Sociology | Introduction to Sociology
S100 | 20727 | Lloyd
SYNOPSIS: This course will introduce you to the central theoretical
orientations, concepts, and methods of sociology. Among the topics
that we will cover over the course of the semester are: the origin of
popular beliefs and values, life in utopian communities, sex role
socialization, sources of strain in family life, consequences of
divorce, sexual preference, the sociological basis of emotions, the
sources and consequences of class, racial and sex inequality, the
process of rationalization (“McDonaldization”) of society, and crime
and the criminal justice system.
The overall aim of the course is to introduce a way of looking at the
world–a sociological perspective or framework with which to ask
meaningful questions about societies and their organization. Four
specific features of the course derive from this broad goal. First,
I assign only original scholarship by sociologists, rather than a
textbook, as readings for the course. Reading original works by
sociologists will give you the best sense of how a sociologist would
approach a particular problem and work it through in terms of its
origins, effects, and broader implications. Second, to challenge the
tendency to view problems facing people in contemporary society as
solely the result of individual flaws and virtues, I will encourage
you to consider how social structural features of the society (e.g.,
the organization of the economy, political systems, the sexual
division of labor) affect these problems. Third, although the main
focus of the course is on U.S. society, materials on other societies
will be introduced to show which features of our society are unique
to the United States and which are common to all societies. Fourth,
through in-class exercises, surveys, and discussion, we will explore
and become more aware of our own assumptions about society.
We’ll be reading the following books:
James Mannon. 1997. Measuring Up: The Performance Ethic in American
Culture. Westview Press.
William W. Zellner and William M. Kephart. 1998 (6th edition).
Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles.
St. Martin’s Press.
George Ritzer. 1996 (revised edition). The McDonaldization of
Society: An Investigation Into The Changing Character of Contemporary
Social Life. Pine Forge Press.
Nancy Davis and Robert Robinson (editors). 1996 (2nd edition).
Sociological Perspectives on American Society. Prentice Hall.