Spring 2017   Fall 2016  

Spring 2017

SOCI 170-01

Sociology of Work

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: STAFF

Notes: 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. 4 credits

SOCI 175-01

Sociolinguistics

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Marianne Milligan

Notes: *Cross-listed with LING 175-01*

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. (4 credits.)


SOCI 180-01

Sociology of Culture

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 12:00 pm-01:00 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Deborah Smith

Notes: 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." (4 credits)


SOCI 194-01

Deviant Bodies

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-10:40 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Laura Backstrom

Notes: *To ensure a proper mix of students there will be an enrollment limit of 10 seats for Sr and Jr and 10 seats reserved for Sophomores and First Year Students* Why are some bodies regarded as “normal” while others are marked as deviant? How do people use cultural meanings to make sense of their own bodies? How are bodies commodified? How are bodies connected to larger social structures such as race, class, gender, and sexuality? This course will interpret the body through the lens of culture and examine how constructions of the body are shaped by social forces. Further, we will look at the connection between the body and personal identity with an emphasis on stigma management and how identity is enacted through body projects. From performers in historical freak show to contemporary athletes and fashion models, extraordinary bodies can be a means of resistance and power or objects of social control or subjugation. Over the course of the semester, we will analyze representations of bodies that are pregnant, disabled, fat, tattooed, scarred, sick, diseased, surgically-modified, used for sport, used for personal profit, and used to sell products.

SOCI 194-02

Love, Greed, and Aggression

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Laura Backstrom

Notes: *To ensure a proper mix of students there will be an enrollment limit of 10 seats for Sr and Jr and 10 seats reserved for Sophomores and First Year Students* How do sociologists address human nature? Although complex emotions like love, greed, and aggression are commonly studied by psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers, sociologists argue that emotions are deeply affected by social influences. In this course, we will examine the social dimensions of emotions including how they are socially learned, regulated, and distributed in the population. We will also examine the causes and consequences of emotional management, emotional labor, and emotional deviance at the cultural, interactional, and individual levels. The course will be organized around three themes: love, greed, and aggression. First, we will contrast historical and cultural differences in the social construction of emotions, beliefs, and values related to romantic love, intimate relationships, and sexual desire. Second, we will examine whether “greed is good,” and the social psychological impacts of wealth, poverty, and inequality. Finally, we will look at gender differences in aggressive, violent, self-destructive, and anti-social behaviors.

SOCI 269-01

Social Science Inquiry

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Erik Larson

Notes: 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. (4 credits)

SOCI 272-01

Social Theories

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: This course is designed to engage students with the most sophisticated and useful schools of thought available in the social science disciplines. The course raises a number of questions: How can we best understand the complexities of self and society? Are these units of analysis useful in and of themselves? Are they contained in an essential body or polity that we can identify as some unitary entity

called Jenny and John Doe, American, French, Arab/Jew, black/white, modern/primitive, developed/underdeveloped, Oriental/ Occidental, homo/heterosexual, male/female? Or are they socially produced units that have no essence in-of-themselves, produced and made 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.

SOCI 280-01

Indigenous Peoples' Movements in Global Context

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Erik Larson

Notes: *Cross-listed with INTL 280-01*

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. (4 credits)

SOCI 290-01

Colonialism, Modernity, and Identities in the Middle East

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: 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. (4 credits)


SOCI 294-01

Consumerism

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Deborah Smith

Notes: Throughout the last century, consumerism has increasingly come to dominate American society even as public concern over issues of sustainability continues to heighten, and widening ranks of social actors –from individuals, communities, and non-profit groups to private corporations – deepen their commitment to sustainable practices. In this course, we apply a sociological perspective to examine the significance of a culture of consumption, paying particular attention to the possibilities for sustainability within a consumption-oriented society. Contextualizing the cultural meanings of consumption within the social forces that shape consumption practices, the course will consider various configurations of consumption in American society, including how consumption structures and reproduces social difference and inequality, the role of consumer practices in the constitution of personal identity, sociability and leisure, the role of marketing and advertising, branding and embodied consumer display, and the location of consumption as a site of sub-cultural resistance. In the context of the study of consumption, we will likewise examine emergent configurations of sustainability, asking how individuals, communities, social groups and organizations in contemporary consumer culture are (differently) defining the pursuit and practice of sustainability through, for instance, anti-consumerism, the green movement, fair trade, “green capitalism,” voluntary simplicity, downshifting, slow living, frugal living, radical consumption and ethical consumption. The course will explore how the social forces of consumer society shape, support and contend these sustainability projects, and, by tracing contemporary beliefs and assumptions about sustainability against a sociological understanding of consumer culture, push us to identify and critically access the possibilities within consumer culture for creating a socially and environmentally sustainable future.

SOCI 335-01

Families and Social Change

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 01:10 pm-02:10 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Laura Backstrom

Notes: 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. (4 credits)


Fall 2016

SOCI 110-01

Introduction to Sociology

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: CARN 204
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: *First Year Course only* This course provides students with a critical perspective in interpreting social inequalities in the US. Mainly the course will have students debate two perspectives on the social origins of inequality and the political and ethical consequences such perspectives embody. The first is what we will call the internalist/culture of poverty thesis which explains inequalities in terms of characteristics belonging to particular groups (e.g., cultural or religious beliefs, socialization and childrearing practices, educational and vocabulary attainment, modernizationist discourse of developed and underdeveloped societies…). The second perspective we will explore is the relational/structural theory of social and global inequality. Sociologists of this sort prefer to focus on asymmetrical power relations between groups (e.g., symbolic markers of distinctions; cultural capital; the social construction of gender, class, and race; core-periphery capitalist relations between poor and rich countries…). The objective of the course is to provide students with sophisticated sociological studies on both sides of the debate dealing with inequalities. The course attempts to demonstrate that even though many of the authors we cover apply social scientific methods, the fact that they come at the same empirical evidence from different theoretical perspectives ultimately determines their interpretation and understanding of the causes of social inequalities. Here students may discover that the lens through which they look may turn out to be a political, moral, and ethical choice. For the second objective, students discover that these two perspectives, when combined, may provide an alternative perspective than either has to offer in isolation. For instance, instead of seeing socialization practices of the poor as tied to lack of objective skills required to become upwardly mobile, the student can learn to combine this perspective with the structural perspective so as to see those skills not simply as objective characteristics but as socially constructed – in other words as symbolic markers of distinctions (i.e., as class, race, gender performances) used unconsciously by the elite of the world to reproduce their class, gender, and racial dominance. This way, as Julie Bettie has argued in her Women Without Class, instead of seeing certain “cultural traits” as dysfunctional or pathological and blaming a specific group, the focus is on changing social and global cultural constructs of rich and poor that produces poverty and inequality in the first place. It is the highly racialized, genderized, and classed constructs of social inequalities that have to be first deconstructed before we can hope to alleviate those inequalities. Hence, “culture” is a big part of the story, maybe just not in the way many of us think it is.


SOCI 110-02

Introduction to Sociology

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: CARN 204
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: *Enrollment will be limited to First Year students and Sophmores - Seniors and Juniors may only enroll with instructor permission*

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. (4 credits)

SOCI 194-01

Moral Panics

  • Days: W
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: CARN 208
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: This course will focus primarily on how fears spread and become a major public concern. We will deal with a number of issues like pedophilia (including priests and pedophilia), gangs, drug scares, and terrorism. Sociologists have long studied these moral panics -- defined as public campaigns to elicit alarm about perceived threats to social order. We will adopt this perspective to see that indeed issues like these do not become part of public discourse naturally from the threat itself. Rather, we will ask what does power have to do with it becoming a public concern? What kinds of narrations are utilized to make it available to us in a particular way? Who gets to define these public threats and who becomes its object of concern? Who does it blame and who does it protect from ridicule? Why do fears and panics usually flow down the power structure, rarely focusing on dominant races and social classes and all too often on the weak, poor, minorities, or the global Other? A major sub theme of the course will be to trace the incitement process through certain networks and what sociologists call “claims makers” and “moral entrepreneurs” (think tanks, groups like Jihad Watch, the State-Security Industrial complex, political elites, human rights groups . . . ), especially right wing groups but also including liberals, mainstream feminists, gay rights activists, and security "experts." We will also be interested in the way these politically orchestrated fears impact the way we understand cultural differences, human rights, immigration, culture and crime, gender inequality, patriarchy, domestic abuse, military occupation, and so on, often in ways that perpetuates Orientalist and problematic classifications of racial and cultural divides.

SOCI 210-01

Sociology of Sexuality

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: CARN 05
  • Instructor: Aisha Upton

Notes: *To ensure a proper mix of students there will be an enrollment limit of 10 seats for Sr and Jr and 10 seats reserved for Sophomores and First Year Students*

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. (4 credits)


SOCI 220-01

Sociology of Race/Ethnicity

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: CARN 105
  • Instructor: Lesley Kandaras

Notes: *To ensure a proper mix of students there will be an enrollment limit of 10 seats for Sr and Jr and 10 seats reserved for Sophomores and First Year Students*

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.(4 credits)

SOCI 270-01

Interpretive Social Research

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: CARN 208
  • Instructor: Deborah Smith

Notes: 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. (4 credits)


SOCI 294-01

Class Cultures and Class Identities

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 01:10 pm-02:10 pm
  • Room: CARN 208
  • Instructor: Deborah Smith

Notes: In popular discourse, the category of class is often missing, misunderstood as temporary and not institutionalized, displaced onto other discourses of difference such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, or mystified within an ideology of individualism. In this course, we adopt a sociological lens to examine the systematic operation of class divisions through cultural mediums, considering how class identities become formulated and class cultures become differentiated within varying institutional contexts. Our study will track the category of class along multiple lines of cultural distinction, examining class subjectivity as it is constructed in relation to gender, race, and sexuality identity, and as it is built around moral discourses of difference and symbolic economies of style, taste, and preference. We will address key theories and questions in the sociology of class as we examine how class meanings are articulated in class-specific attitudes, values, behaviors, and practices, considering how these meanings become distributed, internalized, and ‘activated’ through processes that often render those meanings ‘natural.’ We will discuss our relationship to the class cultures in which we live, and the relationship between class culture, cultural capital, and power, considering both how class culture operates in micro-interactional settings on the basis of widely shared class-cultural beliefs, and how it can exist in more clearly defined institutional settings such as family, school and work, leisure and consumption. The course moves from considering broad questions in the field to an examination of selected empirical works, where we look closely at how class culture operates to construct identities and distinctions among groups. Our study will carry us from working class kids whose culture of rebellion sets them up for working class jobs, to middle class families whose ‘concerted cultivation’ of their children imparts distinct advantages over their working class counterparts; from high school girls whose class identity is constructed in relationship to color, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, to the halls of an elite boarding school where elite youth train to be cultural omnivores able to inhabit privilege with carefully cultivated ease. Throughout, we will consider class culture and class identity against the landscape of a neoliberal New Economy where, in response to ever-encircling risk and constraint, working class families downscale for survival, upper class families upscale for security, and middle class families struggle to hang on.

SOCI 294-02

Urban Engagement and Social Justice

  • Days: M
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: CARN 204
  • Instructor: Lesley Kandaras

Notes: Cities hold a democratic potential because people from a variety of backgrounds live and work in them. Yet, persistent and growing disparities have left this potential more of an unfulfilled promise. What structures and practices inhibit efforts to achieve social justice in cities? How can contemporary cities in the United States plan for their future in truly democratic, participatory ways? This course addresses these questions by exploring the intersections of political processes and urban life. The course will draw from urban sociology and closely-related disciplines to understand how urban planning and decision-making are intertwined with power dynamics and inequality. Specifically, this course will examine the conditions needed for effective and inclusive processes, using the Twin Cities region as a case study.

SOCI 294-03

Social Entrepreneurship

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: MARKIM LOWER
  • Instructor: Kate Reiling

Notes: *Cross-listed with INTL 294-01; first day attendance required; Not open to students who are enrolled in ECON 294-01: Introduction to Enterpreneurship (Spring 2016)* This course focuses on theories and applications of Social Entrepreneurship, which mobilizes and adapts an array of new techniques from the business and nonprofit worlds to address diverse social problems around the world. Students will explore debates over Social Entrepreneurship and seek to understand its current global and U.S. contexts, as well as methodologies like Lean Startup, Human Centered Design, Participatory Poverty Assessment, Design Thinking, and Business Model Canvass. In addition, students will spend the semester working in teams to apply the methodologies to identify a problem and develop a solution. For their final project, students will prepare a plan for their project and present it to an external audience.

SOCI 310-01

Law and Society

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: CARN 105
  • Instructor: Erik Larson

Notes: 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. (4 credits)


SOCI 480-01

Senior Seminar

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: CARN 208
  • Instructor: Erik Larson

Notes: 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. (4 credits)