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Sociology Course Descriptions

SOC 101 / Intro to Sociology

Sociology explores the intersection between our personal lives, history, and the social world around us. Students learn the basic foundations of sociology, including its development as a field of inquiry, sociological theory, and methodology. Students investigate how race, class, gender, and other social identities are constructed, performed, and affect our social lives and perpetuate existing structures of inequality, with an emphasis on institutional and structural racism. The course also explores how culture and social institutions shape individuals and their life trajectories.

SOC 170 / Topics in Sociology

This is a Topics Course with no prerequisites, open to and appropriate for first-year students. Topic varies depending on instructor.

SOC 205 / Social Work & Human Service Professions

Are you drawn to collaborating with others to improve their lives in a meaningful way? This dynamic course is designed especially for students interested in any human services profession, particularly social work, but also fields such as public health, medical social services, counseling & therapy, rehabilitation, educational support, government, and non-profit management. Together we examine the theory and practice of social work and human services within the larger social welfare system in America. Our exploration probes: a) the complex array of problems that challenge the social functioning of individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities, (b) the various approaches, policies, and interventions employed to enhance or restore social functioning, (c) the unique values, knowledge, and skills required for effective professional practice, and (d) the multiple, varied, and rewarding career opportunities. Critical investigation of America¿s structural and systemic social problems is a primary focus, including poverty and socio-economic inequality, health disparities, racism, sexism, and other forms of social injustice. The instructor emphasizes interactive and experiential learning, including small group discussions, career exploration with visiting social work professionals, and completion of a 30-hour, community-based, field experience at a site selected by the student.

SOC 210 / Social Deviance

This course focuses on a sociological understanding of deviance. Students will be introduced to the processes of deviance and social control by examining critically the social category of deviance and its uses in social institutions and daily social practices. Topics covered will include: the construction and categorization of deviance; the origins and functions of deviance in society; the impact of deviance on personal and social identity; the role of power in defining deviance.

SOC 227 / Political & Historical Sociology

This course introduces students to classical theories and concepts on power and authority.   The following topics are also covered: Comparative and historical analysis of social origins of current political inequality within both Western and non-Western countries and the resulting problems of alienation, poverty and political instability in the world.

SOC 270 / Topics in Sociology

This is a Topics Course with no prerequisites, offered primarily for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  It may not be appropriate for freshmen. Topic varies depending on instructor.

SOC 281 / Sociology of Race in the US

This course provides a sociological perspective on race and ethnicity in the United States. A sociological approach to this topic begins with the understanding that racial and ethnic categories ¿ including `white¿ ¿ are not objective measures of biological difference. Rather, these are socially created categories and are the result of historical struggles over economic resources, political access, and cultural identity. Indeed, categories of race and ethnicity are socially created to establish distinctions among human beings and to justify the unequal distribution of wealth, resources, power, privilege and prestige among members of society. The meanings assigned to categories of race, however, change over time and space. Cross-listed with AAS 281.

SOC 301 / Development of Socio-Cultural Theory

What is the relationship of the individual to the social world? Classical social theorists responded to the consequences of the industrial revolution, the rise of capitalism, shifts toward secularism and modern consciousness with answers to this question. This course examines the work of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber, whose ideas are still salient in shaping perspectives and framing terms of argument among many major contemporary social and political thinkers. It compares classical theory with later extensions and contemporary approaches to provide students in sociology and anthropology with a solid conceptual foundation. The course will emphasize comparative application of theory to make sense of one’s experience living in contemporary society.

SOC 302 / Quantitative Research Methods

The course is designed to familiarize students with quantitative research methodology, methods of quantitative data collection, and analysis of quantitative data used in sociology, as well as the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods. In addition, students will learn statistical software packages in the social sciences and conduct independent research using one of the most widely used sources of quantitative social data, the General Social Survey (GSS). One additional 80-minute lab session is required as a co-component to this course.

SOC 303 / Gender and Activism in Global Perspective

Social movements about gender issues and identities are significant sources of social change in societies around the world. This course explores the cultural constructions and implications of gender in different global contexts by analyzing the political demands and experiences of gender-based movements.

SOC 306 / Qualitative Social Science Research Methods & Ethnography

This course involves students directly in qualitative research and analysis, primarily interviewing and participant observation.  Students will learn techniques of research design, interviewing, participant observation, writing ethnographic field notes, and qualitative data analysis. They will then work directly with the professor to design their own research project, carry it out, and analyze their own data. This course is designed for any student who has interest in the social sciences, human services, or graduate school.

SOC 310 / Urban Youth Deviance

This course focuses on how “urban youth deviance” is defined, measured, experienced, and explained. Various sociological theories will be applied to learn about urban youth deviance’s causes, contexts, and consequences. The course will examine attempts to prevent, police, and punish those urban youth who are defined as deviant. Special attention will be paid to the role of race, class, and gender in shaping urban youth deviance and influencing the steps taken to address it.

SOC 314 / Food, Culture, and Society

Food is among the most essential elements of daily life, yet it can also be one of the most revealing constituents of social processes and social structure.  This course will probe the many dimensions and contexts of food. The primary focus will be on its interactive and relational aspects: its role in establishing our identity, preserving our memories, nurturing and sustaining our social connections, as well as potentially dividing us.

SOC 315 / Racism, Power, and Privilege

The social consequences of race, ethnic, and other minority identities as they affect racism, power, and privilege. Racism and ethnic relations are seen as manifestations of stratification and of the competition and conflict that develop over social rewards. Race, power, and privilege are intertwined themes in dominant minority interaction in conjunction with contemporary social issues regarding age, class, and gender. Minority identity as social phenomenon having broad consequences and considered in historical and comparative perspective.

SOC 317 / Organizations in Modern Society

Every day, we encounter an array of organizations, and they shape the way we live our lives¿how we learn, play, work, worship, and shop. Without organizations, it would be impossible to coordinate human activity in contemporary society. Even so, we often take them for granted. By studying different types of organizations, we can better understand how they operate and how to use them effectively. This course examines different kinds of organizations, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, voluntary and involuntary, small and large. Students will apply their knowledge to organizations in the community and will gain a greater understanding of how modern organizations have an impact on our society and themselves.

SOC 320 / Urban Sociology: Community, Cities and Suburbs

People often think about “the city” as separate from “the suburbs,” but the two are inextricably linked. Drawing from urban sociology, this course examines the sociological concept of community and then applies it in two modern contexts: the city and the suburb. Studies of the city attend to current urban problems, such as de-industrialization, poverty, crime, globalization, migration, and urban environmental problems. The suburbs are addressed in terms of growing racial and ethnic diversity as well as cultural homogenization, isolation, segregation, and sprawl. The study of cities and suburbs emphasizes race and ethnicity as prominent features in shaping culture and landscapes in the United States.

SOC 330 / Demography and Population Dynamics

Demography analyzes how human populations change over time. This course will address key demographic concerns, such as changing birth and death rates, as well as in- and out-migration. In addition, students will learn how to divide populations into relevant sub-groups, such as by geography, race, ethnicity, sex, and age, to explain and predict changes in these sub-populations. Students will also learn how to analyze and create data visualizations about human populations.

SOC 333 / Body Image, Culture, and Society

This course is intended to engage students in critical thinking about social responses to the idealized images of women and men around them, as well as the individual decisions they make affecting their own bodies. It is, simultaneously, a case study in the dynamics of social power.

SOC 334 / Gender in US Society

An examination of the significance of gender in different areas of contemporary life. Covers basic concepts, historical perspectives, and changing patterns in attitudes and behavior, drawing on current trends in scholarship, theory, and activism around prominent social issues in the United States. Topics include socialization, mass media, the family, work, and sexuality. Special attention is given to intersectional issues across a range of social systems and institutions.

SOC 335 / Love, Relationships, and Family

Families represent one of the building blocks of social organization, but their structure and function has become increasingly dynamic. How do young adults select romantic partners to form durable unions? Are durable unions that involve marriage different from those that don’t? What is the relationship between marriage and parenting? How do all of these issues vary in a society with increasing diversity in race, ethnicity, social class, sexuality, and religion? This course examines these issues and many more to develop a stronger understanding of how intimate relationships shape and reproduce society.

SOC 336 / Social and Cultural Change

Globalization has brought about drastic changes in every aspect of our lives. How do we make sense of these changes and their effects on us? This course introduces the sociological perspective to examine social and cultural change amidst economic restructuring and development. U.S. society as well as societies on different stages of development are discussed.

SOC 340 / Class, Status, and Power

Class, status, and power inequalities are seen as prevailing conditions of modern societies.  Critical, interpretive, and functional analysis are examined within a comparative and historical framework.  A hierarchal analysis of life-styles cluster will occur as they relate to each other and the larger society in general.

SOC 345 / Environmental Sociology: Inequality, Pollution, & Environment

Environmental sociology applies the sociological imagination to human interactions with the non-human environment. This course introduces the environmental sociological perspective to examine the social origins of environmental problems (such as ozone depletion, deforestation, and water pollution), environmental inequality, environmental racism/environmental justice, and the social history of land use, in New Jersey and around the world. Students will learn how different social and technological systems lead to detrimental environmental impacts that tend to create healthier environments for some and more hazardous environments for others.

SOC 350 / Work, Occupation, & Professions

An analysis of the sociological forces which affect and shape the world of work and the industries in which work occurs. Topics include occupational choice, the rise of the professions, industrial change, technology, and social change.

SOC 355 / Introduction to Urban Planning

A general introduction to the theory, issues, problems, and practical realities of city planning in the United States. Also discusses urban planners; the role they play in the urban environment; and how their roles have changed in response to changing political, economic, cultural, and environmental factors.

SOC 356 / Self and Society

Who am I? This course examines the sociological perspective in the understanding of self and its relationships with society. Sociological theories of self will be discussed and applied to understand how individuals construct one’s sense of self. The exploration aims to deepen one’s understanding of how the sense of self is more fluid and interdependent on one’s social environment than one previously realizes.

SOC 360 / Social Movements & Community Activism

Social movement activism, whether it is on a local, national, or international level, is about people coming together to achieve common goals. Activists face a variety of tasks: recruiting participants, mobilizing resources, assessing the political and social climate and conditions, planning strategies and organizing collective action. To be successful, they must find ways to sustain mobilization during setbacks, address problems of repression and internal disputes, overcome obstacles to mobilization and productively deal with the media. Therefore, the objective of this course is to introduce students to the field of social movements; particular emphasis is placed on the application of theoretical ideas to case studies in order to enhance our knowledge of community organizing and collective mobilization for social change.

SOC 362 / Global Perspectives in Social Gerontology

The purpose of this course is to explore the field of gerontology and the impact of expanded lifespans on our global society. Increasing longevity has changed the basic structure of society around the globe, with several countries now experiencing a population comprised of equal numbers of young and old and declining birth rates. This course explores the state of the science in longevity and aging and its impact on families and societies around the globe exploring intersections with gender, race, class and culture. Topics include healthcare, intergenerational relationships, caregiving, legal policy and ageism from an international and sociologic lens. Students will explore readings, lectures, field trips and current media to inform discussion about the challenges and opportunities for global societies with an increasing percentage of older adults. Impact on family, healthcare, social structure, social policy, business, and intersections with technology will be discussed. This course will challenge students to confront their own views of aging and consider the ethical dilemmas surrounding societal care of the aged as a vulnerable population.

SOC 365 / Poverty and Welfare in the US

History, nature, extent, levels, causes of poverty. Effect of industrialization, urbanization, and technology. Impact upon major institutions. Ethnic and racial group problems and reactions. Governmental and private organizational programs.

SOC 370 / Topics in Sociology

Selected topics which may vary from year to year. Topic to be announced. May be repeated for credit. Topic varies depending on instructor.

SOC 372 / Global Public Health

Who is healthy and where in the world do they live? What are the causes of global health inequalities? What factors support successful health interventions, and where can interventions go wrong? This class focuses on the underlying factors shaping global patterns of health. Relying on a combination of social scientific analyses, policy documents, and case studies, this class introduces students to a broad range of issues, resources, and perspectives on global health. Cross-listed with ANT 372.

SOC 373 / Public Health & Social Policy

This course focuses on the structure and practice of U.S. public health and healthcare. Students will assess public health policy within a historical and institutional framework, and deal with major areas of contemporary debate, including health inequalities, the organization of medical insurance, and the social organization of healthcare. Cross-listed with ANT 373.

SOC 374 / Medical Sociology: The Sociology of Health, Illness and Biomedicine in the US

How does social organization shape our contemporary practices around health and medicine? This course will examine key topics in health, illness, and biomedicine through a sociological lens, with a particular emphasis on the social groups and institutions that most influence contemporary American health and healthcare. Areas of focus include: how institutions transform social inequalities into health disparities, the cultural power of the medical profession(s), patients as advocates and experts, and the relationship between science and medicine. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with core concepts and recent debates within the growing field of medical sociology.

SOC 375 / Religion and American Culture

To correctly understand U.S. culture, one must understand the religions that influenced, and continue to influence, its citizens.  Religion oriented the entire lives of early colonists, impacting the institutions they created, the interactions they had, and the cultural norms they established.  Today, religion is no less influential in American culture.  It shapes the personal realms of its citizens, as well as every institution within it.  This course will be of value to any interested citizen, and especially to those who seek to better understand the dynamic interplay of religion and American culture in the making of American individuals.

SOC 377 / Disparities in the US Health System

Understanding health disparities matters for improving health policy, clinical practice, and public health in the United States. Health disparities reflect complicated interactions between social factors, such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and gender, and health. Through case studies and analysis of current data, this course explores how these and other social factors impact the health condition an individual may have, their ability to receive care and ultimately the type of care they may (or may not) receive. Cross-listed with ANT 377.

SOC 380 / Education and American Culture

Schooling is a primary nexus of American cultural contestation – that is, it is a critical arena in which competing visions of who America is (or should be) clash.  Examining education and its related social processes, then, provides much insight into American culture, its cultural processes, and its complex institutional relationships.  Issues of opportunity, equality, and mobility must, in particular, receive careful attention.  Knowledge gained from this course will be of value to any U.S. resident, but particularly to those who wish to deepen their understanding of the cultural foundations and complexities of U.S. education.

SOC 381 / Economic & Social Development in China

This course examines the rapid social change in China triggered by the economic reform initiated by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s.The course begins with a brief overview of the pre-reform communist rule in China to provide students with an understanding of the Chinese experience that helped shape people’s response to policies that opened China to the world. The various aspects and impacts of economic reform will be discussed in the context of sociological theories of social change and economic development. Topics including the emergence of middle class, rapid urbanization, mass migration, rising inequality, social unrest and the implication of China’s rise to the world will also be discussed.

SOC 385 / Intro to Applied Sociology

Applied sociology takes the tools, skills, and knowledge of sociology to address real-life social issues. The course will examine the characteristics of sociological practice, and different types of social problems that are addressed by applied sociology. Students will be exposed to the methods and skills for understanding and solving clients¿ problems, and problems and will carry out a team volunteer consulting project for a client¿a non-profit organization¿to use sociological skills in a way that benefits the community.

SOC 390 / Research Course in Sociology

A small group of students work closely with a faculty member on his/her ongoing research.  Students will learn to use the data collection and analysis methods used for the project and be offered opportunities to present the findings on campus or at a regional sociology meeting.

SOC 391 / Independent Study in Sociology

For advanced students. In-depth study of specific topic in sociology. Formal proposal must be submitted to department and approved before the student can register for independent study.

SOC 393 / Independent Research in Sociology

For advanced students undertaking an independent research project in sociology with the guidance of department faculty.  Formal proposal must be submitted to the sponsoring faculty for department approval.  The project should culminate in a paper to be presented on campus or a regional sociology conference.

SOC 398 / Sociology Capstone Internship

Capstone internship constituting a culminating experience for sociology majors. Course draws on skills and knowledge of sociology courses as well as knowledge gained from the liberal arts broadly construed to be applied to reflect deeply and examine experiences and the social world at the internship site. Must be taken as a bundle with SOC 499 Senior Seminar in Sociology (of the same section number) to fulfill the capstone requirements of the sociology major.  (0.5 course unit; Corequisite: SOC 499; Prerequisites: SOC 301 and 302)

SOC 399 / Internship in Sociology

Applied experience in major field of study. Consult department for details.  Only two units of internship may be used toward a degree in sociology.

SOC 493 / Senior Capstone Research in Sociology

This is the culmination of a two-semester Senior Research project and paper that serves as one of the options for the Capstone experience for the Sociology major. It provides an opportunity for students interested in sociological research to pursue individual or collaborative research projects, with the guidance of the department faculty. Department Consent required. Prerequisite: SOC 393.

SOC 499 / Senior Capstone Seminar

Senior seminar constituting a culminating experience for sociology majors. Course draws on skills and knowledge of sociology courses as well as knowledge gained from the liberal arts broadly construed. Must be taken as a bundle with SOC 398 Sociology Capstone Internship (of the same section number) to fulfill the capstone requirements of the sociology major. (0.5 course unit; Prerequisites: SOC 301 and 302; Corequisite: SOC 398)