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Sonoma State University


Department Office
Stevenson Hall 2084
(707) 664-2561

Department Chair
Peter Phillips

Administrative Coordinator
Lisa Kelley-Roche

Noel Byrne, Kathleen Charmaz, Myrna Goodman, Daniel Haytin,
Elaine Leeder, Melinda Milligan, Peter Phillips, David Walls

Course Plan / Sample Four-Year Program for Bachelor of Arts in Sociology / Sociology Minor or Teaching Credential Preparation / Individual Class Descriptions

Programs offered
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
Minor in Sociology

Sociological research attempts to improve the human condition within the context of a strong tradition of social justice and human equality. Society shapes attitudes, goals, hopes and aspirations, and preferences in friends, cars, candidates, and movies. Society affects individuals, groups, and entire nations. Yet at the same time that society is shaping the individual, the individual is shaping society. In order to understand oneself and others, to understand the world, to understand the future, one has to understand society. Sociology is the discipline that studies groups and societies - what they are, how they got that way, and what impact they have.

Sociology is a field with diverse areas of study. These range from the behavior of the individual as a social actor to the structure of entire societies. Key topics include social psychology, socialization, deviant behavior, group behavior, organizations and institutions, power, inequality, and social change. Major social institutions, including the family, education, religion, social welfare, medicine, work, politics, leisure, and the media, are also explored in detail. To develop skills for studying society, students are introduced to valuable techniques such as survey research, sampling, observational methods, content analysis, experimentation, interviewing, and computer applications in research.

Because sociology is a core subject for any liberal arts education, the department offers a variety of courses of interest to non-majors. These concern such current social issues as the problems of the aged, drugs and society, gender roles, education, and the information revolution.

The major has been designed to allow each student, in consultation with an advisor, to develop an individualized program of study. The required courses ensure a solid grounding in sociological concepts, theories, and research methods.

By the time students graduate, they will:

  • create clear, succinct analysis in writing and speaking.
  • understand the structure and logic of the full range of the discipline.
  • formulate critical and analytic questions about society and be able to investigate them through original research.
  • demonstrate competence in handling databases and in using appropriate technical tools.
  • apply theory and methods in sustained independent inquiry.

Human services emphases are offered for those interested in supervision, program planning, and counseling in agencies such as halfway houses, alcohol rehabilitation homes, battered women's shelters, recreation departments, and special schools. Other study plans provide direction for business, government jobs, self-employment, and teaching.

The major provides background for those who wish to go on to graduate training in such fields as sociology, social work, counseling, public health administration, gerontology, business administration, urban planning, and law.

Regardless of career interest, the department encourages students to gain practical, on-the-job training through internships with major employers and social agencies in the area.

The department has a chapter of the national sociology honor society, Alpha Kappa Delta, and gives a C. Wright Mills Award for Sociological Imagination.

Every year the Joseph J. Byrne Memorial Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student majoring in sociology.

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

Degree Requirements Units
General education 51
Sociology courses 40
General electives 29
Total units needed for graduation 120

Major Requirements

*This requirement list and advising guide is designed for students entering the Sociology Major beginning in Fall 2004. Students who entered the major in earlier semesters may follow the requirements listed in this worksheet or they may complete their requirements using the earlier advising guide (which contained a slightly different placement of courses in areas but the same core requirements and units.

SOCI 201 Introduction to Sociology 3
SOCI 300 Sociological Analysis 4
SOCI 375 Sociological Theory 4
Method Seminar (see below) 4
SOCI 498 Senior Seminar 4
Total units 19

A student must take Sociology 201 before proceeding to any other required Sociology course and Sociology 300 before taking a methods seminar. Sociology 300, a methods seminar, Sociology 375, and a total of 20 upper-division units of Sociology are required before a student will be allowed to enroll in Sociology 498. Sociology 498 is a restricted class, and students will need evidence that they have met the prerequisites for it before the instructor will authorize enrollment. (Note: Sociology 300, the methods seminar, and Sociology 375 do count as part of the 20 upper division Sociology units.

Methods Seminar
The Methods Seminar furthers students' methodological skills in a wide choice of substantive areas. Students must take one of the following seminars:

SOCI 414 Methods Seminar: Social Interaction
SOCI 418 Methods Seminar: Social Development of Self
SOCI 425 Methods Seminar: Urban Sociology
SOCI 436 Methods Seminar: Investigative Sociology
SOCI 441 Methods Seminar: Computers and Sociology
SOCI 451 Methods Seminar: Sociology of Education
SOCI 452 Methods Seminar: Health Care and Illness
SOCI 463 Methods Seminar: Bureaucracies and Institutions
SOCI 480 Methods Seminar: Sociology of Work

Additional Major Requirements

Substantive areas courses 8-12
Upper-division sociology electives (chosen in consultation with a department advisor) 9-13
Total Units in the Major 40

Substantive Areas of Sociology

Majors must take a minimum of one upper-division course in three of the five substantive areas below. The methods seminar may be used to fulfill one of the substantive areas.


This area assumes human agency and social action as fundamental to social life and takes into account both thinking and feeling in defining situations and in constructing actions. Microsociology focuses on reciprocal relationships between self and society with emphasis on:

  • the social shaping of self, identity, and role.
  • the interaction between self and others.
  • The development, maintenance, and change of subjective and social meanings. Applying microsociological approaches to status variables such as gender and age reveals how they are constructed, given meaning, and played out in individual lives.

SOCI 314 Deviant Behavior
SOCI 315 Socialization
SOCI 317 Emotions and Adult Life
SOCI 319 Aging and Society
SOCI 326 Social Psychology
SOCI 350 City and Community Life
SOCI 417 Sociology of Mental Illness
SOCI 414 Methods Seminar: Social Interaction
SOCI 418 Methods Seminar: Social Development of the Self

Organizations, Occupations, and Work

This area addresses both organizational dynamics and their relation to broader societal processes. These include organizational cultures, structures, processes and outcomes. Knowledge of these matters is relevant to students interested in human services, business, nonprofit agencies, education and criminal justice administration.

SOCI 306 Career Planning
SOCI 365 Human Services Administration
SOCI 366 Administration of Juvenile Justice (cross-listed with CJA)
SOCI 432 Group Work with Older Adults
SOCI 450 Punishments and Corrections (cross-listed with CJA)
SOCI 451 Methods Seminar: Sociology of Education
SOCI 461 Social Work and Social Welfare
SOCI 463 Methods Seminar: Bureaucracies and Institutions
SOCI 480 Methods Seminar: Sociology of Work


Courses within in this area investigate large social structures, institutions, networks, and processes that define and shape individual and organizational behavior, and contribute to social and public policy. This area provides a conceptual overview of diverse social institutions. Macrosociology gives the student new insight into American society and its problems and possibilities from both the personal and professional perspectives.

SOCI 335 American Society
SOCI 340 Drugs and Society
SOCI 345 Family Systems
SOCI 347 American Class Structure
SOCI 363 Diversity and Ethnicity
SOCI 383 Social Change
SOCI 425 Methods Seminar: Urban Sociology
SOCI 441 Methods Seminar: Computers and Sociology
SOCI 451 Sociology of Education
SOCI 452 Methods Seminar: Health Care and Illness


Courses in the sociology of culture introduce students to central social forms that generate, transmit, and/or critique values, ideas, ideologies, lifestyles, and popular culture. Topics include the ways in which culture can act as a socializing agent reaffirming the existing social order or providing impetus to change, helping integrate societies or contributing to dissension. Students considering careers in the media, education, human services, and recreation are among those who will find these classes of special value.

SOCI 312 Sociology of Gender
SOCI 330 Sociology of Media
SOCI 331 Mass Communications Theory and Research
SOCI 332 Death and American Culture
SOCI 430 Sociology of Leisure
SOCI 431 Sociology of Religion
SOCI 434 Cinema and Society
SOCI 435 Media Censorship
SOCI 436 Methods Seminar: Investigative Sociology

Transnational Sociology

Transnational sociology provides a comparative perspective on societies throughout the world. Economic, political, and social institutions and dynamics are examined and compared. Among specific topics are comparative ideologies, roles, world elites, and local communities. Courses in transnational sociology explore these consequences and their long-term implications. Students interested in a historical and comparative examination of international issues would be well served to take courses in this area.

SOCI 305 Perspectives on the Holocaust and Genocide
SOCI 380 Political Sociology
SOCI 381 Population and Society
SOCI 382 Social Movements and Collective Behavior
SOCI 449 Seminar: Sociology of Power
SOCI 482 Sociology of the Environment
SOCI 484 Seminar: Sociology of Genocide

Sample Four-year Program for Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

Freshman Year: 31 Units
Fall Semester (16 Units) Spring Semester (15 Units)
ENGL 101 (3) PHIL 101 (3)
GE Mathematics (3) GE Physical Science (3)
GE BIOL 115 (6) GE World History (3)
BIOL 115L (1) SOCI 201 (3)
Electives (3) CIS 101 (3)

Sophomore Year: 30 Units

Fall Semester (15 Units) Spring Semester (15 Units)
HUM 200 (3) GE Sociology Emphasis (6)
GE History/Political Science (6) History of the Arts
GE Comparative Perspectives and Foreign Language (3) GE World Literature (3)
Electives (3) Electives (6)

Junior Year: 30 Units

Fall Semester (15 Units) Spring Semester (15 Units)
SOCI 300 (4) SOCI 375 (4)
Sociology Organization Area (4) Sociology Microsociology Area (4)
Sociology UD Electives (4) UD GE Integrated Person (3)
UD GE Philosophy and Values (3) Electives (4)

Senior Year: 29 Units

Fall Semester (16 Units) Spring Semester (13 Units)
Sociology Methods Seminar (4) SOCI 498 (4)
Sociology Transnational Area (4) SOCI 499 (4)
UD GE Contemporary International Perspectives (3) Electives (5)
Electives (5)  
Total semester units: 120

Minor in Sociology

SOCI 201 Introduction to Sociology 3
Upper-division courses in sociology chosen in consultation with an advisor 17
Total units in the minor 20

Sociology Courses (SOCI)

Classes are offered in the semesters indicated. Please see the Schedule of Classes for most current information and faculty teaching assignments.

201 Introduction to Sociology (3) Fall, Spring

A general overview of the concepts, theories, research methods, and findings of sociology. The purpose is to train students to view the world through a sociological perspective. Satisfies GE, category D1 (Individual and Society). CAN SOC 2.

300 Sociological Analysis (4) Fall, Spring

Consideration of the ways in which sociological questions are formulated and answered. Examination of and practice in conceptualization, theory construction, deductive and inductive reasoning, and other elements of sociological analysis, with an emphasis upon sociological research methods. Required for majors. Grade only.

305 Perspectives on the Holocaust and Genocide (3) Spring

A weekly lecture series on the Holocaust, genocide, and human rights. Guest lecturers and SSU faculty provide a variety of sociological and interdisciplinary perspectives on the topics. The course explores the intellectual, emotional, and ethical aspects of the Holocaust and seeks to deepen students' understanding of organized society, political leadership, democratic participation, and human nature. Students also attend a weekly discussion group to explore and synthesize information presented in the weekly lectures. Requirements include written position, midterm, and final papers. Prerequisite: upper-division standing. Satisfies upper-division GE, category D5.

306 The Sociology of Career Planning (3-4)

How to identify and locate liberal arts jobs in government, business, private institutions, or self-employment. Choosing a career, job-hunting skills and techniques, and keeping a job. Study of such work-related issues as dual-career families, equal opportunity and professionalism.

310 Craving Ecstasy Lecture Series (1)

A weekly lecture series that introduces students to how alcohol and other drugs affect contemporary United States. The personal and societal impact of addiction, recovery, and abuse are presented. Prevention strategies and techniques are also included. The course is valuable for students who are planning to go into a career in counseling, social service, nursing, public health, or public policy. Cr/NC given on the basis of attendance and weekly response papers. May be taken twice for credit.

312 Sociology of Gender (4)

Analysis of biological and social scientific explanations for sex differences. Examination of the cultural constructions of gender and gendered identities as well as gender stratification in all social institutions: the family, work, politics, religion, and education. Attention is also given to the consequences of gender labeling on social life.

314 Deviant Behavior (4)

The social causes and consequences of insanity, delinquency, criminality, addiction, social unconventionality, and other deviant behavior. Examines the conversion and commitment to deviant world views, and the social processes involved in the transformation to a deviant identity.

315 Socialization (4)

Analysis of the social processes through which human beings are inducted into social groups, in both childhood and adulthood. Particular attention is given to the socializing effects of schools, work, family, and friends.

317 Emotions and Adult Life (4)

Emphasizes the social context and social development of emotional responses throughout adulthood. Analyzes the reciprocal relations between social definitions and subjective feelings in connection with life events. Addresses both basic emotions such as fear, anger, pleasure, and excitement, and the more complex emotions such as love, jealousy, grief, sympathy, pride, shame, and despair. Cross-listed as GERN 317. Satisfies GE, category E (Integrated Person).

319 Aging and Society (4)

Examination of aging throughout adulthood. Analysis of theories of aging, their foundations in social science theory, and their policy implications. Exploration of the meanings and consequences of increasing longevity for society and the individual, with emphasis on the social psychological implications for women, minorities, and those who are poor. Cross-listed as GERN 319. Satisfies GE, category D1 (Individual and Society).

326 Social Psychology (4)

Introduces relationships between self and society, including the formation and change of attitudes and values, interaction and interpersonal dynamics, and the cultural influences on them. Topics include: symbolic interactionism, personal and social identities, motivation, prejudice and the consequences of ethnicity, class, and gender. Cross-listed as PSY 326. Satisfies GE D1 (Individual and Society).

330 Sociology of Media (4) Fall

This course will conduct an analysis of structural censorship in the United States and the importance of a free press for the maintenance of democratic institutions in society. Students will become familiar with independent/alternative news sources and prepare summaries of news stories for public release. This is a Project Censored related class.

331 Communication Theory and Research (3)

A critical analysis of the nature and functions of mass communications in contemporary society. Overview of the history, structure, function, and influence of the mass media. Development of critical and analytic skills necessary to determine when and how "truth" is manipulated to serve special parochial or cultural interests. Cross-listed as COMS 301.

332 Death and American Culture (4)

Examination of the relation of cultural values to practices, attitudes and views about death. Application of sociological and social psychological theories to topics on death and dying, such as death conceptions, terminal care, suicide, war, and grief. Emphasis on the social psychology of dying, caregiving, grieving, and being suicidal. Cross-listed as GERN 332.

335 American (U.S.) Society (4)

Study of the major values, institutions, and social organizations in the United States. The social sources of change and stability in US society.

340 Drugs and Society (4)

Examination of the sociopsychological, political, economic, ethnic, and legal factors relating to drug use and abuse. Theories of causation and methods of rehabilitation will be critiqued. Cross-listed as CJA 340.

345 Family Systems (4)

Explores family forms in other cultures, as well as variations in US society by race, class and ethnicity. Analyzes the three primary familial systems: marital, parental, and kin. Critiques popular solutions to the problems families face.

347 American Class Structure (4)

An overview of stratification in the United States. Analysis of the effects of this system on those who participate in it, through the study of theoretical, ethnographic, and community studies. Analysis of how class affects power, prestige, opportunity, culture, and consciousness, as well as the interaction of ethnicity, gender, and class.

350 City and Community Life (4)

Examination of the social psychology of urban and community life. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of the culture of public life, place and place attachment, patterns of interaction in urban and neighborhood settings, and the sociological debate surrounding loss of community.

363 Diversity and Ethnicity (4)

The history and prevalence of racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Structure of multiracial and multi-ethnic societies. Race relations and race contacts. The sociology and social psychology of racial prejudice and discrimination as it relates to social change.

365 Human Services Administration (4)

Preparation for sociological practice in human service agencies, both public and private nonprofit. Includes training in such skills as organization planning, grant writing, volunteer management, report writing, communication consulting, and group dynamics. Discusses the ethics and professional responsibility of sociologists.

366 Juvenile Justice (4)

An exploration of the nature and extent of juvenile delinquency, with emphasis on serious or violent crime. The major theories of delinquency causation will be reviewed. The course will be devoted to the juvenile justice system and how it processes youths accused of crime. The nature and function of all major segments of the juvenile justice system will be discussed, including law enforcement, juvenile court, and corrections. The legal rights of juveniles will also be reviewed. Finally, the current policy issues in juvenile justice will be explored. Cross-listed as CJA 497.

375 Survey of Sociological Theory (4) Fall, Spring

A critical examination of the writings of major sociological theorists, including Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. This course will involve students in critical analysis of central sociological theories and offer them tools for understanding the development of sociological theory and its unique role in sociology. Satisfies upper-division GE, category D1 (Individual and Society).

380 Political Sociology (4)

An analysis of the relation between political processes and ideologies and the larger society. Emphasis on the social consequences of power arrangements, political economy, and political structures. Comparisons between societies will be made.

381 Population and Society (4)

Variables such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, social development, politics and environment are explored in relation to population change. The uses of population studies for consumer marketing, political campaigns, jury selection, and social planning are addressed, with an emphasis on California and Sonoma County concerns.

382 Social Movements and Collective Behavior (4)

Social movements are a significant source of social change in modern societies. This course analyzes the structure and dynamics of social movements, with attention to the roles of organizations, resources, leadership, recruitment, commitment, values, ideology, political culture, and countermovements. Case studies will emphasize the civil rights, women's rights, and environmental movements in the United States.

383 Social Change (4)

Theories and methods for analyzing social change, past, present, and future, such as: the relationship of the plow, steam engine, and computer to the rise of the agricultural, industrial, and information ages; the development, dissemination, and impact of such major technologies as the printing press, the automobile, VCRs, and computers.

414 Methods Seminar: Social Interaction (4)

Examination of everyday interaction in natural settings. Emphasis will be placed on ethnographic approaches to the understanding of social encounters, situations, identities, and human relationships. Particular attention will be given to the work of Erving Goffman.

417 Sociology of Mental Illness (4)

Identifies the social sources of behavior defined as mental illness. Compares and contrasts psychological, biochemical and sociological theories of insanity. Analyzes psychiatry and other forms of therapy, mental hospitals, the role of the mental patient, and mental health policy.

418 Methods Seminar: Social Development of the Self (4)

Examination of the social sources of self-concept, personal identity, and individual world views. Special attention will be given to the theories of Mead, Cooley, James, and Schutz, as well as to research techniques for the study of social identity, its development and change.

425 Methods Seminar: Urban Sociology (4)

Examines the social consequences of the transition from rural to urban forms of social organization. Special attention directed to the social structural, cultural, and social psychological characteristics of urban life.

430 Sociology of Leisure (4)

An examination of leisure in the United States. Topics include the uses of uncommitted time by various groups, an examination of leisure subcultures, the relation of leisure patterns to other societal values and institutions, and social issues related to the increased leisure of our society.

431 Sociology of Religion (4)

Study of world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism), tribal beliefs, American sects and denominations. Theories of religious development, values, change, and effects on society. Satisfies GE, category C3 (Philosophy and Values).

432 Group Work with Older Adults (4)

This interdisciplinary seminar introduces students to the fundamentals of group work with older adults. The class provides an overview of the phases of group development and basic skills and techniques for facilitating effective groups. Theoretical perspectives from sociology and psychology are used to examine how groups function and the value they have for older adults. In addition to class meetings, students work directly with older adults by cofacilitating intergenerational dialogue groups. Cross-listed with Gerontology 432 and Psychology 432.

434 Cinema and Society (4)

An examination of film as a window to the social world and of sociology as a tool to understand it. The course uses films as data that can be analyzed to learn about such sociological topics as gender, crime, collective behavior, organizations, and the family. In addition, sociology is used to examine the structure and functions of film in contemporary society.

435 Seminar: Media Censorship (4) /Spring

Seminar provides an opportunity to gain new insights into social problems through an intensive analysis of the role and impact of mass media in contemporary society. Students will analyze the levels of coverage of important news stories in the United States and write publishable synopses of the stories with the least coverage. This is a Project Censored related class.

436 Methods Seminar: Investigative Sociology (4)

This course is for the development of Sociology research methods for popular press publication. Students will learn interviewing techniques, review sources of public information, and use of the freedom of information laws. Students will write and investigate social justice news stories using sociological research methods, and prepare a report for popular press publication.

441 Methods Seminar: Computers and Sociology (4)

Applications of microcomputers for work in human service agencies, organizational consulting, survey or market research, and other social science careers.

449 Seminar: Sociology of Power (4)

An analysis of the origin, development, dynamics, and application of power in human interaction, social organizations, and institutions. Problems of ensuring a balance of power and fairness in the exchange of needed services, benefits, and rewards will be emphasized.

450 Punishments and Corrections (4)

A consideration of the problems created by pressures to punish and control criminals, the politics of control strategies. The use and misuse of probation and parole, the concept of correction, and alternatives to incarceration. Cross-listed as CJA 450.

451 Methods Seminar: Sociology of Education (4)

A survey of issues concerning the structure of education in contemporary society, such as the social organization of the classroom; grading practices; political influences on schools; the contribution of education to the maintenance of capitalist society; teacher unionization; and student rights.

452 Methods Seminar: Health Care and Illness (4)

A dual focus on the social organization of health care and the social psychology of illness. Analyses of the structure of care, patient-practitioner relationships, and treatment ideologies. Emphasis on the patient's experience of illness, intimate relationships, and self-images. Cross-listed as GERN 452.

461 Social Work and Social Welfare (4)

The history of social welfare and social services in modern society. Comparison of government social services with nonprofit or private social services. Overview of major social service issues such as mental health, senior services, and aid to families. Recommended for anyone considering social work, counseling, or human service administration.

463 Methods Seminar: Bureaucracies and Institutions (4)

Political, economic, social, and psychological analyses of administrative structures. The role of formal and informal organization, ideology in bureaucracy, decision making, morale, and conflict.

480 Methods Seminar: Sociology of Work (4)

A theoretical and empirical analysis of work in American society, examining the types of jobs open to women and men today, the rewards and dissatisfactions of these jobs, and how work has changed historically or may evolve in the future.

482 Sociology of Environment (4)

The relations among major social institutions and the environment, and between national and global social inequalities and environmental degradation are examined. Differences in class, race, and gender mean that some people are disproportionately burdened by consequences of environmental degradation. Socio-environmental perspectives and practical alternatives to our acknowledged ecological crises are explored, including environmental social justice movements, critical social analysis, and alternative socio-economic approaches to consumption and employment that foster ecologically sustainable societies.

484 Seminar: Sociology of Genocide

Analysis of the historical and sociological factors that typify genocide and genocidal processes. Examination of the causes and consequences of the Holocaust, the characteristics of pre-20th century genocide as well as the Armenian, Rwandan, and other contemporary instances of genocide.

495 Special Studies (1-4)

A supervised study of a particular problem or area of interest selected by the student in consultation with a sponsoring faculty member. Regular meetings will be arranged for discussions and progress evaluations and a term paper will be submitted.

497 Interdisciplinary Seminar (1-4)

Exploration of basic social problems. Resource persons from other disciplines may participate. Themes and topics will vary. May be repeated for credit.

498 Senior Seminar (4) Fall, Spring

Each semester different topics are offered to allow advanced sociological analysis. Past examples include: women and aging, food and society, gender and politics, and the sociology of time. Check department for current offerings. Required for all majors. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Open only to sociology majors who have completed at least 20 upper-division units in sociology, including SOCI 300 and 375.

499 Internships (1-4)

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.