SOC 302 • Intro to the Study of Society
12:30 PM-1:30 PM
This course is an introduction to sociological perspectives on social life. Our major course objective is to learn how to "think sociologically" about our lives and the world around us. This means cultivating in ourselves a "sociological imagination" by way of investigating what culture is, how social structures work, what institutions shape our lives, and how social change happens. This may sound abstract and dull, but it's really a fascinating and important way of seeing and thinking about the world and our own lives.
Along the way we will also be asking ourselves questions like: What actually makes a person "human?" What is morality, where does it come from, and how does it affect our actions? In what sense are individuals really "free?" How is life in modern society different from the past? How can social structures be invisible yet powerfully affect our lives? What or who determines what is "normal?" How does getting married or divorced affect outcomes in life? Why is it that all over the world for all of known history people have been religious? And so on. Those who apply themselves to wrestling with these kinds of issues and questions will discover how interesting and important sociological analysis can be. And in the process they will come to understand much more fully their own personal life experiences.
This is not quite like some other introduction-to-sociology courses, especially those which rely on a textbook and neatly cover 16 topics in 16 weeks. Instead, we will spend extended time on several themes-like socialization, narratives and their moral claims upon us, institutions, sexuality, family, and religion-rather than an overview of lots of divergent themes. Some themes are just not covered directly or extensively, including issues of race/ethnicity, stratification, gender, discrimination, and politics. The point of this class is to help enable students to "see" and think sociologically about their own lives and the social worlds around them, and, as a result, to contribute to informed discussions about important aspects of the human social experience in their lives and communities, this country, and the world.
Exam #1 25%
Four quizzes 5% each
Two written assignments 10% each
Final Exam 35%
Lynn Davidman, Tradition in a Rootless World
Christian Smith, Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture
Mark Regnerus, Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers
Elaine Tyler May, Great Expectations: Marriage & Divorce in Post-Victorian America
Arlie Hochschild, The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home & Home Becomes Work