Sociology | Social Change
S215 | 21510 | Brooks

In this course we investigate a series of major changes that have
significantly altered family institutions, gender relations, the
economy and class structure, poverty, government policy, and mass
opinion. A key part of our focus is on the United States in the
historical era since the 1960s. But to fully understand how and why
American society has (and has not) changed, we consider in detail the
important lessons provided by European democracies such as Sweden and
the Netherlands, where similar levels of economic development coexist
with much lower levels of poverty and inequality. This will enable us
to appreciate better the remarkable diversity of developed
democracies, a phenomenon that continues to be poorly-understood in
the media and in most political discussions.

These investigations will also introduce us to a key idea of the
course, namely, that the nature and possibilities for social change
are linked to principles around which a society is organized. To
better understand this phenomenon, we consider leading theories of
social and political change advanced by scholars. We also probe the
mechanisms underlying contemporary American society and its European
counterparts, considering the likely forms of social change in the
near future.