Stephen J. Ellingson (S)
Daniel F. Chambliss
Dennis Gilbert (S)
Jenny Irons (F)
Yvonne Zylan, Chair
A concentration in sociology consists of nine courses: 101 or 110, 301, 302, 549, 550 and four additional courses. A Senior Project (550) culminating in a written thesis based on original research is required for the concentration. Prospective concentrators who will be off campus during their junior year are encouraged to take 301 and 302 as sophomores. Candidates for honors must have a 3.3 (88) or better average grade in sociology courses; must submit a thesis receiving a grade of A- or better; and must be approved by a vote of the department faculty. A minor in sociology consists of 101 or 110, 301 and three additional courses.
101F,S Introductory Sociology.
Sociological perspective on human behavior. Classic and contemporary sociological concepts that further an understanding of the structure, process, stability and change of social life. Not open to students who have taken 110. Lee and Chambliss (fall), Irons and Lee (spring).
An introduction to sociological concepts and methods of analysis through the study of selected aspects of American society. Topics include social class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, sports, medicine, crime and deviance, and popular culture. Not open to students who have taken 101.
204F Social Class in American Society.
Consequences of inequalities in wealth, income, power and prestige. Social mobility, poverty, class differences in values and lifestyles, social class and politics. Gilbert.
Sociology of Sexualities.
Examines the social nature of sexual expression — how societies construct sexualities, focusing particularly on questions of gender, sexual discourses and the experiences of sexual "minorities." A consideration of theoretical concepts help frame historical and topical questions about a wide range of sexual behaviors, attitudes and ideals. Consideration of the importance of race, class and gender in shaping the way Western societies have understood and misunderstood sexuality as a physical, psychic and cultural force. Course materials will span a number of disciplines in addition to sociology, including history, psychology, anthropology and cultural studies.
211F Sociology of Higher Education.
This course examines the American higher education system, focusing on selective colleges and universities. We will begin with a brief examination of the history of American higher education. We will then consider how race/ethnicity, immigration, gender, and socioeconomic status shape college attainment and experiences in the contemporary period. We also will consider larger questions such as: Is college still “worth it?”? Is a degree from a “name brand” college worth more than one from a state or two-year college? What do—or should—students actually learn in college? Lee.
Sociology of Gender.
Contemporary theories, understandings and performances of gender. Attention to the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality, as well as the relationships of gender to life opportunities and experiences, social structures and societal reproduction. Prerequisite, 101, 110 or consent of instructor. (Same as Women's Studies 212.)
Culture and Society.
What is culture and why is it important in contemporary American society? What makes different types of culture — film noir or contemporary art — popular or powerful? How are cultural works produced and distributed? We will explore different empirical and theoretical approaches that attempt to answer such questions.Students will engage in a semester-long analysis of a specific cultural object (e.g., American Idol or 20th-century French literature) to assess the power of existing explanations and develop their own explanation for the success or legitimacy of their object. Prerequisite, one course in sociology or permission of instructor.
217F Social History of Latin America.
Iberian America since the Conquest, emphasizing social structure and social change. Covers colonial background to modern Latin American societies, but focuses on late-19th century and twentieth century in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. (Same as History 217.) Gilbert.
Sociology of Economic Life.
Examines economic phenomena through a sociological lens. Topics include the formation of markets, the organization of production, the corporation, business structure and strategy, competition and cooperation, entrepreneurship and unconventional markets. Draws from a variety of literatures within sociology to cover these topics, such as organizational theory, the sociology of culture and network theory.
219S Sociology of Work.
This course examines work in the contemporary U.S., including how it is shaped by gender, race, and class, as well as how social hierarchies are naturalized and reproduced within the U.S. workplace. Also examines vertical vs. horizontal conflict within the workplace and the transformation of work within the “new” economy . Prerequisite, 100 level Soc course or consent of instructor. William James Oliver.
221S Gender and Education.
This course examines questions of gender within the contexts of primary, secondary, and post-secondary American education. We consider the ways that gender impacts upon a person’s achievement, attainment, and other education outcomes. Among other primary concerns will be the increasing gap between men and women in college completion, boys’ and girls’ school disciplinary and achievement records, and the relationships between gender and race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status in schooling. Prerequisite, 1 sociology course or permission of instructor. Elizabeth Lee.
223F Law and Society.
Examines law as a social institution, examining how the law constructs, and is constructed by, social mores, cultural objects and themes, social structures, and individual and collective actors. A critical perspective toward the idea that law exists apart from the social world in which it exists and operates. Consideration of the importance of race, class and gender in shaping legal discourses and the operation of the civil and criminal justice systems. Prerequisite, 101 or 110, or consent of instructor. Zylan.
Latin American Society.
Social structure and social change in Latin America. Topics include class structure, kinship, values, gender, race, population trends, development strategies, popular culture and religion.
226F The Sociology of Health and Illness.
This course will give students an introduction to the sociological study of health and illness. While sociologists have taken the study of medicine seriously since at least the 1950s, health and illness are phenomena whose relationship to human society and experience are long and complex. In order to explore this reality (while at the same time putting meat on the bones of sociological concepts like “illness vs. disease,” “the epidemiological transition,” the “profession of medicine,” and the “social determinants of health”) this class will draw on the empirical work of historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and even fiction writers to explore the personal and social elements of sickness and health. Class readings and discussion will be separated into three parts: 1) History of Health & Illness; 2) Medicine in the Modern Age; and 3) New Challenges, Old Problems. Benjamin DiCicco-Bloom.
Examines how the spatial patterns of cities and the urban community have changed over time. We begin by reviewing the work of Chicago School sociologists on the industrial city. We then discuss how economic globalization has altered the social, economic and political organization of this type of city. We discuss new forms of urbanization and how life has changed within these forms. Prerequisite, one course in social science.
237F Political Sociology.
This course surveys contemporary theory and research in political sociology. We begin with a discussion of conceptual and theoretical approaches to the sociological study of power, authority, politics, and policy. We then apply these approaches to a number of topics in the field, including electoral behavior, collective action and social movements, political leadership, and the formation and development of states and social policies. Prerequisite, One course in Sociology or consent of the instructor. Yvonne Zylan.
240F Self in Society.
An intermediate-level course in phenomenological social psychology. Emphasis on the nature of the self, the life world as experienced, the taken-for-granted nature of social life, roles and bad faith, and the routinization of everyday life. Prerequisite, one course in sociology or psychology. (Same as Communication 240.) Chambliss.
Survey of Social Psychology.
A review of the classic work in the field and a broader “liberal arts” view of social psychology. Prerequisite, one course in sociology or psychology.
Using Survey Research.
A practical course in methods of public opinion polling and other uses of sample surveys. Basics of questionnaire construction, sampling and analysis of survey results. Critical examination of the technical limitations and political implications of national dependence on opinion polling. Useful for students who expect to use surveys in connection with senior thesis research or careers in politics, marketing, journalism, education, etc. Prerequisite, two social science courses or consent of instructor. No previous courses in statistics or social science methods necessary. (Same as Government 257.) Maximum enrollment, 15.
Poverty, Law and the Welfare State.
An examination of the laws regulating and protecting the unemployed, disabled, aged and children in families unable to support them. Welfare policy as expressed in civil and criminal law, including colonial settlement laws, 19th-century reforms, the New Deal Social Security Act and New York’s Article XVII in the 1930s, the War on Poverty of the 1960s and the restructuring of the welfare system in the 1990s. Readings from court opinions, historical accounts and other materials. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in sociology or government. Maximum enrollment, 20.
260F Racial and Ethnic Groups: The Sociology of Race and Ethnicity in America.
Focuses on historic and ethnographic accounts of patterns of group life. Topics include race relations, economic and cultural discrimination, the intersection of race, ethnicity, social class and gender, and the dilemmas of assimilation and acculturation. Prerequisite, 101 or 110. Irons.
270S Social Movements.
An examination of major sociological theories of social movement emergence, development and impact. Topics include mobilization, participation and leadership, tactics, movement culture and collective identity. Emphasis on U.S. empirical cases, including civil rights, feminist and sexual identity movements. Prerequisite, one course in sociology. Irons.
Sociology of Religion.
Introduces the primary theories and concepts of the sociology of religion. In particular the course will emphasize how sociologists explain the organization and experience of lived religion largely in the context of North America. Topics include secularization and sacralization; the restructuring of American religion; religion and popular culture; gender, sexuality and power; race; ethnicity and immigration; and religion in the public sphere. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Religious Studies 288.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
290S Classics of Modern Social Thought.
Reading and discussion of major thinkers in the development of modern Western social thought. Authors include Machiavelli, Rousseau, Burke, Marx, Darwin, Weber, Freud, Mannheim and de Beauvoir. Emphasis on class presentations, debates, book notes and class protocols. Works examined from historical, sociological, psychological and philosophical perspectives. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, one course in history or sociology. May count toward a concentration in either history or sociology. (Same as History 290.) Maximum enrollment, 24. A Kelly and Chambliss.
301F,S Sociological Theory.
Examination of classic and contemporary sociological concepts and perspectives. The theorists covered include Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, Mead, Berger and Luckmann, and Foucault. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, two sociology courses. Maximum enrollment, 20. Gilbert (fall), Chambliss (spring).
302F Research Methods.
Formulation of a research problem, choice of an appropriate research strategy, execution of that strategy and interpretation of the results. Both qualitative and quantitative methods presented. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, two sociology courses or consent of instructor. Ellingson.
306F Seminar: Reproduction: Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood in Modern America.
This seminar will examine how cultural, structural, and political dynamics shape the process of reproduction in the contemporary United States. Topics to be discussed include: competing discourses and practices of childbirth; technologies of reproduction; issues of risk, choice, and responsibility; debates surrounding the “fitness” of mothers; the impact of law and institutional policies on the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood; the meanings of pregnancy and childbirth; and variation in practices, norms, and experiences by race, class, gender, and sexuality. Prerequisite, one sociology course. Maximum enrollment, 12. Irons, Jenny.
Seminar in Sociology of Culture.
An introduction to research approaches and theoretical traditions in cultural sociology. Explores how scholars from different traditions explain the relationship of different cultural objects, (e.g., television, rock music or religious ideas) to meaning and action, power and agency, social reproduction and change, and the creation of symbolic boundaries. Topics include popular and high culture, the production and reception of culture, the role of culture in creating and maintaining class, status, racial and gender inequalities. Prerequisite, two courses in sociology or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
320F Seminar: Advanced Topics in Contemporary Sociology.
Critical examination of key works of contemporary sociological theory and research. Topics include current issues in sociological theory as well as new directions in principal substantive areas of the discipline. Prerequisite, Consent of Instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Chambliss.
321S Seminar: Gender and Social Movements.
Examines social movements as processes through which gender ideologies and inequalities are reproduced, challenged, and changed. Explores both gender-specific and broader movements to ask how gender matters for movement recruitment, participation, leadership, collective identity, framing and outcomes. Focuses primarily on U.S.-based movements, but also attends to movements in other countries. Prerequisite, One course in sociology or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Irons.
323F Seminar on Sexuality and Social Theory.
A critical investigation of the place sexuality occupies in social theory. Texts by social theorists will illustrate a variety of intellectual affiliations, including Marxist political economy, feminism, Freudian and post-Freudian psychoanalytic frameworks, and post-structuralist and post-modern perspectives. Examines how conceptions of sexuality figure in theories of social life, including theories of collective action, social organization, the origins and mechanisms of inequality and social identity. Prerequisite, two social science courses or consent of instructor. Some background in reading and analyzing difficult theoretical works (in sociology, political science, philosophy or a similar discipline) is helpful. Maximum enrollment, 12. Zylan.
Race and the Law.
An examination of how social constructions of race influence the construction of race as a legal category, and how race as a legal concept helps shape the social experience of race in America. Explores these questions through a theoretically driven and rigorous analysis of topics such as: racial disparities in education, housing, employment and the criminal justice system; “hate crimes”; civil rights law; environmental racism; “anti-miscegenation” statutes; segregation practices; and the welfare state. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in sociology or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.
Seminar: Citizenship, Democracy and the State.
What kind of citizenry is needed for the proper functioning of democratic government? How do we get such a citizenry? This course answers these two questions, focusing on how political and economic institutions shape society in ways more and/or less amenable to the ideal type democracy—one supported by and responsible to an active and knowledgeable citizenry. Prerequisite, two courses in social science. Maximum enrollment, 12.
329S Seminar on the Social Production of Food.
Examines the production and consumption of food in contemporary societies from a sociological perspective. We will study how food shapes personal identity and communal life; the organizational and institutional contexts food production from farm to table; the role food plays in popular culture and the rise of alternative food movements. Covers such topics as food, communal identity and family; the culture and practices of “Foodies”; the world of the restaurant kitchen; globalization and changes in farming and food consumption. Prerequisite, one sociology course. Maximum enrollment, 12. Ellingson.
Sustainable Urban Development.
Recently, scholars and policy experts have stressed the importance of “sustainability” in addressing longstanding social and economic issues that have plagued American cities. For some, sustainability means “right-sizing” cities, controlling consumption and converting to green infrastructure. For others, it means developing durable economic and political institutions that can withstand exogenous shocks. Explores the broad theme of urban sustainability by requiring students to conduct original research projects on the topic. Prerequisite, one course in sociology or consent of instructor. (Same as Public Policy 332.) Maximum enrollment, 12.
343S Seminar on the Political Construction of Race.
Examines the historical and contemporary relationship between the political arena and the social construction of race. We will ask how the meaning of race and its associated material consequences are created, reproduced and contested through political processes, policies and institutions, including census classification, affirmative action, welfare programs, social movement dynamics, prisons and immigration. Prerequisite, two social science courses or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Irons.
348S Seminar on Culture and Consumption.
How do culture and consumption practices interact and inform one another? In this course we will discuss each, broadly defined, and their implications for the social constructions of race, gender, class, and other facets of our personhood. We will also discuss current trends in local and other forms of ethical purchasing as social movement and personal identity marker. Prerequisite, 1 Sociology course or permission of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Elizabeth Lee.
349F Seminar on Work and Identity.
What role does work play in our lives? How are different kinds of work valued in American society, and what does that mean for people who perform them? This seminar examines daily experiences on the job and the meanings that we -- and others -- make from our work. Prerequisite, 1 sociology course. Maximum enrollment, 12. Elizabeth Lee.
Seminar in Complex Organizations.
Focuses on the development of modern organizations and how they work, examining why organizations take certain forms, why they succeed or fail, how they are managed, and how they are shaped by culture and social structure. We will study for-profit companies along with social movement organizations, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. Develops understandings of the different strands of organizational theory and how to apply ideas to real organizations. Prerequisite, one course in sociology. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Sociology of Immigration in the US.
This course applies sociological approaches to the study of international migration to the United States. Students will examine how immigration and citizenship are constructed, and compare earlier waves of immigration with more recent waves of Asian, Caribbean and Latin American immigration. The course examines institutional responses to past and current immigration to explain variations across and within immigrant groups by race, gender, sexual and age identities. We will consider the impact international migration has had on the United States, immigrants and their sending communities. Prerequisite, 1 course in sociology, africana studies or hispanic studies. Maximum enrollment, 12.
354S Seminar on Social Class and Inequality.
The course will focus on selected questions related to the American class system, like the following: Why is inequality rising in the U.S. and most other economically advanced countries? Who are the 1 percent? Does the U.S. have more or less social mobility than other countries? Why does poverty persist in the U.S.? Does education promote mobility or reproduce class inequalities? Why are class differences in marriage rates increasing? Each student will complete a paper on a relevant topic for presentation to the seminar. The paper may be related to senior thesis research. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, Soc 204 or permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Dennis Gilbert.
356F Seminar in Sociological Analysis.
An examination, through the study of a wide variety of contemporary research works, of the modes of sociological explanation; geared to students curious about how social scientists analyze and describe the world. Authors include Massey, Hochschild, Desmond, Zelizer, Collins, Lieberson, Abbott, and others. Prerequisite, 2 courses in Sociology or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Chambliss, D.
357F Seminar: The Sociology of Dependency.
For some, the term dependency is associated with popular political battles surrounding welfare and other social safety net programs. For others, it describes an abstract condition often stigmatized by Americans due to the value that our culture places on being independent. The goal of this course will be to bring the sociological imagination to bear on the complex reality of dependency by asking: What is dependency? Who is dependent? What role does dependency play in our behavior, relationships, and our lives? Employing literature from sociology and related disciplines, the class will cover studies of children and the elderly, marriage and work, poverty and social services, disability and illness, and even climate change to think about dependency as an important element of our everyday experience. Prerequisite, One course in Sociology or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Benjamin DiCicco-Bloom.
361F Seminar: Politics and Culture.
Examines the ways that culture — ideologies, symbols, rituals, art, music, film — influences the political sphere and becomes an arena for contentious politics. Special attention will be given to the fall Presidential election campaigns. Topics include revolutions and state-formation, electoral politics, the politicization of social problems, national identity and collective memory, and conflicts over contemporary art, television and popular culture. Prerequisite, one social science course or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Ellingson.
362F Seminar on Mexico.
Long-term processes of social change and political upheaval in Mexico. Topics include the formation of Mexican society, class structure, poverty, population trends, ethnic conflict, religion, popular culture, political elites, democratization, international migration, development strategies and globalization. (Writing-intensive.) Not open to first-years, except with consent of instructor. (Same as Government 362.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Gilbert.
373S Seminar on the Constitution and Social Policy.
The United States Constitution is frequently invoked in public and institutional debates over social policy. For example, constitutional arguments have been raised in recent and ongoing policy debates concerning gun violence, marriage recognition, corporate personhood, and education. This course examines the relationship between the Constitution and social policy in American society, considering the ways in which broad social problems and conflicts (and their proposed resolutions) are shaped by American legal discourse. Prerequisite, One social science course or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Zylan.
Advanced Topics in Contemporary Sociology.
Critical examination of key works of contemporary sociological theory and research. Topics include current issues in sociological theory as well as new directions in principal substantive areas of the discipline. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.
Research Practicum in Sociology.
A working seminar in applied social research carrying out studies for the Mellon Assessment Project on liberal arts at Hamilton. Students will conduct interviews, perform quantitative analyses of qualitative data using HyperResearch, learn and use methods of multiple regression of survey data using SPSS, and discuss methods of data analysis and synthesis. Each student will write several reports for the project. Prerequisite, 302 or a comparable course in methods or statistics, and consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
549F Senior Seminar.
For concentrators preparing to write a thesis. Includes exploration of the range of sociological topics, lectures by departmental faculty on research areas and techniques and workshops on bibliographic methods, site selection and access, and writing of research results. Culminates in presentation of a detailed thesis proposal. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Open to senior concentrators only. Maximum enrollment, 20. Ellingson.
550S Senior Project.
Investigation, through original research, of a sociological topic resulting in a thesis. Open to seniors only. The Department.