JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Sociology"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Isabella Clough Marinaro
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15 PM
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

This course will introduce students to the basic concepts and practices of the study of society. Students will learn central ideas such as socialization, culture, stratification, institutions, work organization, gender, ethnicity, race and globalization. They will also learn about how sociologists practice their craft reading about studies of current social issues - inequality, changes in family life, social movements and others - and by carrying out small scale out-of-class research assignments.
The course covers the major scientific approaches to understanding society, culture and institutions, and the basic methods and perspectives of sociology. We examine the history, development and core concepts of sociology and we then take up important issues in the structure and dynamics of social life: education, culture, religion, class, race and gender, deviance, the family, globalization, migration, religion, media and social change. By the end of the course students will have some initial experience in putting these methods into practice as well. They will be in a position to express their ideas about society – based upon study rather than merely opinion – in writing and orally. They will also be familiar with some electronic databases available to researchers on social issues. Classes will provide a mixture of lectures and group discussion based on contemporary topics and materials. Students are expected to do the required readings in the textbook and additional handouts in preparation for discussion in the following class, and to participate actively in those discussions.


Having taken this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe, interpret and evaluate various aspects of  western societies
  2. Show awareness of the most significant social transformations and societal processes that characterize contemporary societies;
    • Reflect in a theoretically informed way on society, engaging our own taken for granted beliefs and values;
      • Analyze and identify significant social issues using a broad sociological perspective
      • Conceptualize society via its main institutions
      • Explain and exemplify main sociological concepts such as social class, socialization, social and cultural stratification,  deviance, social interaction, gender, race and power.
      • Discuss sociology’s contribution to the study of modern society and global transformations

      Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
      Sociology: introductory readingsGiddens, Anthony and Sutton, PhilipPolity press13-978-0-7456-4883-5  
      Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
      Sociology Matters Richard Schaefer McGraw Hill 0073528250   

      Mid-term Exam:A combination of short and long answer questions which wil demonstrate students’ ability to identify, understand and critically discuss the concepts learned in the course and to apply them to analyzing specific cases of social problems. 20%
      Final Exam: A combination of short and long answer questions which wil demonstrate students’ ability to identify, understand and critically discuss the concepts learned in the course and to apply them to analyzing specific cases of social problems. 25%
      Research paper Students will write a research paper on a topic which interests them and is relevant to the course, based on AT LEAST 3 published sociological studies. The term paper will be graded based upon students’ ability to develop a realistic research question, synthesize and critically analyze the materials used and to present their own original conclusions in a logical, coherent, well-argued and unbiased manner. Students should discuss their chosen topic with the professor as early as possible in the semester and must hand in an outline (providing the research question, hypothesis, main points around which the paper is to be structured and a bibliography) 25%
      Field-work Observation The written and oral explanation of out of class research will be graded based upon having carried out the research observation assigned in an efficient manner to be able to answer the questions involved, and on students’ ability to explain what they did, what they found and what conclusions they come to in a logical and coherent fashion. 15%
      Attendance and Participation Class participation grading is based upon attendance, regular participation in class discussion, generating good questions or interesting insights to fuel class conversation. 15%

      AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cour
      BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
      CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
      DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
      FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant. Letter grades and corresponding percentages for this class 94 – 100 points = A 90 – 93.99 pts = A- 87 – 89.99 = B+ 83 – 86.99 = B 80 – 82.99 = B- 77 – 79.99 = C+ 70 – 76.99 = C 60 – 69.99 = D 59.99 – 0 = F


      Attendance is mandatory and makes up 10% of your final grade.I will accept a maximum of three absences, after which I will detract 2% of your final grade for each absence.
      You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until December 7.
      As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
      John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




      Session Focus

      Reading Assignment

      Recommended Additional Reading and Additional Assignments

      WK1 A

      29 Aug

      Intro: What is sociology?

      The Sociological Imagination

       Ch 2: The Scope of Sociology / Anthony Giddens ---

      Ch 1: What is Sociology For? / Richard Jenkins

      Ch 3: Private Troubles
      , Public issues / C Wright-Mills


      WK 1B

      31 Aug

      Origins and early development of Sociology

      Ch4: Human History as Class Conflict / Karl Marx

      Ch 19: The Spirit of Capitalism / Max Weber

       Schaefer p.1-13

      WK 2A

      5 Sept

      Contemporary Perspectives Part 1

      Ch 5: From Mechanical to Organic Solidarity / Emile Durkheim

       Schaefer p. 13-20

      WK 2B

      7 Sept

      Contemporary Perspectives Part 2



      WK 3A

      12 Sept

      Sociological research methods and ethics


      Ch 9: Quantitative versus Qualitative Methods? / Alan Bryman

      Ch 11: Researching Individual Lives /Barbara Merrill & Linden Wes

       Schaefer p.20-35

      Schaefer p. 37-54

      WK 3B

      14 Sept

      Socialization Part 1

       Schaefer p. 54-64

      WK 4A

      19 Sept

      Socialization Part 2

      Ch 34: Presenting the self in everyday life - Ervin Goffman

       Schaefer p. 65-74

      WK 4B

      21 Sept


      Society, Social Structure and Social Interaction

      Ch 24: What is Social Stratification? / Wendy Bottero

       Schaefer p. 75-81

      WK 5A

      26 Sept

      Social Structures cont’d

      WK 5B

      28 Sept

      Groups and Organizations

       Schaefer p. 81-100

      WK 6A

      3 Oct

      WK 6B

      5 Oct

      Deviance, Crime and Social Control Part 1

      Ch 44: The Normality of Deviance / Emile Durkheim

       Schaefer p.101-114

      WK 7A

      10 Oct

      Deviance, Crime and Social Control Part 2

      Ch 46: The Birth of the Prison - M. Foucault

       Schaefer p. 115-128

      WK 7B

      12 Oct

      WK 8A

      17 Oct




      WK 8B

      19 Oct

      Library Session

      WK 9A

      24 Oct

      Class and Inequality Part 1

      Ch 27: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Social Class/ Rosemary Crompton

       Schaefer p. 129-150

      WK 9B

      26 Oct

      Class and Inequality Part 2

       Schaefer p. 151-163

      WK 9 C

      27 Oct


      Race and Ethnicity

      Part 1

       Ch 36:  Hollywood's Misrepresentation of Arabs /
      Jack G. Shaheen

       Schaefer p. 164-177

      WK 10A

      31 Oct

      Race and Ethnicity

      Part 2

      Deadline for research paper outlines

      Ch 26: P. Hill Collins - intersecting inequalities

       Schaefer p.178-187

      WK 10B

      2 Nov

      Sex, Gender and Inequality Part 1

      Ch. 25: Woman- The Second Sex? / Simone De Beauvoir

      Schaefer p.198-208

      WK 11A

      7 Nov

      Sex, Gender and Inequality Part 2

      Ch 35: Throwing lIke a Girl / Iris Marion Young


      WK 11B

      9 Nov

      Students present fieldwork observation

      WK 12 A

      14 Nov


      Ch 29. Life Cycle or Life Course? / Stephen Hunt

      Schaefer p. 199-207

      WK 12 B

      16 Nov


      Ch 20: The Essence of Religion / Emile Durkheim

       Schaefer p.207-214

      WK 13 A

      21 Nov


      Ch 43: Sociology and the Body / Chris Shilling

       Ch 39: Defending Parsons' sick role - Turner

       Schaefer p.258-269

      WK 13B

      23 Nov



      WK 14A

      28 Nov

      Social Change

      Ch 38: Building Virtual Communities / Howard Rheingold

       Ch 37: The Internet Galaxy / James Slevin


      WK 14B

      30 Nov

      Conclusions and Review

       Schaefer p.305-314

      Final Exams week