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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Sociology View this department's website

The program in sociology is designed to reflect the historic importance of the discipline in the liberal arts education and tradition. The sociology curriculum teaches students to recognize how social processes, social institutions, and culture are produced through humans interacting with one another, and how social, economic, political, and historical forces shape, and are shaped by, social relationships. Through the progressive acquisition of skills, students learn the basic principles of sociology and apply these to the critical analysis of social problems, social issues, and social relationships. Research and internship opportunities in the major ask students to put their sociological knowledge and skill set to use in real-world settings. Throughout their sociological journey, students are encouraged to become responsible and engaged citizens who are committed to creating positive social change.

Sociology presents many distinctive ways of looking at the world, and its focus on critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and analysis makes an education in sociology an excellent point of departure for a number of careers. Opportunities for the sociologist are numerous and vary greatly. Historically, the most popular career fields for graduates with a sociology degree are education, social service, government, business, research, community-based organizing, and organizational management. In recent years, there has been considerable growth in medical and legal career opportunities for sociologists, as well.

Requirements for the Sociology Major (9 Credits)

  • SOC 201 Navigating Social Worlds (1)
  • SOC 301 (QA*) Social Statistics (1)
  • SOC 302 Methods of Social Research (1)
  • SOC 303 Sociological Theory (1)

One 400 level Application Course (1)

  • SOC 430 (W) Families (1)
  • SOC 435 (W) Group Dynamics and Organizational Culture (1)
  • SOC 437 (W) Seminar: Political Sociology (1)

Three 100, 300, or 400 level Sociology Courses (3)

(Only one of these can be at the 100 level)

Senior Experience, chosen from: (1)

Requirements for the Sociology Minor (5 Credits)

  • SOC 201 Navigating Social Worlds (1)
  • Four additional Sociology credits (4) (Only two of these can be at the 100 level)

Students usually start their minor in sociology with a 100-level exploration course. SOC 201 -- Navigating Social Worlds -- is the gateway course to other 300- and 400-level courses and is required for the minor. In addition, students must take four additional credits for a minor in sociology, with no more than two of these being at the 100-level. The 300-level courses have a prerequisite of SOC 201 Navigating Social Worlds or any 100-level Sociology course, while completion of SOC 301 (QA*) Social Statistics, SOC 302 Methods of Social Research, and SOC 303 Sociological Theory are prerequities for 400-level application courses. .

Faculty

  • Linda S. Heuser, Professor of Sociology, Chair
  • Emily Drew, Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Ethnic Studies
  • Kelley Strawn, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Course Listings

SOC 114 (US) Race and Ethnic Relations (1)

This course examines the historical, political, economic and sociological dynamics of racial and ethnic relations in the United States. It investigates how race and ethnicity are created and re-created in society, particularly by culture and institutions, and the way these "social constructions" perpetuate social inequality. Students will attempt to understand and critically examine what happens in societies where people are "colored" by the myths and contradictions of race and ethnicity.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Drew

SOC 119 Medical Sociology (1)

Study of the social causes and consequences of health and illness. Consideration will be given to topics such as epidemiology, social demography of health, illness as deviance, social effects of acute and chronic illnesses, socialization of health care providers, social policy and health care, and bioethics.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Heuser

SOC 121 (US) Gender Roles in Society (1)

This course considers the impact of social institutions on gender roles, such as the family and the economy, and social processes such as stratification and interpersonal interaction. Studies how people learn gender roles and how these roles are changing. Freshmen and Sophomores only.

Mode of Inquiry:  Understanding Society

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Aguilar

SOC 131 (US) Sociological Inquiry (1)

This course introduces students to the nature of sociological inquiry through the exploration of a specifically defined topic. Emphasis will be given to how sociologists methodologically and theoretically study and derive meaning from the world around us. Topics of critical investigation may include, but are not limited to, art worlds, globalization today, our aging society, technology and the future, childhood and adolescence, religion and spirituality.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 132 (W) Sport and Society (1)

The world of sport touches all of us in one way or another. We participate in sports. We watch sports. We read about sports. Why are sports so important to us? What are their benefits socially and individually? In this course, we are interested in examining the sociological significance of sport as it relates to topics such as culture, social organizations, socialization, social stratification, race, gender, economics, and the mass media. Attention will be paid to the national and international influence of sport among individuals, groups, and societies. Freshmen and Sophomores only or consent of instructor.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Heuser

SOC 134 (US) Crime, Delinquency and the Criminal Justice System (1)

This course examines the nature of crime and delinquency, the persons and social situations involved in crime and delinquency, law enforcement agencies and the traditional and current methods of managing offenders. Freshmen and Sophomores only.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 141 (W; US) Chicago Sociology (1)

This course will focus on Chicago during two transitional periods: the early states of the industrial and post-industrial ages. The class will investigate the economic, social and historical forces that were operative in each of the periods and how the "Chicago School," using the methods and theories of sociology, attempted to describe and explain these forces, and the social problems caused by them. Freshmen and Sophomores only or consent of instructor.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 201 Navigating Social Worlds (1)

This course is organized as a "gateway" to the discipline of sociology, which is the study of processes and relationships we all know as "society." The course introduces the student (a) to the four primary dimensions into which sociology is loosely organized -- social systems, social institutions, human agency and interaction, and culture; (b) to the ways in which sociologists ask and analyze research questions; and (c) to the theories and research methods sociologists use to examine social relationships. The course emphasizes reading primary sources, class discussions, and other appropriate pedagogical methods. By the end of the course, students will have developed their own "sociological imagination" and, in particular, a critical perspective on relationships of power, on social inequality, and on social change.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 301 (QA*) Social Statistics (1)

This course introduces the student to the logic and procedures of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis as these are applied in the various social sciences, particularly the discipline of sociology. Topics examined include scales of measurement; frequency distributions; data graphing; measures of central tendency and dispersion; sampling distributions; confidence intervals and estimation; hypothesis testing; measures of association; and quantitative modeling using Chi-square, analysis of variance, and linear regression.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning (*)

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Heuser, Strawn

SOC 302 Methods of Social Research (1)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods. Topics to be covered include research design, conceptualization and measurement, methods of gathering information, sampling, ethics, and data analysis. The relationship between theory and research will also be considered. Students will be involved in exercises and projects intended to familiarize them with the different methods of conducting research.

Prerequisite: Any 100-level Sociology course or SOC 201 and SOC 301 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Heuser, Strawn

SOC 303 Sociological Theory (1)

This course introduces the undergraduate to the important theoretical paradigms that have historically oriented the sociology discipline. Classical sociological theory emerged in the works of Durkheim, Marx, Weber, and Mead, among others. Out of the ideas of these thinkers evolved the major schools of modern sociology, in particular Structural-Functionalism, Conflict Theory, and Symbolic Interactionism. In recent decades, new critical paradigms have emerged to challenge the modern schools, including postmodern and cultural critiques, as well as feminist, race, and queer theories.

Prerequisite: Any 100-level Sociology course or SOC 201

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 312 Individual in Society: Social Psychology (1)

In this course, we will uncover the ways people make sense of the world, how they figure out ways of getting along, and how they deal with conflict and differences in power. Since this course is a seminar, most of the time will be devoted to discussing readings, but we may also see a few films. Topics will include the nature of reality, the importance of language, and the process of defining situations.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 315 Social Movements, Collective Action, and Protest (1)

The course examines the theoretical frameworks used by sociologists to understand phenomena related to collective action, protest, and social movements. These include resource mobilization theory, political opportunity theory, and framing theory. More recently, these schools have been synthesized into a single "political process theory." Critiques of political process theory are also examined, in particular those emphasizing its failure to account for culture, its emphasis on the experiences of only the U.S. and Europe, and difficulty applying it to the prediction of future collective action.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course, or consent of instructor.

  • Offering: Alternate Springs
  • Instructor: Strawn

SOC 322 The Environment and Society (1)

The urban metropolis, the quintessential "social laboratory," allows us to better understand group relations, social roles and status, and relationship between structures/culture, and the roles of context, history, and power in shaping social reality. Through this course, students will come to see the city as a "cultural product" and articulate its relevance to our making and remaking society. Special attention will be given to contests over space, social stratification, and movements for social justice that affect the larger society and the processes of globalization.

Mode of Inquiry: Environmental Cluster

Prerequisite: Any 100-level Sociology course or SOC 201

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 324 Gender and Development (1)

This course uses theories of gender and development and of globalization to consider the effects of development and globalization on women, men, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities. After identifying relevant international and national actors and forces, the course examines changes in national and local social systems, institutions, and interaction patterns related to development and addressing gender and/or ethnicity. Topics discussed in this context may include agriculture, natural resources, environment, urban development, manufacturing, population, religion, education, and human rights.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 330 World Population Problems (1)

This course examines population problems in various societies of the world and reviews theories of population growth. It explores critical variables such as fertility, mortality and migration and relates the population problem to factors that indicate the interdependent nature of the modern world.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Socioloty course

  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 332 Urban Sociology (1)

The urban metropolis, the quintessential "social laboratory," allows us to better understand group relations, social roles and status, the relationship between structures, culture, and the roles of context, history, and power in shaping social reality. Through this course, students will come to see the city as a "cultural product" and articulate its relevance to our making and remaking society. Special attention will be given to contests over space, social stratification, and movements for social justice that affect the larger society and the processes of globalization.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Drew

SOC 334 Inequality in Society (1)

The aim of this course is to provide students with a strong background in the basic concepts and theories of social stratification. It examines structured social inequality in modern society and is primarily concerned with three basic issues: how inequality is structured, how such structures are maintained and the consequences that result from structured social inequality. Each of these issues is explored cross-culturally as well as from the American perspective.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Drew

SOC 339 Deviance and Social Control (1)

In this course, we will focus on how sociologists explain behaviors that many of us see as dangerous, distasteful or unpleasant. The assignments will focus on theories of deviance, some discussion of the preferred methods used in studying deviance, and several topical sections focusing on deviant behaviors such as sex work, drug use, crime, and mental disorders. Rather than condemning deviance and deviants, the course seeks to explain people's behavior and society's responses to them.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 340 (US) Social Aspects of Dying, Death and Bereavement (1)

Death represents one of the great mysteries of life. In this course, we undertake an evaluation of the sociological theories and research pertaining to dying, death and bereavement. Cultural variations in these social processes are also considered. Topics include: definitions and images of death; demography and death; the dying and grieving processes; caregiving; and funeral practices. Opportunities to volunteer in the community will be available.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society; Death Cluster

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Heuser

SOC 358 Special Topics in Sociology (.5 or 1)

This course offers timely exposure to a variety of relevant topics in sociology. Topics might include the study of homelessness, poverty, death and dying, or cultural diversity.

Prerequisite: SOC 201 or any 100-level Sociology course or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 430 (W) Families (1)

This course explores changing aspects of marriage and family structures and relationships, including family life cycles, alternative forms of marriage, aging, divorce, remarriage and reconstituted families.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: SOC 302 and SOC 303

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Aguilar

SOC 435 (W) Group Dynamics and Organizational Culture (1)

In this course, we will focus on how people figure out, establish, and maintain the rules that make interactions in a variety of settings predictable. We will also spend considerable time on the methods sociologists employ in studying different settings. The readings cover the dramaturgical perspective espoused by Goffman and others, structural arguments and ethnomethodological explanations of how we make sense of the many social worlds we inhabit.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: SOC 302 and SOC 303

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 437 (W) Seminar: Political Sociology (1)

In this course students engage in qualitative and quantitative research and analysis of topics and issues related to the political dimensions of society. Both "classical" political sociology, which treats socio-political institutions as the product of social relations, processes, and interactions, and contemporary perspectives which emphasize the constructionist and/or cultural dimensions of political power, will be applied critically to topics including democracy, citizenship, social movements, and social welfare.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: SOC 302 and SOC 303, or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Strawn

SOC 490 Research and Independent Study (.5 or 1)

This course is intended only for the qualified advanced student with a solid preparation in the theory and methods of sociology who wishes to do an intensive research analysis or advanced independent study in an area not covered by an existing course in the department.

Prerequisite: SOC 302 and SOC 303

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 495 Internship in Sociology (1)

This course provides an opportunity for students to work in selected social service and other organizations supervised by on-site professionals. Opportunity to observe the operation of agencies and develop some skills in working with people. Students spend 12 to 15 hours a week interning and attend a weekly seminar.

Prerequisite: Senior majors who have completed SOC 302 and SOC 303

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Heuser

SOC 497 Senior Thesis (1)

Open to majors in Sociology Honors Program, the senior thesis involves a comprehensive study of a topic chosen by the student and approved by her/his thesis advisor/s. As an original, quantitative and/or qualitative investigation undertaken as an independent study, the thesis includes the collection and analysis of primary or secondary data grounded in relevant theoretical and empirical literatures. A written thesis and oral presentation of the study's findings are required. Satisfactory completion of this course fulfills the Senior Year Experience requirement for Sociology majors.

Prerequisite: Senior majors who have completed SOC 302 and SOC 303 and who qualify for Honors

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

SOC 499 Senior Seminar in Sociology (1)

Through an original research project, students will apply the theoretical and methodological knowledge gained in the major to a concrete research question (or issue) studied throughout the semester. This research project, as well as weekly seminar discussion around a selected topic, will allow students to consider the range of sociological sub-specialties composing the discipline, collect and analyze relevant data to enhance sociological knowledge, and effectively communicate research and the research process.

Prerequisite: Senior majors who have completed SOC 302 and SOC 303

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff