Taking Sides : Clashing Views on Controversial Social Issues, by FINSTERBUSCH K
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- ISBN: 9780072822786 | 0072822783
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 8/2/2002
This debate-style reader is designed to introduce students to current controversies in sociology and social problems. The readings, which represent the arguments of leading social scientists and social commentators, reflect a variety of viewpoints, and are presented in pro/con format. Taking Sides titles are supported by the student Web site Dushkin Online (www.dushkin.com/online/).
PART 1. Culture and Values
ISSUE 1. Is America in Moral Decline?
YES: Gertrude Himmelfarb, from The De-Moralization of Society:From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values
NO: David Whitman, from The Optimism Gap: The I'm OK--They'reNot Syndrome and the Myth of American Decline
Gertrude Himmelfarb, a professor emeritus of history,details some of the increasing moral problems in America andinterprets them as being part of a larger pattern, which she calls"the de-moralization of society". Writer David Whitman empiricallytests the moral decline thesis and finds that, according to theindicators that he employs, it is a myth.
ISSUE 2. Does Television Violence Make Children SignificantlyMore Violent? YES: W. James Potter, from On Media Violence NO: Jib Fowles, from The Case for TelevisionViolence
Professor of communication W. James Potter reviews theharmful influences of media violence and explains some of themechanisms that cause these influences. Professor of communication JibFowles argues that the evidence on the negative influences of themedia on children is weak and does not prove that television violencemakes children significantly more violent.
ISSUE 3. Is Third World Immigration a Threat to America's Way ofLife?
YES: Patrick Buchanan, from "Shields Up!" The AmericanEnterprise NO: Ben Wattenberg, from "Immigration Is Good", TheAmerican Enterprise
Political analyst Patrick Buchanan asserts that the largeinflux of legal and illegal immigrants, especially from Mexico,threatens to undermine the cultural foundations of American unity. BenWattenberg, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, arguesthat the United States needs a constant flow of immigrants to avoidpopulation decline and also to avoid the diminishment of power andinfluence.
PART 2. Sex Roles, Gender, and the Family
ISSUE 4. Do the New Sex Roles Burden Women More Than Men?
YES: Jeff Grabmeier, from "The Burden Women Bear: Why They SufferMore Distress Than Men", USA Today Magazine
NO: Susan Faludi, from Stiffed: The Betrayal of the AmericanMan
Editor and author Jeff Grabmeier presents evidence showingthat women experience more stress than men and then analyzes why.Author Susan Faludi argues that men have been socialized into a sexrole that cannot be successfully fulfilled due to currentconditions.
ISSUE 5. Are Communication Problems Between Men and Women LargelyDue to Radically Different Conversation Styles?
YES: Philip Yancey, from "Do Men and Women Speak the SameLanguage?" Marriage Partnership
NO: Mary Crawford, from Talking Difference: On Gender andLanguage
Author Philip Yancey argues that men and women havestrikingly different communication styles because they grow up indifferent cultures. A man is usually concerned about enhancing ormaintaining status as he communicates, while a woman will usuallycommunicate in ways that gain or maintain closeness. Professor ofpsychology Mary Crawford contends that the thesis that men and womenhave radically different communication styles is greatly exaggeratedin the media and is based on simplistic stereotypes.
ISSUE 6. Should Same-Sex Marriages Be Legally Recognized?
YES: Andrew Sullivan, from Virtually Normal: An Argument AboutHomosexuality
NO: James Q. Wilson, from "Against Homosexual Marriage",Commentary
Editor and author Andrew Sullivan argues that the secularliberal state must grant the right of same-sex partners to marry. Tonot do so would be blatant discrimination. Professor of management andpublic policy James Q. Wilson presents arguments against legallyrecognizing same-sex marriages.
ISSUE 7. Is the Decline of the Traditional Family a NationalCrisis?
YES: David Popenoe, from "The American Family Crisis",National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal
NO: Stephanie Coontz, from "The American Family",Life
Sociologist David Popenoe contends that families playimportant roles in society but how the traditional family functions inthese roles has declined dramatically in the last several decades,with very adverse effects on children. Family historian StephanieCoontz argues that current discussion of family decline includes afalse idealization of the traditional family of the past andmisleading interpretations of current data on families. She finds thatthe trends are both positive and negative.
PART 3. Stratification and Inequality
ISSUE 8. Is Increasing Economic Inequality a Serious Problem?
YES: Christopher Jencks, from "Does Inequality Matter?"Daedalus
NO: Christopher C. DeMuth, from "The New Wealth of Nations",Commentary
Christopher Jencks, professor of social policy at theKennedy School at Harvard University, presents data on how large theincome inequality is in the United States and describes theconsequences of this inequality. Christopher C. DeMuth, president ofthe American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, arguesthat the "recent increase in income inequality... is a very small tickin the massive and unprecedented leveling of material circumstancesthat has been proceeding now for almost three centuries and in thiscentury has accelerated dramatically".
ISSUE 9. Is the Underclass the Major Threat to AmericanIdeals?
YES: Charles Murray, from "And Now for the Bad News",Society
NO: Barry Schwartz, from "Capitalism, the Market, the`Underclass,' and the Future", Society
Author Charles Murray describes destructive behavior amongthe underclass. Murray asserts that this type of behavior will resultin serious trouble for society even though, according to statistics,the number of crimes committed has decreased. Psychology professorBarry Schwartz states that the underclass is not the major threat toAmerican ideals. He counters that "the theory and practice offree-market economics have done more to undermine traditional moralvalues than any other social force".
ISSUE 10. Has Affirmative Action Outlived Its Usefulness?
YES: Walter E. Williams, from "Affirmative Action Can't BeMended", Cato Journal
NO: Wilbert Jenkins, from "Why We Must Retain Affirmative Action",USA Today Magazine
Professor of economics Walter E. Williams asserts that"the civil rights struggle for blacks is over and won", so affirmativeaction policies are unjust and adversely affect society. Historyprofessor Wilbert Jenkins dismisses the arguments against affirmativeaction as founded on the false logic that since the promised land hasbeen reached, continuing affirmative action would be reversediscrimination. Jenkins maintains that an honest look at the factsreveals that affirmative action is still needed.
PART 4. Political Economy and Institutions
ISSUE 11. Is Government Dominated by Big Business?
YES: G. William Domhoff, from Who Rules America? Power andPolitics in the Year 2000, 3rd ed.
NO: Jeffrey M. Berry, from "Citizen Groups and the Changing Natureof Interest Group Politics in America", The Annals of the AmericanAcademy of Political and Social Science
Political sociologist G. William Domhoff argues that the"owners and top-level managers in large income-producing propertiesare far and away the dominant power figures in the United States" andthat they have inordinate influence in the federal government. JeffreyM. Berry, a professor of political science, contends that publicinterest pressure groups that have entered the political arena sincethe end of the 1960s have effectively challenged the political powerof big business.
ISSUE 12. Should Government Intervene in a CapitalistEconomy?
YES: Ernest Erber, from "Virtues and Vices of the Market: BalancedCorrectives to a Current Craze", Dissent
NO: Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, from Free to Choose: APersonal Statement
Author Ernest Erber argues that capitalism creates serioussocial problems that require government intervention to correct.Economists Milton and Rose Friedman maintain that the market operateseffectively and protects citizens better when permitted to workwithout the interference of government regulations.
ISSUE 13. Has Welfare Reform Benefited the Poor?
YES: Editors of The Economist, from "Welfare Reform:America's Great Achievement", The Economist NO: Randy Albelda, from "What's Wrong With Welfare-to-Work?"Dollars and Sense
The editors of the Economist present the facts onthe declining welfare rolls and the dramatic increase in employmentfor welfare mothers, and they argue that many of these changes are dueto the changes in the welfare laws and not simply a strong economy.Randy Albelda, professor of economics at the University ofMassachusetts at Boston, argues that even though the statistics lookgood, the reality behind them is grim. The old welfare system helpedmany single mothers get decent jobs through education and trainingwhile the new welfare system in most states forces welfare mothers totake terrible jobs at minimal pay.
ISSUE 14. Is Competition the Solution to the Ills of PublicEducation? YES: Chester E. Finn, Jr., Bruno V. Manno, and GreggVanourek, from "The Radicalization of School Reform",Society NO: James P. Comer, from "Schools That Develop Children",The American Prospect
Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. FordhamFoundation; Bruno V. Manno, senior program associate with the Annie E.Casey Foundation; and Gregg Vanourek, vice president of Charter SchoolDivision at K12 Educational Program, propose that relativelyautonomous charter schools that are free from most state and localregulations and compete with other public schools will radicallyreform the education system and greatly improve public education.James P. Comer, professor of child psychology, contends that allorganizational or curricular reforms will have very limited impacts onpublic education. The only reform that will substantially improvepublic education, he maintains, is to base all teaching on theprinciples of developmental psychology.
ISSUE 15. Should Doctor-Assisted Suicide Be Legalized for theTerminally Ill?
YES: Marcia Angell, from "The Supreme Court and Physician-AssistedSuicide: The Ultimate Right", The New England Journal ofMedicine
NO: Paul R. McHugh, from "The Kevorkian Epidemic", TheAmerican Scholar
Marcia Angell, executive editor of The New EnglandJournal of Medicine, presents medical and ethical reasonsjustifying doctor-assisted suicide, including that it honors theautonomy of the patient and is merciful in cases when pain cannot beadequately relieved. Paul R. McHugh, director of the Department ofPsychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins UniversitySchool of Medicine, argues that sick people who wish to killthemselves suffer from verifiable mental illness and that, since theycan be treated for their pain and depressed state, physicians cannotbe allowed to kill them.
PART 5. Crime and Social Control
ISSUE 16. Is Street Crime More Harmful Than White-CollarCrime?
YES: John J. DiIulio, Jr., from "The Impact of Inner-City Crime",The Public Interest
NO: Jeffrey Reiman, from The Rich Get Richer and the Poor GetPrison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice, 5th ed.
John J. DiIulio, Jr., a professor of politics and publicaffairs, analyzes the enormous harm done--especially to the urban poorand, by extension, to all of society--by street criminals and theiractivities. Professor of philosophy Jeffrey Reiman argues that thedangers posed by negligent corporations and white-collar criminals area greater menace to society than are the activities of typical streetcriminals.
ISSUE 17. Should Drug Use Be Decriminalized?
YES: Ethan A. Nadelmann, from "Commonsense Drug Policy",Foreign Affairs
NO: Eric A. Voth, from "America's Longest `War,'" TheWorld & I
Ethan A. Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center, adrug policy research institute, argues that history shows that drugprohibition is costly and futile. Examining the drug policies in othercountries, he finds that decriminalization plus sane and humane drugpolicies and treatment programs can greatly reduce the harms fromdrugs. Eric A. Voth, chairman of the International Drug StrategyInstitute, contends that drugs are very harmful and that our drugpolicies have succeeded in substantially reducing druguse.
ISSUE 18. Is Capital Punishment Justified?
YES: Robert W. Lee, from "Deserving to Die", The NewAmerican
NO: Eric M. Freedman, from "The Case Against the Death Penalty",USA Today Magazine
Editor and author Robert W. Lee argues that capitalpunishment is needed to deter people from committing murder and otherheinous crimes, but more importantly, it is the punishment that is themost appropriate for these crimes. Legal scholar Eric M. Freedmancounters that the death penalty does not deter crime and hasunacceptable negative consequences, including the potential of killinginnocent people, reducing public safety, and imposing considerablecosts on society.
PART 6. The Future: Population/Environment/Society
ISSUE 19. Is Mankind Dangerously Harming theEnvironment? YES: Chris Bright, from "Anticipating Environmental`Surprise,'" in Lester R. Brown et al., State of the World 2000: AWorldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a SustainableSociety NO: Bjorn Lomborg, from "The Truth About the Environment",The Economist
Research associate Chris Bright demonstrates how humanactions are inadvertently altering and degrading the environment inways that are harmful to humans. Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician at theUniversity of Aarhus, Denmark, presents evidence that populationgrowth is slowing down, natural resources are not running out, speciesare disappearing very slowly, the environment is improving in someways, and assertions about environmental decline areexaggerated.
ISSUE 20. Is Globalization Good for Mankind? YES: Murray Weidenbaum, from "Globalization Is Not a DirtyWord: Dispelling the Myth About the Global Economy", VitalSpeeches of the Day NO: Herman E. Daly, from "Globalization and Its Discontents",Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly
Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of the Weidenbaum Center atWashington University in St. Louis, argues that economic globalizationbenefits all countries that participate in world markets.Globalization produces more jobs than it eliminates, he contends, bothfor the world and for the United States. Herman E. Daly, professor atthe School of Public Affairs at the University of Maryland, does notobject to international trade and relations, but he does object toglobalization that erases national boundaries and hurts workers andthe environment.