Sociology

Kenneth Tucker, Chair

Michelle Pietras, Academic Department Coordinator


102 Porter Hall
413-538-2283
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/sociology

Overview and Contact Information

Sociology is the systematic study of society and social relations. Sociology majors develop the critical tools to theoretically and comparatively understand social trends and problems, grasp the intersection of self and society, and analyze empirical data. They read the works of major sociological thinkers, from the classical figures who founded the discipline to contemporary theorists of society. The major requires courses in research methods and sociological theory. The faculty also offers classes in criminology, collective behavior and social movements, the sociology of gender, social inequality, political sociology, and the sociology of media.

Faculty

This area of study is administered by the Sociology faculty:

Richard Moran, Professor of Sociology

Eleanor Townsley, Professor of Sociology, Teaching Spring Only

Kenneth Tucker, Professor of Sociology

Patricia Banks, Associate Professor of Sociology

Nicole Michaud Wild, Visiting Lecturer in Sociology & Anthropology

Timothy Malacarne, Visiting Instructor in Sociology

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 36 credits:

SOCI-123Introduction to Sociology 4
SOCI-223Development of Social Thought 14
SOCI-225Survey Research and Data Analysis 14
12 credits at the 300 level, including at least one of the following courses:12
Topics in Contemporary Social Thought
or SOCI-333
Contemporary Social Theory
12 additional credits beyond the 100 level12
Total Credits36
1

SOCI-223 and SOCI-225 should be completed as early as possible but certainly by the end of the junior year.

Additional Specifications

  • Please note: Proposal deadlines are strictly enforced for independent study at the SOCI-295 and SOCI-395 levels.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

SOCI-123Introduction to Sociology 4
4 credits at the 300 level4
12 additional credits above the 100 level12
Total Credits20

Course Offerings

SOCI-123 Introduction to Sociology

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course uses a sociological framework to examine the nature and structure of modern industrial societies. To identify central trends in society and culture, this course covers several basic themes, such as social inequality and social interaction, that have appeared repeatedly in the works of major social thinkers.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
T. Malacarne, N. Michaud Wild, K. Tucker

SOCI-214 Race in America: Let's Talk

Spring. Credits: 4

From the Black Lives Matter movement to debates about immigration and a color-blind America, race and ethnicity are at the forefront of contemporary public discourse. In this course students will be introduced to the various sociological perspectives and theoretical frameworks used to understand racial and ethnic relations in the United States. Racial and ethnic identities remain an important aspect of how people view themselves and others. In this course, we will discuss the dynamics of individual racial and ethnic groups including African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and White Americans. We will also examine what the concepts of race and ethnicity mean and how they affect various aspects of American society.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
P. Banks
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-216 Special Topics in Sociology

SOCI-216CC Special Topics in Sociology: 'Cults, Conspiracies, and Moral Panics'

Spring. Credits: 4

Using case studies such as the Eugenics Movement, Jonestown, and the Kennedy Assassination, this course will examine how distrust of the government, originally motivated by logical concerns, has transformed the way people think about power in the postmodern era. The class will explore the difference between rational questioning of authority and blind distrust that leads to questionable claims. Through topics such as the War on Drugs, this class shows how the powerful are able to use biases and public fears to carry out their own, often counterproductive, measures. These case studies have issues like race and class at their core. We will examine how certain social issues have managed to endure.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
N. Michaud Wild
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-216MD Special Topics in Sociology: 'Sociology of Media'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course explores the social organization of mass media systems as well as the various factors -- cultural, economic and political -- that have influenced their development. It asks: what is the connection between mass media and the large modern, democratic societies we inhabit? The first part of the course examines the historical development of mass media and the social theories that sought to interpret and explain its social impact. The second part considers the political and economic factors that structure contemporary mass media, paying particular attention to media deregulation and conglomeration. In the third part of the course, we explore the emergence of newer media forms such as the internet and digital/satellite television.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
E. Townsley
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-216SA Special Topics in Sociology: 'Social Network Analysis: Analyzing Who You Know and How It Matters'

Spring. Credits: 4

Social networks analysis investigates social structures by looking at the actors in a system and the relationships between them. Its techniques can be used to map everything from Facebook friendship networks to the connections between corporate boards to status hierarchies in monkeys. In this class, students will learn the practical skills needed to do their own network analysis. The course uses R, but no prior programming experience is required.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
T. Malacarne

SOCI-216SN Special Topics in Sociology: 'Social Networks: Who You Know, How You Know Them, and Why It Matters'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Social networks are much more than the people you know on Facebook and Twitter. They affect everything from political beliefs to health outcomes to professional success. This course asks, "What are social networks?" and examines their impact on contemporary life. Students will develop the analytical skills to understand the formation, evolution, and significance of different relationship structures and the way they shape individuals' lives.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
T. Malacarne
Prereq: 4 credits in Sociology.

SOCI-223 Development of Social Thought

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the origins and development of sociological theory in the nineteenth century. Focusing on the three most important representatives of the classical tradition in sociology - Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim - we consider in detail the ideas of each, compare their perspectives on emerging industrial society, and assess their contemporary significance.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Tucker
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-225 Survey Research and Data Analysis

Fall. Credits: 4

This course is an introduction to the use of quantitative data in sociology. It focuses on the ways in which data is collected, analyzed, and presented to make sociological arguments. Students will be asked to analyze data for both regular assignments and a final paper. The aim of the course is to show how to understand the uses of different types of survey data, and to create and analyze simple statistics and multivariate statistical models using statistical software.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
T. Malacarne
Restrictions: This course is offered to Sociology Majors only.

SOCI-231 Criminology

Fall. Credits: 4

This course focuses on the historical and theoretical development of the major approaches to crime and criminality. Criminology began in the second half of the nineteenth century when its pioneers asked the 'big questions' pertaining to crime, society, and human nature. As criminology progressed, it narrowed its focus, concentrating on special areas, such as violent crime and property crime. As sociology began to dominate criminology, new theories were developed to explain the social facts gathered in the last 50 years.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
R. Moran
Prereq: 4 credits in Sociology department.

SOCI-234 Social Problems

Spring. Credits: 4

This is a course on the social construction of social problems. It devotes almost exclusive attention to how a 'problem' becomes a social problem; examining how atypical cases become regarded as typical; how definitions are expanded to inflate statistics; and how claim makers and advocacy groups manipulate the media to market social problems and solutions to the public.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
R. Moran
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-240 Collective Behavior and Social Movements

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines instances of organized collective action in social, historical, and empirical contexts, from the labor movement of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the new social movements of today. We also explore various forms of unstructured protest, such as riots and demonstrations.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Tucker
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

SOCI-316 Special Topics in Sociology

SOCI-316BL Special Topics in Sociology: 'Black Cultural Production and Consumption'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course explores black cultural production and consumption in the United States using a sociological lens. The central focus is how the production and consumption of cultural objects such as visual art, music, and television reproduce and erode racial boundaries. Topics include the construction of racial identity through consumption; representations of blacks in the media; and the impact of cultural tastes and preferences on black achievement.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
P. Banks
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

SOCI-316MM Special Topics in Sociology: 'Latina/o Immigration'

Fall. Credits: 4

The course provides an historical and topical overview of Latina/o migration to the United States. We will examine the economic, political, and social antecedents to Latin American migration, and the historical impact of the migration process in the U.S. Considering migration from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, we will discuss the social construction of race, the gendered nature of migration, migrant labor struggles, Latin American-U.S. Latino relations, immigration policy, and border life and enforcement. Notions of citizenship, race, class, gender, and sexuality will be central to our understanding of the complexity at work in the migration process.

Crosslisted as: LATST-360, GNDST-333UU
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
D. Hernández
Notes: Community-based learning is optional in this class.

SOCI-316NT Special Topics in Sociology: 'Social Network Analysis: Analyzing Who You Know and How It Matters'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Social networks are much more than the people you know on Facebook and Twitter. They affect everything from political beliefs to health outcomes to professional success. This course asks, 'What are social networks?' and examines their impact on contemporary life. Students will develop the analytical skills to understand the formation, evolution, and significance of different relationship structures and the way they shape individuals' lives.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
T. Malacarne
Prereq: SOCI-216SN.

SOCI-316RG Special Topics in Sociology: 'Sociology of Organizations'

Spring. Credits: 4

Sociology of Organizations introduces concepts of institution, organization, network, role and system. These ideas are at the heart of the classical sociological enterprise. They open up questions of social scale and social context by drawing attention to the level of action between individuals and abstract global systems. Using case studies, students will engage the question of ethical action in a complex world marked by competing rationalities. Using resources from class readings, students will be asked to research an organization of which they are a member to develop their own case study.

Crosslisted as: EOS-349RG
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
E. Townsley
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-316SC Special Topics in Sociology: 'Sociology of Culture'

Fall. Credits: 4

What is "culture"? How has it changed over time? This course examines the definition (including religion, language, food, etc.), the social settings in which culture is produced, and the products of culture we consume (literature, film, music, painting, theatre, fashion, popular magazines, graffiti, and television, etc.). Course topics include: how to analyze culture and who produces it, the forces shaping markets for artistic objects and performances, politics and culture, the effects of censorship, globalization, and class differences.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
N. Michaud Wild
Prereq: SOCI-123.

SOCI-316SY Special Topics in Sociology: 'The Business of Culture: Marketing & Selling Symbolic Goods'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course investigates the creative economy through a sociological lens. Through case studies of various creative industries, as well as examination of the creative sector as a whole, we will examine how the cultural economy influences, and is influenced by, social phenomena. We will explore issues such as how value is produced in the field of fashion modeling, how music and other creative industries drive urban economies, how local crafts enter global markets, and how norms and values influence the adoption of e-commerce in the market for fine art.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
P. Banks
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

SOCI-316UC Special Topics in Sociology: 'Unlawful Convictions in Death Penalty Cases'

Spring. Credits: 4

The Death Penalty in America: Unjustly Convicted Death Row Inmates. This course will examine in detail the cases of all 130 death row inmates exonerated in the post-Furman era (1976-2009). It will focus on how the 130 men ended up on death row, as well as the process by which they gained their freedom. In addition, the course will spotlight the many proposals, videotaped police interrogations, eyewitness identifications, forensic science procedures, etc., designed to correct sources of mistakes; and assess their likelihood of successfully preventing both unjust and wrongful convictions in capital cases.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
R. Moran
Prereq: 8 credits in Sociology. SOCI-231 is strongly advised (please consult instructor for permission if you have not taken SOCI-231).

SOCI-316WT Special Topics in Sociology: 'Sociology of 9/11 and the War on Terror'

Spring. Credits: 4

We will explore the cultural and political impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The media's role in constructing meanings will be a main organizing focus of the course. Using readings, discussions, assignments, and films, the course will allow students to form a picture of how 9/11 changed America and beyond. Course topics include: the way the mainstream media constructed 9/11 and alternate ways they could have; how popular culture and the Public Sphere responded; complex historical factors leading up to 9/11; reasons the attackers say they committed the attacks; ways the event changed culture and politics in the world; conspiracy theories.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
N. Michaud Wild
Prereq: 8 Credits in Sociology.

SOCI-317 Topics in Contemporary Social Thought

SOCI-317ST Topics in Contemporary Social Thought: 'Cultural Sociology and Contemporary Theory'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This seminar examines some recent developments in cultural sociology and contemporary social theory. The first part of the class asks: How do we imagine social things? The second part of the class reviews the history of social theory with a focus on the multiple crises of the modernity narrative, and various attempts to resolve these crises. The final third of the class poses the question of how to analyze culture and "do" social theory.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
E. Townsley
Prereq: 8 credits in Sociology.
Advisory: Some familiarity with social theory is required (for example: Sociology 223 or some substitute).

SOCI-324 Class in the Black Community

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course explores class in the black community from a sociological perspective. It focuses on how race fosters commonalities and how class fuels differences among blacks. We will examine the nature of these commonalities and differences within several contexts, such as neighborhoods, politics, work, and culture.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
P. Banks
Prereq: 8 credits in Sociology.

SOCI-333 Contemporary Social Theory

Spring. Credits: 4

In this critical survey of the main theoretical perspectives in contemporary sociology, we focus specifically on structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, critical theory, feminism, and postmodernism. Besides gaining familiarity with these alternative perspectives, we try to identify the main axes of theoretical dispute in sociology and discuss the problems of evaluating and resolving conflict between theories.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Tucker
Prereq: SOCI-223, 8 credits in sociology.

SOCI-350 Sociology of Punishment

Fall. Credits: 4

This seminar covers the social history of punishment, beginning with the birth of the prison in the late eighteenth century and continuing to the present. Emphasis on the shift in philosophy from public to private punishment, prison reform movements, and the death penalty.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
R. Moran
Prereq: SOCI-231 and 4 more credits from the Sociology department.

SOCI-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.