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    Vassar College
   
 
  Nov 22, 2017
 
 
    
Catalogue 2017-2018
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SOCI 151 - Introductory Sociology

Semester Offered: Fall or Spring
1 unit(s)


An introduction to major concepts and various approaches necessary for cultivating sociological imagination.

Although the content of each section varies; this course may not be repeated for credit.

Topic One: Classical traditions for contemporary social issues. This section explores the significance and relevance of foundational thinkers of sociology to the understanding and analysis of contemporary social issues and problems. Examples include consumerism, teenage suicide, Occupy Wall Street, and race/ethnicity in colleges; housing, education, immigration, and childhood. Lastly, this course also examines the works of marginalized social thinkers within the classical tradition and considers why they have been silenced, erased and how they can help us to better understand many contemporary social issues. Carlos Alamo, Seungsook Moon, Eréndira Rueda.

Topic Two: Cooked! Food and Society. The flavor of this class will come from the impact of the classical debates on the current discourse of sociology, specifically debates on social problems and interpretations of our everyday life. To examine diverse and contentious voices, we will explore theoretical works with a focus on past, present and future of theory and how it reflects the transformation of society, and ask how can we propose a critical debate for our future to realize theory’s promise? Our special focus will be the challenges of food production and consumption in the 21st century. Pinar Batur.

Topic Three: Just Add Water!: Water and Society. The flow of this class will be from the impact of the classical debates on the current discourse of sociology, specifically the debate on social problems and the interpretations of our everyday life. To examine diverse and contentious voices, we will explore theoretical works with a focus on past, present and future of theory and how it reflects the transformation of society, and ask how can we propose a critical debate for our future to realize theory’s promise? Our special focus will be the challenges of water consumption and distribution in the 21st century. Pinar Batur.

Topic Four: Other Voices: Sociology from the Margins. Ideas about society that we value usually come from the European, the heterosexual, the male or the fully-abled. In this course we will examine sociological ideas from those who may be overlooked, excluded, othered, minimized or dismissed. This may include Ibn Khaldun, David Walker, Maria Stewart, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mother Jones, Marcus Garvey, Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Horace Cayton and Malcolm X. Diane Harriford.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Topic Five: Social Inequalities. Inequality is perhaps the most urgent and controversial social and political issue today. Politicians lament rising inequality and debate possible solutions. In this course, we will provide a context for this debate, by examining a broad range of inequalities, by class, race, and gender. We will look at the “haves” and the “have nots,” the 1% and the 99%, from many different angles, drawing on both contemporary and classical materials. Marque Miringoff.

Topic Six: Race/Class/Gender.  An introduction to key questions, ideas, and methods used by sociologists to make sense of human interaction and the social world. We use classical and contemporary texts to uncover and examine the forces and structures outside of the individual that shape and are shaped by us. Sociology has a long history of concern with inequality; this course pays special attention to how inequalities are structured, experienced, maintained and challenged along the lines of race, class, gender and their intersections.  Light Carruyo.

Topic Seven: Great Ideas, Discerning Studies. This course centers on an array of enduring ideas associated with the classical tradition in Sociology but extended and enlivened in selected essays, empirical studies and ethnographic accounts. We will examine a variety of concepts including alienation, egoism, anomie and the “iron cage” of rationality, exploring their significance for a contemporary, “post modern” world. Specifically, we will read studies of emotional labor, youth culture, body building, hip hop, and the break up of romantic relationships, seen through the lens of the Sociological Imagination. This class tacks between the conceptual and the empirical, between social structure (Class, Inequality) and social construction (Identity, Self Presentation), with an eye toward Sociology’s (not always consistent) intellectual, personal, and political relevance. The Department.

Topic Eight: A Social Justice Approach. This course aims to introduce you to a sociological perspective through an exploration of social justice. We will begin with an analysis of what a sociological perspective entails, including an understanding of the structural and cultural forces that shape our lives and those of the people around us and how, in turn, individuals make choices and influence social change. Social justice delineates and describes injustices such as economic inequality, racism, sexism, and homophobia and, by definition, addresses solutions and alternative social systems. Sociology has a long tradition of commitment to social justice issues and we will consider a wide variety of them including: issues of power, how social advantages and disadvantages are distributed, the relationship between social location and inequality, and the practice of reducing the gap between them at the local, national, and global levels. Social justice is a perspective for understanding and for action. Eileen Leonard.

Topic Nine: Sociology of Everyday Life. This section introduces sociology as a perspective that highlights the connections between individuals and the broader social contexts in which they live. We focus a sociological eye on the activities and routines of daily life, seeking to illuminate the social foundations of everyday behavior that we often take for granted. Reading both classical and contemporary texts, we build a sociological imagination and apply sociological theory as we focus our inquiry on issues such as the persistence of inequality, changing patterns of family life, new workplace dynamics, and the power of social networks. William Hoynes, Leonard Nevarez.

Topic Ten: No Place Like Home. No matter how much we move, explore, escape, or migrate, there is no place like home. At the threshold of the domestic and the political we encounter a matrix of social forces ranging from issues of personal safety, to public housing, to Homeland Security. This section of Introductory Sociology maps the place of the home through the lens of the sociological imagination. It immerses students in the foundations of social theory, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Simmel. We center histories of migration, displacement and settlement in the United States, while employing various forms of research, diverse analytic understandings and approaches to the overlapping social problems of privacy, housing, homelessness, domestic labor and domestic violence that organize our imaginations of home in history and towards issues of justice. Jasmine Syedullah.

Two 75-minute periods.



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