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From Student Resistance to Embracing the Sociological Imagination: Unmasking Privilege, Social Conventions, and Racism

Angela T. Haddad and Leonard Lieberman
Teaching Sociology
Vol. 30, No. 3 (Jul., 2002), pp. 328-341
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3211481
Page Count: 14
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From Student Resistance to Embracing the Sociological Imagination: Unmasking Privilege, Social Conventions, and Racism
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Abstract

A crucial task of introductory sociology courses is to teach students the meaning and value of the sociological imagination. While this task is daunting under typical circumstances, it is more difficult when instructors are committed to raising students' critical awareness of social conventions that maintain systems of racial oppression. In this paper, we discuss our experiences with teaching this aspect of the sociological imagination to a group of ethnically and economically privileged students. Based upon our experiences and existing research, we propose that a rise in students' political conservatism and their adoption of color-blind racism may explain our students' recalcitrance and the increasing reports of resistance from those who teach race and inequality courses. We provide details of an assignment that eased students' recalcitrance by enabling them to demonstrate to themselves the fallacies of scientific racism. The assignment, a critical assessment of Rushton's scathing review of "Gould's Mismeasure of Man," required students to exercise their sociological imagination to successfully unmask the agendas, fallacies, and consequences of "scientific racism." Quotes from the students' assignments and the course evaluations show that the assignment conveys to recalcitrant students the utility of sociological analysis.

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