Critical Reading and Re-analysis

Course content

The course uses the award-winning ethnography, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, by Philippe Bourgois to provide us with a journey into an American urban ghetto known as Spanish Harlem. He brings us into the world of Puerto Rican drug dealers and helps us get to know them, their families, friends and customers. 

We learn the details of their lives as children, their time at school, at home, their love, anger and work. We hear about how they feel about their lives. We become witnesses of the violence done to themselves, the community and society.  Through all of these layers, we see their humanity and the making of marginality in the United States. This journey provides us with context to compare marginality across place, including Europe.

The class will use short articles and chapters from other scholars to help us explore the nature of marginality, regimes of urban marginality across different places, and related issues; such as the process of integration and control, inclusion and exclusion, ghettos and anti-ghettos, the state, metropolis and the symbolic, social and physical making of marginality.


Mandatory course at 4th semester at BA Sociology

Learning outcome


  • Understand and reflect on classic, modern and contemporary trends in sociological theory.

  • Evaluate the relevance of these in relation to analysis of contemporary and/or social theoretical analytical problems.


  • Discuss how contemporary sociological theory marks continuity with or breaks from classic sociology.

  • Discuss and analyse some major traditions of classical and contemporary sociological theory in relation to the selected theme of marginality.


  • Formulate significant problems related to the evolution of sociological theory.

  • Relate in an insightful manner to the links between theoretical and empirical data.

This course will utilize group discussion, class discussion and class exercises.

Bourgois, Philippe. In search of respect:
Selling crack in El Barrio. Vol. 10.
Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Wacquant, Loïc. Urban outcasts:
A comparative sociology of advanced marginality.
Polity, 2008.

There will be additional articles posted on Absalon.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Course participation
Active Participation will consist of: course participation, group discussion, class discussion and class exercises during the course.
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 91
  • Preparation
  • 50
  • Exam Preparation
  • 37
  • English
  • 206