Part I – Concept identification. The exam will feature 12 concepts from the list below and you will choose 7 of 12. Define and provide an empirical (“real-world”) example (historical or contemporary) of each concept in 1-2 paragraphs. [10 pts each, 70 pts total]
VEBLEN: LEISURE CLASS, CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, CONSPICUOUS LEISURE
GRAMSCI: HEGEMONY, COUNTER-HEGEMONY
GILMAN: DIFFERENTIAL SOCIALIZATION (Fig 5.2), GENDER INEQUALITY, PATRIARCHAL INSTITUTIONS (Fig 5.2), SHARED SYMBOLIC CODES and GENDER NORMS (Fig 5.2), WOMEN’S ECONOMIC DEPENDENCE
SIMMEL: BLASÉ ATTITUDE, DUALITY, FASHION, SOCIABILITY, TRAGEDY OF CULTURE
DUBOIS: CAPITALIST CLASS SYSTEM (Fig 7.2), COLOR LINE (Fig 7.2), DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS, WHITE SUPREMACY
MEAD: GAME STAGE, GENERALZED OTHER, “I’ & “Me,” PLAY STAGE
MERTON: CONFORMITY, INNOVATION, MODES OF ADAPTATION TO ANOMIE, REBELLION, RETREATISM, RITUALISM
GOFFMAN: DISCREDITED/DISCREDITABLE, DISIDENTIFIER, PRESTIGE SYMBOL, STIGMA, STIGMA SYMBOL, PASSING, VIRTUAL SOCIAL IDENTITY
FANON: COLONIALISM, DECOLONIZATION
Part II – Short essay. Choose 2 out of 4 questions and answer them in a short essay (3-5 paragraphs). Select any theorists from the second half of the course (see list above). Each response must feature a different theorist. [15 pts each, 30 total]
1) We know the concept of alienation through Marx. More broadly, alienation refers to estrangement, division or distancing of people from each other or of people from what is important or meaningful to them, or of a person from their own sense of self. All of the theorists from Pt. II of the course addressed the theme of alienation in their own ways. Select one and describe how s/he approaches the theme of alienation or estrangement in her/his work.
2) Weber conceptualized status as “social honor,” and pointed out that the qualities that elevate or diminish social status are historically and culturally variable. Stigma is social dishonor or disgrace and as Goffman noted, the kinds of attributes and conditions that are socially stigmatized are also variable and contextual. Wealth, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality/citizenship, religion, education, vocation, etc. historically have had great bearing on social status – but how they influence status keeps changing. Goffman explains how we negotiate status on a daily basis in our face-to-face interactions, via symbolic interaction (i.e., prestige symbols, stigma symbols, and disidentifiers).
Identify a stigma that prevails in today’s society and describe how it works, whether it’s discrediting or discreditable, and the different ways individuals who suffer this stigma manage it and control information about it (e.g., passing, cowering, bravado, etc.).
3) Apply Merton’s “anomie” theory to American society today (or narrow the focus to US youth or broaden it to “global youth”). Describe the prevailing “culture goals,” “institutional means,” and the “gap” or “mismatch” between them. Discuss the five modes of adaptation to anomie and provide empirical examples of each.
4) Contemporary critics see capitalism as a system of exploitation based on gendered and racialized divisions of labor, resources, and suffering, e.g.,
‘The US economy reproduces racial, gender, and sexual inequality at every level of American society–in housing, healthcare, food sovereignty, education, policing, and prison. And also endlessly recreated in these very same sites are the categories “man/woman,” “normal/abnormal,” “able/disabled,” “legitimate/illegitimate,” “citizen/‘illegal,’” and a series of stigmatized populations who always interfere with the smooth functioning of the national economy. The natural, “harmonious” relationship between citizens, patriots, taxpayers, owners, workers, rich, and poor, are disrupted by “illegals,” welfare queens, faggots, freaks, careless promiscuous teens, and so on. The category of “race” is materially recreated and endlessly renewed through these institutions which organize the lives of the undocumented, the imprisoned, the residents of aging ghettos which increasingly function as open-air prisons.’ (“Who is Oakland?,” April 2012)
Describe how Du Bois or Gilman built on Marx’s analysis of capitalism. Provide current examples of how the US economy reproduces racial or gender or sexual inequalities. OR you may take a global/international perspective and describe how Fanon integrated the concept of colonialism into his analysis of capitalist exploitation, focusing on international inequality.