Cancelled - Critical Reading and Re-analysis

Course content

The course provides a critical reading and re-analysis of the award-winning ethnography, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, by Philippe Bourgois. It will be used to 1) explore contemporary issues surrounding immigration, including social marginalization and stigmatization, 2) to understand how social theory helps us make sense of our world, and  3)  to deepen our understanding of the relationship between theory, methodology, and data.


We will journey into an American urban ghetto known as Spanish Harlem to witness the lives of Puerto Rican migrants in the United States. We will learn about the drug dealers, their families, friends and customers.  We will 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 they do to themselves, and the violence that the community and society does to them.  Through all of these layers, we will see their humanity.


This journey, along with the supplemental theory that we will read, provides an understanding of how gender, class and race operate to shape social marginality, stigmatization and alienation. We step back and look at how these processes unfold differently across national context. Social theory is used to make sense of related pressing issues facing societies across the world, including Denmark. This includes topics such as immigrant integration and control, inclusion and exclusion, the making of “ghettos”, and the role of the state (and economy) in shaping marginality.


Mandatory course at 4th semester at BA Sociology



Learning outcome


  • Understand competing social theories used to explain social marginality and related issues.
  • Understand the relationship between theory and data by using this case study to reflect on how sociological theory informs our understanding of the empirical world.
  • Understand the relationship between methodology and data, specifically through a close look at ethnography, the methodology of ethnography and the types of data that it produces.


  • Discuss the benefits and weaknesses of the ethnographic method, including the epistemological complications that it sometimes presents.
  • Discuss and analyse some major traditions in sociological theory in relation to the selected theme of marginality.


  • Evaluate ethnographic work and data
  • Relate in an insightful manner to the links between theoretical and empirical data.
  • Read and understand theory
  • Use theory to analyse society and social problems

This class is will use the following methods:
1) Visual and written (re) articulations of social theory.
2) Re-enactment of sociological phenomenon given to us through a text.
3) Application of social theory to the re-enactments.
4) Lectures that summarize the main points of the lesson.
5) Discussions in the form of class discussions and smaller group discussions.

Two main texts:

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 a number of additional texts provided online.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
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
  • Exam Preparation
  • 37
  • Preparation
  • 141
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • English
  • 206