Sociology 423, Social Class and Stratification

Fall, 2002

Instructor: Dr. Karen Miller-Loessi

Office: SS334 Phone: (480)965-4409

Office hours: TuTh 9-10:30 and 12:40-1:40, or by appt.

Email: Web page:


This course offers a broad overview of social stratification: what it is, what are its causes, and what are its consequences. The first part of the course will be primarily theoretical and historical, first examining major theories about the causes of stratification and then briefly reviewing the historical development of stratification systems from earliest times. The second part of the course will be primarily oriented to the contemporary social problems associated with social stratification.

The course will involve three writing assignments. Each student will be required to present one of these orally to the class, in a debate format. There will also be an essay midterm and final.

REQUIRED MATERIALS (all at bookstore):

Harold R. Kerbo, Social Stratification and Inequality: Class

Conflict in Historical, Comparative, and Global Perspective (4th ed.)

Jonathan Kozol, Amazing Grace

Mitchell Duneier, Slim's Table

4 bluebooks for exams


3 Papers 30% of grade (10% each)

Midterm 25% of grade

Final exam 35% of grade

Oral presentation 5% of grade

Attendance 5% of grade

EXAMINATIONS: The midterm and the final will each have several essay questions. The final will be cumulative but will emphasize material after the midterm. There are NO make-up exams except for officially documented medical emergencies. Any make-ups will be administered at the end of the semester at a time designated by the instructor.

POLICY ON LATE PAPERS: For each late paper, two points off your paper score. "Late" is defined as any time after the beginning of the class period in which the paper is due. I want to encourage you to turn in each paper on time, even if it is not your best effort. This will help you keep up with the class and make it a more positive experience all around.

ORAL PRESENTATIONS: Every student is required to do one out of three possible oral presentations. You will not be graded on the presentation, but it counts as five percent of your course grade. If you miss your assigned presentation date you will forfeit those points. I will also count your participation in discussion on the books Amazing Grace and Slim's Table as a form of extra credit. You can earn up to half a percentage point by making at least one comment to the class about one of the books. That is enough to make up for a missed class (see below, Policy on Attendance).

POLICY ON ATTENDANCE: In this course I will take attendance. You may miss one class (with the exception of your oral presentation date) for any reason without penalty. After that, there will be a penalty of half a percentage point for each missed class.

DISABILITY ACCOMMODATIONS: If you need disability accommodations, please see me by the end of the second week so that arrangements can be made. Information regarding disability is confidential.

CODE OF CONDUCT: I draw your attention to the ASU Student Code of Conduct, which states: "The educational process is ideally conducted in an environment that encourages reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, openness to constructive change and respect for the rights of all individuals. Self discipline and respect for the rights of others in the university community are necessary for the fulfillment of such goals." (Source: Under this code, the following misconduct is subject to disciplinary action: all forms of student academic dishonesty, including cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty and plagiarism. The instructor may also withdraw the student from the class for disruptive classroom behavior, which for this purpose is defined by the instructor. (Source: I define disruptive classroom behavior to include side conversations while others have the floor, allowing cell phones to ring, chronic lateness or chronic early departure without permission of instructor, and rudeness and/or inappropriate comments directed to anyone in the classroom. Please be aware that by taking this class you are in effect agreeing to abide by these rules.


Date Topic and readings (to be done ahead)

8/27,29 What is social stratification? Overview of concepts and

issues (Kerbo, ch. 1)

9/3,5 The problem: Who gets what and why? (Kerbo, ch. 2)

9/10,12 The great theories: Marx, Weber, Durkheim (Kerbo, ch.4)

9/17* Debate: Why do we have inequality in society?

9/19 Stratification in historical perspective: from

earliest times to the industrial period (Kerbo, ch.3)

9/24,26 The upper and corporate classes (Kerbo, chs 6,7)

10/1 The middle and working classes (Kerbo, ch. 8)

10/3 Discussion of Slim's Table (read book prior to class).


10/10-24 Contemporary social stratification: central issues

(Kerbo, ch. 9; Kozol, Amazing Grace)

10/29* Theories of poverty: the great debate

10/31-11/7 Stratification by gender, race, age (Kerbo, ch. 10)

11/12 The process of legitimation (Kerbo, ch. 12)

11/14 The social-psychological consequences of social class

11/19 The dynamics of social mobility, up and down (Kerbo ch.11)

11/21,26 Stratification among nations (Kerbo, ch. 13)

12/3* What we can learn from Japan (Kerbo ch 14) and Germany (Kerbo ch 15)

(Choose one to write paper on, and/or for oral presentation)

12/5 China - the great capitalist experiment

12/10 Themes of the course revisited

12/12 FINAL EXAM Thursday, 12:20-2:10

* Paper due for everyone. Oral presentation opportunity.