Course information found here includes all permanent offerings and is updated regularly whenever Academic Senate approves changes. For historical information, see the Course Catalogs. For actual course availability in any given term, use Course Search in the Portal.
Examination of the major sociological paradigms, theories, and processes shaping the relationship between society and individuals. Elements emphasized include the following: social structure, institutions and roles, culture, sex and gender, social class and stratification, social change, methodology, race and ethnicity, socialization. The goal is to develop the sociological imagination, which is an analytical perspective examining the interplay between structure and agency. (Content varies by instructor for each section. Consult instructor for further information.) (3B) Offered each semester.
Examination of various means of addressing current social problems, both in the United States and globally, including, but not limited to: advocacy, non-violent direct action, legislative reform, economic development, charitable giving, and community organizing. The issues studied include refugee resettlement, welfare, human rights, civil rights, torture, substance abuse, globalization, and hunger, as well as those chosen by class participants. The course is taught utilizing academic texts, popular media, guest speakers, field trips, and lecture and discussion. The class will conclude with a comparative research paper and student presentations. (3B) Offered occasionally.
An exploration of the history of sociological thought. Emphasis is on a survey of leading theories in the functionalist, conflict, and interpretive historical perspectives. The focus is on the classical theorists: Durkheim, Marx, and Weber, with a brief survey of important precursors and contemporaries. Offered each fall. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course focuses on the “doing” of quantitative social science analysis. Students are required to complete a series of assignments designed to provide a working familiarity with data analysis and SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), a statistical software package widely used in business and the social sciences. The overall goal of the course is to make students better consumers of quantitative social science results by giving them a better understanding of how “the numbers” are produced. Topics include: cross-tabulation tables, Chi-square, t-tests, ANOVA, bivariate regression, and multiple regression. Offered each fall. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
An introduction to the principal research strategies available to sociologists. This class focuses on three methods: qualitative observation, qualitative interviewing, and quantitative surveying. Class members think about the underlying philosophy and logic of each method, as well as the quality of data gathered by each method. Students will design and carry out a research project involving data collection and analysis with each of the research methods. Offered each spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150. Sociology 205 is recommended.
This course examines the social processes that shape the construction of racial and ethnic hierarchies, dominant ideas, and relations in the U.S. The basic objectives of the course are to understand the following: 1) major paradigms shaping how sociologists examine issues of race and ethnicity; 2) economic, political, and historical structures shaping the constructions of race and ethnicity in the U.S.; and 3) institutional structures and practices through which racial and ethnic hierarchies are produced and reproduced in the U.S. The course will explore the construction and reproduction of race and ethnicity in a variety of sectors including the labor market, education, housing, banking, sports, public policies, and wealth accumulation. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 220.) Offered each year. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course focuses on analyzing the texts of classic literature (such as Invisible Man) as a way of examining how structures of racism shape the everyday lives of those who occupy a devalued status along racial/ethnic hierarchies. It explores how those at the bottom of racial/ethnic hierarchies make sense of and navigate their lives and how the theme of alienation is an integral element of these experiences. In analyzing the texts, the course draws upon sociology’s theoretical frameworks for examining micro-level interactions and identity construction. This exploration will be placed in the larger structural context of the historical social construction of race in the U.S. Analyzing narratives in these contexts aims to broaden an understanding of the crucial link between notions of self/identity and the broader power structures of society. Prerequisites: Sociology 100 and sophomore standing.
This course examines the intersections of race, ethnicity, and class as categories of analysis for understanding both diverse and common experiences of inequalities faced by women in the U.S. The basic objectives of this course are to understand the following: 1) economic, political, and historical structures shaping dominant meanings of “Womanhood” in the U.S.; 2) what it means to be a woman at different social locations of race, ethnicity, class in the U.S. and how these differing social locations shape life experiences and chances; 3) how race, ethnicity, class, and gender locations constitute hierarchical relations of power. The course will explore race/ethnicity, gender, and class hierarchies and power in the context of employment/work, families, interpersonal relationships, sexuality, and identity construction. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 221.) Offered each year. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
An examination of sex and gender as sociological constructs and as central organizing features of social structures. We will look at gender and gender relations as social constructions, not concentrating on biology. We will investigate how gender is embedded in U.S. institutions and see how deeply entrenched it is. We will study the mechanisms by which masculinity and femininity are created and maintained within social systems; and the variations in these constructions by class, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 226.) Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
Exploration of structured social inequality. What are the bases of social inequality? How are inequality variables related? How can we measure inequality? What do we know about social mobility? Exploration of some specific life changes and patterns of behavior as they are related to social inequality. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 231.) Offered most years. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course examines social movements across time and geographic space to reflect on more general questions about the nature of power and collective action, as well as the relationship between human agency, social structure, and social change. We survey leading theories that attempt to explain and predict social movements and conduct in-depth exploration of particular domestic and international movements in both historical and contemporary contexts. Among the movements we examine are the U.S. civil rights and immigrant rights movements as well as feminist, gay and lesbian, environmental, democracy, peace, and global justice movements. We also examine the role of digital media in domestic and transnational movement organizing. The goal of this class is to provide tools of analysis and practice to inspire innovative thinking for future social change efforts. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course takes a comparative-historical approach to provide an introduction to the field of political sociology as well as foundational knowledge about the social bases of political processes. Classical and contemporary conceptions of power are examined, focusing especially on Marxist, Weberian, and new institutionalist theoretical perspectives. Substantively, the course revolves around issues of citizenship, democracy, welfare state development, and the relationship between politics and economic inequality. We also use one specific policy area to explore the policy-making process more in-depth. Finally, we investigate the class, race, and gender dynamics of electoral politics as well as other forms of collective political action through social movements and revolutions. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
An examination of dominant demographic changes in family structure in the United States. We study major variations in family life as shaped by social class, race/ethnicity, and sexuality. Exploration of select topics such as single motherhood, childrearing practices, marriage, the division of household labor, and family policy. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 245.) Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
Families are a central institution in people’s lives. In this class we will investigate various social problems, issues, and policies as they relate to families in countries around the globe. Questions we will investigate include: What effect does China’s one-child policy have on gender distribution and future marriage patterns? How do high rates of HIV/AIDS impact family structure in Africa? How do Scandinavian welfare policies affect outcomes for children and families? (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 250.) Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150.
Law and the criminal justice system as forms of social control. Law enforcement, courts, corrections— their social, cultural, institutional, and practical foundations and effects. Theoretical and applied analyses, critical appraisal of criminal justice as related to law, punishment, and justice. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course examines the juvenile justice system through the social context of historically constructed racial/ethnic hierarchies. It examines the history of the juvenile justice system and how social forces shape contact, entry, and processing in the system. This includes a focus on policing, as well as the school-to-prison pipeline. We particularly focus on how the unequal distribution of resources, status, and power both shape and are reflected in these processes. We also examine current juvenile justice reform efforts. This class relies on the synthesis of scholarly research in the field with current ‘real life’ scenarios occurring in the world surrounding us. Prerequisites: Sociology 100 and sophomore standing.
Theories of deviance and their application. Difficulties in defining and explaining “social deviance” arising from conflicting theoretical perspectives, alternative value orders, interest groups, and rapid social change. Moral and ethical conflicts between freedom and control, law and morality, and the creation of varieties of deviance by the value and interest-laden definitions of deviance stemming from diverse professional communities and interest groups. Offered most years. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course examines the social processes that shape the construction of identity. The basic objectives of the course are to understand the following: 1) major paradigms shaping how sociologists examine the construction of identity; 2) how a society’s hierarchies (including race/ethnicity, class, gender), institutions, dominant ideas, and social interactions shape the construction of identity; and 3) ways that the social construction of identity shapes how individuals and groups navigate institutions, as well as their daily lives. The course explores the social construction of identity across a number of social contexts and institutions, including families, schools, peer groups, and labor markets. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course will examine how social factors shape human interaction with, and understanding of, our natural environment. We will critically examine a variety of social institutions—political and economic systems, cultural traditions, governmental bodies and advocacy organizations, among others—that mediate and shape our relationship with the environment. Topics include the social construction of nature, discourse and agenda-setting within the media and the environmental movement, environmental justice issues and the possibility of sustainable societies. (Also listed as Environmental Studies 271.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor. Sociology 200 is suggested as well.
An examination of health, illness, and medical care from the sociological perspective. Topics include social epidemiology, the recruitment and socialization of health professionals, patient/physician relationship, and the organization of health and medical care. Policy considerations are emphasized, and concerns of women, minorities, and the disadvantaged receive specific attention. Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
Primarily analyzes law and legal institutions as sociological constructs. Law and justice explored. Institutions and roles in the American legal process considered in the context of socio-historical changes in society. Occasionally, a major social issue and its implications for law and society will be the focus of students’ analyses and presentations. Conducted largely as a seminar. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
Through hands-on engagement and academic reflection, students become acquainted with various, basic sociological tools for understanding institutions and communities such as: demographic data, ethnographic analysis, historical and political sociology. The overarching question addressed by this course is: What makes a good society? Students experience, describe, and analyze the challenges of civic engagement, service, and leadership. Each student spends approximately seven hours a week (90 hours per semester) at an assigned field site supervised by experienced community leaders. In addition, all attend a weekly seminar with reading and writing assignments focusing on texts examining communities from various sociological and interdisciplinary angles. Sites include: business, education, government, health care, social services, and the arts. Students from all majors are welcome. May be taken twice for credit, but students must take one fall and one spring semester (in any order), rather than two fall or two spring classes. Students taking the course for the first time produce a literature review, whereas students taking the course for the second time produce a project or research proposal. Students must apply and provide references for acceptance to the program. Applications are available from Carol Wickersham or online at www.beloit.edu/duffy.
Topics studied in a sociological perspective, e.g. philosophy and ethics of social science, social policy issues, urban studies, education, adolescence and child development, or social welfare. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course focuses on the application of sociological theories, paradigms, and methods in examining social processes. Students focus on particular institutions to examine some aspect of institutional structure, culture, or interactions. The goal is to identify patterns in social processes within institutions and to utilize sociological theories, paradigms, and methods to make sense of these patterns. The course also focuses on the structure of the sociology major, a liberal arts education, and post-college pathways. (CP) Offered each year. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, 200, 205, and 211.
An introduction to modern theoretical perspectives on social behavior. Starting with sociological theorists from the second half of the 20th century, we advance to survey a variety of modern and postmodern viewpoints, including symbolic interactionist and dramaturgical theory, exchange theory, feminist and critical theory, and globalization theory. This course is especially recommended for students intending to pursue advanced degrees. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, Sociology 200, or consent of instructor.
Practicum provides an opportunity for students to assist faculty with research. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: declared major in sociology and Sociology 211.
Primarily for students interested in investigating a specialized research problem. Individual work under faculty supervision. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, major in sociology, and consent of a department faculty member.
Work with faculty in classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit.
Course and curriculum development projects with faculty.