Sociology, the scientific study of human behavior in social groups, seeks to understand how people interact, how they organize themselves in social groups, and how this organization changes. Courses in sociology focus on the basic forms of social organization and social processes in worldwide cultures and on the theoretical approaches sociologists use to understand those basic forms. These courses contribute to critical understanding of how the social world operates—an essential understanding for any liberally educated person in a complex and rapidly changing world. Students of sociology will find that related work in psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, and history enhances their sociological insights. Majors are required to study statistics and are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary courses, internships, and off-campus programs. The study of foreign languages is highly recommended. Sociological training is useful for any career, since all careers require working with people in groups or organizations. The discipline is particularly helpful for careers in law, urban and social planning, medicine, social work, and governmental service.
A minimum of 32 credits. With permission, up to eight of the required 32 credits may be taken in related studies outside the department. Required are Sociology 111, 285, and 291. Eight credits are to be taken at the 300 level or above. In addition to the 32 credits, students are required to take Mathematics 336 or 209 (preferred), or Mathematics 115. The major normally consists of Sociology 111 by the second year and Sociology 285 and 291 by the end of the third year.
To be considered for honors in sociology, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate, by departmental consensus, excellent performance in classes, especially seminars, and an underlying commitment to the discipline as evidenced by strong interest above and beyond completion of the major.
Introduction to basic concepts, theory, and methods concerning human behavior and social structure. Special attention is paid to the scope and limitations of sociological analysis and the major empirical areas of investigation in sociology.
Provides an overview of global development with a focus on the social consequences of development practices for people living in developing countries. Also examines the ways in which consumption patterns in industrialized countries affect global development. Case study approach used to consider the effects of general practices on specific locales, such as the role of powerful forces (economic, political, ideological, religious) in shaping living conditions at the local level.
This course examines sociological theories and perspectives on issues of conflict, violence, and conflict management in contemporary societies, with attention to the role of third parties in conflict resolution and peacemaking. Topics include person-to-person negotiation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques, restorative justice, peace processes in wars and ethnic conflicts, and principles of conflict management at the micro and macro levels.
This survey of contemporary social movements focuses on the processes of social and cultural change, collective group behavior, and the process and critiques of reform revolution and social movement change. We will examine definitions and theories of reform, revolution, and social movements and make comparative analyses of goals and ideologies and their development, inside and beyond the boundaries of the United States. Our central paradigms will focus on race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and nationality.
Analysis of the causes and control of deviant behavior, e.g., alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, assault, and sexual deviance. Topics include how definitions of deviance change, how people become deviant, how deviant groups are organized, and how transactions among deviants occur.
The study of human social interaction. Focuses on how people interact in small groups, change their beliefs, interpret behavior, develop a sense of identity, and construct their social worlds. Attention to the social psychology of collective behavior and of everyday life.
Analysis of social inequality in groups and society. Topics include why inequality occurs, its consequences for individuals and societies, how social stratification systems operate, and how social status is attained by individuals. Theories of stratification are evaluated.
How do individuals develop attractions, make sexual choices, and define and enact their own sexuality? How do institutions and organizations influence, shape, and constrain sexual attitudes and behaviors? This course will examine the social construction of human sexuality in the United States with particular attention to gender, sexual orientation, commercial sex, and sexual education.
An examination of the social contexts of health, illness, and medical care, focusing on the debates and contrasting perspectives of medical sociology. Topics include the social, environmental, and occupational factors in health and disease; the politics surrounding breast cancer and the AIDS epidemic; the patient’s perspective on illness; the development of the health professions and the health work force; ethical issues in medicine as they relate to medical technology; and alternatives to current health care organizations. Emphasis is given to how the social categories of gender, race, social class, and sexual orientation affect both illness and health care.
A sociological analysis of how gender is constructed and transformed in American society. This course will explore how both men and women come to know themselves as gendered beings, how gender is produced through interactions, in the media, in the workplace, and in families.
Introduces students to sociological perspectives on race, ethnicity, and racial inequality in American society. Examines the historical development of race-based barriers to achievement, the emergence and persistence of racial inequality, the character of racial beliefs, resistance to racial oppression, and current problems in American race relations. Emphasis on understanding individual attitudes and behaviors in relation to the structure of social institutions.
Laws bind people to each other and to their territory, and this has far-reaching consequences for people’s life chances and identities. Migrants test these ties and have been the motivation for the emergence and reconfiguration of important laws governing who can come and go. How and why this happens interests not only policymakers, government officials, and judges, but also individuals included or excluded by borders and scholars trying to understand laws. This course takes a sociological view of global migration to explain the origins of law and its effects.
Contemporary sociological theory considered in light of some historical precursors. Emphasis on the conceptual adequacy and the logical consistency of major contemporary theoretical perspectives.
Also listed as Anthropology 291. An overview of the research process in social science, focusing on problems of epistemology, research design, techniques of sampling, methods of data collection, principles of measurement, problems of inference and proof, basic methods of data analysis, and ethical considerations.
See Anthropology 292.
Students work 14 hours each week at internship sites in Des Moines, Grinnell, and surrounding areas. Class discussions and assignments focus on internship experiences in sociological perspective. Applications for internships are made to the internship coordinator of the Career Development Office prior to spring or fall break for the following semester. Learning contracts must be approved by the instructor, the work site supervisor, the student’s academic adviser, and the dean of the College.
A survey of the family from a sociological perspective, focusing on recent transformations of the family. Topics include historical origins of the family, traditional marriage and alternative processes of mate selection and family formation, parenting, divorce, family violence, racial-ethnic variations in family experience, and gay and lesbian families.
People often join together in nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to accomplish good for themselves or others. This seminar focuses on how such organizations are structured and how they operate. We will explore how NPOs and NGOs resemble, and differ from, other organizational forms in mission, leadership, organizational change, environmental constraints, and effects on members. Attention to practical managerial challenges. Cases may include human service organizations, community action agencies, foundations and funding organizations, fraternal organizations, nonprofit colleges, and international humanitarian NGOs.
What is the “new” global economy and how has it transformed the landscape of the American economy in the last three decades? How do individuals experience the consequences of globalization in their lives, both as workers and consumers? This course will examine recent transformations in the U.S. economy — including deskilling, downsizing, and the rise of the service sector — and will consider how each of these “transformations” relate to issues of identity, community, family formation, structural inequality, and national culture.
Citizenship is a legal tie between an individual and a particular state, but it is also a category to which rights are attached, a basis for identification, and a set of participatory practices. It is shaped and expressed in the political sphere (through schools, military service, museums, censuses, and surveillance), the economic sphere (in labor markets), and in the civil sphere (through conventional participatory practices such as voting and the emergence of new domains of political engagement such as grassroots movements). This course takes a comparative-historical approach and uses the lens of political sociology to examine cases across the globe.
Seminar in current issues of sociological theory and research. Content of the course announced each year. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.
- College Catalog