In this assignment you will take a look at your own placement in the social world – first by using statistics to describe schools and locations, and then reflecting on what impact these statistics may have had on your life.
The goal of this assignment is to illuminate the influence of sociological factors on individual experiences using your own life experiences as an example. That is, you will apply the sociological imagination to your own life in examining the influence of where you have lived and gone to school.
PART 1: Examining your school: First – I want you to start by looking up data on at least one school you’ve attended, and at least one place you’ve lived (if you did not attend school in the US, just use the map to choose a place you’d be interested in learning more about).
Using this website, look up your school district (preferably your high school). https://projects.propublica.org/miseducation/ You can use the map and zoom in until you find your school district, or you can search for your school district/school name. If your school district is not available, use the map to look at a nearby school district, or find a place that you think might be comparable. Just tell me in your answer why you chose that school/school district.
Click on “nearby” schools – how does the racial composition of the school compare to other nearby schools? Do schools in the district have similar racial and economic distributions? Or do the schools differ markedly in terms of the percent minority students served, or the percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch? What is the racial composition of AP course enrollment? What is the racial composition of disciplinary measures?
What to write Part 1: What are some of the statistics you found out about your school and how does it compare to other schools? Does your school seem to provide equal opportunity and to have fair disciplinary procedures? Does the data provided by this website confirm or contradict your experiences at this school?
PART 2: Examining where you lived during your high school years
Next, go to http://zipwho.com/ and enter the zip code of a place that you lived during your high school years. (if there are no results for your zip code, choose a zip code from a place near to where you lived during your high school years. If you lived in multiple places during your high school years, you can choose one location).
What to write Part 2: Report the following numbers and the percentile for each. The percentile tells you how your area compares to the national average. Is this area similar to the national average? Or is it higher/lower on different measures? (You may also compare it to nearby areas, but that is optional) Does the data provided by this website confirm or contradict your experiences at this location?
- Median Income ($)
- Cost Of Living Index
- College Degree (%)
- Professional (%)
- White %, Black %, Asian %, Hispanic Ethnicity %,
- Keep in mind – this data is using zip code as the unit of analysis, so it’s comparing it to other zip codes. So for instance, the 23185 zipcode in Williamsburg, VA is 79% white, but that shows up as the 34th percentile – how is that possible when, as you’ll recall from the Race module, whites make up only about 60% of the US population? It’s comparing it to other zip codes – not to all individuals. And because there are many rural zip codes with high even higher percentages of whites – it is in the lower percentile of all zip codes.
What to write Part 3: Sociological Imagination
How has where you’ve lived and gone to school shaped your experiences as an individual, and how can you apply this knowledge to better understand patterns of inequality in the US? Based on the numbers you investigated above, does the school you attended prior to ODU provide more or fewer opportunities for someone of your race? Based on these numbers, was the place where you lived during your high school years relatively affluent or impoverished? Do you think this had an influence on your life experiences? What about the life experiences of those around you? (If you were unable to find data on your school and/or location, you can provide your best guess). Apply your sociological imagination to examine how environment impacted your own life experience, and how they impact patterns for inequality more broadly.