Topic 1: The Background of Sociology & Sociological Imagination

This week’s agenda

  • Learn what sociology and sociological imagination mean.
  • Learn the background of sociology by paying attention to the Industrial Revolution and the rise of modern society.

Required Reading


      • Openstax. Why study sociology. In Introduction to Sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Dec 18, 2019
      • Openstax. The history of sociology. In Introduction to Sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Dec 18, 2019

Supplementary Reading

Study guide

What is Sociology? 

    • When you read, focus on three points.
      • Definitions of Sociology
      • What does sociology teach us?
      • Sociological imagination: Who created this term and why does it matter for us?

Group Discussion/Activity 1: Sociological imagination & COVID-19

1. Read and watch

    • Watch this video.

2. Discuss how sociological imagination could contribute to understanding the COVID-19.

    • Have you faced  a situation in which a choice you made was influenced by societal pressures and environments during the pandemic?
    • If so, explain how.

Group Discussion/Activity 2: Coffee Snobs

We briefly talked about the fall of Starbucks and it seems like there have been new trends at coffee shops in the U.S. cities.

First, watch this video, Coffee Snobs.  This short video is old but still hilarious, and asks us many questions about culture.

Second, discuss following questions.

1) Talk about the differences between Starbucks and small local coffee shops, offering third-wave coffee. Who shops there?
2) Why do some people think Starbucks is over? Why are small local coffee shops getting more popular? What attract young urban consumers to visit ‘local’ coffee shops? When you discuss this prompt, think about a term, ‘authenticity.’
3) Coffee is more than a simple product for quenching thirst or energy boosters, but offer an opportunity to think about various sociological meanings and features around its consumption. Discuss what kinds of external factors you find while consuming coffee.

The Background of Sociology

Industrialization & Urbanization

  • Reading assignments

There are three shorting reading assignments.

    • See:
      • Photos provided by Museum of the City of New York.

Group Discussion/Activity 3: The Industrial Revolution & the current U.S. society

  • Ask students to complete all the readings and watch the videos about immigrants.
  • Discuss following questions:
    • How had the Industrial Revolution shaped the living conditions of the working-class people and immigrants in the U.K. and the U.S? In another word, identify any social issues that people had to confront during the Industrial Revolution?
    • Do you think that those issues we have identified also reflect current issues that we face?