Syllabi and Course Descriptions

General Introduction to Sociology

This course is designed to introduce students to sociological approaches to the study of social life. The course draws on readings from classic and contemporary sociology and introduces major theoretical concepts and common methodologies, enabling students to develop their own ‘sociological imagination’. Topics discussed include, but are not limited to, socialization into society, social norms and culture, deviant behavior, social structure and inequality (primarily race, class, and gender), and social institutions such as education and the family. The course is divided into three units. The first unit creates a foundation for the rest of the course. Students begin by discussing how sociology is similar to and different from other disciplines, and what it means to view the society with a sociological lens. We will then move on to research methods and theoretical frameworks commonly used within sociology. This basic understanding of methods and theory will enable students to think more critically about the research encountered in the rest of the course. Finally, the first unit concludes with readings that explore the social processes through which we come to have particular views, beliefs, tastes and habits.  The second unit explores how we as individuals both influence and are influenced by those to whom we are connected. We start with a discussion of role of norms in social life, and, relatedly, sociological perspectives on deviant (or non-normative) behavior. Next we will explore the concept of social structure, with a particular focus on race, ethnicity, and social class. The second unit concludes with an examination of the core properties of social networks, and the ways in which they impact our lives. The third and final unit broadens our scope to examine how social structures, covered in Unit 2, intersect with major social institutions such as the economy, education, and the family. Here the concept of intersectionality, meaning that the effects of factors such as race and gender must be considered together rather than independently, will play an important role. The course concludes with an exploration of processes of social change and globalization.

Structural Aspects of Social Interaction (Graduate Seminar)

This course examines theories that address how status, power, and legitimacy processes operate in small group interaction. We will begin by reviewing classic theoretical and empirical works on the emergence and operation of status orders, and progress to contemporary extensions of these foundational theories. A selection of work from the organizational management/behavior literature, particularly organizational perspectives on social exchange, will provide a point of reference for critical discussions about the influence of factors such as context and methodological traditions on the development of theory.