At present, there are several clusters of courses within the department: Hrycak's Political Sociology group (Social Movements, Political Sociology, Feminisms: Comparative & Historical Perspectives on Women’s Activism, and Collapse of Communism), Schneiberg's Economic Sociology group (American Capitalism, Economic Sociology, Institutional Analysis), and Whittington's Science and Gender group (Sociology of Science, Sociology of Gender). Each cluster introduces sociology majors and non-majors alike to a cross-section of three related subfields of sociology, focusing on the precursors and founders of social sciences, the major theoretical models sociologists have developed, and current issues and controversies represented by recent monographs and journal publications. Students are encouraged to take courses from all three groups.

The department's course sequence begins with a one-semester course, Sociology 211 - Introduction to Sociology. This course is a prerequisite for all other courses in the department. It is designed to introduce students to the core fields and paradigmatic issues of sociological theory and research, and it is offered only during Fall term. Because the course presumes prior experience with historical-comparative materials and the divergent modes of analysis treated in Humanities 110, it is closed to Freshmen. The sequence of courses offered by the department proceeds from its Introduction to Sociology through a variety of upper division courses, each focused on a distinct subfield of sociology and open to all students who have completed Sociology 211.

Sociology 211 - Introduction to Sociology

One-unit semester course. 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. In 2023–24, first-year students may register on a space-available basis in designated sections. Lecture-conference and computer lab.

Sociology 231 - Organizations

One-unit semester course. This course provides a broad introduction to the analysis of organizations in sociology and related fields. Organizations are a ubiquitous feature of social, economic and political life, and involve a striking variety of cases, ranging from corporations, community non-profits and state welfare providers, to fire fighting teams, symphony orchestras, hospitals, rape crisis centers and universities. They represent social sites in which we spend a substantial proportion of our daily lives, profoundly shaping opportunity, power, identity and everyday interactions both within their boundaries and in the broader society. We address variation and change in the nature of organizations, and the consequences of organizational structure and form for how organizations operate, what and who individuals and groups can and cannot do or become, and how societies evolve. Topics include organizational types and forms (e.g., hierarchical vs. network; corporations, non-profits, cooperatives; standing vs. temporary organizations); organizations and power; organizational ecologies or systems; organizations, inequality and social stratification; organizations and community; and organizations, mobilization and social movements. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 280 - Social Movements

One-unit semester course. 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: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 311 - Research Methods

One-unit semester course. 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. Prerequisites: SOC 211 and one additional unit in sociology. Conference.

Sociology 322 - Gender and Work

One-unit semester course. Gender is a central organizing principle in social relations and is deeply embedded in how work is organized, rewarded, and experienced. This course provides an overview of the theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions of scholarship in the area of gender, work, and organizations. Emphasis on the intersection of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and class. Topics include inequalities in the labor force, low wage and informal work and poverty, sex/sexuality in the workplace, masculinity/femininity at work, work/family conflict and the division of labor in the home, and how the institution of family, gender, and work culture are integrated into work practices, policies, and programs. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 326 - Science and Social Difference

One-unit semester course. Is race biological? Do men and women have different brains? Categories such as race and gender are often presumed to be socially constructed classifications linked to difference. At the same time, references to scientific claims that prioritize the biological underpinnings of behavior and outcomes are common. This raises questions about the role of biology in determining differences between men and women, among racial/ethnic groups, and regarding sexuality, and how these ideas relate to the design of science policy and practice. Considering a series of contemporary cases, students in this course will examine the reciprocal relationships between scientific inquiry, science politics, social identity, and belonging. The course does not attempt to resolve these often contentious topics, but rather focuses on the processes by which ideas about difference are transmitted to students of science and the public; how social groups and identities are taken into account in science research, technological design, and clinical studies; who gets to “do science”; and the people and groups invested in the outcomes. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 337 - The Collapse of Communism

One-unit semester course. This conference focuses on selected research areas that span between the sociology of capitalism and sociology more broadly. We will broaden our understanding of the cultural and social processes involved in the production of social inequality and identity in contemporary societies that were ruled by communist states throughout the twentieth century and have been deeply affected by the return to capitalism. We explore contemporary sociological and anthropological studies examining the production of new social identities and symbolic boundaries, with a focus on how preexisting gender, ethno-racial, and institutional cultures and subcultures created during communist rule are being changed and challenged by contemporary economic restructuring, in tandem with the rise of new capitalist economic relations. The role of gender in the refashioning of collective identities will be highlighted through the readings. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 340 - American Capitalism

One-unit semester course. 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: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 342 - Social Technologies of Belonging

One-unit semester course. This seminar examines how historical and contemporary social technologies of belonging have shaped Asian and Asian American formations in the United States. Centering sociological and interdisciplinary research, we will examine the sociohistorical relational constructions of “Asians” and “Asian Americans.” The course is organized around four themes: (1) disciplinary constructions of Asians in the United States from sociology and Asian American studies; (2) citizenship, rights, and policy; (3) identity and community formation; and (4) emerging directions in research. Students will learn key theoretical frameworks and how significant historical moments such as the Chinese exclusion acts, World War II, the Third World Liberation Front, the rise of the model minority myth, and 9/11 shaped and reshaped the racial formation of Asians in the United States. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as CRES 342.

Sociology 343 - Sociology of Race and Racism

One-unit semester course. What is race? Race is a social construction. But what does it actually mean for race to be a social construction? In this seminar, we will examine how sociologists, social scientists, and legal scholars in the United States have theorized, debated, and researched the constructions of race and the practices and consequences of racism. Struggles over the meaning of race are entanglements over assertions of power so we will engage with scholars who demonstrate the coconstitution of race with other structures of power such as class, gender, sexuality, law, and colonialism. Students will gain an understanding of key paradigms that explicitly center or decenter race, including internal colonialism, the “underclass,” racial formation theory, and women of color feminisms. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as CRES 343.

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 346 - Race, Violence, and Power

One-unit semester course. How do different disciplines engage in questions of race, violence, and power? What are the different theoretical and methodological approaches used by researchers? This course surveys a variety of different approaches to the topic of race, violence, and power through conversations among the participants. Guest faculty will share key theoretical and methodological texts from their respective fields to discuss how those texts influence their own research and how they make connections within and across disciplines. Students will develop a final project to create their own interdisciplinary project on the topic of race, violence, and power. Prerequisite: SOC 211. Conference.

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 348 - Race, Economy, Public Policy

One-unit semester course. This course examines the social and institutional structures of economic life, economic policy, and their effects on race, stratification, and the system of ethnic relations in the contemporary United States. It examines those dynamics through the lenses of economic and organizational sociology, which view economic activities and outcomes as socially structured via networks, corporate and state hierarchies, systems of association and interpersonal exchange, and ecologies of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Topics include the rise and fall of the mass production corporation; the role of unions, ethnic enclaves, and employment networks in allocating resources; the effects of civil rights law on corporate practices; how the state, the law, and neighborhood associations shape segregation, housing market dynamics, and the differential accumulation of wealth; the nature of and transformations in the welfare state; and the role of nonprofit enterprise and small-business formation in shaping the fates of African Americans and other groups. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as CRES 348.

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 352 - Sociology of Money

One-unit semester course. Is money a self-propelling medium of exchange, solely about mundane financial calculations, transactions, and interests? Do we only use it to quantify various qualities into a standard metric to exchange them? What happens when money penetrates what is typically considered priceless, such as our norms, emotions, intimate relations, bodies, or nature? In today’s world, it is common for various economic, legal, and social institutions to place financial values on things as profound as human life, death, blood, organs, justice, sexual or romantic partnerships, and wildlife. Does this exercise flatten, commodify, corrode, and corrupt, as many scholars, legalists, activists think it does? Or, does it operate interdependently with our moral principles, cultural practices, interpersonal relationships? Then, how can those supposed corrosive commodification practices, in reality, turn into meaningful relations within which our lives, values, and ties are construed, maintained, and shaped? This conference invites its participants to grapple with these fundamental problems and more. Drawing on neoclassic economic theory to its Marxist critics, critical socio-legal scholarship to moral philosophy, cultural studies to economic sociology, we’ll delve deep into the social life of money. Thus, we’ll examine money not merely as a financial instrument but with the social and cultural processes mediating its significance from within. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 361 - Power, Hegemony, Resistance

One-unit semester course. This course invites its participants to treat politics as grounded in everyday life, as arising from power and agency, and as a medium of domination and change. It introduces key sociological debates on relations of power in which, as Karl Marx famously suggests, individuals generate their thinking and acting not as they please but under the restrictions of structural contexts and social inequalities. Those social forces, however, do not divest individuals from becoming agents. People almost always have potentials for resisting and changing. When, why, and how people realize these possibilities are undoubtedly central concerns of this class. But, why people are resigned to and how they participate in their own domination are equally crucial. This course thus calls as much attention to those individualistic and collective forms of resistance as it does to their absence. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 362 - Culture and Inequality in Contemporary Communities

One-unit semester course. How do cultural processes reinforce social inequality? What meanings and practices serve to hide, normalize, or validate stratifications between individuals and social groups? What makes subordinate groups create subversive cultures in the struggle for community, dignity, and equity? This conference draws on cultural sociology to address all these questions and more. We start with classical texts, establishing key concepts (such as symbolic boundaries and intersectionality) in the field of study. We then focus on case studies tackling issues as diverse as elite education and privilege, poverty and social aids, economic restructuring and gentrification, sexual minorities and the city. Throughout these studies, we pay attention to the cultural processes within which class, gender, and race inequalities are rendered invisible or unproblematic and thus socially normalized. Further, we look at the process of contestation through which communities use social relations and cultural frames to defend themselves against top-down economic, social, and political changes. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 363 - Sociology of Culture

One-unit semester course. 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 and how diverse organizations such as museums, art galleries, and record companies manage the production and distribution of cultural symbols for a diversified market. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2023–24.

Sociology 364 - Law and Society

One-unit semester course. This course is intended as an introduction to law and society scholarship. Drawing on interdisciplinary debates over legality and illegality, legal pluralism, human rights, access to justice, legal consciousness, law and social inequality, law and social control, and legal mobilization, we focus on social and cultural dimensions of the law through varied historical and geographical contexts. Among the specific problems we cover are: With what concepts and methods can we explain the affinities between law and society? What are the sources, workings, and consequences of the law’s legitimacy? How does the law reinforce or mitigate class, gender, and race-based inequalities? Who mobilizes the law—how and with what results? In grappling with these questions, we examine the law as constitutive of the status quo and social change. Prerequisites: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Sociology 371 - Military and Society

One-unit semester course. What is the relationship between the military, military service, and society? How does the military as a coercive and ideological state institution shape practices of nationalism, security, and citizenship? This course will address national security, war, military occupation, and overseas bases to examine the ways in which the military shapes and is shaped by local contexts. It will emphasize the relationship between the military and social formations such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Students will read work from military sociology that examines the relationship between the military as an organization in society, as well as interdisciplinary work from critical military studies, gender studies, and ethnic studies that engages with questions about the impacts of military-based power on marginalized communities. Through the course, students will examine how the military shapes everyday lives as well as broader social relations, structures, and communities. Prerequisite: SOC 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Sociology 390 - Junior Research Colloquium

One-half-unit semester course. This course prepares students for conducting sociological research in the junior qualifying exam, senior thesis and beyond. Concepts and practices addressed include surveying research in an area, reconstructing the core debates, and constructing literature reviews; using citation analyses to evaluate the impact of scholarly work; formulating research questions; assessing and developing research designs; using multiple methods; formulating measurement strategies; presenting results from qualitative and quantitative research; and crafting new research projects to address unresolved issues in prior research. This course is directed mainly toward students writing their junior qualifying examination in sociology and allied fields (American Studies–Sociology, ICPS–Sociology, Sociology–CRES), but may be helpful for students in the first semester of thesis research. Prerequisites: SOC 211, 311, and two upper-division sociology courses, or consent of the instructor. SOC 311 may be concurrently registered. Conference.

Sociology 391 - Seminar in Sociology: Contemporary Topics

One-half-unit semester course. An examination and exploration of current topics and areas in sociology with an emphasis on surveying contemporary published research. Participants will review recent publications in core sociology journals, collectively design a semester reading syllabus, and help lead group discussions of this work. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, Sociology 211, and two additional units of sociology (one of the additional units may be taken concurrently with consent of the instructor). Conference. May be repeated for credit.

Sociology 470 - Thesis

Two-unit yearlong course; one unit per semester.

Sociology 481 - Special Topics

Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. 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.