Undergraduate Courses

 

Introduction to Sociology (SOC 101)

This course is a general introduction to the discipline of sociology, the scientific study of human society and social life. In this course, we analyze how people influence - and are influenced by - other people and the social structures in which they live. In this course we examine the key concepts, theories, and ideas in the field of sociology, including subfields such as culture, sex and gender, race and ethnicity, crime and deviance, and collective action and social movements. In so doing, I hope this class will develop your "sociological imagination" and thus encourage you to look at the world around you in a new way.

First-Year Seminar (SOC 199): What is “Normal”? Deviance, Disability, & Sexuality

In this course we will investigate the social construction of “normal” and “abnormal” through examination of three themes: deviance, sexuality, and disability. Through this analysis we will discover that what is considered “normal” is a culturally contingent phenomenon, changing over time and across space. Yet, even as such social constructions are not fixed, they wield a great deal of power, as the “abnormal” is typically rendered invisible, grotesque, and/or second-class. In this class we will examine how such cultural constructs are policed and challenged, variously leading to cultural continuity, tension, and change. Through this academic exploration, students will not only gain critical thinking skills but also skills in studying and time management, research, writing, and speaking.

Sociology of Wealth & Poverty (SOC 331)

In this course we  examine the issues of wealth and poverty from a variety of angles. We begin with the most basic questions: Why should we study poverty? Why should we study wealth? What do poverty and wealth mean for you and me? Then we turn to an in-depth examination of the nature and extent of wealth and poverty in the United States, answering such questions as: What is poverty? What is wealth? How are they defined and measured? Who is poor, and what are the causes and consequences of poverty? Who is rich, and what are the causes and consequences of wealth? What is the experience of being poor or rich in America? In doing so, we examine a number of issues related to poverty and wealth, including housing and homelessness, crime and incarceration, and immigration, race, and gender. Finally, we examine potential solutions to some of the issues surrounding poverty, including social movements and anti-poverty policies.

 

Sociology of Work (SOC 332)

This research-intensive course is an introduction to the sociology of work, while also serving as an entrée to sociological research. In terms of research, students will conduct two qualitative research projects on work and workers, which will require acquiring and analyzing interview and observational data. Substantively, in this class students will gain a broad overview of the sociology of work. The course begins with the field’s conceptual and historical foundations, and then examines two major transformations in the world of work: the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the New Economy. Students will get an in-depth look at a variety of work and workers, including service-sector work, marginal and contingent work, and the “working poor.” At the centerpiece of this class is analysis of the complicated relationship between work and inequality. Specific topics of study will include globalization, technology, immigration, unions, race, gender, and family. At the end of the semester, students will examine a variety of solutions to the problems associated with inequality and work, including social welfare policies, worker organization, corporate practices, and labor market regulations.

Graduate Courses
 

Sociology of Work (SOC 594)

This course is an introduction to the sociology of work, focusing on the relationship between work and inequality. Thus in this course we will examine how inequality is produced and reproduced in the workplace. We begin Unit I by reading classical and contemporary theorists of work, and then turn to contemporary stories about class and inequality, examining how social class structures labor market outcomes. In Unit II we review recent changes in worker demographics, occupations, culture, and the economy and, in Unit III, we examine recent research in the sociology of work to identify specific mechanisms of inequality in the labor market, moving beyond traditional human capital explanations to examine a number of more subtle mechanisms. Finally, in Unit IV, we examine possible solutions to some of the enduring problems identified by class readings. 

 

Sociology of Poverty (SOC 552)

This class is an introduction to sociological perspectives of poverty, inequality, and wealth. We begin with an examination of theories of inequality and stratification, as well as an overview of quantitative research on poverty and inequality. We then examine a wealth of qualitative research that highlights the experience of poverty and wealth in the U.S., including family and childhood poverty, class (and race) privilege, working poverty, immigration and citizenship, and social movements from above and below. Throughout, we will pay particular attention to the issues of race and gender. Although the class will focus on these issues in the US context,  students are encouraged to explore non-US poverty and inequality in their research and writing.

 

Gender & Work (SOC 594)

This class examines the conceptual and theoretical frames for understanding gender inequality in work and employment in the United States. Throughout, we will use an intersectional approach to study gender in the context of race, class, sexuality, and other axes of inequality in work organizations and the labor market, emphasizing theories of gendered organizations. We will strive to focus not only on women, female disadvantage, and "doing femininity" in the workplace, but also on men, male advantage, and "doing masculinity" in the workplace. We begin with an overview of gender inequality in work and employment, and the theoretical explanations for this inequality. We will then analyze in-depth particular mechanisms of gender inequality, including gender discrimination in hiring, promotion, and advancement; occupational segregation; gendered social networks; caregiving, work-life balance, and the maternal wall; gendered social interactions and doing gender; and law, policy, and changing organizations. 

 

Sociology of Gender (SOC 613)

This course surveys the growing (and ever-changing) body of research in the sociology of gender. Yet, given the vitality and breadth of this field, this course is necessarily selective. There are many important facets of gender that we will not cover in this class. We will focus our study of gender on three broad and overlapping themes: (1) theories of gender, (2) gender, family, and culture, and (3) gender, law, and the state. By semester’s end, you will have gained the theoretical tools required for gender analysis, even in those subfields that were not explicitly addressed in class. For, in fact, gender is intrinsic to almost every area in sociology, and theories of gender are common components of research in a wide variety of fields, including race, urban, family, work, organizations, health, law, and globalization.

 

Writing for Publication (SOC 556)

This is a writing intensive course. In this course, students will develop their writing, revising, and reviewing skills and, in the end, it is hoped that students will publish their work in a peer-reviewed academic journal. In this course we will cover a wide range of issues, including the art of writing and revising, peer-review, and the publishing process. Each student's work will receive scrutiny from class members and the instructor, and students will respond to their "reviewers" as if they were dealing with journal editors and anonymous peer reviewers. For the final exam, each student will prepare their manuscript for submission to an academic journal.

 

Qualitative Research Methods (SOC 531)

In this graduate seminar on qualitative methods, we will focus our attention on three particular methods: content analysis, ethnographic observation, and in-depth interviews. The class is thus organized into three units, one on each method, each of which will follow the same pattern: read, do, write. Thus, in each unit, we will first read examples, critiques, and analyses of that method, paying particular attention to what kinds of questions it can and cannot answer. We will then put the method into practice by undertaking a small research project and, at the end of each unit, we will analyze our data and write short papers presenting our findings. By the end of the semester, students will have gained first-hand experience in conducting an array of qualitative research projects.


 

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