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Systems of Inequality

Race, Class, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Able-bodiedness, and Age.

The goal of this project is to help you fully grasp how individuals can be affected by multiple forms of inequality simultaneously. For example, a person may be upper class, but at the same time a Mexican American female (i.e., Chicana) who is homosexual. Thus, in terms of power, a person may be a member of a dominant (or majority) group as well as a subordinate (or minority) group at the same time. These are important concepts to note in systems of inequality.

Systems of Inequality

It is important to note that the mass media may use these concepts of topic in ways that are not sociological. Often, the concept “minority” is used to only refer to Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans. However, sociologically, “minority” is primarily used to refer to power. So, a minority group is one that has less power in society. Thus, women of any racial group (including white women), are minorities. Regarding population size, a group may be more numerous than others, but may still be a minority in terms of power (e.g., women outnumber men, but are still concentrated in low wage jobs and are more likely to be poor).

For this project, you will focus on the six systems of inequality - race, class, gender, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, and age.

Introduce the topic in one or two paragraphs. Explain what you will discuss in this topic research paper and define “systems of inequality.” What does this concept mean?

Next, define the six systems of inequality you will focus upon in this paper clearly and separately. For example, for race inequality you will need to define the concept of race. Also give examples of race inequality. Use contemporary examples, but you also can include historical examples. **If you use quotes from the textbook or some other source, you must use quotation marks (see the class policy on plagiarism in the syllabus). It is preferred that you use quotes sparingly. You should be able to explain these concepts in your own words. Even if you re-phrase information that you have borrowed from sources, you will need to cite your source.

Explain in your own words what it means to simultaneously be a member of a dominant group as well as a subordinate group. How might this influence a person’s experiences in society? Interestingly, people in dominant groups often don’t see themselves as members of these groups. A major reason is because the dominant group is usually thought of as “normal” while subordinate groups are somehow “abnormal.”

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