Introduction There is little information in the textbook on social economic class but we include the topic in this course for two reasons: Social class is the source of diversity that we talk about th

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There is little information in the textbook on social economic class but we include the topic in this course for two reasons:

  1. Social class is the source of diversity that we talk about the least and when we do, our thinking is interwoven with myth as well as data;
  2. Social and professional services are often provided to clients who differ in economic status from the provider, which often creates unexpected misunderstandings.

Because of these, we ask you to consider what are the realities of socio-economic class in American and in the metropolitan area in economic, social and psychological terms.

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  • We will begin with some video. The syllabus encourages you to locate a copy of the video/compact disk entitled: People Like Us: Social Class in America. This is a wonderful introduction to any discussion of social class because it is a series of vignettes of experiences and images that make social class realities and values visible. Rather than lecture, you will see and hear people commenting on their lives and the lives of those around them. You will also have the option of watching selected vignettes on YouTube (see below).
  • The second piece of information is a fact sheet on Race, Class, and Place Disparities in the Twin Cities which was part of the Brookings Institute report: Mind the Gap: Reducing Disparities to Improve Regional Competitiveness in the Twin Cities (2005). This chart explores the data they found on the interactions among race, class, and place.  Although this is not current data, it is reasonable that the patterns still hold true.
  • The third part is a visit to the Jobs Now Coalition website to explore family budgets based on income and costs in metropolitan and other regions in Minnesota.
  • And last but not least is an article from American Psychologist in which Dr. Bernice Lott explores the bias against the poor within psychological research and practice.

VIEW   People Like Us: Social Class in American

*NEW*:  The video People Like Us: Social Class in America is now available as a streaming title through Kanopy (in addition to our DVD copies). You can access it by going to Kanopy directly from our A-Z list, or you can get there through this link in our catalog:

As an alternative, eight of the vignettes from this video can be seen on YouTube, using the following link:


Start with #1. At the end of this segment you will find links to the others listed:

1.  Opening Tease

2.  All You Need Is Cash

3.  How to Marry The Rich

4.  Trouble in Paradise

5.  Friends in Low Places

6.  Tammy’s Story

7.  WASP Lessons

8.  Belles, Belles, Belles

9.  Gnomes R Us

There is also a good website for this documentary that was featured on PBS:

If you can access these videoclips and the PBS website, you will have a good flavor of the entire video, except for the original ethnic/racial segments which are unfortunately missing, including one featuring some perspectives of members of the Black middle class in America.


Fact Sheet: Race, Class, and Place Disparities in the Twin Cities

The Job Gap Family Budget Calculator  (Sorry!  these two sites are not working)–therefore, not required for this week’s reading).  If you want to calculate your family’s budget there are many great budget calculator programs/links via the internet. I will try to see if I can get this link working this week!


10.1 Reflection

Write up a one page (single spaced) review of your reactions to the information and images in the video

10.2  Reflections on The American Dream

Social class is American is tied to the belief in the ‘American Dream’, the notion that in America anyone can, through hard work and sacrifice, improve their lot, own their own home, and guarantee that their children will have more advantages in life than they had.

In Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation (Princeton, 1995), Jennifer Hochschild presents four components of the American Dream that have come to be dominant American values (although don’t always reflect reality):

  • The belief that everyone can participate equally and can always start over.
  • The belief that it is reasonable to anticipate success.
  • The belief that success is a result of individual characteristics and that actions are under one’s control.
  • The belief that success is associated with virtue and merit.

A.  What are your family and your personal experiences of the American Dream or of alternatives to the American Dream?

B.  How is social class mobility reflected in your personal goals?

10.3   Respond to the following questions about social class:

A)  How would you characterize your family’s socioeconomic background? (For example: poor, working class, lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class, upper class, ruling class.)

B)  What tells you this?

C)  What was/is your father’s occupation (if applicable)?

D)  What was/is your mother’s occupation (if applicable)?

E)  How would you characterize the socioeconomic nature of the neighborhood(s) you grew up in? Of the larger community you grew up in?

F)  Think of one or two people who you perceive to be from a different social class from you (someone from high school, for a job, from your university). What class would you say they belong to? What tells you this?

G)  Besides money, what do you see as distinguishing them from you (or your family from their family)?

H)  How would you characterize their values or their family’s values? How are their values the same or different than yours?

I)  What do you appreciate/have you gained from your class background experience?

J)  What would you like never to hear said about people from your class background?

K)  What impact does your class background have on your current attitudes, behaviors, and feelings (about money, work, relationships with people from the same class/from a different class, your sense of self, expectations about life, your politics, etc.)?

READ the following:

Psychological Distancing from the Poor by Bernice Lott

10.4 Summary Reflections

In two pages, discuss what you learned about yourself and others from the exercises, websites and from the reading selection by Bernice Lott.

Discussion Post


Choose one of the 10 personality disorders currently in the DSM and create a video between 1-2 minutes in length demonstrating how the symptoms may appear for a person with that diagnosis. A good example is this DSM-5 Histrionic Personality Disorder Criteria Example, Symptoms Video on YouTube.

STEP 2 : Neurodevelopmental

  • Review the CDC information about children’s mental health:
  • Summarize what you learned from the Children’s Mental Health page of the CDC website.
  • Conduct your own research on one of the following neurodevelopmental disorders by searching legitimate websites like,,,, etc.
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Communication Disorders
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Specific Learning Disorder
  • Summarize the neurodevelopmental disorder you researched. Be sure to include the diagnostic criteria, prevalence, and possible treatment options.
  • Review the information about the high percentage of youth in the juvenile justice system with mental health conditions:
  • Reflect on how this particular disorder may lead to a higher likelihood of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system.

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