Some potential exam questions for the Soc 149/249 Final Exam. Updated March 12, 2020. Every question that can be on the exam is on this list.


Note: the final exam will require you to write several essay questions and a number of identifications from the following list. The final exam will be a closed book exam.


Essay answers should explain causes and effects, rather than simply providing a laundry list. A careful explanation with a few detailed examples from the text we have read in this class or the movies that have been assigned is better than a long list of examples without sufficient explanation.



1) What are the effects of segregation (economic, social, psychological, and political) on the people living in the urban ghetto? Use examples from at least 3 books we have read


2) What are the historical causes of racial segregation and isolation in the housing market in the 20th century U.S.? Use examples from at least 3 books we have read. [Not on the final for 2020, was on the midterm]


3) In William Julius Wilson’s Declining Significance of Race, he argued that racial discrimination had become less important in the U.S. after Civil Rights. Is race truly less important now than it was 50 years ago? Cite the arguments of Massey and Denton, and Oliver and Shapiro, and Michelle Alexander.


4) Explain in detail any one part of the story of the Rivers family, from There Are No Children Here, and describe how that story supports or contradicts a theory that we have studied in this class. Cite at least 2 other sources that we have read besides There Are No Children Here.


5) What is the history and significance of the Fair Housing Act, first passed in 1968? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the law, and what effect did it have? When and how was the law revised? [Cut from the final for 2020]


6) What is the 'Culture of Poverty' theory, and what evidence can you find in the readings for it or against it? Use at least 2 sources from the reading.


7) Who according to Elijah Anderson, are the 'Old Heads', how and why has their power and position changed over the years, and what are the effects of their diminished authority?


8) What are the basic elements of Charles Murray's critique of welfare? How are these critiques similar to or different from the analysis of specific public policies we've read about in other books for this class? Compare Murray's analysis of social policy to at least one other text from the reading list


9) What were the main claims in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous report on the black family? What, in Moynihan’s view, explained the difference between black and white family structure? What evidence is there in other readings for the class to support or contradict Moynihan’s claims about the importance of family structure? [We did not read the Moynihan in 2020, so this question will not be on the final]


10) What is gentrification? Why does city hall want gentrification? How do prior residents experience gentrification? Use the Elijah Anderson and at least one other source.


11) Explain the role of mass incarceration as an historical phenomenon in the post-1970 US. What policies created mass incarceration? Why has the war on drugs had a more damaging effect in communities of color? How do the war on drugs and mass incarceration contribute to inequality in the US? Use Michelle Alexander, and an example from at least one other source.


12) Explain the relationship between people of color and the police, according to Coates. What does Coates say about the sources and the impacts of violence within the black community, and violence imposed on the black community by outside forces? Compare Coates's view of the sources and impacts of violence to Anderson and Kotlowitz.


13) What are some of the procedural ways in which Ferguson police and courts have violated the constitutional rights of Ferguson residents, according to the 2015 USDOJ report? How does Alexander's description of national trends in criminal justice square with the USDOJ Ferguson report? [Not for 2020]


14) Explain the history and significance of “stop and frisk” as a police procedure in the U.S. Specifically, Explain the significance of Terry v. Ohio (US Supreme Court, 1968) and Floyd v. City of New York (Federal District Court, 2013). How did the statistics about stop and frisk in New York support or not support the reasonable suspicions of the officers who were stopping and frisking people? How do the statistics indicate racial bias in stop-and-frisk as it was practiced in New York? Address stop and frisk with at least one other source from the class.


15) How did welfare (also known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children) end in the U.S.? Who was responsible for ending welfare in 1996? What replaced AFDC? What were the short and longer term effects of the end of welfare? Cite Edin and Shaefer and at least one other source. [For 2020 I will leave this one out as well]



Identifications [NOTE: for the open book Winter 2020 Final exam, there will be NO IDs on the exam]


* Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996


* Charles Murray’s Law of Imperfect Selection


* Progressive Tax


* Home Owner’s Loan Corporation


* Gentrification


* 1975 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act


* Thomas Schelling and his explanation for segregation


* Integration Maintenance


* Narrow Geographic Horizons


* African American Vernacular English


* Chicago Housing Authority


* The Southern Homestead Act of 1866


* Eminent Domain


* How power works, according to Robert Caro’s version of Robert Moses


* HOPE VI [not for 2020]


* How does the movie “Hoop Dreams” describe the role of race and privilege in the school careers of William Gates and Arthur Agee?


* Describe the similarity or contrast between one aspect of the movie “Do the Right Thing” and the same theme as described in Anderson’s Streetwise.


* Earned Income Tax Credit