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POLS521 Politics and Society

The politics of class, gender, and ethnic inequality in New Zealand, with some comparative reference to the US and Europe.

Paper title Politics and Society
Paper code POLS521
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,810.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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POLS 404
Limited to
Teaching staff
Associate Professor Brian Roper
Paper Structure


  • Week 1: Introductions and Course Administration
  • Week 1: The Sociological Imagination
  • Week 2: The Neoliberal Justification of Social Inequality

Section One: Ethnicity

  • Week 2: Ethnic Inequality and Racist Politics
  • Week 3: White Settler Colonialism
  • Week 3: The Political Economy of Ethnic Inequality

Section Two: Gender

  • Week 4: Is the Family Anti-Social? Gender Inequality in the Family-Household
  • Week 4: Beyond the Barriers? Gender Inequality in Paid Employment
  • Week 5: Explaining Gender Inequality: Radical Feminism and Socialist Feminism
  • Week 6: The Changing Social Construction and Cultural Practices of Masculinity
  • Week 7: The Changing Social Construction and Cultural Practices of Femininity
  • Week 7: Gender Politics: The Anti-Feminist Backlash and Rise of Raunch Culture
  • Week 8: Gender Politics: Welfare and Paid Parental Leave
  • Week 8: Postmodernist Feminism and Contemporary Feminist Theory

Section Three: Class

  • Week 9: The Unequal Distribution of Income, Wealth and Life Chances
  • Week 9: What is Class? Marx vs. Weber
  • Week 10: What is Class? Recent Theories
  • Week 11: The Changing Working Class
  • Week 11: A New Middle Class?
  • Week 12: Class Politics: Labour, National and the Minor Parties
  • Week 12: The Upper Propertied or Capitalist Class
  • Week 13: Class Politics: Taxation and Social Spending


  • Week 13: What Can Be Done to Reduce Inequality?
No required coursebook or course reader.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the methods in the study of politics, specifically those employed in investigating political problems and phenomena relating to New Zealand society
  • Analyse political ideas and assumptions to assess the connections between ideas
  • Apply abstractions (general ideas and methods) to new and unfamiliar aspects of New Zealand politics and society
  • Articulate ideas, arguments and experiences to others both as a writer and speaker, and carry out self-directed and independent research

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 9-14, 16-22