What is Sociology?
Sociology is the field of study that takes up to explain social, political, cultural and economic phenomena in terms of social structures, social forces and group relations. The course introduces students to several sociological topics, including socialization, culture, the social construction of knowledge, inequality, social stratification, social institutions such as religion, government, family, race and ethnic relations, poverty and deviance, among others.
Sociology is the art of asking questions; big questions such as “What is race?” or “How class structure and social stratification impacts people’s lives?”, “How culture matters?”, “Why states go to war?”, or more detailed and focused questions, like: “Why working class children get working class jobs?”, “How fast food chains impact American family relations?”, “How the social media impact communication?”, “How college education has changed over the past decades?” Acquiring the conceptual and methodological tools to address more broad but also narrower sociological questions of that kind is one of the main objectives of this course.
What you need sociology for?
While sociology assumes that human actions are patterned, it also suggests that individuals have ample of room to change their conditions and direct social change. In that sense the quest to understand society is important and always urgent, for if we cannot understand the social world that we live in, we are more likely to be overwhelmed and ultimately incapacitated by it. As a specialist, the sociologist systematically gathers, processes and analyzes information with the objective to provide insights into what is going on in a situation, present alternatives and often assist policy-makers in making informed decisions and formulating policies. Sociology however, and the sociological imagination is not the prerogative solely of specialists. Sociology, further than being a discipline, a field in social sciences, it constitutes a mode of thinking. Thinking sociologically is also directly related to acting socially. An important objective of this course is to learn how to think alongside others, connect our condition to those of others and understand the importance of not only thinking but also acting collectively.