Sociological Inquiry

This course is an introduction to sociology for majors and non-majors. We will explore how social networks, organizations, and institutions influence people's identities and beliefs, their opportunities in life, and their everyday choices. We will investigate how class, gender, race, and cultural differences are created and maintained in places like the college campus, hospitals, the workplace, and elsewhere. We will learn about an apply some of the tools sociologists use to study these processes. As we go, we will also consider ethical controversies surrounding these and related topics. This course fulfills SS, CCI, and EI general education requirements. It will also help prepare students for the behavioral science portion of the MCAT exam.

Organizations and Management

This course is taught as part of the Markets and Management Program. It surveys the development of modern organizations and organizational analysis. The focus is on for-profit firms, but we will also look at other complex organizations as we go. We will explore different explanations of how organizations work, why they fail, how they should be managed, and how they connect with other aspects of society. The course will give you a critical grounding in basic organizational theory, and teach you how to put these ideas to work in the analysis of both real organizations and the huge body of scholarly and popular literature about them.

Taboo Markets

This course is about taboo, stigmatized, or otherwise morally controversial markets. Examples include trade in alcohol and other drugs, sex work, gambling, baby-selling, paid domestic labor, care work, human blood, organs, eggs, sperm, genetic material, viaticals, and pollution rights. We will read empirical studies and ethical arguments about these markets, focusing mostly on how exchange in these goods is practically accomplished and morally justified in theory and practice. We will also consider broader questions about the scope and limits, if any, of the market as a social institution, and its relationship to other sorts of exchange.


Data Visualization

Course homepage, with links to slides, notes, code snippets and other material.

This graduate-level short course is a hands-on introduction to data visualization. It is aimed at graduate students in the Sociology department. We focus on the practical analysis and presentation of real data, while also covering some material on principles of data visualization. The goal is to develop a good working sense of why some graphs and figures work well while others either fail to inform or actively mislead.

Social Theory from Marx to Parsons

This graduate-level course is an intensive introduction to some main themes in social theory. It is the first of a two-part sequence required of first year Ph.D students in the sociology department.

Contemporary Sociological Theory

This graduate-level course is an introduction to some main themes in sociological theory since the 1950s. It is the second of the two-part theory sequence required of first year Ph.D students in the sociology department.

Social Theory Through Complaining

Not currently offered.

Gifts and Debts

We begin by reading some of the social theory of gift exchange and debt, mostly from sociology and anthropology, and go on to consider recent scholarship on systems of gift exchange in various goods, together with work on consumer credit, credit systems and credit scoring, and inequality.

Other Graduate Seminars

Two other courses not offered recently: Economic Sociology and the Sociology of Culture. The syllabuses are somewhat out of date.