The Sociology Program offers an exciting “Academic Concentration in Sociology” that can help students “stand out from the crowd” when applying to universities and for jobs. For more information, see Academic Concentration in Sociology
For Bellevue College’s official Sociology course descriptions, visit the College Catalog.
SOC& 101: Introduction to Sociology
This course provides you with a broad introduction to the field of Sociology, exploring topics such as social inequality, power and privilege, social construction, and how social institutions (such as media, government, the economy, education, etc.) perpetuate hierarchies and inequity across race, class, gender, and sexuality. This is a highly interactive class where you will learn by doing. You will be encouraged to begin observing and analyzing your own life, as well as the lives of those around you, by exploring the ways in which society and culture profoundly influences our everyday lives. Students who take this class often tell us that it changed their view of the world, empowering them to think differently about their own lives and the lives of others.
SOC 105: Sociology of Blacks in America
Black history IS American history. This course examines the central role Blacks have played in American society. The overarching question of this class is: how have Blacks become who they are as a people? This course begins by examining the impact of long-term institutional and individual racism on Blacks in America, paying particular attention to schooling, housing, poverty, criminal justice, and political involvement. Students will then learn how racial identity develops within those contexts. You will then explore Black social and political resistance in the form of music, the arts, athletics, and culture. You’ll learn about Black political activism and mobilization, such as the Civil Rights Movement and modern Black nationalism. Black social movements have transformed American society, even providing models for other social movements to follow. And other elements of Black culture – music, athletics, art – have had worldwide, lasting impacts as well. This engaging course examines the fundamental ways in which the “Black experience” is the quintessential “American experience.”
SOC 122: Activism & Social Change
This course provides historic and contemporary perspectives on social activism and resistance through the medium of Popular Culture. You will be exposed to an overview of the field of Popular Culture and the presence of activist voices in television, film, the arts, and popular music. Movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Movement, Environmental Movement, Gay and Lesbian Movement, and American Indian Movement, among others, may be covered. This course pays close attention to the way in which activism is represented in popular culture. In addition, students will use sociological tools to interrogate the relationship between mass culture and society, with a goal of understanding popular culture’s role in strengthening (or eroding) our identities. Course concepts will be demonstrated through lectures, readings, multi-media presentations, possible guest lectures, and library research.
Activism Sample Syllabi (Sara Sutler-Cohen)
SOC 150: The Social Lives of Children & Youth
This is an introductory-level course that applies fundamental sociological principles and concepts to the experiences of being a young person in America. Students will focus primarily on the following sociological questions: How do we become who we are? What is the role of our families, our schools and friends, and the media in shaping us? Why do children’s lives differ from one another? What are the challenges of being a young person, and how do young people negotiate those challenges? In what ways do youth exert their power? The simple act of being a child in an adult-dominated world can be a huge challenge. How does a child become a unique human being when those around her are almost constantly telling her how to act and what to think? How can a child have any say at all when the society grants him little power? Throughout the quarter, you will examine the tension between being a young person who wants to assert control over his/her own life and living in a society that won’t quite allow it.
SOC& 201: Social Problems
Violence and bullying, crime, racism, poverty, sexism, illness, teenage pregnancy, terrorism, and war – these are just a few of the social problems that affect everyone, regardless of our positions in American society. Some of us, for example, may face unfair treatment due to our races, religions, or sexual orientations. Some people battle drug or alcohol addictions. Some struggle with divorce or other family-related challenges. Some lives are directly touched by crime, violence, war, or terrorism, and still others are indirectly influenced by these acts. For better or worse, social problems are a characteristic of contemporary societies; we all must deal with them in one way or another on a nearly daily basis – even if we are not consciously aware. In this dynamic, thought-provoking class, students will explore social problems using a sociological perspective. You will learn what exactly makes a social problem “social,” and you will explore how sociologists identify and study social problems. Finally, you will discover how the sociological approach differs from everyday, “common sense” explanations. Each quarter, your instructor will focus on several specific social problems facing Americans today, discussing the causes of and solutions to them. This course is designed for the beginning sociology student and thus serves as a broad introduction to the discipline of sociology.
SOC 210: Popular Culture
In recent decades, popular culture has become increasingly central to social life in America. In fact, popular culture plays a vital role in shaping not only how we think about ourselves and each other, but also about the larger world around us. In this class, you will learn how to analyze popular culture from a sociological perspective. Some of the key questions examined are: What makes culture “popular?” Who are the creators of popular culture? How does popular culture impact our lives? What can we learn about who we are as a people by studying popular culture?
By the end of the quarter, you should be able to critically analyze popular culture by placing it within a broader social context. You will learn how to “read” popular culture much like a text. This course touches upon a wide range of popular culture “texts,” from commodities and advertisements to movies and television to music and fashion.
SOC 215: Television Culture & Society
Undoubtedly, television has profoundly impacted contemporary American society. Television watching has transformed our social relationships, and its programming has shaped how we think about much of the world. This course examines the sociohistorical development of the television by asking questions such as: are the shows on TV a reflection of who we are, or do they create who we are? What role does the television play in our consumer economy? How has the content of television changed over the decades, and how have these changes impacted our society? In this class, you should come prepared to watch and analyze a lot of television. But more importantly, you should come prepared to watch television in a new, thought-provoking way. You will likely never look at television the same way again.
Are sports an avenue for personal empowerment or a path to exploitation? What do sports mean in American society? Study the ways in which sports are embedded in social systems such as the economy, government, and education. Themes include race, class and gender issues, crime and violence in sport, and the economic impact of sport.
SOC 230: Education in the 21st Century
Examine the crucial roles education and schools play in society. Why go to school? How are private schools different from public schools? Why is there such a huge gap in quality in our public schools? How do schools both encourage and discourage social change? How can we improve our schools? This class untangles such complex issues as gender differences in education, school segregation, affirmative action, the economics of schooling, school reform, political controversies about schools, and the culture of schools in America. This class is great for anyone interested in the state of schooling in America – from parents to activists to future teachers.
SOC 240: Social Psychology
Ever wonder how people arrive at their decisions and how those decisions impact people’s lives? One of the fundamental elements of this course is to assist you to think about the dynamic interplay between individuals and society. Social psychology provides explanations of the complex relationship between how people live, why people live in a particular way, and what difference culture and group membership has on people, institutions, and systems. This course is designed to assist students with their analytical and critical thinking skills. You’ll examine the sociological imagination, and you’ll explore the structure of society and the relationships of individuals to these structures. After taking this class, you will better understand your own behavior as well as the behaviors of others. Student who register for this class can choose EITHER Sociology or Psychology credit.
SOC 246: Religion and Our Social World
What role does religion play in modern American society? How “religious” are we as a people? What is the difference between “religion” and “spirituality?” Explore these questions, and more, as you critically engage the relationship religion has with American Society. This course goes far beyond a “who believes what” approach. Expect to examine the relationship between religious beliefs and our major social institutions, such as government and schools. You will also study cults, popular culture, death and dying, and/or social change.
SOC 248: Public Health Around the Globe
Swine flu. Mad Cow. HIV/AIDS. Teen pregnancy. Every few years, a new public health issue seems to capture the interest of Americans. What exactly is Public Health, and how does it differ from Health Care? Investigate the role of the American Public Health system and learn how it impacts different groups across racial, class, and gender lines. Themes may include the social history of Public Health, needle exchange programs, and germ panic in America.
SOC 249: Disability in Society
What is disability? How have history, society, and culture dealt with disability as both an identity and a category of diversity? After starting with an unpacking of the definition of disability, we will look at different forms of historical oppression of the disabled such as eugenics and the freak show. We will then look at the difference between the ‘medical model’ and the ‘social model’ of disability. We will seek to understand some important sociological texts and personal narratives dealing with disability as a social phenomenon. We will also examine the hugely important Disability Rights Movement, from the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the development of Universal Design. Not least, we look at ‘intersectionality’; what happens when disability intersects with race, class, gender, and sexuality? This course will include compelling, powerful documentaries and video clips pertaining to disability in society.
SOC 250: Growing Up and Older in America
Study how the experience of aging affects individuals, families, and society. What does it mean to be young, middle-aged, or elderly in American society? What are our rites of passage, and how have they changed over time? How does your race, gender, and social class affect your experience of aging? What impact will our aging population have on the remainder of society, including our economy? Examine the social transitions of life from a sociological perspective. Themes may include rites of passage, age discrimination, work and retirement, sexuality and relationships, health, illness and caregiving.
SOC 252: Work and the Culture of Employment
Explore the sociohistorical meaning of the phrase “Get a Job!” Understand the complexities of workers, poverty, and social reform. See yourself as a worker, and critically understand what that may mean in America. Topics may include Unions, the class system in America, and the idea of a “good job.”
SOC 253: Men and Masculinities
This course explores the social construction of masculinities and men’s lives in conjunction with analyses of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Masculinities, in its various forms, shapes the lives of both women and men, and this course will examine the construction, reproduction, and impact of masculinities on the institutions of education, work, religion, sports, family, media, and the military, to name a few. This course will interrogate how masculinities shape individual lives, groups, organizations, and institutions and will analyze the ways in which power functions within these cultural formations.
SOC 254: Gender in the Social World
What does it mean to be a “man” or a “woman?” Is one born a “man” or “woman,” or does society make “men” and “women?” This course deeply explores social ideas about masculinity and femininity. Students will analyze social and historical representations, paying particular attention to contemporary American society. Students will explore the ways in which gender organizes social life and shapes the distribution of power and privilege; they’ll also examine how gender influences our everyday interactions with others and how social institutions depend upon and perpetuate gender differences. This class examines both the microdynamics of gender (the small things we all do everyday in socially producing ourselves as women and men) and gendered macrostructures (such as the economy and mass media).
SOC 255: Dating, Relationships and Families
Families are fascinating! They are among the most dramatic social relationships in the world, as they can lead to both sheer joy and extreme pain. We might be thrilled to date, fall in love, or have children, but we may also experience deep sorrow from abuse, separation or divorce, and the death of a loved one. Although the experiences of families are often mundane (imagine the daily routines of household chores, for example), they can also be equally thrilling (imagine having your first child). Indeed, families are a paradox in multiple ways.
For most of us, the family was central to our personal development as human beings. In our families – no matter what our families “looked” like and no matter the struggles we faced within them – we learned to become who we are. Likewise, families are central in the structure of societies. Families nurture, prepare, and train workers for the economy. Families also teach us culture and values, allowing the society to survive. Families are so important, in fact, that many scholars argue that individuals and societies would not exist without them. In this class, you will examine several aspects of the family using a sociological perspective. You’ll study the crucial interaction between families and other social institutions (like the economy and government). You’ll explore the social patterns and characteristics of families in America. You’ll learn about diversity within families (e.g. no two children come from the same family), and you’ll study a wide range of family forms. Our overarching goal for the quarter is to place families in a social context. Indeed, families do not exist independently of their societies.
SOC 256: Sex and Sexualities
We live in a society where sex is everywhere – on television and radio, in movies and the arts, on bus stop billboards and magazine advertisements. We talk about sex at home, in school, on Capitol Hill, and at work. We call people studs, sluts, pimps, whores, and prudes. Sex is all around us, touching nearly every aspect of our lives – yet we rarely take the time to study it. In fact, we are often misinformed about sex. This course is designed to untangle sexual myths from sexual realities.
Obviously, this class is about sex. But it’s not just about sex. It is also about gender, culture, and deviance. It is about the body. It’s about power, politics, inequality, and social change. Sociologists know that sex does not happen in a vacuum. To the contrary, sex is tied up with history, culture, politics, and power. This class explores these connections in depth. The major goal is to understand how the larger social environment fundamentally shapes our intimate, private sex lives for better or worse. You will probably look at sex and sexuality in a very different way after taking this class.
SOC 258: Sociology of the Body
How do societies and cultures categorize and group people according to their bodies? What impact does your body have on your social experiences? This course covers a burgeoning subfield within Sociology by exploring the ways in which cultural ideas about the body fundamentally drive social arrangements. The course begins by looking at the exciting theoretical foundations of “embodiment.” How are ideas about freedom, hatred, and oppression, for example, related to bodies? How do we discriminate, privilege, and oppress based on bodies? The class then examines how our identities – male/female, Black/White/Asian, gay/straight, disabled or not – are rooted in bodies. How do we attempt to convey who we are by controlling and/or manipulating our bodies? Why do we adorn our bodies, pierce and tattoo our bodies, and surgically alter our bodies? This class explores a wide range of bodily phenomena, from plastic surgery and transsexuality to eating disorders and the diet industry to tattooing and scarification to disability and ableism.
SOC 260: Death and Dying
In this is deeply profound class, examine the process and experience of “death” as well as cultural understandings of “dying.” You will learn about the business and economics of death (i.e. the money that’s made surrounding death), religious beliefs about death, popular culture representations of death and dying, and the impact of death and illness on survivors. This class may very well be one of the highlights of your educational experiences, as it deals with topics that all of us will face at some point or another.
SOC 262: Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Race and ethnicity remain hot topics in American society. Good friends, even family members, often disagree about racial issues. Are we in a “post-race” America? Is there a level playing field? Do we still need affirmative action? What does it mean for America that we elected our first Black President? This course begins by examining how race is socially constructed, first by exploring how racial categories have changed over time then by discussing the ways in which these definitions have served the interests of powerful groups. Using pop culture, visual images and archives, and multimedia, you will also explore contemporary representations of race, and analyze how these images intersect with gender, class, and sexuality.
SOC 264: Intersections of Inequality and Identity
Decades of research have shown the degree of social inequality in our society. We live in a society that – for better or for worse – organizes people according to race, class, and gender. Until the 1990s, most sociologists talked about inequality along just one variable or identity – such as race or gender. But in recent years, scholars have attempted to understand the relationship between multiple identities. For example, upon first glance we might conclude that there are certain social roles women are supposed to play, and there are different social roles and expectations for men. But it’s more complicated than that, however, as not all women have the same social expectations placed upon them, nor do all men. Some women, by virtue of their social class, are likely expected to work for most of their lives (maybe waiting tables, or doing bookkeeping or housekeeping), while other women are socially discouraged from working (perhaps to raise kids, attend college, frequent social events, or raise monies for charity). So the reality is that we can’t talk about the effects of gender without also talking about how those effects differ by class and by race and also by sexual orientation.
Thus, in this course students will study race, class, and gender not as separate entities, but as entities that intersect and interact with one another. Students will examine the intersections, interconnections, tensions, and harmonies of race, class, gender, and sexuality as systems of privilege and oppression. Students will explore how a given human being can be advantaged and disadvantaged simultaneously. This “intersectional” approach is relatively new, and it is at the forefront of a modern and more-complex way of thinking about society and about human beings.
SOC 265: City Life and Culture
This course takes the Urban Center as its focus in order to better understand the many complexities of the culture of city life over time in America. The City will also be looked upon as a metaphor for social change, public life, conflict, order, and the history in which we create and engage. The city is a social, cultural, historical, and political phenomenon that changes as quickly as societies may “naturally” shift. We’ll look at urban renewal, architecture, immigrant diasporic identities, the culture of city labor, gentrification, suburbanization, the arts, urban sprawl, etc., paying close attention to wealth, poverty, crime, homelessness, family, and class. In addition, we will use sociological tools to interrogate the relationship between mass culture and society, with a goal of understanding popular culture’s role in strengthening (or eroding) city life. Course concepts will be demonstrated through lectures, readings, multi-media presentations, and library research. **PLEASE NOTE: You may be required to make weekly visits to the City of Seattle while enrolled in this class.**
SOC 268: You Are What You Eat: Food in Society
(image from alienlovespredator.com)
Most Americans know little about the food we eat. Perhaps this morning, as you opened your favorite box of cereal and read the label, you were taken aback at the number of unrecognizable ingredients. You might have wondered, “What is all of this stuff? Is it good for me? Why am I eating things I don’t recognize?”’ Those are certainly important questions, but if we think even more deeply, perhaps about the more hidden, social aspects of food, even more questions arise. “Why is the vast majority of our society’s food processed and full of additives? Since it hasn’t always been this way, how did we get to this point? Where do all these ingredients come from? Who are the people who produced my cereal…the farmers, the food chemists, the packers? How are their lives similar to or different from mine? Why is it relatively easy for me to have access to breakfast, whereas others are going hungry?” Indeed, there are many, many social aspects to food production, distribution, and consumption, and this course examines all of these phenomena from a sociological perspective. This means that the class will be asking different kinds of questions about food than you may at first be accustomed to. For example, this class will attempt to answer the following: Why do we eat what we do? What does the food we eat reveal about who we are as a people? From where does our food come? Which people produce our food? What kind of social system are we participating in when we eat cereal, a hamburger, a hot dog, or a salad? Why do some societies have an overabundance of food and others not enough? Why is food often a class issue? An ethnic issue? A gender issue? Why do Americans sometimes have problematic relationships with food, leading to health problems, like obesity and eating disorders? Indeed, food has many sociological “layers.” The fact of the matter is that food connects us to a complex web of cultures and peoples around the globe – even though most of us are not consciously aware of this connection. The overarching goal of this class, then, is to increase your awareness and knowledge by exploring how the contemporary production, distribution, and consumption of food reflects social and economic power relations between peoples. Drinking a cup of coffee may never be the same again.
SOC 270: Deviance in Society
Just about all of us engage in behaviors, express beliefs, or possess some set of physical traits that other people may not like or approve of, and just about all of us disapprove of some of the behaviors, beliefs, and/or traits of others. The societal construction of deviance is undoubtedly a joint human enterprise. Humans construct it together, as actors and audience; that is, we behave and others respond in a seemingly endless social “loop.” Sometimes what we do pleases others and, in those cases, they socially reward us. Sometimes, however, the exact same behavior may infuriate someone else. Indeed, there is significant disagreement about what counts as “deviance” – what you consider “wrong” may be very different from what someone else considers “wrong.”
In this course, students will explore in depth the sociological idea of “deviance.” You’ll look at how deviance is defined, constructed, and resisted in society, paying special attention to how social inequality plays into all of this. Who gets to decide what’s “right” and “wrong” in a society? Who gets to punish? How does the differential social power of groups impact the process? And how do the so-called “deviants” resist all of this? Please be advised that this class addresses topics that are sometimes difficult and/or controversial.
SOC 275: Technology in Everyday Life
Fire. Tools. Medicines. Electricity. Automobiles. Cellphones. Computers. Over the course of human history, technological innovations have transformed the way in which we live our lives. In modern society, virtually no aspect of our day-to-day lives remain untouched by technology. In this fascinating and relevant class, analyze and discuss the myriad impacts technology has had on our lives. How has it changed the way we interact with friends and family? How has it changed the way we do business? How has it changed the way we think of ourselves? Has technology increased or decreased inequalities between people? How has it driven the economy and even aided wars? After taking this class, students are sure to understand and view technology in a new light.
Are you part of the Facebook generation? How will life be different for your generation than any others that have come before you? This class explores a variety of current political, economical, cultural, and social changes that are transforming our world. Investigate globalization and its consequences, drawing on new theoretical ideas from sociology, and other related fields. Some of the key questions examined are: What does it mean to be a global citizen in the 21st century? What exactly is globalization? How does it affect me anyway? Embark on a virtual tour around the world to explore these and other vital questions. Using literature, art, music, history, film and popular culture, we will examine how countries are increasingly interconnected by flows of information, money, and people.
After completing this course, you will be able to argue the pros and cons of globalization, explain possibilities for the future of globalization, and articulate the impact of globalization on your own life.