Ethics

Additional Information

TEACHING ETHICS THROUGHOUT THE CURRICULUM

Topic: Harassment

Sociologists understand that social organizations are stratified along a number of dimensions and that means that power is unequally distributed among the members of any organization. Some power differentials are brought into organizations in the very persons and social identities of the people who make them up. Others are a function of the positions different people hold within organizations. Still others are the result of complex interactions between these two and may be situational. That is to say, there may be moments when someone who is relatively powerless along many dimensions is situationally powerful enough to feel free to engage in harassing activity.

The recognition of the potential for abuse when power differentials are writ large is the context within which sociologists' commitment to ensuring that professional settings are free of harassment and to refrain from harassment themselves is understood. For harassment is, above all, an abuse of power. It is a form of abuse which demeans and disempowers persons with whom one has a professional relationship such that they are unable to do their best work and have themselves and that work seen in the most favorable light possible, and to grow and thrive as human beings. It is undignified, unprofessional, and shows insensitivity to those dimensions of social interaction to which sociologists, in particular, should be most sensitive.

Case 12. Sexual Relationships

Case 13. Harassment on the Basis of Ethnicity/Political Allegiance