Sociology | Introduction to Sociology
S100 | 10874 | Robinson


How do sociologists look at the social worlds we all inhabit? In
this course we’ll learn that sociologists have a unique point of
view–the sociological perspective. Through this lens we’ll look at
everyday rituals of deference and domination, solidarity and
boundary-marking, conformity and resistance. The sociological
perspective can help us to understand connections between self and
society, private troubles and public issues, deviance and normality,
order and conflict, and continuity and change. We can use the
sociological mindfulness that this perspective gives us to explore
how meanings are negotiated, races constructed, genders forged,
sexuality policed, work defined, underclasses contained, deviants
shamed and families shaped. We can also use the sociological
perspective to become aware of how our culture, institutions,
families and friends shaped our lives and to explore what our
responsibility is to change society for the better.

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 and on processes of globalization will be
introduced to show which features of our society are unique to the
United States, which are common to all societies, and which vary
from society to society.  Fourth, through in-class exercises,
surveys, and discussion, we will explore and become more aware of
our own assumptions about society. The readings will consist of a
reader and two paperback books:

Walter LeFeber. 2002. Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism.
Norton Press.

Arlie Hochschild. 1997. Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home
Becomes Work. Owl Books.

Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. Robinson. 2006. Sociological
Perspectives, 5th edition. Pearson Custom Publishing (be sure to buy
this edition).