Courses

 

 Yale Course Links

SOCY 041a, Social Control & Criminal Justice.
Philip Smith

Exploration of the criminal justice system from a sociological perspective. Special attention to transformations in social control arising with the onset of modernity. Topics include policing, courts, the law, and prisons; costs and benefits of various contemporary solutions to the problem of social control; and the role of power and culture in shaping current policy and activity. Readings from the works of Durkheim, Foucault, and Weber as well as from more current writings in the fields of criminology, legal studies, and social theory. Enrollment limited to freshmen.

SOCY 115a, Contemporary American Society.
Ron Eyerman

Examination of the central tensions and dynamics in American society at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Attention to the major fault lines in American society and how they are experienced; how social structures shape social landscapes. Use of sociological theory to inform understandings of how the national past shapes present and future possibilities in American society. Topics include inequality and stratification, religion, urban poverty, the politics of family, popular culture, welfare and warfare, ethnicity and community, and America and the world.

SOCY 131b, Sociology of the Arts and Popular Culture.
Ron Eyerman

An introduction to sociological perspectives on the arts and popular culture. Topics include the relationship between culture and society; the role and meaning of the arts from a sociological perspective; mass culture and the culture industry; culture and commerce, art, and politics. Analysis of artworks, classical and popular music, film, and literature.

SOCY 141b, Sociology of Crime and Deviance.
Philip Smith

An introduction to sociological approaches to crime and deviance. Review of the patterns of criminal and deviant activity within society; exploration of major theoretical accounts. Topics include drug use, violence, and white-collar crime.

SOCY 151b, Foundations of Modern Social Theory.
Ron Eyerman

Major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.

SOCY 152a, Topics in Contemporary Theory.
Ron Eyerman

Overview of developments in social theory since the 1950s, including structural functionalism, hermeneutical approaches, interactionist and phenomenological perspectives, rational choice, network theory, the new institutionalism, and theories of globalization. Examination of the work of influential theorists.

SOCY 216a, Social Movements.
Ron Eyerman

An introduction to sociological perspectives on social movements and collective action, exploring civil rights, student movements, global justice, nationalism, and radical fundamentalism.
 The prerequisite for intermediate courses is one introductory Sociology course or permission of the instructor.

SOCY 330a, Civil Society & Democracy.
Jeffrey Alexander

Examination of normative and sociological theories of civil society and of empirical studies of its culture. Attention to organizations such as polls, mass media, law, and office, which provide ways of partially institutionalizing civil society. The civil rights movement and multiculturalism as illustrations of struggles inside the civil sphere. Discussion of whether a global civil society is possible. (Advanced Sociology courses are open to students who have completed one intermediate course and any other specified requirement, or by permission of the instructor. Preference is given to Sociology
majors in their junior and senior years.)

SOCY 352b, Material Culture.
Jeffrey Alexander

Exploration of how and why modern and postmodern societies have continued to sustain material symbolism and iconic consciousness. Study of theoretical approaches to debates about icons and symbols in philosophy, sociology, linguistics, pyschoanalysis, and semiotics. Use of case studies to analyze modern iconography in advertisements and branding, food and bodies, nature, fashion, celebrities, popular culture, art, and politics. (Advanced Sociology courses are open to students who have completed one intermediate course and any other specified requirement, or by permission of the instructor. Preference is given to Sociology majors in their junior and senior years.)

SOCY 502b, Contemporary Sociological Theory: Durkheimian Sociology.
Philip Smith

The course looks at the work of Emile Durkheim and his legacy for both social theory and empirical sociology. In the first part we examine Durkheim’s major writings and key concepts. Next an exploration is made of the multiple and often contending ways these have been taken up and interpreted over the past one hundred or so years. Particular emphasis is given to the decline in functionalist and positivist readings of Durkheim and his emergence as a major cultural theorist in recent decades. We consider the contributions of Mauss, Bataille, Goffman, Victor Turner, Collins, Lukes, Douglas.

SOCY 525a, Cultural Sociology: Theory & Research Programs.
Jeffrey Alexander

After a review of a broad range of contemporary perspectives, the seminar will proceed to examine in depth, and in its variations, the strong program in cultural sociology. This will include looking at theoretical ideas about hermeneutics and interpretation, critical theory, semiotics, structuralism and
post-structuralism, social drama and ritual, performance studies, and social approaches to symbolic process. It will also include looking at empirical studies that apply cultural methods to such issues as politics, violence, civil society, and collective trauma.

SOCY 544b, Social Movements.
Ron Eyerman

The course covers the dynamic field of social movement research from its origins to the present day. We discuss developments in theory and methodology primarily from European and American (North and South) perspectives, but touch on others as well. We make use of film and music in to explore the themes under discussion. This seminar course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

SOCY 548b, The Sociology of the Arts: Classical & Contemporary Perspectives.
Ron Eyerman

(Not offered in 2006–2007.)

This seminar covers the classical and contemporary sociological perspectives on the arts; the “arts” being understood in the broad sense to include fine art and popular culture. Framing these perspectives is the dominant sociological narrative, periodized as a movement from traditional to modern and late, or postmodern, society. The central theoretical focus is on the Frankfurt School and the notion of a culture industry.

SOCY 565a, Advanced Seminar in Cultural Sociology
Jeffrey Alexander, Ron Eyerman and Philip Smith

This seminar focuses on the unpublished work of advanced graduate students in cultural sociology at Yale and elsewhere, as well as on just-emerging published work that exemplifies “strong program” work in the cultural sociology and surrounding fields. The format is intended to maximize student participation so as to develop collegial networks of intellectual support as well as capacities for critical evaluation. The workshop may be audited by more advanced graduate students who wish to participate in this process but whose course work is completed, as well as by Visiting Fellows to the Center for Cultural Sociology, or with permission of the instructor.

SOCY 567b, Cultural Performances. The Whitney Seminar on New Perspectives in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
Jeffrey Alexander

(Not offered in 2006–2007.)

In recent decades, “performance” has emerged as a critical new concept in the humanities and social sciences, testifying to an interest in the contingent and creative dimensions of social, cultural, and artistic action. This suggests a focus on the “here and now,” which might complement or confront more traditional emphases on social structure, cultural text, aesthetic icon, or theatrical script. Some of the different aspects of performance that will be highlighted in this course include performance as political gesture, suggesting transgression and rebellion; performance creating ironic distance, all the
while suggesting manipulation and artifice and aiming at the appearance of authenticity; performance as the basis for interpretive and explanatory theory, modeling the cultural pragmatics of social action, institutions, and political life; performance as a breach open toward new frontiers not only in the theory but in the practice of culture, as exemplified by Avant-Guard theatre and performance art. This course will begin on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 with the opening question “What is performance in theory and practice?” Guest speakers will participate in the Wednesday afternoon seminars, and will present public lectures on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. at the Whitney Humanities Center. Also: SOCY 567b, SOCY 333b, WHIT 971b, HUMS 403b.

SOCY 570a, Social Theory, Trauma and Memory
Ron Eyerman

This seminar explores sociological approaches to memory and trauma. A central theme is how cultural trauma has influenced the development of social theory, as well as literature and the arts generally. While aimed at graduate students in the social sciences and humanities, the seminar is open to advanced graduate students after consultation with the instructor.

SOCY 628a/b, Workshop in Cultural Sociology.
Jeffrey Alexander, Ron Eyerman and Philip Smith

This workshop is designed to be a continuous part of the graduate curriculum. Meeting weekly throughout both the fall and spring terms, it constitutes an ongoing, informal seminar to explore areas of mutual interest among students and faculty, both visiting and permanent. The core concern of the workshop is social meaning and its forms and processes of institutionalization. Meaning is approached as both structure and performance, drawing not only on the burgeoning area of cultural sociology but on the humanities, philosophy, and other social sciences. Discussions range widely among methodological, theoretical, empirical, and normative issues. Sessions alternate between presentations by students of their own work and by visitors. Contents of the workshop vary from term to term, and from year to year. Enrollment is open to auditors who fully participate and for credit to students who submit written work. Visit the Workshop home page for more information.