Cultural diversity is a common term in contemporary American culture, but what does it really mean? This course examines cultural diversity from a sociological perspective, covering topics designed to demonstrate how entrenched patterns of discrimination affect your life and the lives of others, even if you as an individual are not prejudiced.
Sociology is the study of society and how groups within that society influence social realities at the macro level. This means that sociology may examine racism at the group, national, or international level by looking at measures such as income discrepancies or health care inequities. Sociology is not well-equipped to explain whether or why a specific individual is or is not racist—that is the realm of psychology. Sociology as a science relies heavily on data collection; theory is helpful in interpreting what we may observe, but this must be supplemented with statistics, so that we are examining existing patterns of behavior, not what we think is happening based on commonly held cultural beliefs.
With this in mind, this course seeks to understand how macro-level processes create and sustain inequality along racial, ethnic, gender, and age divisions. By understanding these differences, we may be better able to offer useful, workable solutions to many of the problems facing us in contemporary society as it becomes increasingly global. By understanding cultural diversity from a sociological standpoint, we are better equipped to interact with others in our professional and private lives, as well as critique proposed political solutions.
Write a 5 page essay describing, examining, and reflecting upon a personal cultural diversity encounter.
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:
- Competency 1: Describe theoretical ideas of power in relation to policy.
- Connect a personal experience to sociological concepts of power.
- Competency 3: Analyze the effects of social policy using aggregated data.
- Analyze data to make valid sociological inferences.
- Competency 4: Analyze how laws are applied or created based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and social class.
- Analyze how laws or policies are applied to a diversity issue.
- Competency 5: Apply diversity strategies in professional, educational, and personal contexts.
- Apply strategies for addressing a cultural diversity issue.
- Discuss personal characteristics or experiences that might account for feelings or reactions involving a diversity issue.
- Competency 6: Communicate effectively.
- Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format and with few errors of grammar, usage, and mechanics.
Understanding cultural diversity from a sociological perspective first requires understanding the concepts and theoretical frameworks that guide sociological thinking. Cultural diversity encompasses a variety of social categories, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social class, age, and physical or mental disability. Sociologists examine these categories at both the micro level (how they affect or are affected by individuals) and at the macro level (how they impact society as a whole). At the micro level, sociologists might explore, for example, how and why certain individuals may be prejudiced or racist while others are not. Yet prejudice and racism are not just individual problems, but are structural phenomena that are built into the way a society is organized. Understanding prejudice and racism requires not just focusing on individuals but also examining overall patterns of discrimination and racism within society. Sociologists study how those patterns have changed over time, as well as their causes and consequences for society as a whole and for individuals and families.
Questions to Consider
To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of your professional community.
- What is the distinction between a dominant and a minority group?
- What are the differences among prejudice and individual and institutional discrimination?
- What are the key sociological theories used to describe relationships between dominant and majority groups, and how do these theories explain these relationships? For example, consider how conflict or functional theory approach race or ethnic relations or the theories of inequality proposed by Max Weber and Karl Marx.
- What particular issues surrounding diversity are most important or prevalent in today’s society?
Click the following link to view a video purchased through Films Media Group for use in this Capella course. Any distribution of video content or associated links is prohibited.
The following e-books or articles from the Capella University Library are linked directly in this course:
- . Journal of International Migration and Integration, 11(3), 251–271.
- Nier, J. A., & Gaertner, S. L. (2012). . Journal of Social Issues, 68(2), 207–220.
- Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., & Turner, B. S. (2006). . London, England: Penguin.
Access the following resources by clicking the links provided. Please note that URLs change frequently. Permissions for the following links have been either granted or deemed appropriate for educational use at the time of course publication.
For this assessment, you will be combining a micro- and macro-level analysis of diversity. You will discuss your personal experiences or observations regarding a diversity-related issue and apply sociological concepts and theory to your analysis. You will also research the broader trends regarding the diversity-related issue you have chosen to discuss. Finally, you will discuss existing or proposed laws or policies that are applicable to your issue and reflect on personal strategies that could be used to address or prevent the problem you have identified. One major thing to keep in mind as you begin to explore the sociology of cultural diversity is how the social categories we belong to—our race, ethnicity, social class, the generation we belong to—affect how we perceive the world around us and our interactions with other people.
Reflect on an instance when you or someone else were unfairly excluded, discriminated against, or otherwise neglected or treated inappropriately due to race, ethnicity, age, gender, social class, sexuality, disability, or other category related to diversity. Depending on the setting in which the incident occurred, consider whether any laws or policies were violated, either those established by an organization, such as a business or school, or state or federal antidiscrimination policies.Write an essay in which you complete each of the following:
- Part 1 – Describe your experience:
- Describe the event and the underlying diversity issues at play.
- Describe your opinions, feelings, actions, and what you learned from the event.
- Part 2 – Examine your experience:
- Discuss experiences from your personal background that might account for your feelings or reactions.
- Consider areas such as your ethnicity, history, upbringing, local mores, recent events, et cetera.
- Connect your experience to at least three sociological concepts and/or issues. For example, if you are writing about what if feels like to be an outsider, you could connect your discussion to the concept of power or social structure, or the broader issue of relationships between dominant and minority groups.
- Examples of other concepts you could include are: prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes, cultural pluralism, assimilation, structural mobility, social distance, and modern racism.
- Examples of theories include functional or conflict theory, Marx’s and Weber’s theories of inequality, Park’s race relations cycle, Gordon’s theory of assimilation, human capital theory, scapegoat hypothesis, and the theory of authoritarian personality.
- Incorporate research on the broader issue that your experience illustrates. For example, if the incident you describe involves discrimination in the workplace, research workplace discrimination and find data on the prevalence or nature of this problem. If the incident involves bullying at school, locate data on how extensive this issue is. Questions to consider include:
- Is the type of incident you describe commonplace?
- Where might this be most prevalent?
- Among what groups is it most likely to occur?
- What trends did you notice in your research? For example, does the kind of incident you experienced or observed seem to be an increasing problem, or is it declining over time?
- Analyze how relevant laws or policies might be applied to this situation. These may be civil or criminal laws or, perhaps, policies established in the workplace or schools.
- Consider whether any laws or policies were violated and how those laws or policies might be changed or better enforced to address the situation you describe.
- Part 3 – Reflect on your experience:
- Based on your reflections of the event and the research you have now done, share personal strategies that are useful for informing the interactions or relationships between the involved parties, as well as your own understanding or perspectives.
- Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
- Length: 5–7 pages, not including title and reference pages.
- Format: Include a title page and reference page, and format the paper and your citations according to current APA style and formatting guidelines.
- Sources: Cite at least two scholarly sources.
- Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12-point.