Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Final Readings Response Prompt The final paper will follow the basic structure of a What I Learned piece in Contexts, a quarterly magazine published by the American Sociological A | Wridemy

Final Readings Response Prompt The final paper will follow the basic structure of a What I Learned piece in Contexts, a quarterly magazine published by the American Sociological A

See the attached documents. Examples are E from Inside and Boys vs. Girls. The readings are Sex, Gender, and Vulnerability; Immigration Readings; and McIntosh White Privilege Article.

Final Readings Response Prompt

The final paper will follow the basic structure of a “What I Learned” piece in Contexts, a quarterly magazine published by the American Sociological Association. This is not a research paper. You are not expected to collect data, review literature we haven’t covered in class, or include a formal reference list. Rather, you should apply at least 3 theories or concepts we learned in the class this term to your life in a thoughtful way, discussing specific articles and authors. This means that you must cite specific course resources and articles (about 2-3 citations per written page). The paper should be written in the first person, describing some aspect of your own life experience as a young woman of Middle Eastern descent through a sociological lens, and may be no longer than 1200 words in length. Pay close attention to your word count: I will automatically deduct a letter grade if you go over the word limit.

, Contexts

sociology for the public

What I Learned

Essays From Inside

by Contexts Magazine | February 17, 2010 | Winter 2010

This issue, Contexts is changing the format of our usual student essay. We received four extremely thoughtful—and handwritten!—essays from “Inside” students in response to our student piece in the last issue, and so we’re sharing their insights to give another perspective on this ground-breaking program.

In the fall 2009 issue of Contexts, Tasha Galardi, an Oregon State University student, wrote about her experience as one of the “Outside” students participating in the Inside-Out prison exchange course in Crime, Justice, and Social Policy. The course brought together students from OSU and students who are currently incarcerated for a 10-week, college-level sociology course. Galardi wrote that one of her reasons for taking the course was to challenge her own preconceived notions of prisoners. Learning sociological theories in dialogue and collaboration with the “Inside” students she got to know over the semester transformed Galardi’s ideas about crime (and criminals).

Read The Essays

James Anderson, Benjamin Hall, David Spencer, and Doug Sanders were students in a Crime, Justice, and Public Policy course taught by Oregon State University sociology professor Michelle Inderbitzin at Oregon State Penitentiary.

As we learned in the essays we received from “Inside” students, becoming an example of deviance or a topic of study, rather than simply a fellow student, did worry some of the incarcerated students before they enrolled. Doug Sanders, who has participated in two Inside-Out courses in his nearly 15 year stay in the Oregon State Penitentiary, wrote, “I didn’t know exactly what to expect being in a class with college students. Was this going to be an evaluation? A study? Was I going to be put under a microscope?” Another Inside student, Benjamin Hall, echoed Sanders’ trepidation: “Going up the stairs that first night of class, I was actually afraid. I was perspiring, and I was so worried [about] what these students would think of me.”

“After years of isolation from the outside world, all of a sudden I was sitting next to students from the campus who’d never experienced prison… other than what they’d seen on the nightly news,” said James Anderson, who has now taken three Inside-Out classes. “It was a new experience for all involved.” Anderson, too, was nervous about mingling with the Outside students: “As inmates, we were worried that we wouldn’t be accepted as equals in the OSU students’ eyes. Whether that came from having to wear our standard issue prison blues or simply from the stigma that being a prisoner carries, I don’t know.”

Inside Looking Out, a documentary by Tiffany Kimmel and Jessica Reedy.

But it didn’t take long for barriers to break down as the Inside and Outside students began working together in the classroom. Learn more about Inside-Out on the Contexts Podcast: Interview with Michelle Inderbitzen Anderson wrote, “So rapidly, those fears faded as our weekly classes turned into animated discussions designed around specific topics—as well as many instances of random laughter and high-fives as [all of] the students became a close-knit group, rather than two differing sides.” Sanders summed up, “We were all equals.”

The realization that they all shared a common role as students was, itself, an important lesson, David Spencer told Contexts. “The experience of Inside-Out shows the commonality that we as people share. It blurs the line created by socialization… ‘us’ and ‘them.’” As they read work by Emile Durkheim, Robert Sampson and John Laub, and Terrie Moffitt, the students talked with each other, week after week, about the sociology of crime and justice.

“There are over 30 theories of causation of crime… At first, I thought I should look for the one ‘right’ theory,” said Spencer. And Sanders wrote, “One would think that by living in prison, you would automatically know just about everything about prisons and the prison systems. I was wrong.” Working side by side with the OSU students, he described how “we were learning from each other, we were learning about prisons, the justice system, theories of crime, [and] crime prevention.”

Learn more about Inside-Out on the Contexts Podcast: Interview with Michelle Inderbitzen The Inside students told Contexts that these classroom experiences not only brought the group of 30 students together, but also carried over to life inside the prison. “I have seen racial lines broken through these classes, men getting together in prison throughout the week, talking about the material, learning together, [and] developing social bonds,” Hall said. The process of learning about sociology together was challenging and exciting, Anderson writes: “It was often mentioned by both inmates and OSU students that we just wished our classes could somehow be longer. When was the last time you heard that about an educational class?” He also points out that, much as Galardi’s reading of theory made her think about criminals in new ways, the incarcerated students began to think about their own pasts—and their futures—differently.

“Because of the in-depth teaching, knowledge, encouragement, and hope… it has drastically changed my outlook. …Through class discussions and required reading, we’ve learned valuable insight into the causes and deep-seeded roots of our behaviors, and every inmate went through intense periods of self-examination as a result,” Anderson explained. “I can say with certainty that not one of us is proud of our criminal past.”

“Do I belong in prison to pay for my actions…? Of course I do. Am I someone who deserves to be treated anything less than human? Of course not.” Sanders agreed. “Do I belong in prison to pay for my actions…? Of course I do. Am I someone who deserves to be treated anything less than human? Of course not.” Confident in his grasp of both the realities of his criminal past and the theories that criminologists have put forth to explain actions like his, Hall scoffed at the idea that the prisoners couldn’t better themselves. “I was surprised to learn how… typology theories believe change for the ‘life course persistent’ [is] not possible!” Looking to his reading list, though, he noted, “The very book we’re reading by Sampson and Laub—in many ways, their theories were proven correct right there by what we were experiencing in class. [They] said ‘what was lacking in criminology was a rich, detailed knowledge base about offending from those who commit crime, expressed in their own words.’”

Inside-Out allows incarcerated men and women to share their knowledge and gives undergrads the ability to reconsider all they’ve come to learn about crime and justice. And that exchange is transformative. All four of the men who wrote to share their thoughts with Contexts (and they did write, having no access to typewriters or computers) emphasized how Inside-Out influenced their vision of the future. Hall wrote that he came away with “different perspectives that opened possibilities I never considered.”

And, Hall revealed, “I keep a piece of paper in my cell. It has 168 people on it—it’s all the people it affects when I make choices. When I struggle with bad choices, I look at or think about that list. I have added … ‘the class’ to it because I want to… honor the people who invested in my life.” While he’s thinking moment-to-moment, Inside-Out has made James Anderson think about the bigger picture: “After taking [the] initial class… I began taking courses through a local community college. I’m proud to say that I’m well on the way toward earning two separate college degrees, and it’s directly because of the amazing opportunity I had [as] part of the Inside-Out program.”

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Contexts is a quarterly magazine that makes cutting-edge social research accessible to general readers. We're the public face of sociology.

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boys vs. girls by debra rigney

what i LEARNED

So, sociologist Joan Ferrante describes gender as a social dis-

tinction based on culturally conceived and learned ideals about

appropriate appearance, behavior, and mental and emotional

characteristics for male and female. This differs from sex,

because sex is a biological distinction, whereas gender is a

social characteristic. Socialization, Ferrante writes, is the process

by which people develop a sense of self and learn the ways of

society in which they live. Therefore, gender socialization is the

process of learning the norms of your specific gender.

This concept was on my mind when I recently started a

new job at a daycare, and, in the past few weeks, I have been

observing the children’s gender socialization to see what they

say to others and how they react to what others tell them about

gender. The first day I observed, I was with the three- to four-

year-old class. Damarion, a younger boy who doesn’t attend pre-

school, wanted to wear a tutu. A four-year-old preschooler,

Rhys, came up to him and politely said, “Damarion, skirts are

for girls,” just before he went to the kitchen area to play with

the dolls. When I followed to ask Rhys where he had learned

the “skirt rule,” he simply said, “My teacher only allows the girls

at school to play dress up with skirts. She tells us that they are

for girls,” What was I supposed to say to that? I didn’t know

how to explain to Rhys that it was okay to wear a skirt as a

boy without messing up what his preschool teacher had been

teaching him. So, I only aksed, “So, if you think skirts are for

girls, then don’t you think that dolls are for girls, too?” Rhys

corrected me, saying, ”NO! Boys can be daddies and the girls

can be the mommies.” He then went on with his day. What I

took from this interaction was that Ryhs has been learning at

school that skirts are for girls, and Damarion hasn’t. Therefore,

Damarion, since he hasn’t been told otherwise, thinks wearing

skirts is perfectly normal for a young boy.

Another aspect of this interaction that stuck out to me is

who had taught Rhys the “skirt rule.” His teacher clearly isn’t

just teaching counting and the alphabet, she is acting as an

agent of socialization. Ferrante defines agents of socialization

as significant others, primary groups, in-groups and out groups,

and institutions that shape our sense of self or social identity,

teach us about the groups to which we do and do not belong,

help us to realize our human capacities, and help us negotiate

the social and physical environment we have inherited. In these

ways, Rhys’s teacher is socializing him to know the social norms

of his gender. She is essentially teaching him how to “be” a boy.

On my second day of observation in the daycare center, I

was with the five- to six-year-old group on the playground.

During “free-play” I noticed Ethan, a

kindergartener with four older sisters,

crying. I went over to ask him if every-

thing was alright. That was when I

overheard another child, Dylan, say-

ing “Ethan plays with Barbies. He must

be a girl!” As Ethan began to cry

harder, he tried to explain to Dylan that his sisters made him

play with Barbies but he wasn’t a girl. Dylan just laughed and

walked away. I calmed Ethan down and put Dylan in time out.

Dylan protested, “I shouldn’t be here. I was just letting him

know that he can’t play with dolls or everyone will think he is

a funny bunny.” Dylan then explained that this is what his

father said if he caught Dylan playing with Barbie dolls. “I was

mainly looking out for him. If he keeps this up, everyone will

think he’s a girl, and he doesn’t want that.” When older chil-

Barbie shows girls what they should look like and what they can grow up to be, just as action figures do for boys.

If you have children or work with them, you’ve probably heard state-

ments like “dolls are for girls” or “a fire truck is a boy’s toy.”At just three

years old, how do children know if they are girl or boy? How do they

find out their gender? The answer to this question is in some ways

simple: gender socialization. In my introduction to sociology course, I

learned to approach this concept first by splitting up the term.

79fall 2011 contexts

dren like Dylan do things that seem out of the social norm, like

playing with dolls when they’ve been told that only girls do

that, they can be made fun of. I believe that kids think this is

the only distinction between girls and boys—what they play

with or how they dress.

It seems that, above and beyond teachers, the most influ-

ential people in a child’s gender socialization process are their

parents. I know from experience that my parents influenced

me and my brothers in many ways. My

dad once told me “Sis, you can’t be

fighting with these boys, you will end

up getting hurt.” The sad thing is, I

could keep up with them. And my

mom used to ask, “Don’t you want to stay home and practice

your cheers instead of going with those dirty boys?” But then

she would say things like “Black his eye!” or “Do a wheelie!”

to my brother. I remember being about seven years old and

beating up a little boy in the neighborhood because he was

picking on my brother. My mom and dad were proud of me…

and mad at the same time. My dad could only say, “Girls don’t

act like this.” My response was “Well, Dad, if Bubby [my

brother] didn’t act like a girl, he could have beaten him up his-

self. Is he even a boy?” In these situations and others, my par-

ents taught me the social norms of being a girl.

As a daycare teacher, I, too, am an agent of socialization.

We at the center are supposed to show all of the children the

same amount of attention and console them in the same ways.

During observation, though, I realized that this was not the

case, even for me. I observed how differently all of the teach-

ers reacted to similar cases. One of my first times in the tod-

dler room, a little girl smacked another little boy, and the little

boy hit her back. I went to the little girl to make sure she was

okay and to calm her down. I then put the little boy in time

out, and scolded him without even asking if he was okay. Why?

Because most people believe that girls are more “sensitive,”

but if you ”coddle” boys, they will grow up to be mama’s boys

(and nobody wants that).

One other big part of socialization deals with mass media

and children’s toys. Think about it: have you ever seen a boy

dressed like a girl on television? The primary characters on tel-

evision—intentional or unintentional role models—are gender-

specific. If you turn on the Disney channel, you’re going to see

Disney princesses and princess merchandise targeted to female

viewers, and it’s effective. All of the girls at daycare want to

grow up and be princesses. When I asked a group of three-

year-olds what they wanted for Christmas, the girls wanted

things like Barbies, various princess dolls, and “big girl make-

up.” Why? Because Barbie shows little girls what it’s like to be

grown up, and princess dolls are presented as the perfect por-

trayal of what a little girl wants to grow up to be. Have you

ever seen a Barbie that dressed as a tomboy? Have you ever seen

a fire fighter doll depicting what it’s like to be a “girl”? Barbie

shows and teaches girls what they should look like and what

they can grow up to be, just as action figures do with boys.

The problem is, action figures like those on the Power Rangers

are often more imaginative and show boys that they can grow

up to be big and strong, they can fight for what they believe

in (or just to fight).

Between the influences of mass media, parents, teachers,

and other kids, gender socialization takes hold early. These are

just a few reasons why the children I observed “know” their

gender and its appropriate social norms at such a young age.

Debra Rigney is a student at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. She wrote

a version of this essay for Linda Silber’s Introduction to Sociology course.

Contexts, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 78-79. ISSN 1536-5042, electronic ISSN 1537-6052. © 2011 American Sociological Association. DOI 10.1177/1536504211427893

Between the influences of parents, teachers and other kids, gender socialization takes hold early.

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