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Exploring Neighborhood Inequality with Census Data
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census data
research methods

How to Cite

Whitehead, Ellen. 2018. “Exploring Neighborhood Inequality With Census Data”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, August. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This hands-on activity is designed to help students consider neighborhoods as a dimension of inequality, using census data to examine neighborhood characteristics. By selecting specific neighborhoods and variables of interest, developing hypotheses, and interpreting data, students also enhance their understanding of how sociologists evaluate inequality...

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Subject Area(s):
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
College 100
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This activity requires a working knowledge of variables and hypotheses in social science research. A basic introduction to quantitative social science practices is likely necessary before assigning this activity. Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods, Urban Sociology, and Social Problems are all appropriate classes for this assessment.


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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Students will become familiar with population-level census data, including what information the census collects and how to explore publicly-available information with the user-friendly Social Explorer website.
  2. Students will learn about different dimensions of inequality (i.e. poverty, racial segregation, education) between neighborhoods.
  3. Students will gain familiarity with a quantitative approach to answering sociological questions by developing hypotheses, evaluating data, and presenting their results.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students will be guided through a Social Explorer tutorial, using the provided handout. Following these instructions, students will compile their own data tables by selecting neighborhoods and variables on the website.
  2. Students will select which features of neighborhoods they wish to explore from the available Social Explorer variables. They will also provide a written summary of how their selected neighborhoods compare and contrast along these dimensions.
  3. Using their pre-existing knowledge about neighborhoods they are familiar with, students will develop hypotheses and compare and contrast their two selected neighborhoods in terms of their chosen variables.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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Requires Subscription DOCX

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