New Topics in Sociology

New Topics in Sociology, 2018-19

Bikes and blossoms at 725 SpadinaSOC293H1S – Sociology of Law

Instructor: Ron Levi


This course asks students to think critically about the role of law in society, and to develop a sociological understanding of law and legal institutions. The course will include theoretical approaches to understanding the role of law and legal authority, and the constitutive ways in which law affects, shapes, and is negotiated in everyday life. In addition, attention will be paid to the legal profession, including empirical research on lawyers, legal careers, and their relationship to fields of practice, with an emphasis on the relationship between the structure of the legal profession and law as a democratic institution.

SOC351H1S – Transnational Asia

Instructor: Yoonkyung Lee


This course explores how transnational flows of capital, labor, ideas, and culture are reconstituting the ways in which we organize our political, economic, and cultural life by particularly focusing on Asia, the region that has been at the center of this global transformation. How has the notion of the “transnational” evolved and invited critical reevaluations? What has been the place of Asian countries in this global process and what political, economic, social, and cultural changes do they experience? By examining these questions, this course aims to enhance our understanding of contemporary Asian societies closely tied with each other and the rest of the world. This is a program-only course and is restricted to sociology majors and specialists.

SOC352H1S – Social Psychology of Work

Instructor: Scott Schieman


The Social Psychology of Work course will explore some of the main theoretical and research-based themes that relate to the individual and social experiences of work. We will focus on core questions around the characteristics and conditions of work and occupations that shape the experience of the self-concept and identity–including classic themes about job control, autonomy, challenge, complexity, and authority. Other features of the course will include the ways that interpersonal dynamics and organizational structures shape individual psychological and social experiences both at work and beyond the boundaries of the workplace. We will also address important questions about the aspects of health, well-being, and quality of life as they relate to the social psychology of work. This is a program-only course and is restricted to sociology majors and specialists.

SOC387H1S – Three Answers to the Jewish Question

Instructor: Robert Brym


The Jewish Question asks how Jews ought to adapt to the modern world. Seeking answers, Jews formulated competing ideologies and joined social and political movements that, they believed, would help them realize their dreams. This course examines the origins, development, implementation, successes, and failures of the three main secular solutions Jews advocated: liberalism, Zionism, and communism.

SOC393H1F – Consumer Society

Instructor: Lorne Tepperman


What makes people buy things? And what are the social effects of their buying patterns? Sociologists have been studying consumer behaviour for over a century, as social critics and as applied (marketing) researchers. In this course, we will examine both bodies of sociological research, pure and applied. We will consider what sociologists have found out about consumer motivation – what we might call the demographics and social psychology of buying behaviour. We will also review what sociologists have written about consumerism (or materialism) as a way of life, a tradition that goes back to Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen.

SOC394H1S – Deconstructing “Muslim American” – Race, Nationalism, and Globalization

Instructor: Tahseen Shams


Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Muslim Americans have been once again been cast as both threatening “outsiders” as well as examples of what makes the United States a “nation of immigrants.” What do these contestations teach us about how race, nationalism, and globalization shape immigrant identities? This course examines a range of topics, from everyday boundary-making to ongoing global politics pertaining to different Muslim groups in the United States, often drawing comparisons with Muslims in other Western countries. Course materials include theoretical overviews, research articles, survey reports, book chapters, newspapers, films, and T.V. shows.

SOC485H1S – Sexuality and Research Design

Instructor: Adam Green


Research designs are much like jigsaw puzzles, but harder: they require scholars to carefully connect a variety of distinct yet intricately linked pieces into a thematically consistent, practical and defensible whole.  Few tasks in the research process are as commonplace and as riddled with difficulty. This course will provide a forum for students to compose a research design on the topic of sexuality using qualitative approaches that include in-depth interview and ethnography.  Students will read a variety of works that describe the goals, procedures, and underlying logic of research design.  At the conclusion of the course, students will have a research design in hand, a working knowledge of in-depth interview and/or ethnographic methodologies, and the tools to analyze/critique/propose future research designs. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC489H1S – Gender and Work

Instructor: Irene Boeckmann


Gender shapes how market work (i.e. paid work which we usually call “work”) and family work (such as managing a family household or caring for relatives) is organized, how it is rewarded and experienced. This course provides an overview of how gender inequalities in paid and unpaid work have developed over time and introduces key explanations for these inequalities debated by scholars in this field. We will consider how gender intersects with other axes of inequality – such as social class, race and ethnicity, sexuality or experiences of transnational migration – in shaping inequalities in the organization of work, and the rewards received for work. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC493H1F – Mental Health and Education

Instructor: Rachel La Touche


In this course, we examine institutions of higher education as unique social contexts within which student mental health unfolds. In doing so, we will address mediating and moderating factors, which characterize the unique and varied socio-emotional experiences of students attending post-secondary. As such, we will distinguish and clarify social approaches to studying mental health – focusing on mentorship, funding, social support, academic demands and healthcare resources – from mental illness as characterized in medical disciplines. Students will be expected to read thoroughly and apply insights from the course to authentic mental health concerns facing institutions of higher education today. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC494H1S – Global Inequalities and Contentious Politics

Instructor: Yoonkyung Lee


Global Inequality and Contentious Politics: This is a seminar course designed to understand global inequalities and contentious politics. Inequality has been one of the primary subjects in sociological inquiries and its scope naturally expands to a global dimension as our societies are increasingly shaped by international connections. This seminar focuses on understanding various manifestations of global inequalities intersected by international hierarchy, race, gender, and class. Yet, these divisions and injustices are neither static nor unchallenged as people react to these realities via divergent methods. This class will read major theoretical approaches to social movements and examine contentious mobilizations taking place in different geographies around the world to reshape the global order ridden with disparities. Empirical cases of contentious activism include anti-globalization protest, the Occupy movement, campaigns for migrant care workers, resistance against American military bases, and the Me Too movement. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC495H1F – Corruption and Inequality

Instructor: Melissa Godbout


This course aims to provide a sociological understanding of corruption with a specific focus on its complex relationship to inequality. Beginning with theoretical perspectives of corruption, this course will examine ways in which political, ideological, economic, and cultural processes facilitate corruption in a nation. Taking a cross-national comparative approach, this course will explore how and why these processes are connected to levels of inequality. Attention will be paid to different historical and contemporary examples in order to evaluate the varying ways in which inequality may be viewed as both a cause and consequence of corruption. Furthermore, significant anti-corruption approaches will be critically examined and assessed. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC496H1F – Gender, Race, Class, and the Politics of Medicine

Instructor: Brigid Burke


This course and examines the relationships among sex, gender, race, class and modern medicine. It will look at how these relations relate to health and medicine, focusing on how medical systems and health practices affect race, class, and gender. Though, we will also look at how race, class, and gender organize medicine and health. It will explore the medicalization and biomedicalization of bodies, look at how sex became a subject of scientific study, and how race and gender became an analytic category. There will be also be a focus on health technologies, exploring the ways in which health technologies organize, create, and discipline human bodies. We will ask questions of how modern western medicine traditions view male and female bodies and define their health and illnesses accordingly. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC497H1S – Sociology of Markets

Instructor: James Braun


In contrast to economists’ assumption that markets are efficient, apolitical mechanisms for allocating resources, sociologists theorize markets as social arenas in which transactions are embedded within social networks, cultural logics and institutions.  This course will examine the role of markets in society by engaging key debates in the sociology of markets: What is a market, and why have markets become so prominent in organizing our material lives? What are the consequences of (re)organizing social life through markets? How do social forces influence the ways markets are created and exchange is conducted? Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC498H1S – The Hands That Feed Us: Labour and Social Movements Across the Food Chain

Instructor: Anelyse Weiler


In this seminar course, we will investigate the labour arrangements that bring food from seas, fields and factories to our plates. Our analytical lenses will range from a broad political economy approach to ethnographic understandings of individual workers’ lived experiences. Core themes include racialized and gendered divisions of labour, intersections between labour and immigration policy, farm and restaurant workers, and the labour of non-human animals. In addition, we will focus on how workers in various parts of the globe have struggled to realize a food system in which harms and benefits are distributed more equitably. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.

SOC499H1F – Sociology of Disability

Instructor: Tanya Titchkosky


This Disability Studies course treats disability as a socio-cultural phenomenon of growing import to sociology.  It examines competing definitions and conceptions of disability and their social and political consequences in everyday life through three themes.

Theme One: Traditional Conceptions of Disability: We will learn to think sociologically about bio-medical, economic, individualistic, bureaucratic, and deviance conceptions of disability; this includes examining everyday ways we are told we “should” articulate disability.

Theme Two: The Social Model of Disability: We will learn what it means to conceive of disability as a complex social phenomenon produced by capitalism and often used to feed its enterprise.

Theme Three: Disability as a Critical Space for Critical Inquiry into the Human Condition.

These three interrelated themes will help us to re-think normalcy while revealing how disability is used within contemporary power arrangements to manage matters of race, class, gender, sexuality and conceptions of undeserving people at the limits of life and death. Restricted to 4th-Year sociology majors and specialists.