The material on this page is from the 1996-97 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.


Professor Sylvester; Associate Professors Brinkley, Chair, and Kane; Assistant Professor Cowan

Sociology is the study of how human beings construct and inhabit social worlds. It applies empirical research and theoretical analysis to the study of such institutions as law, economy, family, and religion; such processes as industrialism, urbanism, stratification, and conflict; and such problems as crime, poverty, alienation, and disorganization. The curriculum is designed to offer a firm grounding in sociology to those students who plan on graduate study, as well as to any whose careers require experience in the systematic and objective analysis of social data.

Sociology 101, Principles of Sociology, is designed as an introduction to the discipline of sociology and as a preparation for more advanced courses. The 200-level courses admit first-year students, but more closely reflect a specific field within sociology. The 300- and 400-level courses are open to all but first-year students. These courses are especially designed for sociology majors, but may be appropriate for interdisciplinary and other majors.

Students majoring in sociology must complete successfully Sociology 101, 305, 306, 411, and 458; and at least six other courses in sociology.

The senior thesis (458) carries one course credit and is usually taken during the winter semester of the senior year. Permission to take senior thesis in the fall semester of the senior year may be sought by petition to the Department. The honors thesis (457, 458) carries two course credits. Students are required to obtain approval from the Department of a prospectus prior to beginning the senior thesis. The date for submitting the completed thesis is announced at the beginning of the fall term.

General Education. The following sets are available: 101 and any other sociology course; or any two sociology courses that meet the Department's principle of coherence. The quantitative requirement may be satisfied through Sociology 305, 306, or 320. A student may request that the Department approve a two-course set not currently designated.

101.  Principles of Sociology.  The course is concerned with the essential nature of human social behavior and with the characteristics of sociology as a discipline which studies that behavior. Students become familiar with the use of such basic concepts in sociology as norms, values, roles, socialization, stratification, power and authority, deviance and control, social conflict, and social change. In addition, students are introduced to sociological research, including quantitative techniques and the use of the computer. The course is designed as an introduction to other courses in sociology and is required of sociology majors. E. Kane, S. Sylvester.

216.  Criminology I: The Analysis of Criminal Behavior.  The course considers the concept of crime and how it has developed in history and become specified in the criminal law; the variety of criminal behaviors as products of individual motivation and social circumstances; biological, psychological, and sociological explanations of crime and their cultural backgrounds; and the techniques available for the description and measurement of crime. Open to first-year students. S. Sylvester.

217.  Criminology II: The Treatment of Criminal Offenders.  The course considers the social role of police and law enforcement; the criminal-justice system and the problems of criminal prosecution; the philosophy and effectiveness of various types of punishment and alternatives to punishment; and the scope of criminological research in testing the effectiveness of criminal policy. Prerequisite: Sociology 216. Open to first-year students. S. Sylvester.

231.  Social Stratification.  An introduction to sociological theory and research on social inequality. The course examines the causes and consequences of the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and prestige in society. Classical theories on social stratification and recent developments in class theory are discussed. The course analyzes the relationships among class, race, and gender, and examines the concrete impact of class, race, and gender on people's lives. Open to first-year students. Staff.

236.  Urban Sociology.  This course focuses on cities as "geographies of centrality" in the national and international socioeconomic order. The course is a basic introduction to urban sociology and to issues in contemporary urban planning and development. Classical theory in human ecology and contemporary theories of the "growth machine," post-Fordism, and the new international division of labor are explored for their value in explaining how socioeconomic forces produce urban space locally and globally. The course also pays particular attention to the planning process in such areas as suburbanization, housing, transportation, land-use regulation, and economic development decisions. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 40. T. Cowan.

240.  Race and Ethnicity in the United States.  The course examines the construction and dynamics of race and ethnicity in American life. Relevant sociological concepts are examined (e.g., assimilation, pluralism, class) as well as dominant group policies toward racial and ethnic groups (e.g., in employment, health care, and business ownership). Students are expected to propose and discuss solutions to problems, issues, and perceptions that have resulted from racial and ethnic differentiation. Open to first-year students. C. Brinkley.

244.  The Individual and Society.  The course examines how sociology has considered the relationship between individual autonomy and social control, between personal identity and cultural definition. It is concerned with the processes of socialization, social interaction, and the social presentation of self. Prerequisite: Sociology 101. Open to first-year students. S. Sylvester.

250.  Rural Society in the World-System.  In the post-World War II era, national rural sectors were largely regarded by policy makers as the "lagging" sector that would "modernize" as a nation became increasingly industrialized. Contemporary perspectives, however, look to the more complex interactions between urbanization/industrialization processes and rural society. This course examines structural transformations of the rural sector in the twentieth century from the perspective of changes underway in the global socioeconomic system. The course explores contemporary theories of agrarian structure and agrarian transformation, the social organization of contemporary rural life, the socioeconomic characteristics of extractive economies (timber, mining, fishing), and the potential for sustainable rural development. T. Cowan.

262.  Environment and Development.  The major focus of this course is the socioeconomic aspect of environmental issues as they emerge in the context of local, regional, and national economic development. The objective is to come to some general understanding of the social forces that give rise to environmental conflicts. Along with the emphasis on conflicts between economic development and environmental change, readings typically concern the relation between resource scarcity and population dynamics, the potential of environmentalism as a political force, and the relations between technological development and environmental change. Recommended background: Sociology 101 or Anthropology 101 or Political Science 135. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. T. Cowan.

305.  Sociological Analysis I.  An introduction to the process of research in sociology. Students are introduced to the logic of sociological inquiry and fundamental methods of data gathering and analysis. Data-gathering techniques include experiments, questionnaire design, sampling, and surveys. The course features extensive use of the SPSSx computer program to analyze current survey data on the U.S. population. Prerequisite: Sociology 101. E. Kane.

306.  Sociological Analysis II.  A continuation of Sociological Analysis I. Students learn to use more qualitative methods of sociological data gathering, including in-depth interviewing, field observation, and content analysis. In addition, more advanced statistical techniques are covered, including multiple regression and log-linear modeling. Together, Sociological Analysis I and II foster the ability to both generate original sociological research and critically evaluate the research of others. Prerequisite: Sociology 305. E. Kane.

310.  Sociology of Science and Technology.  The intersection of science, technology, and society constitutes a central axis of contemporary politics. The scientific role has also become an integral part of the modern state's political system. This seminar provides an introduction to the sociology of science and examines various socioeconomic aspects of science and technology with particular emphasis on the relations between science and political institutions. Readings typically cover perspectives on the social shaping of scientific investigation, scientific controversies, gender and science, the social organization of research communities, and the social history of science and technology policies. Recommended background: courses in the social sciences, history, philosophy, and the natural sciences. T. Cowan.

320.  Demography.  Demographic concepts, analytical methods, and issues are examined. Fertility, mortality, and migration are population processes that affect a society's growth and change. Demographic analysis examines these processes, and their consequences, as either independent or dependent variables, or both. Whether the concern is local or global, demography provides a unique perspective on an issue. This course examines such topics as population and aging, urbanization and the environment. Recommended background: comfort with numbers and/or a prior social-science research course. Open to first-year students. C. Brinkley.

324.  Sociology of Law.  The course examines law as a system of behavior within a social, cultural, and historical context and as a body of knowledge within the sciences of human behavior. The course considers the relationship between the law and other institutions of contemporary society such as politics, the economy, education, and science. S. Sylvester.

340.  Political Sociology.  The course is predominantly concerned with the social relations of power that developed along with the major revolutionary currents of the eighteenth century: the industrial revolution and the democratic revolution. The principal objects of analysis are the organizations, institutions, and ideologies involved in the acquisition, distribution, application, reproduction, and legitimation of social power. The course focuses specifically on the power structure of the United States with readings typically concerned with the social basis of power in the planning and policy environments. Prerequisite: two courses in the social sciences. T. Cowan.

360.  Independent Study.  Designed for the student who may have particular interests in areas of study that go beyond the regular course offerings. Permission of the Department is required prior to registration, and a detailed typed prospectus must be submitted to the Chair as part of the request. Students are limited to one independent study per semester. Staff.

365.  Special Topics.  A course or seminar offered from time to time to small groups of students working on special topics. Written permission of the instructor is required. Staff.

411.  History of Sociological Theory.  The development of sociology as a discipline within the context of Western social, political, and intellectual history. Analysis and comparison of the major schools of sociological theory. S. Sylvester.

457, 458.  Senior Thesis.  Individual and group conferences in connection with the writing of the senior thesis. Sociology 458 is required of all senior majors in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both Sociology 457 in the fall semester and Sociology 458 in the winter semester. One course credit for each registration. Prerequisite: approval by the Department of a thesis prospectus prior to registration. Written permission of the Department Chair is required. Staff.

Short Term Units
s17.  Sexual Harassment and the U.S. Senate's Thomas-Hill Hearings.  The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the Bush Administration's nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court captured the complexity of past and current issues in struggles for women's rights in the United States. With their presentation and representation, they captured a political process which included issues of language, performance, class, gender, racialization, and a culture's historical legacy. This unit examines the issue of sexual harassment and the impact of the Committee's hearings since 1991. What political ideologies and cultural ethos were reflected in the hearings? What did print and visual media present and not present in relation to the hearings? How did the hearings affect women's struggles against sexual harassment in the workplace? What have been male responses to the hearings and male perspectives on the issue of sexual harassment? What has been the impact of the hearings since October 1991? This unit is the same as English s17. Enrollment is limited to 35. C. Brinkley, C. Malcolmson.

s26.  Urban Transformations: A Tale of Three Cities.  This unit examines the structure of three cities--Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago--from the perspective of changes in the organization of economic development and the accompanying spatial differentiation of economic activity within and across cities and regions. The unit also examines the conflicting demands on local government to solve urban problems and the long-term trends toward political fragmentation that make such problem resolution increasingly difficult. Recommended background: courses in sociology, economics, political science. T. Cowan.

s35.  Research in Criminology.  Directed research in selected areas of the analysis of criminal behavior and the treatment of offenders. Prerequisite: Sociology 216 and 217. S. Sylvester.

s50.  Individual Research.  Registration in this unit is granted by the Department only after the student has submitted a written proposal for a full-time research project to be completed during the Short Term and has secured the sponsorship of a member of the Department to direct the study and evaluate results. Students are limited to one individual research unit. Staff.

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