Systems of Inequality

Discipline: Sociology
Instructor: Camacho
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0925
End: 1040
Field Class: Day 1 - Sunday, 19 April | Morocco Download Syllabus

Overview:  In an age of widening social polarization, the intersections of power, structure and agency are at the heart of sociological inquiry. The course will consider social problems relating to individuals and structures in comparative contexts, including stratification, social change, and struggles for peace and justice as they relate to issues of class, race, gender, sexuality and citizenship. We will also engage in inductive fieldwork and learn the basics of how sociological research is conducted.   A camera will be required for a visual sociology project; we will theorize the tourist gaze as a case study.


The goal of the class is to be able to critically analyze ongoing social issues using a sociological framework.  You might begin to question your “taken– for –granted” assumptions about everyday life.  Adopting a sociological perspective entails looking at the world from a different vantage point than the one you typically use; therefore much of the material presented in this course may challenge your values and beliefs. Whether your ideas ultimately change or remain the same, this course should help you clarify why you believe what you believe, help you understand the implications and consequences of those beliefs, and help you to compare your perceptions with empirical studies of the social world.  Our research learning process will provide a good foundation for any future social science courses you may take.

Field Class

Country: Morocco
Day: 1 - Sunday, 19 April

In Casablanca, we will have the opportunity to examine power relations and inequalities through the lenses of gender, social class, race/ethnicity and other social characteristic as they are reflected in the spatial layouts of public places. We will apply these understandings to the case of the Habous District, an area that houses a souk, a public market in Casablanca. We will use participant observation to understand how systems of inequality correlate with public space and various indicators of social identity, including gender, age, nationality, religion, and social class differences. In the process, students will critically examine their own subjectivities as “outsiders” – how does our presence affect market relations and dynamics? For example, how do your salient characteristics, such as race and gender, affect your individual interactions with market place vendors? Students will also select and analyze marketplace artifacts (such as memorabilia specific to tourist consumers, postcards, or souvenirs), to examine how Morocco is represented for consumption. Students will be required to purchase such an item and be prepared to write a critical analysis of how the object “represents” Morocco through the tourist gaze. A component of this field lab will involve a discussion of how tourists in the marketplace affect and are affected by local power relations. We will share a Moroccan meal with a local family and have the opportunity to ask questions about issues of gender, social class, religion and elements of the Moroccan lifestyle to enhance our understandings of our observations. In the afternoon, time permitting, we will visit Solidarite Feminine,(or another NGO supporting single mothers and their children), to deepen our understandings of gendered inequities. Academic Objectives: 1. To apply sociological theories of inequalities to the spatial organization of a souk in the Habous district. 2. To understand how marketplace relations are organized around cultural dimensions of gender, age, and other visible social characteristics. 3. To understand nuances of gender by engaging with, listening to the perspectives, of Moroccan women. 4. To practice ethnographic skills and sociological research methods, such as participant-observation and informal interviewing, in an open market and with a Moroccan family.