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Students may complete a major or minor in Sociology.


David Karen, Professor and Chair
Mary J. Osirim, Professor (on leave 2006-07)
Judith Porter, Katharine E. McBride Professor
Carla Shedd, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
Ayumi Takenaka, Assistant Professor (on leave 2006-07)
Robert E. Washington, Professor
Nathan Wright, Assistant Professor

The major in Sociology provides a general understanding of the structure and functioning of modern society, its major institutions, groups and values, and the interrelations of these with personality and culture. Students examine contemporary social issues and social problems, and the sources of stability, conflict and change in both modern and developing societies. The department offers rigorous preparation in social theory and problem-driven training in quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Major Requirements

Requirements for the major are SOCL 102, 103, 265, 302, Senior Seminar (398, 399), four additional courses in sociology (at least one of which must be at the 300 level) and two courses in sociology or an allied subject. Allied courses are chosen from a list provided by the department. Please note: the department is in the midst of a transition to a new set of requirements for the major/minor. As we implement the new plan, all students will be individually counseled to ensure that they can complete the relevant requirements. Please see the chair if you have questions. Further information will be available in Fall 2006 at

The Department of Sociology offers concentrations in gender and society, Asian American studies and African American studies. In pursuing these concentrations, majors should inquire about the possibility of coursework at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges and the University of Pennsylvania.

Concentrations Within the Sociology Major

Gender and Society

Three courses are required for this concentration - at least two of these courses must be in sociology. The remaining course can be in sociology or an allied social science field. Students who pursue this concentration are required to take at least one of the core courses in this area offered by the department: The Study of Gender in Society (SOCL 201) or Women in Contemporary Society: The Southern Hemisphere (SOCL 225). The department encourages students in this concentration to take courses that focus on the study of gender in both northern and southern societies. In addition to taking courses in this field at Bryn Mawr, students may also take courses towards this concentration in their study abroad programs or at Haverford, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania . Any course taken outside of the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology must be approved by the department for concentration credit. Majors are urged to consult Mary Osirim about this concentration.

Asian American Studies

Students pursuing this concentration are required to take Asian American Communities (SOCL 249), in addition to two other courses. One of them must be either Challenges and Dilemmas of Diversity (SOCL 215) or Immigrant Experiences (SOCL 246). The other course can be in anthropology, East Asian studies or any other relevant field, and must be approved by the department for concentration credit. Please contact Ayumi Takenaka for further information.

African American Studies

Three courses are required for this concentration - at least two of these courses must be in sociology. The remaining course can be in either sociology or an allied field. Students who pursue this concentration are required to take the core course offered by the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology: Black America In Sociological Perspective (SOCL 229). Students are encouraged to take courses on Black America listed under the Bryn Mawr and Haverford Africana Programs. Courses taken outside the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology must be approved by the department for concentration credit. Majors interested in this concentration should consult Robert Washington for further information.


Honors in sociology are available to those students who have a grade point average in the major of 3.5 or higher and who produce a paper in a departmental course during senior year that is judged outstanding by the department. Independent research is possible during the senior year for students with a grade point average in the major of 3.3 or higher.

Minor Requirements

Requirements for the minor are SOCL 102, 265, 302 and three additional courses within the department (but please see note above).

Students may choose electives from courses offered at Haverford College . Bryn Mawr majors should consult their department about major credit for courses taken at other institutions.

SOCL B102 Society, Culture and the Individual

Analysis of the basic sociological methods, perspectives and concepts used in the study of society, with emphasis on culture, social structure, personality, their component parts and their interrelationship in both traditional and industrial societies. The sources of social tension, order and change are addressed through study of socialization and personality development, mental illness, delinquency and modernization. (Porter, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B103 U.S. Social Structure

Analysis of the structure and dynamics of modern U.S. society. Theoretical and empirical study of statuses and roles, contemporary class relations, the distribution of political power, and racial, ethnic and gender relations in the United States; and stratification in education systems, complex organizations, the labor market and the modern family. (Osirim, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B121 Exploring Society by the Numbers

Using a wide range of quantitative sources, the course will explore sociological concepts and develop a sociological perspective on a range of issues - family, politics, education, health, crime, etc. - that can be explored through quantitative data analysis. International, U.S. and Philadelphia databases will be used. (Karen, Division I and Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as CITY B121)

SOCL B160 The United States and International Social Problems

Examining a broad range of social problems (for example, crime, drugs, racism, pollution, etc.), focus is on: how social problems come to be identified as such; how research is conducted and possible policy implications; whether there are categories of problems that may have a common origin; the persistence of some problems; and how problems are structured by the dominant social forces of our society. Race, class and gender will be considered. (Wright, Division I)

SOCL B175 Environment and Society: History, Place and Problems

(Stroud, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B175)

SOCL B201 The Study of Gender in Society

The definition of male and female social roles and sociological approaches to the study of gender in the United States, with attention to gender in the economy and work place, the historical origins of the American family, and analysis of class and ethnic differences in gender roles. Of particular interest in this course is the comparative exploration of the experiences of women of color in the United States. (Osirim, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B205 Social Inequality

Introduction to the major sociological theories of gender, racial-ethnic and class inequality with emphasis on the relationships among these forms of stratification in the contemporary United States, including the role of the upper class(es), inequality between and within families, in the work place and in the educational system. Global stratification is examined as well. (Karen, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B205) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B207 The Nature of Prejudice: Race and Ethnic Relations

Cultural, structural and personality sources of racial and ethnic prejudice; basic theories of prejudice, attitude change and the response of minority communities illustrated by analysis of racism and anti-Semitism in cross-cultural perspective. Topics include comparisons of black-white relations in the United States and South Africa ; anti-Semitism in the United States and the Soviet Union ; the effect of law in racial-ethnic attitudes; sources of change in intergroup relations; and the effect of prejudice on personality, family and educational processes. (MacDonald-Dennis, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B212 Sociology of Poverty

Analysis of the causes and effects of poverty in the United States . Topics include trends in poverty and the relationship between poverty, the economy, the political system, the family and educational institutions. The culture-of-poverty approach and government programs for the poor, including current programs, are analyzed. (Porter, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B215 Challenges and Dilemmas of Diversity

This course will explore the sociological theories of racial/ethnic prejudice, discrimination and conflict; the historical development of racial/ethnic groups in the United States ; and current patterns and problems of racial/ethnic relations and the social policies being proposed to resolve those problems. (Takenaka , Washington , Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B217 The Family in Social Context

A consideration of the family as a social institution in the United States, looking at how societal and cultural characteristics and dynamics influence families; how the family reinforces or changes the society in which it is located; and how the family operates as a social organization. Included is an analysis of family roles and social interaction within the family. Major problems related to contemporary families are addressed, such as domestic violence and divorce. Cross-cultural and subcultural variations in the family are considered. (Osirim, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B225 Women in Society

A study of the contemporary experiences of women of color in the developing world. The household, workplace, community and the nation-state, and the positions of women in the private and public spheres are compared cross-culturally. Topics include feminism, identity politics and self-esteem; and tensions and transitions encountered as nations embark upon development. (Osirim, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B227 Sports in Society

Using a sociological, historical and comparative approach, this course examines such issues as the role of the mass media in the transformation of sports; the roles played in sports by race, ethnicity, class and gender; sports as a means of social mobility; sports and socialization; the political economy of sports; and sports and the educational system. ( Karen , Washington )

SOCL B229 Black America in Sociological Perspective

This course provides sociological perspectives on various issues affecting black America: the legacy of slavery; the formation of urban ghettos; the struggle for civil rights; the continuing significance of discrimination; the problems of crime and criminal justice; educational underperformance; entrepreneurial and business activities; the social roles of black intellectuals, athletes, entertainers and creative artists. (Washington, Division I)

SOCL B237 Crime, Law and Society

This course critically examines the interplay between crime, law and the administration of justice in the United States and how these are shaped by larger societal factors. Provides a theoretical and empirical overview of the criminal justice system, emphasizing such issues as: the function and purpose of crime control; the roles of the actors/subjects in the criminal justice system; crime and violence as cultural and political issues; racial disparities; and juvenile justice. (Shedd, Division I)

SOCL B242 Urban Field Research Methods

This Praxis course intends to provide students with hands-on research practice in field methods. In collaboration with the instructor and the Praxis Office, students will choose an organization or other group activity in which they will conduct participant observation for several weeks. Through this practice, students will learn how to conduct field-based primary research and analyze sociological issues. (Takenaka, Division I; cross-listed as ANTH B242 and CITY B242) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B246 Immigrant Experiences

Introduction to international migration. The course will examine the causes and consequences of immigration by looking at various immigrant groups in the United States in comparison with Western Europe, Japan and other parts of the world. How is immigration induced and perpetuated? How are the types of migration changing (labor migration, refugee flows, return migration, transnationalism)? How do immigrants adapt differently across societies? We will explore scholarly texts, films and novels to examine what it means to be an immigrant, what generational and cultural conflicts immigrants experience, and how they identify with the new country and the old country. (Takenaka, Division I; cross-listed as ANTH B258) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B249 Asian American Communities

This course is an introduction to the study of Asian American communities that provides comparative analysis of major social issues confronting Asian Americans. Encompassing the varied experiences of Asian Americans and Asians in the Americas, the course examines a broad range of topics - community, migration, race and ethnicity, and identities - as well as what it means to be Asian American and what that teaches us about American society. (Takenaka, Division I; cross-listed as ANTH B249 and CITY B249) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B252 Sociology of Popular Music

This course explores the production, distribution and consumption of popular music, paying particular attention to the interrelationships among artists, fans, the music industry and the societal context. Themes include the tension between mainstream commercial success and artistic independence, popular music and politics, and music consumption and identity, gender and sexuality. (Wright, Division I)

SOCL B257 Marginals and Outsiders: The Sociology of Deviance

An examination of unconventional and criminal behavior from the standpoint of different theoretical perspectives on deviance (e.g., social disorganization, symbolic interaction, structural functionalism, Marxism) with particular emphasis on the labeling and social construction perspectives; and the role of conflicts and social movements in changing the normative boundaries of society. Topics will include alcoholism, drug addiction, homicide, homosexuality, mental illness, prostitution, robbery and white-collar crime. (Washington, Division I)

SOCL B258 Sociology of Education

Major sociological theories of the relationships between education and society, focusing on the effects of education on inequality in the United States and the historical development of primary, secondary and post-secondary education in the United States. Other topics include education and social selection, testing and tracking, and micro- and macro-explanations of differences in educational outcomes. This is a Praxis I course; placements are in local schools. (Karen, Division I)

SOCL B262 Who Believes What and Why: the Sociology of Public Opinion

This course explores public opinion: what it is, how it is measured, how it is shaped and how it changes over time. Specific attention is given to the role of elites, the mass media and religion in shaping public opinion. Examples include racial/ethnic civil rights, abortion, gay/lesbian/transgendered sexuality and inequalities. (Wright, Division I; cross-listed as POLS B262)

SOCL B265 Research Design and Statistical Analysis

An introduction to the conduct of empirical, especially quantitative, social science inquiry. In consultation with the instructor, students may select research problems to which they apply the research procedures and statistical techniques introduced during the course. Using SPSS, a statistical computer package, students learn techniques such as crosstabular analysis, correlation and multiple regression. (Wright, Division I and Quantitative Skills)

SOCL B266 Schools in American Cities

(Cohen, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B266 and EDUC B266)

SOCL B267 The Development of the Modern Japanese Nation

An introduction to the main social dimensions central to an understanding of contemporary Japanese society and nationhood in comparison to other societies. The course also aims to provide students with training in comparative analysis in sociology. (Takenaka, Division I; cross-listed as ANTH B267 and EAST B267 ) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B272 Race and Place in Urban America

Amidst increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the United States there is growing concern that racial and ethnic minorities in American cities will face greater inequalities with respect to housing, resources, educational/employment opportunities, etc. This course will analyze the relationship between race/ethnicity and spatial inequality, emphasizing the institutions, processes and mechanisms that shape the lives of urban dwellers and surveys major political approaches and empirical investigations of racial and ethnic stratification in several urban cities, notably Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. (Shedd, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B272)

SOCL B275 Introduction to Survey Research Methods

Introduces the student to the many facets of the survey data collection process from start to finish. Topics include proposal development, instrument design, question design, measurement, sampling techniques, survey pre-testing, survey collection media, interviewing, index and scale construction, data analysis, interpretation and report writing. The course also examines the effects of demographic and socio-economic factors in contemporary survey data collection. (Consiglio, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B302 Social Theory

Analysis of classical and modern theorists selected because of their continuing influence on sociological thought. Among the theoretical conceptions examined are: alienation, bureaucracy, culture, deviance, modernization, power, religion and the sacred, social change, social class, social conflict, social psychology of self and status. Theorists include: Durkheim, Firestone, Gramsci, Marx, Mead, Mills and Weber. (Washington, Division I)

SOCL B309 Sociology of Religion

An analysis of the relationship between religion and society, emphasizing the connection between religious systems and secular culture, social structure, social change, secular values and personality systems in cross-cultural perspective. The theories of Durkheim, Freud, Marx and Weber, among others, are applied to analysis of the effect of religion on economic modernization, political nationalism, and social change and stability, and the effect of social class, secular culture and personality patterns on religion. (Wright)

SOCL B310 Sociology of AIDS

An analysis of major sociological issues related to AIDS, including the social construction of the disease, social epidemiology, the psychosocial experience of illness, public opinion and the media, and the health care system. The implications of political and scientific controversies concerning AIDS will be analyzed, as will the impact of AIDS on the populations most affected in both the United States and Third World countries. Must be taken concurrently with SOCL 315. (Porter, Division I)

SOCL B315 Sociology of AIDS Internship

An internship open only to those who are concurrently enrolled in SOCL 310. (Porter, Division I)

SOCL B330 Comparative Economic Sociology: Societies of the North and South

A comparative study of the production, distribution and consumption of resources in Western and developing societies from a sociological perspective, including analysis of precapitalist economic formations and of the modern world system. Topics include the international division of labor, entrepreneurship and the role of the modern corporation. Evidence drawn from Brazil, Britain, Jamaica, Nigeria and the United States. (Osirim; cross-listed as CITY B330) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B346 Advanced Topics in Environment and Society

(Stroud, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B345)

SOCL B350 Movements for Social Justice in the United States

Throughout human history, powerless groups of people have organized social movements to improve their lives and societies. Powerful groups and institutions have resisted these efforts in order to maintain their own privilege. Some periods of history have been more likely than others to spawn protest movements. In American history, we think of the 1930s and1960s in this way. Will there soon be another period of significant protest? What factors seem most likely to lead to social movements? What determines their success/failure? We will examine 20th-century social movements in the United States to answer these questions. Includes a film series. (Karen, Division I) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B355 Sociology of Deviance

An examination of unconventional and criminal behavior from the standpoint of different theoretical perspectives on deviance (e.g., social disorganization, symbolic interaction, structural functionalism, Marxism) with particular emphasis on the labeling and social construction perspectives; and the role of conflicts and social movements in changing the normative boundaries of society. Topics will include alcoholism, drug addiction, homicide, homosexuality, mental illness, prostitution, robbery and white-collar crime. (Washington) Not offered in 2006-07.

SOCL B375 Women, Work and Family

(Golden, Division I; cross-listed as POLS B375)

SOCL B398 Senior Conference: Sociology of Culture

Seminar on theoretical issues in the sociology of culture; required of all senior sociology majors. Open to Bryn Mawr senior sociology majors only. (Washington, Division I)

SOCL B399 Senior Seminar

This seminar is required of and limited to Bryn Mawr seniors majoring in sociology. (Karen)

SOCL B403 Supervised Work

Students have the opportunity to do individual research projects under the supervision of a faculty member. (staff)

Bryn Mawr College · 101 North Merion Ave · Bryn Mawr · PA · 19010-2899 · Tel 610-526-5000