Sociology Department

Advisers: The department.



Correlate Sequence in Sociology


Sociology: I. Introductory

110a or b. Gender, Social Problems and Social Change (1)

(Same as WMST 110) This course introduces students to a variety of social problems using insights from political science, sociology, and gender studies. We begin with an exploration of the sociological perspective, and how social problems are defined as such. We then examine the general issues of inequalities based on economic and employment status, racial and ethnic identity, and gender and sexual orientation. We apply these categories of analysis to problems facing the educational system and the criminal justice system. As we examine specific issues, we discuss political processes, social movements, and individual actions that people have used to address these problems. Ms. Leonard.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

This class is taught at the Taconic Correctional Facility for Women to a combined class of Vassar and Taconic students.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 3-hour period.

151a or b. Introductory Sociology (1)

An introduction to major concepts and various approaches necessary for cultivating sociological imagination.

Although the content of each section varies; this course may not be repeated for credit.

Topic One: Classical traditions for contemporary social issues. This section explores the significance and relevance of foundational thinkers of sociology to the understanding and analysis of contemporary social issues and problems. Examples include consumerism, teenage suicide, Occupy Wall Street, and race/ethnicity in colleges; housing, education, immigration, and childhood. Lastly, this course also examines the works of marginalized social thinkers within the classical tradition and considers why they have been silenced, erased and how they can help us to better understand many contemporary social issues. Ms. Moon, Ms. Rueda, Mr. Alamo.

Topic Two: Cooked! Food and Society. The flavor of this class will come from the impact of the classical debates on the current discourse of sociology, specifically debates on social problems and interpretations of our everyday life. To examine diverse and contentious voices, we will explore theoretical works with a focus on past, present and future of theory and how it reflects the transformation of society, and ask how can we propose a critical debate for our future to realize theory's promise? Our special focus will be the challenges of food production and consumption in the 21st century. Ms. Batur.

Topic Three: Just Add Water!: Water and Society. The flow of this class will be from the impact of the classical debates on the current discourse of sociology, specifically the debate on social problems and the interpretations of our everyday life. To examine diverse and contentious voices, we will explore theoretical works with a focus on past, present and future of theory and how it reflects the transformation of society, and ask how can we propose a critical debate for our future to realize theory's promise? Our special focus will be the challenges of water consumption and distribution in the 21st century. Ms. Batur.

Topic Four: Other Voices: Sociology from the Margins. Ideas about society that we value usually come from the European, the heterosexual, the male or the fully-abled. In this course we will examine sociological ideas from those who may be overlooked, excluded, othered, minimized or dismissed. This may include Ibn Khaldun, David Walker, Maria Stewart, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mother Jones, Marcus Garvey, Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Horace Cayton and Malcolm X. Ms. Harriford.

Topic Five: Social Inequalities. Who are the "insiders?" Who are the "outsiders?" Who are the "haves?" the "have-nots?" What are the privileges of membership, the costs of exclusion? From women on the global assembly line to the poor and minorities in America, there have always been those who experience oppression and discrimination. This course will address contemporary and classical issues of social inequality as a lens to introduce Sociology and the sociological imagination. We will also consider efforts people have made to redress these concerns, including the Harlem Children's Zone, the Millennium Development Goals, and social protest movements. Ms. Miringoff.

Topic Six: Social Analysis. An introduction to key questions, ideas, and methods used by sociologists to make sense of human interaction and the social world. We read classic and contemporary texts to help us examine issues such as community, identity, belonging, inequality and social change. Ms. Carruyo.

Topic Seven: Great Ideas, Discerning Studies. This course centers on an array of enduring ideas associated with the classical tradition in Sociology but extended and enlivened in selected essays, empirical studies and ethnographic accounts. We will examine a variety of concepts including alienation, egoism, anomie and the "iron cage" of rationality, exploring their significance for a contemporary, "post modern" world. Specifically, we will read studies of emotional labor, youth culture, body building, hip hop, and the break up of romantic relationships, seen through the lens of the Sociological Imagination. This class tacks between the conceptual and the empirical, between social structure (Class, Inequality) and social construction (Identity, Self Presentation), with an eye toward Sociology's (not always consistent) intellectual, personal, and political relevance. Mr. McAulay.

Topic Eight: A Social Justice Approach. This course aims to introduce you to a sociological perspective through an exploration of social justice. We will begin with an analysis of what a sociological perspective entails, including an understanding of the structural and cultural forces that shape our lives and those of the people around us and how, in turn, individuals make choices and influence social change. Social justice delineates and describes injustices such as economic inequality, racism, sexism, and homophobia and, by definition, addresses solutions and alternative social systems. Sociology has a long tradition of commitment to social justice issues and we will consider a wide variety of them including: issues of power, how social advantages and disadvantages are distributed, the relationship between social location and inequality, and the practice of reducing the gap between them at the local, national, and global levels. Social justice is a perspective for understanding and for action. Ms. Leonard.

Topic Nine: Sociology of Everyday Life. This section introduces sociology as a perspective that highlights the connections between individuals and the broader social contexts in which they live. We focus a sociological eye on the activities and routines of daily life, seeking to illuminate the social foundations of everyday behavior that we often take for granted. Reading both classical and contemporary texts, we build a sociological imagination and apply sociological theory as we focus our inquiry on issues such as the persistence of inequality, changing patterns of family life, new workplace dynamics, and the power of social networks. Mr. Hoynes, Mr. Nevarez.

Two 75-minute periods.

160a or b. What do you Mean by Globalization? (1)

Globalization is a buzz word used in many forums, including popular culture, academic disciplines, political institutions, and social movements. This course examines the multiple voices and actors that make up conversations and processes we refer to as "globalization." How can we make sense of globalization? Can globalization as a framework help us make sense of the social world? Ms. Carruyo.

Open to freshman only. Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

183a. Disaster and Disorder: The New Normal (1)

Disasters have been much in the news these days, and the evidence suggest their frequency is increasing. Hurricanes, droughts, floods, earthquakes, and heat waves are among the natural disasters we have gone through -- while "unnatural" man-made catastrophes are many -- including economic meltdowns, nuclear power plant accidents, and toxic contamination. Disasters force us to confront the very nature of our society, including problems of poverty, race, ethnicity, age, and gender. They test the relative strength of our safety net, the viability of our institutions, the elasticity of our resources, and the capacity of our technologies. In this course, we will look at a variety of case studies, such as Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Chernobyl, Bhopal, The Gulf Oil Spill, Fukishima, Three Mile Island, and The Great Recession. Ms. Miringoff.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

184b. Racism and Marxist Struggle (1)

W.E.B. Du Bois pointed out that the expansion of capitalism and the growth of global racism made the color line the problem of the 20th century. Racist ideologies and discriminatory practices perpetuated by capitalist institutional racism, and racial inequality, combine into all other forms of inequality globally. As racialized spaces globalized through capitalism, so too arose anti-racist struggle against the violence of racism, colonialism and post-colonialist arrangements. Even though the struggle against global racial inequality grew, the color line is now the problem of the 21st century, manifested as vicious inequalities, destruction, war and genocide. This class examines the writings of Karl Marx, W.E.B. DuBois, Franz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, Angela Davis, C.L.R James, Jose Carlos Mariátegui, Stuart Hall and others in order to develop critical and analytical approaches to original works on racism and the Marxist anti-racist debate. Ms. Batur.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

Sociology: II. Intermediate

205b. What is a Just Society? (1)

It grows ever more important --- as the world becomes more globalized and cultures and ideologies intersect --- to understand what we mean by "justice". What does it mean to have a just society? In a just society does everyone have his or her basic needs met? Or, in a just society, is everyone free to get as much as they can? Will everyone be happy in a just society? Or will it be acceptable for some to suffer? How do we decide when a society is truly just? Who gets to decide? In a just society, is it simply enough to guarantee everyone constitutional and legal equality? Are notions of justice transcendent? Or do they change over time? The course will provide students with conceptual tools derived from different historical periods and intellectual traditions to highlight the array of possibilities available to imagine a just society. Ms. Harriford.

Not offered in 2015/16.

206b. Social Change in the Black and Latino Communities (1)

(Same as AFRS 206 and RELI 206) An examination of social issues in the Black and Latino communities: poverty and welfare, segregated housing, drug addiction, unemployment and underemployment, immigration problems and the prison system. Social change strategies from community organization techniques and poor people's protest movements to more radical urban responses are analyzed. Attention is given to religious resources in social change.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2.5-hour period.

207b. Commercialized Childhoods (1)

(Same as AMST 207) This course examines features of childhoods in the U.S. at different times and across different social contexts. The primary aims of the course are 1) to examine how we've come to the contemporary understanding of American childhood as a distinctive life phase and cultural construct, by reference to historical and cross-cultural examples, and 2) to recognize the diversity of childhoods that exist and the economic, geographical, political, and cultural factors that shape those experiences. Specific themes in the course examine the challenges of studying children; the social construction of childhood (how childhoods are constructed by a number of social forces, economic interests, technological determinants, cultural phenomena, discourses, etc.); processes of contemporary globalization and commodification of childhoods (children's roles as consumers, as producers, and debates about children's rights); as well as the intersecting dynamics of age, social class, race/ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in particular experiences of childhood. Ms. Rueda.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

210a. Domestic Violence (1)

(Same as WMST 210) This course provides a general overview of the prevalence and dynamics of domestic violence in the United States and its effects on battered women. We examine the role of the Battered Women's Movement in both the development of societal awareness about domestic violence and in the initiation of legal sanctions against it. We also explore and discuss, both from a historical and present day perspective, ways in which our culture covertly and overtly condones the abuse of women by their intimate partners. Ms. DePorto.

214b. Transnational Perspectives on Women and Work (1)

(Same as LALS 214 and WMST 214) This class is a theoretical and empirical exploration of women's paid and unpaid labor. We examine how women's experiences as workers --- across space, place, and time --- interact with larger economic structures, historical moments, and narratives about womanhood. We pay particular attention to the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality and citizenship intersect and shape not only women's relationships to work and family, but to other women workers (at times very differently geopolitically situated). We are attentive to the construction of women workers, the work itself, and the meanings women give to production, reproduction, and the global economy. Ms. Carruyo.

Two 75-minute periods.

215b. Perspectives on Deviant Subculture (1)

Sociology as a discipline offers a variety of perspectives on deviance. In recent years mainstream approaches---Functionalism, Conflict Theory, Social Constructionism and Labeling Theory---have been supplemented by Cultural Studies (Gramscian Marxism) and Post Structuralism (including the ideas of Michel Foucault). These different ways of seeing, analyzing, and interpreting "deviance" are deployed in this course by focusing on various marginal communities and deviant subcultures. In particular we look at traditional as well as new religious movements, bohemian subcultures, and music-centered youth culture (punk, hip hop). Other relevant examples and case studies are explored on a selected basis. Mr. McAulay.

Not offered in 2015/16.

216b. Food, Culture, and Globalization (1)

(Same as ASIA 216) This course focuses on the political economy and the cultural politics of transnational production, distribution, and consumption of food in the world to understand the complex nature of cultural globalization and its effects on the national, ethnic, and class identities of women and men. Approaching food as material cultural commodities moving across national boundaries, this course examines the following questions. How has food in routine diet been invested with a broad range of meanings and thereby served to define and maintain collective identities of people and social relationships linked to the consumption of food? In what ways and to what extent does eating food satisfy not only basic appetite and epicurean desire, but also social needs for status and belonging? How have powerful corporate interests shaped the health and well being of a large number of people across national boundaries? What roles do symbols and social values play in the public and corporate discourse of health, nutrition, and cultural identities. Ms. Moon.

229b. Black Intellectual History (1)

(Same as AFRS 229) This course provides an overview of black intellectual thought and an introduction to critical race theory. It offers approaches to the ways in which black thinkers from a variety of nations and periods from the nineteenth century up to black modernity engage their intellectual traditions. How have their perceptions been shaped by a variety of places? How have their traditions, histories and cultures theorized race? Critics may include Aimé Césaire, Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Paul Gilroy, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Ida B. Wells, and Patricia Williams. Ms. Harriford.

Not offered in 2015/16.

234b. Disability and Society (1)

(Same as STS 234) The vision of disability has changed radically over the past twenty years. Public policies have been legislated, language has been altered, opportunities have been rethought, a social movement has emerged, problems of discrimination, oppression, and prejudice have been highlighted, and social thinkers have addressed a wide range of issues relating to the representation and portrayal of people with disabilities. This course examines these issues, focusing on the emergence of the disability rights movement, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the various debates over American Sign Language, "deaf culture," and the student uprising at Gallaudet University and how writers and artists have portrayed people with disabilities. Ms. Miringoff.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 2-hour periods each week; one 2-hour period is devoted to lecture and discussion of reading materials, the second 2-hour period serves as a laboratory for films, speakers, and trips.

235a. Quality of Life (1)

(Same as URBS 235) In a world of cultural diversity, uneven development, and political conflict, enhancing quality of life is arguably the unifying principle in our ambitions for social planning and personal life. But just what does "quality of life" mean? How did it become a preeminent concern for policy-makers and the public at large? And what is at stake if we subordinate other conceptions of the common good to this most subjective and individualistic of ideas? This course takes up these questions through an examination of quality of life's conceptual dimensions and social contexts. Topics include global development policy, patient-doctor conflicts over the right to die, the pressures of work-life balance, the influence of consumer marketing, the voluntary simplicity movement, the "quality of life city," and the cultural divides between conservative "Red States" and liberal "Blue States." Mr. Nevarez.

236a. Imprisonment and the Prisoner (1)

(Same as AFRS 236) What is the history of the prisoner? Who becomes a prisoner and what does the prisoner become once incarcerated? What is the relationship between crime and punishment? Focusing on the (global) prison industrial complex, this course critically interrogates the massive and increasing numbers of people imprisoned in the United States and around the world. The primary focus of this course is the prisoner and on the movement to abolish imprisonment as we know it. Topics covered in this course include: racial and gender inequality, the relationship between imprisonment and slavery, social death, the prisoner of war (POW), migrant incarceration, as well as prisoner resistance and rebellion. Students also come away from the course with a complex understanding of penal abolition and alternative models of justice. Mr. Alamo.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

237a. Community Development (1)

(Same as URBS 237) This course provides hands-on lessons in nonprofit organizations, urban inequality, and economic development that are intended to supplement theoretical perspectives offered in other classes. Students examine local efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, provide social services, leverage social capital, and promote homeowner and business investment in the contemporary city. A community development initiative in the City of Poughkeepsie (to be determined) provides the case study around which lectures, readings, and guest speakers are selected. The course includes a special weekly lab section during which students volunteer at local organizations, conduct fieldwork, or otherwise independently gather and analyze data in support of the case study. Students are graded for both their comprehension of course materials (in essays and exams) and their participation in the community-development initiative (through fieldwork and the final report written collectively by the instructor and students). Mr. Nevarez.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 2-hour periods.

247a. Modern Social Theory: Classical Traditions (1)

(Same as ANTH 247) This course examines underlying assumptions and central concepts and arguments of European and American thinkers who contributed to the making of distinctly sociological perspectives. Readings include selections from Karl Marx, Emile Durheim, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, W.E.B. Du Bois and Erving Goffman. Thematic topics will vary from year to year. Ms. Harriford.

Two 75-minute periods.

249a. Latino/a Formations (1)

(Same as AFRS 249 and LALS 249) This course focuses on the concepts, methodologies and theoretical approaches for understanding the lives of those people who (im)migrated from or who share real or imagined links with Latin America and the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean. As such this course considers the following questions: Who is a Latino/a? What is the impact of U.S. political and economic policy on immigration? What is assimilation? What does U.S. citizenship actually mean and entail? How are ideas about Blackness, or race more generally, organized and understood among Latino/as? What role do heterogeneous identities play in the construction of space and place among Latino/a and Chicano/a communities? This course introduces students to the multiple ways in which space, race, ethnicity, class and gendered identities are imagined/formed in Latin America and conversely affirmed and/or redefined in the United States. Conversely, this course examines the ways in which U.S. Latina/o populations provide both economic and cultural remittances to their countries of origin that also help to challenge and rearticulate Latin American social and economic relationships. Mr. Alamo.

Not offered in 2015/16.

250a. Sex, Gender, and Society (1)

In the context of general sociological theory, the course analyzes sex roles in various institutional settings. Topics include: the effect of social, cultural and scientific change on traditional notions of male and female; the social construction of masculine and feminine; implications of genetic engineering; interaction of sexual attitudes, sexual practices, and social policy. Ms. Harriford.

Not offered in 2015/16.

251a. Development and Social Change in Latin America (1)

(Same as LALS 251) This course examines the ways in which Latin American and Caribbean nations have defined and pursued development and struggled for social change in the post World-War II era. We use country studies and development theories (including Modernization, Dependency, World-Systems, Feminist and Post-Structuralist) to analyze the extent to which development has been shaped by the tensions between local, national, and international political and economic interests. Within this structural context we focus on people and their relationships to each other and to a variety of issues including work, land, reproductive rights, basic needs, and revolution. Integrating structural analysis with an analysis of lived practice and meaning making allows us to understand development as a process that shapes, but is also shaped by, local actors. Ms. Carruyo.

Not offered in 2015/16.

253b. Children of Immigration (1)

(Same as LALS 253) Immigration to the U.S. since the 1970s has been characterized by a marked and unprecedented increase in the diversity of new immigrants. Unlike the great migrations from Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, most of the immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. in the last four decades have come from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. New immigration patterns have had a significant impact on the racial and ethnic composition and stratification of the American population, as well as the meaning of American identity itself. Immigrants and their families are also being transformed in the process, as they come into contact with various institutional contexts that can facilitate, block, and challenge the process of incorporation into the U.S. This course examines the impact of these new immigration patterns by focusing on the 16.4 million children in the U.S. who have at least one immigrant parent. Since 1990, children of immigrants - those born in the U.S. as well as those who are immigrants themselves - have doubled and have come to represent 23% of the population of minors in the U.S. In this course we study how children of immigrants are reshaping America, and how America is reshaping them, by examining key topics such as the impact of immigration on family structures, gender roles, language maintenance, academic achievement, and identity, as well as the impact that immigration reforms have had on access to higher education, employment, and political participation. This course provides an overview of the experiences of a population that is now a significant proportion of the U.S. population, yet one that is filled with contradictions, tensions and fissures and defies simple generalizations. Ms. Rueda.

254b. Research Methods (1)

Examines dilemmas of social inquiry. On what basis are sociological generalizations drawn? What are the ethics of social research? Course includes a critical analysis of research studies as well as an introduction to and practical experience with participant observation, interviewing, questionnaire construction, sampling, experimentation, and available data. Ms. Miringoff.

256b. Mass Media and Society (1)

This course explores media as a social force, an institution, and an industry. We examine what it means to be "mediated," including how media affects our culture, our choices, and our responses to our media filtered lives. We consider the economics of the media industry, media organization and professional socialization, and media's influence on the political world and the global media industry. Third, we examine how media represent the social world, i.e., the role of ideology, and how meanings are produced, stereotypes maintained, and inequalities preserved. We reflect on the roles, responsibilities, and interpretive potential of artists, media producers, and media consumers. Fourth, we investigate the nature and consequences of media technology. We end the course with a series of panel presentations in which students present their semester projects. Mr. Hoynes.

Not offered in 2015/16.

257b. Reorienting America: Asians in American History and Society (1)

(Same as AMST 257 and ASIA 257) Based on sociological theory of class, gender, race/ethnicity, this course examines complexities of historical, economic, political, and cultural positions of Asian Americans beyond the popular image of "model minorities." Topics include the global economy and Asian immigration, politics of ethnicity and pan-ethnicity, educational achievement and social mobility, affirmative action, and representation in mass media. Ms. Moon.

Not offered in 2015/16.

258b. Race and Ethnicity (1)

The course explores the historical and contemporary constructions of race, ethnicity, national and transnational identity. Focus is on the social forces behind racial group dominance and possible responses to this dominance, including assimilation, cultural pluralism, segregation, migration and social movements. The course considers public policies such as affirmative action, immigration law, mass incarceration and gentrification. Ms. Harriford.

Two 75-minute periods.

259b. Social Stratification (1)

In this course we examine how social prestige and power are unequally distributed in societies of the past and present. We discuss how control of property and the means of production contribute to a system of inequality. We also analyze the role of commodities in a consumerist society and the relationship of consumption to stratification. We also discuss the concepts of class formation, class consciousness, and class struggle. Additionally, we examine how race and gender serve to contribute to stratification. Ms. Harriford.

Not offered in 2015/16.

260b. Health, Medicine, and Public Policy (1)

(Same as STS 260) Health care represents one of the thorniest arenas of public policy today. Current issues include the rising numbers of uninsured, concerns over privacy, protection of the public from emerging infectious diseases, the debate between health care as a right vs. a privilege, and the ways in which we conceive the relationship between health, medicine, and society. This course begins with an analysis of the 'social construction' of health, looking particularly at the issue of AIDS, national and international. We then examine policies arising from epidemic or infectious diseases, including the Black Death, the 1918 Influenza epidemic, and Typhoid Mary, as well as contemporary dilemmas over newly emergent diseases. Finally, we consider controversies over national health insurance, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian health care system, the Massachusetts experiment, and the history of Medicare and Medicaid. Ms. Miringoff.

Not offered in 2015/16.

261b. "The Nuclear Cage": Environmental Theory and Nuclear Power (1)

(Same as ENST 261 and INTL 261) The central aim of this course is to explore debates about the interaction between beings, including humans, animals, plants, and the earth within the context of advanced capitalism by concentrating on the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of nuclear power. The first question concerning the class is how does Environmental Theory approach nuclear power and its impact on the environment. The second question deals with how this construction interacts with other forms of debate regarding nuclear power, especially concentrating on the relation between science, market and the state in dealing with nature, and how citizens formulate and articulate their understanding of nuclear power through social movements. Ms. Batur.

263a. Criminology (1)

The course consists of a consideration of the nature and scope of criminology as well as an historical treatment of the theories of crime causation and the relation of theory to research and the treatment of the criminal. Ms. Leonard.

264a. Poverty and Policy (1)

To understand poverty, it is not sufficient to simply know of its existence, its rates, or even its effects. We also need to understand the policies and strategies that have attempted to eliminate or ameliorate poverty, and their relative success or failure. Poverty response strategies typically emerge in two ways: "bottom-up" or "top-down." Bottom-up strategies include the Settlement House movement of the Progressive Era, community organizing (Saul Alinsky movements), social movements, and non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Top-down approaches are typically governmental, and in the U.S. include the social welfare policies of the Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, and Obama administrations. In this course we will look at the nature of both bottom-up and top-down strategies, as well as the philosophies and ideologies that oppose government intervention. We will explore, as well, the origins, structures, and philosophies of other nations, especially the European welfare states and the world-wide effort to target poverty through the Millennium Development Goals. We will consider, in particular, the more restrictive policies of the 1990s created by "welfare reform" which sought to "end welfare as we knew it," and look at current policies that help or hinder working families -- including family leave, sick leave, vacation time, etc. Finally, we will consider the relative success or failure of specific policies that are aimed at hunger, housing, homelessness, and the feminization of poverty. Ms. Miringoff.

Not offered in 2015/16.

265a. News Media in America (1)

This course joins the ongoing debate about the meaning of press freedom and explores the relationship between news and democracy. It will examine how the news media operate in American society and will assess how well the current media are serving the information needs of citizens. Topics may include: the meaning of "objectivity," the relationship between journalists and sources, news and public opinion, ownership of news media, the relationship between news and advertising, propaganda and news management, and the role of alternative media. Mr. Hoynes.

Not offered in 2015/16.

266a. Racism, Waste and Resistance (1)

(Same as ENST 266) The 21st century will be defined in the dramatic consequences of the current events and movements regarding our waste: global climate change, pollution, resource depletion, contamination and extinction. One of the most striking and consistent observations is that racism plays a major role in placing waste in close proximity to those racially distinct, economically exploited and politically oppressed. This class examines the destructive global dynamics of environmental racism and resistance, as struggles against it. Ms. Batur.

Two 75-minute periods.

268a. Sociology of Black Religion (1)

(Same as AFRS 268 and RELI 268) A sociological analysis of a pivotal sector of the Black community, namely the Black churches, sects, and cults. Topics include slave religion, the founding of independent Black churches, the Black musical heritage, Voodoo, the Rastafarians, and the legacies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. This course is taught to Vassar students and incarcerated men at the Otisville Correctional Facility. It will be taught at the Otisville Correctional Facility. To be announced.

Not offered in 2015/16.

269b. Constructing School Kids and Street Kids (1)

(Same as EDUC 269 and LALS 269) Students from low-income families and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds do poorly in school by comparison with their white and well-to-do peers. These students drop out of high school at higher rates, score lower on standardized tests, have lower GPAs, and are less likely to attend and complete college. In this course we examine theories and research that seek to explain patterns of differential educational achievement in U.S. schools. We study theories that focus on the characteristics of settings in which teaching and learning take place (e.g., schools, classrooms, and home), theories that focus on the characteristics of groups (e.g. racial/ethnic groups and peer groups), and theories that examine how cultural processes mediate political-economic constraints and human action. Ms. Rueda.

270b. Drugs, Culture, and Society (1)

(Same as STS 270) This course draws on a variety of Science Studies and Sociological frameworks to consider the implications of various substances that we conventionally refer to as "drugs." Topics include medical, psychiatric, instrumental, or recreational use of licit and illicit substances. Relevant conceptional frameworks are used to explore and analyze the impact of new chemical technology, debates regarding the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, the consequences of globalization on patterns of use, policy and enforcement, as well as the social construction of drugs as a social problem. Heroin, Cocaine, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Ayahuasca, ADHD drugs, SSRIs and hormonal Steroids are all of special interest in so far as they constitute strategic sites for the study of social or technological controversy. Mr. McAulay.

Two 75-minute periods.

273b. The New Economy (1)

(Same as STS 273) The new economy is, in one sense, a very old concern of sociology. Since the discipline's 19th-c. origins, sociologists have asked how changes in material production and economic relations alter the ways that people live, work, understand their lives, and relate to one another. However, current interests in the new economy center upon something new: a flexible, "just in time" mode of industry and consumerism made possible by information technologies and related organizational innovations. The logic of this new economy, as well as its consequences for society, are the subject of this course. Topics include the evolving role of technology in economic globalization; the precarity of today's workplaces and labor markets; the question of the "creative class"; digital divides in technology access, education, and lifestyles; and the cutting edges of consumerism. Mr. Nevarez.

Not offered in 2015/16.

277a. Working Class Studies (1)

This course explores the emerging, multidisciplinary field of working class studies in the current context of the global restructuring of labor and capital; the massive erosion of economic security, and the persisting significance of class as a category of social analysis. We examine core themes in this field including the centrality of the working class globally, historically and in the contemporary U.S. In addition, we emphasize intersections of class, race, gender and sexuality; the history of working class movements and unionism; routinized labor; migrant farm labor; prison labor; the working class in the academy; and media representations of the working class. We continually highlight the role of activism and social movements among working class people and the potential for social change. Ms. Leonard.

Two 75-minute periods.

281b. Killing Fog: Coal, Energy and Pollution (0.5)

(Same as ENST 281 and INTL 281) In December 1952, a deadly mix of fog and coal soot that lasted for five days killed thousands of Londoners. This event, one of the worst environmental disasters in history, raised awareness of the pollution associated with coal usage, and coal's deep integration into the economy and politics worldwide. Yet, more than half a century later, the fight continues to regulate coal power's impact in the United States and elsewhere. As the representatives of 195 countries met for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, coal soot continued to hang in the air.  The first day of the conference was marked by record levels of air pollution in Beijing, while in India coal power plants have contributed to one of the worst health crises, causing about 100,000 deaths and about 20 million cases asthma in India. This course, connecting science and policy making, will examine the science, economics and politics of coal usage in the United States and globally, and will explore movements against the hegemony of coal in the era of the Anthropocene. Pinar Batur.

Second six-week course.

One 2-hour period and one 50-minute period.

290a or b. Field Work (0.5to1)

Individual project of reading or research. The department.

May be elected during the college year or during the summer.

Special permission.


298a or b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

Individual project of reading or research. The department.

May be elected during the college year or during the summer.

Special permission.


Sociology: III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (0.5)

This seminar is intended to provide sociology seniors with a collective and regular learning environment where they can receive systematic guidance from their instructor, and discuss problems they encounter in various stages of thesis writing with both the instructor and their peers. Class will meet at the scheduled period for roughly half the weeks of the seminar, on dates to be announced in the first class. Ms. Carruyo and Ms. Moon.

Yearlong course 300-SOCI 301.

301b. Senior Thesis (0.5)

This seminar is intended to provide sociology seniors with a collective and regular learning environment where they can receive systematic guidance from their instructor, and discuss problems they encounter in various stages of thesis writing with both the instructor and their peers. Class will meet at the scheduled period for roughly half the weeks of the seminar, on dates to be announced in the first class. Ms. Carruyo and Ms. Moon.

Yearlong course SOCI 300-301.

305b. The Social Construction of Race in the U.S. (1)

This course examines the social construction of race in the United States from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present. The focus is on the changing racial meanings and identities of specific socio-historical groups and the ways in which social institutions interpret and reinterpret race over time. Contemporary issues addressed include: the construction of "whiteness", the making of model minorities, color-blindness and the post-racial society, and the emergence of the "mixed race" category. Readings may include Cooper, DuBois, hooks, Collins, Frye, Omni and Winant, and Roediger. Ms. Harriford.

Prerequisite: prior coursework in Sociology or with permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 3-hour period.

306b. Women's Movements in Asia (1)

(Same as ASIA 306 and WMST 306) This interdisciplinary course examines the reemergence of women's movements in contemporary Asia by focusing on their cultural and historical contexts that go beyond the theory of "resource mobilization." Drawing upon case studies from Korea, Japan, India, and China, it traces the rise of feminist consciousness and women's movements at the turn of the twentieth century, and then analyzes the relationships between contemporary women's movements and the following topics: nationalism, political democratization, capitalist industrialization, ambivalence toward modernization, and postmodern conditions. Ms. Moon.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

312b. Corporate Power (1)

This seminar investigates how corporations exert power over society outside of their place in the market. We review the evolution of the corporation, from the late nineteenth century concern over "big business" to the present day of global finance, and examine competing theories and methodologies with which social researchers have explained the power of business. Topics and literatures include corporate citizenship and philanthropy, capitalist networks and organizations, the cult of the "charismatic CEO," and the faultlines of financial capitalism revealed by the Occupy movement. Mr. Nevarez.

317b. Women, Crime, and Punishment (1)

(Same as WMST 317) This course begins with a comparative analysis of the involvement of men and women in crime in the United States and explanations offered for the striking variability. It proceeds by examining the exceptionally high rate of imprisonment for women in the U.S., the demographics of those who are imprisoned, the crimes they are convicted of, and the conditions under which they are confined. It deals with such issues as substance abuse problems, violence against women, medical care in prison, prison programming and efforts at rehabilitation, legal rights of inmates, and family issues, particularly the care of the children of incarcerated women. It also examines prison friendships, families, and sexualities, and post-release. The course ends with a consideration of the possibilities of a fundamental change in the current US system of crime and punishment specifically regarding women. Ms. Leonard.

321a. Feminism, Knowledge, Praxis (1)

(Same as WMST 321) How do feminist politics inform how research, pedagogy, and social action are approached? Can feminist anti-racist praxis and insights into issues of race, power and knowledge, intersecting inequalities, and human agency change the way we understand and represent the social world? We discuss several qualitative approaches used by feminists to document the social world (e.g. ethnography, discourse analysis, oral history). Additionally, we explore and engage with contemplative practices such as mediation, engaged listening, and creative-visualization. Our goal is to develop an understanding of the relationship between power, knowledge and action and to collectively envision healing forms of critical social inquiry. Ms. Carruyo.

One 2-hour period.

322a. Walking (1)

Walking is an explicit and graphic illustration of the challenges of everyday life. The act and the meaning of walking have been a conundrum for theorists and dilemma for social thinkers. From a form of exploration to an expression of protest, from issues regarding stratification to social change, "walking" is not only an act, but an expression, an inquiry, a confrontation, defiance and a demand. This course examines "walking" through a spectrum of texts by Simmel, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Harvey, Thoreau, Muir, MLK, and Malcolm X, among others. Ms. Batur.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 3-hour period.

353b. Bio-Social Controversy (1)

(Same as STS 353) Scientific controversies take place not only within scientific communities but may be joined and waged in public arenas as well. This course is centered around the intense reaction triggered by extension of biological explanations and evolutionary logic to all aspects of contemporary life including race, sex/gender, violence and social behavior in general. Scientific Controversy is a strategic site for analyzing the social dynamics of various disputes including those among biological and cultural anthropologists, academic scientists and transgender activists, and between advocates of divergent views of race and sexual difference. Alternative perspectives -- Darwinian feminism and efforts by transgender biologists to challenge the gender binary -- are also relevant to our conversation. The range of conceptual frames deployed to interpret these controversies includes Popperian philosophy of science, the sociology of Relativism and Rhetoric, and a Foucauldian power/knowledge perspective. Mr. McAulay.

356a. Culture, Commerce, and the Public Sphere (1)

(Same as MEDS 356) This course examines the culture and politics of the public sphere, with an emphasis on the changing status of public spaces in contemporary societies. Drawing upon historical and current analyses, we explore such issues as the relationship between public and commercial space and the role of public discourse in democratic theory. Case studies investigate such sites as mass media, schools, shopping malls, cyberspace, libraries, and public parks in relation to questions of economic inequality, political participation, privatization, and consumer culture. Mr. Hoynes.

365a. Class, Culture, and Power (1)

This course examines central debates in the sociology of culture, with a particular focus on the complex intersection between the domain of culture and questions of class and power. Topics include: the meaning and significance of "cultural capital," the power of ideology, the role of the professional class, working class culture, class reproduction, gender and class relations, and the future of both cultural politics and cultural studies. Readings may include Gramsci, Bourdieu, Gitlin, Aronowitz, Fiske, Willis, and Stuart Hall. Mr. Hoynes.

Not offered in 2015/16.

367a. Mind, Culture, and Biology (1)

(Same as STS 367) Increasingly in recent years Darwinian approaches to the analysis of human behavior have emerged at the center of modern science-based opposition to social constructionism and postmodernist thinking. Nowhere is this challenge more pointed than in the use of evolutionary perspectives to explain patterns of human culture. This course examines the deployment of Darwinian social science to account for morality and religion; art and literature; consumerism and consumer culture; sex/gender and standards of beauty. The goal is neither to celebrate nor to dismiss evolutionary psychology and its allies but rather to play Darwinian insights and potentially questionable claims off against those of feminist, Marxist and sociological critics. Mr. McAulay.

Not offered in 2015/16.

368a. Toxic Futures: From Social Theory to Environmental Theory (1)

(Same as ENST 368 and INTL 368) The central aim of this class is to examine the foundations of the discourse on society and nature in social theory and environmental theory to explore two questions. The first question is how does social theory approach the construction of the future, and the second question is how has this construction informed the present debates on the impact of industrialization, urbanization, state-building and collective movements on the environment? In this context, the class focuses on how social theory informs different articulations of Environmental Thought and its political and epistemological fragmentation and the limits of praxis, as well as its contemporary construction of alternative futures. Ms. Batur.

One 2-hour period.

369b. Masculinities: Global Perspectives (1)

(Same as ASIA 369) From a sociological perspective, gender is not only an individual identity, but also a social structure of inequality (or stratification) that shapes the workings of major institutions in society as well as personal experiences. This seminar examines meanings, rituals, and quotidian experiences of masculinities in various societies in order to illuminate their normative making and remaking as a binary and hierarchical category of gender and explore alternatives to this construction of gender. Drawing upon cross-cultural and comparative case studies, this course focuses on the following institutional sites critical to the politics of masculinities: marriage and the family, the military, business corporations, popular culture and sexuality, medicine and the body, and religion. Ms. Moon.

Prerequisite: previous coursework in Sociology or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

380b. Art, War, and Social Change (1)

(Same as AMST 380) Can the arts serve as a vehicle for social change? In this course we look at one specific arena to consider this question: the issue of war. How is war envisioned and re- envisioned by art and artists? How do artists make statements about the meaning of war and the quest for peace? Can artists frame our views about the consequences and costs of war? How are wars remembered, and with what significance? Specifically, we look at four wars and their social and artistic interpretations, wrought through memory and metaphor. These are: The Vietnam War, its photography and its famous memorial; World War I and the desolation of the novels and poetry that portrayed it; World War 11 and reflections on Hiroshima; and the Spanish Civil War through Picasso's famous anti- war painting Guernica, the recollections of Ernest Hemingway, the memories of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and the photography of Robert Capa. By looking at both the Sociology of Art and Sociology of War we consider where the crucial intersections lie. Ms. Miringoff.

382a. Race and Popular Culture (1)

(Same as AFRS 382 and LALS 382) This seminar explores the way in which the categories of race, ethnicity, and nation are mutually constitutive with an emphasis on understanding how different social institutions and practices produce meanings about race and racial identities. Through an examination of knowledge production as well as symbolic and expressive practices, we focus on the ways in which contemporary scholars connect cultural texts to social and historical institutions. Appreciating the relationship between cultural texts and institutional frameworks, we unravel the complex ways in which the cultural practices of different social groups reinforce or challenge social relationships and structures. Finally, this seminar considers how contemporary manifestations of globalization impact and transform the linkages between race and culture as institutional and intellectual constructs. Mr. Alamo.

One 2-hour period.

383a. Dissent at the End of the Anthropocene (1)

(Same as ENST 383 and INTL 383) Thomas Jefferson famously argued, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." The hallmarks of globalization---financial oligarchies, resource depletion, environmental pollution, global climate change, profound inequality---have given us the most convincing evidence to date that the ideals of progress, optimism, and humanism that have grew out of the Enlightenment are not fulfilling their promise. Perhaps these concepts became corrupted, or perhaps this is because these thought-systems have not paid adequate attention to the ethical dimensions of our economic, geopolitical, and social development, and counter cultural movements. On the other hand, movements of dissent have grown up around these ideals since at least the eighteenth century and some argue that if the Anthropocene, "the age of humankind," is to continue, we will have to fundamentally change our thinking. This course addresses the legacy of progressive "counter-Enlightenment" movements to develop an understanding of their discourse. Ms. Batur.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 3-hour period.

385a. Women, Culture, and Development (1)

(Same as INTL 385, LALS 385, and WMST 385) This course examines the ongoing debates within development studies about how integration into the global economy is experienced by women around the world. Drawing on gender studies, cultural studies, and global political economy, we explore the multiple ways in which women struggle to secure well-being, challenge injustice, and live meaningful lives. Ms. Carruyo.

Not offered in 2015/16.

386a. Ghetto Schooling (1)

(Same as EDUC 386 and LALS 386) In twenty-first century America, the majority of students attend segregated schools. Most white students attend schools where ¾ of their peers are white, while 80% of Latino students and 74% of black students attend majority non-white schools. In this course we will examine the events that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and the 60-year struggle to make good on the promises of that ruling. The course will be divided into three parts. In part one, we will study the Brown decision as an integral element in the fight against Jim Crow laws and trace the legal history of desegregation efforts. In part two, we will focus on desegregation policies and programs that enabled the slow move toward desegregation between 1954 and the 1980s. At this point in time, integration efforts reached their peak and 44% of black students in the south attended majority-white schools. Part three of the course will focus on the dismantling of desegregation efforts that were facilitated by U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning in the 1990s. Throughout the course we will consider the consequences of the racial isolation and concentrated poverty that characterizes segregated schooling and consider the implications of this for today's K-12 student population, which is demographically very different than it was in the 1960s, in part due to new migration streams from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. Over the last 40 years, public schools have experienced a 28% decline in white enrollments, with increases in the number of black and Asian students, and a noteworthy 495% increase in Latino enrollments. Ms. Rueda.

One 2-hour period.

388a. Schooling in America: Preparing Citizens or Producing Worker (1)

(Same as EDUC 388) We consider the role that education plays in US society in relationship to the political economy at different historical periods. In Part I, we examine democratic views of schooling (i.e. schooling functions to prepare citizens for participation in a diverse society) and technical views of schooling (i.e. schools prepare students to participate in the capitalist economy), as well as critiques and limitations of each view. In Part II, we examine current school reform efforts, such as modifications of school structure, curriculum and instruction, and the move to privatize schooling. In Part III, we discuss the future of education in our increasingly global capitalist society. Ms. Rueda.

Prerequisite: SOCI 151.

Not offered in 2015/16.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)

Individual project of reading or research. May be elected during the college year or during the summer. The department.

Special permission.