Courses

Undergraduate Courses:

Fall 2017

Introduction to Sociology
This course introduces sociology as a subject with a key role to play in modern intellectual culture and a central place within the social sciences. A range of topics such as race, class, gender, deviance, ethnocentrism, crime, families, urban life, social interaction, and social inequality will be covered. Lectures are intended to inspire students to draw on their sociological imagination to become more publicly involved and directly engaged in the real world.
Urban Sociology: The City and Social Change in the Americas
By taking a comparative approach, this course examines the role of social, economic, and political factors in the emergence and transformation of modern cities in the United States and selected areas of Latin America. We consider the city in its dual image: both as a center of progress and as a redoubt of social problems, especially poverty. Attention is given to spatial processes that have resulted in the aggregation and desegregation of populations differentiated by social class and race.
Instructors: Patricia Fernández-Kelly
Sociology of Religion
The sociology of religion asks questions about what people believe, how religion is organized, and how religion affects various aspects of social life. Understanding religion's changing role in society, along with all of its diverse manifestations, represents the central purpose of this class. Along the way, we will explore religion from a variety of different vantage points within the social sciences, and consider the influence of religion in different areas of social life including the family, race, immigration, and politics.
Instructors: Margarita Ann Mooney
Race and Ethnicity
Our goal in this course is (a) to understand various definitions of race and ethnicity from a theoretical perspective and in a plurality of contexts and (b) to account for the rise of ethnicity and race as political and cultural forces in the age of globalization. Why are ethnic and racial delimitations expanding in areas of the world where such distinctions were formerly muted? Is race and racial discrimination all the same regardless of geographical region? What are the main theories and methodologies now available for the study of race and ethnicity from a comparative point of view? These are among the questions our course aims to answer.
Instructors: Patricia Fernández-Kelly
Claims and Evidence in Sociology
This is a course on the logic and practice of social research. We explore how sociologists apply a specific approach of inquiry we call 'science' to explain social behavior. Students will learn to formulate tractable research questions and answer them using various combinations of theory, methods, and data. Topics include macro-comparative analysis, field experiments, text analysis, structured interviews, decomposition, simulation, and event studies. We will also grapple with conceptual issues including levels of analysis, causality, respondent reliability, model sensitivity, scope conditions, and inductive vs deductive modes of inquiry.
Instructors: Adam Michael Goldstein
Studying Local, Writing Ethnography
Students will be introduced to the practice of doing ethnographic fieldwork in the local community and to the reflective process of writing ethnography. Students will select a local field site within reach of their daily lives, engage in fieldwork and participant observation, write field notes, experiment with interpreting their data and discover their research question. In the readings and in class discussions we will talk about social explanation and interpretation, and focus on field notes and the process of writing ethnography. Field notes will be turned in weekly. A final paper based on field research is due at the end of the semester.
The Sociology of Social Movements in the United States
This discussion-based seminar introduces students to the basic concepts sociologists use to study social movements. Readings focus on social movements that have shaped US society and politics in the 20th and 21st century. We examine several cases of social movements that are relevant to today's America, with the goal of using the concepts we have gleaned from earlier readings to understand some of the clashing forces that are driving social change right now.
Sociology of the Cubicle: Work, Technology, and Organization
What kinds of social forms do we organize ourselves into, what makes these forms endure, and where does change come from? In this course, we will explore classic and contemporary theories of organization with a special focus on technology in organizations. We'll discuss engineering cultures, skilled work, entrepreneurship, innovation, risk and failure in the context of such cases as the dot com boom, the rise of Silicon Valley, and the imprint of office technologies in the workplace. As companies pick up, produce, or respond to technological change, we'll witness and discuss some of the great questions and theories of social organization.
Instructors: Janet Amelia Vertesi
Applied Social Statistics
An introduction to basic concepts in probability and statistics with applications to social science research. We cover descriptive statistics, sampling distributions, statistical inference (including point estimation, confidence intervals and tests of hypotheses), the comparison of two or more groups, linear regression, and designs for causal inference. Throughout the course we use the open-source statistical package R to illustrate and apply the techniques. The course is intended to prepare students to take Advanced Social Statistics the following term.
Instructors: Matthew J. Salganik
Simulating Social Processes: An Introduction to Agent Based Modeling
This course introduces students to the study of social processes using agent based models (ABMs)--computer simulations in which agents interact and generate social outcomes such as norms, culture, and inequality. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the theoretical foundations of ABMs, how to design models that explore empirical questions, and practice generating, visualizing, and analyzing results. The second part will focus on ABM applications in the social sciences and their substantive implications. Students will be encouraged to develop a critical appreciation of ABMs, and will produce their own model for the final project.

Graduate Courses:

Fall 2017

Applied Social Statistics
An introduction to basic concepts in probability and statistics with applications to social research. We cover descriptive statistics, sampling distributions, statistical inference for means and proportions (including point estimation, confidence intervals and tests of hypotheses), the comparison of two or more groups, and an introduction to analysis of variance and linear regression. Throughout the course we use the open-source statistical package R to illustrate and apply the techniques. The course is intended to prepare students to take Advanced Social Statistics the following term.
Instructors: Matthew J. Salganik
Classical Sociological Theory
Sociology as a discipline was not institutionalized until the early 20th century, but sociological thinking predates the discipline by at least a century. In this course, we will examine the development of social thought through the writings of sociology's founders as they developed the idea of the social and its relationship to the development of the individual and to economic and political transformation. While the course will linger on Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel, it will also explore their intellectual contexts, their interlocutors and their legacies up through the middle of the 20th century.
Instructors: Kim Lane Scheppele
Economic Sociology (Half-Term)
An introduction to economic sociology seen not as a subordination of sociology to economics but as the sociological explanation of economic phenomena. It focuses on alternative accounts of phenomena that most specialists have explained using economic concepts and theory. In particular, it seeks sociological explanations of production, consumption, and distribution, and transfer of assets. After a general orientation to economic sociology as a whole, the course explores economic activities in an unconventionally wide range of settings including households, informal sectors, gift economies, and consumption.
Instructors: Alejandro Portes
Organizational Ethnography (Half-Term)
How can ethnography help us to understand analyze, and critique organizations? This course delves deeply into classic and contemporary examples of organizational ethnography, inquiring into their findings, methods and implications. How do these studies suggest we approach ethnographic work in the firm, the collective, or on the shop floor? What is the role of formal structures and informal cultures, how are power and identity practiced in the organization, and what are the implications for human action? Our goal is to generate a rich qualitative understanding of how and why to study organizations and their role in social life.
Instructors: Janet Amelia Vertesi
Religion and Public Life
Presentation and critical discussion of empirical research in progress by participants. Focuses on the use of social science methods in the study of religion and on applications of recently published work about religion and society. Includes an emphasis on religion and public policy in the U.S. and in comparative perspective.
Instructors: Robert J. Wuthnow
Research Ethics & Scientific Integrity (Half-Term)
This course is concerned with the professional obligations of social science researchers. Topics covered include teaching and mentoring relationships, human subjects protections, professional codes of ethics, data management, peer review, collaboration, scientific misconduct (fraud, fabrication and plagiarism), conflicts of interest, and scientific agenda-setting. The course is intended for graduate students in Sociology and the Office of Population Research.
Instructors: Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong
Research Seminar in Empirical Investigation
Preparation of quantitative research papers based on field experiments, laboratory experiments, survey procedures, and secondary analysis of existing data banks.
Instructors: Dalton Conley
Social Organization of Cities
A review of the historical emergence and social evolution of cities and urban life. Course presents current theories regarding the ecological and social structure of urban areas, and how urban social organization affects the behavior and well-being of human beings who live and work in cities.
Instructors: Douglas S. Massey
Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term): Surveys, Polls and Public Policy
Course aims to improve students' abilities to understand and critically evaluate public opinion polls and surveys, particularly as they are used to influence public policy. Course begins with an overview of contrasting perspectives on the role of public opinion in politics, then examines the evolution of public opinion polling in the US and other countries. Class visits a major polling operation to get a firsthand look at procedures used for designing representative samples and conducting surveys by telephone, mail and Internet.
Instructors: Edward Patrick Freeland
Workshop on Social Organization
A two-semester course for graduate students whose work lies in the fields of economic sociology, organizational sociology, institutional analysis (including historical institutionalism), and social network analysis. The workshop provides opportunities for students to develop research projects and presentation skills, and to read the work of and interact with scholars brought to campus by the Center for the Study of Social Organization.
Instructors: Paul Elliot Starr