Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Sociology Courses

Introduction to Sociology

Sociology 100 | Oyogoa | 3 credits

This course is an introduction to sociology as a way of understanding the social world. Sociology explains economic, social, and political phenomena in terms of social structures, group relations, and power differences. Students will leave this course with: An understanding of the three main sociological perspectives and key sociological theories, the ability to apply these theoretical perspectives to real life experiences and social problems, and insight into the link between the individual and society. Topics covered in the course include culture, socialization, sociological research methods, the mass media, deviance and social control, the family and intimate relationships, religion, education, the economy and work, health and medicine, the environment, globalization, and social change.

No prerequisites. This course is generally offered once a year.

Race, Ethnicity, Class, and Gender

Sociology 115 CP | Oyogoa | 3 credits

This course examines the “socially-constructed” nature of race, ethnicity, and gender by focusing on historical and contemporary articulations of race, ethnicity, class, and gender as they relate to social outcomes. Students will explore the evolution of these categories, namely how and why they were created, and how they have changed over time. Also, students will learn about racial and ethnic discrimination in housing, employment, banking, the criminal justice system, and other institutions. Students will also examine the history of gender inequality in American society. Contemporary articulations of gender inequality will be examined in the labor market, unpaid labor in the home, U.S. childcare policy, popular culture, and in interpersonal relationships. Additionally, this course also examines the structural causes of class inequality. Students will be exposed to the various competing theoretical perspectives regarding why we have poverty in the U.S. and explore how changes in the structure of the nation’s political economy have increased class inequality while creating the “middle class squeeze.” The class will also discuss the “financial elite” and their role in shaping policies that exacerbate class inequality.

No prerequisites.

Sociology of the Family

Sociology 226 | Oyogoa | 3 credits

This course examines the institution of family in the United States from a sociological perspective. The sociological perspective does not assume that there is an “ideal” family structure. Rather, sociologists focus on the ways in which the family is a socially constructed institution that varies across time and place. We will explore how larger social forces shape how we define, organize, and experience family. We begin by discussing the sociological conceptualization of family and examining the historical and contemporary meaning of family in the U.S. We will then turn our attention to a historical overview of the diverse family structures that existed prior to the Industrial Revolution. Next, we examine how large scale social and historical forces spurred significant changes to the norms surrounding contemporary family structures. The next section of the course focuses on the diversity of the contemporary family. We will examine issues including choosing a mate, parenting, marriage/partnership, tensions between paid labor and family life, the impact of social policy on families, and divorce. During the semester we will discuss similarities that exist across families. However, we will pay special attention to how race, gender, sexuality, and class shape how we experience family.

Prerequisite: 100-level Social Science or African American Studies course.

Sociology of Work

Sociology 227/327 | Oyogoa | 3/4 credits

Work occupies a significant portion of most people’s adult life. It is a critical institution in shaping key social outcomes such as access to healthcare, income, educational attainment, quality of childcare, retirement prospects, and one’s overall quality of life. The field of sociology and the study of work as an institution are deeply connected, especially in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution. This course will selectively draw on this rich history in order to explore major theories, methods for studying work, and debates within the context of the United States. We will begin with a survey of a number of ways of organizing human effort in society: slavery, indentured servitude, household production, scientific management, service work, and unpaid reproductive labor, to name a few. Some issues that will concern us in this course include: the evolution of notions of selfhood with shifts in regimes of work, the construction of specific occupations/jobs, modes of disciplining workers, the relationship between work and labor in capitalism, collective responses to labor in capitalism, labor unions, migrant and guest workers, globalization, race-gender inequality in the workplace and the labor market, and alternative visions for the future of work.

Prerequisites for the 200-level class are one 100+ level Social Studies or African American Studies course or permission of the instructor. Prerequisites to take the 300-level class are one 200+ level Social Studies or African American Studies course or permission of the instructor.

Possession, Identity, Ownership

Sociology 325 | Coggins | 4 credits

In the capitalist market economy, assertions of ownership, membership, and identity (“I own…,” “I belong…,” “I am…”) are meaningful within a particular history of social relations in which the possessive individual is imagined as a stable social category with legal standing. In this course we consider what it means to possess (things, people, money, ideas, land), how that relates to identity and being, and how it has become a distinctive way of seeing and making the world. Drawing from geographic studies of landscape as a “way of seeing” tied to capitalist ownership and aesthetic representations of land, we explore the history of Western and non-Western conceptions and practices of human and non-human, self and other, as subjects for and of possession. While considering possible origins of (dis)possession, we examine ownership, labor, production, belonging, slavery, territorialism, colonialism, racism, nationalism, and the multiple subjectivities and political implications that they have come to acquire across a broad range of sociocultural settings. We draw from the works Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Proudhon, Macpherson, Balibar, Viveiros de Castro, Latour, Scott, Ostrom, and other social theorists.

Sociology Tutorial

Sociology 300/400 | Staff | 4 credits

Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A student should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.