What is society? How can we understand it? What is the role of the individual in society and how does society affect individual lives? This course introduces students to the field of sociology. By surveying social theory as well as empirical studies students acquire what C. Wright Mills calls the "sociological imagination" the ability to think beyond our personal lives and to connect the experiences of individuals with large social structures. The course introduces students to classical theoretical traditions of Marx Durkheim Weber and Simmel as well as their contemporary theoretical heirs. Readings include prominent empirical investigations into family dynamics class inequalities organizations the nation-state capitalism democracy and globalization. We examine common-sense assumptions about culture politics history and psychology and empower students to replace them with evidence-based reasoning. By emphasizing reading writing and critical thinking skills this course helps students build the foundation for a deeper understanding of theory and methods in the social sciences.
Harvard Division of Continuing Education