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1Sociology 103: Social ProblemsUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstDepartment of SociologyFall 2020Tuesday and Thursday 2:30-3:45Integrative Learning Center N151Kathleen Hulton[email protected]Thompson Hall 932Office hours: Mondays 10:00-11:00, Tuesdays 1:00-2:00and by appointmentTeaching Assistant assignments, contact information, and office hours will be available on Moodle.“The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.”-Pierre BourdieuCourse Summary:The world is full of problems. Most of us spend a fair amount of time thinking or worrying aboutone or more of them – climate change, racism, drug addiction and overdose, war – these are justa few of the many issues competing for our attention. What is a social problem? Who decideswhat’s a social problem and what isn’t? Why do some problems receive so much attention fromthe media and from political candidates, while others are ignored? Why do we worry about someproblems and not others? How do the meanings of problems change over time? What sorts ofsolutions should we pursue? This course will do three things. First, it will serve as anintroduction to the discipline of sociology. You will learn what distinguishes sociologicalthinking from other ways of understanding the world. Second, we will use sociology to build aconceptual framework to understand social problems, with a focus on the United States. Third,we will consider a wide variety of contemporary social problems, including climate change,economic inequality, racism, segregation, gender inequality and mass incarceration.This course is designated as Gen.Ed. SB, DU.
2Learning Objectives:At the end of this course, students will be able to:•Understand the sociological imagination and be able to explain what distinguishes asociological perspective from other theoretical perspectives•Understand the social origins of individual thoughts, behaviors, health, and feelings•Analyze the processes by which some issues become social problems that get attentionand some don’t•Identify social institutions and their role in creating, maintaining and solving socialproblems•Use a sociological perspective to analyze a wide variety of issues in American societyCourse Requirements:There are no textbooks for this course. All readings are available on Moodle, which can beaccessed at. Please confirm that you can access the course Moodlepage as soon as possible. You should complete each day’s reading before lecture. I do not requirethat you print the readings or bring them to class, but I do require that you read them, and Ihighly recommend taking notes on them. All course readings may appear on the quizzes andexams, even if I don’t reference them in lecture.For your final grade I take into account four components: weekly Moodle quizzes, three shortpapers, a midterm, and a final exam.