Pol 266: Study guide

SSI-11    Pol 266 Study Guide


This will be a closed-book, closed-note exam. While you are encouraged to study together, you must each come up with your own answers and write your own exams.

The exam will be divided into three parts, and all questions will be drawn from the following. Do note that the questions are drawn both from lecture and from the readings. Also, none of these are ‘trick’ questions, that is, if they seem straightforward, they are.

Finally, keep in mind that these questions are pulled not just from Nussbaum, but also lecture, Atwood, and the essays in Okin, and in Ehrenreich & Hochschild

I. List: FIVE questions will appear on the exam. You will answer ALL. [15 percent, total]
Simply list the answers; no explanations necessary. Note that in some cases more than three answers may be applicable.

1. List the three arguments against universal values.
2. List three ways migration affects family dynamics.
3. List three ways paid household workers are more vulnerable than other wage workers.
4. List three categories of women in Gilead, and their associated roles and colors.
5. List three ways sex is an economic matter.
6. List three ways sex is a political matter.
7. List the ‘three very difficult questions’ to Nussbaum’s approach to dealing with religion.
8. List three levels of knowledge.

II Short answer: SEVEN questions will appear on the exam. You will write on FIVE. [50 percent, total]
Give a BRIEF answer and/or explanation (depending upon the question), and identify if the term is associated with a particular author; answers should be about 1 blue book page.

1. How does it help or hurt a nanny to be considered a part of the family?
2. What is emotional labor and why does it matter?
3. What is the relationship between multiculturalism and group rights?
4. What is Nussbaum’s threshold for justice and what role does it play in her approach to development?
5. How does one determine who speaks for culture?
6. What are the ten capabilities?
7. What are adaptive preferences and why do they matter?
8. How does one mediate between claims of individuals and those of culture?
9. What is the public sphere and what is the private sphere and why do they matter?
10. What is the role of household labor in the economy?

III. Essay: TWO questions will appear on the exam. You will write on ONE. [35 percent]
The answer should be comprehensive, drawing on in-class and reading material, and involving not just quick responses to the questions, but an evaluation of those responses.

1. Nussbaum presents her list of ten capabilities as necessary to a fully human life, and as such she does not recognize any conflicts between those capabilities. Yet in her discussion of religious expression she apparently extends rights to groups which may interfere with the capabilities of individuals within those groups. How does she resolve this apparent discrepancy, and is such a resolution persuasive? Discuss in detail at least one other case in which developing capabilities for one person or group of persons may come into conflict with the capabilities of another person or group of persons.

2. Is multiculturalism bad for women? Discuss in detail, using at least three examples and arguments.

3. Margaret Atwood’s Gilead is a fictional portrayal of a patriarchal republic in which women and men are assigned specific and rigid roles. The narrator Offred notes in a number of places that hers is a transitional generation, that is, that at some point children born into Gilead will have no recollection of the life of freedom (and danger) before. Given what Nussbaum has both argued and assumed about human aspirations and capabilities, however, is it possible to extinguish the desire for freedom? Will people search for meaning even after they’ve become acculturated to a society (such as Gilead) in which meaning is determined for them? How does the concept of adaptive preferences come into play when dealing with any totalitarian society? Respond with reference both to The Handmaid’s Tale and to real-world examples.

4. We’ve discussed the relationship between private space and public space, as well as that between inside/outside roles and personal/political matters. Discuss these sets of dichotomies with reference to women’s and men’s roles and activities, as well as to the performance of household labor. What does this mean in terms of work and how it is valued, both in terms of wages and socially? How does the notion of ‘men’s work’ or ‘women’s work’ affect the opportunities of men and women, as well as boys and girls? What does this mean in terms of class as well as sex, that is, as women move into the wage-workplace, instead of redistributing household labor between men and women, the labor is instead performed by working class and immigrant women?


About proftp

I teach political science and bioethics as an adjunct at a CUNY school.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.