Does Social Inequality Make Us Sick?


Jennifer Montez

A core topic in sociology is inequality. Many sociologists study the causes and consequences of inequality. In class we have talked a lot about the causes. Discrimination and unequal opportunities for people of different genders, races, and social classes are among the most important. But, what are the consequences of inequality? Does inequality really matter? Does it somehow “get under our skin” and make us sick? Many medical sociologists study the health consequences of inequality. Their studies find that women, racial minorities, and persons of low socioeconomic class have worse health and die at younger ages. Perhaps social inequality really does make us sick. In this module, you will conduct your own study. You will examine whether one type of social inequality (the level of education a person achieves) predicts one type of health consequence (physical disability).

Learning Goals

Skill - Examine social inequality in the U.S. using real world data

- Test hypotheses using quantitative data from the U.S. Census

- Identify independent and dependent variables

- Describe the types of information collected in the decennial U.S. Census - Learn software for analyzing census data

- Create and interpret tables and figures produced by data analysis software

- Summarize the results of a sociological analysis in a way that policymakers can use

- Identify the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative data analyses in sociology

Substance -Use sociological theories to develop hypotheses about inequality

-Apply sociological theories about race, gender, and social class

-Use demographic data to understand the association between inequality and health

-Explain how sociological knowledge can inform public policy

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