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Introducation to Sociology

Dr. Linda Markowitz
Peck Building, 1228
Phone: 650-2451
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday: 11:-12:00  and Thursday 5:00-6:00

Have you ever wondered why you have to go to college to get a "nice" paying job?  Why do women sit with their legs closed while men sit all sprawled out?  Why are neighborhoods commonly segregated by race?  In this class all these questions will be answered and more!

Sociology is the scientific study of society's organization.  Sociologists focus on how the organization of society is the  social creation of people, and therefore, not inevitable.  In this class we will be asking WHY.  Why do we live in an economy that fosters inequality?  Why is race important?  Why is gender important?  These questions are crucial for understanding how the economy, family and political spheres are organized.   When asking WHY we avoid falling into the moral evaluation of society.  All your life you have learned to believe in what is "good" and what is "bad." We will NOT be morally evaluating society.  Rather, we will be critically examining these moral "truths".  In doing so, we learn that many of these moral beliefs are not only contradictory but prevent us from understanding reality.   How can we understand why welfare exists if we do not understand what CAUSES welfare?

In order to understand "why," sociologists look at the whole rather than individuals, social contexts rather than isolation, social structure rather than free will.

Course Requirements:
1) Midterm and Final:  There will be a midterm composed of multiple choice, fill-in-the blank and short essay questions, as well as a COMPREHENSIVE final with the same format.  The midterm is worth 25% of your grade.  The final is worth 29% of your grade

2) Quizzes: There will be two multiple choice quizzes. Each quiz is worth 8% of your grade

Failure to take Midterm and quizzes ---  Anyone who does not contact me in person or by phone (thus leaving a message for me in the department will not do) about missing the midterm or quizzes before the day of the scheduled midterm or quiz will not be able to do a make-up, and will receive a 0 for the grade.  The make-up must be taken within one week of the scheduled midterm or quiz in order for you to receive a grade.  You are responsible for scheduling the make-up.  THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP FOR THE FINAL..

2)  Homeworks----  There are 3 homework assignments, each worth 10% of your grade. Homework assignments must be turned in by the beginning of the class the day they are due.  I am happy to read first drafts for any paper and provide comments before the paper is due.

 Late papers will be counted off 10 points  EACH 24 hour period they are late.

4) CLASS ATTENDANCE and LATE POLICY:  Attending and not being late are essential to the learning process,   Thus, I encourage anyone who has a schedule conflict to discuss it with me immediately. Your final grade will be hampered as a result of absences.  Each student can miss three class periods without penalty.  However, each two days missed after that will effect your final grade.

ALSO, EVERY STUDENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT IS SAID IN CLASS WHETHER OR NOT SHE OR HE COMES TO CLASS!!!!  Thus, if I add material or change the date of  something, it is YOUR responsibility to find the material that you missed.

5) POP QUIZZES:  I reserve the right to give pop quizzes to ensure that students are reading the material when they are required to read it.  If I do use pop quizzes, I will add them into the percentage of your midterm or final.

Required Readings: The required text are available for renting at Textbook Rentals.

Johnson, Allan. 1996.  Human Arrangements: An Introduction to Sociology, Fourth Edition.  Brown and Benchmark.

Course Outline: Reading should be done before class so that students can offer insightful comments about the material


August 21:   Introduction

 23   Chapter 1

 25   Chapter 2

 28   Chapter 2

 30   Chapter 2: Crucible

Sept 1    Chapter 2: Continuation with Excersize on Crucible
 4   Labor Day

 6   Chapter 3:

 8    Chapter 3 Exercise on Structure

 11   Chapter 3: Exercize on Structure: Paper 1 Due

 13   Chapter 4:

 15   Chapter 5: Functionalism: Pleasantville

 18   Chapter 5:Conflict: Matrix

 20 Chapter 5: Symbolic Interactionism: Romeo and Juliet

 22 Chapter 6

 25 Chapter 6

 27 Chapter 6         Paper 2 Due

 29 Chapter 7:   QUIZ 1

Oct 2   Chapter 7 and 8

 4   Chapter 8

 6   Chapter 9

 9   Chapter 9

 11 Chapter 9

 13   REview


 18   Chapter 12

 20   Chapter 12

 23   Chapter 12

 25   Chapter 13

 27 Chapter 13

 30 Chapter 13

Nov 1   Chapter 14

 3   Chapter 14   Paper 3 due

 6 Chapter 14

 8 Chapter 16

 10 Chapter 16

 13 Chapter 16

 15 Chapter 17:  QUIZ 2

  17 Chapter 17

Nov 20-24 Thanksgiving Break

 27 Chapter 17

 29 Chapter 17

Dec 1   Chapter 18

 4 Chapter 18

 6 What is Sociology?

   8   Review

FINAL:   Monday December 11, 9:00.


Homework Guidelines:

1)  Margins should be 1" at top and bottom,  1.5" right and left.
2)  All papers must be double-spaced (no more or no less).
3)  The first paragraph must begin no later than 2 inches from the top of the page.
4) Homework assignments will be typed and
5) Papers must be 3-5  pages.

You will receive 10 points off for each guideline you do not follow

I encourage everyone to turn in a draft of their paper before it is due so that I can look it over and provide you feedback.

Homework 1: The Importance of Norms

In this assignment, I want you to discover the norms that you follow unknowingly every day.  Think about your behaviors.  How are they affected by the unwritten rules of society? For instance,  How do norms affect the way that you dress? Why would you choose a dress rather than a suit (or vice versa) at a wedding.  What would happen if you HAD chosen the other?  Do you shave?  Where?  What would happen if you didn't? Do you wear make-up?  Why?  What would happen if you did/didn't?  How do norms affect the language that you use?  How do you speak?  Are you indirect or direct?  What words do you use to describe something?  Have you ever been in a situation where people are dissing someone because of their gender or race?  What norms do you follow there?  Do you comment to the person or do you listen politely?  What would happen if you weren't polite?  Do you hold the door open, say "please" and "thank you?"  What would happen if you didn't?

These are just examples.  I want you to think about ALL of the unwritten rules that you obey everyday and write them down.

Write a paper about two or three norms that are VERY important to you and EXPLAIN why they are important and why you obey them.

In order to receive points for this assignment you must explain sociologically WHY you obey these rules.   Is it structure?  Is it culture?  Explain using sociological terms from Chapters 1, 2, 3.

Assignment 2: Observing Relationships

The purpose of this assignment is to utilize the scientific method of participant observation to analyze a social situation.    Here, I want you to act like the social scientist rather than the "college student."  This means you are to gather and analyze information in a systematic fashion.

Situation: Analyze a "love" couple: This couple can be your parents, friends, strangers, whoever.  Remember that people react differently when they think they are being observed so be UNOBSTRUSIVE.  If you need to take notes, do so in a manner that the people do not realized they are being observed

Place: Anywhere.  In this social situation, I want you to observe everything.  Where are you?  What time is it?

Describe the scene.  Are you at a home?  The mall?  School?  What are the people wearing?  Are the people sitting or standing?

Now:   You must use ECOLOGY, CULTURE AND STRUCTURE to "define the situation."  In other words, how does the ecology of the situation affect how the couple is interacting?  How do the norms and rituals of the culture affect how the couple is interacting.  How does power affect how the couple is interacting.   How does their gender/race/class/age  affect their behaviors? How does their sexual orientation (whether they are straight/gay/lesbian) affect the norms, rituals and attitudes they are displaying.

Now make sure you note who is doing what.  If they're arguing, are the woman and man equally likely to interrupt one another? Who is louder?  If they are playing, are they using the same strategies to create laughter?  If they are talking, who is doing most of the talking?  Does the person who is listening seem interested?  Bored?  How do you know?  What cues have they given you to believe any of these things.


Consider the ethics of your observations.  Should you tell the couple, after the completion of the observation, that you were observing them? Why or why not?  What are the ethicial considerations of your deception?

Assignment 3: Benefitting from Discrimination

Discrimination is when one group is given unfair disadvantages which causes another group to receive unfair advantages.   The most important facet of discrimination is its relational nature. If one group is being treated unfairly, then another group is, BY DEFINITION, benefitting from this unfairness.  Thus, you do not even have to actively engage in discrimination to benefit from it.  For example, if an African American female does not get a job because of a racist manager and a white female gets the job for the same reason, the white female has benefitted from discrimination.  All people in U.S society benefit from discrimination against other groups, which means that we all knowingly or unknowingly participate in discrimination.

 For this assignment I want you to discuss the unfair advantages certain groups receive from discrimination. How do Men, White people, Heterosexual people, Able-bodied people, Rich, North American people benefit from discrimination?  If you want, focus on personal experience.  Think about the ways in your life you have experienced discrimination: as the discriminated or the discriminator (and you have probably experienced life both as the discriminated AND the discriminator).  However,everyone must write about examples of how  groups benefit unfairly from the discrimination of others..