Required Courses

Sociological Theory

Students must take at least one course in Sociological Theory. Courses include but are not limited to: Classical Theory (2101), Post-Classical Theory (2102), or Theories of Gender and Sexuality (2251). See descriptions of these in the “Sociological Theory Courses” section below.

2201 Introduction to Social Statistics

This course provides an introduction to social statistics. Topics include descriptive statistics, frequency distributions, hypothesis tests, bivariate associations, and data visualization.  This course emphasizes the application of statistics to the social sciences and requires no prior knowledge of statistics. Students will leave the course with a broader understanding of how statistics can be utilized in social scientific research.

2203 Qualitative Methods

This course will offer an overview of qualitative research methods in the social sciences. It will emphasize interpretive approaches to social research, and cover the empirical research process from the beginning to end. Key topics include issues inherent in many types of research such as conceptualization, operationalization, data collection, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, and theory construction. Problems of doing research in natural settings will be addressed. The uses of triangulation and combining qualitative and quantitative research will also be considered. Students will carry out their own empirical projects using specific qualitative techniques, such as the interview and participant observation. Graduate students in the PhD program are required to take both Qualitative Methods and Quantitative Methods.

2204 Applied Regression Analysis

This course studies the set of statistical methods called regression analysis. It solidifies and extends students’ quantitative and statistical data analysis skills. The course focuses primarily on linear regression, including modeling techniques for continuous, binary, ordinal, and count data. Students will leave the course with the tools necessary to analyze a variety of social science data. This course assumes some knowledge of statistics (descriptive statistics, frequency distributions, hypothesis tests, and bivariate associations). To register, students must have taken Introduction to Social Statistics (SOC 2201) or an equivalent class.

2205 Research Resign

This course is designed to: (1) introduce graduate students to a variety of methodologies in social science research; (2) introduce the principles of research design; and (3) assist in developing methodological approaches and strategies for your own research efforts. The course covers basic philosophical and epistemological foundations of social science research; methodological issues of research design; principles of data collection; and ethical and political issues of social science research. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies will be discussed.

Sociological Theory Courses

2101 Classical Theory

This seminar is designed to examine the contributions of classical theory to the understanding of the main structures, processes and contradictions of modern capitalist societies. Though the readings include a historical overview on the development of the social sciences, particularly sociology and historical materialism, this seminar will focus on the contributions of three main theorists: Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel. Along the way, we further contextualize this period through the evolutionary theory of Herbert Spencer, and the pragmatism of George Herbert Mead. Given the impressive diversity and the sustained length of their written works, we examine in depth a carefully chosen selection of primary sources. The major goal of the seminar is to familiarize students with some of the main theoretical assumptions, concepts and patterns of determination identified by each theorist in his approach to the study of modern capitalist society. Through extensive class discussion and assignments, and with reference to extended examples and case studies, students are encouraged to consider how classical theory might be utilized in your own research and thinking about the social sciences.

2102 Post-Classical Theory

This course will sample idiosyncratically from the post-classical theoretical tradition in sociology. The primary vectors of inquiry will include: "neo-" theories in class analysis (Marxist, Weberian, Durkheimian), the Frankfurt school, social construction, dramaturgical theory, practice theory, and theories of culture and representation (this course is available for Cultural Studies credit). In line with the substantive focus of the sociology department, we will also attend to the extent possible with these texts to issues of social inequality, especially class, race, and gender as principles of social organization of identities and institutions.

2251 Theories of Gender and Sexuality

This course provides an overview of important tendencies and controversies in gender and sexuality studies, emphasizing emerging directions in scholarship as well as foundational readings. Gender and sexuality studies are interdisciplinary fields in conversation with feminist theory and queer theory as well as a host of academic disciplines. Drawing on readings from a variety of disciplines (including sociology, anthropology, history, law, political science, philosophy, and literary studies) and sampling a range of methodologies, this course works through some of the key moments, movements, and problems that have shaped and continue to shape contemporary thinking about gender and sexuality. The course also serves as a graduate-level introduction to the skills and practices of reading, discussing, and writing in a variety of theoretical idioms.

Recent Electives

2036 Body and Society (Mark W.D. Paterson)

How does the social world affect our bodily experiences? How is the physical body shaped, maintained, and adorned through social processes? Western philosophy traditionally looked down upon the body, associating men with disembodied mind, and women with mere corporeality. Following ground-breaking work by Mauss, Marion-Young, Haraway, Butler, Garland-Thomson, and others, the body can now be considered as a set of ‘biologico-sociological phenomena’, produced through concrete contexts and situated experiences. Through a series of close readings of texts that cut across sociology, history, gender studies, politics, and psychology, over the course of the semester the class builds up a robust conceptual framework through which students may critically reflect upon their own embodied experiences and concerns.  

2306 Revolutions (John Markoff)

This course is an inquiry into various theories, frameworks and models elaborated by social scientists to explain the origins, dynamics and outcomes of this most complex matrix of social change.

2313 Race in the City (Waverly Duck)

Race in the City is a course focusing on contemporary and historical development of race-related urban issues, specifically conceptual and theoretical issues related to race and urbanism. The course will examine how race in the city is related to economic, political, and cultural forces. This course will examine issues of oppression and resistance over time in the context of slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, decolonization and contemporary African-American thought along with discussions of social policies that disproportionately affect people of color. The course examines how politics and culture shaped racial formation in the U.S. along with a practical introduction to theoretical and methodological issues related to race and urban sociology.

2341 Social Movements (Dana Moss)

Collective action aimed at fomenting or preventing social change has shaped the course of human history, and the analysis and theorization of social movements comprises one of the most vibrant areas of sociological research today. In addition to its central place in classical theory, the emergence, dynamics, and outcomes of social movements have come to encompass much of the study of contemporary politics and culture more generally. This course is designed to inculcate a robust understanding of theories explaining collective action and the outcomes of those struggles. While social movements can be studied from any disciplinary perspective, this course employs a distinctly political sociological perspective. All students will be expected to demonstrate comprehension of the dominant theories and case studies in the social movements literature by completing course readings, giving a presentation, participating in class discussion, and producing a final paper. Overall, this course will give students the theoretical tools and knowledge base needed to obtain fluency in social movement theories and major works, as well as to pursue independent research in collective action and social movements.

2350 Gender and Politics (Melanie M. Hughes)

This course examines central topics in the study of gender and politics, covering such issues as women’s activism in social movements, gender gaps in ideology and partisanship, the ways that government bureaucracies are gendered, the ways that executive leaders “do masculinity,” and the roads women take to local and national political office. The course is global in its focus, but students will also be introduced to research on gender and politics in American society. Whenever possible, we will be attentive to the ways in which gender intersects with other social identities, such as race, ethnicity, and social class.

2402 Organizations (Tarun Banerjee)

We have two main goals in this course. The first is to survey the intellectual foundations and basic issues in organizational theory. The second is to analyze some of the key current arguments in thinking on organizations and organizationally relevant issues. "Organizationally relevant" means this: there are a lot of important debates and currents of thought in social science that depend in one way or another on organizations. For example, micro-level analyses about how people make choices among jobs must take account of how organizations set the array of choices from which they choose. Or, to take a macro example, the exciting work that explores risk and catastrophes derives from and depends upon an understanding of the organizations that create and deal with these issues. Alternatively, policy responses to financial crisis are shaped by capitalist control over economic institutions.

2408 Ethnography of Race, Power and Inequality (Waverly Duck)

In this course, we explore social inequality through an ethnographic lens. As a practical introduction to theoretical and methodological issues in urban ethnography, the course dissects the social, political, economic, and cultural practices that have contributed to inequality in the U.S., while also exploring the complex relationship between fieldworkers and their participants, especially with regard to emotional labor, identity, and reflexivity. Using a range of empirical and theoretical sources, we will examine how intersections of race, class, age, health, sexuality and gender shape the lived experience of inequality, and address the politics of conducting ethnographic research. We will also discuss the historical development of transportation, manufacturing, housing, governance, culture and inequality with regard to race, class and gender.

2432 Cultural Sociology (Mohammed A. Bamyeh)

This seminar explores main themes in cultural sociology, including patterns of life, values, symbols, identities, and solidarities, as well as the social vehicles through which culture is produced, sustained and interpreted. Cultural sociology is a vast and constantly evolving field, with clear affinities to cultural studies, other social sciences such as anthropology, religious studies, history, and several research agendas in the humanities, Overall, this course explores both the place of culture in sociological analysis, and the place of sociology in the analysis of culture.

2465 Global Sociology (Jackie Smith)

The course provides an overview of major theoretical approaches and authors in the study of global sociology. We explore how different approaches explain the impacts of global integration on social life and organization at global, national, and local levels. The course covers a range of contemporary global problems, such as inequality, gender-based discrimination, and violent conflict in our effort to learn what social science contributes to our efforts to address these problems. While an emphasis is placed on sociological approaches to the study of global change, we will also explore related social science fields such as anthropology, geography, political science, and economics as they address similar questions and themes.

3212 Anarchism (Mohammed A. Bamyeh)

The course aims to offer a global and interdisciplinary introduction to anarchist theory and practice. In particular, the course explores the relation between anarchist philosophies and autonomous civic order; studies some ethics of voluntary associational life through a comparative perspective into the world civic traditions; examines various ways to test anarchist propositions about human psychology and social action; and evaluates the anarchist tradition in the context of modern global processes. In addition, the course will explore anarchist approaches to science, as well as how anarchist propositions address questions of human freedom; how they develop conceptions of a common good; what ethics they presume; and finally the relevance of anarchism for understanding and analyzing contemporary social, cultural, or scientific movements. The sources for the seminar includes material from such fields as sociology, anthropology, political theory, philosophy of science, literature, and geography.

3393 Political Identities (Melanie M. Hughes)

Political sociology recognizes that political actors, including political parties, interest groups, and social movements, operate within a wider social context. Political actors shape, and are shaped by, social structures such as race, class, gender, and nationality. This course considers how the relationships between politics and society are mediated through social identities, for example, Muslim, working class, woman, or immigrant. The course focuses on how identities influence all stages of the political process, from the construction of political interests, to social movement participation, to engagement in electoral politics. We focus explicitly on power, evaluating how identities affect the capacity of individuals and groups to pursue their interests. During the latter part of the course, we evaluate political representation across different types of social identities in turn and how identities intersect to shape politics.

3398 Social Movement Communities and Coalitions (Suzanne Staggenborg)

This course will examine how social movements mobilize and maintain themselves over time, focusing on social movement communities and their ability to form coalitions to carry out collective campaigns. The concept of a social movement community draws attention to the multiple venues in which movements take root and develop. Social movement organizations are an important element of many movement communities, which help to attract activists, provide leadership, and organize collective action and movement campaigns. In addition to political movement organizations, movement communities include loose networks of activists and organizations; individuals who share movement goals but are not necessarily members of organized groups; cultural groups and events; alternative institutions; participants connected by social media; and institutionalized movement supporters. Coalitions include both formal and informal alliances that form when movement communities organize for collective action.

3398 Globalization and Social Movements (Jackie Smith)

Globalization has impacted many dimensions of social life, and it is linked to new types of conflicts and inequality that affect democracy and political participation in every country of the world. This course examines the driving forces behind globalization—particularly its economic and institutional dimensions—and we consider how these changes affect contemporary social conflicts and movements. Even locally based movements are shaped by global forces, and we will explore how sociology can help us situate local cases within this world-historical context. We consider how the contemporary capitalist system affects peoples’ livelihoods and shapes the prospects for less powerful interests to challenge the status quo. Readings will cover both important theoretical and methodological issues in the study of social movements while exploring a range of themes such as the operation of networks and coalitions, indigenous and decolonial movements, and expansion of urbanization and urban-based movements.

3491 Topics in Social Stratification (Lisa D. Brush)

This is a graduate-level survey of theories, methods, findings, and controversies in social science (mostly but not exclusively sociological) research on social stratification. The course will be organized in seminar format, with readings, participatory discussions and presentations of material, and written assignments all directed toward students' critically appreciating "social stratification" as both an object of inquiry and a mode of analysis. We will try to figure out If "social stratification" is the answer, what is the question? Students will produce and present materials related to their specific research projects.