- Why Colby?
- Request Information
- College Profile
- Scholars Programs
- Student Perspectives
- Alumni Success
- For Counselors
- Contact Admissions
Browse the Course Catalogue by
Sociology Course Descriptions
COURSE OFFERINGSKey to Course Descriptions »
[SO118J] Individuality and World Traveling What does it mean to live in a world that many have characterized as postmodern? What does postmodernity imply in terms of attitude toward selfhood, toward interpretation and knowledge gathering, toward crossing boundaries of cultural differences and, finally, toward envisioning social justice? A mixture of scholarly texts, fiction, and film will be employed to explore these questions. Emphasis on cultivating students' skills of critical thinking and expression. Three credit hours. S.
SO119j Self and Society in the Digital Age Students will explore how digital technologies are changing how we work, play, and interact. They will use contemporary social theories to identify and assess opportunities and the challenges afforded by new communication technologies. Using sociological techniques they will investigate how these technologies are reshaping not only how we communicate but the content of information we share. Finally they will discuss implications of these changes for themselves as individuals and as citizens of a large democracy. Three credit hours. S. MAYER
SO131fs Introduction to Sociology Sociologists study processes by which people create, maintain, and change their social and cultural worlds. They investigate contemporary social issues and strive to explain relationships between what happens in peoples' lives and the societies in which they live. Sociology's research methods and theories apply to the full range of human behavior, from individual acts to global environmental, political, and economic change. An introduction to how and why sociologists study social and cultural phenomena such as inequality, race and ethnicity, gender, power, politics, the family, religion, social and cultural change, crime, and globalization. Prerequisite: First-year or sophomore standing. Four credit hours. S, U. ARCHIBALD, BLAKE, MAYER, MORRIONE
SO212f Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis Listed as Environmental Studies 214. Four credit hours. GIMOND
SO212Jj Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis Listed as Environmental Studies 214J. Three credit hours. GIMOND
[SO213] Schools and Society Listed as Education 213. Four credit hours. U.
[SO214] African-American Elites and Middle Classes Classical and contemporary sociological theories of stratification and race relations are used to explore the intersection of class and race-ethnicity in the social origins and historical roles of elites and middle classes in the African-American experience. Particular attention to the writings of Du Bois, Frazier, Cox, and Wilson. Biographical and autobiographical perspectives provide rich description of socialization, family contexts, work, politics, ideologies, and the impacts of racism and social change. Includes additional evening meetings for film showings and special events. Three credit hours. S, U.
SO215f Classical Sociological Theory The history of sociology, and a critical survey of the systems of thought about society, centered on major schools of sociological theory and their representatives. The place of theory in social research as presented in works of major social theorists, including Comte, Spencer, Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Pareto, Simmel, and Mead. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours. MOODIE
[SO218] Contemporary Sociological Theory Introduces social theories that have had a significant impact on contemporary sociological scholarship. Students learn how to analyze and compare different theoretical paradigms, preparing them to use theory to better understand how social life is both patterned and dynamic. Students explore how these theories, like other cultural products, both reflect and affect the historical moment in which they were produced. Because much of this work engages with Enlightenment thought and institutions, the students develop a critical understanding of some of the central ideas and practices that shaped modern Western society. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours.
SO226j Sociology of Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr., a sociology major, represents a social movement (civil rights) that changed America and also changed theories and practices in American sociology. Through an exploration of King's life, work, and writings (books, sermons, and speeches), an overview of the civil rights movement, the origins and practices of the southern system of segregation (Jim Crow), and aspects of the history of American sociology. Particular attention to social movements theory, race relations and social change, and organizations and mobilizations within and by African-American communities. Includes additional evening meetings for film showings and special events. Three credit hours. S, U. GILKES
SO231f Contemporary Social Problems Analysis of selected controversial issues and public problems in the contemporary United States. General theoretical frameworks in the sociology of social problems used to analyze issues from one or more perspectives; areas include alienation, economic and political freedom, the politics of morality, poverty, women's roles, and social inequality. Four credit hours. S, U. GILKES
[SO233] Crime and Justice in American Society Exposes students to contemporary theories about crime. Students develop their critical-thinking skills by evaluating the theories' ability to explain recent empirical trends in crime. We also examine contemporary issues in criminology including police use of force, false conviction, moral panic, and mass incarceration. Includes the critical evaluation of arguments presented by experts. There is a strong emphasis on writing and classroom discussion. Prerequisite: A 100-level sociology course. Four credit hours.
SO252f Race, Ethnicity, and Society An examination of the roles of race and ethnicity in organizing complex stratified societies, in structuring systems of durable inequalities, and in organizing and shaping communities and enclaves within stratified societies. Using multiple sociological perspectives on race, ethnicity, minority groups, prejudice, discrimination, and institutional racism, special attention is paid to the United States with reference to immigration, slavery, conquest, annexation, colonialism, internal migration, social conflict, social movements, labor, citizenship, transnational adaptation, law, and public policy. Prerequisite: Sociology 131 or 231 or American Studies 276 or Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. U. GILKES
[SO256] Global Health An examination, using a sociological framework, of a number of perspectives in the study of global health to understand and master key topics: mortality and morbidity, population disease burden, health inequalities, poverty, reproductive health, the diffusion of infectious diseases, nutrition, environmental health, health policies and priorities, war and violence, and prevention, among other issues. Students will demonstrate understanding through in-class exercises (individual and group problem solving) and through participation in discussion with peers, the professor, and invited guest speakers. Requires attending outside lectures and writing several response papers on selected topics. Four credit hours.
SO257s Sociology of Mental Health and Mental Disorders Explores meanings of and factors in mental illness; developments in categories and treatments; impacts of social inequalities on incidence, diagnosis, and treatment; effects on family and support systems; and social policy issues. Considers the contributions of social science, biology, and medicine. Studies sociological conceptualizations of mental disorder, particularly social constructionism, labeling, and stress theories. Draws upon an array of scholarship and applies understandings to select memoirs and autobiographies. Hones close-reading, critical-analysis, and communication skills. Offered in 2009 as Sociology 297. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours. ARENDELL
SO258f Health and Medicine Applies sociological principles to health, illness, and health care. Situates the latter in a variety of institutional domains linked by social inequality: markets, politics, science, religion, and culture. Topics include medicalization and the social construction of health and illness, racial and ethnic health disparities, women's health, social justice and medicine, epidemiology, ethnography and biostatistics, the phenomenology of health and illness, and contemporary U.S. healthcare reform. Students gain the theoretical knowledge necessary to begin advanced work and a comprehensive understanding of the practical significance of the field. Previously offered as Sociology 297. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours. ARCHIBALD
[SO259] Activism and Social Movements An examination of the goals, ideologies, leadership, and development of reformist and revolutionary mobilization efforts both within and beyond the boundaries of the United States. Prerequisite: A 100-level sociology course or American Studies 271. Four credit hours.
SO261s Sociology of Organizations An examination, using a sociological framework, of a number of perspectives in the study of organizations and institutions to understand and master key topics: bureaucracy, power and conflict, rationality, authority, work, and technology, among other issues. Students will demonstrate understanding through in-class exercises (individual and group problem solving) and participation in discussion with their peers, the professor, and invited guest speakers. Requires attending outside lectures, engaging in a field practicum, and writing several response papers on selected topics. Four credit hours. S. ARCHIBALD
SO271s Introduction to Sociological Research Methods First half: a discussion of basic research concepts, including measurement, operationalization, and the role of values in scientific research. Second half: quantitative methods, including cross-tabulation and linear and logistic regression, with emphasis on data analysis rather than statistical formula. Prerequisite: Sociology 131 and sociology major. Four credit hours. Q. ARCHIBALD
SO272f Qualitative Research Methods and Methodology The theory, methodology, and methods of qualitative research. Using readings, discussions, and various research activities, students examine the interrelationships of methodological theory and its development, data collection, analysis, and report writing. Prerequisite: Sociology 131 and sociology major. Four credit hours. ARENDELL
[SO273] Sociology of Families Central issues in the social study of the family, predominantly the historical and contemporary American family. Emphasis is on the family as a primary group and a unit of intense interpersonal relationships structured along gender and generational lines and on the family as a major social institution. The changing structures, functions, and dynamics of the family are explored. Prerequisite: Sociology 131 preferred, but not required. Four credit hours. S.
SO274f Social Inequality and Power Study of sociological explanations of how patterned social interaction at the individual and institutional levels create unequal life chances for people inhabiting different social locations, defined in terms of class, race, and gender. Includes discovery of how economic and government institutions operate in historically specific ways by comparing the effects of early capitalism to the effects of recent processes of globalization and deindustrialization. Shifting focus to the local level, students conduct their own research to study how social class impacts the ability of young Mainers to navigate the stratification system as they leave high school. Prerequisite: Sociology 131 and sociology major. Four credit hours. U. MAYER
SO276s Sociology of Gender An introductory survey of the sociological study of gender, using feminist and social constructionist theoretical approaches, investigating the construction and maintenance of gendered identities and a stratified society, focusing primarily on contemporary America. Among topics examined are cultural definitions and expectations, childhood socialization, intimacies and sexualities, gendered activities and gender inequalities in marriage and family, activities and inequities in work and the economy, power and politics, and social reforms and possibilities. Variations by race and socioeconomic class are considered throughout. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours. S, U. MAYER
[SO298] Social Deviance Exploration of deviance, deviant behavior, and social control. Examined are deviance as a social process; types of deviant behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, criminal activity, delinquency, mental illness); theories of devance; historical and cultural contexts of definitions of non-normative behaviors; social and legal policy issues. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours.
[SO311] Topics in Feminist Theory: Feminist Theories and Methodologies Listed as Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 311. Four credit hours. U.
[SO315] Politics of Social Policy An investigation of the politics of policymaking and the effects of social programs. By studying policymaking and implementation at different historical moments, students trace the changing connections between citizenship and labor, noting how these connections differ over time and according to citizens' race, class, and gender. They conduct a research project that explores how social policies, along with local labor markets and community institutions, shape the challenges people face in supporting and caring for their families. Conducting research, students practice creative and analytical thinking and writing for multiple audiences. Prerequisite: Sociology 131, 215, or 218. Four credit hours.
[SO322] Social Class and Schooling Listed as Education 322. Four credit hours. U.
SO332s Nonprofit Organizations and Philanthropy An academically-grounded, community-based educational experience exploring the meaning of philanthropy and the nature of nonprofit organizations. Students will volunteer in Waterville area nonprofit organizations, working with them as assistant grant writers. The class, operating like the board of a granting foundation, will review organizations' grant applications, make funding decisions, and allocate one or more grants totaling $10,000. The Sunshine Lady Foundation, founded by Doris Buffett, generously provides funding for these grants. Prerequisite: Sociology 131 or equivalent introductory course in the social sciences. Four credit hours. MORRIONE
[SO337] Childhood in Society A seminar exploring the social, historical, and cultural constructions of childhoods and children, with a specific focus on the American and Western European contexts, using a sociological perspective, especially the social constructionist paradigm, to explore the relationships between the social order and constructions of childhood, children and their environment, and age categories and social relations. Social policy relevant to childhoods and children. The history and development of child welfare in the United States, and selective contemporary social issues and needs, among them economic provision, education, child care, and health care. Prerequisite: Sociology 131. Four credit hours.
[SO340] Conflict, Negotiation, and Environmental Justice Listed as Environmental Studies 340. Four credit hours. U.
[SO352] American Critics of American Society Sociological criticisms of postwar America. What do American critics think is wrong with America and how do they propose to fix it? Topics may include the role of the power elite in American society, the consequences of increased media concentration, the decline of civil society, consumerism, electoral politics, taxes, welfare policy, the environment, racism, sexism, crime, poverty, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Prerequisite: A 100-level sociology course or American Studies 271. Four credit hours.
SO355f African-American Women and Social Change Sociological analysis and historical overview of African-American women and their families, work lives, and community (especially religious and political) experience. A focus on the contradictions between lived experience and cultural expectations surrounding gender and on the distinctive experiences of African-American women as a force for social change. Prerequisite: An introductory social science course or American Studies 276. Four credit hours. U. GILKES
[SO357] Civil Rights, Black Power, and Social Change A seminar examining the impact of the civil rights and black power movements on sociological concepts, theories, and perspectives on race relations, racial stratification, social change, and ethnicity. The PBS series Eyes on the Prize I and II are used to introduce readings and discussions of sociological and ideological texts influenced or produced by activists and activities of the civil rights or black power movements. The connections among civil rights and black power movements and other social movements in the United States and other societies. Prerequisite: An introductory anthropology, sociology, history, or American studies course. Four credit hours. S, U.
SO358s The Sociology of W.E.B. Du Bois Intensive survey of the life and work of W.E.B. Du Bois, prolific scholar, activist, and founder of one of the oldest sociology departments and research centers. Sociology was Du Bois's chosen discipline at the same time he contributed to history, literature, and cultural studies and formed a foundation for African-American studies. This exploration of his sociological imagination assesses the importance of his work for understanding racial-ethnic relations and conflict in the United States and the world. Readings include The Souls of Black Folk, The Philadelphia Negro, selected topics from the Atlanta University studies, The Gift of Black Folk, appropriate biographical/autobiographical texts, and critical studies. Prerequisite: A 100-level sociology course or American Studies 276. Four credit hours. S, U. GILKES
[SO359] Slavery and Slave Communities in the United States Listed as African-American Studies 359. Four credit hours. S, U.
SO361j Special Topics in Health and Medicine: Substance Use and Abuse Using a sociological framework, we examine a number of perspectives in the study of substance use and abuse (e.g., social-psychological, economic, pharmacological, political, historical/ legal). Goals include understanding and mastery of key topics: the nature of addiction, substance abuse and the brain, drug markets, the treatment industry, prohibition and temperance movements, decriminalization, adolescent drug and alcohol use, and dysfunctional family systems. Students will demonstrate understanding through in-class exercises (individual and group problem solving), participation in general discussion, and weekly response papers. Previously offered as SO397. Prerequisite: A lower-level social science course. Three credit hours. ARCHIBALD
SO375s Contemporary Family Relations: Mothers and Daughters An advanced seminar exploring the Western mother-daughter relationship through sociological case studies, ethnographies, and survey research. Draws upon myth, memoir, fiction, and poetry. Systemically considers racial and ethnic variations, looking at social science materials and literature representing the experiences and insights of Euro-American, African-American, Asian-American, Latina, Native American, and recent immigrant women and children. Considers alternative family arrangements such as single-parent mothers and lesbian mothers. Examines issues of development and stresses on families and relationships. Prerequisite: A 200-level Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, or Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies course. Four credit hours. S, U. ARENDELL
SO483f, 484s Honors Project Prerequisite: Senior standing, admission to the honors program, and permission of the supervising faculty member. Two to four credit hours. FACULTY
SO483Jj Honors Project Noncredit. GILKES
SO491f, 492s Independent Study Individual topics in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing and permission of the department. Two to four credit hours. FACULTY
SO493f Senior Seminar: Social Theories and the Sociology of Childhood Contemporary childhood in historical, cross-cultural, and global perspectives (predominately the West). Examine changes in understanding of the nature of childhood and "best interests of the child" by historical period, class, race and ethnicity, gender, geographic region. Applying social theories to childhood. Prerequisite: Senior standing in sociology, and Sociology 131, 215, 218, 271, and 272. Four credit hours. ARENDELL
SO493As Seminar: Urban Sociology An exploration of the nature and significance of cities in history. Topics include urbanization, suburbanization, globalization, subcultures, architecture, disasters, transportation, race, poverty, planning, political issues, neighborhoods, inequality, and gender. Focus on American cities. Students will complete three short papers, a book review, and a research paper. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing and Sociology 131. Four credit hours. MORRIONE