Selected topics in the empirical study of the ways in which people's character and life choices are affected by variations in the organization of their society and of the activities by which social arrangements varying in their adequacy to human needs are perpetuated or changed.
In both the ideal and real worlds, the family is credited with producing social leaders and blamed for creating social misfits. Social scientists, policy makers, and writers have focused on the family as a central and powerful social institution. This course explores the nature and role of families, and how families vary across cultures and over time. The course will address such topics as socialization, gender, work-family issues, and domestic violence.
In this comparative course in family systems, we will study the impact of production and politics on family life in various cultures, including Africa, Latin America, the Far East, and the United States. The course uses ethnographic studies and documentaries to illuminate the impact of the political economy on family life, the life course, and gender roles and relationships. Various theories of development will place the ethnographies into socio-political and historical context.
The nature of the city and how it fosters cosmopolitanism and urbanity. Urban planning, good and bad. City lifestyles contrasted with those of the suburb and country. Includes optional field trip to New York City.
Explores the personal, intergroup, and institutional dimensions of race, class, and gender as simultaneous and interactive systems of meaning and experience. Examines theories of the economic, social and psychological dynamics of oppression; the social construction and reconstruction of identity; and the nature of racism, classism, and sexism. Social change strategies for eliminating oppression are also explored.
Exploring the interactions between religion and gender and sexuality, this course examines: how various religious traditions perceive sexuality and gender; the ways in which religion influences social policy both within the United States and globally; and the impact this has on individuals, families, and societies. The course focuses on contemporary concerns, while offering a comparative (historical and cross-cultural) introduction to these issues across several religious traditions. Particular emphasis is given to religious fundamentalisms across the three major monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Courses which examine special topics in sociology and will include on a regular basis, Stratification and Inequality, Consumer Culture, and the Sociology of Health and Illness. See descriptions at end.
Students will be introduced to the sociological view that both health and illness are not defined simply by physiological factors but are strongly influenced by aspects of the social structure. Specifically, that social factorsaffect not simply life expectancy, but the chances individuals have of contracting major types of disease and the nature of the health care they receive.
This class will expose students to issues in the study of medical sociology including: the nature of disease; the historical development of the treatment of illness and the development of modern medicine; the role of social epidemiology in the study of the frequency and pattern of disease; the relationship between gender, race, social class and health status; health and the global environment; and the medicalization of society.
In addition, this course will encourage students to engage debates about the relationship between biomedical science and society including the shifting organization of medicine, from physicians and non-physician providers to health insurance and the future of health care reform.
This course takes a critical look at the layers of American society that shape, construct, and inhibit the basic pursuit for equality of opportunity. Students will be asked to examine how the three most fundamental elements of social stratification – race, class, and gender – function both separately and in tandem to organize systems of inequality. The course enlists theoretical and practical applications of stratification to evaluate how social constructions of difference influence the institutions, such as education, work, family, government, and society policy that impact our daily lives. Additionally, class discussions will also consider how the forces of racism, sexism, and classism impact the attainment of basic needs, such as wages, health care, and housing.
Exploring the relationship between globalization and inequality, this course examines the complex forces driving the integration of ideas, people, societies and economies worldwide. This inquiry into global disparities will consider the complexities of growth, poverty reduction, and the roles of international organizations. Among the global issues under scrutiny, will be environmental degradation; debt forgiveness; land distribution sweatshops, labor practices and standards; the new slavery in the global economy; and the vulnerability of the world's children. Under specific investigation will be the social construction and processes of marginalization, disenfranchisement and the effects of globalization that have reinforced the division between the worlds' rich and poor.
The sociology of consumerism is a major specialty in European sociology, and is only recently receiving attention by American sociologists. In this class, we will examine the increasing importance of consumerism in daily life and the degree to which culture has become commercialized. We will discuss the sign value of commodities, as well as the shift from a stratification system based on the relationship of the means of production to one based on styles and patterns of consumption. We will also concern ourselves with the relationships between consumption and more traditional sociological concerns such as gender, race, and social class.
“Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night” (Marian Wright Edelman). The problem is, work is all of those things: our livelihood, our mobility, and our identity. This course is a sociological examination of how we structure, fill, and define work in the United States . Course material will investigate how occupational positions have come to define American social stratification in terms of prestige, skill, and distributed rewards. Specifically, class discussions will be concerned with who occupies certain positions, how we socially construct occupational opportunities, and how this impacts life circumstances according to race, gender, and class. The goal is to understand, through the use of both theory and contemporary application, how the nature of work and occupations shapes our daily lives.
This course introduces students to the theory and methods of social science research, beginning with an examination of the philosophies underlying various research methodologies. The course then focuses on ethnographic field methods, introducing students to the techniques of participant observation, structured and informal interviewing, oral histories, sociometrics, and content analysis. Students will design their own field projects. Prerequisite: At least one course in sociology, anthropology, or American studies.
The quantitative research methods course introduces students to basic principles of social science research methodologies and statistical analysis. Students will use examples from scholarly research to understand concepts related to research design, sample selection, appropriate measurement, and survey construction. Additionally, students will apply these concepts to conduct introductory data analysis. Using elemental tools of descriptive and inferential statistics, students will learn to quantitatively assess social research questions in order to draw meaningful conclusions.
The study of protest politics and social movements is the study of collective agency, as social movements arise when people act together to promote or resist social change. Movements represent not only grievances on a particular set of issues, but also frustration with more established political forms of making claims in societies. In this course, we will engage with some of the large theoretical debates in the study of social movements, reading both empirical treatments of particular movements and theoretical treatments of key issues. The featured case studies will include civil rights, feminism, ecology, the antinuclear movement, the New Right and the alternative globalization movement. We will be particularly concerned with the social and political context of protest, focusing on basic questions, such as: under what circumstances do social movements emerge? How do dissidents choose political tactics and strategies; and, how do movements affect social and political change?
This course will look at social policy in a comparative and global perspective. Gender, race, class, and colonization will inform our comparison of policies and policy systems. This course also explores the increasing internationalization of social policy and the advant of a new "global social policy," whereby international organizations play a powerful role in shaping welfare state development in the developing world and in post-communist states. Topics covered will include comparative methodology; and international variation in formulation and response to issues, such as employment, housing, domestic violence, poverty, health, and child welfare.
Critical examination, through original works by Merton, Parsons, Cohen, Cloward, Matza, McHugh, Blum, and others, of the two major contrasting approaches in American sociology to the theoretical explanation of delinquency and crime. Crime and evil will also be examined by using Plato to reflect on the Holocaust.
This course is concerned with a wide range of issues surrounding gender and the media. We will consider interpretations of gender both as essence and as construction, and we will examine the role of the media in contemporary culture. Finally, we will examine the representation of gender in the media as well as representations of gender by the media. Prerequisite: Either 110, 222 or 224.
Courses which examine special topics in sociology.
This course will examine alternative ways of understanding the human being, society, and culture as they have been presented in classical sociological theory (through 1925). It will focus on the theoretical logic of accounting for simple and complex forms of social life, interactions between social processes and individual and group identities, major and minor changes in society and culture, and the linkages between intimate and large-scale human experience. Prerequisite: 110.
This course will examine alternative ways of understanding the human being, society, and culture as they have been presented in contemporary sociological theory (1925-present). It will focus on the theoretical logic of accounting for simple and complex forms of social life, interactions between social processes and individual and group identities, major and minor changes in society and culture, and the linkages between intimate and large-scale human experience. Prerequisite: 110.
This course is an examination of the theories and practices that constitute a sociological understanding of medicine, health, and illness. Social epidemiology, health care systems, stigma, medicalization, suffering, and death, are some of the phenomena considered.
This course is intended for the social science major that is interested in a deeper exploration of the topics and techniques covered in an introductory course on social research methods. Students taking this course will have the opportunity to design their own research study, either by collecting original data or by using a secondary data source (such as the General Social Survey). The semester-long project will provide in-depth instruction on survey design, data colelction, and data entry. Additionally, students will use the SPSS statistical package to comprehensively analyze data, from descriptive results to multiple regressions.
This course will examine postmodernism as both an intellectual development and a cultural condition. In doing the former we will analyze the works of "post-medernists" such as Foucault, Lyotard, and Braudrillard. For the latter, issues such as the relationship between self and identity, the ruse of the information society, and the development of the surveillance society will be examined. Prerequisite: Sociology 330 or permission of instructor.
A specialized seminar, intended to relate a broad area of theoretical concern to the problems and procedures of current research. Regularly offered topics: American Society; Art and Society; Eating Disorders and Health; Sociology of Religion; Postmodernism, Culture, and Communication. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Offered Fall Semester.
Independent study, in consultation with a specially constituted faculty committee, of a problem area chosen by the student. The student should, in addition to pursuing his/her own interests, also seek to demonstrate how various perspectives within sociology and, where relevant, other disciplines bear on the topic chosen. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
While dealing with broad conceptualizations of violence, this course will focus on gender conflict and sexual violence in the context of domestic and international disputes.
Ten courses are required, including 110, 240, 244 (previously 241), 330 or 331, one course at the 400-level, and five other courses, two of which may be taken outside of the major with the approval of the department. Students must take three courses in their thematic area, one of which may be outside the department. Students must decide on a thematic focus no later than second semester junior year. A senior thesis is strongly reocmmended. New thematic topics could include: Gender, Social Theory, Stratification, Race and Ethnicity, Deviance and Criminology, The Family, Media. Approved course work to be decided by the department.
Students may choose to do a senior thesis during the spring smester of their senior year.