SOC 401 A: Special Topics In Sociology

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Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
Location: 
ART 006
SLN: 
19735
Instructor:
Bettina Sonnenberg

Syllabus Description:

Course Description

 

What does the perception of opportunities for social mobility look like in the US over time, and how does it compare to other countries? Has the increasing social inequality since the 1970s or the Great Recession affected people’s view on social inequality and social justice? Following Lincoln’s speech about the threefold role of people in democratic systems, people’s views on equality and justice influence how people behave politically and how they vote. Thus, perception about legitimate or unfair social inequality matters.

In this class, students will gain knowledge about how people evaluate social mobility and social inequality in America and beyond. Using multinational representative data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), we will investigate people’s perception of the US as an open society providing opportunities for upward mobility or as a closed society that locks people in position and only benefits the rich.

The course format combines a seminar approach with applied data analysis. Based on reviews of theoretical and empirical literature on social inequality, we will use the ISSP to look at people’s view on social inequality before and after the Great Recession and compare people’s opinions in the U.S. with those in other countries. In hands-on sessions students are trained step by step to work with statistical software and apply statistical concepts in order to answer scientifically and politically relevant questions.

Based on the detailed in-class training, students will have the opportunity to conduct student-led research projects and analyze the rich data from the ISSP. The projects will provide evidence for structural and cultural foundations of people’s perspectives on social inequality and consequently their preferences for governmental intervention over time and across countries.

The course is highly collaborative and interactive and is meant to prepare students for future professional work and graduate school studies.

 

 

Major Assignments

(A) Group Presentation (Article)

In the group presentation you are expected to present one empirical study from an article that is assigned to your group. You are required to discuss the study within your group and prepare a Power Point Presentation (PPP) that will be the basis for your in-class presentation. Note that your classmates will not have read this study, so it is your group’s task to explain the study, its findings, strengths, and weaknesses to your classmates.

 

(B) Practical Assignments

For the practical assignments, you are expected to work with the statistical software and the data. Based on examples and practice time during lab sessions, the practical assignments will provide training to analyze data as well as interpret and present results.

For some of the practical assignments, you will be required to work alone, for some you can work in groups of two. Time for starting the assignments is provided during class so that you can ask questions. However, some times you might be expected to finish the assignments during open lab hours or via remote access. Note, that you are required to submit the assignment on paper before class.

Out of seven practical assignments, the best five assignments will count for your grade. Note that the practical assignments will help you to learn how to handle and analyze the data. Therefore I highly encourage submitting all seven practical assignments, even though technically you can miss two without it negatively affecting your grade.

 

(C) Research Paper

The research paper demonstrates an analysis of a self-selected research question. You are expected to provide a literature review of relevant research literature for your research question and develop three hypotheses that you test empirically by working with the data. Time in open lab sessions will be provided, so that you can ask questions when you work on your project.

The research paper should be 8 double-spaced pages long (tables and data output count extra, empty space does not count). Please note that you are expected to follow the format requirements stated below).

 

(D) Research Project Presentation

For the research project presentation, you are expected to present your own project (see C). The presentation should include a brief overview of all relevant parts of your research paper, i.e., relevance of your topic, research question, literature review, hypotheses, empirical approach, and results (not necessarily final, can be preliminary).

The feedback for your presentation will help you to improve your research paper.

 

 

Grading Procedure

Course grades will be based on your practical assignments, your presentations, and your research paper. The different components count as follows:

50%   Practical assignments (out of 7 your 5 best assignments count)

30%   Research paper

10%   Presentation (Article)

10%   Research Project Presentation

 

Required Readings

The articles we will review in class are provided on Canvas. All readings listed for these review sessions must be completed prior to coming to class and you are required to bring physical copies of the readings to class with you.

For the practical part you are recommended to purchase Data Analysis Using Stata (3rd edition) by Ulrich Kohler and Frauke Kreuter. A copy of the book is available at Odegaard Library at course reserves for SOC401. Additional resources and readings for data analysis with Stata are provided on Canvas.

Note that you are not required to complete readings for the practical part, i.e. the lab session, prior to class. Yet, the readings will complement instructions in the lab and will help you to learn the statistical software and data analysis quicker, hence saving you extra time in the lab for completing practical assignments.

 

Course Policies

Participation

You are expected to actively engage and participate in the class. Your participation will be essential for your success in this course, since the lab sessions build on one another.

 

Format Requirements for All Written Assignments and Research Paper in Word-Format

12pt Times New Roman, double-space, 1” (2.54cm) margins. Make sure your assignments/ papers are free of grammatical, formatting or spelling errors. Failure to meet these expectations may result in a lowered final grade.

 

Late Work and Extensions

All deadlines for assignments and the research papers. If your assignment or research paper is late, there will be an abatement of 15% of your points for every 24 hours beginning 1 minute after the assignment was due. For example, if you hand in an assignment 36 hours late, you have an abatement of 30%.

There will be no individual extensions, except in the case of medical or family emergencies or religious observance. If you are unable to meet a deadline due to an emergency, please contact me as soon as possible so that we may work out an alternative schedule of due dates and times.

 

Online Resources

Course material including the syllabus, important announcements, assignments, study documentation, data sets, and do-files will be available on Canvas under SOC 401.

 

Availability and Feedback Policy

Please allow up to 72 hours for a response to emails and questions. Also, please allow up to 10 days to get feedback for response assignments and research papers.

 

Practical and Hands-on Classes

Note that all lab sessions will be held in Savery 117 (will be announced on the week-by-week syllabus).

 

 

Winter Quarter Syllabus - Week by Week

 

Week 1 – January 4th & 6th

Monday – Introduction and course overview

  • Esping-Andersen, Gosta and John Myles. 2014 (2008). “The Welfare State and Redistribution” (52-59).

Wednesday – Social inequality, social justice, and legitimacy

  • Reading assignment:

    • Atkinson, Anthony B. et al. 2014 [2011]. “Top Incomes in the Long Run of History” (59-73)
    • Marger, Martin N. 2014. “Ideology and the Legitimation of Inequality” (220-245).

 

Week 2 – January 11th & 13th

MondayGetting to Know Stata and the ISSP (Lab I – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • 2013 “Getting Started with Stata”. 23-68, 107-110.
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “The First Time”. Pp. 1-9; 20-22
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Reading and Writing Data”. Pp. 395-402.

Wednesday – Getting to Know the Data and Basic Commands (Lab II – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Working with do-files”. Pp. 25-39
    • 2013 “Getting Started with Stata”. 75-84, 95-101.

 

Week 3 – January 18th (HOLIDAY) & 20th

Monday – HOLIDAY

Wednesday – Social inequality, social justice, and preferences in the US II

  • Reading assignment (one for each group):

    • Mccall, Leslie and Lane Kenworthy. 2009. “Americans' Social Policy Preferences in the Era of Rising Inequality” (459-484).
    • Dallinger, Ursula. 2010. “Public support for redistribution: what explains cross-national differences?” (333-349).
    • Guillaud, Elvire. 2013. “Preferences for Redistribution: an Empirical Analysis over 33 Countries” (57-78).
    • Owens, Lindsay A. and David S. Pedulla. 2014. “Material Welfare and Changing Political Preferences: The Case of Support for Redistributive Social Policies” (1087-1113)

 

Week 4 – January 25th & 27th

Monday – Changing data (Lab III – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • 2013” Getting Started with Stata. Pp. 85-94.
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Creating and Changing Variables.” Pp.77-98; 105-111.
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Reading and Writing Data”. Pp. 417-433. (on merge and append)

Wednesday – Descriptive Statistics (Lab IV – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Describing and Comparing Distributions.” Pp. 157-163; 174-177.

 

Week 5 – February 1st & 3rd

Monday – Bivariate statistics (Lab V – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Describing and Comparing Distributions.” Pp. 178-186.

Wednesday – Graphs (Lab VI – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • 2013” Getting Started with Stata. Pp. 102-106.
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Describing and Comparing Distributions.” Pp. 186-189.
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Creating and Changing Graphs.” Pp. 115-138; 149-154.

 

Week 6 – February 8th & 10th

Monday – Statistical Tests (Lab VII – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Statistical Inference.” Pp. 238-241.

Wednesday – Multivariate Analysis I (Lab VIII – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Introduction to Linear Regression”. Pp. 260-278; 313-316.

 

Week 7 – February 15th (HOLIDAY) & 17th

Monday – HOLIDAY

Wednesday – Multivariate Analysis II (Lab IX – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables.” Pp. 354-364.

 

Week 8 – February 22nd & 24th

Monday – Research Ideas and Research Projects (Open Lab I – at Savery 117)

  • Recommended readings:

    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Introduction to Linear Regression”. Pp. 279-313.
    • Kohler, Ulrich and Frauke Kreuter. 2009. “Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables”. Pp. 364-384.

Wednesday – Research Ideas and Research Projects (Open Lab II – at Savery 117)

 

Week 9 – February 29th & March 2nd

Monday – Research Project Presentations I

Wednesday – Research Project Presentations II

 

Week 10 – March 7th & 9th

Monday – Research Ideas and Research Projects (Open Lab III – at Savery 117)

Wednesday – Outlook and Going Beyond Survey Data

  • Reading assignment:

    • Fehr, Ernst and Klaus M. Schmidt. 2006. “The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity, and Altruism. Experimental Evidence and New Theories” (614-631).
Catalog Description: 
Selected topics of contemporary interest taught by a sociologist active in the field. Topics vary and may be substantive, theoretical, or methodological.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 17, 2016 - 12:53pm