SOC1102 Urban Sociology, Fall 2020

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SOC1102 Urban Sociology, Fall 2020
This Course is OPEN.
Library, Social Science
Course Code
OER Course Template
Semester / Year
Fall 2020
Course Description

According to the UN, 82.3% of the U.S. population lived in urban areas in 2018; nearly 90% of the U.S. population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. The New York-Newark metro area is the nation’s most populous urban area, followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim and the Chicago area. While increasingly ubiquitous metro areas provide a unique living experience. Cities are thus prime research sites and laboratories to analyze everyday 21st-century American life, as many of Americans’ identities and daily lives are strongly tied to urban spaces and shaped by their economic, social and cultural power. This course connects macro-level processes, including global forces, politics and economy to micro-level daily life, such as social interactions among city dwellers.

This course is designed to help students develop empirical understanding and analysis of cities. By exploring U.S. urban history from the emergence of modern cities in Europe and in North America during the industrial revolution, students learn how cities were understood not only as a site of production, but also a driving force for modern consumption by looking at department stores and world fairs. Then, students move to explore the U.S. context through Chicago School scholars’ ecological perspectives, and discuss how and why these scholars used the city as a laboratory to analyze modern social life in America.

This course focuses particularly on contemporary urban issues in American cities, starting with the post-war era. Why did whites leave cities for the suburbs? Who was left behind? What caused urban riots? What did urban America lose during that time? By taking new urban sociological approaches into account, students will conceptualize the relationships between the state, economy and city in order to understand urban America. This course emphasizes two perspectives. First, students will explore urban changes and transformations in Downtown Brooklyn as an urban laboratory. Together, as a class, we will use various media and scholarly materials in order to understand contemporary urban issues through our daily experiences in Brooklyn. Second, despite the focus on American cities, this course also underscores global and transnational perspectives for comparison. From immigrants who bring their own culture to the presence of global/transnational corporations, most U.S. cities are global entities, and urban lives are intricately tied to globalization. This course, thus, aims to open up discussion about how we connect the micro-level of our social interactions, consumption, and daily lives to macro-levels of the progress, global economic forces, politics and culture.


This course was created by: Jinwon Kim

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