Courses

FYS 249 Global Economy and Nation-State

What is the global economy? What are nation states? And what is the relationship between the global economy and the nation state? This seminar first examines the historical formation of nation states and then reflects on their performance and integrity since the end of the cold war, keeping in mind the rise of neoliberalism, globalization, regional trade blocs such as the European Union and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and Covid-19. Special attention is given to issues of sovereignty and democracy, the role of international financial organizations, international industry associations, institutions, and the way nation states are likely to evolve in the coming decades.

FYS 326 Choices and Constraints

Are humans free to chart the course of their own lives, or are their fates predestined by their social locations? This seminar explores the tension between personal agency and social forces that structure human lives. The history of the intellectual debate over the roles of agency and structure frame classroom discussion of ways in which personal experiences are shaped by both social structures and systems of inequality based on race/ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Acknowledging the role of individuals as agents of social change, students grapple with their responsibilities in perpetuating and transforming social institutions such as family, religion, health care, and the workplace.

FYS 376 Inequality, Community, and Social Change

Debates about inequalities linked to race, class, gender, sexuality, and global locations surround us in politics, news, and social media. In this seminar, students explore these social inequalities with a particular focus on community-engaged efforts to advance social change and the role of colleges and universities in those efforts. Students partner with local organizations oriented toward social justice and social change in Lewiston, addressing issues such as educational equity, public health, immigrant and refugee inclusion, housing justice, and family opportunity. Discussions and assignments introduce students to the history and daily life of the local community, and connect what they learn with their partner organizations to readings about social inequality, social change, and the potential contributions of colleges and their students in promoting the public good.

FYS 509 The Sociology of Holidays

Holidays, both national and religious, occupy a central place in our lives. The United States recognizes ten federal holidays. Holidays shape our social worlds in many ways, including through the observation of traditions, engagement in rituals, and reflection on loss. Sociologically, there is much to be examined, from the history of holidays, to the social meaning holidays hold, to the shared experience of rituals with social groups. This course engages with each of these issues, exploring what social functions holidays serve, variation in social and cultural practices surrounding holidays, and how and why holidays came to be such a social force in modern society.

SOC 101 Principles of Sociology

The course is concerned with social behavior, social institutions, and with the characteristics of sociology as a discipline. It introduces classic sociological theories. Students become familiar with the use of such basic concepts in sociology as norms, values, roles, socialization, stratification, power and authority, deviance and control, social conflict, and social change.

SOC 103 Macrosociology: Institutions and Structures

Macrosociology concerns itself with broad-level topics and issues: international development, demographic trends, state formation and behavior, the relationship between politics and the economy, industries, globalization, national and international law, cultural convergence across countries, national and transnational policymaking, corruption, security issues, among others. Often, attention turns to structures and institutions for explanatory purposes.

SOC 104 Contemporary Social Problems: Sociological Perspectives

An introduction to sociology through the study of contemporary social problems. Topics include inequalities of income, wealth, housing, education, and health as well as related social problems such as systemic racism, crime, poverty, homelessness, and climate change. With a particular focus on how sociologists study the process through which social conditions become defined as problems, the way various stakeholders frame those problems, and their potential solutions, students explore sociology in general and the social construction of social problems in particular. This exploration includes readings, class discussions, and community-engaged learning with local organizations addressing social problems.

SOC 204 Theoretical Foundations of Sociology

Theories of society are used in a variety of ways to make sense of the world in which we live. This course examines the evolution of sociological theory, and the history of sociology as a discipline. Major schools of social theory are compared and analyzed, with emphasis on their role as foundations of sociology. Prerequisite(s): one course in sociology.

SOC 205 Research Methods for Sociology

This course is a practical introduction to the research methods used by sociologists, including survey research, content analysis, participant observation and field research, qualitative interviewing, community-based research, case studies, focus groups, and comparative historical research. The assumptions of various approaches to social science research are considered, along with application of methods of collection and analysis for both qualitative and quantitative data. Prerequisite(s) or corequisite(s): SOC 204.

SOC 206 Thinking Sociologically with Numbers

In this course, students learn how to think about social issues numerically. They learn the fundamentals of social statistics with a focus on interpretation, including quantitative data types, learning how to describe and present data (including data visualization), sampling, probability, and bivariate and multivariate analyses. Basic analyses such as hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, correlation, and regression are covered. Recommended background: basic math proficiency, some algebraic knowledge.

SOC 210 Social Psychology

A study of people in social settings. Topics include conformity, interpersonal attraction, and attitude formation and change. Theoretical principles are applied to such social phenomena as social conflict, stereotyping, competition, and altruism. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 101.

SOC 211 Crime, Justice, and Society

This course provides a broad overview of crime and justice from a sociological perspective. Topics include why certain behaviors are deemed criminal and others are not, how and why criminal laws are developed, why some individuals break those laws, and the role of the criminal justice system in society. The course also considers theories of crime and justice, approaches to the measurement of crime, the social factors associated with crime, and media representations and public perceptions of crime and justice. Recommended background: one course in sociology.

SOC 212 Race and Mass Incarceration in the United States

This course provides an analysis of the criminal justice system with a particular focus on the centrality of crime policy to the making of race in the United States. Specifically, the course examines the war on drugs. Students consider how changes to laws and policies transformed the way we punish crime as a country, and their disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities. Students also explore reformist and abolitionist social movements and their efforts to redress these disparities in the criminal justice system through policy change. Recommended background: PLTC 115.

SOC 217 Correcting and Controlling Behavior: A Sociological Perspective on Corrections and Social Control

Many Americans have had contact with the criminal justice system, from police stops to incarceration or probation, components of our corrections systems, which, broadly speaking, attempt both to punish criminal behavior and change it. Yet we have all been subject to more informal systems of corrections and social control, from being grounded to being admonished by a teacher. This course provides a broad overview of sociological perspectives on social control in general and criminal justice corrections in particular. Topics include the origins, forms, and functions of social control; theories of punishment; the history of criminal justice corrections; modern challenges within corrections systems; mass incarceration; alternative forms of sanctions; and treatment of offenders. The course also considers research issues faced by corrections practitioners, including projects with community partners whose work involves correcting behavior. Recommended background: SOC 211.

SOC 221 Sociology of Immigration

Since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Amendments of 1965, the United States has received millions of immigrants from virtually every part of the world. The magnitude of these recent immigrant flows has reshaped the demography of the nation. But the magnitude of the flows is only part of the story. Today’s immigrants are extremely diverse, ethnically, culturally, and racially. Students explore sociological approaches to immigration as they discuss, debate, analyze, and critique academic, political, and mainstream articulations of immigration processes in the United States.

SOC 223 Sociology of Culture

What is the role of symbols and ideas in social life? This course introduces the diversity of current sociological approaches to this longstanding issue at the heart of the discipline. Students examine how “cultural objects,” such as pop songs, newscasts, public monuments, and even collective memories are created and understood. They also explore sociological studies of culture in its more anthropological sense, as patterns of behavior and belief, and as culture relates to phenomena such as social movements, religion, sexuality, political conflict, globalization, and social stratification. Recommended background: one course in sociology.

SOC 230 Sociology of Health and Illness

This course examines how social and structural forces shape health, illness, and the health care system. Through critical analysis of health and illness in the United States, the course explores the field of medical sociology. Topics include social factors associated with health and disease, disability, the organization of health care, medical ethics, and the relationship between health care and human rights. Recommended background: one course in sociology.

SOC 235 Global Health: Sociological Perspectives

This course introduces students to the health care systems of nations in the developed and developing world. Health care takes place within culturally unique social, historical, and political contexts, which shape factors such as disease, nutrition, violence, reproductive health, and environmental and occupational hazards. The course explores how these diverse forces shape illness experience, health care utilization, organization and training of health care providers, and systems of health care delivery. Drawing on a critical perspective, this course utilizes sociological methods and theories to explore health and illness around the globe. Recommended background: one course in sociology.

SOC 236 Urban Sociology

What constitutes the urban? And how is it distinct from other forms of physical and social organization? This course introduces students to major themes in urban sociology. Students explore how the city operates as a site of conflict, not only in its conceptualization, but also as a site of struggle over social, physical, economic, and political resources. Topics include the contest over the emergence of the discipline through the Park/Dubois debate, empirical studies on “urban problems,” industrialization, urban renewal, suburbanization, gentrification, racism, globalization, segregation, ghettos, schooling, policing, prisons, immigration, and urban farming.

SOC 238 Queer Power: Political Sociology of U.S. Sexuality Movements

This course introduces students to social movement theory and interest group politics in the United States via the case study of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) politics from the immediate post-World War II period to the present, and it examines the relationship of sexuality to the racial and gender dynamics of U.S. identity-based social movements. The course traces the development of research methodologies to study collective action from early rational choice models to resource mobilization theory to new social movement models and political opportunity and process models. How the LGBTQ+ movements drew upon, expanded, and challenged foundations established by both African American civil rights and feminism is also explored. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in gender and sexuality studies, politics, or sociology.

SOC 242 Race and Justice in American Education

This course considers how racial identity, class, culture, and privilege intersect with education systems and structures to shape students’ schooling experiences and academic outcomes. Through readings, discussion, projects, and fieldwork, students explore several questions: What are race and racism, and how do they matter to education? How has the U.S. tradition of racially segregated and unequal schooling played out historically? What are the effects of that legacy for children and for society today? And how do schools currently work to address opportunity gaps? Topics covered include bilingual education, tracking, and access to higher education. A thirty-hour field experience is required. Recommended background: EDUC 231.

SOC 250 Privilege, Power, and Inequality

This course addresses structural inequalities in the United States from an intersectional perspective. With attention to privilege and marginalization through structures like racism, capitalism, gender, sexuality, and citizenship, students explore recent sociological studies and engage in addressing inequalities in our campus and local communities. Topics include patterns in the distribution of privilege, power, and resources in society as well as possibilities for resistance and social change to challenge structural inequality.

SOC 260 Economic Sociology

Most, if not all, economic activity-whether it takes place at the level of individuals, organizations, or markets-requires rules, norms, and institutions. Efficiency alone cannot account for the existence and nature of those rules, norms, and institutions. Beliefs, values, power structures, perceptions of self-interest, political structures, history, and numerous additional factors hold explanatory potential as well. This course investigates these factors. In the process, students explore some of the most important theoretical frameworks in sociology and politics such as rational choice theory, historical institutionalism and statist theory, and some key topics in sociology such as international development.

SOC 270 Sociology of Gender

This course focuses on the social construction of gender through a consideration of a series of interrelated social institutions and practices central to gender inequality. Emphasis is placed on the intersections between gender inequality and inequalities of race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nation. Recommended background: one previous course in gender and sexuality studies or sociology.

SOC 290 Political Sociology

This course offers an in-depth examination of core issues in political sociology. Attention turns to the formation of nation-states, nationalism, postcolonialism, neoliberalism and welfare states dynamics, international organizations, social movements and revolutions, democracy and regime change, violence, power, and related topics. Students encounter a variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, with empirical analyses focusing on case studies from across the globe. Recommended background: one or more courses in the social sciences.

SOC 311 Comparative Sociology

Comparative sociology studies social institutions, economic systems, political systems, cultures and norms, legal systems, public policy, social change, and behavior in two or more settings. Comparisons can be qualitative or quantitative in nature and are usually driven by a desire to test theories or hypotheses. Topics of study may include the impact of globalization on nation-states, social movements, war and violence, place and cultural specificity, postcolonial dynamics, urbanization, immigration, and regional integration. The seminar introduces students to comparative sociology through an examination of recent exemplary works and the completion of individual projects related to each student’s interests. Prerequisite(s): one course in sociology or politics.

SOC 312 Populism in the Age of Globalization

Populist movements and parties have gained power and prominence in recent years. Often defying traditional left-right distinctions, they have in many cases adopted anti-globalization, nationalist or nativist, and anti-elitist positions. They have enjoyed electoral and other successes in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia, and Africa. This seminar examines the causes of their rise, nature of their rhetoric and policies, and profound impact on cultural, political, economic, and other social processes and dynamics. Prerequisite(s): EUS 101 or one course in politics or sociology.

SOC 314 European Integration: Politics, Society, and Geography

The European Union (E.U.) represents one of the most remarkable achievements of the contemporary world. This seminar first reviews the history and structure of the E.U. It then examines a series of topics related to the political, social, and geographical dimensions of European integration. These topics include the drivers of integration, the transformation of domestic policies and institutions, the demands of E.U. law, the rise of a European identity, the consequences of expansion in Eastern and Central Europe, the salience of regions, and the E.U. on the international scene. Comparisons with other trade blocs conclude the seminar. Students are exposed to numerous theoretical tools and methodologies, including institutionalism, rational choice theory, intergovernmentalism, and comparative methods. Prerequisite(s): one course in sociology or politics, or EUS 101.

SOC 320 Immigrant Racialization

The racialization of immigrants is intimately tied to the construction of race for all groups in U.S. society. In this seminar students engage the intersecting literatures of race, ethnicity, and immigration to explore implicit and explicit discussions of racial hierarchies, and how immigrants fit into and challenge existing accounts of assimilation and incorporation. They deconstruct the racialization of citizenship status with particular attention to how blackness is integral to the immigrant racialization project. Prerequisite(s): INDS 250 or SOC 205. Recommended background: SOC 204.

SOC 321 Black Immigrant Narratives

Black immigrants occupy a liminal space on the race-ethnicity spectrum. This seminar interrogates this peculiar dilemma by drawing on the cases of Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and African immigrants to the United States. Students explore how first- and second-generation immigrants construct their identity and define their relationship to blackness. They examine the role of ethnic conflict, cultural performativity, nationality, political and class ideologies, transnationalism, and citizenship status on immigrants’ everyday lives. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 or 205.

SOC 323 Social Spaces, Places, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This course explores the social relationships people have to the physical world. Our physical environment influences our interactions, wellbeing, and life outcomes. The first half of this course focuses on the theories behind space and place. Students distinguish between these similar concepts while exploring the impact they may have on an individual. Next, students are introduced to sociological literature that demonstrates the impact that physical places can have on individual outcomes. This section of the course examines neighborhood characteristics, zoning, transit, public investment, and social infrastructure. The second half of the course introduces students to basic geographic information system (GIS) techniques using R to map physical locations.

SOC 330 Sociology of Health Professions

This seminar draws on theoretical perspectives and research methodologies employed by two major subfields of sociology, the sociology of work and medical sociology. Health professionals in the United States work in rapidly changing technological, political, economic, and demographic environments. Students explore these and other issues facing health professionals, such as job satisfaction, stress, and efforts to balance work and family. They examine a wide range of health occupations, including (but not limited to) physicians, nurses, dentists, allied health professionals, and practitioners of complementary medicine. Students draw on a diverse range of theoretical frameworks and both qualitative and quantitative research methods employed in the study of health professions. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205.

SOC 335 Social Inequality and Public Policy

How are social inequalities in the United States both reduced and exacerbated by public programming, ranging from health care initiatives to work-family policies? This seminar explores public policies that affect diverse facets of social life, including marriage and family, education, health care, and work. Emphasis is placed on how such macrolevel forces shape individual lives, and particularly how policy intersects with inequalities based on race/ethnicity, class, gender, age, and sexual orientation. Students conduct individual research, drawing on a diverse range of theoretical frameworks and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205.

SOC 340 Work, Policy, and Social Inclusion

This seminar explores debates in the research and policy literature on work and social inequality, particularly in the United States. Topics include poverty policy related to housing, health, education, and food access; care work; and the integration of work and family. These topics are addressed with attention to social inclusion and exclusion on the basis of intersecting inequalities, including race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation, as well as critical analysis of neoliberal approaches to work and society. Prerequisites: INDS/AFR/AMST/GSS 250 or SOC 205 or SOC 250 or GSS/SOC 270.

SOC 346 Knowledge, Action, and Social Change

This seminar explores the politics of knowledge and the potential role of research in advancing social justice and social change. Students consider competing perspectives on the public relevance of academic research, including debates within sociology and feminist studies. With those debates as context, students conduct publicly-engaged work through community-based research projects on issues related to social inequality. Prerequisite(s): INDS 250 or SOC 205.

SOC 350 Race, Crime, and Punishment in America

This seminar examines how race and crime-as well as race and punishment-are intertwined from historical and contemporary perspectives. Students consider crime and deviance from an empirical and theoretical view as well as patterns of punishment that disproportionately affect various racial and ethnic groups. Students seek to understand how the present is informed by the past, and they contribute to the scholarly conversation with individual research projects. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205.

SOC 351 Crime and Justice over the Life Course

In this seminar, students examine crime and deviance over the life of individuals, how behavior changes, and the role of social institutions and relationships in affecting life outcomes.Why and how do people begin engaging in crime and deviance? Why do some people engage at high rates while others only dabble in minor crime? How and why do people eventually stop engaging in crime altogether? Students select a particular issue early in the semester to study in detail, resulting in an empirical or analytical project. The goal is not only to fully understand life-course criminology research, but also to advance this work in new and innovative ways. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205. Recommended background: SOC 101.

SOC 360 Independent Study

SOC 365 Special Topics

SOC 371 Prejudice and Stereotyping

Two issues that have long held the interest of social psychologists and that are of great social importance are prejudice and stereotyping. This course explores traditional and contemporary social psychological research on unconscious and covert forms of prejudice as well as cognitive and emotional functions served by stereotyping. The course concludes with an examination of the challenges to prejudice reduction and stereotype change. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 218.

SOC 373 Racism: A Multilevel Approach

Students in this course engage with psychological research relevant to race relations, reviewing, evaluating, and applying both classic work (such as social identity theory) and contemporary work (such as implicit bias research). After studying the limitations of intrapsychic and interpersonal approaches, students also consider the roles that institutions and policies play in maintaining racial hierarchies. Throughout the course, students aim to remain grounded in historical context and, consistent with an intersectional approach, they also remain cognizant of the ways that race’s impact is also influenced by other category memberships, such as gender and class. Prerequisite(s): PSYC 218 or SOC 206.

SOC 380 Education, Reform, and Politics

The United States has experienced more than three centuries of growth and change in the organization of public education. This course examines 1) contemporary reform issues and political processes in relation to school, research, legal, policymaking, and student/family constituencies and 2) how educational policy is formulated and implemented. The study of these areas emphasizes public K-12 education but includes postsecondary education. Examples of specific educational policy arenas include school choice (e.g., charter schools, magnet schools, and vouchers), school funding, standards and accountability, and college access. A thirty-hour field experience is required. Prerequisite(s): EDUC 231.

SOC 401 Law and Community Internships

Part-time internships in local courts and other agencies concerned with the legal system. Enrollment is limited to available positions. Prerequisite(s): SOC 211 or 217. Enrollment is limited to available positions.

SOC 405 Senior Capstone in Sociology

Sociology examines the causes and consequences of social behavior, providing the tools to understand the relationships between individual lives and larger social structures and inequalities. This course is a capstone reflection on the discipline of sociology and the application of the sociological imagination to understanding the world. This intensive culminating experience synthesizes and integrates materials from prior sociology courses as well as exposes students to current controversies in the discipline. Discussions focus on core sociological concepts, theories, and methods, applying them to different substantive areas in the field. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205.

SOC 457 Senior Thesis

Individual and group conferences in connection with the writing of the senior thesis. Students register for SOC 457 in the fall semester. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205.

SOC 458 Senior Thesis

Individual and group conferences in connection with the writing of the senior thesis. Students register for SOC 458 in the winter semester. Prerequisite(s): SOC 204 and 205.

SOC S14 Family Stories: A Sociological Perspective

This course examines the family as a social institution and personal family stories, with attention to structural inequalities and their intersections with individual lives. Course materials include sociological memoir, qualitative research on family experiences, engagement with local initiatives related to families in Lewiston-Auburn, and a range of story-telling media like documentaries, podcasts, and other creative work. Students explore these topics and materials in the context of dynamics of privilege, exclusion, and marginalization, including systemic racism, capitalism, and inequalities of gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, nationality, and citizenship. Throughout the course, students also construct sociological analyses of their own families, with a variety of options for creating final products that document those individual family stories.

SOC S15 Sociology of Sex

Sex is a sociological conundrum. It is deeply culturally scripted but also inescapably embodied and individual. Sex can be the perfect win-win proposition, providing gratuitous pleasure and social bonding. Yet sex can also be a disaster, bringing unwanted physical consequences and the most profound humiliation. This course explores a wide variety of work on sex from sociology and neighboring disciplines, including contemporary biological and psychological knowledge about human sex. The goal is a thoroughgoing and humane rethinking of taken-for-granted perspectives on this delightful and disturbing aspect of human experience.

SOC S16 Crime and Deviance in the American Civil War

This course examines deviant behavior through a historical lens, focusing on the American Civil War (1861-1865), and primarily drawing on movies, texts, discussion, and visits to local landmarks and museums. Students discuss what types of deviance and crime occurred during wartime and use a sociological lens to analyze why the behaviors occurred and what consequences they had. They apply current thinking in criminology and sociology to understanding crime and deviance in the 1860s. The course is an exploration of how wartime shapes our attitudes, behaviors, and life chances.

SOC S25 Consciousness in Sociology Theory

The concept of “consciousness” appears in the works of all major classical sociological figures. Curiously, to date, no systematic effort exists that provides a comparative assessment of its use. This course focuses on five foundational theorists-Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Mead, and Du Bois-and considers the extent to which human consciousness is central to their theories, the proposed “objects” of such consciousness, the existence of both individual and shared consciousnesses, and whether those consciousnesses exist in conflict or harmony with each other. The analysis will improve students’ understanding of classical sociological thought. A consideration of consciousness in contemporary theories also informs the course. The course focuses mostly on textual analysis, but students are also expected to carry out investigations outside the classroom and around campus.

SOC S26 Life Course and Aging

This course explores the aging experience, focusing on early adulthood, middle age, and late life. Students are introduced to the social forces shaping the aging experience, paying particular attention to how race and ethnicity, gender, and social class influence the life course. Topics include key transitions in the life course produced by the intersection of individual lives with institutions such as family, health care, and the workplace. The course applies the theoretical perspectives and methodological techniques of life-course sociology to an exploration of life trajectories and the meanings of age.

SOC S50 Independent Study