Drs. Lanning & Strain
egal·i·tar·i·an·ism n (1905) 1: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic rights and privileges 2: a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people
elit·ism n (1947) 1 : leadership or rule by an elite 2: the selectivity of the elite; especially : snobbery <elitism in choosing new members> 3: consciousness of being or belonging to an elite
In this class, we'll consider the premise of human equality in light of the differences we see in contemporary America. We will examine statistical (e.g., Bartels) and narrative (Epstein) treatments of differences, as well as explanations for these differences grounded in sociology (Shapiro), political economics, psychology, and history. Concepts such as "class," "stratification," "elitism," "snobbery," and "human worth" will be considered in depth.
Our treatment will largely focus on three parameters of difference:
We will consider wealth and power and the growing gap between rich and poor as forms of economic inequality. We will come to understand these growing differences, and we will consider whether this is the way it should be in America.
We will examine the concept of intelligence - what it is, what it is not, and how it is related to socially valued concepts (e.g., creativity and parenting skill) and cultural constructs such as merit. In addition to intelligence, we'll briefly consider other forms of psychological inequality.
Finally, we will consider moralism, snobbery, and resentment as manifestations of cultural or social inequality. America is a country characterized and divided not just by rich and poor, but also by religion, by region, and by values. Here, the gap is not between rich and poor or smart and dull, but between effete "latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading" snobs and authentic Folgers-drinking, burger-munching, pick-up driving, Fox-TV-watching Americans. Do these differences matter, and if so, why?
Dr. Kevin Lanning (firstname.lastname@example.org). Office is WB 220; office hours are MW 10-1130 and 4-5.
Dr. Christopher Strain (email@example.com). Office is HC 103; office hours are MW 10-1130 and 4-5.
Although the schedule below is subject to change, we do anticipate assigning significant portions of each of the five required texts. In addition, you will be responsible for the hot-linked articles given on the syllabus below:
Bartels, Larry M. (2008) Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New
Gilded Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP (978-0-691-13663-9)
Epstein, J. (2003). Snobbery: The American Version. NY: Mariner Books
Gould, S. J. (1996) The Mismeasure of Man. NY: Norton (0393314251)
Henry, W. A. (1995). In Defense of Elitism. NY: Anchor. (0385479433)
Shapiro, T. M. (Ed.) (2005). Great Divides: Readings on Social Inequality in
the United States, 3rd Ed. NY: McGraw Hill. (0767416406 paper)
Students will be expected to complete short (~4 page) papers and lead discussion on four topics. Topics and due dates are Intelligence (May 19), wealth (May 26), race and gender (June 6), and elitism and snobbery (June 11). Taken together, papers and "discussion" will constitute 60% of the course grade. You may find the paper guidelines here.
Students will be expected to attend class regularly and demonstrate that they have read the material in a timely fashion. Participation will constitute 20% of the grade.
Finally - and we mean that literally - students will be expected to contribute thoughtfully in a structured group oral examination during our last meeting. This will constitute the remaining 20% of the grade.
All dates are subject to change: Please check http://wise.fau.edu/~lanning/ids2931equality to view the latest assignments. Note that additional readings may be assigned as the course progresses.
Date Topic Readings (online if underlined) and assignments Discussion to be led by
Equality and inequality: An introduction
In class reading and discussion:
Group 1: Vonnegut, Kurt, “Harrison Bergeron” (1961) in Welcome to the Monkey House. NY: Dell.
Group 2: Henry, p. 11-15 & Shapiro, Reading 1 (Fischer et al).
Group 3: Kerner, O. (1968) Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (aka the Kerner Report) (excerpt)
(Intelligence) measurement and equality Gould, Chapters 1-3 (p. 52-142).
Scott, J., & Leonhardt, D. (2005). NY Times series on Class Matters - Overview.
Students 19 Intelligence II - Social behavior longevity, and social class First paper due.
Gould, Chapters 5-6 (p. 176-350).
Gottfredson, L. S., & Deary, I. J. (2004). Intelligence Predicts Health and Longevity, but Why? Current Directions in Psychological Science. 13, 1-4.
21 Political economics: Economic stratification in contemporary America Bartels Chap 1 & 2
Shapiro, Readings 7 (Weber) & 12 (Gans)
Students 28 Political economics: Power and class Second paper due.
Bartels Chap 3-5
Shapiro, Readings 17 (Mills) & 18 (Reiman)
Students June 2 Political economics: Unequal democracy
Bartels, Chap 9
Race & Gender
June 4 Sociology: Race & Gender
From last time: Wilkerson (2005). NY Times series on Class Matters - up from the projects: Angela Whitiker's Climb.---
Third paper due on June 6.
Shapiro, Reading 23 (Omi), 28 (Massey), 33 (Risman), 35 (Zinn).
Wills, G. (2008). Two speeches on race. New York Review, 55.
and either ...
Elitism & snobbery
9 Elitism and egalitarianism Fourth paper due.
Epstein, Chap 1-4; Henry, Chapter 1
Students 11 Materialism and mobility Epstein, Chap 10, 11; Henry, Chapter 6, 7 Students
16 Two Americas? Henry, Chapter 8
Bartels, Chapter 10
Lewin, T. (2005). NY Times series on Class Matters - Marriage
Goodstein, L., & Kirkpatrick, D. (2005). NY Times series on Class Matters - Religion.
Lanning & Strain 18 Group discussion Review all All
Up to Dr. Kevin Lanning, Honors College, Florida Atlantic University