Course Descriptions

Sociology

SOCI 110 - Introduction to Sociology

The course introduces students to the sociological imagination, or "the quality of mind essential to grasp the interplay of individual and society, of biography and history, of self and the world," as C. Wright Mills dscribed it. The enduring value of a sociological imagination is to help students situate peoples' lives and important events in broader social contexts by understanding how political, economic, and cultural forces constitute social life. Sociology explores minute aspects of social life (microsociology) as well as global social processes and structures (macrosociology). Topics covered vary from semester to semester, but may include: socialization, suburbanization and housing, culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class stratification, deviance and crime, economic and global inequality, families and intimate relationships, education, religion, and globalization.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 170 - Sociology of Work

This course will examine recent transformations in the U.S. economy - including deskilling, downsizing, and the rise of the service sector - and it will consider how each of these "transformations" relate to issues of identity, community, family formation, structural inequality and national culture. Work has changed so quickly in the last three decades that we have yet to fully comprehend the micro level consequences in our daily lives and the macro level consequences for American culture and global processes.

SOCI 175 - Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics is the study of the linguistic diversity. Language and culture are so closely tied that it is nearly impossible to discuss language variation without also understanding its relation to culture, and diversity in language often stands as a symbol of ethnic and social diversity. This course introduces students to the overwhelming amount of linguistic diversity in the United States and elsewhere, while at the same time making them aware of the cultural prejudices inherent in our attitude towards people who speak differently from us. The class involves analysis and discussion of the readings, setting the stage for exploration assignments, allowing students to do their own research on linguistic diversity.

Frequency: Two years in every three.

Cross-Listed as

LING 175

SOCI 180 - Sociology of Culture

When sociologists look at culture they look at things like people's leisure activities, consumption patterns, style, membership in subcultural groups, and the arts. A common thread throughout most of these studies of culture is how social class and culture intersect. For example, how do people's class backgrounds influence their forms of cultural expression in terms of their leisure activities, their beliefs, their personal style, or whom they want to hang out with? This course will explore these issues, focusing on class as a common theme. Specific topics include: the role of artists and people's development of aesthetic taste in the arts; social forces that push us towards conformity or towards individualism; subcultural groups; and how people make distinctions between themselves and those who they describe as "other."

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 190 - Criminal Behavior/Social Control

 The use of imprisonment as a form of criminal punishment is only about as old at the United States. Currently, 1 in 100 adults in the United States are in prison or jail. How should we understand the growth of this form of criminal punishment? How is it similar to other methods to react to and to attempt to control unwanted behavior? What are the social consequences of these formal institutions of social control? In this course, we examine these developments in the processes and organization of social control, paying particular attention to criminal behavior and formal, legal responses to crime. We study and evaluate sociological theories of criminal behavior to understand how social forces influence levels of crimes. We examine recent criminal justice policies in the United States and their connections to inequality, examining the processes that account for expanding criminalization. Finally, we compare the development of formal, bureaucratic systems of social control and informal methods of social control, paying attention to the social and political implications of these developments.

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

SOCI 205 - Public Schooling in America

As Frederick Rudolf aptly noted, the history of American education "is American history" and reveals "the central purposes and driving directions of American society." The advent of mass schooling represents a profound exercise in collective self-definition. As with much else in a democracy, deciding whom to teach, what to teach, and how to teach have been subjects of lively debate in the US from the early nineteenth century to the dawning of the twenty-first. This course offers a broad overview of the overarching political controversies durrounding the historical development of public schooling in America. We begin with a survey of 19th-century movements to define elementary schooling as the chosen instrument for nation-building, for safeguarding democratic self-governance, and for resolving with the cascading social disorders implicated in the rise of urbanization, mass immigration, and industrial capitalism. The rise of high schools in the early twentieth century is the second major topic of interest, and more specifically, progressive-era debates about the relationship between public schools and colleges and universities. This era begets the great ideological fault-lines underlying educational theory and practice in the US that lasted the 20th century into the 21st. The dramatic post-war reconstruction of public schooling is the third major focus of the course. We explore the proliferation of federal government mandates to secularize, integrate, assimilate, equalize, multiculturalize, and expunge racism and sexism from the curriculum, all the while raising academic standards for all. With these directivescame vastly expanded government funding for social science research trained on evaluating public schools' efforts to realize these new benchmarks of educational progress. We observe this rebirth of the social sciences as arbiters of educational policy debates. The final section of the course revolves around contemporary disputes over school choice policies and the federal No-Child-Left-Behind initiatives. These latest campaigns to democratize academic excellence have followed a familiar, recurring script of US policy making since the 1980s: deregulation, de-centralization, consumer choice, managerial and administrative prerogatives in public agencies re-invented in the image of governance in the corporate sector, and the elaboration of benchmarks to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of educational practices. We consider how recent experience indicate limitations to privatization, corporatization, and marketization as solutions to the educational crisis, and perhaps, suggest the beginnings of a renewed search for answers to the riddle of public education.

SOCI 210 - Sociology of Sexuality

What is social about sexuality? Sexuality and its components (desire, pleasure, love, the body) is something more than a personal or individual characteristic. It is socially constructed. Sexuality has been configured during different historical time periods as sin, as a means of fostering alliances between powerful families, as perversion, as a means to pleasure, as a symbol of love, and as personal identity. These different sexual configurations are connected with larger social-historical trends such as the development of capitalism, the use of rationalized technologies, and the expansion of scientific-medical discourse. In this course, we explore how sexuality has been constructed through history. We examine how categories shape our understanding of sexuality such as male/female, heterosexual/homosexual/queer. We also will address issues such as child sexuality, prostitution, images of sexual minorities in the media and heteronormativity.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 220 - Sociology of Race/Ethnicity

This course explores historical and contemporary perspectives on racial and ethnic groups in American society, including African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, European Americans, and Americans of Middle Eastern descent. The goal is to develop an understanding of socio-historical forces that have shaped the lives of racial and ethnic groups in America.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 230 - Affirmative Action Policy

The course provides an introduction to US affirmative action policies in education and employment. The first section surveys the historical development of affirmative action in public schools and universities, evaluates alternative approaches to fostering diversity in higher education, and examines the most recent Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action in college admissions. The second major focus of the course is the origins and evolution of affirmative action in employment. This latter section provides an overview of the dynamics of racial and gender discrimination in employment and how affirmative action policies have endeavored to institutionalize equality of opportunity in labor markets.

SOCI 250 - Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations are important elements of the public sphere. They are one of the principal means by which we generate, concentrate, and channel our humanitarian and civic impulses. Sociological perspectives on nonprofit organizations presented in this course combined historical and contemporary accounts of the political, economic, and culture dimensions of the third sector: the panoply of private associations devoted to public purposes. Some of the learning goals are to develop an understanding and appreciation of: the legal frameworks that specify the permissible activities of nonprofit organizations; the ethical dilemmas that nonprofit organizations and professionals encounter as they envisage and strive to fulfill their service mission; theoretical scholarship aimed at explaining and justifying the diverse roles of nonprofits organizations in US society; the historical evolution of the relationship between the nonprofit, governmental, and commercial sectors; the challenges of governing and managing nonprofit associations; the transformation of civic engagement in the US; and, the day-to-day workings of nonprofit organizations through a case study based on students' involvements with and studies of associations of their choice.

Frequency: Every other year.

SOCI 269 - Social Science Inquiry

Social science presents claims about the social world in a particular manner that is centered on theoretical claims (explanations) supported by evidence. This course covers the methods through which social scientists develop emprically-supported explanations. The course covers three main sets of topics: the broad methodological questions posed by philosophy of social science, how social scientists develop research design to generate relevant evidence, and methods with which social scientists analyze data. For both the research design and analysis sections, we will concentrate on quantitative research, learning how to use statistical software.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 270 - Interpretive Social Research

This class introduces students to the methodologies and analytic techniques of fieldwork and ethnography: participant observation, interviewing, and the use of documents. Students will read exemplary, book-length studies and will conduct an extensive field research for their final project.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 272 - Social Theories

real only through performance with the "Other"? Furthermore, is there something unique about modernity that has fundamentally transformed the notions of our selves, bodies, polities, races, and civilizations? If the answer to the last question is in the affirmative, how and why did this come to be the case, and what consequences does it hold for our understanding of the past and of the future? These are the kinds of questions that great figures in sociology have been asking since the nineteenth-century, including classic theorists like Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, as well as more recent writers such as Ervin Goffman, Michel Foucault, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Edward Said.

Prerequisite(s)

one 100-level course in sociology, MCST 110 - Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies, or permission of the instructor.

SOCI 275 - Comparative-Historical Sociology

The course introduces students to principles of cross-national and cross-cultural analysis. The class begins with a survey of the basic methodological orientations that distinguish various modes of analysis in the social sciences. The lectures and discussions in this section provide a general introduction to the logic of causal analysis, explore the relative strengths and weaknesses of differing methodological approaches to understanding social phenomena, and specifically, consider in greater detail the distinctive blend of theoretical, methodological, and empirical concerns that inform comparative-historical social science. The substantive topics of the course include: the Social Origins of the Modern State; the Sociology of Democracy and Authoritarianism; the Sociology of Revolution; and The Rise of the Welfare State.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as

POLI 250

SOCI 280 - Indigenous Peoples' Movements in Global Context

During the last three decades, a global indigenous rights movement has taken shape within the United nations and other international bodies, challenging and reformulating international law and global cultural understandings of indigenous rights. The recognition of indigenous peoples' rights in international law invokes the tensions between sovereignty and human rights, but also challenges the dominant international understandings of both principles. In this course, we examine indigenous peoples' movements by placing them in a global context and sociologically informed theoretical framework. By beginning with a set of influential theoretical statements from social science, we will then use indigenous peoples' movements as case studies to examine the extent to which these theoretical perspectives explain and are challenged by case studies. We will then analyze various aspects of indigenous peoples' movements and the extent to which these aspects of the movement are shaped by global processes.

Frequency: Every other year.

Cross-Listed as

INTL 280

SOCI 283 - Economic Sociology

Economic activity is a form of social activity: people attribute meaning to economic activity, they pursue such activity in relation to others, and this activity is patterned and organized. Starting from these premises, economic sociologists ask a wide range of questions, such as: How do people find jobs? What historical and social legacies affect prospects for development? How do art dealers know how to set prices on unique original works of art? What social arrangements influence economic inequalities? In what ways do people mix economic activities and intimacy? By surveying recent developments in economic sociology, this course introduces students to the kinds of questions that economic sociologists ask, the types of evidence they use, and the range of answers they generate. Students do not need a background in economics or sociology for this course.

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 285 - Asian American Community and Identity

This course introduces the basic issues and problems that shape the Asian American experience. The main learning objectives are: to identify and dismantle stereotypes about Asian Americans; to create a common vocabulary for describing the Asian American experience; to explore the historical and sociological foundations of Asian American community and identity; and to cultivate an appreciation of various theoretical approaches to race and ethnicity.

Cross-Listed as

AMST 285

SOCI 287 - Immigrant Voices

"Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history." (Oscar Handlin, 1951:3). Over the course of the last five centuries, millions of people, young and old, male and female, married and single, left their homelands seeking better lives. Who were these people who, willingly or forcibly, left all they knew behind? What were their dreams and motivations? Hardships? How were they received by those who, by pure accident of history and birth, had arrived before them? This class is an expedition into the past with an eye on the present, examining primarily firsthand accounts left by and about the immigrants themselves. What does an 18th century Scottish indentured servant have in common with a 21st century migrant farm worker? What does an early 20th century Japanese picture bride share with a contemporary Russian "mail order" bride? Delving into diverse historical periods and differing groups, the goal is to develop a better understanding of parallels and variations, hopes and dreams, the ease and challenges that immigrants have experienced, and continue to face. (4 credits)

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 290 - Islam and the West

How can we best understand the complexities of the present U.S. "War on Terrorism"? Should it be understood as a clash between two different cultural systems, one modern and democratic and the other feudal and fanatic? Or, is the violence systemic, taking a variety of forms in different parts of the globe? What role does power and inequality on a global scale have to do with it? These and many other questions will be dealt with in this course. We will trace the conflict historically to assess moments of violence and tensions and other periods of calm and symbioses. Finally, we will analyze how modernity transformed the relationship between Islam and the West, Jew and Arab, male and female, and nation/race and identity.

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

SOCI 301 - Language and Alienation

We are living in the midst of an "irony epidemic," where two of the most frequently used expressions in current American English are "like" and "whatever." Both of these are literally advertisements that words are not the real thing (at best, they are "like" it), and that they don't matter (since "whatever" you say is equally a matter of indifference). This course takes as its point of departure the sarcasm and irony in spoken American English, and proceeds to an investigation of how the peculiar message of sarcasm ("I don't mean this") is conveyed in other languages, and in the media. Not surprisingly, the study of cheap talk connects intimately with aspects of pop culture. More surprising, however, is the idea that the cheapness of talk is not only a currently recognized property of our language, but that it might serve to define the very essence of human language in general and offer insights into the origins and nature of our ability to speak at all.

Frequency: Two years in every three.

Prerequisite(s)

one course in Linguistics.

SOCI 310 - Law and Society

Law is omnipresent in contemporary social life. How should we understand this development and its consequences? How does law operate to the advantage or disadvantage of various members of society? Can law be the source of significant social change? This course examines the development of a formal, legal system and the ways in which such a system connects to other parts of society. We begin by focusing on individual experiences and understandings of law and what these tell us about how law fits into the larger social order. We then evaluate explanations about the connections between social and legal development. We also consider how the "law in action" operates by examining empirical studies of legal institutions and the limits and potential of law as a source for social change.

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 335 - Family Bonds

This class focuses on the relationship between families and larger social institutions, including governments, economic institutions, and labor markets. This course also explores how various societal forces shape relationships within contemporary American families, as well as considering other historical forms and understandings of the family.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 370 - Political Sociology

What is the nature of power within society and how does it relate to the development of nation-states? This course explores the development and operation of nation-states, examining how civil society and state practices relate to each another. We examine how the system of nation-states came into existence and what contemporary developments mean for the future of nation-states. We consider the nature and consequences of both citizenship and nationalism, trying to understand how these relations between individuals and states have developed. We also examine contemporary developments that might change citizenship, such as how we should understand national citizenship given the development of international human rights.  

Frequency: Alternate years.

SOCI 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

SOCI 480 - Senior Seminar

This senior seminar serves as the capstone experience for sociology majors. This class provides students with an opportunity to develop a synthetic understanding of their sociology course work and to conduct prospective research that may culminate in honors projects.

Frequency: Every year.

SOCI 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

SOCI 611 - Independent Project

Students may explore sociological topics not covered in regular course offerings or pursue more advanced study of topics represented in the department curriculum through an independent project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 612 - Independent Project

Students may explore sociological topics not covered in regular course offerings or pursue more advanced study of topics represented in the department curriculum through an independent project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 613 - Independent Project

Students may explore sociological topics not covered in regular course offerings or pursue more advanced study of topics represented in the department curriculum through an independent project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 614 - Independent Project

Students may explore sociological topics not covered in regular course offerings or pursue more advanced study of topics represented in the department curriculum through an independent project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 621 - Internship

Internships allow students to participate in an off-campus learning experience. Students may engage in internships in a variety of settings that match their academic goals, including nonprofit organizations, government, and business.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

SOCI 622 - Internship

Internships allow students to participate in an off-campus learning experience. Students may engage in internships in a variety of settings that match their academic goals, including nonprofit organizations, government, and business.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

SOCI 623 - Internship

Internships allow students to participate in an off-campus learning experience. Students may engage in internships in a variety of settings that match their academic goals, including nonprofit organizations, government, and business.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

SOCI 624 - Internship

Internships allow students to participate in an off-campus learning experience. Students may engage in internships in a variety of settings that match their academic goals, including nonprofit organizations, government, and business.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

SOCI 631 - Preceptorship

Preceptors may assist faculty members organize and teach courses with an emphasis on leading discussion groups, preparing study sessions, and individual tutoring.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

SOCI 632 - Preceptorship

Preceptors may assist faculty members organize and teach courses with an emphasis on leading discussion groups, preparing study sessions, and individual tutoring.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

SOCI 633 - Preceptorship

Preceptors may assist faculty members organize and teach courses with an emphasis on leading discussion groups, preparing study sessions, and individual tutoring.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

SOCI 634 - Preceptorship

Preceptors may assist faculty members organize and teach courses with an emphasis on leading discussion groups, preparing study sessions, and individual tutoring.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

SOCI 641 - Honors Independent

The honors independent study is an option reserved for students participating in the honors program. Students may receive this course credit for pursuing research devoted to their honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 642 - Honors Independent

The honors independent study is an option reserved for students participating in the honors program. Students may receive this course credit for pursuing research devoted to their honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 643 - Honors Independent

The honors independent study is an option reserved for students participating in the honors program. Students may receive this course credit for pursuing research devoted to their honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

SOCI 644 - Honors Independent

The honors independent study is an option reserved for students participating in the honors program. Students may receive this course credit for pursuing research devoted to their honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.