Discussing Difference in A Sociology Course

Laura Toussaint

As discussed in your course material such as your text, the power point lectures, and the video on the sociological imagination posted in the announcements, our connections between biography and history (also known as the sociological imagination) are shaped by the societies in which we live, and these connections impact how we respond to the world. Intersectionality is the idea that we each have a unique set of configurations comprised of social identities and locations, that makes our experience of navigating the world differently than others. Reflecting on our own intersectionality that contains both privileges and oppressions/discriminations/challenges helps deepen our understanding of how we navigate the world and learning from others about their own reflections helps us appreciate that people around us may have had to navigate in ways that we didn’t.

Address all of the following discussion prompts and questions:

  • Using and citing your course material (textbook, power point lectures, and/or the “Definitions and Resources-Social Identity, Intersectionality, Discrimination” file in the “start here-important documents” module) on the sociological imagination and intersectionality, describe the concepts of the sociological imagination and intersectionality.
  • Discuss how your biography (individual choices, chances, interactions, etc.) has been shaped by the history that shaped your society (what technologies are familiar to you, what kinds of groups did you become associated with just by being born into your particular family, in your particular culture, at a particular time in history, etc.). Consider the following:
    • Major political, economic, or social events that happened during your coming of age (i.e., elections, political scandals, economic recessions, social movements, etc.)
    • Your racial/ethnic background or identification
    • Your family’s financial resources growing up
    • The religious perspective, if any, of your family of origin
  • Any other aspects of your background that you think may strongly affect how you live your life
  • How does your current unique set of intersecting identities and social locations (the various aspects of your personal or social identity) position you in relation to power, privileges, and inequities of the particular society you are in now? This will likely be a mix for most people as in some areas of their lives, individuals might face discrimination whereas in other areas, they might have privilege. Keep in mind that having privilege in a certain area of life doesn’t mean your life isn’t or hasn’t been difficult, it just means that particular area of your life is not one of the reasons it has been difficult – for example, someone born into a working class family might have faced inequalities and discrimination because of classism but if that person was able to walk, they would be privileged in the sense that ableism would not have been an area in their life in which they face discrimination in the same way a person who uses a wheelchair might. How might your unique configuration of life privileges and challenges been different if you had been born in a different society, socio-economic class, family structure, etc.?

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