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SOCS 185 Discuss Public Policy and Everyday Life

Week 5

Discuss Public Policy and Everyday Life

This week, you will consider how public policy affects your everyday life.  What kinds of policies and political debates are occurring in your community? Begin by locating a current event that is occurring in your immediate community (city, county, or state).  Summarize the main points of the debate or policy, including the multiple sides of the issue, the action, and the communities impacted by the action.

Once you have completed your summary, address the following question what is the goal of the action or policy?  What are the intended effects?

Be sure to use specific examples from your research on your current event and include APA citations for material sourced.

 

Shifting gears here on a related sociological lens…a major source of inequality is the widespread existence of felon disenfranchisement. Here are some of the major arguments for and against denying convicted felons the right to vote:

Yes – Felons Should Be Able to Vote

  • Disenfranchisement keeps six million people from voting even once they have finished their sentence. This denies the possibility of a second chance.
  • The right to vote is a fundamental right that should not be stripped from anyone.
  • Restoring the right to vote helps to reintegrate former prisoners into society
  • Disenfranchisement disproportionately affects black men and counters the struggle for voting rights that African Americans have worked for.

No – Felons Should Not Be Able to Vote

  • Those who break the law should not have a role in making the law. There are certain minimum standards which is why we do not allow children, the mentally incompetent, or non-citizens to vote.
  • There is no fundamental legal right to vote. Society has deemed for centuries that murderers and others convicted of serious crimes are not able to vote.
  • The right to vote for those who have committed crimes is a state issue according to the 14thVoters in a given state can elect to restore voting rights to felons or vote to keep felons from voting.

Discuss:  Should convicted felons have the right to vote?  Provide your answer in response to each of the following stages of involvement in the criminal justice system.

Should felons have the right to vote…

  • While in prison
  • After completing a prison sentence while still on probation or parole
  • After completing prison sentence AND completing all probation and/or parole

References:  For the sources of the various arguments above, and for more detail on these positions, see the following:
•    “Top Ten Pro and Con Arguments” https://felonvoting.procon.org
•    “Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote? (General Reference, not clearly pro or con), https://aclu.procon.org

Higher education is seen by many as an opportunity for achieving social and economic mobility, but conflict theorists point out the difficulties in obtaining the necessary resources.  Conflict theory: Mobility

  1. From the conflict perspective, education helps to maintain the prevailing class structure of society.
  2. Bourdieu elaborated on the links between culture and social mobility through cultural capital: a set of intangible resources that promote distinctiveness, such as education, styles of speech, and preferences for food, music, art, clothing, and even physical appearance.
  3. He also introduces the concept of habitus: a set of socially acquired dispositions, thoughts, and routine behaviors that lead people to smoothly interact with other people, notably, other members of their own social class.
  4. Children of elites attend the same schools, reinforcing and expanding their cultural capital and habitus.

For example, Harvard University – The educational system acts as a gatekeeper to upper-echelon standing and helps elites to maintain their hold on sociopolitical and economic power.

However, there are numerous cases of individuals born into lower- or middle-income families who succeeded in acquiring top educational credentials and titles for example Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Maria Sotomayor.

Higher education is seen by many as an opportunity for achieving social and economic mobility, but conflict theorists point out the difficulties in obtaining the necessary resources.

Now watch the videoSchool Districting and the Achievement Gap: A Tale of Two Communities – YouTube    and discuss your thoughts.

I wonder what would happen if this school board and system is able to filter that same issue using the intentional sociological lenses of empathy.  Class, how would it be different?

It’s hardly news any longer: we live in the “Information Age”. Information, virtually all of it stored in computer databases, is the lifeblood of the public and private bureaucracies that dominate postindustrial society. The quest for ever-greater levels of efficiency has led to a scramble to obtain more and more information about individual citizens and consumers.

Yet, while many people express concerns about the loss of their privacy, most of us are willing accomplices. Do you use a bank card at ATM machines? Do you shop by mail order or visit commercial websites? Do you browse websites on the Internet? If so, could you be tracked, if so, why are we unwilling to change our habits. Why?

Who holds the power to make decisions for the community in regard to this issue?
Who is included in the conversation and decision-making process? Who is left out? What are some potential consequences of the event or policy? What populations does it affect? What is the impact on the “greater good” of the community?

Be sure to use specific examples from your research on your current event and include APA citations for material sourced.

Higher education is seen by many as an opportunity for achieving social and economic mobility, but conflict theorists point out the difficulties in obtaining the necessary resources.  Conflict theory: Mobility

  1. From the conflict perspective, education helps to maintain the prevailing class structure of society.
  2. Bourdieu elaborated on the links between culture and social mobility through cultural capital: a set of intangible resources that promote distinctiveness, such as education, styles of speech, and preferences for food, music, art, clothing, and even physical appearance.
  3. He also introduces the concept of habitus: a set of socially acquired dispositions, thoughts, and routine behaviors that lead people to smoothly interact with other people, notably, other members of their own social class.
  4. Children of elites attend the same schools, reinforcing and expanding their cultural capital and habitus.

For example, Harvard University – The educational system acts as a gatekeeper to upper-echelon standing and helps elites to maintain their hold on sociopolitical and economic power.

However, there are numerous cases of individuals born into lower- or middle-income families who succeeded in acquiring top educational credentials and titles for example Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Maria Sotomayor.

Higher education is seen by many as an opportunity for achieving social and economic mobility, but conflict theorists point out the difficulties in obtaining the necessary resources.

Now watch the video School Districting and the Achievement Gap: A Tale of Two Communities – YouTube  .and discuss your thoughts.

 

o help contextualize some of these ideas, consider the video Is Standardization Helping or Hurting Our Students? (Links to an external site.)

As you watch this informative case study about students from Tennessee, consider the following questions.

  • In what ways might schools represent a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy?
  • How are for-profit companies influencing public education? Which companies are these?

Digging deeper, there has been much debate throughout the history of the U.S. on the subject of immigration and immigrants. Although there are many assumptions about the impact immigrants have on the U.S., many people lack data with which to evaluate their assumptions. Given what you know or have heard about immigration, how would you answer the following questions? Be sure to explain each of your responses.

  • What is the economic impact of immigrants? Is it generally a good one for the U.S. or generally negative?
  • What is the economic impact of immigrants for the following kinds of native-born Americans?
    • High school degree or less
    • College degree
    • Teen workers
  • Within which age groups are first-generation immigrants concentrated?
    • 20s
    • 30s
    • 40s
    • 60s

Remember to keep your discussion objective as this is a learning platform and supporting your perspective with evidence-based/empirical data will be required.

 

 

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