Sociology 441

SOCY 441

Catalog Entry

SOCY 441. Global Inequalities
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites:  SOCY 110 or SOCY/ANTH 121

This course will focus on the social, economic, and political factors that shape unequal life changes between and within nations. Theories of development, the role of developed nations, evidence of various types of inequalities, and possible ways to address global inequalities—including specific projects that have been successful—will be examined. The role of international treaties, of various international and multinational commissions, and of non-governmental agencies will be given particular attention.


Detailed Description of Course

Theories of Economic Development and Critiques

This section will examine the theory or critique in depth, explore its implications for policy and compare it to existing data.

  • Modernization theory
  • World Systems theory
  • Dependency Theory
  • Neo-Marxian Structuralism
  • Ecofeminism
  • Post Modernism
  • Models of Inequality and Critiques

This section will examine the following models, the approach they take to alleviating global inequalities, and the outcome with specific examples for each approach:

  • welfare
  • equity
  • anti-poverty
  • efficiency
  • empowerment
  • Differential Life Chances

This section will look at the issue globally and then focus on specific examples from various world regions.

  • Variance in economic systems and resources, in the nature and conditions of employment opportunities, and a country’s relative position and standing in the global economic system.
  • Prevalence of physical disease and access to care—disease we can control, regional epidemics, new and exotic diseases
  • Prevalence of mental illness and substance and access to care—usage of tobacco, alcohol, hallucinogenic or mood altering drugs
  • Prevalence of family violence and abuses and interconnection with survival needs and labor practices—dowries, genital mutilation, slavery, child labor, prostitution, begging
  • Prevalence of war, civil war, genocide, revolution and refugee life—survival rate, rape, illegitimate children, prostitution, disease and orphans
  • Impact of development on displacement and environmental degradation—mega dams, rain forest development, oil drilling, irrigation, introduction of non-indigenous crops.
  • Role of Commissions, Treaties, and NGOs

This section will look at specific actions taken by these treaties, commissions, or NGOs and their impact.

  • GATT
  • WTO
  • World Bank
  • International Monetary Fund
  • World Vision/Save the Children
  • Red Cross/Red Crescent


This section will look at the activities of these projects or movements and their impact on global inequality.

  • Peace Corps
  • Green Revolution
  • Mondragon
  • Grameen Bank
  • Green Belt Movements
  • Where to Now

This section will bring together all the information discussed above to attempt to develop possible future strategies for addressing global inequalities. The focus here will be on encouraging students, alone and in groups, to develop a practical and grounded understanding of policy alternatives that could possibly reduce global inequalities.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Possible readings for the course include:

  • Bradshaw and Wallace, Global Inequalities
  • Anderson, Cavanaugh, and Lee, Field Guide to the Global Economy
  • Barndt, Women, Working the NAFTA Food Chain
  • Pieterse, Globalization and Culture
  • Wermuth, Global Inequalities and Human Needs

The course will be a discussion course with students developing critical assessment of readings and content areas to be presented in class. Special emphasis will be placed on critical use of web searches to obtain the current data. Each student will also write one major paper taking a specific issue and policy to develop, explore, analyze, and present to the class. The course will have two exams and a final –all in essay format.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The goal of the course is to provide students with knowledge of the type and extent of global inequalities. Students successfully completing this course will have developed a critical approach to understanding policy matters relating to a broad range of global inequalities for all regions of the world.


Assessment Measures

Students will be assessed in three ways: oral presentation, essay exams, and a major research paper.


Other Courses Information

Guest speakers, including the use of international students, will be used when the possibility arises. When feasible, the instructor(s) will attempt to incorporate the yearly theme of RU’s International Program.


Review and Approval

December 2003 Reviewed Peggy A. Shifflett