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 life span 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 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. Not offered 2008-09.

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.

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 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 318 - The Sociology of Gender

Full course for one semester. Gender is a central organizing principle in social relations, giving rise to institutions and social practices that distinguish between men and women on the basis of apparent difference and inequality. This course develops the sociological analysis of gender systems in contemporary American society. It engages key theoretical and empirical approaches to gender, moving beyond individual, biological, and psychological approaches to analyze how gender is regulated and (re)produced by social norms and institutions. Topics include sex segregation of the labor market, sex differences in pay and job preferences, childhood socialization and education, power and the division of labor in families and households, and male-female interaction. The central theme throughout the course is to understand how gender roles and attitudes shape social structure, and how gender inequalities are maintained in everyday social situations. Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 320 - Feminisms: Comparative Perspectives on Women’s Activism

Full course for one semester. The goal of this course is to introduce sociological analyses of women's movements via an exploration of feminism. Feminism emerged in the United States in the late 19th century. As a movement, its main goal was to eliminate discrimination against women. Despite frequent declarations that "feminism is dead," or that it lacks relevance, this movement has been highly successful at reinventing itself. In recent decades a new generation of activists has extended its relevance to new issues (e.g., race, ethnicity, colonialism, class) and new populations (e.g., Eastern Europe, the "Third World"). Through a review of classical and contemporary theories and case studies, we will identify key analytical questions and research strategies for studying the dynamics of contemporary women's activism in depth. Among the perspectives reviewed will be classical approaches to social movements (emphasizing mass society and relative deprivation), as well as more recent perspectives that focus on resource mobilization, the political process, framing, and transnationalism. We will examine how feminism emerged as a movement and how it has changed as it moves across borders and generations.Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 337 - The Collapse of Communism

Full course for one semester. The collapse of communism opened up a new terrain for sociologists: the formerly closed societies of Eastern Europe. This course explores the shape that states, markets, and societies are taking in this region. We use sociological theories and tools to understand transitions from communism. Are these societies developing along a common transition path? How has their engagement with the West diverged from initial expectations? The substantive areas that we examine include activism and protest; authoritarianism; social policy; gender and national identity construction; criminal networks; and the influence of Western actors and organizations. Prerequisite: Sociology 211. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

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. Not offered 2008-09.

Sociology 350 - Sociology of Science

Full course for one semester. Science and technology play an increasingly important role in society, social change, and economic life, influencing how we understand our environment, organize economic activity, and enact public policy. Yet science, knowledge, and technology are themselves developed to serve conflicting interests and social projects. This course examines the position of science in society. It examines how science shapes social norms and action, and how science and knowledge are products of their social organization and context. Topics include the nature of knowledge, the boundaries of public and private science, the diffusion of technology, the role of innovation in economic growth, the construction of scientific practices and facts, scientific careers, and the effects of gender and racial stratification on science. Students in this course will become familiar with the core theoretical approaches in the sociology of science and technology, and gain a deeper understanding of the social construction of science. Prerequisites: 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 2008-09.

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 goal 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.

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.

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. Not offered 2007-08.

Sociology 380 - Networks and Social Structure

Full course for one semester. Social network dynamics influencecommunities, neighborhoods, families, work life, and innovations.Network theories of social structure view actors as inherentlyinterdependent, and examine how social structure emerges fromregularities in this interdependence. This course focuses on thetheoretical foundations of structural network dynamics, and identifieskey analytical questions and research strategies for studying networkformation, organization, and development. Attention is paid to bothinteractionist and structuralist traditions in network analysis, and focus is on the core principles of balance and centrality,connectivity and clustering, power and hierarchy, and social structurewrit large. Substantive topics include social mobility andstratification, group organization and mobilization, patterns ofcreativity and innovation, resource distributions, decision-making, andthe organization of movement and belief systems. This course couplestheoretical and substantive themes with methodological applications.Approximately one-third of course time is spent on the process ofcollecting, analyzing, and interpreting social network data.Prerequisite: Sociology 211 or consent of the instructor. 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 include path dependence, isomorphism, “lockin,” 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 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 2008-09.

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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