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Offices: Registrar - Catalog

Sociology and Anthropology

Division of Social Sciences


Ryan Kelty, Chair [on leave for the 2016-2017 academic year]

Erin Anderson, acting Chair

Erin Clark

Rachel Durso

Benjamin Kohl

Elizabeth Yost


The Department of Sociology offers a major and a minor in sociology as well as concentration in Social Welfare.  Sociology courses are also foundational for the interdisciplinary minors in Public Health and in Justice, Law and Society.



Sociology is the study of human social interaction. Courses in sociology help students gain a general understanding of human society, understand how individuals’ lives are shaped by social forces, develop theoretical and analytic skills appropriate for graduate or professional school programs, prepare for careers in social service or allied fields, and acquire theoretical and practical knowledge for careers in business and industry. Recent graduates have gone on to professional or graduate schools in sociology, anthropology, law, criminology, social work, and education. Graduates have found employment in those fields, and also the Peace Corps, counseling, corrections, the armed services, banking, public relations, human resources management, and other corporate and nonprofit positions.


The Sociology Major

Sociology 101 is prerequisite for the major in sociology. Additionally, prospective majors should complete at least two additional sociology courses by the end of their sophomore year, and the major’s statistics requirement, which must be satisfied no later than the spring semester of sophomore year to avoid later problems in completing the required research methods and sociological theory sequence in the fall and spring of their junior year, respectively. 


The Senior Capstone Experience

During the senior year, each sociology major completes a major independent research project with the guidance of one of the department’s sociologists. Senior Capstone Experiences integrate the diverse learning that students have accomplished throughout their undergraduate years, not only within the major, but also across the liberal arts and sciences. During their junior year, students will learn about constructing research proposals and the steps to carrying out their own research and analysis in preparation for completing the Senior Capstone Experience.  The range both of topics and methods is broad; the Capstone Experience is an independent research project, on a topic of the student’s choosing, with the guidance of a faculty member to assure that it is both significant and capable of completion in the time available. Work on the Capstone is supported by the student’s capstone advisor, and by some of the work of the Sociology Senior Seminars, SOC 491, taken during the fall semester and SOC 492 taken during the spring semester. Course credit for this project is awarded through registration, in the spring semester, for SOC SCE.


Required For The Major In Sociology

Ten courses: Sociology 101, 303, and 306, the statistics requirement, the Senior Capstone Experience, five additional courses in sociology; and Sociology 491-492.  (Students with a double major in sociology and psychology and who complete a research methods course or sequence in psychology may omit Sociology 306, but must then take a sixth sociology elective.)


Required for the Minor in Sociology

Six courses, of which Sociology 101, 303, 306, and the statistics requirement are required; and two additional courses in sociology. (Students with a major in psychology and who complete a research methods course or sequence in psychology may omit Sociology 306, but must then take a third sociology elective.)


The Statistics Requirement

This requirement, a prerequisite for Research Methods in Sociology, may be met by taking either MAT 109, PSY 209 or BUS 109.


Social Welfare Concentration

Students who complete this concentration will be well-prepared for entry-level positions in the field, and for graduate work in social welfare and social policy. Students wishing to achieve official recognition of the concentration must complete a minimum of four courses. Sociology 382, 483, and 484 are required. In addition, students will complete at least one of the following courses: Sociology 212, 240, 341; Anthropology 105; or Psychology 304.


Students planning to do graduate work in sociology should take the following courses: Sociology 221, 250, 262, and 356. All students, of course, should strive for insight into the nature of human society. Additional courses in the program should be planned in consultation with the chair to meet individual needs and interests. Sociology majors may become certified to teach social studies in secondary schools. To assure proper scheduling, students interested in this program should inform the chairs of both the Sociology Department and the Education Department as early as possible in their academic careers.


The Distribution Requirement in Social Science may be satisfied by

Sociology 101 and any 200-level course in Sociology.


To satisfy the requirement of a third (unpaired) course for social science distribution students may take Sociology 101.



Courses In Sociology

  1. Introduction to Sociology

Introduction to basic concepts and theories in sociology concerning the nature of society, culture, and personality. Consideration of social processes, groups, and institutions found in modern American society. Specific topics include deviance and social control, social networks, bureaucracy, families, education, race, social class and gender.


  1. Introductory Topics in Sociology

Contents vary. (No prerequisite.)


  1. Sociology of the Family

Study of the family as a social institution. Comparative family systems, history of the family, and theory and research dealing with courtship, marriage, and disorganization of the modern family. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 (cross listed as GEN 212)


  1. Sociology of Gender

Gender as a social construction. Sex and gender. Effects of gender on individuals’ statuses and opportunity structures. Focus on contemporary American responses to sex and gender. Gender roles and definitions earlier in U.S. history and in other societies. Prerequisite: Sociology 101. (cross listed as  GEN 213)


  1. Social Inequalities

The nature of the systems of social stratification and racial inequality as well as the interaction between social class and race in the United States. Personal consequences of the various forms of inequality and perceptions of the legitimacy of social systems based on race are considered. Prerequisite: Sociology 101. (cross listed as GEN 221 and BLS 221)


  1. Criminology

Study of the nature, causes, and social significance of crime. Prerequisite: Sociology 101.


  1. City and Suburb

Cities from their origins to the present. Cities are both causes and consequences of social and technical change; therefore they are always places of social problems and conflict. Course will focus on early and industrial cities, and on the newly emerging “edge cities.” Prerequisite: Sociology 101.


  1. Self and Society

Examines reciprocal relationships of society and the individual, and of the nature of face-to-face human interaction. Introduces key concepts, theories, and methodologies of sociological social psychology. Students read, analyze, and perform research that explores the ways in which society affects individuals and groups; how individuals and groups, reciprocally, influence society; how individuals interpret and negotiate the social world; and the influence individuals and groups have on others. Prerequisite: Sociology 101.


  1. Special Topics in Sociology

Contents vary. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 or permission of instructor.


  1. Social Theory

Critical analysis of leading social thinkers from 1800 to the present. Prerequisites: Sociology 101 and one additional course in Sociology or permission of the instructor.


  1. Research Methods in Sociology

Introduction to the methods used in studying society. Selection of a research topic, experimental design, sampling, methods of data collection, statistical analysis of findings. Prerequisites: Sociology 101, and completion of the statistics requirement (MAT 109 or PSY 209).


  1. Victimology

The concepts and theories surrounding victimization in the U.S. resulting from violent crime and white collar crime form the basis of this course. Students will explore the history and social context of the victims’ movement. They will develop an understanding of how victimization data are collected and will learn about victim services provided nationally as well as on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Discussions of race, gender, and economic class will be woven through the analysis of specific victim categories such as: domestic and family violence; hate crimes; violent street incidents; campus violence; identity fraud; and terror victims. The course will present students with experiential learning opportunities as well as a forum for assessing public policy options that address the legal, financial, medical and emotional needs of crime victims and their families. Prerequisites: Sociology 101 and Sociology 240, or permission of instructor.


  1. Variant Behavior

This course introduces students to sociological understanding of variations in human behavior classified as deviant. Deviance is examined as a conceptual category that is socially constructed by interactions and reactions to certain types of behavior be they biological, social, or both. As such, we will examine the processes and social agencies that define, detect, and sanction deviant behavior over time. Motivations for deviant behavior, as well as the nature of deviance itself, will be discussed. Formal theories of deviance will be explored and various research approaches regarding the study of deviance will be presented and explored (both individually and as a class). In addition, this course will examine the attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics of those deemed deviant. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 and one additional course in sociology.


  1. Sociology of Religion

The influence of religion on contemporary North American society, and of society on religious form and practice. Topics include the social construction of religion; cults; evil as a social construct; proselytizing; social functions of religion; social issues such as capital punishment, race, and gender issues; the relationship between religion and science; and comparisons among contemporary and historical religious traditions in the U.S. and globally. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 and one additional sociology course or prior permission of the instructor. (cross listed as PHL 351)


  1. Environmental Sociology

This class explores the human dimension of ecosystem science. Use of environmental sociology as a framework for understanding the dynamic relationship between humans and the environment, trends in environmental policy and public opinion, environmentalism as a social movement, human-induced environmental decline, and environmental justice. Students will explore how changes in ecosystems influence the achievability and sustainability of societal values such as security from natural disasters, health, good social relations, and freedom to pursue personal and cultural interests. Prerequisites: SOC 101 and one additional sociology course or permission of the instructor. (cross listed as ENV 370)


394, 494. Special Topics in Sociology

Contents vary. Prerequisite: two prior sociology courses or permission of instructor.


  1. Work and Gender

This course examines the expectations, opportunities, and rewards as well as the limitations that men and women face in paid and unpaid labor.  The historical contexts of work, the intersection of race and gender, the balancing of paid and unpaid labor, and global patterns of work with respect to gender will be studied. Prerequisites: SOC 101 and one additional sociology course or permission of the instructor.


  1. Sociology of the Body

An examination of bodies as a source of power, repression, and subjugation, a medium for expression, and an entity to be controlled. This course investigates how the body is influenced by social forces, the meanings attached to the body and particular body parts, the ways in which we experience our own bodies in contemporary society, and the significance of the body for the discipline of sociology. Includes study of characteristics such as body size, physical ability, race, and sex as well as various forms of elected or forced body modification. Prerequisites: Sociology 101 and one additional course in sociology, or permission of the instructor.


  1. Armed Forces & Society.

This course focuses on the interactive effects among the military, the state (government), and society (citizens). Components of the course include examination of social change and the growth of military institutions, civil-military relations, the changing functions of the military in (global) society, military service as an occupation versus a profession, the sociology of military life, and the intersection of the military institution with issues of race, gender, family, and sexual orientation. This course will also explore the relationships of foreign militaries to their host societies in a comparative context with the U.S. Prerequisites: SOC 101 and one additional course in sociology or permission of the instructor.


290, 390, 490. Sociology Internship

The department encourages students with prior courses in sociology to develop, with a member of the department, internship opportunities. Students interested in pursuing internships should read “Internships and Other opportunities,” in this Catalog. In addition to the requirements listed there, interns should expect to write a paper describing their experiences, as relevant to sociology, and connected to a reading list to be developed and agreed upon by the intern and the supervising faculty member. Prerequisite: Sociology 101.


295, 395, 495. On-campus Research


296, 396, 496. Off-campus Research


297, 397, 497. Independent Study

Junior and senior students with a strong interest and background in sociology may, working with a faculty member in the department, develop either a research project or a course of study in order to pursue a subject or topic within the discipline not a covered by the department’s regular offerings. The student and faculty member will agree upon a reading list, and either a formal research project or a substantial paper. The student should expect to meet regularly with his or her instructor to demonstrate progress in, and knowledge of, the readings; and to discuss, and to receive guidance on the project or paper. (Note that students may not use independent study courses to gain academic credit for work on their Senior Capstones.) Prerequisites: Sociology 101 and two additional courses in sociology.


491-492. Senior Seminar

Seniors will meet for 75 minutes each week in each semester of the senior year for general guidance in the Capstone process, for integration of the undergraduate educational experience, and for guidance in the transition from undergraduate study to employment and to post-BA academic work. Participation in SOC 491 in the fall of senior year and SOC 492 in the spring semester is a requirement of the major.


SCE. Senior Capstone Experience

The Senior Capstone Experience in sociology is a significant piece of independent research, generally in the form of a thesis, undertaken by each senior with the guidance and mentorship of a department faculty member. A successful SCE will demonstrate the student’s ability to answer a significant sociological question using the tools of both sociological theory and methodology. A student who successfully completes the SCE will receive a grade of Pass or Honors, and will earn four credits in her or his final undergraduate semester. A more extensive description of the SCE is available from the department chair. Discussion of a joint thesis, undertaken by a student with two majors, can be found in the section “Double Majors, Minors, and Concentrations/Specializations” within the Academic Program portion of this Catalog.


Courses In Social Welfare

  1. Juvenile Delinquency and Social Welfare

This offers a sociological exploration of youth, crime, and the juvenile justice system in the United States.  A wide variety of topics will be covered, including the history, philosophy and contemporary context of the juvenile court, shifting patterns and trends relative to juvenile offending and crime, sociological theories accounting for involvement and desistance from juvenile delinquency, the application of the “rule of law” to juvenile offending, and the effectiveness of rehabilitative programming in response to youthful offenders.  Institutional and community-based policies, programs, and practices will be subject to critical review throughout the lectures. The course will be organized into three units. Our first unit will cover the history, current trends, and theoretical explanations for juvenile delinquency. Unit 2 will cover cultural, social, and personal aspects of delinquency. Finally Unit 3 will examine the interaction between juveniles and the criminal justice system. Prerequisites: Sociology 101 and at least 2 of the following: Sociology 212, 240, 250, 303, 341, 382; or prior permission of the instructor.


  1. Introduction to Social Welfare

This course will offer students a broad understanding of contemporary social problems and the social welfare policies, programs and services designed to address them.  The history, individual and social consequences, and programmatic approaches to the amelioration of each social problem area will be explored.  A primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the profession of social work: its fields of practice, values and ethics.  This course integrates core social work competencies and has particular relevance to students considering practice, administrative or policy careers in the helping professions. No prerequisite.


483-484. Field Experience in Social Welfare

A study of the organization and operation of social agencies. Students gain field experience in welfare work under professional supervision. Prerequisites: Sociology 382 and prior permission of the instructor.


Courses Offered in the Washington College Abroad Programs
  1. Introduction to Sociology (Rhodes University)

Terms 1 and 2 of Rhodes University course “Sociology I.” Term 1 is an introduction to the concepts of sociology; term 2 is a topical survey of sociological issues with particular emphasis on issues facing South Africa. Consult current Rhodes University offerings for descriptions applicable in any particular academic year. May not be taken for credit if student has previously taken the Washington College course. Four credits.


  1. Intermediate Sociology (Rhodes University)

Terms 1 and 2 of Rhodes University course “Sociology II.” Term 1 (referred to as “Paper I [Section A]”) is an introduction to sociological theory, with focus on the major classical theorist. Term 2 (“Paper I [section B]”) focuses on a single topic chosen from areas such as Race and Class, Political Sociology, Family Sociology, Sociology of Language, Mass Communication, Migrant Studies. Consult current Rhodes University offerings for descriptions applicable in any particular academic year. Students may complete either this course or Industrial Sociology (Rhodes University) for credit, but not both. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 and one additional sociology course. Four credits.


  1. Urban Communities (London)

Processes of urban growth and urbanization, comparative urban dynamics, organization of urban communities. Emphasis on urban social policies and problems. Case studies, urban explorations appropriate to the site. (London) Prerequisite: Sociology 101. May be paired with Sociology 101 for Social Science Distribution. Note: three credits.


  1. Industrial Sociology (Rhodes University)

Terms I and II of Rhodes University course “Industrial Sociology II.” Term 1 (referred to as “Paper I [Section A]”): is an introduction to sociological theory, with focus on the major classical theorist, and an overview of theories of industrial society. Term 2 (“Paper I [section B]”): Classical and contemporary theories of trade unions; current debates about the role of the trade union movement. Students may complete either this course or Intermediate Sociology (Rhodes University) for credit, but not both. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 and one additional sociology course. Four credits.