Courses

Sociology 1:  Introduction to Sociology (Fall 2016, expected Fall 2018)

Sociology is the systematic study of human social behavior.  Sociologists examine not only how social structures shape our daily interactions, but also how society constructs social categories and cultural meanings. While there is no way that a single semester can expose you to the entire discipline of sociology, this course will introduce you to the major theoretical perspectives, concepts, and methodologies used in contemporary sociology to observe and analyze interaction in large and small groups. For instance, we will examine important issues such as how societies maintain social control, set up stratification systems based on race, class and gender, and regulate daily life through institutions such as families, education, and labor markets.

The single overarching purpose of this course is to make you more interested in and critical of the world around you.  A secondary purpose is to inspire you to take more sociology courses while you are here at Tufts, so you can focus on some of the specific sociological topics you like most in greater depth. Ones that we will cover (in order) include culture and media; socialization; networks and organizations; crime and deviance; social class, race, gender, and health inequalities; family; education; politics and authority; and work.

This is an introductory course, broken down into two 75-minute classes per week.  Each class will involve some combination of lecture presentation, discussion of the readings, in-class activities, and the occasional video and multimedia presentation. Assignments include two in-class exams (a midterm and a final); 5 3-page personal reading logs; and two short (one individual, one group) applied writing assignments.

Required textbooks:

Ferguson, Susan (Ed.). 2012. Mapping the Social Landscape: Readings in Sociology [7th Ed.]. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Venkatesh, Sudhir. 2008. Gang Leader for a Day:  A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets.  New York: Penguin Books.

Lareau, Annette. 2011. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life [2nd ed.: with an update a decade later]. Berkeley:  University of California Press.

Dr. Seuss. 1961. The Sneetches and Other Stories. New York: Random House.

Sociology 70:  Immigration, Race, and American Society (Spring 2017)

No other phenomenon is remaking contemporary societies more than international migration. According to the United Nations, in 2013 there were 232 million international labor migrants (~10-15% of them unauthorized) and 15.7 million officially-recognized refugees worldwide. In the United States alone, in 2015 there were roughly 41 million foreign-born immigrants (~25% of them unauthorized), and together with their children, they made up a full quarter of the total U.S. population. The movement of people across nation-state boundaries and their settlement in various receiving societies – from the European nations that used to send their citizens to the United States more than a century ago, to oil-rich Middle Eastern states and developing nations – has the potential to alter the nature and significance of fundamental institutions and organizing categories, such as citizenship, the nation-state, race, ethnicity, gender, and class.

This course provides an introductory look into the topic of, and the major debates surrounding, international migration, using the United States as a local lens for understanding important phenomena that are occurring in other countries, too. We begin by asking questions such as: Why do people migrate across international borders? Can nation-states control migration, especially “unwanted” or “unauthorized” migration? What are the policies that the United States has developed to let some people in while keeping others out, or to categorize different groups within its borders?

We then consider assimilation and incorporation, the processes by which foreign “outsiders” become integrated into their new societies and homes, as well as resistance to foreign outsiders by natives. Here, we ask questions such as: Are immigrants and their children becoming part of or assimilating into the U.S. mainstream? What is the “mainstream”?   How do sociologists theorize, measure, and evaluate immigrant incorporation? Of particular interest are debates around straight-line assimilation, segmented assimilation, and transnationalism, and we will examine the experiences of the immigrants themselves, as well as their children (the “second generation”), as we navigate among these theories. We will also pay attention to how immigrant incorporation is shaped not only by immigrants’ own characteristics and efforts, but more importantly, by the characteristics and efforts of their receiving countries and communities.

Finally, we end the course by looking at how arrival of immigrant newcomers affects the economic, cultural, social, and political dynamics of the countries and communities that receive them. Here we will pay special attention to topical debates about how international migration both challenges and reshapes two traditional types of membership in the United States: (a) race and ethnicity and (b) citizenship and national belonging. Parallels to debates about these questions in other countries will be highlighted, but the focus is primarily on the United States.

There are no prerequisites for taking this course. It is open to anyone with an interest in immigration and a willingness to examine the difficult moral, political, and academic questions that immigration raises in the 21st century, especially in relation to race, law, and human rights. Understanding why people move and what happens to them; what happens to the societies that receive immigrants; and how international migration helps to connect new people and places in a globalizing world is one of the critical policy issues of the new millennium.

Assignments include: 5 2-page personal reading logs; a quantitative statistical profile assignment; a take-home video essay assignment; and a qualitative interview assignment.

Required textbooks:

Golash-Boza, Tanya. 2011. Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-9/11 America. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Cainkar, Louise A. 2009. Homeland Insecurity:  The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11. New York:  Russell Sage Foundation.

Marrow, Helen B. 2011.  New Destination Dreaming:  Immigration, Race, and Legal Status in the Rural American South.  Stanford, CA:  Stanford University Press.

Sociology 72:  Latinxs in the United States (Spring 2016; expected Spring 2019)

In 2015, the Hispanic/Latino population in the United States population numbered nearly 57 million people, or roughly 18% of all Americans. By the year 2060, it is estimated to grow to 129 million people, or roughly 31%. This course examines the diverse social, economic, political, and cultural histories of individuals who are now commonly identified as “Hispanics/Latinos” in the United States, paying special attention to the three largest ethnic subgroups among them (Mexicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans) but also to other Caribbean, Central, and South Americans, too.

A central goal of the course is to introduce students the great diversity that exists within this growing U.S. minority group – diversity that is evident by social class, language and accent, gender and sexuality, geographic location, religion, race/ethnicity and skin color, citizenship and legal status, national origin, immigrant generation and immigrant cohort, among other variables. A second goal is to understand how the Hispanic/Latino panethnic category developed in the late 20th century in the first place, so that students can wrestle with the central question of how and why Latinos are often thought of and treated as one single racial/ethnic group, despite having so much internal diversity and a range of lived experiences. Finally, the course will examine Latinos’ experiences across several key social institutions – particularly schools, neighborhoods, the labor market, media, the immigration and criminal justice systems, and the American racial hierarchy.

There are no prerequisites for taking this course. It is open to anyone with an interest in developing a fuller understanding of who Latinos are in the 21st century and how they constitute, have contributed to, and have been shaped by U.S. society.

Assignments include: 8 1-page personal reading logs; a media portrayal assignment; a qualitative interview assignment; and a take-home final exam.

Required textbooks:

Abrego, Leisy J. 2014.  Sacrificing Families: Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love across Borders. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Eckstein, Susan Eva. 2009. The Immigrant Divide: How Cuban Americans Changed the US and Their Homeland.  New York: Routledge.

Jiménez, Tomás R. 2010. Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mora, G. Cristina. 2014. Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats & Media Constructed a New American. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Rios, Victor R. 2011. Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys. New York: New York University Press.

Sociology 102:  Qualitative Research Methods (Spring 2017; expected Spring 2019)

As you have taken your various Sociology courses, you probably have begun to develop some sociological questions of your own. This course is a chance to formulate those questions in a more focused way, and to begin to answer them by designing and conducting your own original qualitative research project.

In this course, you will first become familiar with the epistemological underpinnings of qualitative research. You will then learn to craft sociological questions, design effective research instruments, gather data that address your questions, and interpret your data’s significance in relation to research done by other sociologists.  Finally, you will share your findings with your fellow students.  While there are many qualitative methodologies ranging from archival research to focus groups to content analysis, you will work primarily with in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations that you will be able conduct in a site of your own choosing.

In this course, you will become part of a “community” in which things get messy as you help one another to find your way.  In light of this, you are expected to invest yourselves fully in the course, committing not only to do your best possible work at all times but also to work with your fellow students to help them reach their full potential.  Your reward will be a project that you can be proud of, and a set of organizational and analytical skills that will be valuable to many employers and graduate programs in a wide range of careers.

Prerequisite: At least 2 Sociology courses, or consent of instructor.

Required textbooks:

Warren, Carol A. B. and Tracy Xavia Karner 2014. Discovering Qualitative Methods: Ethnography, Interviews, Documents, and Images [3rd Ed.]. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Sociology 145:  Social Policy in America (tba)

Americans contentiously debate issues having to do with poverty and racial inequality; the well-being of families and children; and immigration and citizenship.  This course examines the historical development and contemporary politics of social policies in these arenas in the United States.  We will consider how various issues in these arenas get defined as social problems to be addressed by public policy rather than some other form of social change, like technological innovation or grassroots social organizing.  We will also consider the myriad of factors that go into the policymaking process – including mass public opinion, academic and policy elites, organized interest groups, and political institutions such as Congress and the courts – to examine how policy gets created, why some alternatives are implemented but others abandoned, and why some interests are privileged over others along the way.  Finally, we will consider how policy gets implemented on the ground, looking at how it ameliorates some of the risks individuals face over a lifetime but not others, and at how its design can feed back and shape politics in a given policy arena.

Students can expect to emerge from this course with important substantive knowledge about several realms of U.S. social life, politics, and public policy. They will also gain a critical appreciation of the relationships among academic research, politics, and the policymaking process, which will help them to think more clearly about societal problems and alternative possible responses to them.

Prerequisite: Sociology 1 or 10, or consent of instructor.

Sociology 190:  Immigration (Seminar):  Public Opinion, Politics, and the Media (Fall 2016; expected Fall 2018)

Immigration is back on the American policy agenda. The percentage of immigrants in the total U.S. population (13.1% in 2015) is nearing its previous crest (14.7% in 1910), and together with their children, immigrants now make up a full quarter of the total U.S. population. Politicians continue to debate the merits of an “enforcement-oriented” versus “incorporation-oriented” approach to undocumented immigration, trying to overcome heated legislative stalemates from 2006-07 and 2013, or to woo voters as we head toward the 2016 Presidential election. The American public continues to worry about the “assimilability” of new immigrants and their impacts on American economy, society, culture; and security. Meanwhile, state and local involvement in immigration-related control and policymaking—not just restrictive, but also incorporative—expands.

This seminar provides a detailed look at the deeply contested issues of immigration and immigrant integration, focusing in on the complex interrelationships between public opinion, politics and policymaking, and the media. The first part of the seminar will be devoted to an overview of the basic research and debates in U.S. immigration research. Here we will briefly cover the determinants of post-1965 immigration flows; U.S. immigration policy and legislation; contexts of reception and modes of incorporation; undocumented immigration; major theories of assimilation; and debates over the impacts of immigration on the economy and labor market as well as on national identity, culture, and security.

Once students have this working knowledge, the second part of the course will bring in public opinion, politics and policymaking, and the media more centrally, in that order. We first analyze (often surprising) trends in American public opinion on immigration, and then link it up to important elements in the political process. Next we analyze the role that the media plays in both reflecting and actively shaping public opinion on immigration, analyzing key studies from both traditional and new media in the United States as our model. We also look briefly at the role of ethnic media, as well as the interrelationship between scholars and journalists who write on immigration. By the end of the seminar, students will have a strong foundation from which to pursue other areas of immigration research in academic, policy, and media environments.

This is an upper division undergraduate seminar, so each class will be mostly student-led discussion of the assigned readings—drawn from both (a) the discussion leaders and (b) weekly personal logs that all students write in response to the assigned readings—combined with presentations by the course instructor where appropriate as well as occasional multimedia presentations for group analysis.

Prerequisite: 2 Sociology and/or Political Science courses (may be overridden with course instructor’s consent).

Required textbooks:

Chavez, Leo R. 2001. Covering Immigration:  Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Portes, Alejandro and Rubén G. Rumbaut. 2014.  Immigrant America:  A Portrait [4th edition].  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo, Vivian Louie, and Roberto Suro (Eds.). 2011. Writing Immigration:  Scholars and Journalists in Dialogue.  Berkeley: University of California Press.