Courses by semester

Courses for Spring 2024

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
SOC1101 Introduction to Sociology
This course is a broad introduction to the field of sociology. Course materials are designed to illustrate the distinctive features of the sociological perspective and to start you thinking sociologically about yourself and the broader social world. To think sociologically is to recognize that being embedded in the world constrains behavior, and that individuals are both social actors and social products. To think sociologically is also to recognize that our contemporary world, with its enduring cultural, political, and economic institutions, is as much a social product as we are. We will begin by covering theoretical and methodological foundations of the sociological perspective.  We will go on to explore the concept of social stratification and will survey primary axes of social difference. In the second half of the course we will look more closely at how individuals relate to each other, how social inequality is enacted and reinforced in everyday life, and at the way in which the organization of social life shapes individuals and groups, such as through social networks, residential neighborhoods, schooling, families, and on-line communication.

Full details for SOC 1101 - Introduction to Sociology

Fall, Spring, Summer.
SOC2030 Population and Public Policy
Population and Public Policy exposes students to the logic and skills of demographic research and policy analysis. The course emphasizes the nature, collection, and interpretation of demographic data, the application of demographic techniques, the major components (i.e., fertility, mortality, and migration) of national and global population change, and contemporary population problems (e.g., population aging, teen childbearing, the rise in non-marital childbearing, immigrant adaptation). The course also emphasizes public policies that can influence demographic change. The format primarily involves lectures and class discussion. Students are expected to attend each class and be prepared to discuss assigned materials.

Full details for SOC 2030 - Population and Public Policy

Multi-semester course: Spring, Summer.
SOC2100 What Is Science? An Introduction to the Social Studies of Science and Technology
This course introduces some central ideas in the field of S&TS. It is aimed at students from any background who are challenged to think more critically about what counts as scientific knowledge and why, and how science and technology intervene in the wider world. It also serves as an introduction to majors in Biology and Society or in Science and Technology Studies. The course mixes lectures, discussions, writing, and other activities. The discussion sections are an integral part of the course and attendance is required. A series of take-home written assignments and quizzes throughout the semester comprise the majority of the grade.

Full details for SOC 2100 - What Is Science? An Introduction to the Social Studies of Science and Technology

SOC2150 Introduction to Organizations
In modern society, we all spend much of our lives participating in or interacting with organizations. Most of us are born in organizations, educated in organizations, and work in organizations. The ubiquity and variability of organizations result in a myriad of organizational challenges we regularly face. The goal of this introductory course is to help students gain understandings of the origins, structure, and dynamics of organizations and their relationships to their environment. It is designed to provide an exposure to multiple theories of organizations and within the context of changing technological, social, and political/legal environments and the globalization of the world economy. We will also apply organizational theories to a variety of empirical cases.

Full details for SOC 2150 - Introduction to Organizations

Spring, Summer.
SOC2190 Introduction to Economic Sociology
Economic sociology extends the sociological approach to the study of economic life. The aim of the seminar is to understand the relationship between social structure, organizational form and economic action. We explore social processes embedded in economic exchange and knowledge spillover and economy. Why do individuals cooperate with strangers? Why is trust important in economic life. Why is social exchange the foundation of sustainable economic action? At the macro-level, the course addresses the question of why and how institutions enable, motivate and guide economic action; the social dynamics of institutional change; and explore the role of norms and networks in the capitalism of the United States and China.

Full details for SOC 2190 - Introduction to Economic Sociology

SOC2208 Social Inequality
This course reviews contemporary approaches to understanding social inequality and the processes by which it comes to be seen as legitimate, natural, or desirable. We address questions of the following kind: what are the major forms of stratification in human history? Are inequality and poverty inevitable? How many social classes are there in advanced industrialism societies? Is there a "ruling class"? Are lifestyles, attitudes, and personalities shaped fundamentally by class membership? Can individuals born into poverty readily escape their class origins and move upward in the class structure? Are social contacts and "luck" important forces in matching individuals to jobs and class positions? What types of social processes serve to maintain and alter racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination in labor markets? Is there an "underclass"? These and other questions are addressed in light of classical and contemporary theory and research.

Full details for SOC 2208 - Social Inequality

Spring, Summer.
SOC2270 The Computerization of the American Social System
This course covers the social structural history of computer technology. While the course will focus on the American origins of information technology (IT) and the uses of IT in American institutional settings, global perspectives on the early history of mainframe computers, the globalization of computer equipment supply chains and the early history of the Internet are included in course readings. Modules of study across the semester will include: the sociological history of computer technology; the sociological process of innovation in IT in organizational settings; IT as a foundation for regional based economic revitalization; IT professions; and IT from the perspective of everyday life focusing on the sociological characteristics of gender, race, class, the family, education.  

Full details for SOC 2270 - The Computerization of the American Social System

SOC2510 Social Gerontology: Aging and the Life Course
SOC2710 America's Promise: Social and Political Context of American Education
This course is a blending of the Sociology of Education and Public Policy. Front and center in this course is the question of why consistent differential educational and economic outcomes exists in American society. We explore the broad sociological functions of schooling (socialization, sorting, caretaking, training) as well as local, state, and federal policies and court decisions.

Full details for SOC 2710 - America's Promise: Social and Political Context of American Education

SOC3030 Research Methods: Design and Measurement
This course introduces students to the principles of sociological research methods. We will first discuss the research process itself, then focus on issues such as the relationship between theory and empirical analysis, the logic of research design, causal inference, measurement of concepts, modes of data collection, and ethics. By the end of the course, students will be able to evaluate the methodological strength of social science research projects and design methodologically rigorous research proposals.

Full details for SOC 3030 - Research Methods: Design and Measurement

SOC3130 Social Studies of Medicine
This course provides an introduction to the ways in which medical practice, the medical profession, and medical technology are embedded in society and culture. We will ask how medicine is connected to various sociocultural factors such as gender, social class, race, and administrative cultures. We will examine the rise of medical sociology as a discipline, the professionalization of medicine, and processes of medicalization and demedicalization. We will look at alternative medical practices and how they differ from and converge with the dominant medical paradigm. We will focus on the rise of medical technology in clinical practice with a special emphases on reproductive technologies. We will focus on the body as a site for medical knowledge, including the medicalization of sex differences, the effect of culture on nutrition, and eating disorders such as obesity and anorexia nervosa. We will also read various classic and contemporary texts that speak to the illness experience and the culture of surgeons, hospitals, and patients, and we will discuss various case studies in the social construction of physical and mental illness.

Full details for SOC 3130 - Social Studies of Medicine

SOC3170 Nationalism and Identity
This comparative course explores key approaches to understanding nationalism and how it interacts with questions of identity in contemporary societies. We will first consider different theoretical approaches to the historical emergence and contemporary relevance of nationalism and concepts used to analyze its different manifestations. In the second part of the course, we will focus on the Russian Federation and the US as case studies to explore the interplay of nationalism, identity and social change in ethnically and racially diverse contexts. In this part of the course, we will use a wide range of sources to consider the impact of nationalism on politics, media, culture and everyday life.

Full details for SOC 3170 - Nationalism and Identity

SOC3190 Contemporary Sociological Theory
Introduction to the main ideas and lines of research in contemporary sociology, from the emergence of the field in the American academy to the present. We read the work of seminal theorists and researchers such as Robert Merton, Erving Goffman, James Coleman, Harrison White, and Theda Skocpol. Topics include the development of distinctive lines of argument in areas like the study of the face-to-face group, the modern organization, social movements and social revolutions, inequality, and social mobility. The course considers the relationship between intellectual challenges, techniques of social inquiry, and the social context within which ideas are put forward and take hold.

Full details for SOC 3190 - Contemporary Sociological Theory

SOC3240 Environmental Sociology
Humans have fraught relationships with the animals, plants, land, water—even geological processes—around us. In this course, we will examine how people make and respond to environmental change and how groups of people form, express, struggle over, and work out environmental concerns. We will probe how environmental injustices, demographic change, economic activity, government action, social movements, and varied ways of thinking shape human-environmental relationships. Through our conversations, we will explore possibilities for durable ways of living together in our social and material world. Our goal in this course is to give you knowledge, analytical tools, and expressive skills that help you feel confident to address environmental concerns as a social scientist and a citizen.

Full details for SOC 3240 - Environmental Sociology

SOC3380 Urban Inequality
This is a course on urban inequality in the United States. The first half of the semester will be dedicated to understanding the political, historical, and social determinants of inequality in America's cities. Politically and socially, cities face unique challenges. Municipalities lack much formal authority to resolve issues that arise within their borders, and their populations are highly heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, race, and social class. In the second half of the course, we will investigate a number of contemporary facets of urban inequality in-depth, such as residential segregation, urban schooling, immigration, and suburban sprawl.

Full details for SOC 3380 - Urban Inequality

SOC3490 Micro-Macro Processes
Social forms emerge from the interdependent behavior of social actors. In this course, we will draw on the Analytical Sociology tradition to understand micro-level processes that bring about macro-level outcomes that, we as sociologists, care about. This will entail an exploration of processes of interpersonal influence, diffusion, network externalities, collective action problems, and emergence of norms, hierarchies, and segregation patterns. Most of the readings of this course rely on quantitative methods such as regression modeling, field experiments, behavioral games, network analysis, as well as simple computer simulations and mathematical modeling. As such, even though this course has no formal prerequisites, students are expected to be familiar with quantitative methods used in the social sciences at the level of SOC3010.

Full details for SOC 3490 - Micro-Macro Processes

SOC3580 Big Data on the Social World
This course showcases frontier research that uses big data and graphical analysis to understand our social world. Topics include inequality and opportunity, success in higher education, the gender wage gap, taxing the rich, Chinese censorship, the spread of false news, online dating, and other issues relevant to contemporary society.

Full details for SOC 3580 - Big Data on the Social World

SOC3710 Comparative Social Inequalities
This course offers a sociological understanding of social inequality and the social construction of difference. Designed from the perspective of comparative historical analysis, we will examine the ways in which class, gender, race/ethnicity, religion, and sexuality differences work across place and time within a shared set of global dynamics. The course will pay special attention to how difference is constructed, institutionalized, and experienced. Thus, the course will not only address inequality based on economic and labor relations, but also emphasize complicated notions of difference and identity to offer an analysis that links inequality to power and forms of rule.

Full details for SOC 3710 - Comparative Social Inequalities

SOC3810 Mass Incarceration and Social Inequality in America
In this course we will explore the origins and consequences of mass incarceration- extraordinarily high incarceration rates within particular demographic groups above and beyond historical levels in the United States. We will examine theories of social control and deviance to uncover how institutions and individuals use power to shape societies. This course also engages theories of state power to understand and to analyze how labeling is deployed to control groups of people, and, in doing so, we will conduct a genealogy of a contemporary driver of social inequality: the prison industrial complex. Current policy debates around the movement to reduce the number of men and women in American jails and prisons will also be covered. Contemporary social problems like homelessness and food insecurity will be discussed in detail, as well as how mass incarceration contributes to growing gaps in labor force participation, wealth accumulation, and familial instability.

Full details for SOC 3810 - Mass Incarceration and Social Inequality in America

SOC4910 Independent Study
This is for undergraduates who wish to obtain research experience or to do extensive reading on a special topic.

Full details for SOC 4910 - Independent Study

Fall, Spring, Summer.
SOC4950 Honors Research
Students choose a sociology faculty member to work with on research to write an honors thesis. Candidates for honors must maintain a cumulative GPA at least an A- in all sociology classes.

Full details for SOC 4950 - Honors Research

Multi-semester course: Fall, Spring.
SOC4960 Honors Thesis: Senior Year
Continuation of SOC 4950.  Continue to work with honors supervisor and work on and write an honors thesis.

Full details for SOC 4960 - Honors Thesis: Senior Year

Fall, Spring.
SOC5020 Basic Problems in Sociology II
Continuation of SOC 5010. Emphasis is on the logical analysis of theoretical perspectives, theories, and theoretical research programs shaping current sociological research. The course includes an introduction to basic concepts used in the logical analysis of theories and examines their application to specific theories and theoretical research programs. Theoretical perspectives include functionalism, social exchange, and interactionism.

Full details for SOC 5020 - Basic Problems in Sociology II

SOC5190 Workshop on Social Inequality
This course provides a forum in which students and others can present, discuss, and receive instant feedback on their inequality-related research. Its primary goals is to help students advance their own research; its secondary goal is to introduce selected debates in the contemporary inequality literature in a more comprehensive fashion that is possible in the introductory graduate-level seminar on inequality.

Full details for SOC 5190 - Workshop on Social Inequality

Fall, Spring.
SOC5710 America's Promise: Social and Political Context of American Education
Examines the goals, roles, inputs, and outcomes of schooling in American society, and the policy environment in which schools operate. Analyzes controversies and tensions (e.g., equity, market forces, state control) surrounding public education at local, state, and federal levels. Includes current and historical, urban, and rural issues and problems.

Full details for SOC 5710 - America's Promise: Social and Political Context of American Education

SOC6020 Intermediate Statistics for Sociological Research
This course provides the second part of a two-semester introduction to quantitative methods in sociological research. It is designed for first-year graduate students in sociology. The course covers intermediate topics in linear regression, and provides an introduction to models for categorical and count data, the analysis of time data, and longitudinal data. We'll also discuss data-related issues such as missing data and weighting, and data that are complicated by issues of non-random design. While statistical modeling is the focus of the course, we proceed with the assumption that models are only as good as the theoretical and substantive knowledge behind them. Thus, in covering the technical material, we will spend considerable time discussing the link between substantive knowledge and statistical practice.

Full details for SOC 6020 - Intermediate Statistics for Sociological Research

SOC6030 Graduate Research Practicum
This course is designed to assist the student's professional development on a "learning by doing and feedback" basis. The course is organized around presentation and discussion of ongoing research projects. As a general rule the course welcomes auditors and all members of the sociology community interested in the variety of research being pursued at Cornell, though participation is with the permission of the instructor(s).

Full details for SOC 6030 - Graduate Research Practicum

SOC6040 Advanced Statistics for Sociological Research
This course extends the study of quantitative methods beyond the required, two-semester graduate methods sequence. We will begin with an in-depth focus on graphical analysis, model uncertainty, techniques for analyzing big data and treating missing data, and issues of causal identification. We will then turn to discussions of specific models selected to complement those covered in existing graduate methods courses for social scientists. The core learning goal is crystal-clear intuitive understanding of these research methods and how they can be put into the service of learning about the social world.

Full details for SOC 6040 - Advanced Statistics for Sociological Research

SOC6080 Proseminar in Sociology
Discussion of the current state of sociology and of the research interests of members of the graduate field; taught by all members of the field.

Full details for SOC 6080 - Proseminar in Sociology

Fall, Spring.
SOC6110 Social Network: Theory and Applications
Social Network Analysis (SNA), or the mathematical analysis of webs of relationships, is a thriving part of sociology and an active research area for numerous other disciplines. This course is intended to introduce students to the basics of SNA and help them apply it to a variety of research questions. We will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of the area, basic concepts used in SNA analyses, and finally methods for describing and interpreting network data. At the completion of this course students should have a basic understanding of social networks and be able to carry out a variety analyses on their own.

Full details for SOC 6110 - Social Network: Theory and Applications

SOC6310 Qualitative Research Methods for Studying Science, Technology, and Medicine
In this Graduate seminar we will discuss the nature, politics and basic assumptions underlying qualitative research. We will examine a selection of qualitative methods ranging from interviewing, oral history, ethnography, participant observation, archival research and visual methods. We will also discuss the relationship between theory and method. All stages of a research project will be discussed - choice of research topic and appropriate methods; human subject concerns and permissions; issues regarding doing research; as well as the process of writing up and publishing research findings.

Full details for SOC 6310 - Qualitative Research Methods for Studying Science, Technology, and Medicine

SOC6440 Urban Structure and Process
This seminar will provide a graduate-level examination of the social organization of urban communities. We will begin with the classic urban sociological theories of the Chicago School and recent extensions and revisions of this perspective. Then, we will consider both qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of topics including urban social networks, neighborhood social context, urban inequality and social problems, and processes of urban change.

Full details for SOC 6440 - Urban Structure and Process

SOC6460 Seminar in Economic Sociology
Introduces the field of economic sociology and covers major topics addressed by sociologists studying the intersection of economy and society. We begin with classic statements on economic sociology and then move to the invigoration of the field in recent years, reading works that have been instrumental in this invigoration. Consideration is given to the several variants of "institutionalism" that have informed the sociological study of markets, organizations, and economic exchange.

Full details for SOC 6460 - Seminar in Economic Sociology

SOC6520 Culture Wars in the Age of Tribal Politics
Political and cultural polarization have steadily increased in the three decades since Patrick Buchanan declared a "cultural war for the soul of America." Concerns include echo chambers, filter bubbles, and increasingly vitriolic discourse, with the cumulative potential to erode democratic institutions. The first half of the semester explores the definition, types, measures, dynamics, and consequences of partisan cultural alignment. The second half addresses the causes, diffusion, and consequences of polarization. Readings will include theoretical models and empirical studies of opinion cascades, identity politics, motivated reasoning, network homophily, echo chambers, filter bubbles, social contagion, conformity, and cultural cognition. Weekly discussions will grapple with a range of questions, including: What is polarization? Is it the tendency for opinions to be extreme, with the disappearance of a consensual middle ground, or is it the tendency for substantively unrelated opinions to become correlated? Did polarization emerge from the top down, beginning with political and cultural elites, or from the bottom up, through the self-reinforcing dynamics of network homophily and peer influence? Do social media and cable news contribute to polarization or merely reflect it? Can polarization be reversed, and if not, what are the implications for democratic institutions?

Full details for SOC 6520 - Culture Wars in the Age of Tribal Politics

SOC6910 Independent Study
For graduates who wish to obtain research experience or to do extensive reading on a special topic. Permission to enroll for independent study is granted only to students who present an acceptable prospectus and secure the agreement of a faculty member to serve as supervisor for the project throughout the semester.

Full details for SOC 6910 - Independent Study

Fall or Spring.
SOC6950 Spatial Demography
"Spatial Demography" introduces core concepts and techniques for analyzing spatially referenced population data. Students learn about the spatial structure of social phenomenon and how to analyze and account for spatial relationships in formal analyses. We draw from examples in housing, health, and education to evaluate how populations are spatially distributed. The course covers methods for addressing spatial dependence and heterogeneity, as well as tools for describing spatial relationships (including various indices of segregation). A substantial portion of the course is also dedicated to practical skills for managing and presenting spatial data using GIS software, including geographic projections, geoprocessing, geocoding addresses, spatially joining layered data, and distance buffering.

Full details for SOC 6950 - Spatial Demography

SOC7350 Labor Sociology
The object of our inquiry is labor: as an activity, a class position, a social movement, an institution, a political subject. A sociology of labor must take as its charge identifying the historically specific constitution of labor in relationship to processes of capitalist development, colonialism, gendered and racialized forms of domination, culture, and technology. Integrating an account of such broader social phenomena reveals insights into labor that would not be possible were we to restrict our inquiry to the workplace. But as one of the fundamental social categories, the concrete manifestation of multifarious labor in any given setting is simultaneously a window onto the basic architecture of society.

Full details for SOC 7350 - Labor Sociology

SOC8920 Graduate Research
Work with a faculty member on a project that is related to your dissertation work.

Full details for SOC 8920 - Graduate Research

SOC8960 Thesis Research
Work with chair of your committee on your dissertation work.

Full details for SOC 8960 - Thesis Research