Gudykunst is an expert in communications. He examines a variety of situations where perceptions of self are inconsistent with perceptions by others. Obviously the fundamental attribution error is at work. He uses a variety of examples from his experiences which include communications misperceptions between a variety of ethnic groups. There are also numerous mini-tests so that students can easily assess where they stand on the skills that he is advocating. The book sometimes seems a bit redundant, but I haven't found anything better to introduce misperception.
Tannen's text examines conversational style differences between men and women. She states that she stayed away from gender issues in some of her earlier work, but finally decided to tackle these differences. Whether or not you dispute her observations and linguistic data, you will note that there are definite differences between people in their conversational style. Some students ask their opposite sexed friends to read this text. I believe that it serves as an excellent jumping off place for conversations about gender differences and gender similarities.
Because I incorporate feminist psychology into all of the courses I teach, I thought that I would offer perspectives concerning the lives of men, especially as men's responsibilities were altered in the fifties and sixties. This text describes the various characters that men could adopt and analyzes the ramifications of each. I would not use this text again because I believe that students have not yet truly understood gender/power relationships. At the time that I read it I found the text enlightening.
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Guthrie, Robert V. (1998). Even the rat was white: A historical view of psychology, (2nd Ed).Needham Heights, MA: Allyn&Bacon,
Guthrie first published this text in 1976 pointing out how psychology was presented historically as "white" - the researchers, the research, the history, even the rat. He attempts to set the record straight by including the important work and perspectives of African American researchers as well as the impact of research on African American readers. Contributions by these researchers may surprise many readers. In Guthrie's preface, he comments that after attending a historically black undergraduate university and then moving on to a large southern university he noticed that the contributions of Blacks as well as other minority groups were omitted. His desire is to counter that neglect.
Edwards, A. & Polite, C. K. (1992) Children of the Dream. New York:Anchor Books, 276 pps.
The text begins with the stories of the nine children, now adults, who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. What has happened to them? What has happened to the education and subsequent success of Blacks since the Civil Rights Movement? The text relates the stories of hard work, racism, and personal struggles faced by approximated 40 African Americans. The book offers interview material as well as biography. Frankly I find this text heartening. The newspapers and history texts carry little information to tell us about the origins of various corporations and careers forged for Black Americans: magazines, skin and hair care, television reporting, beauty queens, etc. I stopped using it only because I believe that the text represents too narrow a picture of Black Americans.
Black Rage is a reissue of the text by the same name from 1968. The authors state in the introduction to this new issue that they were encouraged to print a new edition because many of the issues have not gone away. Unfortunately, they did not modernize the text. I agree that many topics have not changed, but some of the causes of BlackRage have probably been reformulated in 20 years. I think the written discussion of clinical cases and possible causes being due to the long history of racism lends itself to a worthwhile class discussion. Black students in my course had difficulty accepting the analysis of Grier and Cobbs.
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Rubin's predominant research method utilizes in-depth
interviews. This particular text, while drawing material from a large number
of individuals, focuses a great deal on three families, each representing
different ethnic groups. Not only is the material poignant and wonderfully
readable, but also the reader gets a real understanding of how many people
work hard and yet seem to go nowhere. The text, like other Rubin works such
as Worlds of Pain and Women of a Certain Age depicts the thoughts,
woes, pleasures, and relationships of men and women and how they are effected
by social class.
Rubin interviewed hundreds of people in 1972 and repored abou the lives of working class men and women. They describe their personal lives from the perspective of growing up in working class homes as well as their relationships with their current spouses. They discuss their sex lives, their money management, their leisure time, their relationships to their family of origin, their attitude toward child care, women working, and power in marriage. The text is poignant, relevant, and goes to the core of existence of the working class in America.
The forward is compelling because the population is more inclusive and reflects on the past 20 years. In 1992??? Rubin re-interviewed many people from her original sample. She notes that despite how hard they work, their lives seem not to improve. [Some students get caught up in the year of the original study and think the text is now out-of-date or is important only as a historical document, even though Rubin cites minimal changes in the lives.] She also describes how her early sample included only Caucasians. The additional sample of respondents who she garners for the forward include people of other races. She addresses the current vogue of ethnocentricism.
As in all of her texts, Rubin is quite readable.
The title describes the text beautifully. The editor found people who are members of many different ethnic groups and are willing to tell their tales. While the book is highly readable, it does not serve well for a text because there is no analysis. At the same time, some individuals might enjoy reading the book because it offers individual outlooks and students can draw their own conclusions.
Out of Print. This text, written by a historian, is based on extensive
interviews with three female members of the same families. Several years
later, the author returned to visit the family and update their stories.
All of the families were in the Pittsburgh, PA, area, but lived in different
neighborhoods and represented one of three ethnic groups - Jews, Slavs,
and Italians - two very different families from each group. As the women
provide oral histories we learn of early immigrants, the Americanization
of the families, and the adherence to ethnic tradition. Not only does this
book sensitize students to a unique research technique, but it also can
add an interdisciplinary flavor to a social science course.
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Ford's guide to being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual and transgendered offers information on corporations, cities, magazines, entertainers, etc., that are gay friendly. He also describes the gay expereince, from figuring out that one is gay, to coming out, to developing relationships, to working for political issues that effect gays such as research for AIDS and HIV positive individuals. I found that many books on gays and lesbians neglected bisexuals. Ford attempts to be even-handed while explaining to the straight world the terms, slang, and descriptions that the non-straight world uses. Many books on gays, lesbians,and bisexuals I found to be "how-to" books or intellectual tomes. The World Out There was the best balance I could find.
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