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Social service 101

This module by Cadet Emma LaBossiere

This module was prepared by Cadet Emma LaBossiere, and presented in class on 5/6/2020. The class Power Point is attached under Aims below.

  • Background: Worked in a corps where she was a minority.
  • Knows: Race is still a big issue in the United States.
  • Wanted to learn:  How to discuss such a hot topic as racism, in an online setting, and come out with a solution.
  • Learned: The role of stratification in racism. Confidence that God will give words when we commit to open conversation. We have to be the ones making the change.

Aims of this module

To safely and honestly explore issues of race and cultural differences. To strengthen the capacity of new lieutenants to "preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination" especially when the people in their corps and community are very different from them.

Race and ethnicity

Race: "Initially, race referred to biological differences believed to exist as distinctions between individuals or groups; however, racial groups can be understood as identity groupings as well as government-protected categories" (p. 739) "Nearly all social scientists now refer to race as a social construct" (Parillo, 2008, Encyclopedia of social problems, p. 739).

Ethnicity: "Ethnicity refers to the phenomena that create boundaries that separate a large group of people from other groups. The phenomena generating ethnicity are national or geographic origin, religion or other cultural factors, and race. National origin refers to the country or geographic region, for example, in Asia, Europe, or Latin America, where a person's family came from originally or at least at one point in the past. Cultural factors that create ethnicity including language, dress, family structure, values, and religion" (p. 335). 


Stratification: “the unequal distribution of valued goods and services” (Healey, Stepnick & O’Brien, 2018, p. 13).

Max Weber (1864-1920) – “Weber thought that Marx’s view of inequality was too narrow. Marx saw social class as a matter of economic position or relationship to the means of production but Weber argued that inequality was more complex and included dimensions other than just the economic” (p. 14). 

  1. “First, economic inequality is based on ownership or control of wealth (such as property) and income (money from employment, interest on bank holdings, and other payments)” (p. 14).
  2. ”A second system of stratification revolves around differences in prestige, or the amount of honor, esteem, or respect given to us by others” (p. 15)
  3. “Weber’s third stratification system is power, or the ability to influence others, impact the decision-making process of society, and pursue and protect one’s self-interest and achieve one’s goals” (p. 15) 


Refugees: not undocumented immigrants: any individual admitted as a refugee first undergoes a thorough vetting process conducted by various agencies of the US government overseas; then, if selected, they come to the United States at the invitation of the US State Department. They have legal status from the day they arrive in the United States; they can apply for their green cards one year after arrival and, in most cases, for naturalization four years after that. (Soerens & Yang, 2018, p. 38)


3 basic statuses that a foreigner residing in the US can have: legal nonimmigrant, Lawful Permanent Resident, or US citizen. Most foreigners who do not have one of these statuses are undocumented, meaning they have no legal status and could be legally deported solely on that basis.

3 basic statuses: (p. 69-72)

  • Legal Nonimmigrant – foreigners on a nonimmigrant visa are admitted into the United States on a temporary basis, usually either as tourists, business travelers, temporary workers, or students. They come to stay for a limited period, and their home is still in the country they came from
  • Lawful Permanent Resident – possess a green card that identifies them as having been legally admitted to live permanently in the United States. They have the right to live and work, and their status never expires, although their green cards need to be renewed every ten years.
  • US citizen – includes naturalized citizens, who must first have been Lawful Permanent Residents, pass a test, demonstrate that they are of good moral character, swear an oath of allegiance to the US., and meet certain other requirements.


Healey, J. F., Stepnick, A., &  O'Brien, E. (2019). Race, ethnicity, gender, & class: the sociology of group conflict and change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Munn, J. (2019). Sexism.*

Parillo, V. N. (Ed.). (2008). Encyclopedia of social problems (Vol 1-2). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Platt, M. (2017). Hallelujah in the hush harbor: examining the experiences of black Salvation Army officers in the United States.*

Soerens, M., & Yang, J. (2018). Welcoming the stranger: justice, compassion & truth in the immigration debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

*Printed in the May 2020 issue of Word & Deed: A journal of Salvation Army Theology & Ministry. 

Some ways to respond

Talk with your children. Recommended by Imagination Movers: "for our kids, talking with a parent or caregiver can mitigate anxiety and fear, especially given recent events. Know as a parent, it's okay to not have all the answers. However, silence is not a solution. Lissten. Be honest. Acknowledge the reality of racism with the hope of change.. #listen #change Here's a great resource from the American Academy of Pediatrics that may help."Talking to children about racial bias


Talking's too hard? Read together.  Recommended by Imagination Movers: "It's easy to avoid discussing issues of race and racism with our children. These conversations are difficult and delicate and often times we are left yearning for the right words to say. Perhaps, reading a children's book can help?Our words and actions shape and influence our children and having authentic conversations are great first steps - and putting step after step we must. It's the only way to move forward after all." 

Reading, watching and listening for grownups:

For Christians

"Only four in ten white practicing Christians believe our country has a race problem". This study, based on research by the Barna Group and available as a free digital download, asks, "Where do we go from here?"