soc.i. 105

sept 10 : : shirley jackson, “The Lottery”

other stuff of interest(?) if you have any time/inclination (which you probably won’t…):


sept 12 : : cw mills, the sociological imagination

now let’s use that sociological imagination to talk a topic strangely lacking from the syllabus, grading.

  • a “i don’t like it but this is the way it’s done” version: kaufman “the failure of grades
  • a “i don’t like it and i am going to do something different” version: stommel “why i don’t grade
  • and we’ll discuss plans for what we’ll do in this class. exciting!


sept 17 : : emile durkheim, selections from The Rules of Sociological Method:  social facts and the normal and pathological

daniel patrick moynihan, defining deviancy down 

(not required, but if you want to see a counter argument to the moynihan piece, here’s one.)

(the scanning is a bit poor on one of the durkheim pieces , with that black line in the middle, but you should be okay, i hope)


sept 19 : :emile durkheim, selections from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (in which durkheim sets out to try to explain the biggest, most important social fact of all (at least to him…), religion)

RaNDoM UnreQUITeD TiDBiT: this review just came out today, but seems relevant, in showing how economic systems can take on moral/religious qualities: “the gospel of oil”


sept 24: : emile durkheim, selections from Division of Labor — ALERT: this website has been up and down lately plus the scanning has smooshed some words together (likethis), so here’s a PDF of the selection, in case you’re having trouble with either of those issues. [[i used to assign this additional selection, but have thought better of it b/c it’s too long. but if you are interested (which you won’t be, which is okay!) it’s here]]

jennifer lehmann, selections from durkheim and women, this is more recent take on durkheim and is (hopefully!) easier to read and follow. spoiler alert: durkheim is bad on gender issues!


sept 26: :peter bearman, “the social structure of suicide”


  • interested in current responses to suicide, here’s a recent article on suicide hotlines and efforts to nationalize a 3-digit number for them.
  • the above bearman article does all the heavy lifting you need for today’s class — it is more focused and clearer than the original durkheim. however, if you are still struggling with the concept of social facts, this chapter about “the social element of suicide” by durkheim himself will probably be of some help to you. enjoy. or not.


oct 1 : :  karl marx, selections from the german ideology, and more selections from the german ideology

karl marx, theses on feurbach short! but you really only need pay close attention to the last one (#11). even shorter! but oh-so important for marx…


oct 3 : : :   karl marx & friedrich engels, manifesto of the communist party: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 (this looks like a lot, but each part is fairly short)


oct 8 : : : karl marx, “estranged labour” ; for a straightforward take on alienation, take a look at this interview with mike the steelworker from studs terkel’s book working.


oct 10 : : : karl marx, “fetishism of commodities and the secret thereof” (only read section 4, not the entire page); hmmmmm…. that’s not terribly concrete. how about this on the iphone as commodity? (if you want to read even more (and who doesn’t?), you can read this recent report on the exploitation of labor in making the iphone. it’s an extended powerpoint slide show, with lots of econ and marxist concepts laid out early, but if you want to cut to the specifics you can go all the way to page 24 (or even 31) to see the big reveal)


oct 15 : : : george orwell, animal farm yes — the whole thing. no — it’s not very long. read this with 2 issues in mind: how does this align with marx’s critique? and how does it contest/contradict it? (as well as how those 2 work together). enjoy.


oct 17 : :  : max weber the three types of legitimate domination AND “class, status, and party” (both of these are very short!)

also: shamus khan introduction from privilege (this was originally scheduled for the discussion day on friday, but that day has been canceled! don’t come friday!)

oct 24 : : :  max weber, the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism: chapter 2 and chapter 5

oct 29 : : :  michel foucault, “panopticon” [you don’t need to read this, but this cartoon version of foucault makes some arguments that helps place within some kind of weberian tradition]

oct 31 : : : a (partial) break from the old/white/guys structure of the “lecture days”

nov 5 : : : georg simmel thinks about social relations, urbanization, and why therapists shouldn’t sleep with their patients. [that last one is implied…]

nov 7 : : the quantitative elements of social life

  • georg simmel numbers!;
  • steve rytina & david morgan “the arithmetic of social relations” [[alert! this last reading has math! which shouldn’t put you off, since math is good, so do make a go of it — the nitty-gritty details will be explained in class]]


nov 12 : .:. : race in america, otherness in sociology


nov 14 : : : how we (mis)learn and (mis)use history: a lesson in racial/racist hegemony

  • W_E_B DuBois, “the propaganda of history” — the conclusion from black reconstruction (which you can find in full here).
  • jamelle bouie reads black reconstruction: chaps 1&2, chaps 3. (these are quick 5 min reads that give good overview of the main points. unfortunately, it seems like bouie never finished this project (he’s busy!), so we never see his response to the final chapter we’re reading above)
  • more stuff that is not required but here in case you’re interested is below.
    • [[[not sure about the history of reconstruction? here’s an extended podcast series from slate (featuring bouie) that you might find useful. reconstruction is super important to our history, but most of us know very little about it (including me!))]]]
    • essay on frederick douglass‘s post civil war politics, which i mentioned in class
    • a recent example of reevaluating US history: 1619 project. history remain contested, however, and not everyone was happy about it. again, we see that facts are not enough in these debates.

nov 19 : : : :::: race & crime


nov 21::::  race (crime & punishment)/today


::REMEMBER, REMEMBER, the 26th of NOVEMBER [is a day class meets]!:: race & gender


12.3.19 : : : intersectionalities


d e c e m brrrrrrrrrrrr FIVE: expert tease

  • charlotte perkins gilman, the yellow wallpaper
  • it’s a good thing that was a long time ago, right? maybe not. ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a warm welcome to britney spears!