Introduction to Sociology using Computers
Professor Caroline Hodges Persell
Department of Sociology, New York University
Assignments and Due Dates
Revised last 12/30/02
Web Reading 1: "An Invitation to the Sociological Outlook." What is sociology and society?
Check the following terms in the on-line glossary: sociology, social structure, society.
To compare the perspective on sociology in this course, please look at some other beginning sociology courses around the world. You can do this at WWW Virtual library Sociology Institutions and Departments at http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/w3virtsoclib/institut.htm See Lab Work for more detail.
What is sociology?
What is a society? How does society get inside us?
What is a social theory? What major theoretical perspectives have you encountered so far?
What does it mean to say that humans are social beings?
What does C. Wright Mills, in Ferguson, mean by the term, "the sociological imagination?"
What is the most useful idea you obtained from Earl Babbie's paper?
What was the most murky part of the readings for today?
Do you think there is a need for sociology? Why or why not?
What new questions do you have?
Please bring 4 photos of yourself, with your name on them. If
you don't have any, please make a photo copy of your NYU ID card.
Reading2: "Subsistence Strategies and Social Structure."
Glossary terms: agrarian societies, horticultural societies, hunting and gathering societies, industrialized societies, institutions, nomadic societies, pastoral societies, social network.
On the web go to the 2002 CIA World Factbook on-line. Select at least one country and the search the World Fact Book for information on it. What can you learn about this society from the World Factbook? Type up in no more than one page and bring to class answers to the following questions: 1) Give examples of at least five different features of a society that you can learn from the World Factbook. 2) What features of a society are difficult to discern from the World Factbook? Give examples of at least five different sociological characteristics of a society that are difficult to learn from the Factbook. 3) Are any of those social structures? If so, which ones? 4) What do you see as the difference between a country and a society?
Students often ask, "What do sociologists do?" To find out, check out the American Sociological Association's website on Careers in Sociology.
What is social action?
What is social structure?
What are the implications of being embedded in social organization?
How are subsistence strategies related to social structures?
What do sociologists do?
Read Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler, "Peer Power: Clique Dynamics among School Children," Martin Sanchez Jankowski, "Gang Business: Making Ends Meet," Kathleen M. Blee, "Women of the Klan: Organizing 100 Percent American Women," and Michael Schwalbe, "The Search for Communitas in the Men's Movement" all in Ferguson, Mapping the Social Landscape, Third Edition.
Glossary terms: aggregate, complex status set, cross-cutting status sets, primary group, secondary group, organization, role set, socialization, social rank, social status, status set.
What are social groups?
How do they originate?
What makes groups distinctive?
Why do group leaders have power over group members?
What type of group does the street gang that Martin Sanchez Jankowski studied represent?
What features of the social structure and processes of the WKKK enabled it to obtain a large membership in a short period of time?
Read Craig Haney, W. Curtis Banks, and Phillip G. Zimbardo, "Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison" and Elaine Bell Kaplan, "Not Our Kind of Girl" both in Ferguson. For slides and more discussion of Zimbardo's very famous Stanford Prison Experiment see http://www.prisonexp.org/
Reading3: "Culture, Norms, and Values." Glossary terms: culture, folkways, language, mores, norms, sanctions, values.
What is culture?
How are culture and social structure related?
What's the difference between a culture, a subculture, and a counterculture? Can you give examples of each?
Do the street gangs that Martin Sanchez Jankowski studied constitute a subculture?
What is a value?
What is a norm?
How do symbols, self, and mind make some degree of freedom possible?
Read Anne M. Velliquette and Jeff B. Murray, "The New Tattoo Subculture," and Elijah Anderson, "The Code of the Streets" in Ferguson.
Find examples of values and norms in the "The New Tattoo Subculture" and "The Code of the Streets". Bring your list to class.
What is the relationship between social groups and culture?
Where do cultural ideas come from?
Reading 4: "Socialization"
Glossary term: socialization
What is socialization?
How is it related to social structure?
How is socialization related to culture?
How much do you think socialization has influenced who you are?
Read Judith Lorber, "'Night to his Day'" The Social Construction of Gender," Michael Messner, "Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities," Robert Granfield, "Making It by Faking It: Working-Class Students in an Elite Academic Environment," and Gwynne Dyer, "Anybody's Son Will Do" all in Ferguson.
Give an example of how some feature of culture is related to socialization in each of the four readings. Say how or why you see it as related. Bring your list to class.
Reading5: "An Introduction to How Sociologists Conduct Research."
Read Sherlock Holmes' " Adventure of Silver Blaze" by Sir Arthur Conant Doyle , December 1892.
Review Healey et al. Exploring Social Issues , Ch. 2, "Theory and Research," pp. 27-39.
What are the various "ways of knowing" that we are using in this course? What do you see as the strengths and limitations of each type?
What operating assumption underlies all social research?
What’s the difference between a descriptive and an analytical study?
What is the difference between an empirical and a normative statement?
What is a variable?
What types of evidence do you need to have to infer causality?
What do you see as the relationship between the Sherlock Holmes story and social research?
Glossary terms: descriptive and analytical studies,
experiments, field work, hypothesis, measurement, population and sample,
rates, surveys, variable.
Read parts 1 and 3 of the section on Suicide by Emil Durkheim and " What is a Social Fact " on the web from Emile Durkheim's Rules of Sociological Method summarized in an excerpt from Robert Alun Jones, Emile Durkheim: An Introduction to Four Major Works. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., Pp. 60-81. 1986.
Why does Durkheim consider suicide to have social causes?
What does Durkheim mean by a social fact?
To what does Durkheim limit the domain of sociology?
Read "Max Weber's View of Objectivity in Social Science" by Steve Hoenisch.
Max Weber's picture, bibliography, and sources about him
What does Weber say about objectivity in social science?Do you think objectivity is possible in social science?
Read David L. Rosenhan, "On Being Sane in Insane Places," Penelope A. McLorg and Diane E. Taub, "Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia: The Development of Deviant Identities," Philippe Bourgois, "In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio," and Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert A. Hummer, "Fraternities and Rape on Campus" all in Ferguson.
Study glossary terms anomie, anomie theory, deterrence theory, deviance, differential association, formal sanctions, informal sanctions, labeling theory, primary deviance, scapegoating, secondary deviance, social control, stigmatization, white-collar crime.
What is deviant behavior? Give some examples from your reading for today. How do you know the behavior is deviant?
What is stigmatization? Give some examples.
What conditions are necessary for one group or society to be able to stigmatize another group or society? how do any of the readings for today illustrate those conditions?
Is all behavior relative?
No make-up exams unless you are in the hospital through no fault of your own.
Read G. William Domhoff, "Who Rules America? The Corporate Community and the Upper Class," Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, "BlackWealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality," Herbert J. Gans, "Positive Functions of the Undeserving Poor: Uses of the Underclass in America," and Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein, "Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive on a Welfare Check" all in Ferguson.
Read about growing income inequality under Course Materials on the Blackboard site for this class.
Notes on class, status and power by Max Weber
Reading on Defining and Measuring Social Class
Study glossary terms: caste, class, ideology, legitimate, life chances, Matthew effect, power, principle of cumulative advantage, socioeconomic status (SES), social inequality, status group, status inconsistency, stratification.
Kearl's "Explorations in Social Inequality"
Yahoo Directory: Sociology: Social Class and Stratification
Thorsten Veblen's, The Theory of the Leisure Class
How do sociologists define and measure social class?
Is class a distributional or a relational concept?
How does social class relate to deviant behavior?
Did the U.S. war on poverty in the 1960s eliminate poverty? Why or why not?
How much poverty is there in the U.S. compared to other societies?
What factors affect where people end up in the class structure?
Read Michael A. Omi, "The Changing Meaning of Race," pp. 243-263 in Neil J. Smelser, William Julius Wilson, and Faith Mitchell, Eds., America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Vol. I. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. May be read free online
Read Lawrence D. Bobo, "Racial Attitudes and Relations at the Close of the Twentieth Century," pp. 264-301 in Neil J. Smelser, William Julius Wilson, and Faith Mitchell, Eds., America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Vol. I. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. May be read free online
See Lab Assignment using
What county in the U.S. can you find that illustrates considerable multiplicity? What county illustrates very little multiplicity? Bring your results to class.
What is race?
What is racism? How might we measure racism?
Under what social condition is racism more or less likely?
What are some of the sociological consequences of racism, both societal and social psychological?
What social conditions reduce racial intolerance?
Read W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Problem of the Twentieth
Century is the Problem of the Color Line," Nancy Abelmann and John Lie,
"Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots," and Joe R. Feagin
and Melvin P. Sikes, "Navigating Public Places" all in Ferguson.
Recommended:More detail and weblinks on famous sociologists such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Robert K. Merton and others.
Monday 3/17 to Friday 3/21. SPRING RECESS. ENJOY YOURSELVES.
Due Tu. 3/25
Read Yen Le Espiritu, "The Racial Construction of Asian American Women and Men," Barbara Risman, "Gender as Structure," and Peggy McIntosh, "White Privilege and Male Privilege" in Ferguson.
Read around in the website on Gender Stratification
What are some of the processes of gender stratification?
What are some of the consequences of gender stratification?
What are some of the consequences of changes in gender stratification?
What are some of the barriers to complete gender equality?
What other forms of stratification may exist in a society?
How does the simultaneous existence of multiple forms of stratification affect people’s awareness of their situations?
What common processes occur in class, racial, and gender stratification?
Read Judith Stacey, "Gay and Lesbian Families are Here," Patricia Hill Collins, "The Meaning of Motherhood in Black Culture," and Arlie Russell Hochschild, "The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work" all in Ferguson.
What is a social institution?
Why do social institutions exist?
In what sense is the family a social institution?
What changes are occuring in the institution of the family?
What are some sources of family change?
Due Tu. 4/1
Reading: Functions of the family, changes in family forms, causes of those changes, implications of those changes.
Read around in
Michael Kearl's Sociology of the Family webpage
What is a family?
at http://www.censusscope.org/, compare two counties in terms of the
percentage of households of different types. Bring your analyses to
Are family functions changing? What were they and what are they now?
What sociological questions do you have about the family?
Read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party," William Julius Wilson, "When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor," and Robin Leidner, "Over the Counter: McDonald's" all in Ferguson.
For more information on Marx and Engels see the
For pictures, see the Marx/Engels Image Library
For biographical information, see the Marx/Engels Biographical Archive
What have been the biggest changes occurring in the economy and work in the U.S. in the last 20-30 years?
What are some implications of those changes?
What are the possible consequences of these changes for other social institutions?
Read C. Wright Mills, "The Power Elite," Dan Clawson, Alan Neustadtl, and Mark Weller, "Dollars and Votes: How Business Campaign Contributions Subvert Democracy," and Martin N. Marger, "The Mass Media as a Power Institution" all in Ferguson.
For a good website on who controls
various aspects of the media
C. Wright Mills' Home Page by Frank Elwell
Reading on Power.
Glossary terms: power, legitimate power, authority.
What is power?
What are some of the ways power operates in society? In the world?
What is the difference between power and authority?
Read Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes, "Civilize Them with a Stick," Peter W. Cookson, Jr. and Caroline Hodges Persell, "Preparing for Power: Cultural Capital and Curricula in America's Elite Boarding Schools," and Myra Sadker and David Sadker, "Failing at Fairness: Hidden Lessons."
What is the role of education in society? What are the functions of education in society and for individuals?
How has that role changed through time?
What are the implications of changes in the family, economy, and polity for education?
Reading "Education and Inequality"
Supplemental Reading "The Functions and Effects of Education"
What is the relationship between education and social inequality?
Does education reproduce social inequalities by class, race, gender, and so forth, or is it an equalizing institution that provides opportunities for members of disadvantaged groups?
Does education have the same payoff for members of disadvantaged groups
as it does for members of advantaged groups? Why, or why not?
Read Max Weber, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism," Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, "Why 'Mainline" Denominations Decline," and Kathleen S. Lowney, "Baring Our Souls: TV Talk Shows and the Religion of Recovery."
Reading "On Religion"
What are the functions of religion in society?
What are some of the relationships between religion and other social institutions?
Is religion declining in modern/postmodern society? Why or why not?
What do you think Weber would say about religious talk shows?
Reading on Population
Check out these websites:
Mortality Rates by Race, Sex, and Income, 1986 :
Good demographics on New York City
The U.S. Census
Population Reference Bureau Website
For maps using data plotted in small geographical units by the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis see
Zero Population Growth's
, including a world population counter.
Readings in Ferguson on health.
Check out one or more of the following web sites about health:
National Center for Disease Control
What is happening to U.S. and world populations?
What are the biggest population trends?
What are the implications of these trends?
Where can you find data on population trends on the world wide web?
Is health related to social factors? If so, which ones and how?
What do we know about how health is related to social class, gender,
race, or varying forms of social organization?
Read George Ritzer, "The McDonaldization of Society," Conrad L. Kanagy and Donald B. Kraybill, "How will the Internet Change Society?" William Greider, "One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism," and Allan G. Johnson, "What Can We Do? Becoming Part of the Solution" all in Ferguson.
What are some sources of social change?
What sources of change are analyzed in the various readings from Ferguson?
What are the implications of those analyses?
Review of the course and first set of group presentations.
What does it mean to think sociologically?
Second set of group presentations.
Additional Resources at other web sites:
Libraries, Archives http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/socio/links/#libr
Data Resources http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/socio/links/#data
Useful Pages (interesting documents and valuable resources - other links pages): http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/socio/links/#interesting
Web Search Engines: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/socio/links/#search
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Joseph Hargitai, Jeffrey Lane, and Richard Malenitza for their help over the years with the development of this web site.