Sociology

Sociology

Assignment Instructions
For this week’s assignment, there are three questions. Write about 250-300 words for each of the first two questions and 50-100 words for the third

question. You do not need to connect your responses into an essay; just number your responses.
1.    At which stage in the criminal justice process (offending, victimization, policing/arrest, pre-trial, trial, sentencing, or something else)

do you believe racial disparities are most problematic? Why? Use data or evidence from class and/or readings to support your argument, paying

particular attention to the outcomes and consequences of the practices and policies you’ve identified as problematic.
2.    Given what you’ve learned in the readings, what is your opinion about allowing employers to ask questions regarding criminal records? How

might we change our policies around such questions so that we could promote better employment and rehabilitation opportunities for people with

criminal records while still ensuring safety for employers and coworkers? What would such changes mean for Blacks in the US in general?
3.    What one thing you’ve learned so far this semester do you think is the most important or significant lesson of the course? Why? (Note: there

is no wrong answer to this question, as long as you fully answer it.)

Reading
Part VIII, “Collateral Consequences,” Blind Goddess (215-246)
This section includes two essays. The first, by Pettit and Western, draws on their well-respected empirical research on the consequences of mass

incarceration. They discuss the social inequality that is reinforced and even intensified by incarceration practices, with a particular focus on the

intergenerational transmission of inequality. When we think about the justice system, we tend to think of it as a way to respond to crime and

criminals–what do Pettit and Western’s findings tell you about the limitations of that focus? How do justice system practices affect, for example,

the children of those who are incarcerated, children who themselves are not guilty of any crime? In the second essay, an excerpt from Todd Clear’s

book, the author draws on more qualitative data about the effects of incarceration on families and communities. On pages 225-35, he focuses on

families, looking at how incarceration practices affect children, parenting, and marriage. Then, on pages 236-40, he turns to the effects of mass

incarceration on economics, including labor markets and property values. Finally, on pages 240-45, he focuses on politics, including views of the

state, voting, and collective action. As you read, think about anecdotes from Goffman’s or Black’s work that might support Clear’s arguments. When

you finish reading, consider what Clear’s arguments tell us about the costs of our current incarceration practices.
Chapter 6, Conclusion, and Epilogue, On the Run (141-162; 195-206)
In chapter 6, Goffman discusses the informal economy that has sprung up in and around the 6th street neighborhood. Consider the consequences of this

informat economy for its participants, both positive and negative, and the way in which the systems Goffman describes might serve to further

implicate neighborhood residents in criminality in ways that individuals living in other social contexts do not have to worry about. In reading the

Conclusion, you might return to thinking about the Toobin article on the jail in Baltimore, and you might want to look at and reflect on footnote 1

on page 267. More broadly, be sure you can summarize Goffman’s arguments about the consequences of living in a neighborhood like 6th street and

especially the consequences of the law enforcement activities she observes–are the police achieving their goals on 6th street? Think about what

changes might make those goals more likely to be met.
Conclusion, When a Heart Turns Rock Solid (336-351)
In the conclusion, Black summarizes where we leave the Rivera brothers at the end of the book and makes some comments on broader social and economic

changes as well as social policy. While the primary issues you should think about upon reading the conclusion relate to the consequences of our

current criminal justice policies for the Rivera brothers and others in the community, also be sure to look at the series of discussion and reading

questions in the reading guide: whtrs reading guide.pdf
Appendix, On the Run (211-262; if time is limited, focus on pages 246-261)
In the Appendix, a common section in ethnographic work like this, Goffman discusses her methodological strategies and reflects on her own experiences

as a resident of 6th street and an ethnographer. On pages 211 to 236, Goffman discusses how she became involved on 6th street and the methodological

techniques she used to collect her data. This section is extremely important for understanding how the book came to be–and you might especially be

interested in the initial pages, as Goffman is early in her undergraduate career when she begins this book
You also might find it useful to connect the Goffman’s discussion of ethnography to what you learned about this method of data collection in your

research methods course, if you have taken soc 302 already. On pages 237-46, Goffman discusses her continuing experiences in the neighborhood and how

she negotiates difficult issues like drug sales and the prison term of her main informant. The most important part of this chapter begins on page 246

under the heading “Culture Shock.” Here, Goffman describes how she adapted to life beyond 6th street when she began a Ph.D. program in sociology at

Princeton. We might refer to this section as an “autoethnography,” and what is really valuable about it is that it shows how deeply the social

context of a neighborhood like 6th street can change a person and shape their behavior–even for someone who comes to the neighborhood as a college

student and retains a frame of reference elsewhere. In the last part of the chapter, Goffman retells the story of a death and how she–and the

neighborhood–responded to it. After you finish the Appendix, write down some thoughts about how living on 6th street affected Goffman and what that

tells you about the way that living on 6th street is likely to affect the rest of the residents–and what that means for our understanding of

criminal justice and justice policy.

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