Eng 1101 Final Paper: Research Paper – Exploring Inequality & Power
This semester we have discussed how disenfranchised people (such as in lower class, in poverty, prison, marginalized groups such as African American and Latino Americans, and for a major part of history, women) and their experiences of inequality are often explained as a moral failure of the individual or racial group.
Such kind of rhetoric often appeals to “biological”/inherent explanations to legitimize racial hierarchies and inequality between peoples. These are explanations that are based on abstract “internal” characteristics
However, we discussed in this class instead many social and political explanations (“external”) for how such hierarchies come to be constructed, which generates cycles of disenfranchisement for such communities that last generations through history.
centrally, we examined this through how structures of power function:
To gain and maintain power through the exploitation of other groups and peoples.
This can exist on:
On a National scale: Whole groups of marginalized people in one country to maintain power/privileges for another group
OR on a Global scale: A whole country exploited for power/resources for another country
For this Final Paper, you will examine a social/political system of inequality and build an argument through two different types of sources:
1.Primary source: Interviewing a person who has experienced inequality as part of that system, or something similar.
2.Secondary source: Scholarly Research
Interview Examples: People from lower-income or poverty households, and any stereotypes they may struggle with or face, that may be an obstacle to gaining resources/access; People who may have experienced mass incarceration, or who have lived in a community that has been affected by it; Immigrant populations, their experiences with stereotypes and labels in public, etc, and in gaining access to resources.
You can choose one of the following options below, OR you can develop your own, but you must confirm with me. You will then develop a focused argument/thesis of your own.
1.Systems of Power & Stereotypes: Through disenfranchisement and disinvestment of certain communities, systems of power maintain inequality leading to people in these communities resorting to crime, etc leading to further poverty leading to society then seeing the crime and poverty as reaffirming harmful stereotypes leading to society calling for harsh measures and lack of investment in these communities. In this way, systems of power generate “self-fulfilling prophecies” that are then used to justify hierarchies and reaffirm stereotypes of the people who experience the inequalities. Examine this cycle through your research and develop an argument about how political systems can reinforce and sustain stereotypical labels and maintain a hierarchy of power. (Can use examples outside of the US). You should focus on one particular example to make your argument, but can add one or two minor examples if you need.
2.Mass Incarceration & Racial Inequalities
a.Capitalism & Mass Incarceration: In the 21st Century, the democratic government has become intertwined with capitalism, and power is diffused between corporations and politicians. Examine capitalism’s role in the expansion of mass incarceration.
b.Cycles of Poverty & Crime: How does prejudice of black communities in the system of mass incarceration generate cycles of poverty within these communities? How does this cycle contribute to crime, and in turn, create a self-fulling prophecy that is used to justify incarceration and reaffirm stereotypes of these communities?
c.Disinvestment of Schools & Education: How does the disinvestment of schools reinforce inequalities in poverty-ridden neighborhoods?
d.Psychological: How might the psychological effects of mass incarceration have communal consequences for incarcerated individuals and the community? OR What can be the psychological consequences on communities that have experienced inequality for generations, and what does it mean for how systems of inequality function?
e.Any other problem or element of mass incarceration that you want to examine
3.Latin-American Immigration Controversy
a.Neocolonialism: Examine how neocolonial & imperialist practices in Latin America by the US has contributed to the immigration crisis now. Develop an argument about why this matters for the current immigration debate.
b.How is the neocolonial practice of the US and America’s stereotypes of Latin Americans during the immigration controversy an example of the “self-fulfilling” ways that systems of power create?
Evidence & Sources: You will Interview one person who may have experienced any of the inequalities here, or something similar, and then connect it to develop your argument. You will support your argument with the Interview & 4 outside sources, 3 of which should be scholarly sources. The other outside sources can be news articles from the New York Times, etc.
What to Avoid: DO NOT use “should” statements as your argument, like “The US should stop mass incarceration.” DO NOT boil down or simplify a stance on any issue to good/bad, (i.e. “immigration is good or bad” or “mass incarceration is racist.”). You will receive an F. You MUST develop a nuanced argument and have a clear THESIS.
Nov 12, Thu: Proposal + Outline with Thesis (2-3 pages)
Nov 19, Thu: Draft #1 DUE (3-5 pages)
Nov 24, Tue: Annotated Bibliography (3-4 sources)
Nov 30, Mon: Draft #2 DUE (7-9 pages)
Dec 3-8: Presentations on Final Papers
Dec 15, Tue: FINAL PAPER (8-10 page. For information on Exploring Inequality & Power check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_inequality
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