Sociology | Social Problems & Policies
S101 | 3603 | Goodney

S101 Social Problems & Policies    Goodney   11:15-12:30 TR 3603
Title: Violence in American Society

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).