UWW Jonathan Kozol Fire in The Ashes Book Analysis of Plight Discussion

Help me study for my Sociology class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.

Due Sunday November 22 before 11pm

All papers
must be 2-3 single-spaced pages (12 pt. font, 1500 words). Essays should be well organized, presenting a logical, well-documented argument comparing at least two of the individuals in the book analyzing their experiences within a sociological framework—why did one spiral downward and not make it “out” while the other was able to succeed and survive? Remember, in a Sociology class, it is never enough to look only for micro-level, personal explanations; structural analysis is key.

Focus on examples from the book that illustrate sociological concepts.

APA style citations for direct quotes are necessary, but quote sparingly (Kozol pg.15: 2012). No internet sources allowed.

Please address at least two of the following questions while discussing details from the lives at least two individuals—one facing dire conditions and not getting “out” and one “survivor”:

1) what do the individual and family stories of struggle indicate about life chances in the inner city, especially the South Bronx, NY, in terms of racial, ethnic, class, gender inequality?

2) What are some environmentally toxic impacts on poor communities of color and how does the NIMBY effect operate to centralize polluting industries?

3) How do personal and community stories help to illustrate the power of structural constraints, such as poverty, as well as illuminate the resilience and adaptation skills of the “survivors” who transcended the social conditions in Mott Haven?

All papers should add some note in the conclusion about this topic:

4) indicate some potential solutions for alleviating ongoing political/economic/ social/environmental struggles—that would bring hope for living together in multicultural communities.

To get started, think about how at least two specific individuals stories were shaped by major social institutions: economics, political policy, criminal justice issues and practices, education or lack thereof, media representations, availability or lack of health care, etc. Remember that structures create both constraints, and potential opportunities for choices and life chances.

Papers should explain how and why social forces affect life chances.

  • The introduction (do not write the paper for assuming I can fill in details) should clearly outline what you are attempting to explain from the book (not a book review nor a novel!).
    The conclusion should come full circle and preferably draw some broader parallels with current events and context.
  • The body of the paper (with clear paragraph structure—one main idea per paragraph) should illustrate several specific examples (citing page numbers for direct quotes–not too many) as applied to various forces shaping life choices and limitations in the book. Compare and contrast your previous knowledge with new understandings of how such social forces are operating in the U.S.
  • Conclude with your thoughts on the potential for solutions. How can we make sense of the modern/postmodern world by understanding the concept of paradox—that is, how can awareness of the fact that individual choices and structural constraints are always operating simultaneously motivate people to action?

The task is to learn to apply macro-level awareness and structural analysis to micro-level life experiences, to rise above the cultural blinders of individualism and blaming the victim to see the promise of interdisciplinary social sciences for creating more humane communities and responsive societies.

Suggested thematic concepts:

Education/knowledge is power

Environmental justice

Religious faith

Family support network

Race and/or ethnicity

Social class status

Double standards

Internalized oppression

Institutional discrimination (racism, classism, sexism)

Oppression–how does it limit oppressors, as well as the oppressed, from reaching their full human potential?

Here is the link to access to the book.


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