Social Stratification


Sociology 412 - University of North Carolina

Course website:  (login and password given in class, it’s not your UNC Onyen)

Course grades: On Blackboard, (login with your UNC Onyen)


Professor: Ted Mouw

Teaching Assistant:

268 Hamilton Hall (962-5602)



Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.

Office Hours: TBA






You can reach me by email at  For simple questions, this is the quickest way to reach me.  I will also be available before and after class to answer questions.  I welcome your questions and opinions.  For more difficult questions, please come to see me during office hours. 


Teaching Philosophy


I believe that the classroom experience can be both fun and intellectually stimulating.  I will have high standards for your participation and performance in the course.  At the same time, the class will be a friendly environment. For example, I will expect you to come to class prepared to discuss, and I will call on you to participate in class.  However, class participation will be conducted with a mixture of seriousness, humor, and respect to ensure a diversity of opinions and a supportive atmosphere for participation. 





I have deliberately selected the reading for this course to reflect this lack of consensus.  My guiding principle has been to avoid textbooks that spoon-feed answers, but to give you a sample of the diversity of opinion.  I believe that the function of the college classroom is to confront opposing arguments rather than ignore them. The challenge is for you to sort through these conflicting perspectives, and my expectation is that the class will work cooperatively to decide what is “right.”  As much as possible, I will try to moderate a discussion based on the reading rather than impose my own views of what is right and wrong. 




Components of your grade:

1) Reading notes

1 point per class**

28 points

2) Class Discussion


65 points

4) In-class essays ( 4)

25 points each

100 points (25 x 4)

5) Final


50  points

6) Final paper

50  points





Note:  Your grades will be posted on Sakai.


1) Class Attendance & Reading notes:


My expectation is that you will come to class everyday prepared to discuss the assigned reading.  The reading in this class is not optional.  As much as possible, I will try not to repeat things in lecture that were covered in the reading.  The class discussion and lecture will begin where the reading left off. 


On the class schedule page on the web, you we see links to reading questions for each class period.  As you do the reading, take notes on these questions.  Note:  If you see a question preceded by a double asterisk (**), you do not need to take notes on it. 


These are intended to be notes, so you do not need to write in full sentences or complete paragraphs.  All I want to see is evidence that you have read and thought about the material.  I only expect you to turn approximately 1-page of notes.


Each day’s questions are worth 1 point.  They are graded on a check-plus (1 points), check (0.9 points), and check-minus (0.5 point) basis.  If you don’t turn it in (0 points) or get a check-minus, then that assignment will count as 2 points. (The extra point in the denominator will show up in a separate section of the Blackboard gradebook).


Reading notes will be submitted via Blackboard, and they will not be accepted once class starts.


Absence policy on reading notes:

If you let me know in advance, you may turn your reading notes in ahead of time if you have a scheduled absence for full credit.

If you are not able to attend class, you may email the TA your reading notes as long as they arrive in his/her email box by the time class ends.  No late reading notes will be accepted after the end of each class.  The only exceptions to this policy are medical situations accompanied by a doctor’s note.  If you turn in the reading notes and duck out of class, you get partial credit (1 point).



1B) Class attendance


Class attendance is mandatory.  Because this is a discussion class, I expect you to be present in class and prepared to contribute. 


I will take attendance each class.  If you miss more than 3 classes during the semester, every additional absence will lower your class grade by 2 percentage points. 


Example:  You have a 91 average and miss 5 classes.  Your final grade is an 88, a B+.


For your first 3 absences, it doesn’t matter why you were absent.  (The first three absences count as “unexcused absences” regardless of the reason).


Absences after #3 that are (1) related to UNC athletics or (2) accompanied by a doctor’s note, may be made up (i.e., so your final grade is not penalized) by adding 2-pages on to your final paper per absence, and making the final paper a research paper, with at least outside 10 references and a bibliography.  Research papers will be graded as research papers, not as essays (i.e., my expectation will be higher).


Unexcused absences after the 6th unexcused absence may be made up by turning your final paper into a 10 page research paper + 2 pages for each absence after #6, with at least 15 outside references.  Your grade will still be penalized 6 percentage points for absences #4-#6 (2 per class).


Example: You have a 91 average but have missed 10 classes.  Normally, your final grade would be 14 points lower.  Instead, you may write an 18 page research paper, and be penalized 6 points for absences.


If you miss more than 14 classes, you will automatically fail the class.  The only exception would be a serious medical illness that required an extended hospital stay.  It is your responsibility to keep me informed of your situation during extended absences or I will drop you from the class.


2) Class Discussion

I expect everyone to come to class prepared to discuss.  Your class participation is worth 65 points, or about 20% of your grade. 


As discussed above in “Teaching Philosophy” I want the classroom environment to be supportive of discussion and not frightening.  Please come and talk to me during office hours if you are worried about participating in class…we will find a solution.


Here is a set of expectations that will be used to evaluate your overall discussion grade at the end of the course:




  Did not participate and/or was disruptive.


  Present, not disruptive.

  Tries to respond when called on but does not offer much.

  Demonstrates very infrequent involvement in discussion.


  Demonstrates adequate preparation: knows basic case or reading facts, but does not show evidence of trying to interpret or analyze them.

  Offers straightforward information (e.g., straight from the case or reading), without elaboration or very infrequently.

  Does not offer to contribute to discussion, but contributes to a moderate degree when called on.

  Demonstrates sporadic involvement (i.e. does not participate every discussion period)


  Demonstrates good preparation: knows case or reading facts well, has thought through implications of them.

  Offers interpretations and analysis of case material (more than just facts) to class.

  Contributes well to discussion in an ongoing way: responds to other students' points, thinks through own points, questions others in a constructive way, offers and supports suggestions that may be counter to the majority opinion.

  Demonstrates consistent ongoing involvement.


  Demonstrates excellent preparation: has analyzed case exceptionally well, relating it to readings and other material (e.g., readings, course material, discussions, experiences, etc.).

  Offers analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of case material, e.g., puts together pieces of the discussion to develop new approaches that take the class further.

  Contributes in a very significant way to ongoing discussion: keeps analysis focused, responds very thoughtfully to other students' comments, contributes to the cooperative argument-building, suggests alternative ways of approaching material and helps class analyze which approaches are appropriate, etc.

  Demonstrates ongoing very active involvement.

  Does not ramble, does not try to dominate class discussion.

slightly modified, from Martha L. Maznevski, Assistant Professor, McIntire School of Commerce


I expect that the average discussion grade will be between a B and a B+. 


Basic rules for class discussion:

1) Raise your hand before talking.

2) If you have already spoken more than 1-2 times that day, I may not call on you if there are other hands that are up.

3) Do not ramble…try to keep your responses focused.  I may cut you off after 15-20 seconds…please do not be offended.

4) Do not attempt to dominate class discussion.  Show respect for those you disagree with.  At the same time, taking the opposite point of view with a credible argument is encouraged.

5) This applies to the whole class, not just class discussion: Do not surf the web or study for other classes during class.

6) No cellphone use during class.




3)  In-class essays


Each of these will be a single 15-minute essay question.  The material covered will be everything since the previous in-class essay.  Typically, these essay questions will be taken from the reading questions or the discussion questions in class (see the class notes for a list of questions). 


Absence policy on in-class essays:  If you miss an in-class essay please talk to the TA to coordinate a time and place for a makeup.  Makeup essays will be 15-minutes long and will be on a different question from the one given in class.  Makeup essays must be completed within a week of the original in-class essay.  It is your responsibility to make sure you get it done.  No credit will be given for essays after the 1-week deadline.


4) Final Exams


The final exams will consist of short answer and essay questions.  A study guide will be posted 1 week before each exam. 

Note: see the Registrar’s exam calendar for the exam time,



5) Short Paper

A short paper of 5 pages is due the day on 11/30.  The paper should explore one of the subjects discussed in class, but the specific topic is open.  Ask me (or email me) if you have any questions about the possible topics.  If you turn a draft of your paper in two weeks before the due date, I will read it and give you comments on it.



Grades will be assigned as follows: 93-100%=A, 90-92%=A-, 87-89%=B+, 83-86%=B, 80-82%=B-, 77-79%=C+, 73-76%=C, 70-72%=C-,

67-69%=D+, 63-66%=D, 60-62%=D-, below 60=F

(fractions of a point will be rounded down)


Note: the official class schedule is on the class web page.  The class schedule and readings may change, so don’t print all the reading notes at the beginning of the semester.