SOC220 Inequality, Mobility, and the American Dream





The purpose of this course is to critically engage with arguments and evidence on economic inequality and social mobility. The course is an introduction to the sociological study of how income, education, occupation and wealth structure opportunities within and across generations. The aim is to prepare students to become critical consumers of academic research, and public commentary and policy, related to this topic. Precept will also help prepare students to produce a 15-20 page paper on an aspect of inequality and mobility of their choosing. 




This syllabus begins by introducing social theories of stratification, and recent trends in inequality and social mobility. It then takes six major institutions as sites in the production and reproduction of inequality: families, neighborhoods, schools, labor markets, capital/credit markets, and state institutions. This social-institutional analysis of inequality is characteristic of sociology. However, works from economics are included, aiding an interdisciplinary dialogue on inequality. The...

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Welfare States



“The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare – all this and more”, Schumpeter thought, “is written in its fiscal history, stripped of its phrases”.[1]

The sociology of welfare states retains a classical sociological interest in the intersection of the political, economic, and social. Like political economy, sociology emphasizes institutions. But sociologists see institutions in less formal terms than do political scientists and economists. Institutions relevant to the welfare state include political...

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