Sociology | Introduction to Sociology
S100 | 3646 | Maurice Garnier
Every discipline studies one specific aspect of the world. Sociology
studies the social arrangements that result from sustained interaction
between people. Thus, we study marriage patterns, formal
organizations, educational institutions, economic life, crime, for
example. We also study the relationships between social arrangements.
For example, sociologists study the changes brought in family life as
a result of changes in the economy. In order to do their work,
sociologists rely on the scientific method.
Some disciplines have been able to make their understanding of the
world immediately useful. This is the case of medicine, for example,
which uses the results of basic research in chemistry, biology,
bio-chemistry (and sociology as well) to develop new therapies. Some
aspects of sociology also have practical applications: sociologists
are ascertaining whether vouchers do or do not improve the learning of
children in school; criminologists are trying to explain the decline
in some types of crimes; political sociologists are trying to
understand the society in which we live and our place in it. One of
my goals this semester is to increase your understanding of the social
world of which you are a part.
Relevance ultimately depends upon the user. I will point out the
practical relevance of some of the issues we will discuss in class,
but I cannot determine what will be relevant to you in advance. YOU
will have to determine which aspect of the course is relevant to your
concerns, be they practical or intellectual.
My purpose is to help you become familiar with the ideas and methods
of sociology. Developing that familiarity requires practice. Each
class will include a significant amount of time for practice. This
semester, we will emphasize comparisons between the United States and
other countries, industrialized and developing.
I will stress analysis (breaking down a situation into its component
parts) and methods (how do we know). I will have numerous occasions
to indicate how sociology relates to other disciplines, particularly
history, psychology and economics.
My intent is that, at the end of the semester, you will possess an
understanding of American society that will be far more sophisticated
than the one you currently possess.
There will be 4 short examinations (requiring at most 20 minutes), 3
regular examinations, and a final. Each examination pertains to
materials since the last one. The final includes questions from the
Each examination (short and regular) will have a multiple-choice part,
designed to measure your knowledge of the material, and an essay
designed to measure your understanding and ability to use it.
There are no make-ups. If you have a special problem (you broke your
wrist and cannot write, for example), let me know so that we may make
the necessary arrangements.