Sociology Courses

In addition to the courses listed below, special topics courses are often offered. These appear on the registrar’s Web site.

101. Principles of Sociology.
An introduction to how and why particular groups of people act, think and feel as they do from a social perspective. The course explores different kinds of sociological explanations as well as a variety of substantive areas within the discipline, including deviance, power, social inequality, the family, collective behavior, formal organizations and others. The substantive areas emphasized vary by instructor. Not open to seniors.

110. Global Problems.
This course introduces students to the sociological perspective through examination of global actors, processes and problems. The course focuses on the process of the consolidation of the world into a single economy. While some people and some regions have benefited greatly, others have suffered tremendously. We look at how social disparities take shape and figure out the reasons they are justified. Not open to seniors. Also offered through Global Studies and Peace Studies.

112. Inequality.
An introductory course that examines forces behind the unequal distribution of economic, political, social, cultural and psychological rewards in contemporary U.S. society and globally. The course also examines the consequences of this distribution for both individuals and societies. Students are encouraged to take a closer look at social inequality through fieldwork projects and autobiographical reflections. Not open to seniors. Also offered through African-American Studies and Peace Studies.

124. Dirty Business and the Environment.
The Earth is in crisis. In this course we focus on the social causes — and solutions — to this crisis. We look comparatively at cultures and economic systems to see which societies have developed ecologically sustainable cultures and economies, then examine some of the effects of corporations on wildlands, agriculture and energy policy. What causes these effects and how do people respond to them? Last, we examine consumerism and different remedies to the effects of corporations, and alternatives, both market and nonmarket. At each step we analyze the principles that lead to ecological sustainability. Also offered as Environmental Studies 124 and through Peace Studies.

161. Social Problems and Policy.
This course explores the causes of and responses to the phenomena labeled “social problems.” The course examines how social phenomena are defined as problems and developed into issues. We investigate the role of the media, social movements, government and private capital in identifying problems and placing them on the public agenda. We also focus on a variety of policies proposed (and/or implemented) in response to specific social problems and the political conflicts that result from competing policy alternatives. The social impacts of various policy options associated with these issues are explored. Not open to seniors. Also offered through Peace Studies.

203. Foundations of Social Theory.
This course brings under scrutiny the false dichotomies crowding the sociological imagination: structure/agency, history/theory, macro/micro, global/local. The broad-based analytical perspective enables students to understand theory in its historical location. Students are encouraged and expected to reflect on the explanatory models themselves as political and cultural constructions located in time and place and consider the role of power in definitions of reality. Required of all majors. Also offered through European Studies.

221. Sociology of Sex and Gender.
This introduction to social science ways of thinking about sex and gender provides an overview of contributions from a variety of disciplines and considers both theoretical and historical materials. We examine the social construction of gender and sexuality and the ways gender and sexuality and society interact with and affect each other, and how change takes place. The social developments and history of gender and sexualities are explored, and contemporary issues studied. In particular, how and why gender and sex became politicized, and continue to be so, is explored. Also offered through Gender and Sexuality Studies.

224. Family, Community and Globalization (Community-Based Learning component).
The process of globalization no longer requires a workforce rooted in place. Rather, the need of this new, “flexible capitalism” is for a workforce that is mobile, unencumbered by connections to family, place and community. These larger structural changes do not operate as abstractions. They affect the lives of people at all levels. This course examines the influence of globalization on families and communities. To facilitate an understanding of these processes and their consequences, integrated into this course is a required experiential component through Community-Based Learning. Students develop reciprocity between their classroom experience and work within the local community. This course meets the experiential component requirement for Sociology majors.

226. Sociology of Families.
This course introduces perhaps the most important and controversial of social institutions: the family. The focus is the American family, although marriage patterns and family forms in other cultures are examined for comparative purposes. Particular emphasis is on the changes that have taken place in the structure of American households and families since World War II. The course also examines a number of hotly contested policy issues related to the family, such as child care, family leave, abortion and the right to privacy.

228. Racial and Ethnic Groups.
This course introduces students to race and ethnicity from a social-historical perspective. It provides a conceptual background for understanding race and ethnicity. We do not treat race or ethnicity as “natural” or “obvious” identities, but study the sociological and historical emergence of race as an idea: as an effective way to categorize people and as a legitimate basis for social and structural hierarchies. We focus on how socio-historical relations and processes led to current conceptions and patterns of race and ethnic categories in the U.S., and consider possibilities challenging the nature of racial/ethnic identities by examining changes in political economy and anti-racist social movements. Also offered through African-American Studies.

231. Sport and Society.
This course examines sport as an evolving social institution using sociological perspectives to understand issues, problems, aspects and dimensions of sport. We examine how sport both generates conflict (competition) and builds solidarity (unity). Topics covered include stratification, deviance and violence, and racial and gender inequalities in sport. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences as participants and spectators, and to connect these with larger social issues involving sports.

235. Earning a Living: Work and Occupations in a Global Economy.
Much of the construction of our self-identity is concerned with preparation for and taking up a place in the occupational structure. Our occupations and the “social value” of the work we do contribute to definitions of our social worth. This course is about the complex of social, economic, political, cultural and psychological processes that contribute to what we want to “be” when we “grow up” and what then becomes possible in a global economy. It examines what happens when there is no place for us. Also offered through Global Studies and Peace Studies.

236. Education and Society.
This course provides a critical examination of the structure and consequences of one of our society’s major institutions: the formal system of education. It is through participation in this institution that individuals access societal rewards. The course examines the structure of the formal system of education, the processes that maintain this structure, and the consequences of both for individuals and for larger society. Also offered through Peace Studies.

238. Social Services, Agencies and Advocacy. (Community-Based Learning component)
An examination of the structure, processes and outcomes of human service organizations. We consider their promises and limitations, including the political, economic, legal and cultural climate in which they operate as well as the point where policy is translated into practice. We also explore issues and strategies related to “client” advocacy and empowerment. Integral to this course is participation in a placement with a local human service agency through partnership with Community-Based Learning. Possible placements may include the Department of Social Services, Citizens against Violent Acts, Renewal House, police agencies and courts. This course fulfills the experiential component requirement of the major. Also offered through Peace Studies.

257. Environmental Problems.
Environmental problems are increasingly coming to define the times we live in. In this course we consider the nature of those problems by examining the way that human activities disrupt ecological sustainability. Next, we examine the root causes of these problems by examining how our economy and politics are organized. Environmental problems imply the need for environmental solutions. Thus, we examine political and social solutions that have been proposed to these problems as well as models of successful solutions. Also offered as Environmental Studies 257.

275. Medical Sociology.
In this course we examine a variety of aspects of health, illness, medical systems and institutions from a sociological perspective. We look at the social causes and consequences of illness, the social construction of disease, and roles played by patients, medical personnel, health institutions and society and the ethical questions they present. Attention is paid to health policy development in the United States and that of other countries, especially Canada. An additional 0.5 credit in Independent Study in the community is optional with this course. This course fulfills the experiential component requirement of the major if taken together with SOC 290, Independent Study (0.5 unit). Also offered through Canadian Studies, Global Studies and Peace Studies.

288. Dilemmas of Development
Many people believe that economic development is not happening quickly enough in much of the world. Indeed, the standard of living in some parts of the world has been declining. What does development mean? Is economic development always at the expense of social integration? By whose standard should we measure development? Is there a single best way of development? Are some cultures more likely to develop than others? This course covers the basic sociological theories on development, and answers the above questions by looking at issues such as inequality, market transitions, health care, education, cultural transformation and environment in America, Europe and Asia. Also offered through Asian Studies, Global Studies and Peace Studies and as Asian Studies 288.

290. Independent Study in Sociology. (0.5 unit)
Open to students who wish to pursue more specialized or advanced sociological study, fieldwork and research with a faculty mentor. Permission of instructor is required.

300. Qualitative Research Methods.
This introductory course includes discussions of the principles of social research, the relationship between theory and method, research design, issues of validity and reliability, and dilemmas and ethical concerns in qualitative research. Students learn qualitative techniques of gathering and interpreting data through a variety of “hands-on” projects in the field and classroom using methods such as participant observation, in-depth interviews, content analysis and other unobtrusive methods. Students engage in an individually designed, ongoing research project throughout the semester.

301. Quantitative Research Methods.
This writing-intensive course is an introduction to a variety of quantitative social research methods, with emphasis on survey data. Students learn using a hands-on, computer-based approach to quantitative data analysis. The course covers topics such as hypothesis construction, conceptualization and operationalization, sampling, data collection and analysis, reliability and validity, and the ethical concerns of quantitative methods. Studentsl engage in questionnaire and table construction, and data management and analysis using SPSS while conducting an individually designed, ongoing research project throughout the semester. Also offered through Statistics.

302. Visual Sociology.
This course is about “looking” and “seeing” and about the power of visual representations. The course examines the use of the visual and visual representations to reveal aspects of society operating on both the macro and micro levels. Substantive questions are explored through individual and group projects.

306. Classical Social Theory.
This course is designed for advanced students to appreciate how social theorists analyze large-scale social change in relation to world historical development. By emphasizing problems of theory and method, the course addresses how social theorists analyze large-scale social change, conceptions of origins, structure, development of modern social systems, classes and social groups, the state and bureaucracy, problems of rationalization and technology. Also offered through European Studies.

307. The Political Sociology of Karl Marx.
This course provides students with a solid grounding in the political sociology of Karl Marx, from the philosophical roots of Marx’s teleological conception of history in the work of his predecessors Hegel and Feuerbach to Marx’s understanding of historical materialism and the genesis of modern capitalism. Working from this base, the course examines the social relations of capitalism and capitalist exploitation, the nature of the commodity, the relationship between economic relations and social relations, the role of the state, and the function of ideology in capitalist social and economic formations. We conclude by studying the relevance of Marx’s thought in an understanding of contemporary global capitalism. Also offered through European Studies and Peace Studies.

309. Internships.
Internship opportunities exist in social welfare, gerontology, health care, social policy, law, criminal justice, the media and college administration. The department also encourages students to be imaginative and innovative in developing internships to meet their own interests. Internships require a commitment of eight hours a week. Students may not enroll in more than one semester of internship credit without petitioning the sociology department for approval. Permission of the internship coordinator is required. Students interested in exploring internship opportunities should contact the internship coordinator at least one week prior to course registration during the preceding semester. Not open to first-year students. Prerequisite: two courses in sociology.

310. Slavery, Race and Culture.
The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the world of slavery and its relation to the wider world of capitalism. Long a part of the global capitalist economy, slaves and slavery have been critical historical agents in shaping various aspects of social relations. The history of slavery has laid the foundation for race formations. Far from being a peculiar institution, slavery is indeed central to the making of the modern age. Also offered through African-American Studies, Global Studies and Peace Studies and as African Studies 310.

314. Nomads in World History.
Throughout history, the terms nomad and barbarian have been used interchangeably, and with negative connotations. Similarly, the terms settled and civilized have been synonymous, with positive associations. This dichotomy arises out of particular class and power interests and has had, as a consequence, an impact on our understanding of world history and the place of nomads in it. It has resulted in the stigmatization of nomads. In this course, we bring the nomadic factor back to focus and establish a more comprehensive picture and interpretation of world history. Also offered through Peace Studies.

315. Family and Relationship Violence (Community-Based Learning component).
In this seminar we examine the culturally relative and historically changing definitions of family violence, human rights, specific manifestations of family/relationship violence and its relationship to larger societal power arrangements, consequences of violence within the family for both individuals and larger society, and our normative, legal and policy responses to family violence. Integral to this seminar is four hours per week with a local agency that deals with family/relationship violence. Possible placements: the Department of Social Services, Citizens Against Violent Acts, Renewal House, Reachout, police agencies and courts. Placements are made in collaboration with Community-Based Learning. This course fulfills the experiential component requirement of the major. Also offered through Peace Studies.

322. Nationalism in North America.
This course examines nationalism on the North American continent, using theoretical perspectives and case studies. What is a nation? What is a people? What is a society? How have perspectives changed over time? Can there be nations within nations? What is a “submerged nation”? What influences do history, language, political structures and claims for group rights have on nations? What impact does gender have on the interpretation of nation? Can there be nations without geographical borders? How is it possible that at the same time of globalizing structures and institutions, many more nations, and claims for nations, are happening? Also offered through Canadian Studies, Global Studies and Peace Studies.

363. Women’s Movements in North America.
This course compares women’s movements in Canada, Québec and the United States. It examines the different ways the movement organized, chose priorities, dealt with internal and external conflict, and addressed the state. We address the political, cultural, historical and structural differences among the societies that shaped the movements and influenced the outcomes for women and for the social order generally. Particular attention is paid to diversities within the movements, and within the societies. The course comparatively traces the histories of the three societies, beginning with Aboriginal peoples, and concludes with examination of social forces today. Also offered through Global Studies, Canadian Studies, Gender Studies and Peace Studies.

377. Sociology of Consumption.
In this course, we explore consumption along a wide range of material dimensions. The sociology of consumption is concerned with the relationships of (a) the social to the natural and (b) the social to the social and (c) their consequences, such as social disruption and environmental destruction; “things” are fetishized and humans are commodified. The sociology of consumption helps us to understand this in the context of both the capitalist world economy and cultural expressions from early modernity to postmodernity. Also offered through Peace Studies.

378. “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland.
This seminar examines the historical, political, economic, religious, ideological and cultural forces that shape Northern Ireland’s conflict. It examines the ways in which these forces shape, respond to and interact with identity and community, affect daily life and extend beyond the borders of Northern Ireland. Also offered through European Studies, Global Studies and Peace Studies.

390. Independent Study in Sociology (1 unit).
Open to students who wish to pursue more specialized or advanced sociological study and research with a faculty mentor. Prerequisite: at least two sociology courses. Permission of instructor is required.

465. Environmental Sociology.
What is the “environment”? How do we know it’s in trouble? Why should we protect it? What are we protecting it from? Who are we protecting it for? We examine both the social origins of the major environmental stresses facing us today and the political conflicts that these stresses have produced. We focus on the role of society’s use of natural resources in creating these crises, as well as the way societies identify them as social problems, then examine the social responses. We explore the ways in which these responses lead to political conflicts, examine the outcomes of environmental conflicts at local, national and international levels and seek to develop viable solutions to real socio-environmental problems. Also offered through Peace Studies.

489/490. SYE: Independent Study.
This requires completion of an individual research project mentored by one of the sociology faculty. Before registering, students should work with a faculty mentor to prepare a research proposal outlining the intended thesis, theoretical framework, methodology and ethical considerations including the application for human subjects review approval where necessary. This is a one-semester project. Prerequisites: 203, Foundations of Social Theory, and 300, Qualitative Research Methods or 301, Quantitative Research Methods. Open to seniors only. Permission of instructor required. Fulfills the SYE requirement for the major.

498/499. SYE: Honors in Sociology.
This requires completion of an individual research project mentored by one of the sociology faculty. The project is undertaken over the course of two semesters. Students need to register for both 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). Honors will be granted to students who have completed and defended a thesis before a departmental committee. Prerequisites: 203, Foundations of Social Theory, and 300, Qualitative Research Methods or 301, Quantitative Research Methods. Registration for the honors project requires a major GPA of 3.5. Open to seniors only. Permission of instructor required. Fulfills the SYE requirement for the major.