecture this week.
  • Newman, D. M. (2019). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition/6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Chapter 11: The architecture of inequality: Race and ethnicity.
  • Hughes, L. (2001). That Powerful Drop. In Kollock, P. & O’Brien, J., The Production of Reality (3rd Edition) (p. 86). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
  • Gallagher, C. A. (2010). In-between racial status, mobility, and the promise of assimilation: Irish, Italians yesterday, Latinos and Asians today. In Korgen, K. O. (Ed.), Multiracial Americans and Social Class (pp. 10-21). New York, NY: Routledge.
  •  Locke, S. (2011). Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race. The Good Men Project.
  • Kapp, J. (2014). White Privilege, Explained in One Simple Comic. Everyday Feminism.


  • White Like Me (duration 1:09:00)

Week 6 Materials

This week’s materials examine the social class system, social stratification, and intersectionality theory. Again, Newman’s text chapter grounds us with an explanation of how social stratification ranks us by social class. Granfield’s Making It By Faking It illustrates how working-class students do impression management for social class, working to “pass” as members of a higher class. Toby Morris’ comic, The Pencilsword: On a plate, illustrates why it can be so difficult to move up in social class, and the great extent to which social class shapes one’s life course. Finally, the French film La Haine powerfully portrays a day in the life of three friends, each young man of a different race, but all members of the underclass. “It doesn’t matter how you fall; it’s how you land.” There is also one video lecture for this week.

  • Newman, D. M. (2019). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition/6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
    • Chapter 10: The architecture of stratification: Social class and inequality.
  • Granfield, R. (1996). Making It By Faking It: Working-Class Students in an Elite Academic Environment. In Ferguson, S. J. (Ed.), Mapping the Social Landscape: Readings in Sociology (pp. 120-132). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.
  • Morris, T. (2015). The Pencilsword: On a plate. RNZ.

Video             La Haine (duration 1:37:50)

Week 7 Materials

This week’s material addresses two related topics: gender and intersectionality. Newman’s text provides an overview of our first topic, with a focus on gender inequality. Kessler & McKenna’s Introduction to their book Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach revisits the theoretical perspective of Ethnomethodology (remember The Five Features of Reality?), and shows you how it applies to the topic of gender. A short Vlog Brothers video gives you another way to understand the difference between sex and gender. Spade and Valentine’s chapter explains the theory of Intersectionality. Audre Lorde’s poem “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions” explores the ways in which our social categories intersect to shape our life experiences, while Caplan-Bricker’s article illustrates how the intersecting categories of race and gender—in this case, black female—impacts one’s work experience and earning potential. There are two video lectures for this week: one on gender and one on intersectionality.

Newman, D. M. (2019). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (Brief Edition/6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Chapter 12: The architecture of inequality: Sex and gender.

Kessler, S. & McKenna, W. (1985). Introduction: The Primacy of Gender Attribution. Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach (pp. 1-20). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

vlogbrothers. (2012).

Spade, J.Z. & Valentine, C.G. (Eds.) (2016). Chapter 2: The Interaction of Gender with Other Socially Constructed Prisms. The Kaleidoscope of Gender: Prisms, Patterns, and Possibilities, 5th edition, Joan Z. Spade and Catherine G. Valentine. SAGE / Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Lorde, A. (Read by Lauren Lyons.) (2014).

·  Caplan-Bricker, N. (2017). Black women in America really do work harder for less, new report shows. Slate.

Week 8 Materials

Croteau, Hoynes, & Milan’s chapter Media and the Social World explores the meaning, reach, and impact of media, on personal, cultural, and political levels. A brief excerpt from the classic film Network sets a cautionary tone. Three short segments from Postman’s classic Amusing Ourselves to Death examine the dangers of orienting to the world as entertainment. The film Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media presents an analysis of how government and big business use mass media to shape our understandings of the world. An optional review sheet for Manufacturing Consent is posted here; it is strongly recommended that you answer all questions in this review while watching the film, to improve your focus; questions from this review sheet will be on upcoming quizzes. Killing Us Softly IV analytically illustrates the image of women in advertising. There is also 1 video lecture for this week.

Croteau, D., Hoynes, W., & Milan, S. (2012). Media and the Social World. Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences (4th Edition) (pp. 3-28). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Postman, N. (2005). Introduction to the Twentieth Anniversary Edition; Chapter 1: The Medium is the Metaphor; Chapter 11: The Huxleyan Warning. Amusing Ourselves to Death (20th Anniversary Edition) (vii-xvi; 3-15; 155-163), New York, NY: Penguin Books.


Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (duration 2:47:33)

Killing Us Softly IV (duration 45:50)

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