Course Descriptions 2017-2018
Courses primarily for:
2017-2018 – Check Caesar for Current Course Description
Courses Primarily for Undergraduate Students
SOCIOL 101-6 – First-Year Seminar: (Race and) Sex in the City
Have you ever wondered why "gay neighborhoods" tend to be mostly white and affluent, or why people tend to associate homophobia with low-income neighborhoods and communities of color? This course will first consider how sexuality--together with race, gender, and class--is built into the urban landscape. Second, it will interrogate popular assumptions about sexual difference, race, and place that serve to reinforce segregation in the twenty-first century. In the first unit, we will consider the relationship between race, sex, and the city in the post-war, Fordist era, where suburbia was king and the heteronormative, white, nuclear family was upheld by stereotypes of urban minorities as sexual others. In the second unit, we will examine cultural "reurbanization" and the shift towards broader social acceptance of a white homonormativity which casts of minorities as homophobic or "backward" in the march toward greater social progress. In each instance, students will consider how these social norms prop up urban political economy. As a first-year seminar, this course will include in class and out of class writing assignments and lots of discussion.
SOCIOL 101-6 – First-Year Seminar: The Roots of Genocide
In this course we will examine one of the most destructive, evil and perplexing phenomena haunting society: genocide - i.e. , the on a large scale organized exclusion and killing of populations defined by race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. . In the first section of this course students will be introduced to ideational, rational and psychological explanations of genocide. Causes of genocide can be found at different levels of analysis. We will focus on theories at three different levels. First, we will look at how national and international processes such as modernization and political leadership cause genocide (macro level ). Second, we will look at why individuals decide to participate in or condone mass killings (micro level ). Third, we will look at what role subnational groups such as religious communities play (meso level ). In the second part of this course, we will assess the validity of different explanations through the comparative study of three particular cases: the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and Rwanda. Students will explore a fourth case on their own. We will end the course with a discussion on foreign intervention.
Students will improve their analytical skills by drawing connections between social science theory, historical monographs, memoirs of genocide survivors, journalistic accounts, policy documents, documentaries and public debates on foreign intervention. Upon completing the course, students will not only be acquainted with the main types of explanations offered for genocide, but they will also be able to evaluate the evidence supporting the various explanations. In turn, this should help students to develop and evaluate proposals to end and prevent mass killing.
SOCIOL 101-6 – First-Year Seminar: Scandals & Reputations
This freshman seminar is designed to expose incoming students to the basic approaches that historians, political scientists, and sociologists use to understanding historical memory. In particular, we examine how reputations are constructed by the public and by historians, and how scandals (including contemporary ones) come to be understood. Our primary focus for this course will be American examples, but the historical range will be broad, covering 1700-present. Given the controversy recently uncovered at Northwestern about the involvement of our founder, John Evans in the Sand Creek Massacre, the most significant genocide of native peoples on United States soil, we will discuss how the university should recall Evans' deeds.
SOCIOL 101-6 – First-Year Seminar: Teens, Tweens, and Adolescents
This course examines the experiences of young people today and how the experience of being a young person varies greatly by socio-economic status, gender, and race/ethnicity. We will also spend time looking at how life stages associated with youth (such as tween, teenager, and emerging adulthood) have evolved and why the road to adulthood is often longer today. We will also think about how the media shapes societal views of young people and how young people use social media. Finally, we will consider how the lives of young people today (Millenials) compare to earlier generations (including Baby Boomers and Generation X) and we will look at intergenerational interactions at home, in school, and in the workplace.
SOCIOL 110 – Intro to Sociology
Sociology emerges from the hunch that there are forces at work beyond our control (and often beyond our awareness) that influence how we think, feel, and act. Sociologists have turned this philosophical speculation into a systematic approach to building and testing theories. Sociological explanations center on the structure and dynamics of social groups (families, friendship networks, organizations, etc.) as enabling and constraining human behavior. In this course, you will learn to think like a sociologist - to use your "sociological imagination" to examine the social nature of a number of issues and behaviors, many of which may at first appear to be the results of strictly individual motives and personal choices. You will get a broad overview of the theories and methods used in sociology and how these are applied across a wide range of important phenomena, including gender, race, inequality, and education.
SOCIOL 201 – Social Inequality: Race, Class, and Power
This course examines inequality in American society with an emphasis on race, class, and gender. Lectures emphasize the mechanisms through which inequality develops and comes to be seen as legitimate, natural, and desirable. We will also examine the economic, social, and political consequences of rising inequality. We will place special focus on poverty and inequality in Native North America.
SOCIOL 202 – Social Problems
In this course, we will investigate how social conditions come to be defined as social problems. This course will be divided into two sections. The first section will be an overview of how sociologists have approached the study of social problems including theoretical perspectives (symbolic interactionist, conflict, structural-functionalist and constructionist perspectives). In this section, we will also conceptually examine the roles of policymakers, social advocates, and the media in the process of defining social problems. In the second section of the course, we will use the perspectives and conceptual tools from the first part to analyze contemporary social problems including bullying, violence among young people, and the effects of the media on children and teenagers. As a class, we will also examine the debates surrounding several social problems (such as teen pregnancy) to understand how interested parties can define a similar situation as problematic, but do so for very diverse reasons and in doing so suggest very different solutions.
SOCIOL 206 – Law and Society
Introduction to the role of law in American society. Relationship of law, inequality, and social change. Changes in legal institutions: the courts, the legal profession, and legal services for the poor. Taught with LEGAL ST 206; may not receive credit for both courses.
Instructor varies. See Caesar for current description.
SOCIOL 207 – Cities in Society
The purpose of this course is to present and examine some of the major issues in the study and development of cities and their surrounding areas. Urban areas are dense settlements of diverse groups of people. Racial, gender, sexual, ethnic, cultural, economic, and political heterogeneity all require negotiation and sometimes lead to conflicts that play out in the streets and neighborhoods of major metropolises. Also, elite political and financial actors in cities have a heavy hand in shaping the direction of urban development and the allocation of resources. We will look at the role of both institutional actors and average city residents in affecting the following urban issues, among others: residential stratification by income and race, suburbanization, urban policy, gender, crime, immigration, and culture. The class is grounded in the study of U.S. cities, but world cities will be discussed to provide comparison and to highlight the importance of globalization.
SOCIOL 208 – Race and Society
This class will explore the nature of race in an effort to understand exactly what race is. It seeks to understand why race is such a potent force in American society. Close attention will be paid to the relationship between race, power, and social stratification. The course will examine the nature of racial conflict and major efforts to combat racial inequality.
SOCIOL 210 – Families and Society
This course will present a sociological view of the organization of contemporary family life in the United States and other Western industrialized countries. Topics covered will include dating, marriage, divorce, and fertility as well as interactions between parents and children. We will focus on changes over time and variations across social groups such as by class, race/ethnicity, and religion. We will also explore how public policies affect family life.
SOCIOL 211 – Food and Society: An Introduction
This course provides an introduction to thinking about food from a sociological perspective. We will gain an initial understanding of how different social forces have shaped and continue to shape the way we grow, distribute and consume food, both in the United States and elsewhere around the world. We will look at the role played by culture and politics, as well as economics, in shaping our past and present food system. At the same time we will gain an initial understanding of concepts central to sociology, such as the social construction of seemingly natural choices involving the food we eat, or how social inequality affects such choices. Through looking at the issue of food, we will also become acquainted with different areas in sociology, such as the sociology of health and medicine, and development and globalization.
SOCIOL 212 – Environment and Society
Overview of the interactions between societies and the natural environment. Examines both key environmental problems, like climate change and oil spills, and possible solutions, and the roles played by different social structures and groups in shaping both issues.
SOCIOL 215 – Economy and Society
This course introduces students to the idea that economies are fundamentally made up of social relations, and that social relations are influenced by economic systems. In contrast to free-market economic models which suppose a social and political vacuum where people make rational choices, we will begin with the supposition that family, geography, culture, race, class, gender and sexuality, and age mix and mingle with the way things are produced and consumed, how economies are managed by the state, and how society is molded to fit various economic systems. We will consider how social institutions like property, markets, work, and family evolve alongside different economic arrangements including classic liberalism, liberal-Keynesianism, and neoliberalism. Students should come away from the course with a deeper understanding of the way economy indexes power, who has it and who doesn't, and how economy intersects with social problems like racism and heterosexism.
SOCIOL 216 – Gender and Society
This course introduces students to the concept of gender as a social construction. Starting with general sociological theories of gender and intersectionality (gender's relationship to other modes of difference, such as race and class), the course will then transition toward the ways in which gender inequality is produced and reproduced in various aspects of daily life and society, including: family, work, sex, education, housing, public space, incarceration, the state, markets, migration, and health, among others. Gender in each of these arenas of life will be examined with regard to socialization and norms, social control and power, and material inequality, paying particular attention to constructions of both femininity and masculinity, as well as non-binary manifestations.
SOCIOL 218 – Education and Inequality: Focus on Chicago Public Schools
This course is an examination of social inequality in education, including its causes and consequences. The course will focus on the case study of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), a diverse school system in a major urban area. Building on existing sociological theories and concepts regarding educational stratification, as a class we will look at the influences of social inequality and diversity on the practice of education within CPS, including how educational outcomes vary across social student populations. We will also explore the historical development of CPS and the current state of social inequality and diversity within CPS. Social inequality takes on many forms and we will examine the interplay among multiple social statuses including gender, socioeconomic status, immigrant status, and race/ethnicity and explore how inequality impacts the experiences of the diverse student body present within CPS. Finally, we look at current efforts aimed at improving local Chicago public schools and the efficacy of these reform initiatives.
SOCIOL 220 – Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society
Present-day medicine and health care are flashpoints for a bewildering array of controversies--about whose interests the health care system should serve and how it should be organized; about the trustworthiness of the medical knowledge we rely on when we are confronted with the threat of illness; about the politics and ethics of biomedical research; about whether health care can be made affordable; about how the benefits of good health can be shared equitably across lines of social class, race, and gender; and about the proper roles of health professionals, scientists, patients, activists, and the state in establishing medical, political, and ethical priorities. By providing a broad introduction to the domain of health and biomedicine, this course will take up such controversies as matters of concern to all. We will analyze the cultural meanings associated with health and illness; the political controversies surrounding health care, medical knowledge production, and medical decision-making; and the structure of the social institutions that comprise the health care industry. We will examine many problems with the current state of health and health care in the United States, and we will also consider potential solutions.
SOCIOL 226 – Sociological Analysis
Logic and methods of social research, qualitative and quantitative analysis of social data, and ethical, political, and policy issues in social research. Foundation for further work in social research.
Instructor varies. See Caesar for current description.
SOCIOL 227 – Legal Studies Research Methods
Legal Studies Research Methods introduces students to research methods used in interdisciplinary legal studies, including jurisprudence and legal reasoning, qualitative and quantitative social science methods, and historical and textual analysis. The course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Research Seminar in Legal Studies, 398-1,- 2, and is intended to prepare students for the design of their own research project to be conducted in 398-1, -2. Through exposure to and engagement with interdisciplinary research methods on law and legal processes, the course will provide students with a deeper understanding of law in its historical and social context. The course will provide students with a set of research tools with which to conduct research on legal institutions. The course builds on content from Legal Studies 206, a prerequisite for 207. While part of the Legal Studies major sequence, the course will enrich the analytic skills of students from many fields who are interested in law or in interdisciplinary research methods. Prerequisite: LEGAL ST 206. Taught with SOCIOL 227; may not receive credit for both courses.
SOCIOL 232 – Sexuality and Society
Sexuality is fundamental to the cultural, economic, political, and social organization of the United States. This course examines the theoretical and methodological approaches that have been used in sociological studies of sexuality including those that guide sexuality-related analyses of meanings and identities, practices and behaviors, power and politics, and morality and social control. Topics will include sex work, sex tourism, sexual migration, LGBT social movements, relationships, the sexual moment, sexual diversity (including diversity by race, ethnicity, and social class), sexual violence, censorship, and moral panics. The course is divided in three parts. Part I provides some important conceptual foundations for us to understand the various approaches that have been used to study sexuality, as well as the contributions of sociology to the field of sexuality studies. In this section we will discuss the work and influence of Freud, Kinsey, and Foucault, as well as understandings that emerged from social constructionist approaches in sociology and anthropology. In Part II we will discuss the links and tensions between individuals' own interpretations and those that are made available to them within the sociocultural contexts in which they live. Among other topics, we will examine how people use and question existing categories of sexual identity, the connections and disconnections between notions of sexual identity and gender expectations, how sociocultural expectations emerge in the interpretations that people make while having sex, and the ways in which collective identities and sexuality-related social movements are formed. We will also pay close attention to forms of social inequality. Finally, in Part III, we will explore how and why sexuality is a heavily regulated social activity and one that is deeply connected with morality in contemporary society. We will pay close attention to topics such as the emergence of moral panics, the age of consent and the regulation of teen sexuality, sexual violence, and the criminalization of sex work and HIV.
SOCIOL 288 – Institutions and Society
This course approaches the study of sociological institutions from a unique perspective: under- standing how these institutions emerge and address existing societal problems. We focus on both coordination-type dilemmas - e.g. how to parent, which side of the street to drive on, who provides health care - and collective-action dilemmas - e.g. how to police fishermen going over quota, farmers reining in downstream pollution. We end with a study of how institutions persist - possibly beyond their useful lifespan - such as the persistence of the intentionally inefficient 'QWERTY' keyboard, and a conversation about why it's difficult to enact real policy change.
The course has two overarching goals. This first is to develop a new way of approaching and analyzing social institutions. The second is to build skills in summarizing and synthesizing what we cover in the course. Assignments are tasks and projects that will help us reach these goals from the perspective of institutional analysis: in-class writing for quick summaries, papers for more in-depth summaries, and the exam and final project for synthesis. By the end of the course, you will be able to describe an institution and provide examples of coordination-type and collective-action-type institutions. I also hope that you'll have deepened your interest in social science and the ways we can use it to understand and explore the world around us!
SOCIOL 301 – The City: Urbanization and Urbanism
Learn different sociological theories about cities and social life and about research that supports or revises those theories. Topics include physical ecology of cities, political economy of cities, social life among social groups, and the question of community, deviance and social control, and planning for the future.
SOCIOL 302 – Sociology of Organizations
Most of our waking hours are spent participating in various types of formal organizations - schools, corporations, churches, or (unfortunately) prisons. We generally begin our lives in hospitals, and often end our days in nursing homes. While we want to join some organizations (e.g. Northwestern - go Cats!), we also avoid others like plague (e.g. the DMV). But where do organizations come from? What do they have in common? How to they shape who we get to know, how we get ahead or fall behind? Why do organizations change or fail to change?
We will begin to answer these questions using three main theoretical frameworks - sometimes referred to as "rational," "natural," and "open" systems approaches - that pull together the aspects of organizations in coherent approaches with different emphases and implications. By the end of the quarter, you will be able to think analytically about organizations from these different and sometimes competing perspectives. This should enable you to think about how you might better survive and thrive in our organizational world.
SOCIOL 303 – Analysis and Interpretation of Social Data
The course provides an in-depth introduction to the analysis and interpretation of data. We'll walk through basic statistical concepts to understand and analyze patterns in data. By the end of the course, students will be able to conduct analysis on data sets and will be ready to undertake a senior thesis, if interested.
SOCIOL 305 – Population Dynamics
This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the field of population studies, also known as demography. Demography covers all of the factors related to changes in the size and characteristics of a human population. The topics that will be covered in the course include health disparities in the United States, the impact of AIDS on family life and longevity in Africa, migration patterns within and from Latin America, the reasons behind sex-selective abortions in Asia, and the implications of the current low birthrates in Europe.
SOCIOL 306 – Sociological Theory
Sociological perspectives developed by classic theorists. Elucidation and testing of sociological principles in contemporary research. Primarily for sociology majors. Open to others with consent of instructor.
Instructor varies. See Caesar for current description.
SOCIOL 307 – School and Society
This course is a critical sociological look at education in the United States - with a focus on contemporary debates and issues. The course will cover how sociologists have both theoretically and empirically looked at schooling practices, what and how students learn, and how schools fit into the larger society including how the educational system in the US interacts with political, economic, family, and cultural institutions. We will also spend much time focusing on how one's educational experiences and opportunities are shaped by their gender, class, and ethnic/racial statuses. We will focus on K-12 and college with specific topics including college admissions, same-sex schooling, and Teach for America. Throughout all of these issues and topics, we will examine how schools both challenge and support existing systems of inequality.
SOCIOL 310 – Sociology of the Family
What issues are facing families today and how are families changing? This course will examine the evolution of family structure and relationships over the past couple of decades as well as looking at contemporary issues and debates in family life including same-sex marriage and single motherhood.
SOCIOL 311 – Food, Politics, and Society
This course looks closely at how different social groups, institutions and policies shape the ways food is produced, distributed and consumed in different parts of the world, especially the United States, and the social and environmental consequences of such a process. We look at the dramatic growth of factory farming and the social and political factors lying behind such rise, and alternatives such as sustainable farming, Farmers' Markets, and local food. aspects of the food systems we examine, and the social actors and policies giving rise to such alternatives.
SOCIOL 316 – Economic Sociology: Capitalism and Crisis
What does the global financial crisis of 2008 mean for the future of capitalism? Is it the end of the unregulated, free market approach, or is it the start of an authoritarian political order controlled by billionaires? How the United States became a country riddled with extreme inequality and catastrophic financial crises? To answer these questions we will study key historical developments that led to the crisis of 2008 in three parts. We will begin with the crisis itself and explore why it happened. We will try to determine who should be held responsible, the bankers who gambled on our prosperity or the regulators and economists who turned a blind eye to them. In the second part of the course, we will go back to the 1930s and examine how elites built the Keynesian New Deal state to redistribute wealth with the goal of preventing the recurrence of another Great Depression. In the final part of the course, we will study the demise of the Keynesian state in the turbulent decade of the 1970s, when the US economy was hit with record unemployment and inflation in the face of global oil shocks. We will see how the Federal Reserve took over managing the economy, how this led to financial deregulation, and how a new right-wing coalition of politicians, grassroots activists, and policy advisers instituted the infamous Reagan tax cuts. Studying the history of our present in these three parts will allow us to rethink what the economic sources of power are in contemporary capitalism.
SOCIOL 318 – Sociology of Law
This course examines the relationship between law and the distribution of power in society, with a particular emphasis on law and social change in the United States. Readings will be drawn from the social sciences and history, as well as selected court cases that raise critical questions about the role of race, gender, and sexual orientation in American society. Among the material we will examine are the documents made public in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Students should be aware that some of this material is graphic and disturbing.
SOCIOL 323 – American Subcultures and Ethnic Groups
E. pluribus unum. "Out of many, one." This course will study the way in which American society is divided into various subgroups and subcultures. The bases of differentiation range from racial and ethnic groups , to religion, sexuality, to lifestyle and interest groups of all kinds, and regional and urban/rural subcultures. . The focus will be on how groups develop subcultures with distinct norms and symbols, create internal organizations and group solidarity, how they define boundaries between in group and out group, how they relate in conflict /competition or cooperation/tolerance with other groups. Consequences of these subcultures for individual identity, and for social inequality in terms of economic outcomes and politics and power. Students will engage in readings and discussions of these issues and through a focused case study of a specific subculture of choice. Grades based on reading response, participation, presentation, and final paper.
SOCIOL 324 – Global Capitalism
In many ways, capitalism has been global from the start. With its earliest development in the destructive fires of colonialism and transatlantic slavery, capitalism's very development depended not only upon technological advancement, but upon international trade and finance and both forced and voluntary labor migration across national borders. Yet, since World War II, we have seen a noteworthy transformation in the nature of global capitalism. The rise of multi-lateral trade agreements and increasing power of global institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary fund are just two examples. This course will examine what we traditionally refer to as "globalization" as a historical and multi-scalar phenomenon, one developing in the context of neoliberalism; i.e. the cocktail of deregulation, privatization, and austerity currently stressing social and political norms across the globe. Paying particular attention to the way debt and austerity are used to uphold the power relations established in the long and disparate colonial histories of Asia, Africa, and Latin/North America, students should come away from this course understanding global capitalism as something that has changed at various points in time rather than something that emerged over the latter half of the twentieth century.
SOCIOL 325 – Global and Local Inequalities
From the violent mass displacement in Syria to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, crisis tends to unmask the sharp inequalities between and within nations that structure our social and political world. This course will consider the ways in which inequality is manifested both within and between nations through the lens of disaster, austerity, and migration, paying particular attention to socio-historical constructions of life worth saving and life which is not. Students will be asked to consider the rise of the transnational capitalist class, and how colonial legacies and sustained inequality between nations has given way to economic imperialism and increased inequality within them. By the end of the quarter, students should have a better understanding of how states, institutions, and racial formations contribute to global inequalities, and the global nature of local phenomena under neoliberal economic regimes.
SOCIOL 327 – Youth and Society
The course will be a critical examination of how "childhood" and "adolescence" have been defined in the U.S. We will consider how modern and historical conceptions of childhood and adolescence have evolved and how these definitions have been shaped by societal forces and institutions such as the economy, religion, and politics. We will also look at the lives of children themselves and how individuals experience being children, kids, teens, and so forth in a particular time and place.
As a class, we will also be very critical of cultural and media portrayals of children and teenagers and ask how these representations have reflected and shaped how society views youth. We will also look at how childhood itself has been viewed as a social problem. Children and adolescents and their behavior have often been considered to be the root of many social concerns (such as teen pregnancy, suicide, and bullying). But also many social problems arise because of society's feeling that children and young people need to be protected (such as calls to end child labor and the "missing child" awareness movement).
The final topic for the course will be how adolescents make the transition to adulthood socially, emotionally, and economically, and how this transition has changed over time - particularly over the last several decades.
SOCIOL 329 – Field Research and Methods of Data Collection
The goal of this course is to give students experience in qualitative research methodologies. Qualitative methods are a primary way that sociologists learn about the larger social world, test and develop theories and hypotheses, and make sense of complex situations and interactions. Qualitative methods allow sociologists to understand the world from the perspective of the individual and gain a better understanding of how the social world operates.
SOCIOL 332 – Work and Occupations
The gender division of labor is a key organizing principle in all known societies, but it takes a fascinating array of forms. In industrialized and post-industrial societies, women have increasingly taken up paid employment and moved into formerly-masculine fields, driven by demand for women workers as the economy shifts toward the service sector, and more recently by feminist movements. Yet women are still doing the majority of caring and household labor, while men's take-up of traditionally feminine caring labor has been far more limited. Moreover, the sex segregation of occupations and substantial gendered earnings gaps remain. Meanwhile, much of the work formerly done by housewives has been "outsourced" to paid service workers, many of whom migrate from global South to global North to take up this work. Scholars debate about whether and how these arrangements will change, and whether they may be influenced by political initiatives, either top-down (e.g., affirmative action to recruit women to STEM fields) or bottom-up (e.g., cultural and media campaigns to validate new norms). In this course, we will investigate the ways in which work - paid and unpaid, in families and in places of employment - is organized by gender and other forms of power, difference and inequality, such as race, class and migration/citizenship status. We will examine family divisions of labor: how do men and women divide domestic work and care for children? Where does non-familial provision come into play? What are the consequences for outcomes in paid employment and in terms of the distribution of time, respect, and power? We will learn about the development of the modern economy and occupational sex segregation, as well as how different kinds of men and women are treated at work. Finally, we will consider the role of government policy in sustaining or changing these arrangements. By the end of the course, students should understand how gender influences the kinds of work we do and how it is rewarded, how gender interacts with other forms of difference and inequality, how the economy is organized along gendered lines, and how public policies and political processes shape the gendered world of work.
SOCIOL 333 – Sociology of Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East
This course explores social constructions and experiences of gender and sexuality in the Middle East. Drawing on the historical, sociological and anthropological research in the region, the course aims to question the stereotypes about the subordination of Muslim women and men to offer a systematic reading and an analytical discussion of the political, economic and cultural structures that inform femininity and masculinity in the region. The course will start with the examination of women in early Islamic sources, then will move on to nationalist and modernization movements in the 19th and 20th centuries. Gender relations, women's and men's lives in contemporary Egypt, Turkey and Iran will be the central part of the course. In this framework, we will pay special attention to Islamist mobilization, family, sexuality, neoliberalism, women's labor, the experiences of LGBT, and finally women's political role.
SOCIOL 334 – Social Protest and Social Change Around the World
In this course we will examine an important driver of cultural and political transformation: social movements. As the Arab Spring, Russian Revolution and Civil Rights movement reveal ordinary people have been able to shape institutions through extraordinary mobilization. This course will try to shed light on the root causes of mobilization by reviewing both theory and research on social movements. Understanding movements requires both an understanding of abstract theories and detailed knowledge of specific instances of collective action. During lecture you will be introduced to social movement theories. Readings apply these theories to specific cases such as the civil rights movement, the Iranian Revolution, the revolutions of 1989, immigrant mobilization in Europe and the pro-abortion movement in the US. Students will explore an additional case on their own. After discussing classical theories of mobilization that emphasize cleavages, grievances and collective breakdown, this class will study movements from the ground up. It starts with the question why individuals decide to join movements, highlighting the importance of individual networks, norms and emotions. It then studies the role of organizational resources and networks in mobilization and ends with factors located in the broader political and cultural context. As you will soon find out all of these factors are intertwined.
SOCIOL 336 – Climate Change, Policy, and Society
Climate change is the worst environmental problem facing the earth. Sea levels will rise, glaciers are vanishing, horrific storms will hit everywhere. After looking briefly at the impacts of climate change on natural and social environments both in the present and near future, we then consider how to best reduce climate change and how to adapt to its impacts. Issues of climate justice, divides between the global North and South, social movements, steps taken in different countries and internationally, and the role of market and regulations are addressed.
SOCIOL 345 – Class and Culture
This course covers the economic, social, and political causes and consequence of class in America. Specifically, this course examines the effects of class on culture, politics, social interaction, identity, social psychology, and language, and emphasizes ways that social class shapes the background and experiences of current Northwestern students and what their future will hold.
SOCIOL 348 – Race, Politics, and the Law
How does U.S. society, politics and law construct the notion of "race?" How do social, political and legal forces produce outcomes differentiated by race? This class will draw from sociology, political science, psychology, history and legal scholarship to situate the role of race in contemporary U.S. politics, policy and law. We will look at how race continues to structure life experiences, social outcomes, opinions and political affiliations. We will review and critique various conceptualizations of race and racism in the literature. Finally, we will investigate contemporary political and policy issues. For each issue we will ask, how does race function in politics and policy? And, how does the law shape or respond to race and racial difference? The class is designed to give students a deeper understanding of the relationship between race, inequality and the law. Students will learn to apply theories of race and racism to contemporary political and legal issues.
SOCIOL 355 – Medical Sociology
This course introduces some of the main topics of medical sociology: the social construction of health and illness; inequalities in the distribution of illness and health care; the globalization of health care; and the organization of health care work, the medical professions, and the health care system. Students will learn about variations in who gets sick and why, how the health professions evolved in the United States and how the health care "turf" has been divided among professions, whether and when patients and their families participate in medical decision making, why physicians have more authority and receive higher incomes in the U.S. than elsewhere, what doctors do when interns and residents make mistakes, what the relationship is between hospitals and other health care organizations and how that relationship has changed over time, how the American healthcare system compares to other healthcare systems, how expenditures on preventive medicine compare with expenditures on high-tech cutting-edge medicine, and why the U.S. invests so much in high-tech medicine.
SOCIOL 356 – Sociology of Gender: Gender, Politics, Social Movements, and Policy
In this class, we will investigate how gender – as a set of relations, identities and cultural schemas -- shapes politics, including political participation and representation, social policy, and the formation of social movements (e.g., feminist and anti-feminist movements). We will also investigate how, in turn, political institutions and policies shape gender. Gender is understood as situated in a landscape of complex inequalities, social differences and power differentials related also to race, class, sexuality, religion. We aim to understand gendered politics and policy from both "top down" and "bottom up" perspectives, in the US and other countries. Among the topics we’ll cover are an introduction to theories of gender; the intersection of gender, race and class; the history and present situation of women’s movements; women’s and men’s political representation; social policy and law relevant to work, family, and reproduction; masculinities and political power.
SOCIOL 376 – College Life
Sociological studies of higher education have long focused on predicting the relationship between inputs (e.g., parent education) and outputs (e.g., degree attainment). However, scholars have increasingly become interested in opening the "black box" of the college student experience. Using a sociological lens, this course examines the experiential core of college life from the time students are accepted to college to their transition into the workforce, with a particular focus on culture, social identities, and inequalities. We will look at cultural processes of inequality reproduction at various levels of analysis including the institutional, group, and micro-interactional levels and across different university contexts. The course will focus specifically on identities related to social class, race/ethnicity, and gender. Topics will include college admissions, parental involvement, extracurricular life, major selection, peer cultures, and college-to-work transitions. The structure of the course will include a mixture of discussions, lectures, and short videos and documentaries. A major deliverable of the course is a final paper where students will have the opportunity to write about a slice of their own college experiences from a sociological perspective.
SOCIOL 376 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Gangs
This course explores the modern American urban street gang. It looks at the long sociological tradition of theory and research on such gangs, much of it conducted right here in Chicago. It looks at the structure and activities of such gangs and the response of local community institutions including the police, and national urban and criminal justice policy with respect to street gangs.
SOCIOL 376 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Sexuality, Biomedicine, & HIV/AIDS
In this course, we will draw upon literature in the social sciences and humanities to consider the central role that science (broadly conceived) has played both in categorizing people based upon sexual desires, practices, and identity, and in challenging how we have come to understand those very categories. We then consider how debates over how to define sexuality intersect with struggles for LGBT rights as well as alternative approaches to improving the lives of those who may not fit neatly within established categories. Key topics will include: the pathologization and de-pathologization of homosexuality; same-sex marriage; fixed vs. fluid sexual desire; efforts to change sexual orientation; and the relevance of disputes over the nature of sexuality to trans people's claims to legal recognition, among others.
SOCIOL 376 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Wars on Science: AIDS, Autism, and Other Controversies
Do experts still matter? Why are experts facing a crisis of confidence in their ability to provide authoritative solutions to pressing problems of collective life, ranging from AIDS, ebola and autism epidemics to environmental and financial catastrophes such as global warming and the global financial crisis? How can experts regain their authority? This course will examine how expertise has become a key aspect of politics under modernity and why this made experts vulnerable to attacks as truthful figures of authority. We will study the role of the expert in the production of power, knowledge and subjectivity from key historical and sociological perspectives. Students will develop the critical skills necessary to analyze the ways in which experts use their expertise to shape the world.
SOCIOL 376 – Energy, Politics, and Society
Energy has unique qualities: it is both invisible and omnipotent; often intangible yet constantly sought after, competed over and subject to desire and anxiety. It powers up the industry, lights up homes and workplaces; makes distances shorter; provides warmth and safety. Yet, the ways in which we produce and use energy also lead to monopolies, fuel authoritarian governments, underwrite regional conflicts and risk the future of the planet. The current crisis of energy in the context of climate change puts all these qualities of energy and our dependence on it under scrutiny. This class reflects on energy at this critical juncture, aims to demystify energy, making it understandable in its social, political and cultural contexts, and discusses the democratic possibilities that energy preferences can open-up or shut-down. Throughout the class, we focus on the relationship between energy resources and the formation of nation-state, delve into cultures of energy and the link between energy consumption and political subjectivities, examine cases of energy disputes and how energy infrastructures impact neighboring communities, and deliberate on the threat of climate change and alternative energy futures.
SOCIOL 376 – The Car
The automobile is a central and ubiquitous object in the day to day life of most Americans and a major icon in the history of American culture. This course will cross-cut a number of disciplines and schools, and the number of potential topics students might pursue are almost unlimited. Just a few examples include the car as a status symbol in identity and inequality, as an environmental issue in global warming, as an engineering and design problem for electric and driverless cars, as a medical health and safety issue in traffic fatalities, as a contributor to the psychology or "road rage", as products of automakers and related industries and business firms in marketing and advertising, as part of the new "sharing economy" such as Uber and Lyft, as a sport as in NASCAR racing, and as political and urban planning issues from the building of expressways to policing in patrol cars. Each student will pursue in-depth a topic of their choice related to "the car." In addition, the car will be seen as an "icon" in American culture as reflecting certain key values - such as individualism, independence and freedom - and as portrayed in film, literature, music and art.
SOCIOL 379 – Understanding Genocide
In this course we will examine one of the most destructive, evil and perplexing phenomena haunting society: genocide - i.e. , the on a large scale organized exclusion and killing of populations defined by race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. In the first section of this course students will be introduced to ideational, rational and psychological explanations of genocide. Causes of genocide can be found at different levels of analysis. We will focus on theories at three different levels. First, we will look at how national and international processes such as modernization and political leadership cause genocide (macro level). Second, we will look at why individuals decide to participate in or condone mass killings (micro level). Third, we will look at what role subnational groups such as religious communities play (meso level). In the second part of this course, we will assess the validity of different explanations through the comparative study of three particular cases: the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and Rwanda. Students will explore a fourth case on their own. We will end the course with a discussion on foreign intervention.
SOCIOL 398-1, 2 – Senior Research Seminar
Independent research projects carried out under faculty supervision. Prerequisite for 398-2: B- or better in 398-1.
SOCIOL 399 – Independent Study
(1-2 units) Consent of department required. May reenroll for consecutive quarters.
Courses Primarily for Graduate Students
SOCIOL 400 – Introduction to Statistics and Statistical Software
This course is designed to teach students the basics of single variable calculus, probability, set theory, random variables, and hypothesis testing. The course prepares students for the next class in the statistics sequence. The fundamental math used in this course will be covered in a review course prior to the start of the quarter. By the end of the course, students will understand the intuition behind statistical analysis, have practice applying the statistical techniques covered, and be familiar with different types of statistical anlysis.
SOCIOL 401-1 – Statistical Analysis of Social Data: Applied Regression Methods I
Introduction to the theory, methods, and practice of linear regression analysis: descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, ordinary least squares (OLS), regression diagnostics. STATA used for computation. For first-year graduate students in sociology.
SOCIOL 401-2 – Statistical Analysis of Social Data: Applied Regression Methods II
Regression models with categorical and discrete outcomes: categorical variables, maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), probit and logistic regression, logit models, tobit models, and advanced STATA techniques. For first-year graduate students in sociology.
SOCIOL 403 – Field Methods
Application of the methods of case study, interviewing, and participant observation.
SOCIOL 406-1 – Classical Theory in Sociological Analysis
This seminar, which is required for and restricted to first-year Sociology students, introduces some of the essential sociological writings of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Georg Simmel. These four men wrote what are generally considered to be the foundational texts of sociological theory, and their thinking continues to guide contemporary research. We will be focusing on how these social theorists conceptualized modernity and whether the analytic tools they developed at the beginning of the twentieth century are useful for addressing the issues and social configurations of the twenty-first.
SOCIOL 406-2 – Race, Gender, Du Bois and Sociological Theory
This course addresses the role that social factors play in in the development of sociological perspectives and schools of thought. Attention will focus on the role of race, gender and power in the rise of American sociology. The case of W. E. B. Du Bois will be highlighted to shed light on the origins and development of American sociology.
SOCIOL 406-3 – Contemporary Theory in Sociological Analysis
Contemporary approaches to important theoretical issues. Emphasizes the relationship between theory and current research. Content varies. Topics may include functionalism, neo-Marxism, rational action, feminism, or symbolic interactionism. May be repeated for credit with change in topic.
SOCIOL 440 – Stratification, Race and Gender
The recent popularity of discussions of "inequality" has pushed what has long been a sociological topic of research into the public arena. "Stratification" is the more general and descriptive precursor to analyses of inequality. Stratification refers to the fact that people (or groups or institutions) are arrayed along some (usually hierarchical) continuum of value, whereas inequality focuses on the size and consequences of gaps between groups. This course will explore the descriptive facts of stratification as well as the normative and political debates that motivate discussions of inequality. Race and gender are key bases of stratification. Class, or socioeconomic status, is both a grounds for stratification as well as a measure of stratification itself (i.e., it is a continuum across which people are arrayed). In this course, we will discuss the theoretical and empirical approaches to studying stratification; consider stratification in comparative perspective; explore five key domains in which stratification is produced, reproduced and manifested: families, schools (2 weeks), the labor market, and neighborhoods (2 weeks); and consider the political responses and debates regarding stratification. All of these topics will pay particular attention to race, gender, and class as key mechanisms of stratification.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Demography: Methods of Population Analysis
Formal demography is characterized by its focus on the enduring collectivity of population and careful study of the processes responsible for changes in population size and composition. Of particular interest to the demographer, are the processes of fertility, mortality and migration. In addition to these three basic areas of research, demographers are also interested in a number of related issues within the broad social science and health research spectrum including marriage, retirement, segregation, disability and land use. At the heart of all of these empirical analyses of populations and related issues is a particular way of looking at the world and a related set of methodological techniques.
This course aims to introduce students to the principal methodological tools used by demographers for studying changes in population size and composition. And, we will use the development of the formal demographic system as a way of thinking about formal systems more broadly. Students in the course will first learn the basic measures of mortality, fertility and migration—population change. Then, we will use these measures to build life tables, multiple and associated-single decrement life tables, as well as stable populations, population projections, and the simple event history analysis. Students will learn to apply these and other demographic methods through a series of weekly problem sets.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Design and Analysis of Surveys
This course aims to supports graduate students who are writing dissertations about public opinion, attitudes, behavior, or survey experiments. The lab seeks to enhance the research productivity and career success of graduate students, by giving them opportunities to design, administer, and analyze survey questions of their own design. Students will leave the course with pre-tested survey items.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Interview Methods
In this course, students will develop the necessary skills to conceptualize, plan, and execute interview-based research projects. We will cover topics such as fine-tuning a research idea, formulating research questions, designing a rigorous research plan, navigating the IRB process, recruiting respondents, creating the interview guide, conducting interviews, and analyzing and writing up data. We will also consider reflexivity, ethics, and the complexities of interviewing various populations. Students at all levels of the graduate student process are welcome. However, the course tends to focus on issues that arise at the beginning stages of a second year paper or dissertation proposal. Those students will therefore receive preference in course enrollment.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Law & Global Capitalism
Globalization entails greater interdependence and less national autonomy. It occurs as international flows of capital, goods, services, and people increase. Economic transactions, interactions and relationships that formerly occurred within national boundaries now occur across them. As part of globalization, legal forms and institutions are also spreading throughout the world. Transactions involving capital, goods, services and people are not self-sustaining, but rather, they are supported and regulated by an institutional foundation that typically centers on the legal system. Because the frameworks that support these transactions exist primarily at the level of the nation-state, a governance mismatch has emerged. We examine the role of law in supporting global markets and the tensions created from this mismatch.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Many Hands of the State
The seminar provides an overview of the theoretical and empirical debates focusing on states as institutions engaged in coercion and competition; regulation and redistribution; the classification, stratification and production of citizens/subjects; production and reproduction. We discuss the emergence, development and futures of states and empires, and their (usually uncertain) boundaries.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Microsociology
This graduate seminar will provide an overview of central topics in microsociology: an approach that is also known as sociological social psychology. Rather than focusing on organizations, institutions, and populations, microsociology addresses the dynamics of interaction, the relationships between personality and social structure, the production of culture, the dynamics of social identity, the sociology of emotions, and the experimental analysis of inequality and trust. The class incorporates various methodological traditions, including ethnography, interviews, survey research, and experimentation, and draws on the writings of such important theorists contributing to a microsociology approach including Sigmund Freud, George Simmel, George Herbert Mead, George Homans, and Erving Goffman.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Neoliberalism
This course surveys some of the increasing literature on neoliberalism, the movement throughout the world to reduce the role of the state and give greater rein to market forces. The focus is on the U.S., but a few weeks are spent on neoliberalism in other countries.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Research Design
Geared toward 1st and 3rd year students.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Sociology of Families
This course is designed to provide an overview of recent scholarship in sociology and the social sciences on contemporary families in the United States and other industrialized countries. We will focus on research that considers how families have changed over the last century and how the structure, functions, and experiences of family life vary across race/ethnicity, class, and national context. In a seminar format, we will be discussing studies that draw on a variety of methods including ethnography, interviews, public opinion surveys, archival data, and demographic analysis. The core topics include 1) marriage and cohabiting relationships; 2) fertility and parenting; 3) social norms and attitudes regarding a variety of family-related behaviors and family structures; 4) relationships with extended and fictive kin.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Sociology of Health, Illness, and Biomedicine
This course will provide an introduction to central topics in the sociology of medicine while also suggesting how that field is being redefined and reinvigorated by science and technology studies. We will seek to understand health, health care, and biomedicine by exploring multiple domains: the work sites in which health professionals interact with one another and with their clients; the research settings where medical knowledge and technologies are generated; the cultural arenas within which ideas of health and disease circulate; the market relations that produce health care as a commodity; the institutions that transform social inequalities into health disparities; the social movements that challenge biomedical practices and the authority of experts; and the bodies and selves that experience and are remade by illness.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Sociology of Sexuality
This graduate seminar asks the following questions: What do we learn about society by studying sexuality? What do we learn about sexuality by studying society? We will focus on sociological approaches to studying sexuality and link sexuality studies to broader sociological questions about culture, social interaction, social inequality, globalization, social movements, science, health, and public policy. We will explore various theoretical and methodological approaches that have been used in sociological studies of sexuality--including those that guide sexuality-related analyses of meanings and identities, practices and behaviors, politics, power, relationships, population movement, collective identities and social movements, and morality and social control.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Third-Year Paper Seminar
Advanced areas of graduate students' interest. Content varies.
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: War and Society
This class studies the ways in which war shapes society and vice-versa. It urges graduate students to explore interactions between theories across the social sciences.
SOCIOL 480 – Introduction to the Discipline
Introduction to the department, faculty, and adjunct faculty. Faculty discuss their research and teaching interests. Mandatory two-quarter weekly seminar for first-year students.
SOCIOL 490 – Research: Second-Year Paper
Independent study for work on second-year paper.
SOCIOL 499 – Independent Study
May be repeated for credit. Independent study in social theory, methodology, social change, and social institutions. Permission of instructor and department required.
SOCIOL 570 – Seminar on College Teaching
This course should be seen as a first step in a never-ending mission for developing one's own pedagogical skills. Students will learn each stage of the collegiate course design and implementation process: creating syllabi, teaching effectively, and evaluating both student and teacher. Assignments throughout the course are designed primarily to help students improve and reflect on their teaching. The final assignment is to create a teaching portfolio that will lay the foundations for what students would use on the academic job market. As part of the course, students gain hands-on teaching experience by the department's 110 course: Introduction to Sociology. TAing for 110 will require students to lead a discussion section every week along with grading essays, midterms, and the final exam. The first two weeks of the course will prepare students to quickly learn and execute their responsibilities.
SOCIOL 576 – Topics in Sociological Analysis
Workshops in areas of expressed student interest. Open to advanced graduate students. May be counted for credit with instructor approval.
SOCIOL 590 – Research
Independent investigation of selected problems pertaining to thesis or dissertation. May be repeated for credit.Back to top