What forces enable or constrain our successes (and failures) in life? Should our intimate relationships be up for public debate? If presented with evidence of a serious social problem, how should we act? The answers to these questions are demonstrably sociological; they require a rigorous and disciplined way to discern private troubles from public issues. This course explores the sometimes obvious and oftentimes hidden nature of our public lives: how we learn to interact and to understand each other, how we navigate life through and with institutions, and how our very essence as human beings is affected by historical and global forces. Through close reading and class discussion, this course introduces the basics of modern sociology and the discipline’s general contributions to our collective knowledge of the human condition.