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Ethnicity and Culture

Essay question suggestions
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Here are some questions you might choose to argue in your class essays.

An article you might find interesting to read and write about:

Should the Census offer "negro" as one of its options for race?,8599,1955923,00.html


Area A: Immigration

1. Immigration: How many people should we allow to come here? Explain your answer. What impact do they have on the country?

2. What argument can you make for or against bilingual education?

3. What should we do about illegal aliens? Should we seal our borders more effectively? Do the illegal aliens help the local economies or burden taxpayers?

4. Discuss current immigration patterns and their impact on U.S. society.

5. What are your views of what America might be like in the year 2050 if current Census Bureau projections become true?

Area B: Ethnicity

1.Why would country of origin be a factor in understanding immigrant interaction patterns?

2. Discuss the divergent views about the three-generation hypothesis/

3. Discuss ethnicity as a process, with emphasis on ethnic resurgence and decline.

4. Discuss symbolic ethnicity and its relationship to the everyday ethnicity of newer Americans.

Area C: Gender inequality

1.In what areas are women still denied equal rights? How has the situation changed historically?

2.What is the role of socialization in developing sex role behaviour? What are some culturally influenced sex differences between U.S. boys and girls?

Area D: Religion

1.Discuss the current situation in the U.S. regarding religion and religious issues.

2.Apply the three sociological perspectives to an understanding of religion in the U.S.

3.Do you think the separation of church and state should apply to public Nativity displays? To abortion legislation? Explain.

Area E: Race vs. Class

1. Discuss the current debate of race vs. social class as a basis for understanding the current status of race relations.

2.Apply the three major sociological perspectives to the black experience in the United States.

3. Discuss various reasons for diversity in the black assimilation process.

4. Explain the Hispanic concepts of dignidad, machismo, and La Raza Cosmica.

5. Discuss the factors affecting Hispanic American adjustment to American society compared to earlier European immigrants.

6. Apply the three major sociological perspectives to the Hispanic experience in the U.S.


1. Is the US a "melting pot" or a "salad bowl" or something else?  Give some evidence for your choice.

2. Are you prejudiced? If so, what are some recent incidents in which you behaved in a prejudiced way? If not, how do you know you are not?

3. If a close friend or family member were to make a prejudiced comment, would you protest?  Why or why not?  What about a stranger or acquaintance--would you respond in that situation?

4. Are stereotypes ever a good thing?  Have you ever tried to get people to stereotype you, either positively or negatively?

5. Which forms of prejudice are socially acceptable, and which are least acceptable?  Why are some forms more acceptable than others?

6.  When, if ever, is it best to remain colorblind to race and ethnicity?  When if ever, is it best to celebrate multicultural differences?  Do goals of colorblindness and multiculturalism conflict with each other?  (Hint: colorblindness vs. color equality...)

7. What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being a racial, ethnic, or religious minority member? What is the most difficult aspect of being a majority group member?

8. In general, which forms of prejudice seem to be declining over time, and which forms seem to be persisting or increasing?

You may always choose to write your essay as a response to the readings or class discussions.  Be sure you are making a case for your point of view with a fact-based argument.  Most of all, show me that you have thought about the question!