1. Readings and Socratic inquiry: Objective and relative measures
Students should read prior to class:
- Seccombe, K. (2000). Families in poverty in the 1990s: Trends, causes, consequences, and lessons learned. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1094-1113
- Brady, D. (2003). Rethinking the sociological measurement of poverty. Social Forces, 81, 715-751.
- Cassidy, J. (2006, April 3) “Relatively deprived: How poor is poor?” The New Yorker.
To ensure understanding after the readings, discuss, as a class or in groups, these questions:
- What measure is currently used to define poverty? What is the history of this measure?
- Currently, at what point is a family of four below the poverty threshold?
- What is an alternative way to calculate the poverty threshold? Describe how one might calculate this alternative.
Assessment suggestion: Gauge students’ comprehension of core concepts during class-wide discussion, using this Discussion Checklist
After clarifying and exploring these understandings in discussion, students (individually or in groups) will complete these assignments:
- Compare the current objective measure to one that would be relatively-defined.
- Speculate what would happen to the number of people defined as poor in a typical American central city.
- Represent what this difference might look like, using a hypothetical histogram that assumes a normal-shaped curve