2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog


Students may complete a major or minor in Sociology.


David Karen, Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
Mary J. Osirim, Professor and Chair
Christopher McDonald-Dennis, Lecturer
Judith Porter, Katharine E. McBride Professor
Sanford Schram, Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
Ruth Simpson, Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology and Environmental Studies
Ayumi Takenaka, Associate Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
Robert E. Washington, Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
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, 265, 302, 303, Senior Seminar (398), five additional courses in sociology (one of which may be at the 100 level and at least one of which must be at the 300 level), and two courses in an allied subject. Some courses offered by the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR) give major or minor credit in Sociology (see list at the end of the Sociology section). No more than two courses from GSSWSR can be applied to the major or minor. After completing SOCL 398, the student and faculty member may decide that the student will enroll in SOCL 403 to write a senior thesis. Allied courses are chosen from a list provided by the department. Further information is available at http://www.brynmawr.edu/sociology/major.shtml.

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 the Global North and the Global South. 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 Studies 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 write a senior thesis that is judged outstanding by the department. The thesis would be written under the direction of a Sociology faculty member. Students are required to submit a thesis proposal which must be approved by the department in the semester prior to writing the thesis. Students should have prior course work in the subject area in which they plan to write a thesis.

Minor Requirements

Requirements for the minor are SOCL 102, 265, 302, and three additional courses within the department.

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, inequality, power, and modernization. (Karen, Division I) Not offered in 2009-10.

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, the labor market, and the modern family. (Osirim, Division I) Not offered in 2009-10.

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— crime, education, family, health, politics, 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) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B160 The United States and International Social Problems

Examining a broad range of social problems (for example, crime, drugs, pollution, racism, 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) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B165 Environmental Problems: The Natural and Built Environment

(For 2009-10, this course substitutes for SOCL B102). This course situates the development of sociology as responding to major social problems in the natural and built environment and demonstrates how the key theoretical developments and empirical findings of sociology are crucial in understanding how these problems develop, persist, and are addressed or fail to be addressed. (Wright, Division I)

SOCL B175 Environment and Society: History, Place, and Problems

Introduces the ideas, themes, and methodologies of the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies beginning with definitions: what is nature? What is environment? And how do people and their settlements fit into each? The course then moves to distinct disciplinary approaches in which scholarship can and does (and does not) inform our perceptions of the environment. Assignments introduce methodologies of environmental studies, requiring reading landscapes, working with census data and government reports, critically interpreting scientific data, and analyzing work of experts. (Simpson, 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 U.S. families, 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 2009-10.

SOCL B207 The Social Dynamics of Oppression

This course offers an introduction to prejudice and the dynamics of oppression at the individual, institutional and sociocultural levels. The course provides a theoretical framework for understanding social oppression and inter-group relations. This course will also examine the theory behind how social identity groups form and how bias develops. (MacDonald-Dennis, Division I)

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. (Washington, Takenaka, Division I) Not offered in 2009-10.

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 2009-10.

SOCL B220 Medicine, the Body and Society

An introduction to the sociology of health and illness within a particular focus on the sociology of the body. Topics include: cross-cultural perceptions of the body and disease; the definition of “legitimate” medical knowledge and practice; social determinants of health and access to healthcare; management of healthcare costs. (Simpson, Division I)

SOCL B225 Women in Society: The Southern Hemisphere

A study of the contemporary experiences of women of color in the Global South. 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)

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. (Washington, Karen) Not offered in 2009-10.

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) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B237 Crime, Law, and Society

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. (staff, Division I) Not offered in 2009-10.

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 2009-10.

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 2009-10.

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 2009-10.

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) Not offered in 2009-10.

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) Not offered in 2009-10.

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) Not offered in 2009-10.

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, multiple regression-correlation analysis, and factor analysis. Required of and limited to Bryn Mawr sociology majors and minors. (Wright, Division I and Quantitative Skills)

SOCL B266 Schools in American Cities

(Cohen, Division I; cross-listed as EDUC B266 and CITY 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 2009-10.

SOCL B269 Comparative Urbanism: Global Suburbia

(McDonogh, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B229)

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 Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. (staff, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B272) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B273 Race and Law in the American Context

(Albert; cross-listed as POLS B273)

SOCL B275 Introduction to Survey Research Methods

Introduces the many facets of the survey collection process from start to finish. Topics include proposal development, instrument design, measurement, sampling techniques, survey pretesting, survey collection media, interviewing, index and scale construction, data analysis, interpretation, and report writing. Examines the effects of demographic and socioeconomic factors in contemporary survey data collection. Prerequisite: one course in social science. (Consiglio, Division I)

SOCL B286 Cultural Perspectives on Ethnic Identity in the Post Famine Irish Diaspora

(Kilbride, Division I; cross-listed as ANTH 286)

SOCL B287 Urbanism as a Way of Life

How do cities affect our understanding of ourselves as individuals and our perceptions of the larger group? This course examines the urban experience which extends far beyond the boundaries of the city itself. An introduction to urban sociology, the course will also make use of history, anthropology, literature, and art. (Simpson, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B287).

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. Required of and limited to BMC sociology majors and minors. (Schram, Division I)

SOCL B303 Junior Conference: Discipline-Based Intensive Writing

This course will require students to engage, through reading and writing, a wide range of sociological issues. The emphasis of the course will be to develop a clear, concise writing style, while maintaining a sociological focus. Substantive areas of the course will vary depending on the instructor. Required of and limited to Bryn Mawr sociology majors. (Osirim, Wright)

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. Prerequisite: at least one social science course or permission of the instructor. (Wright) Not offered in 2009-10.

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 B316 Science, Culture and Society

Science is a powerful institution in American life with extensive political and personal consequences. Through case studies and cross-disciplinary readings, this course challenges students to examine the social forces that influence how science is produced and used in public (and private) debates. (Simpson, Division I)

SOCL B325 Sociology of Culture

This seminar analyzes the sociological bases and ramifications of culture—by exploring (1) the role of social forces behind the cultural constructions of television programs, advertisements, journalism, movies, literary works, and politics; and (2) the sociological significance of those cultural constructions as normative messages pertaining to race relations, gender relations, class relations, and other spheres of social life. (Washington; cross-listed as ENGL B305) Not offered in 2009-10.

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

A comparative study of the production, distribution, and consumption of resources in societies of the global north and south 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. Prerequisite: at least one social science course or permission of the instructor. (Osirim, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B330) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B335 Community-Based Research

This course links each student researcher to a community organization to carry out and complete a research project. Students learn the specific needs of the organization and develop the necessary research skills for their particular project. Projects will be available in a variety of local schools and non-profit organizations in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Students may contact the department in advance for information about the types of participating organizations during a particular semester. Prerequisite: at least one social science course and permission of the instructor. (Karen) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B338 The New African Diaspora: African and Caribbean Immigrants in the United States

An examination of the socioeconomic experiences of immigrants who arrived in the United States since the landmark Hart-Cellar Act of 1965. After exploring issues of development and globalization at “home” leading to migration, the course proceeds with the study of immigration theories. Major attention is given to the emergence of transnational identities and the transformation of communities, particularly in the northeastern United States. Prerequisite: at least one social science course or permission of the instructor. (Osirim, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B338) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B346 Advanced Topics in Environment and Society

This course will examine the meaning of “nature” and “environment” and how we understand our own relationship to it. We explore the social factors that shape how people define nature as variously savage or bountiful, a site of danger or entertainment, toxic or unspoiled, a force that controls human fates or a resource for humans to manipulate. (Simpson, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B345)

SOCL B350 Movements for Social Justice

Throughout human history, powerless groups of people have organized social movements to improve their lives and their 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. 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. Prerequisite: at least one social science course or permission of the instructor. (Karen, Division I) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B360 Topics in Urban Culture and Society: Food and Society

(Hayes-Conroy; cross-listed as CITY B360)

SOCL B375 Women, Work and Family

(Golden, Division I; cross-listed as POLS B375) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B393 U.S. Welfare Politics: Theory and Practice

(Schram, Division I; cross-listed as POLS B393) Not offered in 2009-10.

SOCL B398 Senior Conference

Seminar on a major topic in the field of sociology. Students write a research paper that may form the basis of an optional senior thesis that is completed in the spring semester. Open to Bryn Mawr senior sociology majors only. (Osirim)

SOCL B403 Supervised Work

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

SOCL B425 Praxis III: Independent Study


Courses in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research that currently count towards the major/minor in sociology are:

SWSR 302 Perspectives on Inequalities in the U.S.
SWSR 306 Social Determinants of Health
SWSR 354 Public Health: To Protect the Health of the Public