SOCIOL 101-6 That Seventies Show: Politics and Society in the "Long 1970s" and the Origins of Our Time
This course explores the idea that the extreme level of political polarization and economic inequality that prevails in our own time can be traced to the conflicts and dilemmas of the "long 1970s." In addition to exploring primary sources from the period, students will read an interdisciplinary selection of monographs, book chapters, and journal articles. Grades will be based on class discussion as well as a combination of short and long writing assignments.
SOCIOL 101-6 Gender, Classification, and Globalization
In this course, we will explore the relationship between gender and globalization. We will study how gender and sexuality are produced as global social categories. The course will survey liberal approaches to gender and sexuality categories as sites for international human rights claims-making. It will then turn to postcolonial and transnational feminist critiques of taken-for-granted social groupings, such as “woman” and, more recently, “gay” and “transgender,” that are assumed to be globally relevant. Critical approaches to gender and sexuality challenge conventional “born this way” narratives about gender and sexual identities as innate and therefore universal. This course will raise questions that will make us uncomfortable and, hopefully, give us tools to critically reflect on our own gender and sexuality identities and practices.
SOCIOL 101-6 Rebellion and its Enemies in China Today
This class will sharpen your writing. You will write and present a seven-to-nine page paper on civic activism in contemporary China. In the process of writing this paper, you will practice identifying a theme you find interesting, formulating an argument, finding data and source material on the internet from China in English translation, and relating your theme to the scholarly literature we read and discuss together in class. Some of the progress you will make in your writing abilities will be technical – what counts as evidence, what is the difference between data and scholarly texts, how do you cite and give credit to those who preceded you; some will be intellectual – how do you refute and how do you prove, how do you evaluate your own argument to be clear about its limitations, how do you assess the political relevance of your theme; and some of it will be emotional – how do you cope with the panic that is welling up when you are expected to tame the chaos of reality into a tidy argument, how do you cope with disappointment and ire when I tell you that your second draft is not good enough, how do you cope with your self-doubts when you are trying to find a needle of evidence in the haystack of the internet under time-pressure?
The Chinese have achieved enormous economic growth over the last forty years which has dramatically raised living conditions in China. The Chinese Communist Party has steered this economic development through authoritarian rule which denies the Chinese liberties you take for granted. Thirty-one years ago, the Communist Party killed Chinese who demanded these liberties by employing the military inside the country. Since the massacre of 1989, protest in the streets has moved to networking on the internet. You will write your paper about this challenge to authoritarian rule by engaging some of the following questions: How have urban Chinese lived with the trauma of the massacre? What exactly happened in 1989? Making and uploading videos to the internet is a crucial weapon for activists. How do you evaluate the power of individual videos to force political change? These videos are documentaries, performance art, interviews, covert recordings of state agents, cries for help of fugitives in real time, and witness testimony. The creators of these videos are prepared to take risks because they feel there is something wrong with China today. These feelings are value judgments, or valuations. How do you tease out the values by which activists judge the state and evaluate their lives in China? What in turn are the value judgments of American reporters who report on Chinese activism to the American public? What are the value judgments of American professors who study Chinese activism? And what are your own value judgments: If it turns out that U.S. capitalism in its combination with democracy cannot economically compete with Chinese capitalism in its combination with authoritarian rule, and you were forced to choose, would you choose capitalism or democracy? What parts of your life would be impossible under authoritarian rule? Which line would populism and neo-authoritarianism in America have to cross for you to fight the government?
SOCIOL 101-6 Birthright Citizenship: Race, Law, and Belonging in the United States
This discussion-based seminar is an introduction to the social scientific and historical study of U.S. citizenship. Debates over immigration and citizenship are long-standing in the United States. And today’s politicians continue to raise concerns over who (as in what kind of people) should be granted membership. These are fundamentally questions over who belongs and who is deserving. Some on the right, including the 45th President, seek to abolish birthright citizenship, claiming it is a “magnet for illegal immigration.”
Students will learn the history behind granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States. They explore the history of U.S. citizenship law and learn about the interests and justifications for narrower and more capacious definitions of citizenship. Other than birthright citizenship, what regimes for granting citizenship exist? What are the exceptions to birthright citizenship in the United States? How are decisions about and definitions of rights and membership related to ideas of race? Overall, this course will address how the United States has drawn boundaries of membership in racial terms and explore what this means for envisioning future possibilities.
Who are we and who gets to say? This seminar explores the tension between the social emphasis on identity (naming who we are and claiming where we belong) and the technological processes of identification (distinguishing people for administrative purposes). Using texts primarily from the social and historical sciences, we will pivot back and forth between considering the many kinds of identity currently in circulation (racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities; illnesses identities; political identities; etc.) and the rise of techniques and technologies that seek to identify people and fix them in place (from the invention of surnames, to the rise of forensic techniques such as fingerprinting, to the creation of the “average” person in opinion research, to the role of DNA testing in telling us who we are). The object of the course is to better understand the historical and social circumstances that determine where people fit—how they know themselves and are known—and to trace the diverse cultural and political implications of identity and identification.
Sociology is a field of study that examines how people and groups interact, navigate, and make decisions within the structure and constraints of their social world. Often these social processes go unobserved or unacknowledged, and sociologists treat it as their job to shed analytical light on how people experience and participate in society. Through sociological analysis, we can answer questions like: How did Evanston become largely segregated by race? Why is it illegal for people to sell their kidneys? Is suicide contagious? Why would someone pay for Instagram followers?
Sociology is a huge field of study, and includes and enormous variety of topics and methods. Each week, we will focus on a specific area of sociological study (Culture, Gender, Race, Family, Money, Deviance, etc.) with the goal of offering you a general overview of the types of questions sociologists ask and how they answer them. By the end of the quarter, you will be able to think sociologically about your own world, and hopefully develop a budding interest in one or more of the areas we discuss in class.
This course examines causes and consequences of inequality in American society. 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.
How do you change the world? How do people try to address the social problems they see around them, and why are some of these efforts successful and others less so? How should you, as a student and a citizen, spend your time if you want to bring about change? In this course students will receive an overview of some issues that are currently defined as social problems in the U.S. and in the world, and will spend time thinking about the sociological roles through which people try to bring about social change (activist; non-profit leader; politician; writer; technocrat) and the conditions under which they may be successful. We will also try to solve, as a class, one particular problem at Northwestern, the problem of access to college in America.
Law is everywhere. Law permits, prohibits, enables, legitimates, protects, and prosecutes. Law shapes our day-to-day lives in countless ways. This course examines the connections and relationships of law and society using an interdisciplinary social science approach. As one of the founders of the Law and Society movement observed, "law is too important to leave to lawyers." Accordingly, this course will borrow from several theoretical, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary perspectives (such as sociology, history, anthropology, political science, critical studies, and psychology) in order to explore the sociology of law and law's role primarily in the American context (but with some attention to international law and global human rights efforts). The thematic topics to be discussed include law and social control; law's role in social change; and law's capacity to reach into complex social relations and intervene in existing normative institutions and organizational structures.
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.
What makes food social? What is sociological about eating? How does society shape our relationship with food? These are questions at the center of this course. During the span of this quarter, we will learn about the role of food in society, how social norms as well as culture impact our view of food and review the following topic within food and society: Food inequality, food and sustainability, food and gender and lastly, food culture in the US. We will do so by employing a sociological perspective to food that will help is critically engage with something we do every day - preparing and eating food. This is an introductory level class and does not require prior knowledge in sociology or in knowledge production. By the end of the quarter students will view food as a social and community construct that impacts our lives, well-being, and society. This course is taught with ENVR_POL 211-0-20.
Our climate is rapidly changing. Rising sea levels and increasing ocean acidity, higher temperatures, more droughts, melting glaciers, wilder weather patterns, and mounting environmental disasters mean that climate change is increasingly visible in our daily lives. What role does human society play in these changes, and what consequences does society suffer as these changes occur? This course is an introduction to environmental sociology during which we will employ an intersectional, sociological perspective to look beyond the scientific basis for environmental problems to understand the social roots of environmental issues. We will cover a variety of topics in environmental sociology, including new directions in sustainable development and how actors such as corporations, the media, and social movements impact public opinion and environmental issues. Further, we will critically examine the gendered, racial, and socioeconomic production of disparate environmental risks.
This course introduces sociological approaches to economic institutions and behavior. The goal is to provide a set of sociological ideas to understand markets, prices, corporations, supply, demand, production, work, exchange, property, and other economic topics, in a different way.
Gender structures our daily lives in fundamental ways, yet we are often unaware of its effects. For example, why do we associate blue with boys and pink with girls? Why do most administrative forms only have two categories (i.e. Male and Female)? Why do male doctors, on average, have higher incomes than female doctors? The course introduces students to the sociological analysis of gender as a central component of social organization and social inequality in the US context. We start by reviewing key sociological concepts that are important to the study of gender. Next, we explore the causes and consequences of gender inequalities in important social institutions such as the family, the education system, and the labor market. We conclude by considering gender inequality in an international comparative context to understand crosscutting similarities and differences between the US and both high- and low-income contexts. This allows us to explore the role social norms and policies play in perpetuating and/or mitigating gender inequalities.
How do sociologists do their work? How do they make discoveries and draw conclusions about the social world around us? This course is an introduction to sociological research methods. We will learn how to design a research study - everything from choosing a topic and formulating a research question to developing a research plan. We will explore a range of research methods from surveys, interviewing, observational methods and content analysis to "big" data approaches. We will also think about the strengths and weaknesses of various sociological methods and what these methods can contribute to our understanding of the social world. We will also debate and discuss the role of the researcher in the research process along with thinking about ethical concerns and IRB protections for research subjects. We will also critically examine how social science research is presented to us in our everyday lives (including news reporting, political polls and social media postings). The goal of this course is for students to be able to design an appropriate methods plan to investigate a sociological research question they are interested in, but also to become more critical when learning about the latest social science study from media and social media outlets.
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/Sociology 206, a prerequisite for this course. 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/SOCIOL 206. Taught with LEGAL_ST 207; may not receive credit for both courses.
The topical focus of the course will be violence by the police and capital punishment in the United States. These topics will be explored with interdisciplinary readings and relevant legal cases. Students will be exposed to several research tools and research processes, as they also engage with material on police violence and capital punishment. In addition to shorter assignments, students will develop a small research project and write a research paper on a topic of their choosing.
SOCIOL 235-0 Critical thought on Race and Ethnicity
This course, Critical Thought on Race and Ethnicity, examines historical and contemporary manifestations of racism/ethnocentrism and anti-racism; as well as xenophobia/nationalism and internationalism. We explore how racism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and nationalism are related by their exclusionary ideas of ancestry and difference, and examine theory-based (as opposed to empirical) approaches to the social, cultural, political, and economic aspects of racial hierarchy. The course centers on racialization (how individuals/groups are sorted into races), global and local racial paradigms (the rules of race-making and racial assignment), and why these denigrating mechanisms are so difficult to eradicate. We also examine what antiracism looks like and how it might be achieved. Despite the challenging course content, this class is a blast!
SOCIOL 276-0 Israeli Society and Israeli Sociology
This course examines the relationship between knowledge production, history, and politics by focusing on the discipline of sociology in Israel. We will begin with a brief introduction in which we will discuss what is sociology, as well as the politics of scientific (i.e., sociological) knowledge production. We will then read and discuss the works of selected authors ranging from Jewish-Zionist proto-sociologists that published their works before the establishment of the State of Israel; to the works of early Israeli sociologists and so-called "establishment" sociology; to the later rise of critical approaches. Thoughtfully engaging with these works, we will ask questions such as: What are the main problems with which these thinkers/sociologists grappled and how did they approach them? How did these sociologists conceive of their nation and state? How did they think Israeli society should be compared to other societies? And what, according to these scholars, is Zionism's/Israel's relationship with the Palestinians? As we engage with these questions, students will gain substantive knowledge of Israeli society and develop critical thinking and reading skills.
Gender studies have traditionally focused on women. Yet critical work on men and masculinities show us how people of all genders are constrained by gender expectations and assumptions. Furthermore, studies of masculinities shed light on practical questions like, why do men die earlier than women? And, why are men more likely to commit mass shootings? In recent years, the public spotlight has cast light on savory and unsavory aspects of masculinity; think about the rise of the term “toxic masculinity,” the #MeToo movement, the 2019 viral Gillette advertisement, and blogs commenting on the behavior of men on the reality show The Bachelorette. In this course, we will go beyond banal statements like “men are trash” to critically ask, What role does masculinity play in social life? How is masculinity produced, and are there different ways to be masculine? This course provides students with an intensive introduction to the foundational theory and research in the field of masculinities studies. We will use an intersectional lens to study the ways in which the concept and lived experience of masculinity are shaped by economic, social, cultural, and political forces. As we study the institutions that socialize people into gender, we will examine how the gendered social order influences the way people of all genders perform masculinity as well as the ways men perceive themselves and other men, women, and social situations. Verbally and in writing, students will develop an argument about the way contemporary masculinity is constructed and performed.
We all interact with organizations. You are interacting with an organization right now. Much of everyday life, whether it is school, work, shopping, or eating occurs within the context of organizations. The goal of this course is to teach you to think analytically about the organizations you interact with. We will examine why organizations are the way they are, how scholar's understandings of organizations have changed over time, and how scholars today think about organizations.
SOCIOL 303-0 Analysis and Interpretation of Social Data
This course introduces statistics and data analysis for the social sciences, focusing on understanding, interpreting, and deploying data and statistical analysis to understand the social world.
The course begins without numbers, encouraging students to be critical and analytical of the data they encounter every day. Using examples from policy, journalism, and the election, students will practice reading, interpreting, and critiquing empirical analyses.
After gaining familiarity with the reasoning underlying data analysis, the second part of the course will introduce basic statistical analysis. Students will collect, analyze, and interpret data in an area of their interest. The goal is for students to critically engage with statistical topics – to understand the strengths, weaknesses, assumptions, and contributions of statistics to scientific understanding and exploration.
Finally, the course will explore how computation is remaking modern social understanding. Though a focus on machine learning and neural networks, students will explore the contribution of data to human knowledge, while also gaining insight on why such methods pose serious challenges to human well-being.
While not a programming course, students will do exercises and homework using free tools, such as google sheets and the statistical software “R”. Labs will be focused on gaining proficiency with these tools.
On 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 constitute "race" as a seemingly objective, natural demarcation among human populations as well as legitimate and, in some cases, contest, forms of racial domination and inequality. Drawing on diverse historical, anthropological, sociological, and philosophical texts, this course explores of the emergence, evolution, and effects of scientific forms of racial knowledge. This exploration will begin by discussing the historical relationship between the modern concept of race and European colonialism and slavery. Subsequently, we will track several major developments in the history of racial knowledge, from Enlightenment philosophy to contemporary genomics research. In these travels we will pose and ponder on the following questions: How have scientists?independently and in conjunction with governments and corporations?conceptualized, measured, and described race? What instruments have been used to demonstrate the so-called objectivity of race and racial hierarchy? How has the human body been made both an object and product of racial knowledge? How have political and intellectual movements and the media advanced or contested the production of essentialist, race-based explanations of human difference? Finally, what role can (and should) racial knowledge play in addressing racial inequality and exclusion in the present?
This course provides an overview of how human populations change through mortality, fertility, and migration. This year, we will give special attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted mortality, fertility, and migration in the US and globally. Students will learn key concepts from the field of demography and be introduced to cutting-edge demographic research related to health disparities in the United States, the impact of HIV/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.
The main emphasis in this course is on how sociological theory informs social research. We will read selections of classical social theory and then look at how various scholars have used that theory to help them analyze some aspect of society. We will keep moving between theoretical statements and applications or refinements of that theory. The course will be a mix of lectures and discussion.
The main emphasis in this course is on how sociological theory informs social research. We will read selections of classical social theory and then look at how various scholars have used that theory to help them analyze some aspect of society. We will keep moving between theoretical statements and applications or refinements of that theory. The course will be a mix of lectures and discussion.
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 students learn, and how schools fit into the larger society including how the educational system in the U.S. interacts with political, economic, familial, and cultural institutions. We will also spend much time examining how educational experiences and opportunities are shaped by multiple social statuses including gender, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity. We will focus on K-12 and higher education including the transition to higher education. Throughout all of these issues and topics, we will consider how schools both challenge and support existing systems of inequality.
This class will investigate how gender shapes politics and policy, and how these in turn shape gender, in the United States and other countries, situated in global context. Gender is conceptualized as a set of relations, identities and cultural schema, always constituted with other dimensions of power, difference and inequality (e.g., race, class, sexuality, religion, citizenship status). We will analyze the gendered character of citizenship, political participation and representation, social rights 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 has feminism emerged as a radical challenge to the androcentrism and restricted character of the democratic public sphere? And how has anti-feminism come to be a significant dimension of politics? We expand on conventional conceptions of political participation and citizenship rights to include the grassroots democratic activism that gave birth to modern women's movements. We explore how women's political efforts have given rise to the creation of alternative visions of democracy, social provision and economic participation, as well as reshaping formal politics and policies. And, finally, we will take advantage of the fact that we are in the middle of an election to examine some of the gendered aspects of the political landscape in the contemporary United States.
The course readings feature different types of materials – original documents, scholarly books and articles, a textbook, policy reports, popular non-fiction work on aspects of gender, policy, politics and society. These are supplemented by films and online resources.
This is a class on economic sociology and like many other actions, economic action is just another form of social action. Economic sociology provides us with a different perspective on economic actions, and as such, it is helpful both academically and in our everyday lives. In class we will explore the foundations of economic sociological theory, as well as current research relevant for today’s economic social issues such as financialization, debt and recent changes in the economy. We will engage with research in the course readings as well as in class. The class will have several components such as a short lecture, discussion, group work and guided readings.
This 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.
Our world is awash in numbers. In this class we will consider how we make and use numbers, how we know ourselves through numbers, and the particular kinds of authority we grant to numbers. Using a range of examples including the SAT, college rankings, and statistics about race and sexuality, this class will examine what prompts people to produce numbers, what causes them to spread, how they intervene in the worlds they measure, how they inform our ethics, and how we think about ourselves and others differently as a result.
This course examines the recent history of capitalism around the world, and is meant to whet your appetite rather than to provide comprehensive coverage. We examine four historical topics: what communism was, and why people fear it; why there is more poverty and inequality in the U.S. than other developed countries, and whether this is a problem; how some developing countries have managed to become rich; and the rise of the financial sector in the American economy, at the expense of manufacturing and services. We then close with an examination of the racialized history of capitalism, and students are asked to use everything they have learned in the course to think through solutions for questions of the current moment.
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 (including how social problems regarding young people are discussed) and ask how these representations have reflected and shaped how society views young people. 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 329-0 Field Research and Methods of Data Collection
If sociology is the study of social groups and societies, then field methods puts you right there in the thick of it. There are three main parts of doing fieldwork: observation, participation, and documentation. If you came to sociology because you like being around people, you’ll have no problem with the participation part, but might find the documentation and perhaps even the observation a real challenge. If you are the type who loves people but only in the way that life scientists love their lab rats, then you’ll be a keen observer and documenter, but will have to force yourself to participate. This course is to try to make all of us more comfortable doing all three. This is a hands-on class. You will be in the field collecting data. We will spend class time discussing your field experiences. The readings will locate field methods within the variety of social scientific methods; raise the logistical, ethical and personal dilemmas you will all face as fieldworkers; and provide examples of how to translate observational data into a coherent and theoretically grounded piece of scholarship. The goals of this course are both to give you the techniques of field research and to make you a better reader and evaluator of the various types of empirical evidence.
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 across diverse households: how do men and women divide domestic work and care for children or others needing care? 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, women and others are treated at work. Finally, we will consider the role of government policy in sustaining or changing these arrangements.
This course is an opportunity for students to critically examine what is often a taken-for-granted aspect of social life: gender. This course will involve learning about gender as well as applying gender theory. We will study a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of gender, with particular focus on ethnomethodological, post-structural, macro-institutional, and intersectional approaches to the topic. By the end of the term, students will be able to 1) describe and compare theoretical anchors for the study of gender and 2) in writing, demonstrate mastery of two theoretical approaches to gender and apply one theory to a topic of their choosing. Prior course experience in gender/sexuality studies (by way of taking Gender & Society or other course work) is strongly advised.
What is the scientific status of our ideas about race? How are medical and legal ideas invoked in determinations about people's gender identities? Overall, how do developments in the life sciences affect our understandings of who we are, how we differ, and how social inequalities are created, perpetuated, and challenged? This seminar explores how scientific claims and technological developments help transform cultural understandings of race, gender, and sexuality. Conversely, we will consider how cultural beliefs about race, gender, and sexuality influence scientific knowledge and medical practice. We will take up a series of controversies from the recent past and present to explore the dynamic interplay between expert findings, social identities, and political arguments.
This course presents sociological approaches to understanding the social side of the college experience and how it matters for students’ identities, politics, and health and well-being. The course will explore a range of topics, from how four-year colleges support meaning systems to how they provide the settings for peer processes of social evaluation and exclusion.
Technology is ubiquitous. This course covers central tenets in the sociology of technology by pairing an empirical focus on a different technology each week with a theoretical paradigm. A total of eight technologies will serve as the exemplars through which the question(s) concerning technology will be explored: bicycles, cars, computers, facial recognition, genetic sequencing, soap, shipping containers and virtual reality. Each of these technologies is approached as a window into the social, political, racial, and economic determinants of technological innovation. The central goal of the course is to equip students with the tools for unpacking the technologies societies take for granted and critically engaging with new technologies that may reproduce social inequities. While much of the scholarship we will consider is broadly sociological, some of it is drawn from other fields, and part of the goal of the course is to show what is gained when we think about technology from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students from other disciplines are welcome.
Since the 1980s, third wave feminists have critiqued fundamental assumptions of second-wave feminism and worked to incorporate perspectives and voices outside the "West." In more recent decades, a similar movement has happened among queer and trans theorists. In this course, we will engage this work, much of which has been published in the past decade and a half. Course readings, which will survey scholarship on gender/sexuality in many regions of the world, will draw our attention to the ways in which gender/sexuality are implicated in capitalist, imperial and post-colonial projects as well as how gender and sexuality operate outside the "West," both in practice and identity. Finally, we will consider the possibilities and limitations for studying gender/sexuality beyond our own societies. Critical approaches to gender and sexuality challenge conventional “born this way” narratives about gender and sexual identities as innate. This course will raise questions that will make us uncomfortable and, hopefully, transform our understandings of our own gendered and sexual identities and practices.
In this course, we will examine the way gender organizes health and medicine, as well as how the medical system and health practices create and organize gender. Using interdisciplinary research with a focus on sociological studies, we will interrogate the social, institutional, and biological links between gender and health. We will discuss health inequalities between women, men, and trans* individuals from different race, ethnic, and class backgrounds, using sociological research to understand why these inequalities and forms of difference emerge and are sustained. We will explore how modern Western medicine views male and female bodies and defines their health and illnesses accordingly. Students will complete two short research projects over the term in which they use different data sources (interviews and media content) to examine gendered perceptions of health, health behaviors, help-seeking behaviors, and experiences with medical institutions.
Why do we buy what we buy? Why do Americans live in big houses filled with stuff while Germans live in austere apartments? What does having a consumption-based economy mean for welfare, debt, and production? In this class we will explore different explanations for consumption patterns. After an exploration of different definitions of consumption, we will look into the topics of conspicuous consumption, consumption as meaning-making, and the implications of consumption in the political economy. We will finish by exploring the implications of consumption in our wider lives, inequality, and the environment.
Why do some people distrust covid-19 vaccines? How did HIV/AIDS activists transform FDA rules that continue to impact patients and research subjects? This course will begin by unpacking the tools that experts use to assert their authority and produce a binding perception of reality. Then, we will consider the way that social movements—including “citizen scientists,” HIV/AIDS activists, and “biohackers”—contest, mistrust, or reaffirm experts’ authority. Finally, we will study how these disputes are shaped by regulatory bureaucracies and the legal system. Throughout the course, students will apply concepts from the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS) to current events like the covid-19 pandemic.
This is the first class in a two-quarter sequence in which students will complete a senior thesis in sociology. In this fall quarter, students will identify and motivate a sociological research question and create a research design and empirical strategy that will answer that question. Students will also complete a research proposal and begin data collection. Finally, students will connect with a faculty advisor in the Department of Sociology. The faculty advisor will provide each student with intellectual input throughout the research and writing process. They will also serve as the primary reader of the thesis when it is complete.
SOCIOL 400-0 Introduction to Statistics and Statistical Software
This course is designed to teach you 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. Required Math Prefresher **BEFORE** the quarter starts - contact instructor for details and schedule.
This course is part of the quantitative methods sequence for graduate students in sociology. The main topic of the course is the theory and practice of linear regression analysis. We will cover multiple ordinary least squares regression, regression assumptions, regression diagnostics, basic path models, data transformations, and issues in causal inference. If time permits, we may discuss other regression-based topics such as fixed and random effects models.
This course is part of the quantitative methods sequence for graduate students in sociology. For most of the course, we will focus on regression-like methods for categorical outcomes, notably binary outcomes, ordered outcomes, nominal outcomes, count outcomes, and (if time permits) event outcomes. The course will also include discussion of practical issues in performing statistical analysis of secondary data. I assume that you the enter class either having data at hand to perform an analysis or that you can find data on your own. The major goals of the course are for students (1) to become proficient enough in regression models for categorical variables to understand, explain, and critique its use in articles appearing in sociology journals and (2) to be able to perform a competent analysis of data that is of sufficient quality to appear as an article in a sociology or social science journal. The major assignment for the course will be for students to write a paper that is a data analysis of secondary data. The final paper should be similar to a draft of a publishable article, although there will be some required sections not found in a regular article..
This graduate course is an introduction to ethnographic field methods. Students will learn how to conduct participant observation and in-depth interviews, two methods that often work in tandem in ethnographic sociological studies. We will discuss various aspects of research design and practical strategies to manage and adequately analyze and make sense of the considerable volume of data that ethnographic studies commonly generate. We will discuss epistemological issues, attending to how to use empirical ethnographic data to generate conceptual and theoretical conclusions, and we will also demarcate the capabilities and limitations of ethnographic research. Throughout the course, we will reflect on questions of research ethics, power, and representation.
SOCIOL 406-1 Classical Theory in Sociological Analysis
Against the backdrop of Cartesian reservations about the possibility of a "science" of the social world, this course examines several of the major justifications that social thinkers have offered, historically, for constructing such a science. In the process, the course also considers the different conceptions of the social world that have been part of these justifications. The principal thinkers examined are Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and W.E.B. Du Bois.
SOCIOL 406-3 Contemporary Theory in Sociological Analysis
This course offers an introduction to classical sociological theory. A “classical” work is thought to be a must-read, a foundational text that influenced the older (as opposed to contemporary or modern) ideas that undergird discipline of sociology, both the way we think about it and perform it. We will focus mainly on Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Du Bois, exploring what they have to teach us about the sociological enterprise. Readings and graded assignments focus on determining these foundational disciplinary authors’ (1) methods for viewing and understanding the socioeconomic world, (2) ideas about the proper objects and subjects of study and how sociology should be properly conducted, and (3) key contributions to early sociological thought. Ten weeks is a very short time to acquire and engage with this knowledge, so expect this course to be very reading and writing intensive.
This course is a general introduction to the sociology of law intended for graduate students in all disciplines. The sociology of law treats law as a social institution that is highly intertwined with other aspects of society, including social structure, social behavior, ideology, politics, culture, and the economy. This seminar will cover classic and contemporary works on central topics in the sociology of law, including: the interplay between law and social inequalities; the relation of law, rights, and social movements; the negotiated nature of regulation and enforcement; the relation of law and organizations; the role of litigants, lawyers, and judges as social actors; and legal culture and legal consciousness. The course takes a critical empirical approach to the relationship between law and society.
For 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 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 the theory located within the larger theoretical tradition? 3) Does this theory agree or disagree with other views in the field? 4) What is the level of empirical support for the theory? 5) To what extent does the theory help to explain contemporary patterns of race and ethnicity across time and space in the United States? and 6) How might one undermine systems of racial inequality if the respective theory is holds?
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.
This 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 writing, 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.
Making lives better around the globe means developing effective bureaucracies that can implement collective solutions. From Iraq and Afghanistan and Africa to post-conflict Ukraine, state-building is never far from the front pages. This course uses classical theories of state-building in sociology to understand state-building in the contemporary world, and uses contemporary developments to interrogate and extend those theories.
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, gender, sexual identity, and national context.
Globalization entails greater interdependence and less national autonomy. It occurs as international flows of capital, goods, services, and people increase. 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; 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. Globalization means that more is going on between national jurisdictions than within them, and tensions arise between competing institutional models. The substantive focus of this seminar is this intersection between globalizing markets and (predominately, but not exclusively) national legal forms and institutions. We will read work by sociologists, political scientists, economists, and lawyers addressing a range of issues related to the interaction between markets and legal systems, and with a particular focus on financial markets.
This course will provide an introduction to central topics in the sociology of health, illness, and biomedicine. At the same time, it will show how that field has been 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, with their tools, 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 and practices that transform social inequalities into health disparities; the social movements that challenge the authority of experts; and the bodies and selves that experience and are remade by illness. Students from other disciplines are welcome.
This course guides second-year Ph.D. students in the Sociology department in preparing a draft of their second-year paper. A series of exercises leads in incremental steps to a full draft, and feedback is provided from the professor as well as from other students.
This seminar offers a space for graduate students to discuss topics related to college TAing and teaching. The course covers the following topics: practical skills and strategies to be an effective and efficient teaching assistant, particular TAing/teaching challenges for women, minority, international, and LGBT instructors, leading discussion sections and lecturing, how to create inclusive classrooms, how to construct a syllabus, defining your teaching philosophy, and perspectives on student evaluations.