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Course Descriptions

Sociology Courses (SOC)

SOC 1950-4950. Studies Abroad (3-18). Study in a foreign country. Individual course titles and locations are assigned for each course taken. See Studies Abroad program for details.

SOC 1990-4990. Independent Studies (1-3). Courses designed with a professor for independent study purposes.

SOC 1895-4895. Special Topics (1-3). Special Topics or pilot courses.

SOC 1010. Introduction to Sociology (3). Sociology is the study of human groups, organizations, and societies and the patterns of similarity and difference among them. It includes but is not limited to the study of culture, inequality, gender, race, religion, the economy, sexuality, and family life. This course will explore sociological ways of seeing the world, provide you with tools for understanding your own social position and the context in which you live, and fuel your passion for a just, peaceful, and diverse society.

SOC 1020. Social Problems (3). Majors/minors may not NOT receive credit toward major/minor). Throughout American history, social critics have perceived aspects of social life as "problematic." Things are no different today, although what we define as "social problems" has changed. This course is designed as an introduction to the sociology of social problems with a focus on social problems within contemporary U.S. society (although some problems will be examined within a global context). Topics may include crime, rape, poverty, AIDS, drug use, eating disorders, and war, among others. Our emphasis will be on analyzing and understanding social problems (and the discourse about them) from various theoretical perspectives. The central theme of the course concerns power and inequality. We will examine how people "create" social problems by constructing and reproducing social relationships of power and domination over others, especially via race, class, and gender. We will specifically address the social construction of problems by the media and how people create a collective understanding of social problems

SOC 1100. Special Topics in General Education: Sociology (3). These courses are designed to provide special topic classes in sociology approved for the general education program. Students may take no more than one course from this prefix to meet social science general education requirements.

SOC 2010. Cultural Theory (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's Consent. This course lays the theoretical foundation for understanding contemporary cultural phenomena. Explanations of the production and consumption of culture, along with those of symbolic boundaries and authenticity will be examined in tandem with an analysis of modern and postmodern cultures. The goal of this course is to provide a foundation that facilitates more effectives of specific cultural milieus.

SOC 2150. Theories of Deviance (3).An examination of the social causes and consequences of delinquency, criminality, addiction, insanity, social unconventionality, and other deviant behavior. The course also explores differing views on the subject throughout history.

SOC 2200. Sociological Theory (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010.An analysis of macro-social theories including Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, and micro-social theories including symbolic interaction, role theory, and social exchange theory. This course will be offered every fall.

SOC 2250. Social Research Methods (3). Prerequisites: SOC 1010 and MTH 1150 or Instructor's consent. An introduction to the basic skills necessary in conducting empirical research in the social sciences. Topics covered will include the logic of science in sociology, literature reviews, design and measurement, use of primary and secondary data, ethical issues in research, and writing research reports. This course will be offered every spring.
Gen. Ed. Designation: EL (R – Undergraduate Research).

SOC 2440. Restorative Justice (3).  This course will create a unique partnership between prisoners, prison officials, college students, local congregations and community groups.  We will explore a sociological analysis of the criminal justice system and its impact on our communities, particularly the African American community.  We will examine issues around crime and justice, corrections and imprisonment, restorative justice, harm reduction, victimization, parole, probation and reentry.  We seek to create an environment that will facilitate the honest exchange of ideas through dialogue between people on the inside and outside, and to develop an experiential setting for learning from and listening to each other in order to more effectively define reentry support.

SOC 2450. Law and Society (3). This course is designed to utilize sociological concepts and methods to examine the relationship between the legal system and other institutions in society. We will consider the importance of law in shaping our social existence and explore the way laws are structured by people, ideas, and social conditions. During the semester, you will be given the opportunity to: (1) examine historical influences on the role of law in society; (2) isolate contexts and social forces which shape the creation of laws; (3) analyze compatible and competing theoretical explanations used to justify laws; and (4) perfect and demonstrate meaningful exchange of ideas through both written and verbal communication skills.

SOC 3000. Schools and Society: The Sociology of Education (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or consent of instructor. The role of education in modern industrial life. The contributions of various theories to understanding how schools affect the individual and relate to the economy, families, race, ethnicity, and social class.

SOC 3100. Politics of Knowledge (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's consent.This course looks into how the media shapes our knowledge of politics. The symbolism and layers of meaning embedded in political and other types of media commentary will be analyzed using various theoretical frameworks such as the sociology of knowledge, social constructionism, structuralism, critical theory, and postmodernity. Foundational works taken up could include readings by Foucault, Merton, Mannheim, and Habermas along with more contemporary readings of politics, media, and popular culture.

SOC 3120. Sociology of Music (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's consent. Numerous sociological perspectives are used to understand the role of music in society. These include how music is produced, the social meaning people give it, the role of music as a marker of social status, how people of diverse backgrounds cooperate to make music, and the scenes that foster innovative music. Together these will help us to hazard predictions about the future of music. Music of diverse sorts, from disco to country, jazz, classical, hip-hop, and techno, will be used to show these and related processes, but the prime focus is on the trajectory of popular music over the last half of the century.

SOC 3140. Sociology of Film (3). This course examines the history of the film industry and the significance of films in the cultural history of the United States. In particular, it focuses on the influence of social conditions on the film industry and the content of films.

SOC 3150. Southern Culture (3). The culture of the American South is an amalgamation of regional, social, racial, and socioeconomic elements. The unique experiences of generations of Southerners have shaped the region and left their mark on the country. Throughout history, the distinct cultures present within the region have been criticized, contested, and denounced. Even still, it is a culture much celebrated and full of lore and myth. This course will examine historical events and ideological foundations for the distinct Southern identity and its implications.

SOC 3160. Sociology of Photography and Social Changes (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's consent. Visual sociology includes use of visual methods to document social life and the analysis of visual materials such as photographs, advertising, graphic novels, and film to understand a culture or society. In this class you will use visual methods to understand yourself and topics of sociological significance. By exploring aspects of daily life (e.g. shopping malls, campus life) and broader social issues (e.g. poverty, incarceration) you will experience how "the self" is created in relationship to others and within particular social / cultural / geographical contexts. What emerges as we explore the ways of life around us? How does visual sociology help us understand ourselves in the world?

SOC 3200. The Sociology of Gender (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's consent. What does it mean to be a "real man" or a "real woman" in the contemporary United States? How does that meaning vary across societies or historical eras? How are masculinities and femininities shaped by social factors such as race/ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation? Gender plays and important part of our lives as individuals, but also structures life within U.S. society and throughout the world. This course will focus on gender socialization, practices, and inequalities in the United States and globally. Specifically, we will examine the influence of gender in interpersonal relationships, at work, in education, in families, and in other areas of social life.
Gen. Ed. Designation: EL (R – Undergraduate Research).

SOC 3210. Men, Masculinity, and the Movies (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's consent.This course examines men and masculinities from a sociological perspective. It uses cultural representations of boys/men from a variety of media (e.g., music videos, magazines, television, and film) as a framework for analyzing boys'/men's lived experiences (e.g., in interpersonal relationships, at work, in education, in families). It examines the processes by which boys, men, and masculinities are shaped within different socio-historical contexts and by social factors such as race/ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. Ultimately, it offers theoretical explanations related to the social construction of masculinities.
Gen. Ed. Designation: EL (R – Undergraduate Research).

SOC 3220. Sociology of Religion (3). This course studies religion as a force of moral solidarity and social change. It reviews the history of the post-Enlightenment study of religion, major sociological theories, and their assumptions. Substantive topics include the history of struggles among religious organizations in the American South, contemporary debates about morality and the state nationwide, overlap and tensions between mass religion and our secular popular culture. This course focuses on the place of mainline Protestantism in these struggles.

SOC 3230. Sociology of Health and Illness (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or instructor's consent. People often view illness and disease as individual issues. Individuals get sick, get diseases, and are treated by (individual) physicians. However, social contexts shape the way we view and experience illness. For experience, our social context affects our ability to obtain health insurance, our chance of contracting contagious diseases, and the type of health behaviors (e.g., cigarette smoking, healthy eating) that we practice. Topics include but are not limited to: The history of medical sociology, the subjective experience of health, the organization of health care, inequality in health care access by race, class, age, or gender, health and illness behavior, disability and mental illness, alternative medicine, birthing and midwifery, health policy, death and dying, HIV/AIDS, and medical ethics.

SOC 3250. Gender and the Body (3). This course examines concepts of gender and the embodied issues of inequality, oppression, and objectification that occur in modern America. Students will examine social and cultural notions of the ideal body and the effects such expectations have on self-esteem and self-perception. Throughout history, the female body has been altered and transformed to fulfill an impossible ideal. More recently, trends for men have followed suit. This class looks at the historical, cultural, and social roots of this widespread obsession with body image and its dangerous implications.

SOC 3260. Family Problems & Social Change (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or Instructor's consent.This course in family problems is sociological in focus and specifically addresses how families are influenced by the social and economic context in which they exist. It will address major historical transformations in society (i.e. social change) and corresponding family change. This course is organized in three main sections. The first section of the course approaches families historically and geographically, examining Western family patterns prior to the Industrial Revolution. It examines changes in family forms beginning with the 18th century and resulting in the nuclear family form of the 19th century. In reviewing families of the 20th and 21st century, we will discuss patterns of fertility, divorce, remarriage, "singlehood," women's labor force participation, and accompanying structural and cultural changes that coincide with these changing patterns of organization. The second section examines multiple family forms, including but not limited to variations based on ethnicity/race, class, and sexual orientation. The final section of the course examines specific problems contemporary families face, including family violence, child and elder care, and equitable division of labor in the home.
Gen. Ed. Designation: EL (R – Undergraduate Research).

SOC 3350. Social Movements (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or instructor's consent. This course examines factors that affect the evolution, structure, and growth of social movements. Key social movements will be analyzed for their affect on American society.

SOC 3400. Inequality (3). Prerequisites: SOC 1010, SOC 2200 or instructor's consent. An analysis of the dimensions of stratification in American society, namely, race, class, and gender. It will also discuss occupational prestige, class and social change, socialization and values, structural opportunities for social mobility, class consciousness and class conflict, and the underclass and American public policy.

SOC 3450. Race and Ethnic Relations (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or instructor's consent. Diversity of people gives creativity and strength to U.S. society, but also the most passionate conflicts and acute suffering of many of our citizens. This course will examine why some groups are more successful than others in achieving the American Dream and its connection to the origins of ethnic pluralism in the U.S. We will use social science perspectives to gain insight into the personal, group, and larger social structural issues related to racial and ethnic identity, prejudice and discrimination, and ethnic violence. We will see how we can reduce racial and ethnic tensions and discrimination, and enjoy and celebrate our diversity.

SOC 3550. The Urban Community (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010. An examination of urban social structures and processes, historical patterns in the structure and growth of the city. Also examined are community power structures, urban planning and Third World cities.
Gen. Ed. Designation: EL (R – Undergraduate Research).

SOC 3555. Race, Class and Gender (3). This course will focus on systems of inequality in modern American culture, as well as global inequity. Students in this course will examine conceptions and understandings of various systems of social stratification, their causes, and possible solutions. Race, class, and gender will provide the general framework of inquiry.

SOC 3600. Environmental Sociology (3). Prerequisite: SOC 1010 or consent of instructor. Environmental Sociology introduces you to environmental issues and problems. It takes up contemporary environmental concerns including those of resource use and depletion, economic growth and the environment, pollution, population and development, public lands and tourism, the social distribution of environmental problems, and alternative ways of thinking about how humans can relate to the environment.

SOC 3700. Criminal Justice (3). The study of the institutions that process suspected and convicted criminal offenders, this course focuses on legal codes, courts, police, prisons, and mass-media crime scares. It offers study of the ways in which these institutions shape and are shaped by large-scale inequality.

SOC 3800. Criminology (3). The study of motives for and situations conducive to crime, this course reviews major theories of crime and methods for its study. Focus on specific crimes may vary by semester, but the role of inequality in the shaping of crime remains central.

SOC 3890. Special Topics in Criminology (3). This course offers focused study of special topics, such as the sociology of prisons, media violence, terrorism, corrections, policing in society, or the relations between deviance and particular forms of inequality.

SOC 3900. Special Topics in the Sociology of Culture (3). This course offers focused study of special topics, such as the culture of terrorism, religion in the media, national identity, the culture of advertising and consumption in America, the culture of sports, globalization, and political culture.

SOC 4800. Senior Research Seminar (3). Prerequisites: SOC 1010, MTH 1150, SOC 2200, SOC 2250, at least 12 additional hours in sociology and senior standing. This is a seminar during which seniors will pursue their own individual research projects. There will be no lectures or exams, but each class will include discussion of the various research topics of interest to students. Each student's work will culminate in the completion of an empirical research project.

SOC 4900. Practicum in Sociology (3). Prerequisites: Instructor's consent required. A specially arranged course designed to give the student practical experience in work settings related to sociology. Students are assigned to an area of interest to them and their work is supervised by a field supervisor and the course supervisor. A minimum of 100 hours in the agency is required. Grading is on a Pass/ Fail basis. Only three hours of practicum may be applied to the minor.