From its inception, a most fundamental concern of Sociology has been the search for an explanation of the social forces that generate and sustain economic, social, and political inequalities among individuals and groups in society. These inequalities promote not only differences in wealth, prestige, and power among these groups but also differences in their experiences and opportunities for a better life. On a more general level, these inequalities in large part determine the course of our history by having an important influence on government policies on issues such as war or peace, the growth or stagnation of our economy, and the future of our democracy.
This course introduces the student to the most important theoretical frameworks that sociologists have utilized to explain the origins, mechanisms, and processes by which these inequalities persist in society, whether it be inequalities of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. This course focuses both on inequalities in the United States as well as global inequalities.