Sociology Immersion

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The immersion in sociology provides insights into the interactions between individuals and the major social forces shaping their lives. Students will learn sociology’s perspectives and methods and use them to explain how society is possible, to examine various social problems, and to assess collective efforts for social change.

Notes about this immersion:

  • This immersion is closed to students majoring in sociology and anthropology who have chosen the sociology track.
  • Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.

The plan code for Sociology Immersion is SOCI-IM.

Curriculum for Sociology Immersion

Choose three of the following:
   African-American Culture
This course will describe the historical and contemporary conditions that have given rise to the distinctive cultural orientation of African Americans in the United States. Students will be provided with an explication of African American culture as it is perceived by the majority of African Americans. Furthermore, the course will outline an operational articulation of the African American experience, and analyze the characterological responses that result from it. Lecture (Spring).
   The Changing Family
Families are the microcosm of society. Sociological concepts and theories define the family as a fundamental institution that both mirrors and propels societal change. The field of family studies explores various parameters of family systems, including gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, division of labor, marriage and divorce, children, and generational relations. In the wake of significant changes in family forms, experiences, and prevailing household arrangements, the scope of sociological inquiry has expanded to meet the new realities of American family life. Lecture (Fall Or Spring).
   Minority Group Relations
The course will provide a context in which to examine the multiple and contradictory social relations of domination, subordination, resistance, and empowerment. The kinds of questions we will explore focus on how power, knowledge, meaning, and cultural representation are organized. We will analyze a variety of political and ideological themes which bear upon the formation of minority group relations, their identity and how these themes complicate the processes by which people construct their understanding of the nation, world, of others, and themselves. Through reflection on theoretical texts and fictional works, as well as film and other popular media, we will consider for ourselves how culture is differently represented and signified, and how the politics of understanding and misunderstanding minority relations work through practices within and outside cultural institutions. Lecture (Fa/sp/su).
   Social Inequality
This course examines various forms of social inequality, including economic, political, health, higher education, race and sex inequality. It uses a variety of sociology's ideas to explain why these kinds of inequality exist, how they persist and what can be done about them. Lecture (Spring).
   Sociology of Work
This course analyzes and assesses social relations of paid labor. Sociology's major ideas about the ways we work will be examined and applied to numerous important topics such as: workplace organization, unions, labor legislation, health and safety, workplace culture, interplays between work and family, experiences of work as alienating or satisfying, inequalities at work, and social mobility. Lecture (Fall Or Spring).
   Women, Work, and Culture
In this course, we analyze historical and contemporary patterns of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and the organization of work. Using the theoretical perspectives we analyze the work historically undertaken by women in societies and its relationship to broader political and economic structures. While our primary focus is on the U.S., we will also conduct a cross-cultural analysis of gender and work in developing and industrializing societies. Specific issues include gender discrimination (e.g., wage discrimination, sexual harassment), sexuality, reproduction, and women organizing to control their work and working conditions. Lecture (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Deaf Culture in America
This course is an introductory survey of Deaf culture in the United States. Students will study the scholarly literature pertaining to various social groups in the Deaf community and have contact with their members. This course will familiarize students with the characteristics of Deaf Culture, as well as general perceptions of the Deaf community within the dominant mainstream society. Lecture (Fall, Spring).
   Gender and Health
This course examines connections between gender and health that are both conceptual and empirical. Students will explore the causes of gender-based differences in health outcomes through case studies of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS epidemics and violence. Students will also examine global gender and health trends. The course concludes with an examination of gender inequity in health care and policy implications of these inequities. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   Global Public Health
Global health is a term that reflects a complex series of problems, policies, institutions and aspirations that have only recently made their way to the global stage. From its earliest days, global health was guided by principles in public health that situate the nation-state as responsible for the health of its population. While international health and tropical medicine, the precursors to global health, was driven by the distinction between wealthy and poor nations, global health today, as this course explores, is oriented to the unequal burden of disease around the world. The course will consider major global health challenges, programs, and policies through an integrated social science lens. After placing global health in historical context, we will focus on how the science of disease cannot be dissociated from the social context and policies that both drive the emergence of disease(s) and respond to the unequal burden of disease around the world. We will analyze current and emerging global health priorities, including emerging infectious diseases, poverty, conflicts and emergencies, health inequity, health systems reforms, and major global initiatives for disease prevention and health promotion. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   Sociology of American Life
This course will examine major U.S. institutions and dominant values that pattern everyday life. It will focus on the nation’s multi-national corporations, mass media, lawmaking, schools and the military, and dominant ideologies and values that guide these institutions such as the American dream, individualism, competition, faith in technology, consumerism and democracy. Alternative organizations and countercultures will be studied. The course will examine the interconnections between the U.S. and other nations as expressed by such issues as international trade agreements, cultural diffusion, environmental degradation, and war. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
   Social and Cultural Theory
This course explores influential classical and contemporary theories regarding society and culture. Students will assess the utility of different theories in addressing key enduring questions regarding human behavior, the organization of society, the nature of culture, the relationship between the individual and society, social control and social conflict, social groups and social hierarchy, the operation of power, cultural and social change, and the interplay between the global and the local. Theories will be marshaled to shed light on contemporary social and cultural phenomena and problems such as crime, violence, exploitation, modernity, and globalization. (Prerequisites: ANTH-102 or ANTH-102H or ANTH-103 or SOCI-102 or SOCI-103 or INGS-101 or equivalent course.) Lecture .
   Qualitative Research
Learning about social and cultural groups is a complex and ethically sensitive process. We explore common qualitative research methods for social and cultural research. We evaluate the utility of such methods for different purposes and contexts, including cross-cultural contexts. We consider common ethical dilemmas in research with human subjects, the ethical responsibilities of researchers, and common techniques for minimizing risks to subjects. (Prerequisites: ANTH-102 or ANTH-102H or ANTH-103 or SOCI-102 or SOCI-103 or INGS-101 or equivalent course.) Lecture .
   Statistics in the Social Sciences
The research conducted by sociologists and anthropologists generates large, complex data sets that are difficult to interpret subjectively. We will explore the basic quantitative tools that sociologists and anthropologists can use to understand these data sets and learn how to craft a research question and research design that utilize quantitative data, how to select appropriate quantitative techniques and apply them, how to present results, and how to critically evaluate quantitatively based knowledge claims. Lab 2, Lecture 2 .
   Crime and Human Rights: Sociology of Atrocities
How is the murder of one person different from that of one million? Why is one act a crime while the other simply history? While mass atrocities have occurred, and continue to occur, throughout human history, it is only until recently that international laws started to name and criminalize these atrocities as human rights violations. This course revolves around the worst mass atrocities in recent human history and the responses they receive, focusing on violent crimes perpetrated by the state and the emerging human rights regime in response to such crimes after WWII. As a class, we will seek answers to questions such as: Why do ordinary people participate in extreme violence against their neighbors? How is violence sanctioned and organized by the state different from interpersonal violence? Who is responsible for state-sanctioned violence? What is the role of those who do not participate in or stop the violence? What is the role of human rights and human rights laws in preventing state-sanctioned violence? What are the possible responses to state-sanctioned violence under human rights laws? What are the consequences of such responses? Whether/how does social context matter in the way mass atrocities unfold and the responses they receive? To answer these questions, we will examine historical documents, watch movies, read literature, and study scholarly work. This course will be useful for students who seek careers in areas such as international law, diplomacy, human rights advocacy/prosecution, and criminal justice in general. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students with at least 2nd year standing.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Global Exiles of War and Terror
Daily we watch, seemingly helplessly, as people are displaced from their communities, homelands, and countries and subsequently seek asylum around the world, sometimes within our own local communities. Causes of displacement include war, violence, persecution, and modes of terror that increasingly affect the lives of women and children. In addition to the loss of human life and potential, the ensuing consequences of violent displacement include poverty, disease, physical and psychological trauma, hopelessness, and vulnerability to human rights abuses. In this course, we explore how the rights and dignity of refugees can be protected. We also examine resettlement processes and, for those who are eventually repatriated, we address how they can successfully reintegrate into reconstructing societies that remain barely functional. Most importantly, we consider how the trauma of displacement can be minimized. Lecture (Fa/sp/su).
   Health and Society
What would a healthy society look like? What questions should we be asking of those in power to ensure health equity? What is health equity? The objective of this course is to develop a sociological language for answering these and other questions. To do so, students will evaluate the relationship between health and society – that is, the connections between contemporary health disparities and today’s social, physical, and political economic environments. This includes an analysis of macro-factors (climate change, environmental pollution, global and/or national economies, laws) and micro-factors (social media, neighborhood conditions, green spaces, poor- or low-quality housing, and leisure spaces). The course emphasizes that health is impacted by the social circumstances into which people are born; inequitable distributions of power; and social/legal categories of exclusion and inclusion. Though sociological in orientation, this course resonates with the disciplinary and professional aims of medical anthropologists, public health professionals, community health practitioners, and anyone committed to eradicating health disparities. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   Urban (In)Justice
With a focus on forms of (in)justice in urban communities worldwide, we investigate the impact of race, class, and gender and related systems of unequal power relations on perpetuating patterns of social, political, economic, and environmental oppression (policing, hunger, pollution, violence, disease). How do ways of governing urban populations affect the lives of inner city residents and their demands for justice when attempting to navigate the everyday urban worlds? Specific course topics include both historical and contemporary perspectives on urban (in)justice locally, in Rochester NY, and nationally, across the U.S., and in a global comparative framework. Thereby the effects of crime, violence, and inequality on people in urban neighborhoods are also examined among and within nations. By the end of the semester, students should be able to identify and explain various theories that seek to explain (in)justice patterns in the urban context at local, national and global levels. Lecture (Fall Or Spring).
   Urban Poverty
Urban poverty has been recognized as a persistent problem in the United States since the middle of the last century. In many cities, poverty is associated with high levels of teenage pregnancy, low levels of employment, limited educational attainment, chronic community-based health problems, and high levels of crime. This course examines causes, consequences, and proposed policy solutions to urban poverty. Special emphasis will be paid to U.S. urban poverty. Lecture (Fall Or Spring).
   Social Change
This course describes and applies competing explanations for major transitions in a variety of institutions, including the economy, work, politics, family and education. These transitions are seen within historical and global contexts, but the interplay of these changing social structures with individual experience is explored as well. Topics include economic, racial and gender stratification, culture, labor-management relations, and the source and consequences of technological change. Students will learn to understand, assess, and manage social change rather than to simply react to it. (Prerequisites: ANTH-102 or ANTH-102H or SOCI-102 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   CyberActivism: Diversity, Sex, and the Internet
Sociologists look to cyberspace to test theories of technology diffusion and media effects on society. This course explores the Internet’s impact on communities, political participation, cultural democracy, and diversity. How have digital technologies and electronic information flows shaped or diminished inequalities of gender, sex, and race? For instance: new electronic technologies have pushed the cultural and physical boundaries of how we have sex; with whom we have sex; and with what we have sex and/or have observed having sex, such as sex toys and avatars. The sociological implications of this new technology depend on economic, legal, and policy decisions that are shaping the Internet as it becomes institutionalized. The course analyzes such new forms of cyber-democracy with a focus on issues of gender, sex, and race. Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
   Digitizing People
Much of the knowledge of our social worlds has been digitized. This course explores how social technologies shape our relationships, personal lives, and sense of self. The metric manufacture of diversity has produced new forms of population management and inequality. Our biographic histories as citizens, consumers, workers/professionals, parents, lovers, and social media users are collected as data-bites and assessed in metric terms, thereby forging new sets of identities. The transformation of people into numerical entities is an act of statistical objectification. This process frames the creation of social and racial typologies, and is well demonstrated by the US census. Students will investigate the formation of racial, ethnic, and gender identities in the context of the accelerated desire to digitize humanity. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   Borders: Humans, Boundaries, and Empires
Borders are more than walls; they are social constructions with real consequences. This course examines the creation and consequences of borders. It discusses how borders developed historically, how borders function as tools of population management in places and systems far from the borderlands, and the politics and experiences of border crossing. We will look for borders both between and within nation states when addressing these issues. The course will utilize a variety of materials including but not limited to scholarly sources, policy transcripts, popular cultural products (e.g. films and TV shows), and art (e.g. poetry, paintings). Students will play an active role in determining specific course topics, though they can expect to discuss a range of relevant issues including contemporary immigration politics, Indigenous rights, the war on terror, border disputes and armed conflicts, privatization of immigration management, displacement and segregation of domestic populations, and border activism. This course provides students with tools that ground and expand their understanding of borders, preparing them for participation in one of the most important public debates of our time. The purview of this course is relevant for those who aspire toward professions in public policy, law enforcement, public service, law, and community-organizing, among others. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students with at least 2nd year standing.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Economics of Women and the Family
Women make choices concerning marriage, fertility and labor market participation on the basis of many factors, including government policies targeting those decisions. This course uses economic theory and empirical research in order to describe the changing demographic profile of families, poverty, and the labor force and to explore how economic theory and practice fit into the larger social science goals of describing human behavior by focusing on women and on the family. Lecture (Fall).
   Topics in Sociology
This topics course focuses on specific themes or issues in sociology, chosen by the instructor, vetted by the department chair, announced in the course subtitle on SIS, and developed in the syllabus. The topics of this course will vary, but the course number will remain the same. Students may repeat the course for credit, but may not repeat a topic. Seminar 3 (Fall, Spring).