Course Descriptions 2018-2019
Courses primarily for:
Courses Primarily for Undergraduate Students
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 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
The course introduces students to the sociological analysis of gender, with emphasis on the contemporary US context. The first part of the course provides an overview of sociological theories and concepts related to the social construction of gender. Next, we explore the causes and consequences of gender inequalities in key social structures and institutions including the family; education; the labor market; and health-care service provision. We conclude by considering gender inequality in an international comparative context to understand cross-cutting similarities and differences, but also to highlight the role social policies can play in mitigating gender inequalities. By the end of the course students should be able to (i) demonstrate a clear understanding of gender as a central component of social organization; and (ii) critically analyze the role of social policy in perpetuating and/or mitigating gender inequalities.
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 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
In this course we will examine how social context shapes sexuality, as well as how sexuality shapes society. Although many consider sexuality to be deeply personal, in fact social context greatly affects how individuals understand and experience sexuality. Questions this course will consider include: What is the relationship between individual identities and practices and broader social, cultural, and structural contexts? How has sexuality shaped political and economic processes? In what ways does sexuality intersect with gender, class, race/ethnicity, geographic location, and nationality? How is sexuality gendered and raced? The course will also consider how sexuality is related to different types of social inequalities. At the end of the course students will be able to discuss how studying sexuality helps us better understand complex social processes.
SOCIOL 277-0 – Introduction to Native American and Indigenous StudiesProvides an overview of the culture and history of Native groups and how these histories influence modern Native America. Explores the current economic and social experiences of Indians and tribes.
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 304-0 – Politics of Racial KnowledgeOn a daily basis we consume--often without notice or concern--a substantial amount of racial knowledge. We routinely ingest, for example, infographics about demographic trends, media coverage on crime and undocumented immigration, and advertisements for group-specific medicines. In complex and contextually specific ways, this diet shapes our personal and collective identities, social interactions and relationships, and political aspirations and anxieties. In this course, we endeavor to study the politics of racial knowledge--that is, the ways in which categories, measurements, and other techniques of knowledge production have helped to both constitute "race" as a seemingly objective, natural demarcation among human populations and institute forms of racial domination and inequality.
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 317-0 – Global DevelopmentThis course explores the economic and social changes that have constituted "development," and that have radically transformed human society. The course focuses on both the historical experience of Europe and the contemporary experience of countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In the historical discussion, we explore the birth of the "nation state" as the basic organizing unit of the international system; the transition from agrarian to industrial economic systems; and the expansion of European colonialism across the globe. In our discussion of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, we consider the legacies of colonialism for development; the ways in which countries have attempted to promote economic development and industrialization; and issues of inequality and human welfare in an increasingly globally connected world.
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 322-0 – Sociology of Immigration: LatinxAt a time when borders between nations are so heavily defended, how do we understand the flow of people across those divides? This course considers the recent sociological literature on immigration, with a particular emphasis on the transnational movement of Latin Americans. We will examine how sociological scholarship has incorporated changing understandings of Latinx migration, based on consideration of immigrants' demographics and motivations for relocating, the factors in sending and receiving countries that foster or hinder migration, and the processes of incorporation (or rejection) of immigrants at their destinations. We will take up the literature on transnationalism and examine the social mechanisms that make it possible for immigrants to maintain close ties with their countries of origin while simultaneously participating in the social life of their new locations. We will link migration to a wide range of related issues, including the global circulation of culture and economic resources, the growing facility of international travel and the barriers imposed by international borders, the technological innovations that facilitate instant contact with far-away places, and the global dissemination of information. Finally, we will discuss these various issues in the broader context of shifting U.S. immigration policies and politics.
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
From the inception of the field, sociologists have employed ethnographic and qualitative methods to analyze and understand the social world. In contrast to other forms of data collection, ethnographies provide a close, processual portrait of social relations, collective meanings, and interactions. The historical sociologist Charles Tilly once described ethnography as both a science and an art. No longer exclusively focused on "exotic" peoples or "deviant" urban populations, ethnographers have begun to examine elites and the powerful. Recent ethnographic works have explored party politics, scientific and intellectual communities, fashion entrepreneurs, ethnic organizations, and international development agencies. This demanding course introduces students to the craft of ethnography and participant observation. Students will read and evaluate ethnographic works, as well as engage in original ethnographic research and analysis. In the process of research and reading, we will reflect on questions of ethics, power, theory, and representation.
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 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 – 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 376-0 – Guns in the U.S.Guns are an important part of American society and culture. With more than 300,000,000 guns held by private citizens and a Constitutional amendment associated with gun ownership, the possession, regulation, meaning, and use of firearms reaches into important realms of American society, including: civil rights and liberties, identity and cognition, crime and violence, and public health and personal safety. This course explores the multifaceted role guns play in the U.S. by surveying historical, sociological, psychological, legal, and political research. From a firm foundation of the historical and constitutional origins of the 2nd amendment, the course will focus on a range of topics around Guns in America, including: the prevalence and distribution of guns; attitudes and opinions about gun ownership, possession and use; illegal and legal gun markets; gun crime and injuries; and the varieties of responses to gun injuries and crime, including, importantly the legislative and political processes that attend their development.
SOCIOL 376-0 – HeterosexualitiesTBA
SOCIOL 376-0 – MasculinitiesTBA
SOCIOL 376-0 – Money and PowerWhat is money? How about power? And how are they related? This course will investigate the intimate interrelationship between these two phenomena, particularly focusing on how they are intertwined in shaping contemporary political order in the US and beyond. The course is divided into three parts. The first part introduces the invention of paper money as a political infrastructure and examines how this novel development resulted in the birth of capitalism. The second part focuses on the near-collapse of this system in the 1930s in the wake of the Great Depression and the measures that were taken to prevent such a collapse again. Part three analyzes the rise of the neoliberal order in the 1970s and the 1980s. In this part, we will discuss the role of independent central banks (the Federal Reserve), international governmental institutions (World Bank and the International Monetary Fund), and credit rating agencies. The final part explore how the neoliberal system of governance has reached its limits in the wake of the global financial crisis 2008.
SOCIOL 376-0 – Sociology of RaceTBA
SOCIOL 376-0 – Sociology of Youth: A Global PerspectiveTBA
SOCIOL 376 – Du Bois and Sociological TheoryThis course will introduce students to the thinking and writings of W. E. B. Du Bois. It will pay particular attention to the relevancy of Du Bois' scholarship for addressing racism and social inequality in America and beyond.The course is designed to produce critical thinking about these important and challenging issues. Students will be encouraged to interrogate their own thinking on race and inequality.
SOCIOL 392-0 – Activism and Lawmaking in the U.S.Why have issues like climate change and gun control been met with such limited action by the U.S. federal government, despite the majority of the public strongly supporting policy change, and massive social movements mobilizing to bring it about? In this seminar, we will discuss and debate how and when social movement activists succeed if the goal is government policy change. We will grapple with the concept of political power, by focusing on how policymaking institutions in the legislative, executive and judicial branches mediate between activists' efforts and policy outcomes. For example, we will look at the Affordable Care Act, and discuss how and why it changed over the course of the legislative process in order to accommodate the interests of key stakeholders in the business community. We will build toward answers to the question of whether and how activists might modify their strategies if the goal is government policy change.
SOCIOL 392-0 – Seminars: Health and PoliticsHow are public health crises defined, created, and managed? How are medical guidelines produced? And how are individual experiences of health and illness related to social problems and policy solutions? This seminar explores these questions. Each week focuses on a contemporary controversy in politics and healthcare, including: the U.S. opioid crisis, mandatory vaccination, obesity and nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health. Core texts build students' foundational knowledge of sociological approaches to biomedicalization, lay and expert knowledge, the production of medical guidelines, health inequalities, and the social construction of health crises. While tackling these central concepts in medical sociology, readings and class discussions also encourage students to analyze how political institutions wield power in healthcare. This course explores how politics shape how research is funded, health risk assessed, medical needs legitimated, health inequalities sustained, and medical knowledge used as a tool of governance.
SOCIOL 392-0 – Youth Poverty, Homelessness, and PolicyWhy are 43% of children under 18 living in precarious housing or economic disadvantage? Why are 40% of all persons experiencing homelessness under the age of 18? Why do 1 in 10 young adults experience homelessness every year? This class overviews poverty and homelessness in the US with a specific focus on those 25 and under. We start with how researchers and politicians have defined poverty, homelessness, and ‘youth'. We critically evaluate policies created to address these social problems and learn how to craft our own suggestions. The bulk of the class will be spent exploring the lived experiences of youth experiencing poverty and homelessness while considering their intersectional positions and structures of power. Students will write three short papers during the quarter with the final comprising of the student's choice between a research overview of a specific demographic in poverty/homelessness, a policy brief proposal, or a policy critique.
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 440-0 – Stratification, Race, and GenderTBA
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 420-0 – Cultural Sociology and the Sociology of CultureThis course introduces graduate students to the sociology of culture (understanding social influence on cultural formations) and cultural sociology (understanding cultural influences on social processes). Although the course has no prerequisites, some acquaintance with Weber, Durkheim, and Marx will be helpful. Classes will be roughly half discussion, half lecture. Students must come to class prepared to discuss the readings and their applications, and teams of students will lead each discussion. Course requirements are: 1. Active and prepared participation in class discussions, including leadership (30%) 2. A report on one of the recommended readings (a book or pair of articles) (30%) 3. A term paper, including a short oral report (40%).
SOCIOL 476-0 – Comparative MethodsThis seminar offers a broad and advanced introduction to the field of case-oriented methods. The emphasis is on what are conventionally regarded in political science as “qualitative” methods for the analysis of a relatively small number of cases. In sociology, this field is generally known as comparative-historical methodology. The course focuses on recent methodological writings, though a few classical pieces are also included. The readings are not specific to any substantive subfield in political science or sociology. The course assumes no prior background in qualitative methodology, but the material is advanced.
SOCIOL 476-0 – Cultural MethodsIn this seminar we will consider how one formulates a research questions and puts evidence together in order to investigate specific instances of the culture-society interaction and, from doing so, to assess cultural theory. The course is for students who (1) have a background in cultural sociology (usually by having taken SOC 420), and (2) have a research project involving culture, one that is either already underway or in the planning stages. All participants must be actively engaged in a piece of cultural research (dissertation proposal, second-year paper, etc.), at least for the duration of the course itself. The goal is to create a productive interplay between research activities and methodological awareness. Open to students who have taken SOCIOL 420 or equivalent.
SOCIOL 476-0 – Neighborhoods and CrimeCrime is often seen as a "city problem." But not all cities are alike and, more than that, not all neighborhoods are alike. In fact, one of sociology's most enduring findings is that certain social problems--including crime--are highly concentrated within cities. The central question this course seeks to answer is: "Why do some neighborhoods have higher rates of crime than others?" In addressing this question, the course covers a wide range of theories, paying particular attention to ecological, social structural, and cultural aspects of city-life. In addition to covering the main sociological theories in these areas, we will also focus on several in-depth topics including: street gangs, the underground economy, immigration, and mass incarceration. In addition to completing the weekly readings and participating in class discussion, the main requirement for the course is a 20-25 page term paper on an instructor approved topic relating to one (or more) of course themes. Students will complete a series of smaller assignments leading up to final paper. In addition, students will be required to be the discussion leader for (at least) two of the assigned readings; this entails preparing some brief remarks/summary (a 250-500 word "abstract") as well as a series of questions for class discussion.
SOCIOL 476-0 – Politics of KnowledgeTBA
SOCIOL 476-0 – Research DesignThis course provides an overview of the major components involved in designing and implementing an empirical research project including (i) developing and refining a research question/topic; (ii) situating the question/topic in the relevant literature; (iii) constructing an appropriate research strategy to explore the question/topic; (iv) conducting analysis and writing up results; and (v) developing familiarity with presentation of results and the peer-review publication process. Throughout the course, we will draw on examples of in-progress research projects of faculty members as a basis for understanding the research process. By the end of the course students will develop a detailed research proposal that can serve the basis of a second-year paper or dissertation.
SOCIOL 476-0 SmallN – Small-N and Case Study MethodsThis seminar offers a broad and advanced introduction to the field of comparative and case study methodology. The emphasis is on what are conventionally regarded in political science as "qualitative" methods for the analysis of a relatively small number of cases. In sociology, this field is generally known as comparative-historical methodology. The course focuses on recent methodological writings, though a few classical pieces are also included. The readings are not specific to any substantive subfield in political science or sociology. The course assumes no prior background in qualitative methodology, but the material is advanced.
SOCIOL 476 Collective Memory – Collective MemoryThis seminar is designed to expose students to the realm of sociological research (and research in other disciplines, notably history) that addresses how we think about and memorialize the past. How is history constructed? How are historical events shaped and made socially meaningful? Who are the shapers and who are the shaped?
SOCIOL 476 Gender, Power, Politics – Gender, Power, PoliticsThis seminar will investigate the mutually constitutive relationships between gender and politics, in contexts of multidimensional inequality. We will examine the gendered character of citizenship, political participation and representation, social and economic rights. We aim to understand gendered politics and policy from both "top down" and "bottom up" perspectives. What do states do, via institutions of political participation and representation, citizenship rights and policies, to shape gender relations? How do gender relations influence the nature of policy and citizenship? How have movements and counter-movements around the transformation of gender developed, and how have gendered divides influenced politics of all sorts? We expand on conventional conceptions of political participation and citizenship rights to include grassroots democratic activism, the creation of counter-public spheres and alternative visions of democracy, social provision and economic participation, as well as examining formal politics and policies. We will read and discuss scholars drawing on diverse theoretical and methodological traditions; we engage with analyses of a variety of contexts across the world (the US, other rich capitalist democracies, postcolonial states and beyond), and strive to situate states and political mobilization in global contexts.
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 476-0 – Professional Writing SeminarTBA
SOCIOL 476 Sociology of Immigration – Sociology of ImmigrationThis graduate seminar will survey the recent sociological literature on immigration. We will focus on a range of topics that include: the social construction of immigrants and "expats," as well as the tension between these two categories; the shifts in immigration flows, both in terms of South-North and South-South migration; the structural factors that propel and hinder transnational migration; the entrenchment of international borders in the era of globalization; the shifting understandings of immigrant incorporation in host societies, including in relation to theories of assimilation and acculturation; the emergence of transnationalism as a framework for understanding the links that immigrants maintain with their home countries; and the effects of shifting immigration policies. We will link transnational migration to a wide range of related sociological issues, including economics, geopolitics, culture, religion, crime, gender, sexuality, and social stratification and inequality.
SOCIOL 476 Theories of Race – Theories of Race and EthnicityFor years we have understood that race is, biologically speaking, an exceedingly complex matter and that preconceived biases much more than biology govern the way people think about race. In this course, we will discuss both the biological myth and social reality of race. Specifically, this course provides an overview of the prominent theories/theorists of race and ethnicity, and is concerned with: 1) Understanding the early science of race used to justify racial classification and thinking, 2) reviewing the theories regarding the nature and persistence of race and ethnicity as meaningful social groupings in society, and 3) explaining the social significance of these group identities (e.g., how they are related to social stratification, social-cultural relations, and the political and economic dynamics in society). We will begin our review with the origins of the concept race. Then, we will move from early perspectives to the present in an aim to understand the influential theories and theorists. As we proceed in our investigation we will continuously ask: 1) what are the key assumptions, propositions and concepts of each theory? 2) how is it situated within the larger theoretical tradition? 3) does the theory agree or disagree with other views in the field? 4) what is the level of empirical support for the theory? And 5) to what extent does the theory help to explain patterns of race and ethnicity across time and space in the United States?
SOCIOL 476 – Topics in Sociological Analysis: Third-Year Paper Seminar
Advanced areas of graduate students' interest. Content varies.
SOCIOL 476 Welfare States – Welfare StatesThis class asks what I have come to think of as "the Bernie Sanders question": why is there so much more poverty and inequality in the United States than in other rich countries? At least part of the answer is that the American welfare state is much less well-developed. In the first part of the course we will ask why, by placing the history and development of the American welfare state in comparative perspective against the history and development of the European welfare states. We then broaden the focus to consider emerging welfare states in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, and conclude with the question of whether a Europe-wide welfare state—the "European Social Model"--is possible. Students will leave the course with a basic understanding of the past, present, and possible futures of social policy across the globe, a familiarity with theoretical debates about the welfare state in sociology and other fields, and some tentative answers for Bernie Sanders.
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 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.Back to top