Degas, Portrait de M. Duranty

Social Problems

Your paper should be roughly 1,000 words – three to four typed pages (12 point font). Please include a cover sheet with your name, class section, and the title of the writing assignment.



Paper #2: "Hidden Bias," Prejudice, Discrimination, Mass Media

Choose one (1) of the following:

(1) This exercise is designed to indicate the extent to which members of society have biases that they do not explicitly recognize. Go to the Implicit Association Test and "Demonstration." Next, click on "Go to the Demonstration Tests," read the preliminary information and then, after reading the disclaimer, click on "I wish to proceed." You will then be presnted with 14 different "tests:, each taking approximately 10 minutes. You will choose three (3) tests - one focusing upon race matters (Race IAT, Native-IAT, Asian IAT, Skin-Tone IAT, Arab-Muslim IAT, Weapons IAT), the second on issues of gender (Sexuality IAT, Gender-Career IAT, Gender-Science IAT) and a third on issues of age and appearance (Age IAT, Disability IAT, weight IAT). After you have finished the test a results page will appear indicating whether you have an “implicit” or hidden bias and, if so, whether it is strong, moderate, or weak. More important, the results page will present a frequency distribution of all the scores of tests that have been taken by others visiting this site.

First, summarize and then discuss the implications of the data presented for all of the test-takers – I am not interested in your score. How might these findings affect programs that attempt to reduce the extent to which bias and prejudice exist in society?

Second, read Peggy McIntosh's “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. Print out her list of "white privileges" and, next to each one, indicate whether you agree with the statement ("A"), disagree with the statement ("D"), or think that the statement is not applicable ("NA").

Third, read Robert Jensen's, "White Privilege Shapes the U.S." and "More thoughts on why the system of white privilege is wrong". Summarize and evaluate the arguments made by McIntosh and Jensen concerning "white privilege" and discuss how the findings from the implicit association test relate to their positions.


(2) Gallup Poll: Black - White Relations in the U.S.

Socially patterned differences in the perception of social situations and circumstances are a common occurrence. For this assignment, you will examine Gallup Poll data about race relations and compare the responses of white and black samples. After charting these responses, you will discuss the implications of these different perceptions of what are seemingly  “the same” events and situations.

Download the Gallup Poll Social Audit, “Black – White Relations in the United States: 2001 Update.” Read the report, print out (use landscape setting), and fill in the following table (click here).

Provide a sociological explanation for the divergent views of these different groups. How can race relations be improved if the parties involved have fundamentally different views of the same events and circumstances?


(3) The Portrayal of Minorities in Popular Culture

How have minorities been portrayed in popular culture and the mass media? What caricatures and stereotypes have appeared over time? What is their purpose? What impact do they have? You will examine and compare two cases: African Americans and Asian Americans in the United States.

First, visit the “Virtual Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.” After reading “Who” and “What” was Jim Crow, view the caricatures and cartoons that are contained in this exhibit. How have these images shaped beliefs and attitudes about African-Americans in the United States? How are they linked to prejudice? To what extent do similar images exist in contemporary society?

Second, examine and summarize Amy Kashiwabara’s article, “Vanishing Son: The Appearance, Disappearance, and Assimilation of the Asian-American Man in American Mainstream Media.” What impact have these portrayals had in the U.S.?

Last, discuss the similarities and differences in these three cases.


(4) Hate on the Web

Investigate and analyze hate on the internet.

Go to the "Intelligence Project" of the Southern Povery Law Center. Read the cover page, then go to "News" (located as a link in the left-hand column). Summarize three stories presented. What social factors help explain the existence of these phenonena?

Next, click on the "Hate Groups Map" (also located as a link in the left-hand column). Choose three states and write a “sociologically informed” opinion of the materials you have found.