Department Chair: Michelle C. Johnson

Professors: Deborah A. Abowitz, Linden F. Lewis, Carl Milofsky, Alexander T. Riley

Assistant Professors: Beth M. Duckles, Elizabeth Durden

The department encompasses two disciplines, sociology and anthropology, and offers separate majors in each.

Sociology is the study of human social action. It emphasizes an appreciation of human diversity, social inequality, and the processes that govern groups, organizations, communities, cultures, and nation states. Because these areas of study are integral to a liberal arts education, the department encourages students with diverse majors to take courses at all levels.

Among other things, a major in sociology may assist those interested in graduate work. It also offers a background for careers in law, journalism, government and international affairs, teaching, social work, and public service.

The Sociology Major

The major in sociology requires that students complete eight courses in the department, although students may count one anthropology course towards the major. No more than two 100-level courses may be counted towards the sociology major. Requirements are as follows:

  • Two sociology core courses: SOCI 208 Methods of Social Research or SOCI 209 Analyzing the Social World and either SOCI 211 Classical Sociological Theory, or SOCI 212 Contemporary Sociological Theory. The department strongly recommends that core courses be taken as early as possible in a student's career in the major. Students should take at least one sociology course at the 100 or 200 level before taking SOCI 208 Methods of Social Research. SOCI 208 is not intended for first-year students or first-semester sophomores.
  • Two courses in sociology at the 300 or 400 level, at least one of which is a seminar.
  • Four other courses in sociology, or three courses in sociology and one in anthropology. Courses that are crosslisted as sociology and anthropology courses count as sociology courses and still allow sociology majors to take one course designated solely as an anthropology course. Students may elect to have GEOG 210 The Urban Condition count towards a major in sociology.

The major in sociology provides students with an overview of the discipline and exposure to a variety of specialty areas in the field. The general major is intended for students who wish a broad exposure to social issues and sociological concerns, either as part of their liberal arts education or in preparation for graduate study in the field.

The Culminating Experience (CE) requirement will be provided for general majors in the two courses taken at the 300 or 400 level. Honors theses and supervised independent study readings or research could also meet the CE requirement on determination of the department.

With the exception of Bucknell-sponsored programs like Bucknell en France, Bucknell in Barbados, Bucknell in London, or Bucknell in Northern Ireland, courses taken off campus normally may not substitute for one of the core course requirements or for the 300- or 400-level seminar courses. The department chair may allow an exception if provided with clear information about the character and quality of off-campus courses and if these courses adequately substitute for material that would be taught on campus. No more than two off-campus courses are ordinarily counted toward the major.

The Minor in Sociology

The minor in sociology requires five courses in sociology. Students may count no more than two 100-level courses toward the five courses required. Courses in anthropology may not be counted towards the sociology minor unless courses are listed as satisfying both sociology and anthropology major credit. No more than one off-campus course ordinarily counts toward the minor.


The department strongly encourages qualified majors to consider working for honors in sociology. Such students should consult in their junior year with one or more members of the faculty of the department to begin defining a research topic and writing a proposal. Normally, during the senior year, an honors student will enroll in SOCI 319 and, if agreed to by the academic adviser, a second semester in SOCI 320. The honors proposal is to be approved by the department chairperson and submitted to the Honors Council by mid-October of the senior year. Further information can be obtained from the student's academic adviser, the department chairperson, and from the Honors Council.



Introduction to Sociology (I and II; 3, 0)

The concepts and methods sociologists use to investigate human groups. Focuses on the study of social organization, its variety and development.


Law and Society (I or II; 3, 0)

Introduction to law and the legal system. The effects of economic, political, and other social institutions on the social organization of criminal and civil law.


Medicine and Society (I or II; 3, 0)

Sociological analysis applied to health and medical care. Distribution of disease and services, behavior in response to illness, medical professions, hospital organization, national policy issues.


American Culture and Society (II; 3, 0)

Exploration of topics including individualism, youth, culture, media, sport, health and the body, education, immigration, religion, sex, and death.


Field Research in Local Communities (I or II; 3, 0)

Participant observation, interviewing and other field research methods. Students will carry out exercises and projects in local communities. Crosslisted as ANTH 201.


Methods of Social Research (I or II; 3, 0)

An introduction to various paradigms of social research with emphasis on the logic of social inquiry, research design, and data collection. Prerequisites: two prior sociology courses and permission of the instructor.


Analyzing the Social World (II; R; 3, 0)

A course in sociological data analysis, using the General Social Survey and other data sets, promoting student research. Prerequisite: SOCI 208 or permission of the instructor.


Urban Condition (I; 3, 0)

Geographic and sociological inquiry into pressing urban issues of advanced industrialized societies, including inequality, housing, employment, and how cities fit into the American present and future. Crosslisted as GEOG 210.


Classical Sociological Theory (I or II; 3, 0)

A survey of major theories and theoretical traditions in sociology from roughly 1850 to 1920. The work of Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber is often the centerpiece of the course.


Contemporary Sociological Theory (I or II; 3, 0)

A survey of major theorists and theoretical traditions in sociology from roughly 1960 to the present.


Race in Historical and Comparative Perspectives (I; 3, 0)

Explores the evolution of the concepts of race and racism from antiquity to the present. Prerequisite: any sociology or anthropology course, or permission of the instructor.


Movements, Markets, and the Environment (I or II; 3, 0)

This course focuses on examining the trend towards market-based environmental strategies such as green building certification and carbon offsets from a sociological perspective.


Human Service Systems (I; 3, 0)

Historical and contemporary development of social services in relation to changing political-economic structures and human needs. Emergence and impact of service organizations and professions. Recommended as prerequisite for SOCI 318.


Environmental Sociology (I or II; 3, 0)

This course examines the relationship between human society and the natural environment. Focus will be on issues of environmental justice and inequality, consumption, technology, development, social movements and the role of industry in the emergence and resolution of environmental problems.


Sociology of Knowledge and Science (I or II; 3, 0)

Introduction to the sociological study of knowledge production, with emphasis on sociology of scientific knowledge. Examination of processes by which knowledge is produced, propagated, and sustained over time.


Organizations in Society (I; 3, 0)

This class will cover topics in organizational sociology including basic organizational theory. Topics to be considered may include social responsibility, sector, organizational networks, markets and organizations and work/occupations.


Criminology (I or II; 3, 0)

Theories and research in criminal behavior and the societal reaction to criminality. Causes and consequences of crime, including public policy formulations.


Nongovernmental Organizations (II; 3, 0)

Nongovernmental organizations in the world context. The international "nonprofit" sector including the role, importance, dynamics, politics, and patterns of change among NGOs.


Brain, Mind, Self, and Society (AI or AII; 3, 0)

This course presents a biosocial perspective on the human individual. Examination of explanations for human consciousness and experience of self from anthropology, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience.


Deviance and Identity (I or II; 3, 0)

Social organization and personal action; group dynamics, identity, commitment, and deviant behavior.


Sociology of Religion (I or II; 3, 0)

Examination of the evolutionary roots of religion; the role of religion in "world-construction," social solidarity and social change; the secularization thesis; civil religion; fundamentalisms, cults, other new religious movements; terrorism.


Sociology of Race and Ethnicity (AI; 3, 0)

Studies the concepts and social significance of race/ethnicity and major race/ethnic groups within the United States. Emphasis on varying theoretical and methodological approaches to the sociological study of race/ethnicity.


Remaking America: Latin American Immigration (II; 3, 0)

The processes and impacts of Latin American immigration on the U. S. and countries of origin. Special emphasis on how the immigration experience varies by ethnicity, location, and gender.


Violence and Society (II; 3, 0)

The study of violent social, political, and legal institutions: domestic violence, sexual coercion, vigilantism, political conflict; the production and control of criminal violence.


Culture and Politics of the 1960s (I or II; 3, 0)

This is a course on cultural and social movements (civil rights movement, New Left, student movement, anti-Vietnam War movement, counterculture), the change they produced in the U.S., and the consequences of that change for contemporary American society. Examines the historical context of 20th-century America, and especially the post-WWII period, in order to situate the movements of the 1960s.


Popular Culture (II; 3, 0)

The role of popular culture (e.g., music, television, film, and other media) in constructing individual and collective identities.


Sociology of Mass Media (I or II; 3, 0)

Examination of mass media institutions/production and their effects on media consumers and the broader culture.


Twentieth-century Afro-Caribbean and African-American Thought (II; 3, 0)

Study of the intellectual contributions and scholarly vision of people of African descent to sociological theory, social philosophy, and social change in the 20th century. Crosslisted as HIST 261.


Caribbean Society Music and Ritual (AII; 3, 0)

Examines the history, politics, culture, society, ecology, and peoples of the Caribbean. It also focuses on the region's importance, its most pressing concerns and its future in the global political economy.


Special Topics in Sociology (I or II; R; 3, 0)

Topics vary.


Public Service and Non Profit Organizations (I or II; 1, 2)

Nonprofit organizations are major settings for the delivery of social services. Government increasingly is "privatizing" services. Nonprofits often involve an orientation towards public service and community action. Using case studies they conduct, students explore these issues. Open to juniors and seniors. Not open to students who have taken SOCI 402.


The Sociology of Developing Societies (II; 3, 0)

Examines various conceptions of development and how they are implemented in selected countries. Prerequisite: any sociology or anthropology course, or permission of the instructor.


Globalization, Technology, and Cultural Change (I; 3, 0)

Examination of the impact of the processes of global restructuring and the technological revolution on people, culture, and society. Prerequisite: any course in sociology.


Globalization and Conflict (I or II; 3, 0)

Both WWI and WWII were supposed to be the "war that ended all war." In this class, we'll analyze today's conflicts through the lens of social scientific research to help us understand how conflicts in remote parts of the world are intimately linked to our lives.


Social Services and Community: A Practicum (I; 3, 0) One to two courses.

Exploration of the practicalities of work in social service institutions through supervised field work experiences, exposure to the range of social services and careers in social work, education, law, and medicine. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


320. Honors Course in Sociology (I or II; R; 0, 12)

Each student selects a project to be developed individually. Prerequisite: permission of the department.


Sociology of Medicine (II; 3, 0)

A research seminar that presents and explores concepts in the sociology of health and medicine. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

325 . 

326. Advanced Reading in Sociology (I or II; R; 0, 12) Half to two courses.

Readings developed around the interest of individual students. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


Race, Citizenship and Human Rights (I or II; 3, 0)

This course provides an understanding of the intersection of race, citizenship and human rights. It exposes students to these burning issues as they play themselves out in the world.


Mating and Marrying in America (AI or II; 3, 0)

This is a course on changing patterns in American courtship (dating), marriage, and family life from the 20th to the 21st century. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as WMST 328.


Topics in Cultural Sociology (I or II; 3, 0)

Substantive examination of particular topics/themes through the lens of cultural sociology.


Culture and Self (I; 3, 0)

Exploration of cultural spheres/processes in the contemporary Western world within which selves/identities emerge and produce frameworks of meaning and self-consciousness. Prerequisite: SOCI 100 or SOCI 140 or SOCI 211 or SOCI 212.


Field Research (AII; R; 3, 0) Half to two courses.

Independent investigation in the field; formulation of hypotheses, construction of measuring instruments, data collection, data analysis, and test of hypotheses. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


Development, Dictators and Diaspora (II; 3, 0)

This course examines the cultural, social, and economic aspects of Latin America with investigation of both historical and contemporary forces that shaped the region of Latin America.


Third Sector Organizations: Nonprofits in America (I or II; 3, 0)

Nonprofit organizations, also called the third sector, make up about 10 percent of the American economy and they are increasingly important in terms of social policy. This course discusses organizational theory, particularly as it applies to nonprofits.


Senior Thesis (I or II; R; 0, 9)

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


How Holocausts Happen (AII; 3, 0)

An analysis of the social and political determinants of genocidal episodes in comparative perspective. Case studies include Nazi Germany and the killing fields of Cambodia. Prerequisites: junior or senior status and permission of the instructor.


Seminar in Law and Society (II; 3, 0)

Structure and process of legal institutions: police, courts, prisons, lawyers, juries, and extralegal mechanisms relevant to the legal system. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Courses offered occasionally

109 Sociology of Social Problems, 110 Social Problems in the 21st Century, 120 American Society, 202 Social Inequality, 206 Video Ethnography, 216 Media, Power and Social Change, 217 Sport, Culture and Society, 245 Formal Organizations, 315 Educational Policy and School Organization, 332 Women and the Penal System, 410 Remembering the Holocaust, 447 Seminar in Social Mobility: Rags to Riches in America


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