An introduction to the concepts, methods and theories employed by sociologists to understand societies, social institutions, and the myriad expressions of group life. The course explores the cultural contexts of human behavior to
explain individual and group interaction, social mobility and inequality, relations framed by class, gender and race, and patterns of socialization, deviance and social change.
What does sex have to do with gender? What does gender have to do with social systems? This course explores these questions by looking at the ways in which sociologists have theorized and written about gender. Students will explore what it means to understand gender as a social and cultural construct as well as the impact that these constructions have on the lived experiences of individuals in society. Additionally the course will examine the complex ways in which gender intersects and interacts with other facets of our social identities including race, class and sexual orientation.
This examination of American Society places an emphasis on the institutional bases of social problems and conflict as well as the policies designed to address these problems. Topics include poverty, racism, environmental threat, crime and violence, and other contemporary challenges. Attention is consistently directed to the influences of these social problems on women's lives as well as the ethical dilemmas and debates surrounding the solutions to these problems.
In this course, students will learn to use quantitative data through participation in an applied research project. Students will identify appropriate quantitative data to answer a research question and then use technological tools to organize, analyze and present that data. By the conclusion of the course students will generate a tangible product showcasing their participation in this project. Also offered as COM 235, HIS 235 and POL 235.
This course explores questions about the criminal law, criminal conduct, the risks of criminal victimization and prevailing crime control policies. Theories developed to explain why individuals offend and why crime rates vary are examined in light of research findings, so that students gain a thorough understanding of crime and its causes. These ideas are applied to conventional street crime as well as to organized crime and elite crime.
This course is intended to offer students an overview of various elements of the criminal investigation process, from police detective work to forensic science processes. We will use a sociological perspective to examine such topics as: homicide investigation, cold case files and police investigative techniques and an introduction to forensic analyses including fingerprinting, ballistics, forensic accounting, cyber forensics and DNA processes. Students will learn about changes over time, investigation techniques and science applications in the criminal justice system and how these changes have affected political, social and economic interests in society.
This course is based on the premise that deviance is a socially constructed phenomenon. This means that the attributes, behaviors and conditions humans label 'deviant' vary over time and place, as do societal reactions to them. Students will be introduced to agents of social control, both formal and informal, as well as the role such control and power differentials plays in defining, labeling, and sanctioning deviant behavior. The material covered in the course examines theories of deviant behavior, how social scientists study deviant behavior, how deviant behavior is socially constructed, how people manage deviant identities, how relationships operate in deviant subcultures and countercultures, and the relationships between deviant subcultures and mainstream culture.
Understanding the power of culture in shaping our lives depends on knowing the ways of life displayed all around the world. This course introduces students to the discoveries of anthropologists as they have lived among preliterate and preindustrial people, and as they apply their signature methodologies to culturally distinctive communities in today's world. Comparing how a range of cultures address the challenges of social existence sets the stage for enlightening dialogue.
Open to freshmen and sophomores who have an interest in sociology and who would like to work individually with a faculty member on a project involving research from a sociological perspective. The student will formulate and execute a research project at an intermediate level of complexity and present results to an appropriate public audience. A research proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration. May be repeated for credit for a maximum of six semester hours. Prerequisite: At least 3 credit hours in SOC.
The research literature on sexual interests, behaviors and relationships is reviewed through study of the changing practices and perceptions of sexuality in America. Topics include the cultural construction of sex, the process of learning to be sexual, sexual deviance, the influence of marriage, and the interplay between sex and power in our society. Recognition of both risks and rewards associated with sexuality provides the context for studying controversial policies in society. Also offered as HED-332.
Patterns of relationship among racial and ethnic groups in the United States are analyzed. This course explores inequalities of wealth, power, and status along with the persistence of racism, movements to advance civil rights and efforts by groups to maintain social boundaries. Current trends in intergroup relations are discussed to explore how changing demographic racial patterns may affect future definitions of race and ethnicity. Prerequisite: At least 3 credit hours in SOC.
This course will provide students with an overview of the family from a sociological perspective. Students in the course will examine transformation of the family across time as well as its position as both a private and public institution. Topics include defining a family, gender and power, courtship and marriage, parenting, divorce and remarriage, work, and family violence. Particular attention is placed on the roles of women in the family and the ways in which families impact the lived experiences of the women in them. Prerequisite: At least 3 credit hours in SOC.
As the elderly population increases what challenges do these individuals face and what impact will they have on society? Students in this course will examine the physical, psychological and sociological dimensions of the aging process in order to gain insight on these questions. Topics include retirement, poverty and old age, Social Security and Medicare debates, long term care and end of life decisions, and issues related to the growing elderly population in the United States. Prerequisite: at least 3 credit hours in SOC.
This course examines the nature and extent of juvenile delinquency, measurement issues and the various sociological and other relevant social science theories of the causes of this phenomenon. Policy implications of these theories and the current research in the field and historical trends in juvenile delinquency are discussed and evaluations of treatment and prevention programs in the local community as well as the larger society are examined. Prerequisite: At least 3 credit hours in SOC.
This course will analyze homicide from macro and micro sociological perspectives. We will critically analyze the phenomenon of homicide and the reactions to it both broadly (macro) and deeply (micro). Using sociological imagination to understanding homicide from a critical perspective in which the relationship between the lives of individuals and the larger social forces that help to shape their lives will be identified. We will focus on political, economic and cultural forces including gender and race that impact on homicide and how individuals in society view and react to different types of homicide. We will discuss the consequences of homicide for both individuals and society, and different types of possible intervention strategies based on different theoretical approaches to the socio-scientific study of murder. We will explore reasons, and possible implications, for the fascination surrounding homicide in the United States. We will examine the laws, the courts, and how law enforcement investigate homicide cases.
In this course we will explore how visual methods – mainly photography and film – are used to examine society and culture. At the core of our course is a focus on two themes: (1) how to use visual methods to capture and interpret sociological phenomena, and (2) the impact that visual images and representations have on individuals, groups, and society. Throughout the course, we will also consider how visual images construct, shape, and alter our reality. You will be introduced to a range of visual methodologies used by sociologists and other social scientists, including documentary photography, photo essay, photovoice, and documentary filmmaking. Some other themes of the course include: ethics and privacy in documentary work, using images for social change, participatory research, and changing visual media. Prerequisite: At least 3 credit hours in SOC.
This course focuses on the ways in which religion and human culture intersect. We will look at such themes as myth, symbol, magic and ritual and see how they contribute to the formation of human societies. Students will engage in a local field research project to learn how anthropologists study religion. Pre-requisite: One 100-level RES, course or by permission of instructor. Also offered as RES-346.
This course will examine the current popularity of TV shows and movies about Zombies. What social concerns does this popular culture phenomenon reflect—fears about the government response to pandemics, self-defense, or just our general nervousness about death? The course will analyze the first two seasons of the TV show, The Walking Dead in terms of the effect on society and group formation in the aftermath of a major pandemic. We will discuss issues about when violence is acceptable, the ways that group dynamics in survival situations are presented, and the gender, social class and race issues acted out among the primary cast members. What happens in a crisis that is so dramatically social and what is acceptable behavior in order to survive?
What is 'the media' and how can it impact the ways in which we see the world and ourselves in it? This course will examine these questions as we examine the roles that various media forms play in our society, particularly in regards to issues of identity across lines of race, class, gender and sexuality. Students will examine historical and theoretical aspects of the media from both sociological and cultural studies perspectives, the ways in which mainstream and alternative media construct identities, and the impact that these images have on the society in which they circulate. Prerequisite: At least 3 credit hours in SOC.
This course will explore the logic of scientific inquiry. Throughout the course, students will explore the relationship between theory and methodology, the nature of causation, components of research design and a variety of methods for social science research. Guidance in retrieving information, reviewing and evaluating research reports, and constructing a research proposal is provided. Prerequisites: SOC-100, SOC-231or SOC-260, MAT-175.
This course will examine the causes and consequences of women’s incarceration. We will use sociological and criminological theorizing to understand why and how women’s incarceration rates have increased over the last three decades. We will examine the impact this trend has on individuals, families and communities. Key topics within the course include: women’s pathways to criminal involvement; the relationship between women’s physical and sexual victimization and their incarceration; the impacts of women’s incarceration on children and families; and current efforts to re-integrate women into society post-incarceration. Although we will focus mainly on incarcerated women in contemporary culture, we will also consider other historical contexts, such as the origins of women’s “reformatories” and the evolution of women’s incarceration over time. To deepen our understanding of these issues, we will also apply an intersectional analysis to focus on how marginalized women are impacted by the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. Prerequisite: At least 6 credit hours in sociology or permission of instructor.
This course will examine the intersections of gender and violence. We will use sociological theorizing to understand why, how, and when violence is gendered and assess the impact and consequences on individuals, communities, and society. Key topics within the course include: rape and sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, female genital mutilation, mass shootings, war, pornography, violence against LGBTQ people, and sex trafficking. To deepen our understanding of these issues, we will also apply an intersectional analysis to focus on how different marginalized groups are impacted by gender-based violence. Although we focus mainly on contemporary gender-based violence in the U.S., we will also consider other cultural and historical contexts. Prerequisites: At least 6 credit hours in SOC.
Our ideas about gender – about women, men masculinity, and femininity – as well as our ideas about sexuality – about sexual activities, whom should have sex with whom – organize our social life in important ways that we often do not even notice. These ideas are either invisible to us (such that we take them for granted as “normal”) or are explained away (such that they seem like the “natural” way life works). In this course we investigate and expose those aspects of social life that often go unquestioned. We will critically examine the ways in which gender and sexuality inform and are informed by the social work in which we live; we will identify the gender and sexual hierarchies in US society; and we will look at attempts to destabilize these hierarchies.
Prerequisite: At least 6 credit hours in SOC.
Trace the effects of births, deaths and migration on population size, composition and distribution around the world. Examine the effects of population changes on the environment, the world's resources, and on global security. Socioeconomic, political and religious institutions will be explored and the status of women around the world will be related to demographic change. Demographic trends in the United States are evaluated in the context of global influence.
Explanations for social inequalities are considered along with current research on class, status, power and social mobility. Both national and international patterns of wealth and poverty are inspected to explain “who gets what and why.” Inequalities of households, of population groups and of nations as they participate on the global stage receive specific treatment. Prerequisites: at least 6 credit hours in SOC.
Customized by the professor to reflect specialized areas of knowledge or new advances in the field, this course introduces students to compelling publications and/or media that will extend their grasp of sociological analysis. Selections spotlight issues associated with active public dialogue with the objective of discovering how sociology speaks to those issues. Course numbers advance as topics shift to favor additional enrollments as desired. Prerequisite: At least 6 credit hours in SOC.
This course examines the roles of minorities as offenders, victims, and employees in the criminal justice system. An assessment of statistics, research, and the literature as it relates to minorities and crime will be included. Public perceptions of race and crime and the interactions of police, courts and juries in terms of the race of victims and perpetrators will be examined. Research on racial bias in jury decisions, sentencing, and the death penalty will also be reviewed. Prerequisite: 6 hours in SOC.
This course focuses on the experiences of women in the criminal justice system. The study of crime throughout our history has focused overwhelmingly on males and this has often resulted in hiding the experiences of women. We will examine how gender shapes women‘s experiences as victims, as offenders and career professionals in law enforcement. The experiences of women in prison and the effect on their families will be examined. The intersections of race and social class will be examined as well. Prerequisite: 6 hours in SOC.
This course introduces the basic sociological concepts underpinning the study of social interaction. This content is grounded in the sociological subfield of social psychology and microsociology. After exploring the foundational questions, concepts and theories of social interaction, students will examine the role that socially constructed identities play in producing social interaction, looking at patterns of interaction through the lenses of gender, race, class, age and sexuality. The course will examine the interplay between various levels of social interaction, particularly between the individual and the institutional settings of social life. Prerequisite: 6 hours in SOC or permission of instructor.
The purpose of this course is to analyze the organization and consumption of drugs in the United States. Both legal and illegal drug use will be examined in terms of consumption and legal issues as well as social effects on individuals, families and communities. The politics and economics of both pharmacological and criminal justice institutions and drugs will be examined. Prerequisite: 3 hours in SOC.
This course focuses on the border between the US and Mexico, a border that is over 2,000 miles between two countries which are very different. The course will examine the push/pull factors that have led to immigration from Mexico, and some of the changes in that situation in recent years. The role of the border patrol in regulating the border and dealing with crime and the unique culture created along the border with the mix of cultures will be examined. Topics include the drug trade, violence against women, the economic realities of businesses on both sides of the border and finally the current politics of immigration in both the US and Mexico. Prerequisite: 6 hours in SOC or permission of instructor.
The internship is a learning experience involving work in a community, criminal justice or criminological setting. Interns are expected to gain valuable work experience as well as relevant knowledge which will add to their overall understanding of the field of sociology or criminology. Internship positions must center on learning new material over the course of the semester and interns are expected to participate in ongoing training and development. Students in Criminology of the Double major or Sociology and Criminology must do a placement that connects to the Criminology field. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite: At least 6 hours in the sociology field.
From the origins of sociological thinking to the current controversies regarding social action and social structure, explanations developed by sociologists to describe and to demystify society are studied and applied. Ideas advanced by Durkheim, Marx and Weber are followed by extensions and alternatives up to and including the Frankfurt School, Feminism and Post Modernism. Prerequisite: at least 6 credit hours in SOC.
This career/graduate school preparation course for the Sociology or Criminology major is an opportunity for students to make plans for their futures after graduation. Students will complete a variety of exercises and oral presentations meant to prepare them for graduate school or a job in public service, law enforcement, the non-profit sector or the private sector.
Prerequisites: Open to Sociology or Criminology majors only. Must have senior standing or permission of instructor.
Co-requisite: SOC 496 or permission of the instructor
This capstone course for the Sociology or Criminology major is an opportunity for students to use their sociological imaginations to formulate solutions to the problems that face our world today. All students will utilize sociological or criminological theories, literature, methods and data to explore a macro-level social problem chosen by them or the sociology faculty. Findings of the semester long project will be presented to sociology faculty, students, and the broader Meredith community. Prerequisites: SOC 374, and either MAT-175 or MAT-248. Open to Sociology or Criminology majors only. Must have senior standing or permission of instructor. Co-requisite: SOC 495 or permission of the instructor
In conjunction with a sociology faculty mentor, the student will formulate and execute a research project at an advanced level of complexity that will culminate in a paper and presentation. The project must meet Honors Program thesis requirements as well as the expectations of the sociology faculty. A research proposal form completed by the student, faculty mentor, and Honors Program director is required for registration. Open to seniors who are members of the Honors and/or Teaching Fellows Programs. Prerequisites: 3 credit hours in SOC, SOC-374, and either MAT-175 or MAT-248.
In conjunction with a sociology faculty mentor, the student will formulate and execute a research project at an advanced level of complexity that will culminate in a paper and presentation. A research proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration. Open to junior and senior majors and others by permission. May be repeated for credit for a total of six semester hours. Prerequisites: 3 credit from SOC, SOC-374, and either MAT-175 or MAT-248.