Introduction to Sociology

Summer 2011 Susan Munkres, PhD.

Course Description Sociology is based on the notion that a society is more than just a collection of individuals. Sociologists examine the structures of a society and the relationships among the people within it. Sociology is fundamentally concerned with the ways in which individuals and structural forces interact with and influence each other. To think sociologically is to pay attention to these relationships and patterns, and to assume that an individual cannot be explained without examining his or her society. In this course, you will develop your “sociological imagination” so that you can look for and analyze patterns in people’s lives. Thus, you will be looking beyond individual level experiences to recognize the larger structures that organize societies and how these structures influence individuals’ choices and opportunities. Contrary to popular views, sociology is neither a restatement of “common sense” nor based on personal opinion (although sociologists certainly have studied these things). Rather, it is a social science that has built, since its founding in the 19th century, a large body of theoretical and empirical work; it contains ongoing debates over interpreting social life. In one term, we could not possibly cover the entire sociological realm. Instead, we will focus on the basics — How do we think and study sociologically? What are the structures of society? What social processes are at work in society and over time? How do we understand social conflict, social consensus, and social change?

Assignments All assignments will be posted on Blackboard You will complete Short Writing Assignments for many class meetings. These are due in class at the beginning of class, in hard copy, typed. We will often discuss them together, and they will serve as guides to the reading and an opportunity to begin applying the concepts you are learning You will complete THREE of five possible Real Life Assignments during the term. These assignments get you out observing “real life” as a sociologist. Some of these allow you to do a little observational research; others provide some already-gathered data for you to examine. The guidelines for each assignment can be found on Blackboard. These are due in class at the beginning of class, in hard copy. You will also be expected to present on this assignment to the class. Any late assignments will lose 5% for missing the presentation, and will also be marked down 3% per day late. Examinations Because our time together is so short, we will do a very abbreviated mid-term, involving primarily identifications, and a cumulative final. The final will involve identifications and an

essay. We will discuss these assignments in class, and you will be provided the questions in advance, to guide your preparation.

SCHEDULE OF TOPICS Note: the instructor reserves the right to revise the schedule in order to meet the learning objectives of the course. All changes will be posted on the Blackboard site. The Sociological Perspective Read Practical Skeptic, Chapters 2 & 4, and pages 12-16 on Durkheim; Johnson, Ch 1: The Forest and the Trees Short Writing Assignment: Ethnocentrism Sociology as a Discipline Read Practical Skeptic, Chapters 3 & 5 Choose Real Life Assignment (read assignments in Blackboard) Research Methods Read Practical Skeptic, Chapter 6; Lareau, Appendix A (p. 266-end) Short Writing Assignment: Research Culture Read Practical Skeptic, Chapter 7 Short Writing Assignment: Subcultures & Countercultures Social Structure Read Practical Skeptic, Chapter 8; Lareau, Ch 2 Short Writing Assignment: Role Set Exercise Class Cultures Read Lareau, Ch 1 Video: People Like Us: Social Class in America Socialization Read Practical Skeptic, Chapter 10; Lareau, Ch 3 & 4 Short Writing Assignment: Socializing Agents RL - Class Establishments Social Interaction / Presentation of Self Read Lareau, Ch 6 & 7 Observation Project Second Observation Due RL - Gender Socialization Through Toys Stratification & Inequality Read Practical Skeptic, Chapter 13; Lareau, Ch 12

RL - Interactional Deviance Race & Gender Read Practical Skeptic, Chapter 14 Video: Race, The Power of an Illusion: The House We Live In Social Problems Read articles TBA on Blackboard RL - Residential Segregation

Social Movements Read articles TBA on Blackboard RL - Framing a Problem Video: February One

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