Amy is a tenth-grade student at a public high school in Turlock, Ca. She lives with her mother, father, two younger siblings, and her ailing grandmother in a small three-bedroom rental home on the west side of town. She escorts her siblings safely to school every morning along her two-mile walk to the closest high school on the other side of town. The family emigrated (legally) to the California Central Valley from Mexico two years before Amy was born. Her father gained employment working in the fields, and her mother was able to get part-time work as a Spanish-English translator with the local school district. Once California passed a law requiring all translators to be formally trained and possess a certificate, Amys mother was unable to continue in her position, as translator positions increasingly went to (white) graduates of the training programs who had studied to learn Spanish as a second language. Amys grandparents were able to help out financially, until her grandfather was taken ill and, sadly passed away. Her grandmother continued to work on a large corporate farm until sweeping de-regulation, leading to various safety cut-backs, resulted in a terrible accident which left her blind and unable to continue working. Do to the nature of their employment, neither of the grandparents had ever been able to save or invest any of their earnings, and were not entitled to any health or retirement benefits. To make matters worse, the corporations expensive and experienced lawyers were able to successfully argue that they were not at fault, and no compensation was awarded.
Amy has always been a top student, but she has been finding it difficult to keep up this year. With only one income to support them, her family now depends on SNAP benefits to make ends meet. Until recently, the school lunch program had helped to meet Amys hunger and nutrition needs, however the program has been eliminated, and she often finds herself unable to concentrate on her studies. She wonders what can be done to obtain just a little more food for herself and her family. In addition, while Amys father is working long hours to provide for the family, Amys mother and grandmother are often away from home, having to navigate a piecemeal public transportation system in order to keep her grandmothers many medical appointments, and to travel the three miles to a grocery store where fresh fruits and vegetables are available at a reasonable cost. Because of this, Amy has assumed an increasing responsibility to care for her younger siblings after school and on the weekends.
Amy is particularly interested in science and medicine, and she dreams of attending a university one day where she can work on developing a cure for the disease which ended her grandfathers life. Last year, Amy spent a great deal of time speaking with the school counselor about college opportunities and the pressures she experienced in balancing her many conflicting daily responsibilities, however budget cuts have led to a three-fold caseload for the counselor, and Amy is rarely able to get an appointment this year. In addition, it seems as though assemblies for college recruitment are increasingly outnumbered this year by those held by military recruiters.
Amy has begun to feel isolated and does not know where to turn. In the past, she had found some comfort attending church, however her father is now required to work on Sundays (taking the family car) and the bus does not run on the weekends. In addition, the family has no money to spare for tithing, so her mother and grandmother have begun to feel unworthy to attend. Not wanting to disappoint or add to the stress of her already over-burdened parents, Amy turns to her few close friends. Unfortunately, since entering high school, those relationships, too, have begun to change. After-school activities have been all but eliminated on the west side of town, and increased drug and gang activity in the neighborhood has left the neighborhood park an unlikely respite from the pressures of daily life. Finally, Amy is experiencing another changing dynamic at school. Between increasing attention and pressure from boys making unwelcome sexual advances, she is often criticized about her physical appearance and wonders what she can do to fit in. Amy finds herself increasingly concerned about her situation, her familys health and well-being, and her own future.
Thinking sociologically about Amys circumstances, how do structural elements of the society impact her? What are the likely outcomes for Amy? In a thoughtful essay,
(1) Discuss the effects of each of the following elements (one paragraph for EACH element):
2 Social Institutions
2 Cultural Norms
2 Personal /Familial Values
The roles of Social Class, Race/Ethnicity and Gender
(2) How might different social arrangements impact likely outcomes for Amy? DO NOT discuss how individuals might make different changes or choices. Rather, offer suggestions for structural changes which might give Amy increased access or disadvantage.
(3) Finally, compare and contrast Amys circumstances with your own. Discuss differences and/or similarities of the structural elements, and their impacts.
Papers are to be at least 4 pages, double-spaced, and 12 pt. font.Tags: cultural, discuss, effects, elements, following, institutions, social