This course introduces students to the field of sociology through the study of energy and power in several of their conceptual forms: as social levers of oppression and inequities, as the physical capacity behind economic development and material accumulation, and as complicated and contested cultural symbols of tremendous consequence for the natural and social worlds. The course looks at human labor and energy as interwoven dimensions of western society and uses theories of power as lenses for understanding five case studies: The production and consumption of sugar; The contemporary cotton apparel industry; Mass incarceration in the United States; Appalachian coal and Global Climate Change. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation requirement for the major. Offered every year.
This introductory course for first-year students traces the development of modern social theory from the 17th to the 20th century. It begins by examining the fundamental social institutions and values that characterize modern society and the Enlightenment in the works of Descartes, Locke, Dickens, Weber and J.S. Mill: (1) rise of modern state, political democracy and utilitarianism; (2) market economy, industrialization and economic liberalism; (3) new class system and capitalism; (4) modern personality (self) and individualism; and (5) principles of natural science, technological reason and positivism. The course then turns to the dreams and imagination of Romanticism in the 19th and 20th centuries with its critique of modernity in the works of Marx (socialism), Freud (psychoanalysis), Camus and Schopenhauer (existentialism) and Nietzsche (nihilism). We will outline the development of the distinctive principles and institutions of modernity in the following works: Dickens' "Hard Times," Marx's "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, " Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" and "Science as a Vocation," Locke's "Second Treatise of Government," Mill's "On Liberty," Descartes's "The Meditations Concerning First Philosophy," Freud's "Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria" and "Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis," Camus's "The Fall," Schopenhauer's "The World as Will and Representation," and Nietzsche's "Twilight of the Idols." Students may take only one introductory-level course. This course is only open to first-year students. This counts toward the foundation requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every semester.
This course introduces students to the discipline of sociology, defining what society and culture are and how they relate to individuals. We start with foundational concepts, theories and methods, using empirical applications throughout the course to bring the topic to life. With social life disrupted by COVID-19, the pandemic is a window into understanding societies and culture around the world. The society and culture in which we are raised is often the most difficult to analyze—we have internalized them so well, we forget having learned them. Students are encouraged to step outside of their own assumptions, values and taken-for-granted practices. Research from the U.S. and around the world can help us see what is strange about the society we inhabit and what is familiar about “other” cultures and societies. Finally, students learn about the various research methods used in sociology as well as how research findings are represented in news media. Students may take only one introductory-level course.
This introductory course explores the collective foundations of individual identity within the American experience. In what sense is the self essentially social? How are changes in identity attributable to the organization of experience throughout life? What are the effects of gender, race and social class on consciousness? How have changes in American industrial capitalism shaped the search for self-worth? In what ways have science and technology altered our relationship to nature? What challenges to identity are posed by emerging events in American history, including immigration and the African diaspora? How has the very advent of modernity precipitated our preoccupation with the question "Who am I?" Situated as we are in a farming community, we will consider these questions of identity through an examination of local rural society. Students will conduct group research projects to connect our ideas to everyday life. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation requirement for the major. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. No prerequisite.
From our vantage point in the 21st century, we perceive that the nature and fate of American society is increasingly connected to the nature and fate of society in other parts of the world. But what is "society" and how does it change over time? How, exactly, does society shape the human experience and human behavior in the United States and elsewhere? And how can we understand the ties that bind society "here" to society "there"? Sociology crystallized in the 19th century to address big questions like these in light of the profound uncertainty and human suffering that accompanied the rise of industrial capitalism, rapid urbanization and the consolidation of the centralized bureaucratic state. This course introduces students to the discipline by revisiting the work of early sociologists, then using the analytical lenses they developed to examine concrete cases of social change and globalization. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation requirement for the major. Offered every year.
The objective of this course is to critically examine social problems in the United States by using sociological perspectives to investigate the cultural and structural foundations of our society. Toward that end, students will learn sociological and criminological perspectives that provide a basic understanding of the principles of social-problems research from a sociological perspective. Among the topics to be covered are education, crime, the family and work, using examples from the Age of Enlightenment up to the present day. The most fundamental expectation of students in this course will be to use their sociological imaginations in every class period to engage in focused discussion of the readings and assignments completed outside of class. This is expected to aid students in the goal of mastering necessary skills of critical thinking and discussion, both verbally and in their writing about contemporary topics of interest and concern. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation course requirement for the major. No prerequisite.
This course introduces students to the field of sociology through the study of social inequalities as they are created, maintained and challenged within the institutions of our everyday lives. This course covers major themes in sociology by exploring how society operates within and through social institutions, how those institutions create and maintain social norms that disenfranchise some while privileging others and how individuals challenge those norms to enact change in their everyday lives, local communities and society at large. This course will analyze social structures and their impact on the experiences of individuals. We will look at the ways in which social structures construct and constrain reality for individuals and how society and social institutions shape individual values, attitudes and behaviors. The course will examine sociological concepts through an analysis of culture, social inequality, social institutions, social movements and social change. By the end of the course, you should understand common sociological concepts and perspectives and be able to consider aspects of the social world through the sociological lens. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation course requirement for the major. Offered every year.
What forces enable or constrain our successes (and failures) in life? Should what goes on in 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. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation course requirement for the major. No prerequisite.
Is religion still important in modern society? Consider the following snapshots of active religious life in our contemporary world: a Zen Buddhist center in San Francisco, a Theravada Buddhist temple in Philadelphia, a Catholic church in northern China, a Confucian temple in Korea and a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in India. In this class we approach these fascinating developments of global religions from sociological perspectives, and learn how to understand religions in the context of culture, politics, identity formation and globalization. We begin with an introduction to classical theorists such as Durkheim and Weber, and move on to contemporary sociology of religion classics such as Robert Bellah's "Beyond Belief." Using these theoretical tools, we proceed to discussions of specific cases, such as orthodox Judaism in America; immigration and religion; the formation of a Jewish-Buddhist identity; and Islam in contemporary France. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
What is the relationship between society and value, production, consumption and exchange? How might a sociological approach to the market reveal insights into its functions, successes and failures? This course probes those questions by bringing to bear a sociological lens onto economic behavior. We will explore the sociological foundations of the value of people and commodities, the logic of social networks and social capital and the institutional architecture of markets. To do so, we will draw from sociological theory and methods. Along the way, we'll investigate why some communities have seen economic success and others failure, the meaning of consumption for social class and the causes of the 2008 banking crisis. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.
People in the United States are keenly aware of social differences, yet few have a very precise understanding of "social class," the magnitude of social inequality in U.S. society, or why social inequality exists at all. This course provides a semester-long examination of social stratification -- a society’s unequal ranking of categories of people in historical, comparative, theoretical and critical terms. The historical focus traces the development of social inequality since the emergence of the first human societies some 10,000 years ago; the Industrial Revolution; and, more recently, the Information Revolution. The comparative focus explores how and why societies differ in their degree of inequality, identifies various dimensions of inequality, and assesses various justifications for inequality. Attention is also given to the extent of social differences between high- and low-income nations in the world today. The theoretical focus asks how and why social inequality comes to exist in the first place (and why social equality does not exist). This course offers a true diversity of political approaches, presenting arguments made by conservatives, liberals, libertarians and radicals about the degree of inequality in the United States and in the world. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated what health scholars have long argued — that the health of one is inherently interconnected with the health of others, including those in one’s neighborhood, country and global community. Despite this unprecedented moment, fundamental questions remain about what it means to be healthy, who decides, and how we measure health. What is health and its relationship to the good life? Why is everyone from Dr. Oz to Gwyneth Paltrow seemingly obsessed with the promise of good health? How do social structures impact health, leading to hidden advantages for some and suffering for others? And perhaps most salient to this moment — how do people respond to public-health threats and how might we create better policies in light of these responses? We start with basic questions about the relevance, definition and measurement of health before turning to more specific questions about what shapes health, how health varies across groups and how professionals and interventions try to improve physical, emotional and mental well-being. Throughout the course, we turn to empirical research — both quantitative and qualitative — to understand how social forces shape health and what can be done to improve it. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of the instructor.
We all come from families and the family is a familiar social institution. But family is constituted not just by our individual experiences but also as a product of historical, social and political conditions. This course will examine how these conditions have shaped family life as we know it today. We will look at the social construction of the family, the psychosocial interiors of families and how governmental policy has shaped and will continue to shape families in the future. In addition, we will discuss the increasing diversity of family structures, the institution of marriage, and the social construction of childhood and parenting as represented in empirical research and legal decisions. Our underlying framework for analysis will be the gendered nature of family systems. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every two years.
This course examines the social conditions that give rise to law, how changing social conditions affect law and how law affects the society we live in. In the first few weeks, we focus on how classical social theorists, the so-called founders of sociology, viewed the law and its relationship to the rapid social change unfolding before their eyes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the following weeks, we explore how social actors such as the environmental, civil rights and free speech movements attempt to use the law, litigation and legal institutions as instruments of social change. Turning this question around, we then look at how legal processes, actors and institutions -- criminal trials, lawyers and the courts, to name a few -- interact with the media to shape public opinion, protest and collective action. We will explore the diverse ways individuals experience and interpret the law, and why this matters for understanding how law operates in the real world. In the final weeks of the semester, we probe how broader cultural shifts in American society are radically redefining the role and scope of our legal system. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every other year.
The primary objective of this course is to explore the socio-legal construction of gender in U.S. society as we interrogate the power of underlying contemporary debates predicated upon gender. The focus of discussion is specifically on legal issues that seem to be particularly affected by our societal understanding of the feminine and the masculine as presently constructed for example, sexual orientation, rape and domestic violence. This course satisfies a requirement of the concentrations in women’s and gender studies and in law and society, as well as in the American studies major. This counts toward the institutions and change or culture and identity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course, LGLS 110 or permission of instructor. Offered every two years, in rotation with SOCY 232.
This course provides the opportunity for students to become conversant with the wide range of experiences that may appropriately be called sexual harassment. The course is guided by the principle that sexual harassment is not, as many seem to think, simply a byproduct of sexual desire or misguided attraction. Sexual harassment is about power gaining power or retaining power in institutional settings. We will explore this concept both as legal construction, calling for specific determinants, and as a normative concept that arises in casual conversation and lived experience. This course counts toward the African diaspora studies and law and society concentrations, and also toward the American studies and women’s and gender studies majors. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course, LGLS 110 or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
This course explores the social world(s) we live in by analyzing what we eat, where it comes from, who produces it and who prepares it and how. Firstly, we examine the patterned culinary choices of Americans; how American foodways are differentiated by gender, race/ethnicity and class; and how political, social and historical forces have shaped these patterns in ways that are not necessarily obvious to the sociologically untrained eye. We then shift our focus away from ourselves and our own sociologically conditioned eating habits to analyze the local, regional and global processes and factors that bring food to our table. A major theme is the greater social and spatial distances our food travels from field, farm or factory to consumers in the United States and in other parts of the western hemisphere, and how these distances complicate and sometimes obscure the unequal power relations at the root of food production and consumption. Our exploration of the global ties that bind consumer and producer ends with a look at how social activists around the world have organized collectively to reduce these distances and inequalities. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Especially since the civil rights student and antiwar movements of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, sociologists have studied how individuals mobilize collectively and self-consciously to promote social change at a national level. Building on this tradition, this mid-level course examines a recent wave of protest movements that self-consciously organize across national borders. Under what circumstances and with what chances of success do national movements form alliances that cross borders? Is it true that globalization has generated new resources and strategic opportunities for the rise of transnational movements? In an age of accelerated globalization, do national borders still contain movements in any significant way? We will address these questions and others using case studies of contemporary environmental, anti-sweatshop, indigenous rights and religious movements. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every other year.
In contemporary American society we are surrounded by imagery that reflects and reinforces hierarchical divisions between us. This course applies sociological theories of class in examining artifacts of popular culture that emphasize these social divisions. Drawing from popular television and film, the course pursues an academic understanding of how social class is portrayed in and projected upon society, as well contemplates explanations and repercussions of those processes. The course establishes basic contemporary understandings of social class and popular culture before looking in greater depth at intersections of race, gender and stereotypes built around place and occupation. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
Popular conceptions of globalization often allude to the growing magnitude of global flows and the stunning rapidity with which capital, commodities, culture, information and people now cross national borders. From this characterization, one might conclude that national borders and indeed nation-states themselves are becoming increasingly porous and irrelevant as sources or sites of social regulation and control. This course examines the material reality of border regions and movement across them as a means of interrogating these assumptions and exposing how globalization rescales and reconfigures power differentials in human society but does not eliminate them. It scrutinizes technological, economic, political and ideological forces that facilitate border crossings for some groups of people under particular circumstances, then explores the seemingly contradictory tendency toward border fortification. Topics include: regional trade integration and political economy of border regions; the global sex trade and illegal trafficking of economic migrants; global civil society and sanctuary movements; paramilitary and vigilante border patrols; and the technology of surveillance. This course includes a required off-campus experiential component at the U.S.-Mexico border that takes place during the first week of spring break. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Our world is a blend of things that humans have shaped directly and things we define by our perceived lack of direct involvement with them. Over time we have depended on our ecological surroundings in myriad changing ways, but we have demonstrated inconsistent acknowledgment of our complex relationships with nature. Environmental sociology embodies a broad, thoughtful application of sociological insights to investigating the ways we shape and are shaped by our surroundings. This course explores through a sociological lens how Western society and more specifically contemporary American society interacts with nature. It frames central questions with regard to differentiating between humans and nature and explaining how interactions between the two vary, and it engages with current debates over conservation, sustainability, development and social justice. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.
Our common sense tells us that certain acts are "wrong"; that particular persons who engage in them are "deviant." But common sense suggests little about how and why a particular act or actor comes to be understood in this way. The objective of this course is to explore the significance of deviance and crime within social life. We carry the distinction between being different, being deviant and being criminal throughout the semester. This course provides a substantial introduction to criminology, with consideration of the social characteristics of offenders and victims, crime rates and various justifications of punishment. This course should be of interest to students within many majors who are concerned with theoretical, practical and ethical questions concerning the concepts of good and evil as foundations of human society. This counts toward the institutions and change or culture and identity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Sociology has long recognized the different roles of men and women in society, but the systematic, sociological analysis of how and why these roles have been developed and maintained continues to be a contested terrain of scholarship and popular debate. This course will analyze the social construction of gender and its salience in our everyday lives. Using sociological theory in the context of gender, we will link the private experiences of individuals to the structure of social institutions. The course will begin with the familiar world of socialization and move to the more abstract level of institutions of social control and sex-based inequalities within social institutions, including the economy and family. This counts toward the culture and identity or the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
The first part of this course will examine the underlying philosophical and sociological foundations of modern science and rationality. It will begin by examining the differences between the ancient Greek and medieval views of physics, causality and organic nature, and the modern worldview of natural science in Galileo, Descartes and Newton. We will then turn to the debates within the philosophy of science (Burtt, Popper, Kuhn, Quine, Feyerabend and Rorty) and the sociology of science (Scheler, Ellul, Leiss, Marcuse and Habermas) about the nature of scientific inquiry and the social/political meaning of scientific discoveries. Does science investigate the essential reality of nature, or is it influenced by the wider social relations and practical activities of modern industrial life? Does science reflect the nature of reality or the nature of society? We will deal with the expanded rationalization of modern society: the application of science and technological rationality (efficiency, productivity and functionality) to economic, political and social institutions. We will examine the process of modernization and rationalization in science, labor, politics, the academy and ecology. Finally, we will discuss the debates within the environmental movement between the deep and social ecologists as to the nature and underlying causes of the environmental crisis. Readings will be from T. Kuhn, M. Berman, H. Braverman, E. A. Burtt, M. Horkheimer, C. Lasch, F. Capra and M. Bookchin. This counts toward the culture and identity requirement for the major and the culture, societies and environment requirement for the environmental studies major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.
This course will examine the various theories of ethics and social justice from the ancient Hebrew tradition of Torah and the prophets, New Testament writers Luke and Matthew, and medieval natural law, to modern discussions about social, political and economic justice. We will explore how critical social theory has been applied within the political and economic context of modern industrial societies and how biblical and later religious teachings have been used as the basis for social ethics. Questions of justice, freedom, development, individualism and alienation will be major themes in this study of capitalism, Christianity and Marxism. Special emphasis will be on contemporary debates about the ethics of democratic capitalism from within both conservative theology and philosophy and radical liberation theology. Readings will be from the Bible, papal encyclicals, the American Catholic bishops’ letter on economics and social justice, Friedman, Wallis, Farmer, Novak, Baum, Miranda, Fromm, Pirsig, Schumacher and N. Wolf. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major and also towards the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or 100-level religious studies course or permission of instructor.
This course focuses on the American legal system's effect on racial, ethnic and minority groups in the United States as well as on the manner in which such groups have influenced the state of the "law" in this country. It is intended to stimulate critical and systematic thinking about the relationships among American legal institutions and selected racial, ethnic and minority populations. We will examine various social and cultural conditions, as well as historical and political events, that were influenced in large part by the minority status of the participants. These conditions will be studied to determine in what ways, if any, the American legal system has advanced, accommodated, or frustrated the interests of these groups. Through exposure to the legislative process and legal policymaking, students should gain an appreciation for the complexity of the issues and the far-reaching impact that legal institutions have on the social, political and economic conditions of racial, ethnic and minority groups in America. The primary requirement of this course is completion of a comprehensive research project. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major. It also may be counted toward the law and society concentration, African diaspora studies concentration and the American studies major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
This course examines the influence of shared meanings and practices on a variety of dimensions of contemporary American social life, including race, class, religion, political participation, close relationships, economics and social commitment. We will consider the following questions: What is culture? How does culture operate in society? How does culture interact with social institutions and with individuals? How do we study culture sociologically? Fundamentally, cultural sociology is a way of seeing society; the goal of the course is for the student to learn to see the structured meanings and practices that order all of our lives, and the possibilities the culture provides for us to influence our society's future course. Our emphasis is distinctly on the contemporary American cultural mainstream. We will discuss in class the question of whether or not such a "mainstream" exists and, if so, how we might understand it. Our starting assumption is that Americans must understand the themes of our own culture if we are to be responsible global citizens. This counts toward the culture and identity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
Music, like all art, is created, expressed, and understood within a social context. This course examines the relationship between art and society through a focused investigation of American folk music. Themes of particular interest include the movement of music across the color line and between folk and popular culture. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
In this course we deal with some of the fundamental questions in our global age: How do we understand a culture or society that is radically different from our own? This course has two parts. In the first half, we read theoretical texts such as Said's "Orientalism," excerpts from Hegel's and Marx's writing on race and world history, recent work on the epistemology of ignorance, studies of religion from the East (Lopez and Masuzawa), as well as debates about the "clash of civilizations" (Huntington) and the "geography of thought" (Nisbett) in order to conceptualize the notion of "the Other" and our relationship with "the Other." In the second half, we focus on writings about Asia (Tibet, Japan and China), such as travel writing, historical analysis and fiction. By analyzing these accounts of the journey to the East, we learn to recognize the complex relationships we have with cultural, religious and social traditions radically different from our own, with the hope that we can develop a meaningful connection with them through reflective understanding. This course helps both sociology and Asian studies students theorize the complex and creative relationship between oneself and "the Other," and it is of use to students who have recently returned from study abroad (particularly Asia), as well as those preparing to go abroad. This counts toward the culture and identity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
The objective of this course is to investigate systems of stratification through reading texts and empirical investigation. We will also provide regular opportunities to investigate several different data sets to pursue questions that arise from a reading of the texts we cover during the course of the semester. Stratification topics to be covered include education, gender, class, sexuality and race as they have permeated U.S. society and, therefore, as they have shaped the everyday lived experience of U.S. citizens. With a heavy emphasis upon the critical assessment of quantitative information as presented in the readings for this course, as well as the use of quantitative analysis, this course satisfies the quantitative reasoning requirement. This course satisfies a requirement of the African diaspora studies concentration and may be counted toward the American studies major. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
This course, a seminar and directed research course, focuses upon the role and status of women within the U.S. criminal justice system. Students will examine the evolution of roles, responsibilities and treatment of women who occupy various statuses within the system, including that of criminals, victims/survivors of crime and criminal justice professionals. We will examine contemporary theories of women and crime, especially a growing body of literature in the field of feminist criminology. Using a wide range of texts, monographs and articles to stimulate critical thinking and discussion about crime and gender, a primary overarching inquiry will be: Does one’s sex or gender affect one’s treatment within, access to, and response from the American criminal justice system? Through exposure to the legislative process, legal policymaking and the tools of socio-legal research, students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and far-reaching impact that sex and gender have upon the social, political and economic conditions of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This course counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. This counts toward the law and society concentration. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite.
This course will help to guide students to draw linkages from classical theory to the formation of contemporary sociological theory. Discussion will be guided by the personal biographies of the theorists: their family background, where they were educated and what events or persons they were influenced by as they formulated the theories for which they are known. Emphasis is placed upon acquiring breadth of knowledge, rather than depth. For a more comprehensive understanding of many of the theorists discussed in this class, students are directed to SOCY 361 and SOCY 362. This course is not intended for seniors, although it is required for all majors. Students are advised to enroll in this class as soon as they begin to consider majoring in sociology. This counts toward the theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every year.
Knowing how to answer a question, including what constitutes good evidence and how to collect it, is a necessary ability for any sociologist, or for any student reading the sociological research of others. Our goal will be to learn to understand when and how to use research strategies such as survey questionnaires, interviews, fieldwork and analysis of historical documents. Students will conduct small-scale research projects using these techniques. This course is not intended for seniors, although it is required for all sociology majors. Students are advised to enroll in this class as soon as they begin to consider majoring in sociology. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every year.
Social life is saturated by sexuality in unstable and disjointed ways. From advertisements that promote the use of sexual enhancement pharmaceuticals to laws restricting access to safe and healthy sexual encounters, the sociocultural framing of sexuality is unequal and often illogical. This course examines sexualities as they are constructed, experienced and regulated across multiple social contexts and institutions. We will explore the social history of sexuality and the evolution of its framing in contemporary society; lived experiences of those labeled or identifying as sexual minorities; privileges associated with hegemonic sexual identity categories; the ongoing sociopolitical regulation of sexual bodies, communities, and desires; and the history of social activism centered on sexual minorities. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course
Why are some countries more democratic than others? What effects have industrialization and colonization had on developing world democracies? This course probes those questions from a comparative and sociological perspective. We will explore the relationship between political regimes and socioeconomic factors, like class relations, state-led development, and racial and ethnic tensions. We will look at the contrasting political and social trajectories of European nations, the United States, East Asia and Latin America, using historical texts, sociological theory and in-depth case study research. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course and sophomore standing.
Inspiring stories, dog whistles like "looters,” "thugs" and "Real Americans," authentic populists and out-of-touch elites, graphic images of torture and the ecstasy of jubilant crowds: these cultural features of our political world stoke our emotions and engage our senses. Do these feelings and experiences exist to manipulate us towards the goals of others? Or do the emotional and sensuous features of politics have power in and of themselves? This course explores culture and politics by looking at the sociological foundations of narratives, coded language, performances and iconic imagery as they pertain to a variety of political phenomena. Cases and applications to be explored include populist politics, social movements, civility vs. violence, identity formation, electoral campaigns and the conduct of war and terrorism. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course and sophomore standing.
This course examines the development of classical social theory in the 19th and early 20th centuries. First, we will explore the philosophical and intellectual foundations of classical theory in the works of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant and Hegel. We will examine how social theory integrated modern philosophy, classical political science (law) and historical political economy in the formation of a new discipline. Distinguishing itself from the other social sciences as an ethical science, classical sociology, for the most part, rejected the Enlightenment view of positivism and natural science as the foundation for social science as it turned instead to German idealism and existentialism for guidance. It also rejected the Enlightenment view of liberal individualism and utilitarian economics, and in the process united the ancient ideals of ethics and politics (Aristotle) with the modern (neo-Kantian) concern for empirical and historical research. Next we will examine the classical analysis of the historical origins of Western society in the structures and culture of alienation (Marx), rationalization and disenchantment (Weber), and anomie and division of labor (Durkheim). At the methodological level, we will study the three different views of classical science: critical science and the dialectical method (Marx), interpretive science and the historical method of understanding and value relevance (Weber), and positivistic science and the explanatory method of naturalism and realism (Durkheim). This counts toward the theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: SOCY 262 or permission of instructor.
Contemporary social theory provides the tools needed to explain, dispute and re-imagine the social worlds we inhabit. The course is divided into three main units with three overarching questions: What is reality, and how do we know it? How does society shape the self, and how does the self shape society? How do we theorize the human and non-human? In the first unit, students engage with debates about how knowledge is partial, situated and constructed, and the implications of these views. The second unit turns to work on interaction and rituals, performativity and identity, how power operates in contemporary society, and what a social practice approach offers for explaining the link between social and individual practices. The final unit covers work on the interface of the human and non-human and its implications for theorizing technology, the environment and human agency. Students are encouraged to propose new questions and new answers about how the social world works. This counts toward the theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: SOCY 262 or permission of instructor. Offered every year.
Ever wonder how sociologists gather the information upon which they base their claims? Curious about all those charts and graphs in newspapers and magazines? Thinking about a career in marketing, survey research or program evaluation? This course is designed for students who want to become proficient in doing and understanding quantitative social research using SPSS. The focus of this class is survey research and design. Students will learn the basics of data mining, recoding and analysis while also learning to write and present their research findings. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, 100-level sociology course and SOCY 271. Offered every two years.
This course focuses on learning to use qualitative methods to answer questions about social life. We will discuss individual and group interviews, observational techniques and content analysis of documents and visual images. Students will practice using these techniques by carrying out a semester-long research project using these methods. We also will discuss the "nuts and bolts" of designing a research project, writing research proposals, collecting data, analyzing data and writing up qualitative research. Finally, we will contextualize this practical instruction with discussions of research ethics, issues of reliability and validity in qualitative research, the relationship between qualitative methods and theory-building and the place of qualitative methods in the discipline of sociology. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and SOCY 271 or LGLS 371 or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
This course enlists community partners to join Kenyon students in collaboratively designing and executing sociological research projects of clear benefit to their organization. Students will collaborate in groups to make substantive contributions to problems or issues in the greater Knox County community. The range of partner organizations may include those addressing public and environmental health, natural resources management and sustainability, social welfare and services, community infrastructure and planning and local economic development. Class meetings will take diverse formats, including occasional field trips (campus transport provided), guest speakers, group planning sessions, short lectures and lab/ group work sessions. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course and SOCY 271 and sophomore standing. Offered every year.
This course offers students an introduction to sociological demography paired with training in research methods relevant to applied planning and policy situations. It explores demography’s contributions to the study of race, health, gender, inequality and migration, as well as the central foci of formal demography. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course, and SOCY 271 or LGLS 371 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
The work of W.E.B. Du Bois is foundational for contemporary sociology, and American sociology in particular. A theorist, social scientist, scholar activist and public intellectual, this early disciplinary founder left lessons that speak directly to conversations on the state of sociology and the role of the sociologist in the contemporary moment. His theoretical and methodological innovations continue to shape our discipline in untold ways. In this course, we engage with the scholar's original work, exploring the theoretical and methodological contributions of his research. We also engage with the disciplinary response to his work, from his era to ours, exploring how he shaped disciplinary conversations then and now. Beyond his contributions to theory and methodology, we will engage with Du Bois’s work in shaping public understandings of race in American Society and his profound influence on the American Civil Rights Movement. Biographical and autobiographical writing will provide the context for the development of the scholar's sociological imagination and his ongoing legacy for sociology. This counts toward the social theory, institutions and change, and culture and identity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing, SOCY 262, 271, or permission of instructor.
This course critically examines several genres of literature on the social roles of men and women at both the social-psychological and structural levels of society. We will discuss, in particular, how gender relates to concepts such as socialization, attitudes, interpersonal behavior, work roles and stratification by race, sexuality and class; and social problems that arise as a result of gender inequality. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major and also counts toward the African diaspora studies, law and society, and women's and gender studies concentrations. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every two to three years.
The primary objective of this course is to pursue a comprehensive examination of contemporary issues which determine social stratification in the United States and, thereby, impact public policy and societal values. Some topics that may be addressed are race relations in the United States, gender, work, family, sexuality, poverty and religion. Topics may vary from semester to semester, but they will be of importance to any discussion of the institutional forces that govern our society. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor. Offered every two to three years.
For many scholars, activists and development professionals, a robust civil society increases the quality of democratic governance. NGOs, self-help organizations and even singing clubs have been seen as democratic bulwarks. On the other hand, some observers think civil society may weaken democratic institutions and may even be vehicles for extremism. What is civil society and how does it relate to democracy? Who belongs in civil society? Can we repair damaged civic relationships? To address those puzzles, this course explores contemporary theories of civil society through the work of four thinkers who extend the work of Tocqueville, Marx, Weber and Durkheim -- Robert Putnam, Antonio Gramsci, Jürgen Habermas and Jeffrey Alexander. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.
Since the origins of the discipline in the mid-19th century, sociologists have been fascinated with cities, viewing them as icons of modernity and laboratories for studying the forms of human association they believed to be the hallmarks of this new age. Building on this rich but Western-centric history of urban studies, this course examines the urban form and experience today from the perspective of a more geographically and culturally diverse set of cities ranging from Mexico City to Mumbai, from Chicago to São Paulo. Drawing on concrete case studies from these cities and others, we will ask what we can learn about the global processes that characterize contemporary human society at large by studying so-called "global cities," and Third World cities. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between globalization and the spatial organization of cities, exploring, for example, how social actors and states in specific places claim, reclaim, purpose, repurpose, surveil, contest and govern public space as part of broader neoliberal social transformation. Students in this course will take an active role leading seminar discussion and, by the end of the semester, produce and present original research on a global city of their choosing. This counts toward the institutions and change area requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
This course explores health experiences and outcomes as they are created, maintained and regulated in and through race, class, gender and sexuality. In doing so, this course pays particular attention to theories of medicalization, healthcare discrimination, minority stress, fundamental causality and social interventions meant to address these issues. We will read and critique highly-cited or classic studies in medical sociology, epidemiology and the inequalities literatures, along with recent studies in the field that build from these major works. In doing so, we will advance our knowledge of newly developed methodologies, how to test and advance existing theories, and how to design our own research so that it clearly builds from previous research. This counts toward the institutions and change area requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level SOCY course and junior standing.
This course explores the theoretical paradigm of intersectionality. Its principal objective is to develop an understanding of the ways in which the salient identities of class position, race and gender function simultaneously to produce the outcomes we observe in the lives of individuals and in society. While there is a large body of literature in each of the three areas (class, race, gender), only recently have theorists and researchers attempted to model and analyze the "simultaneity" of their functioning as one concerted force in our everyday lives. We will pursue this objective by exploring the roles of gender and race/ethnicity in the United States during the early development of capitalism and in the present, by re-examining key concepts in conflict theory through the lens of intersectional theory, and by studying the roles of class, gender and race/ethnicity at the level of the global economy today as in the past. This counts toward the culture and identity or theory requirement for the major. This also counts toward the senior seminar requirement for the African diaspora studies concentration and toward the American studies and women's and gender studies majors. Prerequisite: junior standing and SOCY 262 or 361 or permission of instructor. Offered every two to three years.
Recent years have seen the growing political importance of identity in the global south. Indigenous movements, religious and ethnic nationalism and class-based identities have impacted the practice of democracy, relations between social groups and transnational structures of power. But is what we see a detrimental splintering of identities and belongings or a new era of diversity and pluralism? What will latter-day identities do for democratization and social conflict? This course focuses on the political effects of identity in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.
Social scientists have used comparative-historical methods to answer "big questions" about social and political phenomena. Indeed, focusing on historical patterns in small numbers of key cases, scholars have contributed canonical texts about democratization, revolutions, identity formation and economic development (among others). Students will work closely with exemplary texts, learn and apply different techniques of causal inference and explore the ongoing debate between comparative-historical methods and quantitative analysis. Prerequisite: 300-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
Individual study is an exception, not a routine option, with details to be negotiated between the student(s) and the faculty member and the department chair. The course may involve investigation of a topic engaging the interest of both student and professor. In some cases, a faculty member may agree to oversee an individual study as a way of exploring the development of a regular curricular offering. In others, the faculty member may guide one or two advanced students through a focused topic drawing on his or her expertise, with the course culminating in a substantial paper. The individual study should involve regular meetings at which the student and professor discuss assigned material. The professor has final authority over the material to be covered and the pace of work. The student is expected to devote time to the individual study equivalent to that for a regular course. Individual studies will be awarded 0.5 units of credit. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline.
This course is for students pursuing departmental honors. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: senior standing and sociology major.
This course is for students pursuing departmental honors. Permission of instructor and department chair required.