CCHU9011 Arts and Humanities
Social Divisions in Contemporary Societies

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Diversity (GSD)

Course Description

This course aims to enhance students’ awareness of social divisions and their implications for distribution of resources and life chances in contemporary societies. It examines the shaping processes of social divisions; their meanings from different theoretical perspectives; and the ways to deal with them at personal, societal and policy level. Critical thinking, social analysis and personal reflection will be emphasized. Through guest lectures, students will learn about the real life experiences of socially disadvantaged groups. Students interested in social issues and ways for improving the life of the socially disadvantaged would find this course particularly stimulating.

[Students will be required to take a field trip during Reading Week.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply personal experiences and observations to the discussion of social divisions.
  2. Explain how social divisions are socially constructed.
  3. Analyze social divisions from different perspectives.
  4. Examine social exclusion faced by disadvantaged social groups.
  5. Identify ways to narrow social divides in contemporary societies.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 30
Assessment: Group presentation (incl preparation) 20
Assessment: Essay writing 20
Assessment: In-class test (incl preparation) 20
Total: 126

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 20
Group presentation 15
Individual essay 35
In-class test 30

Required Reading

  • Anderson, E. (1994, May). The code of the streets. Atlantic Monthly, 81-94.
  • Baumann, A. E. (2007). Stigmatization, social distance and exclusion because of mental illness: The individual with mental illness as a ‘stranger’. International Review of Psychiatry, 19(2), 131-135.
  • Becker, H. (1963/2008). Outsiders. University of Chicago Press. [Chaps. 1, 2, 10]
  • Brown, K., & Rutter, L. (2008). Critical reflection. Critical thinking for social work (2nd ed.). Exeter (England): Learning Matters. [pp. 21-27]
  • Brownmiller, S. (1975). Against our will, men, women and rape. NYC: Fawcett Books. [Chaps. 2, pp. 16-30]
  • Cleckley, H. (1941). The mask of sanity (5th ed.). Mosby Co. [pp 29-46, “Max”]
  • Dahrendorf, R. (1981). Life Chances: Approaches to Social and Political Theory. [pp. 21-39]
  • Marx, K. (N. d.). Selections from Capital (Vol. 1).  [pp. 711-724]
  • Massey, D., & Denton, N. American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. [Chap. 1]
  • Park, Y. (2015). In order to live. New York: Penguin. [pp. 125-180]
  • Weisel, E. (2017). Night. Hill & Wang. [This is a famous book. You can read it in whatever language is most comfortable to you.]
  • Young-Bruehl, E. (1998). The anatomy of prejudices. Harvard University Press. [Varieties of Silencing, pp. 475-485]

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr C.R. Emery
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 2077
Email: cemery@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr C.R. Emery
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 2077
Email: cemery@hku.hk