This course provides a general introduction to the subject matter of sociology and to the various theoretical and methodological approaches sociologists adopt in studying it. In particular, it aims to develop students’ ability to employ a sociological imagination – that is, to look at features of everyday life in the way that a sociologist does. The course investigates the relations of the individual to society, and the processes by which groups and institutions change in response to a dynamic social structure. The areas of stability, change, inequality and power are examined within the context of current social, political and economic conditions. The course attempts to stimulate thought and discussion on contemporary social issues.
This course examines the developmental processes that have brought Canadian Society and its peoples to the present state. Social, legal, political and economic consideration will be developed to analyze both the background and emergent directions of Canadian society.
This course introduces students to the concepts, methods, and theories of sociology through the examination of social problems. It examines the social conditions and processes related to defining, responding to, and resolving social problems. Social problems to be examined range from personal to institutional issues and include historical as well as contemporary examples.
Understanding the processes of social change in any society requires an examination of the role of social movements. Social movements can be broadly defined as groups in civil society organizing to bring about social change. It is often commented that such movements are distinctly modern phenomena, made possible by social, economic, and political changes occurring in the contemporary era. In the first part of the course, we will undertake a brief survey of the historical roots of the rise of social movements in the Western world, and then undertake an examination of classical and contemporary social movement theory. Following this, drawing on social movement theories, we will examine some social movements that have had an impact in North America and other parts of the world since the 1960s.
This course introduces the process of globalization and its consequences on the lives of people at the local, national, and international levels. It provides students with a critical sociological understanding of the economic, social, cultural, technological, and political aspects of globalization. It demonstrates how politics, power structures, cultural expectations, and agency influence the manner in which we define and explain globalization.
This course involves an introductory examination of racial and ethnic relations in Canadian society. Sociological analysis of minority group issues and problems constitutes a main focus of interest. The course will broadly consider such topics as governance models for managing race and ethnic relations, the nature of racial stratification, the social construction of race and ethnicity, various types of racism and ethnic chauvinism, (neo)colonialism, immigration, and multiculturalism. The course also examines relationships between minorities and institutional structures such as government, employment, and justice.
This course introduces classical and contemporary social theories by examining their social and historical development. The connection between sociological research and the development of sociological theories is emphasized as well as the relevance of theory to the critical examination of current social issues.
This course investigates women's status in contemporary society, noting how this has changed drastically over time, with significant progress towards gender equality in many societies. While the course focuses primarily on understanding the experience of women in Canada today, it does so with reference to the historical and contemporary diversity in the situation of women both here and elsewhere in the world. The course examines how women's lives in any society are shaped by a variety of socio-cultural institutions such as the family, the educational system, the mass media and the workplace, and assesses the extent to which their socialization experiences continue to differ from those of men. The course explores the various different feminist analyses of women's oppression and their implications, and concludes by assessing how close we have come to completing the so-called 'gender revolution' that was initiated through twentieth century women's activism.
This course is designed to provide an overview of sociological theories and research about education in modern societies. This course examines the history, development and current state of educational systems (primary, secondary and post-secondary) as important institutions of society and explores how social forces shape what is taught, how and to whom, and analyzes the roles that education plays in Canada and globally. In doing so, the course touches on a variety of topics including: the effects of education on beliefs and values; the effects of school characteristics on student achievement and educational attainment; education and inequality; cross-national differences in educational systems; the link between education and national economic performance; the organizational characteristics of schooling and; prospects for school reform. Discussion of research in these areas will help to dispel myths about education and will provide a sense of the powerful impact as well as the limitations of schools in modern societies.
This course introduces students to sociological theories and research related to families in society, with emphasis on the dynamic and diverse nature of family forms. The course examines the relationship of families to other social, economic and political institutions, and considers the impact of societal ideologies and social policies on family life.
This course uses various sociological perspectives to analyze the role of popular culture in society. The course examines the development and social significance of various forms of popular culture in the context of recent theories and debates about the relationship of culture to society. Representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in popular culture will be analyzed. The course will also examine the role of popular culture in the maintenance of social inequality as well as its utility as a medium for challenging inequality.
A practical introduction to the range of methods employed by sociologists in the collection and analysis of empirical data. Includes critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Environmental sociology is a field that provides insight into the complex social processes which define, create and indeed threaten ecosystem processes. By discussing issues of science and technology, popular culture, economics, urbanization, racial and gender relations, as well as social movements, this course will reach a broad understanding of environmental issues. More specifically, this course will investigate the relationship between various environmental and social problems, as well as the many political ideologies, philosophies and movements that have continually redefined how we think of nature and sustainability.
This course reviews various topics pertinent to the social organization of health, illness and medicine. Through application of the sociological perspective to the Canadian context, important social issues relating to health outcomes are critically examined.
This course examines technology through a sociological lens. It adopts a broad definition of technology as practices and things that are used to augment or transform human capacity or experience. As such, the course will consider everything from bikes, VHS tapes, factory machinery, smart phones, algorithms and beyond. Students will examine the social and cultural processes that lead to the development, reception, and use of technologies. Technologies will be situated within broader patterns of social inequity, including but not limited to, race, gender, and class. The focus of the course will be technology in the Canadian context; where possible, local examples will be fore-grounded. The course will also address and discuss the impact of globalizing forces on technology, and technology as a globalizing force. It will feature a range of in-depth discussions regarding technology including: technology as part of everyday life and labour; the transition to the digital age; the rise of algorithms and data-veillance and; relationships and social interactions in online spaces. The course concludes with a consideration of the ways community and human social responsibility are being reconfigured in the digital age.
This course examines aging and death as a social process as it relates to the rise of capitalism and its related institutions. The rise of capitalist societies in the 19th century profoundly shaped the experience of aging and dying. Modern medicine and technologies have dramatically extended life spans while enabling us to avoid dying and death as a reality until old age. Culturally, capitalist societies stigmatize old age while idealizing youthfulness as exhibited in mass media and the lucrative multi-billion dollar beauty products industry. Today, aging is often considered a “disease” that can be “cured” with technologies provided by our capitalist economy, transforming our sense of self as we move through different stages of life. Drawing on the insights of classical and contemporary sociological theory, the course considers individual experiences of aging and dying, wider patterns of stratification and inequality related to old age, as well as demographic shifts in the aging population in Canada and across the globe. Finally, this course critically examines various socio-cultural and historical attitudes and practices concerning dying and death.
Masculinities are a fundamental aspect of everyday life that shapes the actions of individuals, our institutions, and social structures. In this advanced course, students will interrogate forms of masculinity to understand the relationship between gender, race, power, and society, while also questioning the assumptions of traditional binary categories of gender. The sociological study of masculinities emerged as analysis of work and family confronted nascent critical theory of second wave feminism that problematized the traditional role of women in patriarchal societies. Today, sociologists adopt approaches such as post-structuralism and queer theory to examine the ideological and discursive dynamics embedded within different masculinities. Sociologists understands masculinity as a configuration of social practices linked to gender orders that shifts across time, cultures, and space. Gender orders are shaped by events such as the industrial revolution that have transformed work, family, and the traditional roles that men play, establishing hierarchies that privilege and dehumanize different groups premised on race, class, and sexual orientation. We will analyze how these structural and systemic inequities contribute to the stratification of marginalized groups within a broader context of colonialism, modernization, and globalization to make sense of why masculine roles, norms, and identities are changing today.
This course will involve an advanced examination of social control and surveillance. Course materials will cover key fields of scholarship, such as governmentality, risk, globalization, citizenship and subjectivity, modernity and late-modernity, private and public space, and surveillance (for example CCTV, drones, and big data). The course will draw on foundational themes of sociological analysis to examine key forms of social inequality, including race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, as well as health and well-being. Readings, lectures and assignments will examine power and resistance in everyday life, social movements, globalization, and technology, to gain a deeper understanding of contemporary issues relating to social control and surveillance.