SoSe 17: Sociology in (and of) the United States: An Introduction
Does it make sense to speak of geographically or culturally bounded sociological traditions? Is there such a thing as a specifically American sociological tradition? How are we to identify the ... read more
Does it make sense to speak of geographically or culturally bounded sociological traditions? Is there such a thing as a specifically American sociological tradition? How are we to identify the possible contours of such a tradition? What are its key concepts, methods and research program(s)? And what is the primary object of US sociology? Is US society a cohesive totality, or a loose assemblage of conflicting groups? To what extent is US society structured along the lines of class, race, gender and sexuality? And how do these fault lines play out in particular domains, such as criminal justice and the media? ----- This course will not only introduce major sociological traditions that have influenced and continue to shape American sociology, but also provide an overview over US society as an object of sociological analysis. The course will be divided into a theoretical and an empirical block. ----- Over the first seven weeks, we will discuss a number of theoretical traditions that have proven particularly influential amongst North American sociologists. This block will familiarize students with key sociological concepts and introduce them to a sociological mode of analysis. ----- During the second block we will seek to put the acquired concepts into practice by applying them to the analysis of particular aspects of contemporary US society. These five classes will, above all, focus on the intersecting stratifications of US society along the lines of class, race, gender and sexuality, and examine how these stratifications play out in the domains of criminal justice and the media. These classes will aim to give students both a broad overview over various aspects of US society and over some important debates and issues in American sociology. ----- The primary target group(s) will be first- and second-year students of North American Studies and Sociology. The course will primarily consist of in-class discussions based on reading assignments. Students will also have to do, depending on class size, either individual or group presentations. The reading load will be rather demanding, but, given the wide scope of the course, this will be unavoidable. At the same time, I will also offer guidance on reading techniques.