Course Descriptions

Course Catalog for SOCIOLOGY
SOCL 101
Principles of Sociology
The course will deal with questions such as these: What are the underlying causes of our major social problems? Are inequality and the exercise of power by some over others inevitable in all social life? How important in human life are cultural and social factors compared to the influence of biological inheritance, personality and economic constraints? What are the origins of, prospects for, and results of attempts at deliberate social change? To what extent can we realistically expect to achieve our democratic ideals of freedom and equality in contemporary societies? The course addresses the basic concerns, ideas and methods of sociology both as a scientific and a humanistic discipline.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 201
Research Methods in the Social Sciences
An introduction to social sciences inquiry, stressing what is common as well as what is different in the techniques and procedures employed in the different disciplines. The course seeks to develop the student’s skill in designing original research and in evaluating the significance of already published research findings. Topics include: the interdependence of theory and research; ways of formulating research problems and hypotheses; the variety of research designs (introducing the ideas of statistical as well as experimental control); and an overview of the major procedures of instrument construction, measurement, data collection, sampling, and data analysis. Required laboratory sessions offer experience in each step of the research process.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Sociology 210 or Mathematics 107, Mathematics 207, or permission of instructor.
1.25 units, Lecture
SOCL 202
Classical and Contemporary Theory
Critical examination of the major theoretical perspectives current in sociology (structure functionalism, interactionism, conflict theory, exchange theory, and ethnomethodology) and consideration of their implications for core problems: such as social order and social change that concern all sociologists. Also, emphasis upon the methods of theory construction, the relationship between theory and research, and the significance of the classic (e.g., Durkheim’s Suicide) for sociologists now.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 205
Cultural Sociology and the Sociology of Culture
This course introduces students to the sociology of culture (understanding the social influences of social formations) and cultural sociology (understanding cultural influences on social processes). Major themes and issues in cultural sociology are examined to answer the following questions: “What is culture and what does it do?” and “How is culture to be studied?” The course addresses these questions by exploring the seminal issues Marx, Weber, and Durkheim raised about culture. In addition, the course examines how scholars (from a variety of theoretical perspectives) approach these seminal issues. Examples of issues that spring from the work of classical sociologists include the following: “Do media messages shape our view of reality? If so, how?” and “How do class and lifestyle intertwine to reproduce inequality?” The course also deals with substantive questions that have recently arisen including “How is market activity undergirded by cultural assumptions?” and “How does social context shape the production of scientific knowledge?” Special attention is given to how theoretical ideas are translated into empirical projects. Although the course has no specific prerequisites, some passing acquaintance with Durkheim, Weber, and Marx is helpful.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 210
Statistics for the Social Sciences
This course is an introduction to statistical methods, their conceptual underpinnings, and their use in analyzing social science data. Topics include basic presentation and graphing of data, descriptive statistics, probability theory, the normal distribution, one and two sample t-tests and tests of proportions, confidence intervals and hypothesis testing, chi-square tests, and an introduction to linear regression. The course will emphasize the logic and practice of statistical analysis as it applies to the social sciences. Students will also learn to carry out basic statistical analysis with the aid of computer software. This course is intended for students who want a practical introduction to statistical methods and who plan to major in a social science.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 212
Social Theory and Social Change through Science Fiction
The possibilities of our society are constructed through what we can imagine. Sociology seeks to explain how and why people organize themselves in particular ways and experience different, and often unequal, outcomes. The question remains: how are we to address these issues? This course will develop an understanding of social theory and social change through works of science fiction. By grounding sociological concepts in a new context, we can gain a new perspective on their implications. The theories of Marx, Du Bois, Foucault, and others will come to life, and hopefully, we can envision alternative futures as we consider both literary and cinematic speculative fiction. Topics include: the future of race/gender as meaningful categories, the role of technology, post-capitalism, and notions of social justice and the politics of possibility.
0.50 units, Seminar
SOCL 214
Racism
A cross-national comparison of racial and ethnic differences as sources of conflict and inequality within and between societies. We will also consider the role of race and ethnicity as a basis for group and national solidarity. Topics will include the persistence of ethnic and racial loyalties in regard to language, marital choice, and politics; a comparison of social mobility patterns among various ethnic and racial groups; ethnicity and race as reactionary or revolutionary ideologies; and the issues and facts regarding assimilation and pluralism in different societies.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 227
From Hartford to World Cities: Comparative Urban Dynamics
The 21st century is truly a global urban age characterized by the simultaneous decline and revival of post-industrial cities in the United States and the co-existence of boom and poverty in the rapidly industrializing cities in developing countries, as well as by how globalization is exerting a growing impact on urban places and processes everywhere. This course adopts an integrated and comparative approach to studying the local and global characteristics, conditions, and consequences of the growth and transformation of cities and communities. Using Hartford—Trinity's hometown—as a point or place of departure, the course takes students to a set of world or global cities outside the United States, especially a few dynamic mega-cities in developing countries to explore the differences and surprising similarities among them.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 234
Campus Sexual Assault: Sociological Perspectives
What can a sociological perspective tell us about the social problem of campus sexual assault? This viewpoint addresses challenges to reported statistics regarding the scope of the problem; the social construction of masculinity and femininity; rape-prone versus rape-free campus cultures; sexual consent and coercion; and victim-blaming. In addition to data and theory, this course also includes a praxis or preventative action component, whereby students learn about the bystander effect and how to intervene in such situations. Overall, we consider the strengths and limitations of this prevention model and other sexual assault prevention programs. Classes will incorporate relevant readings, in-class exercises, documentary films, and a guest speaker from Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.
0.50 units, Seminar
SOCL 241
Mass Media, Popular Culture, and Social Reality
This course examines the integral role mass communication has in social and cultural life. Specifically, it explores how we identify and construct our social identity using media images. This is accomplished by focusing on different types of media content and their effect on individuals and culture, as well as by examining audience response to media content. Other topics covered include the social and economic organization of mass media, development of communication technologies, and sexist and racist stereotypes in the media.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 242
#Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter speaks beyond the specific, multiple and heinous acts of police violence but tells a longer tale of systematic and structural inequalities, white supremacy, and state-sponsored terrorism. The course will not only focus on these acts of violence but also on the history in which these acts are embedded and from which they take their meaning. In addition to that history, the course also seeks to understand the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of neoliberal capitalism.
0.50 units, Seminar
SOCL 246
Sociology of Gender
Sex and gender are used as principles of social organization in all known societies. This course surveys research in the sociological study of gender with the goal of providing students with a theoretical grounding for analyzing gender from a sociological perspective. We will explore how our lives and the world around us are shaped by gender and how gender has been constructed over time. We will further examine how sociological research on gender helps us to understand power and inequality at various levels – institutional, organizational, and interactional—by examining various topics such as gender socialization, reproduction, education, work, and violence. We will also pay attention to how gender reinforces and builds upon other areas of inequality such as social class, race, ethnicity, and age.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 250
Urban Sociology
This course will trace the modern city from its roots in the industrial revolution through the current urban transformations brought about by advanced capitalism and globalization. The course will ask why cities are organized the way they are and how their organization affects social conditions and opportunities. Among the factors shaping cities, this course will explore the effects of economic change, immigration, and public policy on the social organization and built environment of cities. With respect to their social consequences, the course will examine, among other issues, economic inequality, racial stratification, community formation, poverty, and urban social movements. It will inquire into how the city is both a contributor to and a container for these social structures and processes.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 256
Women and the Underside of Globalization
The costs and benefits of globalization are not evenly distributed across nations. Moreover, the international women’s movement highlights the systematic exploitation of women as a source of cheap domestic and migrant labor under globalization. Topics in this course will address the marginalization of women under development in contexts such as the sweatshop factories of Bangladesh, China, and Latin America, the “maid trade” from poorer to richer countries, global chains of care, mail-order or Internet brides from Russia, and surrogate motherhood in India. Utilizing a sociological approach, this course will explore the commodification of women and also their reproductive and productive labor, thereby revealing multiple and often interdependent economic linkages between the exploitation of women in the economic south and globalization. Class meetings will incorporate in-class exercises, documentary films, and guest speakers from CT’s affiliate of the National Domestic Worker Alliance.
0.50 units, Seminar
SOCL 260
Sexual Diversity and Society
Sexuality has often been considered to be a natural, biological instinct-a drive that is fueled by hormones, genes or deep psychic impulses. During the last twenty years, however, scholars (including sociologists) have challenged this view of sexuality. Instead, they argue that how we organize our sexuality-our desires, ideas, value systems, practices and identities-are profoundly shaped by social and cultural influences. Although this course focuses on the social construction of homosexuality, we will also examine the many ways that normative as well as nonnormative sexualities are socially constructed. We will also examine the many ways that the social construction of sexuality is informed by class, gender, race and ethnicity. Using materials from sociology and from the many other disciplines that are working in the areas of lesbian and gay studies and queer theory, we will explore the impact that history, economics, social structure and cultural logics have had on sexual behaviors, identities, and belief systems. Enrollment limited.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 272
Social Movements
The sociological study of social movements concentrates on collective action by groups that use institutionalized and non-institutionalized action to promote or inhibit social and political change. This course, then, examines collective action as diverse as peasant rebellions against urbanization and commercialization in 18th-century France to the organized militancy of lesbians and gays in 20th-century U.S. We will read historical and sociological research that addresses the following questions: why collective action emerged, how it was organized, what its goals were and if it achieved those goals, how members were recruited and maintained, and how elites and non-elites responded to its activities.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 280
Selected Topics on Chinese Culture
This is a course on Chinese culture and society as practiced in the traditional and contemporary social contexts. Through reading the assigned readings and other materials, participating presentations and discussions, and writing papers, we will explore several major themes of Chinese culture. Topics to be covered include: Ancient Civilization, Confucian tradition and its vitality in Chinese modernity; some Chinese social institutions (the keju system and traditional festivals); self, Guanxi and social network; and religions and spirituality in Chinese society. This course requires all participants highly involved in the readings and class discussions. While this is a course on traditional Chinese culture and its expression in the present Chinese society, we encourage cross-cultural perspectives throughout the course, which would help deepen our understanding of both Chinese and non-Chinese cultures.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 312
Social Class and Mobility
This course is an introduction to the theory and research on stratification and mobility in modern societies. Every society distributes resources unequally. This distribution affects not only economic outcomes such as wages, profits, and material well being, but also social and political outcomes such as protest, voting behavior, and self-esteem. This course will explore why this occurs, the types of inequalities that exist, and the consequences of inequality for the distribution of power and for democratic processes in American society. Specific topics include class, occupational, race and gender inequalities, and the social, psychological, and cultural consequences of inequality.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of the instructor. This course is not open to first-year students.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 316
Global Gender Inequalities
This course broadly addresses women’s low status and power worldwide. Topics include issues such as son preference, gendered violence, maternal health and reproductive rights, sexual rights, work and household labor, globalization, politics, human rights, and women’s global activism. Utilizing a transnational sociological feminist perspective, students learn how gender inequality intersects with not only culture but also nationalism, racism, and economic injustice in various countries and regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South America). At several key points, students engage in critical comparison between examples of gender oppression and exploitation observed in both the United States and other societies (i.e., gendered violence), which reveal a false binary in the discourse of progress often drawn between “us” and “them.”
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 322
The Sociology of Food
The way we experience food—what we eat, where it comes from, how we eat, who we eat with, why we eat what we do—is social and cultural. This course will introduce and utilize some key cultural perspectives in sociology to help us address these questions about the food/society relationship. In particular we will focus on the development of tastes, the construction of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food’, the role of food in identity, and the global food system. Our approach will be both theoretical and empirical as we investigate social meanings, practices, and structural conditions surrounding the food/society relationship. As part of the course, students will conduct their own research.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Sociology 101 or permission of instructor
1.00 units, Seminar
SOCL 324
Sociological Perspectives of the American Civil Rights Movement
This course will examine the development of the American Civil Rights Movement from roughly the World War II period through the beginning of the Black Power era in the mid-to-late 1960's, treating that history as a case study in the problematics of deliberate social change. We will emphasize the kinds of questions most typically asked by sociologists, examine the various waves of scholarship on the movement generated by sociologists, and explore the implications of their findings produced about the movement for American popular culture and intellectual thought. We will also pay close attention to the interplay of ideology and program within the movement, the consequences of organizational structure, and the movement's political and economic consequences.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of the instructor. This course is not open to first-year students.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 336
Race, Racism, and Democracy
This course is designed to explore various efforts to reconcile ideals of equality with persistent and perpetual forms of racial oppression. By examining the history and culture of the U.S. and other democratic societies, this course analyzes the central paradox that emerges when societies maintain racial inequality but articulate principles of equality, freedom, and justice for all. Hence we will examine the differences between what people say and what they actually do, and how congruencies and incongruencies between the structure of institutions and culture force one to distinguish myth from reality. This is done so that students can better understand how the structure and process of politics govern the everyday lives of oppressed racial groups in capitalist democracies.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of the instructor. This course is not open to first-year students.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 342
Sociology of Religion
An examination of the significance of religion for social life, using major sociological theories of religion, supplemented by material from anthropology and psychology. The course focuses on how religious beliefs and practices shape the world views and behavior of humans and influence the development of social structure. The following topics are examined: the origins of religion, magic and science, rituals, religion and the economy, women and religion, and religions of Africans in diaspora.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of the instructor. This course is not open to first-year students.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 351
Society, State, and Power
This course examines the sources of power and influence in Western nations. Power flows to people who command a legal, political, or institutional monopoly over valued human resources. We will examine the development of these monopolies, the organizations that perpetuate these monopolies, and the consequences that these monopolies have for our personal and political lives as well as for notions of democracy, solidarity, and freedom. In this respect, we will focus much of our attention on the institutions of state and economy in U.S. society and evaluate the different theoretical perspectives that explain how these institutions confer power on some and deny that power to others. Specific topics include power struggles around the right to representation, for control in the workplace, against racism and discrimination, and over policies to aid the poor.
Prerequisite: C- or better in a prior Sociology course or permission of the instructor. This course is not open to first-year students.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 363
The Individual and Society
An introduction to microsociology. Topics to be considered include the self and symbolic interaction, conversational analysis, rhetorical and frame analysis, and the social construction of reality.
1.00 units, Lecture
SOCL 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
1.00 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
SOCL 410
Senior Seminar: Guided Research
This course provides a capstone to the sociology major by guiding students through the various stages of the research process. Students develop a research topic, situate that topic in the relevant substantive areas of the discipline, refocus that topic in light of past research and theoretical thinking on the topic, develop a research design best suited to the questions to be addressed, and collect and analyze data to answer those questions. In the process of this guided research, students review and assess the state of the discipline as it pertains to their particular interests, conduct literature reviews before the data collection process to focus their questions and after the data collection process to situate their specific findings in the discipline. In conjunction with the social science data specialist, students explore different methodologies to address their questions and analyze the data.
This course is open only to senior Sociology majors.
1.00 units, Seminar
SOCL 420
Senior Seminar: Special Topics
The course provides a capstone to the sociology major by focusing on a specific subject, a new substantive area, theoretical approach, or neglected paradigm of the discipline. Students read broadly on the topic, discuss the implications of the topic for the state of sociology as a science, as a field of critical inquiry, and as a vehicle for social change, give presentations on some aspect of the topic, and conduct independent research that relates the topic to trends in the discipline.
1.00 units, Seminar
SOCL 466
Teaching Assistantship
Credit does not count toward the major. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
SOCL 490
Research Assistantship
From time to time the opportunity exists for students to assist professors in their research. Hours and duties will be determined on the basis of project needs and student interests. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
SOCL 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Written report on original research project. Students should consult with the faculty supervisor before registration, i.e., during the previous spring term. Required of all candidates for honors; elective for others. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for each semester of this year
2.00 units, Independent Study
SOCL 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
Continuation of written report on an original research project. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (2 course credits, considered pending in the first semester, will be awarded for completion in the second semester)
2.00 units, Independent Study