Classes and Seminars


  • Visualizing Society

    Visualizing Society is a FOCUS cluster Freshman Seminar. The course teaches you the how and why of visualizing social science data using modern tools. It also explores various efforts to systematically represent social structure and social relations in a visually coherent manner. Course website.

  • 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.

  • Data Visualization

    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 the aesthetic and especially the cognitive aspects of graphical perception and interpretation. The goals are (1) to develop a good working sense of why some graphs and figures work well while others either fail to inform or actively mislead, and (2) to provide a solid grounding in how to produce good data visualizations in R.

  • Data Management

    This is a graduate mini-seminar (i.e. a half-semester course), and the companion to the Data Visualization mini taught in the second half of the semester. It provides an opinionated but undogmatic overview of tools and techniques you can use when doing quantitative or mixed-methods social science research. It does not teach you methods or statistics; instead it teaches you about the stuff that your methods and statistics instructors assume you already know about, and that you spend your time googling trying to find out how to fix.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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. It is not a general introduction either to social theory broadly conceived or to humanities-style “Theory”.


  • Social Theory through Complaining

    This course is an intensive introduction to some main themes in social theory. It is required of first year Ph.D students in the sociology department. Each week we will focus on something grad students complain about when they are forced to take theory. You are required to attend under protest, write a paper that’s a total waste of your time, and complain constantly. Passive-aggressive silence will not be sufficient for credit.

  • Gifts and Debts

    This graduate-level special topics course explores some current debates at the intersection of economic sociology and the sociology of culture. The theme of the course is Gifts and Debts. There are no formal prerequisites for students in the department, but the course can be thought of as following on from both Lisa Keister's Economic Sociology seminar and Steve Vaisey's Sociology of Culture seminar, both of which were offered last semester. 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.


  • Organization, Violence, and the State

    This is a graduate-level reading course on the sociology of war, violence, and the modern state, with an emphasis on the organizational and institutional aspects of collective violence and state-building. Because it is not a regular seminar, the readings in the syllabus are presented in sequence but not as weekly class meetings.

  • 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.

Some of the classes I have offered in recent years, including pointers to upcoming courses and other resources, when they are available. Classes are listed once but are typically taught more frequently than that.


I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m also affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Read a brief overview of my work or my Curriculum Vitae.



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