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Course Descriptions

Department of Sociology

539 Cabell Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400766
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4766
(434) 924-7293 Fax: (434) 924-7028

Overview The major in sociology is designed to provide undergraduates with a broad, systematic understanding of society and to cultivate their own sociological imagination. The major also develops general skills of practical value, especially the ability to think critically and to express ideas clearly. Sociology majors are also able to offer employers specific skills in data collection and analysis as well as a sensitive awareness of their social environment.

Students take courses in three areas: social theory; substantive research fields; and research methods, statistics, and computer applications. The department promotes a rigorous grounding in the discipline, while giving students the opportunity to define their own intellectual development with the help of an advisor.

Faculty The eighteen full-time faculty members ensure that each semester there is a diverse range of courses offered. Currently, there are more than forty courses offered in sociology law, social change, sociology of culture, education and gender, political sociology, religion, family, stratification, sociological theory, and demography.

Students The department currently has approximately 200 majors. Many of these students choose to double major in other areas. Sociology and psychology, sociology and history, and sociology and economics are a few typical examples. Outstanding students have continued their work in the field at top departments around the country and several have won scholarships for graduate work.

Although some majors use their undergraduate degree as the first step toward the Ph.D., many majors work in private business or the public sector as managers or professionals. Recent graduates have gone directly to work for banks, retail firms, publishers, hospitals, federal agencies, social service organizations, and market research firms. Other students have entered graduate study in law, business, social work, public administration, and health administration.

Requirements for Major Sociology majors are required to complete thirty credits in the program approved by a member of the Undergraduate Studies Committee. These thirty credits may include courses taken before declaration but may not include courses used to fulfill area requirements in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Before declaring a sociology major students must complete SOC 101-Introductory Sociology and one other sociology course for a total of six credits with at least a "C" or better in each course. Prospective majors are also urged to take SOC 302-Introduction to Social Theory and/or SOC 311-Introduction to Social Statistics before declaring.

Four core courses are required of all sociology majors as part of the thirty credit program and should be completed within two semester. They are:

  • SOC 101-Introductory Sociology
  • SOC 302-Introduction to Social Theory
  • SOC 311-Introduction to Social Statistics
  • SOC 312-Sociology Research Workshop

All majors must also complete nine credits (3 courses) at the 400 or 500 level. The remaining minimum seven credits (normally 3 courses) can be taken at any level.

A grade of "C" or better is required in every course counted toward the major. Students receiving grades of "C-" or lower in three courses, or falling below a 2.000 GPA in the department will not be permitted to continue as a major. Students receiving less than a "C" in a required course must retake the course and receive a grade of "C" or better.

With approval of the Undergraduate Studies Committee, up to six credits (2 courses) of course work in related fields may be used to fulfill the thirty credit requirement as elective credit (any level). These two courses should fulfill a concentration or study objective and should be completed with a "C" or better. Only sociology courses can be used to satisfy the course requirements at the 400 or 500 levels.

Exceptions to any of these requirements will be made only upon a written petition to the Undergraduate Studies Committee.

Requirements for Minor Students wishing to minor in sociology are required to complete eighteen credits (6 courses) in the program. No more than three credits of SOC 497 (Special Studies in Sociology) and three credits of SOC 480, 481, 482 (Undergraduate Internship Program) may be included in the eighteen credits requirement for the sociology minor. No courses taken outside of the Department of Sociology are accepted towards the sociology minor. As a part of the eighteen credits for the minor students should complete SOC 101 (Introductory Sociology) and six credits (2 courses) at the 400 or 500 level. The remaining nine credits (3 courses) can be taken at any level.

Distinction and Prizes In order to provide an enriched academic experience for highly motivated students, the Department of Sociology participates in the college’s Distinguished Majors Program (DMP). To qualify sociology majors should be highly motivated and have a cumulative GPA of 3.400 or higher. Students who qualify should sign up for the DMP by the end of their second year but no later than the first semester of their third year.

All DMP students in Sociology are to complete regular major requirements as well as the following. DMP students should be sure to take at least one 400-level sociology course designated DM. There is one offered each semester. DMP students are urged to take at least one 500-level sociology course during their fourth year. All DMP are to complete the yearlong course (SOC 498-Distinguished Majors) in their fourth year, in which they will research and write their DMP thesis.

Successful completion of the DMP requirements makes a student eligible for graduation with distinction, high distinction or highest distinction. The instructor of SOC 498 and the distinguished majors thesis advisor determines the level of distinction and the course grade after the review of the required thesis.

The department annually awards the Commonwealth Prize for the best undergraduate paper in sociology.

The Undergraduate Internship Program is a joint project of the sociology department and the Center for Public Service, which grants course credit for supervised fieldwork in a wide range of local government, voluntary, and business organizations. Regular class meetings, in which interns analyze their experiences under faculty supervision, are required.

Facilities The department is located on the fifth floor of Cabell Hall.

Research In addition to encouraging independent student projects, the department has occasional opportunities for students to work as paid assistants on faculty research projects. Inquiries should be addressed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Additional Information For more information, contact a member of the Undergraduate Studies Committee, Department of Sociology, 539 Cabell Hall, P.O. Box 400766, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4766; (434) 924-7293; soc-undergraduatestudies@virginia.edu; www.virginia.edu/sociology.

Course Descriptions


SOC 101 - (3) (S)
Introductory Sociology
Studies the fundamental concepts and principles of sociology with special attention to sociological theory and research methods. Survey of the diverse substantive fields in the discipline with a primary emphasis on the institutions in contemporary American society.

SOC 195, 196 - (3) (IR)
Special Topics in Social Issues
Topics vary from semester to semester and will be announced.

SOC 202 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Women’s Studies
Studies women from the perspectives of the social sciences and the humanities. Examines the past and present position of women in the family, the work place, and social and political groups, in both Western and non-Western societies.

SOC 222 - (3) (IR)
Contemporary Social Problems
Analyzes the causes and consequences of current social problems in the United States: race and ethnic relations, poverty, crime and delinquency, the environment, drugs, and problems of educational institutions.

SOC 223 - (3) (S)
Studies socio-cultural conditions effecting the definition, recording, and treatment of delinquency and crime. Examines theories of deviant behavior, the role of the police, judicial and corrective systems, and the victim in criminal behavior.

SOC 247 - (3) (Y)
American Society and Popular Culture
This course is an early level course, which aims to introduce students to a sociological perspective on popular culture, and to examine the working of selected sociological concepts in several examples of popular culture. A familiarity with introductory level sociology is suggested, but not required. The course has two parts. In the first we will become acquainted with sociological perspectives and theories on culture; in the second we will look at several popular novels and movies and discuss how they might be interpreted sociologically.

SOC 252 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of the Family
Comparison of family organizations in relation to other social institutions in various societies; an introduction to the theory of kinship and marriage systems.

SOC 255 - (3) (S)
Law and Society
Studies the relationship between society and criminal and civil law. Focuses on the relationship between socio-economic status and access to the legal system, including the areas of education, employment, consumer protection, and environmental concerns.

SOC 273 - (3) (Y)
Computers and Society
Studies the impact of electronic data processing technologies on social structure, and the social constraints on the development and application of these technologies. Review of how computers are changing–and failing to change–fundamental institutions. Provides an understanding of computers in the context of societal needs, organizational imperatives, and human values.

SOC 279 - (3) (S)
Sociology of American Business
Studies the internal workings of business institutions, especially the modern American corporation, and their relationships to other social institutions. Topics include managerial control over corporate decisions; the determinants of individual success within business; the effect of business policies on family life; the political power of the business sector; and a comparison of Japanese and American business organizations.

SOC 302 - (3) (S)
Introduction to Social Theory
Introduces the major theoretical issues and traditions in sociology, especially as developed in the writings of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. Sociology majors are expected to take this course in their third year.

SOC 310 - (3) (SI)
Sociology of Art
Prerequisite: SOC 101 or instructor permission.
Studies the relationship between art and society, including the social role of the artist, the nature and extent of the audience for different forms of art, the commercialization of art and the rise of mass culture, the structure and function of the museum, the impact of state support, the use of art as propaganda, and the causes and consequences of censorship. Emphasizes painting, but other forms of art such as music, dance, and theatre, are also examined, depending on the background and interest of the students.

SOC 311 - (4) (S)
Introduction to Social Statistics
Studies elementary statistical methods for social science applications. Topics include summarizing data with graphs and descriptive measures, generalizing from a sample to a population as in opinion polls, and determining the relationship between two variables. No special mathematical background is required, and students will be taught basic computer techniques. Three credits of lecture, two credits of laboratory work. Majors are expected to take this course in their third year.

SOC 312 - (4) (S)
Sociology Research Workshop
Prerequisite: SOC 311.
Introduces data analysis and data processing, as well as the conceptualization of sociological problems. Emphasizes individual student projects.

SOC 322 - (3) (IR)
Juvenile Delinquency
Analyzes the social sources and consequences of juvenile delinquency. Sociological theories and trends will be considered, as will proposals for dealing with delinquency.

SOC 338 - (3) (SI)
India and South Asia
Introduces the culture of South Asia from a sociological perspective. Focuses on the caste system and its relationship to the various religions of the area.

SOC 341 - (3) (Y)
Race and Ethnic Relations
Introduces the study of race and ethnic relations, including the social and economic conditions promoting prejudice, racism, discrimination, and segregation. Examines contemporary American conditions, and historical and international materials.

SOC 343 - (3) (Y)
The Sociology of Sex Roles
Analyzes the physiological, psychological, and achievement differences between the sexes; theoretical explanations for sex differences and sex role differentiation; psychological and structural barriers to achievement by women; interpersonal power and sexual relationships between the sexes; and changing sex roles in contemporary society.

SOC 347 - (3) (IR)
Sociology of Development
This study of the development of human societies explores the five major "techo-economic bases" that have characterized our species’ history (hunting-gathering, horticultural, agrarian, industrial and information/biotech) and examines how contemporary macrolevel trends affect our lives at the microlevel.

SOC 355 - (3) (Y)
Women’s Social Movements in Modern East Asia
Analyzes the nature of women’s collective action in China, Japan, and Korea from the latter part of the 19th century to the present. Introduces key concepts of Social Movement Theory (both classical and new), and the applicability of this theory to the empirical evidence presented.

SOC 380 - (3) (IR)
Social Change
Analyzes social change in whole societies with a focus on contemporary America. Emphasizes the major theories of social change from Marx and Spencer through contemporary analyzes.

SOC 382 - (3) (IR)
Social Movements
Prerequisite: SOC 101 or instructor permission.
Social movements are an historical and global phenomenon of great complexity and variety. Because the topic can be so broad, the course is organized around case studies of civil rights, the industrial workers’ movement, environmentalism, religious fundamentalism, and the counter movements to globalization. These cases will be used to illustrate variety of themes and principles, and you’ll learn about specific events, personalities, organizations, and dynamics that shaped these movements. By this method, you will gain specific knowledge about important social movements, as well as an overview and general orientation to the sociology of this dynamic area of social life.

SOC 395, 396 - (3) (IR)
Special Topics in Sociology
Topics vary from semester to semester and will be announced.

SOC 403 - (3) (IR)
Sociology of Mind
An introduction to the philosophy and sociology of mind. Reviews Classical Idealism, Phenomenology, existentialism, and the current sociological theories of mind, with an eye toward cognitive science as well.

SOC 409 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of Literature
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
An upper-level seminar in the sociology of literature. Students should be familiar with general sociological concepts and theory. Covers material from a wide range of perspectives in an attempt to understand the social context of written language and of literature. Student groups will be responsible for leading general class discussion on one or more occasions.

SOC 410 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of the African-American Community
Study of a comprehensive contemporary understanding of the history, struggle and diversity of the African-American community.

SOC 423 - (3) (Y)
Deviance and Social Control
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Examines a variety of deviant behaviors in American society and the sociological theories explaining societal reactions and attempts at social control. Focuses on enduring conditions such as drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness.

SOC 426 - (3) (IR)
Health Care Systems
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies the formal and informal organizational framework within which health care services are delivered. Examines the process of social change and alternative systems of health care delivery.

SOC 442 - (3) (IR)
Sociology of Inequality
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Surveys basic theories and methods used to analyze structures of social inequality. Includes comparative analysis of the inequalities of power and privilege, and their causes and consequences for social conflict and social change.

SOC 443 - (3) (Y)
Women and Society
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies the changing legal and socio-economic relationships between women and men in Western and non-Western societies. Includes class, ethnic, and religious differences in sex role socialization; biological, psychological, and social institutional factors affecting gender roles; gender discrimination; and movements for gender equality.

SOC 446 - (3) (Y)
Post-Communist Societies
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
The course explores the problems of post-communist transition in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It examines how new post-Soviet social forms build upon past practices and transforms them in the process. The topics for discussion will include social stratification, civil society, ethnic and national conflict, family and friendship, changing gender relations, religion and ritual.

SOC 450 - (3) (Y)
American Society
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies present and anticipated trends in American institutions and values. Emphasizes contemporary dilemmas such as race relations, poverty, community life, and technological transformations.

SOC 451 - (3) (IR)
Sociology of Work
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies the division of labor, occupational classification, labor force trends, career patterns and mobility, occupational cultures and life-styles, and the sociology of the labor market.

SOC 452 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of Religious Behavior
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Course will focus on established traditions in the United States including evangelical and mainline Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, black Protestantism, and Orthodox Judaism.

SOC 453 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of Education
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Analyzes education as a social institution and its relationship to other institutions (e.g., the economy, the stratification system, the family). Emphasizes the role of education in the status attainment process.

SOC 454 - (3) (Y)
Political Sociology
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
This course studies the relationship between social structure and political institutions. Competing theories about such topics as power structures, political participation, ideology, party affiliation, voting behavior, and social movements are discussed in the context of recent research on national and local politics in the U.S.

SOC 455 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of Law
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
After a brief history of legal sociology during the past century, this course pursues a highly theoretical approach to the prediction and explanation of legal behavior. The primary focus is the legal case — a specific conflict between the parties. What is the social status of each, and the cultural distance that separates them? What is the social location of the third parties, such as the judge or jury members? How to these variables predict and explain the way a case is handled, such as the judge or jury members? How do these variables predict and explain the way a case is handled, such as whether it goes to court and, if so, who wins and what happens to the loser? Although the scope of course is cross-cultural and historical, law in modern America receives disproportionate attention.

SOC 457 - (3) (IR)
Family Policy
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies the relationship between family and society as expressed in policy and law. Emphasizes the effects of formal policy on the structure of families and the interactions within families. The American family system is examined as it has responded to laws and policies of government and private industry and to changes in society.

SOC 459 - (3) (Y)
Conflict Management
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Theoretical exploration of the handling of grievances in diverse social settings. Analysis of social conditions associated with phenomena such as vengeance, honor, discipline, rebellion, avoidance, negotiation, mediation, and adjudication.

SOC 460 - (3) (Y)
Gender and Culture
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies how the social definition of gender affects and is affected by cultural artifacts such as literature, movies, music, and television. Students are expected to be familiar with general sociological concepts and theory and be regularly prepared for participation in a demanding seminar.

SOC 470 - (3) (Y)
Medical Sociology
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Sociological orientation to understanding how and why the issues of health and disease have come to occupy such an important role in contemporary American society. Health issues are presented as a consequence of social change with an emphasis on population characteristics, working conditions, education, and mass communication in the United States.

SOC 471 - (3) (IR)
Sociology of Organizations
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies the formal organizations in government, industry, education, health care, religion, the arts, and voluntary associations. Considers such topics as power and authority, communication, "informal"relations, commitment, and alienation.

SOC 480, 481, 482 - (4) (S)
Undergraduate Internship Program
Prerequisite: Fourth-year sociology major with substantial completion of major requirements.
Internship placement to be arranged by the supervising faculty. Students work in various agencies in the Charlottesville community such as health care delivery, social services, juvenile justice, etc. Regular class meetings with the supervising faculty to analyze the intern experience and discuss assigned reading. Only three credits can be counted toward sociology major.

SOC 485 - (3) (Y)
Media, Culture and Society
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology courses or instructor permission.
Studies the linkage between mass communications and social life. Particular emphasis will be place upon how electronic media affect public discourse and how electronic media affect behavior by rearranging social situations.

SOC 486 - (3) (Y)
Sociology of Religion
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
This course explores the role of religion in modern societies. It provides a broad comparative cultural and historical perspective, drawing on examples from America, Western Europe, and former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Topics include classic sociological theories of religion, church-state relations, civil religion, and religion and nationalism.

SOC 497 - (1-6) (S)
Special Studies in Sociology
Prerequisite: Fourth-year students with a minimum GPA of 3.2 in sociology (or overall GPA of 3.2 for non majors) and instructor permission.
An independent study project conducted by students under the supervision of an instructor of their choice.

SOC 503 - (3) (Y)
Classical Sociological Theory
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
Seminar focusing on the writings of Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and other social theorists. Open to students in related disciplines.

SOC 506 - (3) (Y)
Contemporary Sociological Theory
Prerequisite: SOC 503, six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
Considers the nature and purpose of sociological theory, and a survey of the most important contemporary theories and theorists.

SOC 507 - (3) (IR)
Max Weber: Theoretical Considerations
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
Examines Weber’s writings and his influence on social science.

SOC 508 - (3) (IR)
Comparative Historical Sociology
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
This course will focus not so much on methodological as on substantive issues of macro sociological inquiry. Although issues of method–or the relations between history and sociology, and of the uses of history in sociological analysis–will inevitably arise, they will be considered within the context of the discussion of particular topics where history and sociology most naturally meet. The topics are selected for their intrinsic interest as much as for their usefulness in revealing the interplay of history and sociology. Among the topics covered will be: the state, power, revolution, nationalism and class formation.

SOC 510 - (3) (SI)
Research Design and Methods
Prerequisite: SOC 312, or graduate standing, six credits of sociology; or instructor permission.
Studies the steps necessary to design a research project including searching the literature, formulating a problem, deriving propositions, operationalizing concepts, constructing explanations, and testing hypotheses.

SOC 511 - (3) (Y)
Survey Research Methods
Prerequisite: SOC 312, or graduate standing, six credits of sociology; or instructor permission.
Studies the theory and practice of survey research. Topics include the survey as a cultural form; sampling theory; the construction, testing, and improvement of survey instruments; interviewer training; the organization of field work; coding and tabulating; and the preparation of survey reports. Students collectively design and carry out one major survey during the semester.

SOC 512 - (3) (Y)
Intermediate Statistics
Prerequisite: SOC 311, graduate standing, six credits of sociology or instructor permission.
Studies social science applications of analysis of variance, correlation and regression; consideration of causal models.

SOC 514 - (3) (E)
Qualitative Methods
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
Studies the theory and practice of qualitative, non-statistical methods of sociological inquiry including field work, interviewing, textual analysis, and historical document work. Students practice each method and design larger projects.

SOC 562 - (3) (SI)
Social Demography
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
International study of population structures, emphasizing comparison of developed and developing societies, and the way in which differing rates of population growth effect the patterns of social and economic change in these societies.

SOC 566 - (3) (SI)
Urban Ecology
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
Studies the interaction between human populations and their urban environments. Emphasizes the processes of development and change in America’s urban communities, and the linkages among their demographic, economic, and social structures.

SOC 573 - (3) (IR)
Organizations and Social Structure
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
Examines the effects of social structure on the creation, persistence, and performance of organizations. Topics include organizations as the units of stratification systems in modern societies; and the implications of organizations for both social integration and social revolution.

SOC 595, 596 - (3) (IR)
Special Topics in Sociology
Prerequisite: Six credits of sociology or instructor permission; open to advanced undergraduates.
The topics vary from semester to semester and are announced.

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