Introduction to Sociology
Instructor: Dmitri Shalin
Office hours: Tuesday 2:15-4:00, 6:30-7:00 p.m., or by appointment
EMPHASIS OF COURSE: The course is an introduction to the science of society. It familiarizes students with the major domains of sociological analysis and basic principles of sociological research. Special effort is made to link sociological concepts to everyday experience and to offer sociological insight into the personal problems we encounter in everyday life. Crosscultural perspective is emphasized throughout the course.
READINGS: All reading assignments are from a book edited by James Henslin, Down to Earth Sociology, published by Free Press. Special handouts will be given in class. Students are encouraged to purchase the textbook.
LECTURES: Class lectures follow the sequence of the chapters in the textbook. Some of the materials discussed in class are not covered in your textbook assignments. Students are advised to do readings for each session in advance of its coverage in class. Special video sessions are planned in connection with various sections of the course. Questions from students are welcome, both during regular class sessions and office hours.
REQUIREMENTS: The course is divided into four sections. Section I covers the readings from Parts 1-2 of the textbook; Section II – Parts 3-4; Section III – Parts 5-6; and Section IV – Parts 7-9. Students take a multiple choice exam covering the first section of class. A special project assignment is handed out at the end the second section, and it will be due back a month later. The final take-home assignment covering the materials from Parts 3 and 4 is given at the end of the term. Examination questions will reflect your textbook readings as well as the materials brought up in lectures and special video sessions. Participation in class discussions is strongly encouraged. Individual contributions to class discussion will be reflected in the final grade.
SPECIAL PROJECT: All students take a special project assignment student during the first half of the semester. The guidelines, explanations, and deadlines for this project will be provided in class.
OUTLINE OF TOPICS:
Sec. I. The sociological perspective & social research (Parts I & II)
Sec. 2 Culture, socialization and gender (Parts III & IV)
Sec. 3. Social structure, deviance and social control (Parts V $ VI)
Sec. 4. Social inequality, stratification and change (Parts VII, VIII & IX)
DISABLED STUDENTS POLICY
If you have a documented disability that may require assistance, you will need to contact the Disability Resource Center for coordination in your academic accommodations. The DRC is located in the Reynolds Student Services Complex in Room 137. The DRC Phone # is 895-0866. (TDD-895-0652).
Immigrating, making a home in another country, finding one’s way in a new culture is usually a traumatic experience. It takes a lot of time before the individual learns the new norms and values and breaks the habits of one’s native land. This project offers you an opportunity to explore at length the impact that the transition to a new culture has on the individual.
You are expected to do the following:
(1) Find an individual who has had the first-hand experience of immigrating to or living for a long time in another country.
(2) Interview this individual about the problems he or she has experienced in connection with this transition.
(3) Write a paper on the order of 7-10 double-spaced, type-written pages, summarizing your interviews, analyzing the problems that your respondents encountered, and relating your discussion to relevant sociological concepts.
(4) Turn in your paper indicating your name, ID number, and class during the review session for the Section III of the class.
It is up to you to find a person for your interview. One way to do so is to approach a student from another country, explain the nature of your assignment, and ask for a 30-60 minute interview. You can also call on your friends who had studied in foreign countries. Make sure to take notes or tape interviews. Describe the typical problems that the respondent has encountered in a new country. Pay special attention to the differences and similarities between the native and new cultures. Use course materials to analyze the nature of these problems, the expectations that the individual had before moving to the new land, the coping strategies adopted by the individual, the degree of success in adopting to the new customs, etc.
Additional information about this assignment and the ethics of conducting interviews will be provided in class.
Sociologists, politicians, and community activists know that it is hard to deal effectively with social problems without collecting reliable data and obtaining a clear picture of what is going on in a given area. With that goal in mind, communities across the United States are tracking the leading social indicators that help identify most urgent problems, such as high school dropouts, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, suicide rates, environmental hazards, unemployment patterns, affordable housing shortage, etc. This assignment gives you chance to familiarize yourself with the leading indicators and quality of life in Nevada, as well as compile your own report on the quality of life in a region or a community of your choice.
You are expected to do the following:
(1) Go to the web site of the UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, http://www.unlv.edu/centers/cdclv, enter the home page, click on the “Leading Indicators” button, and find the report titled “The Social Health of Nevada: Leading Indicators and the Quality of Life in the Silver State.”
(2) Look trough various chapters of the report, as well as through the introduction describing the project and the conclusion summarizing the findings, familiarize yourself with the situation in Nevada, and see how Nevada compares to other states.
(3) Look through the leading indicators web sites for other states and the country as a whole (you will find them listed at the end of the introductory essay). Pay special attention to the data sources and web sites with up-to-date data on a particular problem area.
(4) Choose any one indicator, collect the most recent data, and write a report showing how a community of your choice compares to other communities. You can choose to write about any borough, county, town, city, state, region, or country.
(5) Write a paper on the order of 7-10 double-spaced typewritten pages summarizing your findings and suggesting what needs to be done to improve the situation.
(6) Turn in your paper during the review session for the Section III of the class.
When you write your report, describe the problems you encountered in collecting information, identify the strength and weakness of the available data, and indicate which information needs to be gathered to improve our understanding of the situation. Share your thoughts on how the indicator you describe affects the quality of life for people residing in this area or community. Additional information about this assignment will be provided in class.