The major in sociology looks at how societies are organized and how they function, examining factors that affect social structure and interaction.
Courses explore such topics as family, power, religion, culture, deviance, and discrimination. They probe the construction and consequences of diversity and inequality, looking at race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and other indices of difference. Students become immersed in the study of social reality, analyze social structures and processes, and come away with a greater understanding of social change, global and local diversity, and the power of culture as a shaping force.
Independent research and study abroad are popular among sociology majors. Students have studied family and gender in Florence, Italy, examined perceptions of gay and lesbian college students, and researched the factors that affect high school graduation rates for teen mothers.
These and other experiences are excellent preparation for graduate study and careers in fields such as law, human services, education, business, and public policy.
Students who major in sociology take a minimum of ten full-credit courses, including:
(Students must earn a grade of C or better in Soc 101, 102, or 103, and in Soc 296.)
Sociology majors typically take courses in this order:
*other Soc course requirements can be taken at any time.
The Sociology minor consists of six courses:
Introduction to Sociology
Study of basic structures and dynamics of human societies, focusing on the development of principles and concepts used in sociological analysis and research. Topics include culture, socialization, social institutions, stratification, and social change. No prerequisite. Meets four hours per week.
Introduction to Sociology: Special Focus-Film
Study of basic structures and dynamics of human societies, focusing on the development of principles and concepts used in sociological analysis and research. Topics include culture, socialization, social institutions, stratification, and social change. Emphasis on Sociology through film. No prerequisite. Meets four hours per week.
Introduction to Sociology
Study of basic structures and dynamics of human societies, focusing on the development of principles and concepts used in sociological analysis and research. Topics include culture, socialization, social institutions, stratification, and social change. No prerequisite. Meets three hours per week and has extra assignments.
Wealth, Power & Prestige
Examination of distribution of valued resources and associated social ranking and rating systems. Topics include social classes, social mobility, economic and political power, and informal prestige and fame. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Examination of the components of population composition (fertility, mortality, and migration) to understand how they interact to produce particular population structures and population growth rates. Course emphasizes the study of relationships between social and demographic variables, and the consequences of different population structures and population growth rates for societies as a whole and for various social groups. Special attention is given to the relationship between population dynamics and social change in the United States. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Sociology of Mass Media & Popular Culture
Analysis of broadcast and print media institutions and the internet. Perspectives include the 'production of culture,' cultural content analysis, socialization effects, and media coverage. Various popular culture genres, both mass and folk, are covered, with special emphasis on music and film. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103 or permission of instructor.
Sociology of Religion
An exploration of the nature and organization of religion from a variety of perspectives. Topics include secularization, civil religion, comparative religion (with an emphasis on China), church-sect differences, relationships with other institutions, social inequality, social change, and new religious movements. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Sociology of the Family
Analysis of the family as a social institution. Course takes a comparative and sociohistorical approach to the study of families, with a particular focus on the interaction between family and economy. Topics include intrafamily relations, work-family links, and family policy. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Introduction to the sociological study of crime. Course begins with a discussion of theories explaining criminal behaviors. Course examines different types of crimes, and ways of researching and investigating crimes. The impact of crimes and laws on the well-being of the actors involved is also examined. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Global Fertility: Perspectives on Population Change and Policy
Fertility is a fundamental population process, one that varies by (and leads to variation in) cultural, economic, and demographic characteristics of a time and place. This course places 20th and 21st century global, regional, and national fertility change in this context, with particular emphasis on economic development and public policy. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103
Race and Ethnicity
Study of the diverse manifestations of race and ethnicity around the world, with particular focus on the American experience. Topics include immigration and assimilation, prejudice and discrimination, and the construction and reconstruction of ethnic and racial boundaries and identities. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Deviance, Diversity & Difference
Examination of the concept of deviance and exploration of various sociological theories and perspectives for viewing deviant phenomena. Topics include extreme tattooing, alien kidnapping, obesity, white supremacy, and S&M practices. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Examination of patterns of gender stratification in American social structures. Course centers on how class, race, and gender influence the experiences of women and men in families and occupations. Topics include images of women in the media, construction of gender, and movements for change. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Self and Society
Study of the self, socialization, social roles, social relationships, communication, and group behavior. Emphases include group dynamics and differences in perception based on class, race and gender. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103, or permission of instructor.
Science, Knowledge & New Age
Exploration of science as a social institution. History and ideology of science as an objective method are examined, drawing from Merton, Kuhn and others. 'Antiscience' and 'New Science' perspectives include postmodernist, feminist, and New Age views. Parapsychology and other paranormal topics receive special attention as alternative knowledge systems. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103, Anthropology 103, or permission of instructor.
Collective Recollections: The Sociology of Memory
Study of the influence of culture and groups on individual recollections. The course examines the ways that collectivities define what is memorable and reinforce and reshape memories. The course explores the impact of recollections of the past on individual and collective identities and the processes through which individuals, groups, and societies structure the past to be usable in the present. The course includes the study of difficult pasts and media influence on recollections. Prerequisite: SOC 101, 102, or 103.
Power, Politics & New Media
Interrogates the role and power of new media in the formation of national identities, global assemblages, international information flows, legal structures, and social change. Students examine: how the nation-state and technological innovation in media overlapped, interacted and countered one another over the last century; how community, knowledge, rights and revolution are created, influenced, reconfigured or damaged by new media; and the structures, dimensions, fractures and fragmentations of today’s new media worlds. Prerequisite: Any 100 level Sociology or 100 level Political Science course.
Health, Medicine and Society
Analysis of social factors that influence health and illness and of health care as a social institution. Topics include the cultural construction of health and illness, the sick role, the effects of social inequality on health and illness, health occupations and professions, and the social organization of health care systems in various societies. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Exploration of how sexualities are socially constructed and controlled. In this course we use a sociological lens to examine how sexualities directly and indirectly shape our daily lives. We adopt both a life-course perspective and a cross-cultural perspective to understand the fluidity of sexual identities (lesbian, straight, gay, and bisexual) throughout our lives and within different cultural contexts. Topics include categorization of sexualities, representation of sexualities, sexual identities, sex practices, sexual health and disease, commercial sex, and social control of sexualities. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103 or permission of instructor.
Examination of the changing relationship between nation, culture, politics and economics in a global context. Using comparative case studies from around the world, this course examines a variety of questions about contemporary social change. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103.
Examination of relationships between China’s political and socio-economic changes and the Chinese Diaspora over the past century. Course explores how the diaspora has been affected by China's changing global positions. North America and Singapore are used as case studies to examine the relationship of overseas Chinese people with China. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103 or permission of instructor.
Comparative examination of inequalities within local sexual systems and situating them within a global context. Topics include social control and categorization of sexualities, and sexual identities and practices. The course investigates how religion and tradition shape these local systems. It also examines the hierarchies created by class and race within these systems. Last, the course discusses how these systems are being contested through activism. Throughout the course, discussions include how these systems simultaneously resist and accept the influences of globalization. Prerequisite: Sociology 101, 102 or 103 or permission of instructor.
Special Topics in Sociology
Exploration of a topic in sociology not usually covered in the regular curriculum. Prerequisite: SOC 101, 102, or 103.
Social Development of Latin America
A study of the development of Latin American states and societies. It first examines the various strategies employed by Latin American elites to develop capitalist societies that serve their interests. Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina are used to illustrate the implementation of these strategies. The second part of the course focuses on social movements to analyze the popular reaction to elites’ strategies of social development. It looks at social movements generally in the region, but it pays particular attention to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Soc 262 and LAS 262 are cross-listed.
Society and Politics in Latin America
A study of historical, social and political development of the Dominican Republic. The course looks at the tensions between dictatorship, democracy, social development, and international migration to explain contemporary Dominican society. These factors are seen in the context of international capitalist development and the nation’s re-insertion into globalization. Soc 267 and LAS 267 are cross-listed.
Contemporary Mexican State and Society
Study of the development of Mexico’s economic and social development in the Twentieth Century. The course focuses on two tasks: it provides an outline of economic and social development since independence and evaluates the process of industrialization in the twentieth century. The basic conceptual framework is that a socio-historical approach may help us understand the successive periods of growth and stagnation in Mexican society. What does the sociological analysis teach us about the current obstacles to social and economic development?
Intro to Sociological Theory
Exploration of the nature of sociological theory and major theoretical orientations (paradigms). Course examines the origins and creation of these paradigms in the nineteenth and early twentieth century - the period of 'classical sociology' and their development, elaboration, and application in contemporary sociology. Prerequisite: SOC 101, 102 or 103 with a grade of C or higher and one 200-level Sociology course.
Field Methods in Social Research
Seminar on conducting qualitative fieldwork. Topics include how theory informs research, ethical issues, and developing descriptive fieldnotes. Students carry out original research projects, using field methods such as participant observation and qualitative interviewing, and learn how to gather data, analyze results, and write research reports. Prerequisite: Any SOC 100-level course and one SOC 200-level course.
Data Analysis and Statistics
Study of elementary quantitative data analysis, including logic, application, and interpretation of statistical techniques. Students carry out and present original quantitative research projects. Includes laboratory. Prerequisite: Any SOC 100-level course and one SOC 200-level course.
Seminar in Sociological Theory
Examination of a topic in sociology from a number of theoretical perspectives. Emphasis is on gaining an in-depth knowledge of the topic, while also learning how theoretical perspectives shape research and analysis. Prerequisite: C or better in Sociology 296 or consent of the instructor.
Theories of Social Change
Application of sociological theories to understanding social change in the globalizing world. Focus is on social institutions and the transformations occurring in work, schools, and families. Course considers the impact of gender, class, race, and position in the world economic system on the experience of change. Building on classical theories, the work of contemporary theorists including Acker, Giddens, Wallerstein, Bourdieu and Foucault are examined. Students also consider how groups may shape and direct change through social activism and movements. Prerequisite: C or better in Sociology 296 or consent of the instructor.
Theories of Politics & Society
Analysis of the role of power in social and political institutions. Course examines the bases, distribution, and exercise of power in organizations, communities, and nations, as well as organized attempts to change existing power relationships. Theoretical perspectives include Marxism, Weberian theory, elitism and pluralism, resource mobilization, and new social movements theory. Prerequisite: C or better in Sociology 296 or consent of the instructor.
Theories of Self
Exploration of the nature of the self and how it is shaped by social experiences. Students examine classical and contemporary explanations of the origins of self and consider how individuals come to perceive themselves as gendered and sexual beings. Course includes symbolic interaction, psychoanalytic, and post-modern theories. Emphasis is on the influence of the family, work, and relationships on emotions and cognitive structures. Prerequisite: C or better in Sociology 296 or consent of the instructor.
Theories of Capitalism
A survey of how various socio-theoretical perspectives conceive of, and evaluate the political, social, and economic aspects of capitalism. A variety of issues related to capitalism and capitalistic societies are explored, ranging from how capitalism emerged historically to more contemporary debates regarding the contemporary nature of capitalism. These issues are explored through the theoretical lens of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Joseph Schumpeter, Milton Friedman, Naomi Klein, Jean Baudrillard, and others. Prerequisite: C or better in Sociology 296 or consent of the instructor.
Reinventing Latin American Societies
A study of the changing pattern of democratic development in Latina America. It will first analyze the processes of transition and consolidation of the region’s democracies from the 1980s to 2009 and, then, focus, on issues of clientelism, citizenship, and populism. What is holding back the consolidation of democracy in the region? Prerequisite: LAS 140 or any other course with a focus on Latin America. Soc 331 and LAS 331 are cross-listed.
Reading (A Non-Philosopher)
An immersion in the life and works of an important thinker who, though not normally identified as a philosopher, produced a body of work with philosophical significance. The course offers a close reading of major works, in the context of biography, social milieu, and intellectual developments. The philosophical impact and continuing importance of the selected thinker will be examined also through contemporary scholarship. Exemplars include: Wollstonecraft, Darwin, Freud, Gandhi, or Einstein.
Intensive culminating experience for sociology-track majors. Under the direction of a faculty member, students work to integrate their major and their understanding of the sociological perspective. Prerequisite: Sociology 296, 298, and 299 with a grade of C or better.
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U
Individual investigation of a research topic in sociology in the student's special area of interest under the guidance of a faculty member. Topic must be approved by department. Project culminates in written and oral presentations of a formal paper to the departmental faculty. One way of qualifying for departmental honors. Students must submit a proposal to the department a minimum of two weeks before the end of the semester preceding the proposed study. Prerequisite: Consent of department. Open to juniors and seniors only.
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor graded S/U
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U