Sociology | Social Problems & Policies
S101 | 3852 | Goodney

S101 Social Problems & Policies (3 CR)
Topic:  Violence in America
3852 6:30-9:00 T    BH 340

A baby left to die in a dumpster during the middle of prom.  A
massacre during the noon rush at McDonald's.  Jeffrey Dahmer's
"house of horrors" discovered in the city of Happy Days.  The
United States is renowned worldwide as a place of widespread
and extreme violence.  Is ours really more violent than other
societies? How- and why?  Is our society more violent than it
was twenty-five years ago?  Or, is the current "epidemic"
largely a function of technological advancements in media?  Why
do many Americans think of themselves as more at risk of
violent attack than they really are?  Is there a thrill in
embracing such a construction of ourselves?  Consider: if we
perceive ourselves to be so at risk to violence, why do we
demand its realistic portrayal within our entertainment?

We will examine attempts to clarify and model the core
components of violence from biological, psychological, and
sociological perspectives in an effort to discover how these
views compliment and contradict one another.  The course will
employ a social constructionist lens, which provides us a tool
for examining how we actively create "truths" and "realities"
and how we learn to view social issues, so that we might better
understand the real and imagined trends in American violence.
We will consider how gender, race, and class correlate with
violence.  We will incorporate a range of topics, including:
child abuse and domestic violence, sado-masochism, adolescent
and gang violence, sociopathy/psychopathology, serial murder
(sexualized) violence, mass murder, and religious and
politically-driven violence (cults, terrorism).