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The Social Ladder SOC-343

Students will write an 8-page paper, using one of the following three options. The paper will include a title page and reference page (no abstract) and be formatted using the ASA formatting style. It will be submitted to Students are encouraged to check their paper with before submitting the final version.

Essay Option 1: Read and analyze the New York Times daily. Choose one section to analyze every day for at least four weeks. Focus on one group: the wealthy, middle class, the working class, or the poor. Apply related concepts about your text book and reader. You must provide specific examples from at least ten articles published during the semester to support your conclusions. You should begin work on this assignment immediately by choosing the section of your interest (the front or business sections, or contact instructor if you want to analyze a different section). Save the articles electronically.  Please note: The online version of the New York Times that you can access through general browsers is not complete (some sections are restricted to online subscribers). You may access the complete New York Times using the Cannon Memorial Library online databases.

Essay Option 2: Read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (listed in the optional texts section). Discuss the obstacles faced by the working poor as illustrated in this book, and research the cost of living for a single parent of two children in your city while working a minimum wage job. For example, how much is an apartment? Utilities? Bus fare? Health care? Food? Clothes? Opening a bank account? Your essay should also address how being poor is paradoxically expensive for those struggling to get by.

Essay Option 3: Read at least two books about how to get rich (such as Suze Orman’s The Courage to be Rich, Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad or David Bach’s The Automatic Millionaire or any other book written for a general audience on the subject). What are some of the assumptions these books make about American society? What do these books overlook about the American class structure? How do they employ the Horatio Alger myth? Apply key ideas from class to critically analyze the idea that anyone who tries hard enough can be wealthy.

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