Sociology Course Descriptions

Sociology 211 - Introduction to Sociology

Full course for one semester. An introduction to sociological perspectives on patterns of human conduct ranging from fleeting encounters in informal gatherings to historical processes of institutional persistence and change. Topics of discussion and research include the stratification of life chances, social honor and power in human populations, and the differentiation of these populations by gender, race, age, ethnicity, and other characteristics both achieved and ascribed; the integration of differentiated roles and statuses into systems capable of maintaining their structure beyond the lifespan of living individuals, and capable as well of revolutionary and evolutionary social change; and the interrelationships of familial, economic, political, educational, and religious institutions in the emerging world system of late modernity. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference and computer lab.

Sociology 222 - Personality and Social Systems

Full course for one semester. An examination of theoretical conceptualizations of human thought and behavior in terms of the interaction of personality and social system variables. The course considers personality development and symbolic interaction, as these occur within the context of social institutions, role relationships, reference groups, and cultural systems. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 242 - Organizations, Stratification, and Race

Full course for one semester. Economic sociologists view economic activity as socially structured via networks, corporate hierarchies, associations, and state bureaucracies, as well as by systems of impersonal exchange. This course examines the social and institutional structures of economic life, and their effects on stratification, race, and the African American community. Topics include the rise of the corporation and "internal labor markets”; the role of unions, ethnic enclaves, and employment networks in allocating economic resources; the effects of civil rights law on corporate practice; the creation and transformation of welfare states; and how markets, public bureaucracies, and community organizations shape economic and political opportunities for African Americans. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Sociology 244 - Race and Ethnicity

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to the sociology of race and ethnic relations, with particular emphasis on the socially structured situations of African Americans. The course surveys general theoretical approaches to race and ethnicity, and applies them to specific historical developments in American race relations and the African American community. A central objective is to understand the conditions under which segregation, racial hierarchies, and racial conflict emerge. Topics include identity formation and assimilation; ethnic competition, internal colonialism, and split labor markets; the development of the racial state; residential segregation and the “underclass;” the role of schools and prisons in regulating labor markets; and the civil rights movement and the welfare state. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 280 - Social Movements

Full course for one semester. Why do some social movements fail, while others succeed? The goal of this course is to introduce students to sociological theories of social movement success and failure. Through a review of classical and contemporary theories and case studies of women’s liberation, gay liberation, abortion, civil rights, environmentalism, and the peace and disarmament movements, we will identify key analytical questions and research strategies for studying contemporary social movements in depth. Among the perspectives reviewed will be classical approaches (de Tocqueville, “mass society,” and “relative deprivation”), as well as more recent perspectives that focus on rational choice, resource mobilization, political process, and new social movements. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 283 - Sociology of Religion

Full course for one semester. An examination of sociological theories of religious phenomena, with particular focus on the classic problems delineated by Emile Durkheim and Max Weber: charisma and sanctity, ultimate values and ideas of the supernatural, prophecy, salvation, social functions of religious symbolism, and institutionalization of religious belief, ritual, ethics, and their relations to social order and social change. Empirical referents for theoretic issues include the religions of India, traditional China, ancient Judea, aboriginal Australia, and early modern Europe. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 311 - Research Methods

Full course for one semester. The primary objective is to provide background for empirical research in the social sciences. Specific objectives include deepening understanding of the logic of inference by exploring the relationship between empirical observations and causal models and introducing basic research techniques. Topics include the logic of inference, the nature of evidence, and a nonmathematical introduction to quantitative social analysis, emphasizing regression. Prerequisite: Sociology 211. Conference.

Sociology 325 - Technology and Society

Full course for one semester. This course explores the question of whether or not technology fundamentally influences the kind of society we live in. It divides the exploration into five areas: the idea that major social institutions might be greatly determined by military, industrial, medical, and communication technologies; arguments about how technology may be involved in class, racial, gender, and environmental domination; the effects that internet and biomedical technologies might have on how people interact with each other and conceive of their personal identity; the idea that technology actually develops in response to or along with particular forms of social organization rather than determining them; and the causes, nature, and consequences of different cultural discourses concerning technology, from utopian dreams to dystopian nightmares. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Sociology 333 - Sociology of Indigenous Peoples

Full course for one semester. This course will examine sociological dynamics involving indigenous peoples in the context of their interactions with European societies. While the predominant focus will be on indigenous people within the United States, the course will also include empirical studies analyzing developments elsewhere in North, Central, and South America. The course will apply theories of social change, group formation, and collective action to the specific historical contexts of indigenous peoples. Topics include processes of economic, political and cultural incorporation; internal colonialism and underdevelopment; the generation and transformation of ethnic, racial, and national boundaries; evolving and contested indigenous identities; indigenous self-organization; contemporary collective action by indigenous peoples; the impact of domestic and international law; de-colonization, and indigenous sovereignty. Particular attention will be focused on the conditions generating the diversity of indigenous responses to European societies, as well as to commonalities of their responses.  Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 340 - American Capitalism

Full course for one semester. This is a comparative historical course on the development of American capitalism, focusing on the rise of mass markets and giant corporations as its dominant organizing principles. We survey theoretical approaches used to explain American capitalism and engage historical analyses of the key turning points in the development of our economy. A central objective is to document the existence of more efficient, democratic, and decentralized alternatives to the type of capitalism that came to prevail in the United States. Topics include the role of culture, politics, and finance capital in the development of the corporation; the rise and fall of cooperative, regionally based systems; mass production; populist responses to economic centralization; American labor; and state regulation. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 350 - Sociology of Science

Full course for one semester. This course presents the wide range of work done by sociologists on how science is embedded in cultural, institutional, and personal contexts. It examines the major institutions and values that make science possible, the reward and communication systems involved, the daily activities of working scientists, and the possible barriers making it harder for women to take part in science. It then looks at how science is connected to the larger social world, government funding of “big science,” the use of science in the popular media, and the general ways in which scientific ideas can come to have authority and influence. The course finishes by applying these ideas to three topics: the paradox of claiming to scientifically explain science, what it means to be a scientific genius, and the significance of the “science wars” between radical science studies and scientists themselves. Topics to be covered include the rise of science, norms and reward systems, doing experiments and identifying facts, gaining social authority, big science and science policy, and the problem of reflexivity. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 353 - Social Stratification and Class

Full course for one semester. Stratification is the study of the structure and dynamics of the unequal distribution of resources that are socioculturally defined as scarce: who gets what, when, how, and why in the form of income, power, prestige, and knowledge, and with what consequences. This course presents sociological work debating the existence of an “underclass” in inner city communities. Studies are examined with a view to understanding how stratification in the inner city works and to identifying the circumstances under which the bases of inequalities differ, persist, and change over time. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 355 - Economic Sociology

Full course for one semester. This is a course on the sociology of markets and economic activity in capitalist societies. Its core problem is to understand how rational, economic activities are facilitated, modified, or impeded by collective commitments and social institutions. We address how variation and change in the social structures of economic life are produced, and the consequences for cooperation, rationality, justice, and economic development. Topics include contracts, networks, associations, and hierarchies as core structures of economic life; the construction of markets and industries; cooperative alternatives to the corporation; the role of culture, power, and identity in private enterprise; cross-national differences in capitalism; innovation; and globalization. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 and one upper-division course in sociology or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 357 - Political Sociology

Full course for one semester. This course provides a general overview of sociological theories of political transformation. Its focus will be on strategies used in modern society to justify, contest, or remedy persistent inequality. The first part of the course examines attempts to theorize the relationship between social change and the state. The second part of the course examines sociological theories of political activism and public opinion formation. Students will prepare a research paper examining the role social movements or the media play in shaping politics. Conference. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 363 - Sociology of Culture

Full course for one semester. The course surveys recent sociological studies of cultural production. It surveys how cultural materials are used to establish and maintain boundaries that differentiate among middle class status groups in contemporary America; how diverse organizations such as museums, art galleries, and record companies manage the production and distribution of cultural symbols for a diversified market. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Sociology 371 - Deviant Behavior

Full course for one semester. The first half of this course looks at a wide range of explanations of crime in the United States. It goes from individual-centered approaches (biopsychology, rational decisions, low self-control), through more macro-level models (family and neighborhood disorganization, physical arrangement of communities, labeling processes, socialization over the life-course), to theories focusing on society-wide collective factors (class inequality, racism, impossible cultural expectations). The second half of the course looks more generally at why certain activities are defined as criminal, deviant, or undesirable in the first place. It covers theories of the social construction of “normal” versus “deviant,” stigmatization, visible versus hidden deviance, symbolic rituals surrounding “liminal” behavior, and the dynamic interaction between alternative-value subcultures and a mainstream society dominated by commercial interests. Examples are drawn from punk, hip-hop, rave, and queer subcultures. The course is not a practicum, but students are encouraged to view a variety of relevant documentaries. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 396 - Work and Identity

Full course for one semester. This course is about how work affects the way people see themselves and others. It focuses primarily on the modern United States, but starts by looking at the nature of work in non-capitalist societies, and the changes which capitalism brought in terms of work ethic and enforced self-discipline. It examines different kinds of work common in Western societies; industrial production-line, bureaucratic, professional and knowledge-based, service, stigmatized (e.g. sex work), and even unemployment. For each of these the course considers the activities, rewards, status differences, and control struggles involved, and how these affect people’s self-image. It also looks at how people get jobs and end up following particular careers and trajectories of self-development, touching on topics such as intergenerational social mobility, labor market segmentation, informal networks, careers sequences, and school training. It also examines how gender interacts with all of these issues in terms of the unpaid status of much of women’s work in the West, the barriers to their getting particular kinds of jobs, and the presence of sexual politics and harassment in the workplace. The roles of race, ethnicity, and nationality in an increasingly global economy are also considered. Prerequisite: Sociology 211. Conference.

Sociology 401 - Institutional Analysis

Full course for one semester. This is an advanced treatment of the theory and empirical practice of institutional analysis in sociology and related fields.  Part one of the course focuses on structure, treating institutions as contextual determinants of action, and identifying different mechanisms by which institutions promote order, stability and distinctive patterns of organization, behavior and public policy. Topics covered included path dependence, isomorphism, “lock in,” structure-induced equilibria, institutional contingency, diffusion, and institutionalization.  Part two of the course focuses on agency and action—how to explain institutional change without abandoning the contextual insights of institutional analysis. Topics covered include deinstitutionalization, punctuated equilibria versus evolutionary theories of change, institutional entrepreneurship, endogenous change dynamics, processes of transposition, theorization and translation, and the relationship between social movements and institutional fields. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 and one upper division course in sociology, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.

Sociology 470 - Thesis

One-half or full course for one year.

Sociology 481 - Special Topics

One-half or full course for one semester. Work is restricted to special fields in sociology—demography, communication analysis, and community surveys. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and approval of instructor and division.




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