Social stratification is central to the organization of human culture and is a fundamental aspect of most social processes. A person’s position in the stratification system is a predictor of his or her behavior, attitudes, and life chances. This course analyzes the connections and consequences of social class, gender, race, and ethnicity as primary dimensions of stratification. Understanding social stratification helps us to understand a wide range of existing social arrangements and ongoing social changes in the global community. This course reviews the classical theories of stratification (particularly Marx, Weber and Durkheim) and examines contemporary debates regarding social stratification. An important course objective is for students to see how stratification plays itself out today in various cultures. The Semester at Sea learning environment will afford students a firsthand look at a variety of stratification systems based on wealth and income, as well as gender, religion, political party, ethnicity, race and caste. Considering variation in stratification systems provides an excellent opportunity to understand the import of social structure.
Field WorkCountry: India
Date: March 1, 2017
Students will meet with individuals at the Mahatma Gandhi Trust to discuss Gandhian thought and activism, the history of class and caste in India, and Martin Luther King Jr’s use of Gandhian methods to address race and class in the U.S. and around the world. Students will also visit a Dalit community, whose members are accorded the lowest status in Indian society, and learn how they live today and seek to resist the caste system.
1. Learn about the untouchables and caste in India.
2. Discern the similarities between Gandhi’s and King’s ideas on nonviolence.
3. Learn about nonviolence as a viable social movement strategy today.
4. Consider the relative success in undermining the class and caste systems in the US and India.