Sociology | Social Problems and Policies
S101 | 20738 | Janney

Freaks, Geeks, Monsters and Nerds:  Socially Constructing  the “other”

What are the uses and problems of social categories that
separate “us” from “them?” How difficult or easy is it to get groups
of people to ostracize or accept other people initially viewed as
different? How easy or difficult is it to get people to see others as
similar or different anyway? In this class we will address race,
ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and social status.  This
course will use sociological concepts to explore how social labels,
scientific categories, and even medical diagnoses have been used to
both hurt and help different groups of people. Using books like
Robert Bogdan’s Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement
and Profit and Murray Milner’s Freaks, Geeks and Cool Kids: American
Teenager’s and the Culture of Consumption, we will explore how some
categories have been created, deployed, resisted and adopted.
Students taking this class will be expected to keep up with readings
and will be graded on their ability to demonstrate a conceptual
understanding of the information presented in class regardless of
whether they personally agree with all viewpoints. Students taking
this course should also realize that we will be addressing topics
that may be controversial and sensitive in addition to being timely
and sociological.