Question 1: John is a student in the South Bronx. He attends middle school in a
particularly poor part of the borough. His middle school consistently underperforms on state tests, with over half of the students reading below grade level and struggling with basic math. Teachers have trouble getting through lessons because so many of the students are rowdy and do not pay attention. Most days he tries to learn, but often out of frustration, John joins in with his classmates’ disruptive behavior. He is also constantly sleepy in class and stressed with the task of caring for his four younger siblings afterschool while both of his parents work long hours. John does not see the point of going to school. He knows he will probably just end up working a low-wage job like his parents and everyone else he knows, struggling to survive.
A) Define the sociological imagination. How can the sociological imagination help us understand students like John that misbehave in school? Identify at least TWO personal troubles John is experiencing AND at least TWO public issues that may explain his difficult situation.
B) Describe how John’s situation can be an example of the “culture of poverty.”
Question 2: Why is ethics in research so important? How can the sociological imagination help us understand people’s individual choices that may be seen as unethical? Use the movie Miss Evers’ Boys depiction of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment as an example.
Question 3: “Not anyone can inflict pain so ruthlessly, so mercilessly. They must have been born that way. These men are monsters. […] Like most minorities, these men are bound up in an inner-city culture of violence. Thus, violence is socially inscribed in their bodies, their minds, becoming their social nature. These men are social monsters.” (The Stickup Kids, pg. 151)
How did Contreras explain the actions of the “social monsters” that inflicted violence and pain so ruthlessly and mercilessly throughout the book? Discuss the “monstrous” actions of Pablo, Gus, AND Melissa, and the social forces that may explain their individual behavior.Question 5: We ended the examining a debate about the culture of poverty between writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Joanathan Chait. In addition to the two we read in class, you are welcome to read other articles from the authors on this topic for your response. The debate between Chait and Coates is easily accessible online.
A) According to each writer, what impact does culture have on Black poverty?
B) How does each writer account for the influence of “public issues” on Black poverty?