Curriculum Overview 

Sociology is both a specialized academic discipline and an important part of a liberal education. As a social and cultural science, sociology studies human interaction within and between groups, the forces of interest and meaning that help to shape and reshape that interaction and its consequences for the lives of individuals and social groups. As one of the liberal arts, sociology enriches the study of history, philosophy, science and the arts and assists students in examining their personal lives, professional activities and public issues in a more thoughtful and critical way. In both capacities, and as our graduates attest, the study of sociology can be excellent preparation for a wide range of careers including law, education, business, government service, medicine and social work.

A major in Sociology consists of a total of twelve courses, eight of which are Sociology classes, and four of which are in related social sciences. The eight Sociology courses must include SOC 100, 301, 302 and a 400-level seminar or Independent Study, along with any other four Sociology courses (though see below for recommended classes). Of the additional four courses in related social sciences, two must be in a single department, and one of these must be above the 100 level. Related social sciences include the following: 1) All courses in Anthropology (ANT), Economics (ECO), Government (GOV) and History (HIS); 2) All courses in other departments cross-listed with Anthropology, Economics, Government and History; 3) Courses in Africana Studies (AFS), American Studies (AMS), Judaic Studies (JST), Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) and Science, Technology and Society (STS) that are cross-listed with Anthropology, Economics, Government or History or that have a social science (S) designation; 4) LIN 120 (Sociolinguistics); 5) Selected courses in Business, Organization, and Society (BOS) and Psychology (PSY). Students should consult their adviser in Sociology with questions about the related social science courses.

SOC 100 is a prerequisite to all other courses in the department. Prerequisites may be waived only by the instructor.

The writing requirement in the Sociology major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.

Although SOC 210 and SOC 220 are not required courses, students contemplating a major in Sociology are encouraged to take these courses early in the major sequence as these subjects are important for upper-level courses. Additionally, we suggest that majors and minors complete SOC 301 (Theory) and SOC 302 (Methods) prior to the start of their senior year where possible, as these classes provide background and skills that are helpful for independent studies and 400-level seminars.

A minor in Sociology consists of a total of six courses, including SOC 100, 301 and 302, and three other courses.

Majors in the Department of Sociology have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: School for International Training in Santiago, Chile; Cape Town, South Africa; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; Institute for the International Education of Students in Barcelona, Spain and Buenos Aires; Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark; Institute for Study Abroad in Australia and Scotland; Syracuse University Abroad in Florence and Madrid. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered 


A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.

100. Introductory Sociology. (S)
Introduction to the basic concepts, theories and methods used to study human social interaction and social structures. Readings and topics vary section to section, but typically address social stratification (primarily by race, class and gender) and its impact on individual and social life, the sources of social order and social change, deviance and social control and the interrelations between individuals and society. Prerequisite to all other departmental offerings.    

210. Class, Status and Power. (S)
A comparative survey of theories and research on inequality. Geographic patterns of inequality will be a main theme, in addition to racial, economic and political varieties. Covers both developed and developing countries. Past case studies have included Britain, South Africa and Brazil. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

220. Social Psychology. (S)
Study of the relationship between self and society, as seen through sociological social psychology. Examination of the genesis of the social psychological framework in both psychology and sociology and consideration of its applications within sociology today. Emphasis on symbolic interaction and related theories. Topics include the study of language and talk; the relationships between role, identity and self; sociology of emotions; socialization; and the role of all of these in the creation, maintenance and change of social structures. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

301. History of Sociological Theory. (S)
An examination of the development of social thought from the Enlightenment to the early 20th century. Main focus on past attempts to explain the nature of capitalism and its attendant transformation of family, work and community. Course probes the question of how shared ideals and divisive interests affect both the internal coherence of human society and the study of human society as well. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    
Hodos, Shokooh Valle, Singer

302. Sociological Research Methods. (S)
Strategies and design of sociological research, including: the development of hypotheses; operationalization of concepts; ethics; and data collection, analysis and presentation. Special attention given to the methods of survey research, use of a statistical package and tabular analysis. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    
Faulkner, Marshall, McClelland

310. Urban Sociology. (S)
An introduction to the sociological study of cities. Course has a three-part focus on classic materials and theories, typical research methods and data, and development of US cities. Topics include migration, gentrification, poverty, race/ethnicity, urban politics, housing, suburbanization, and more; students will also practice ethnography as a research method and work with census data. Cities discussed include Philadelphia, Lancaster, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and more. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

320. Criminology. (S)
Surveys theoretical and empirical efforts to study crime, crime causation and punishment. Special attention paid to the historical origins and development of notions of criminal responsibility, trial defenses and the courtroom division of labor. Sociological, psychological and biological explanations of criminal behavior are examined along with research attempts to study the development of delinquent and criminal careers. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

330. Sociology of Medicine. (S)
An examination of the social and cultural factors which influence the occurrence, distribution and experience of illness, the organization of medical care in American society and its rapidly escalating costs, the technical and ethical performance of physicians and the ethical dilemmas associated with modern medicine. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

342. Political Sociology. (S)
Rule and resistance have been extremely productive focii in contemporary analyses of the nature and forms of power. In this seminar we will draw on this rich vein of inquiry to analyze the social formations that constitute the substance of political sociology—state, economy, and society. In the course of engaging with the sociology of politics we will also be examining how the ways in which we interpret social reality are caught up in the practice of power, i.e. the politics of sociology. Prerequisite: SOC 100.     

345. Sociology of Sexuality. (S)
This course examines the idea that sex is not a natural act; instead, sex and human sexuality are socially constructed. We will examine how power—in a variety of forms—is at play in our social and cultural understandings and experiences of sex and sexuality. We will examine a variety of approaches to the study of sexuality as we consider sex, gender and sexual orientation, sexual relationships, the body, race/ethnicity, the commodification of sex, reproduction and contraception, and sexual violence. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or WGS 210. Same as WGS 345.    

350. Sociology of Gender. (S)
This course introduces students to major theories and findings in sociology of gender, including the incorporation of global/transnational concerns. The course focuses on the constraints that the social construction of gender imposes on men, women, and LGBTQI/non-binary/gender non-conforming individuals, and helps students develop a critical analysis of gender as a social institution. It examines the intersections of gender with race, class, and sexuality, among other social locations, incorporating postcolonial/decolonial, queer, feminist, and science and technology theories.  Prerequisite: SOC 100 or WGS 210. Same as WGS 350.    

355. The Sociology of Culture. (S)
This course considers the place of culture in social life and examines its socially constituted character. Treating culture as sets of distinctive practices, symbolic representations, and domains of creative expression, the course will investigate how these vary across specific social, historical, and institutional locations. Topics will include such matters as the relationship between culture and social inequality, culture and social change, the commoditization of cultural goods, and how cultural forms are used, appropriated, and transformed by social groups. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

360. Race and Ethnic Relations. (S)
Study of intergroup relations, with an emphasis on processes of racial/ethnic stratification, assimilation and cultural pluralism. Focus is on American society, past and present. Topics include the development and change of race/ethnic identities, intergroup attitudes, racial ideologies, immigration, education and the intersection of race with social class and gender. Prerequisite: SOC 100. Same as AFS 360.    

364. Sociology of the Family. (S)
Sociologists argue that the family occupies a contradictory location—as both a very private and public institution. In this course, we examine the family and its changing nature through a sociological lens. We focus on the diversity of family forms and family experiences, particularly across race-ethnicity, class, and gender lines. We consider family theories and historical variations in American family forms. We also analyze varieties in childbearing and childrearing experiences both in the U.S. and abroad. Prerequisite: SOC 100. Same as WGS 364.    

366. Race, Ethnicity, and Health. (S)
The course will utilize a sociological lens to examine the role of race and ethnicity in health outcomes, healthcare experiences, medical research, and clinical practice. Topics will include: socio-historical perspectives on notions of race in relation to biological difference; socio-historical understandings of the health consequences of racialized public health policies and politically sanctioned medical practices;contemporary racial and ethnic disparities in disease morbidity and mortality indicators; the operationalization of racial categories in epidemiological, public health, and biomedical research and practice; contemporary debates regarding race and genomics; and understandings of racial and ethnic dynamics in relation to health and medicine at the intersections of socioeconomic class, immigration status, gender, sexuality, and other markers of social identity. Same as AFS/PBH 366.    

370379, 470 479. Topics in Sociology. (S)
A single problem area of major importance in sociology. The content may change from semester to semester. Different topics may be taken for credit more than once.

384. Urban Education. (S)
A community-based learning course analyzing issues facing urban schools from a sociological perspective, with particular attention to the role of race, class and gender at both the macro and micro levels. Other topics include teachers, schools as organizations, the social psychological perspective on learning, the politics of curricula and instruction, accountability and other contemporary reform movements. Students are expected to integrate and apply their knowledge through work in a local school. Prerequisite: SOC 100. Same as PUB 384.    





410. Globalization. (S)
An in-depth investigation of economic, political and cultural aspects of globalization. Topics include migration, economic inequality, transnational social movements, development and trade, the future of the nation-state, urbanization and culture/media. Students will be expected to write a substantial research paper. Prerequisites: SOC 100 and either SOC 210 or IST 200.    

425. iSoc: The Impact of Technology on Individuals,  Relationships, and Society. (S)
Technology is a part of our daily lives, yet we do not often pause to consider the extent to which we rely on it and the ways in which it has an impact on our identities and our lives as social beings. The goal of this course is to explore how technology, particularly information and communication technology, in the 21st century influences important aspects of our social world, including relationships, work, education, health, music, and social movements. We will explore key concepts, issues, dilemmas, and debates regarding the constantly evolving, complex relationship between human beings and technology. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

430. Sociology of Work. (S)
Work as an activity and occupation as a socially defined role. Topics include occupational choice and socialization, work and family, worker alienation, deviant occupational behavior and mobility. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

440. Sociology of Food. (S)
This seminar will investigate a broad and familiar topic—food—through the analysis of its various social and institutional contexts. We will explore how what we eat, and how we eat it, expresses our social identities and group memberships; how food consumption is connected to inequalities and status anxieties; how the economic and agricultural systems that produce and market food affect our lives; and finally how food is both an object and a subject of politics.    

450. Comparative Racial-Ethnic Relations. (S)
In this course, we will be examining the constructedness of race and ethnicity and racial-ethnic categories over time and space, examining the United States (including a discussion of West Indian immigrants), Brazil, South Africa, and other cultural contexts. We will begin with a consideration of theories of race and ethnicity focusing on the theory of racial formation. For each of our cultures of focus, we will examine both the historical contexts under which understandings of race and ethnicity developed as well as more contemporary issues of race and ethnicity. We will consider the effects of globalization on racial-ethnic constructions in the United States and elsewhere to understand the complexities and malleability of lived racial-ethnic experiences across cultures. Prerequisite: SOC 100.    

460. Race, Gender, and Class on Campus. (S)
On college and university campuses across the country, intersecting social identity politics have come to the fore over the course of recent decades. This course will examine the socio-historical forces and contemporary dynamics that inform, challenge, support, and disrupt the establishment and cultivation of inclusive campus communities. Drawing from sociological literature on higher education, social mobility, race, gender, socioeconomic class, and social policy, students will critically analyze the complex issues germane to how American institutions of higher education operationalize ideas of “diversity” and “inclusion” in the 21st century.  Same as AFS/WGS 460.    

480. The Sociology of Law. (S)
Examines historical and contemporary schools of jurisprudence: the judicial selection of precedents for legal decision-making. Particular attention paid to conflicting claims regarding the purpose and consequences of law, competing schools of legal interpretation emerging from the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Weber and contemporary political and social debates touching on legal rights. Individual student papers are distributed to seminar participants for presentation and debate. Prerequisite: Sociology 320 or permission of instructor.    

490. Independent Study. (S)
Independent study directed by the Sociology staff. Permission of chairperson.


Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2020-2021

  • 371. (Un)Civil Disobedience.
  • 372. Covid-19, Population, and Social Inequality.
  • 471. Global Urbanism.
  • 472. Gender and Transnational Activism.