SOCI 1006C Introduction to Sociology

Prof. Dr. Sylvia Hale
Office EC336

Sociology is the study of relations between people in society, in which people themselves are actively involved in the production of the patterns that we come to see as the characteristics of Canadian Society, and characteristic features of our personal lives as members of the community.

This course approaches sociology as a way of questioning experience rather than as an accumulation of factual knowledge. As we shall see, even the assumption that there are "facts' is open to question for what we come to think of as factual evidence is itself socially constructed and interpreted.

The primary objective of this course is to gain familiarity with four major theoretical approaches in sociology, the assumptions that underlie them, and how they are applied to understanding Canadian society. The second related objective is to appreciate sociology as a science which involves the systematic testing of ideas and assumptions against evidence. Personal experience is important evidence to bring to these debates. The capacity to ask questions, to be critical, and to explore issues, is more important for this course than memorizing facts.

Required Text

Hale, S.M. 1995 Controversies in Sociology. A Canadian Introduction 2nd edition, Mississauga, Ontario: Copp Clark


First Semester

Two short writing assignments 50%
Midterm exam 20%
Final Exam 30%

* Students have the option of a class presentation to replace the first paper. The date and topic of the presentation is to be established with the professor. This may be a group presentation, with prior arrangement with the professor, and with the condition that there is a clear division of responsibilities among members of the group for the purpose of assigning individual credit.

The second paper will be be a short research assignment based on the class topic of inequality in society.

Second Semester Similar mix. Negotiable weighting.

The final grade will be calculated on a 50/50 basis if the second semester work is of similar or poorer quality than the first semester, but on a 40/60 basis if your work improves.

Approximate Outline for First Semester

The course will begin with a brief introduction to the discipline of sociology, exploring the sociological imagination and principles of science as they apply to the study of society (Text: Chap. 1)

The next month or so of lectures will focus on theoretical controversies in sociology (Text Chap. 2). Theoretical perspectives include basic assumptions about the nature of society and social relations, and these assumptions influence the research questions asked and the evidence sought. We will examine four main perspectives:

1) Functionalism or System's theory - views society as a system of interdependent parts, each performing special functions for the social whole, and integrated through a shared culture.

2) Marxism or Political Economy Theory views capitalist society as a hierarchical system of power and dependence relations based on control over means of production, in which exploitation and inequality are principle features.

3) Interpretive of Social Constructionist perspectives explore society not as some given entity but as socially constructed through practical everyday interaction and discourses through which people negotiate the meanings of what is going on.

4) Feminist theory focuses on the gendered character of society and how differently it is experienced from the standpoint of women compared with the mainstream (malestream) perspectives, and with gendered hierarchy as a central feature.

We will apply the theoretical perspectives outlined in chapter 2 to the specific issue of inequality in society, discussed in chapter 15 of the text, exploring how the different perspectives give rise to very different kinds of questions about social inequality, and hence generate very different kinds of evidence. The first semester research paper will be organized around this topic.

Midterm test will focus on chapter 2

Approximate First Semester Outline:

Week 1 Ch. 1 The Sociological Imagination
Week 2-4 Ch. 2 An overview of Theories
Week 5-6 Ch 15 Stratification: Meritocracy as Ideology
Week 7 Ch 3 A Critical look at Methodologies
Midterm test
Week 8 Ch 4 Loss of Community
Week 9-10 Ch 5 Gender Relations: Competing Perspectives
Week 11-13 Ch 6 Cohesion and Morality. A Critical Look at Durkheim Ch 7 Anomie: The Roots of Industrial Conflict and Crime.

Dr. Sylvia Hale
Sociology 1006 Introduction to Sociology
Sociology 2013 Research Methods
Sociology 2443 Race and Ethnic Relations
Sociology 2633 Sociology of the Family
Sociology 4023 Honours Workshop

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