INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY
                                          FALL 2009

                                 Mon 16:30-1750, Fri 1200-13:20 LTD

Dr. Julian McAllister Groves
Division of Social Science Room 1520C.1

Office Hours: One hour after each class.

Teaching Assistants Gu Yan Feng:, James Ma:,

This course will help you to appreciate the power of the sociological imagination for
understanding your everyday lives. As participants in human societies we all have ideas
about the way our society works. The sociological perspectives that we shall examine,
however, are more well-thought out, based on evidence, and may challenge some of
these “common sense” ideas.

This is an age in which we tend to explain human behaviour in terms of our individual
achievements, personalities, and even our genetic make-up. The sociologist, however,
looks at human behaviour as the product of groups, organizations and culture.

In order to master this sociological outlook, we shall examine a number of topics central
to our lives from the point of view of sociological perspectives and methods. These
topics will include: culture, deviance, inequality, religion, mental health, social change,
gender, intimate relations and the family.


For each class there will be a chapter (or part thereof) from the text book, Sociology: A
Down to Earth Approach. Core Concepts. by James M. Henslin, Third Edition. I shall
make copies of this book available at the Reserve Counter of the University Library and
selected passages on the course webpage (log in at, and look
for Sosc185 Fall 2009). For some classes, I shall also assign some slightly more
difficult “additional readings.” These will be original works of important sociologists
that further illustrate the concepts being discussed. You must read the assigned texts
before coming to class in order to understand the class, and I shall call on you to answer
questions about them in class.


There will be three closed-book exams; two in-class Midterms and a Final. The
midterm exams will be non-cumulative. The Final Exam will be cumulative and cover
the materials covered on entire the course. Questions will be a mixture of multiple

    Take lift 29-30 to 1st floor. Turn left. Enter through the glass doors

choice and short answer (depending upon the size of the class). They will test your
understanding of the readings and the in-class lectures, exercises and discussions.

The Final Grade

First Midterm  25%
Second Midterm 25%
Final Exam     50% (cumulative)

Up to 3 percent extra credit may be awarded to individual students who make regular
and outstanding contributions to the in-class discussions, or who frequently ask relevant

                                  TENTATIVE CLASS SCHEDULE2


September 4. Is it all just common sense?
          Sociology and Common Sense quiz

              7. So, What is sociology? Themes, People, and Events

                             EVERYDAY LIFE

We begin looking at the concept of culture and its ability to explain human behaviour,
examining related concepts such as ethnocentricism, cultural relativism, sub-culture,
socialization and the importance of language and symbols. We also examine classical
sociological and psychological theories of socialization such as those offered by George
Herbert Mead, Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan.

                11: What is culture? Are we Ethnocentric?
                    Henslin: pp36-55

                14: How do you study another culture?

                18: Who Are You?
                    Socialization and the Social Construction of Reality
                    Henslin 64-78

Additional Readings. Either: Howard Becker: Becoming a Marijuana User
                   Or: Nanette Davis: Becoming a Prostitute

    All topics and reading subject to change. Please listen carefully for announcements in class.

                                 PART II. DEVIANCE

The sociological focus is not so much on the individual who commits a deviant act, but
the ways in which human societies apply sanctions and labels to offenders. We shall
examine the power of social labelling and its implications in the fields of education,
criminal justice and mental illness. We also examine a number of experimental studies
that demonstrate the influence of the immediate situation and peer pressure on acts of
violence. We take a broad view of deviance to look at topics such as the presentation of
self, and embarrassment in everyday life, examining studies by the sociologist Erving

            21: Are criminals bad people?
               Sociological Perspectives on Deviance. Labelling Theory
               Henslin: 152-169

            25: Documentary: The Eye of the Storm
                Additional reading: LD Rosenhan: Being Sane in Insane Places

            28. Why do good people do bad things? Obedience to Authority: The
                power of the situation. Henslin 146-150
                Migram’s Experiments

          October 2. Why do students Cheat? Normalizing Deviance
              Situational Ethics and College Student Cheating


          9: Why is social life so embarrassing? Deviance and everyday life.
              Henslin: 110-120


We now move to the larger historical social forces that govern our everyday lives, the
rise of industrialization and the transformation of our work lives and belief systems, and
we discuss some of the resulting problems including alienation, anomie, suicide,
poverty and inequality among the rich and the poor, men and women, and the First and
Third World. .

              12: The Ideas of Emile Durkheim and The Division of Labour
              Henslin: p. 7, 107-109

              16. Why do we need Religion? Religion and Ritual

              19: Why do people kill themselves? Anomie and Suicide

              23. Who is poor? Some Facts About Poverty And Inequality In Hong
                  Are poor people lazy

              26: Cheung Yeung Festival. No class.

              30. Situational constraints on poor people and Class Theory
                 Henslin: pp184-225


              6. Are men equal to women?
                 Documentary: Inside story: What women want
                 Gender Inequality in the work place and home

              9: Sex and Gender: Biology or culture?
                 Biological explanations of gender differences
                 Documentary: Brain Sex: The Secrets of the Sexes

            13: Social Representation of Women in the Media
               Henslin p. 78-82

Additional Reading: Deborah Tannen “But What do you Mean? Women and Men in

            16. Globalization, Inequality and Poverty
              The Facts of Global Inequality.
              Why do third world aid programs fail?

             20: Modernization Theory Why are some countries poor?

             23: World Systems theory.
                Documentary: Tools of exploitation


Finally, we examine changing trends in intimate life, the search for intimate relations in
modern society, the changing nature of the family and childhood, and problems
associated with modern family life.

       27.Why can’t we find true love?
          The Romantic Love Ideal and the search for intimacy.

       December 2. Why are there so many divorces these days? Henslin: Marriage
       and Family
              In Global Perspective 297-312, 319-333

       4: Catch up andReview

                              RULES AND PROCEDURES

This is a large class with a diversity of students from many backgrounds. Most of you
will be studying in a second language (English) because this is the only language that
we all share. Some of you may not have taken social science classes before. Others will
have been used to different academic environments, with different expectations. All this
means that we need to have some common rules about how the class is to proceed so
that everyone has an opportunity to learn and perform well.


The surest way to achieve a high grade on this course is to attend all the classes. The
Powerpoint slides shown in the class and placed on the course webpage are intended
only as outlines of the main concepts covered. They are not substitutes for class
attendance. You will be responsible for taking your own notes during the classes and
for catching up and obtaining notes from other students if you miss a class.

Students often ask me to put more detailed notes on the course webpage. My
experience, however, has been that if you don’t have the time or inclination to attend the
class, it is unlikely that you will have time or inclination to study the materials outside
of class. I will do my part to make the classes worthwhile, going slowly, and making
frequent summaries to assist those with language difficulties. Fair enough?

Coming Late and Leaving Early

The class will not begin until all students are seated and quiet. When students come late
to the classroom they delay the whole class by walking around the lecture theater to
look for their friends while the class is in progress. They also miss important
information that will be covered on the exam. Some instructors solve this problem by
locking the doors after the class has begun. This, however, is an extreme measure and
sends a negative message. To minimize disruption, I will reserve the seats nearest to the
doors at the back of the lecture theater for late students. On the occasion that you have
to come late to the class, please sit at these tables, rather than walk around the lecture
theater while the class is in progress.

As with late students, students who leave the class early disrupt the class and miss
important information. Each class will have a ten minute break in the middle. Please
wait until the break or the end of the class before leaving (except, or course, in the case
of medical emergency or fire).

Mobile Phones, Emailing, Texting and Computers

Mobile phones disrupt the class. If you are using laptop computers or texting on your
phone, you will miss important information. You are also turning away from your

classmates, the instructor, and the course content, and depriving everyone of a good
learning environment. Remember also, I give extra credit toward your final grade for
participation. The class will not begin until all laptops and mobiles are switched off.

Eating and Drinking in the Classroom

Bringing food into the lecture theater leaves a mess and smell for your classmates. This
does not create a conducive atmosphere for learning. Would you like it if your classes
were held in a McDonalds restaurant? I wouldn’t think so. For this reason, the
University prohibits eating in the lecture theater. There are many places where you can
eat on campus. Please observe the “No Eating” signs in the classroom, and have your
meals before or after the class.


Examinations will be closed-book and must be taken without communicating with other

This is a large class and it is impossible to schedule make-up exams for individual
students, except where medical documentation is provided to say why you cannot
attend. The exam dates will be announced early in the semester, which will give you
plenty of time to plan. Do not schedule job interviews or other activities on these dates.

A special note to international students: You have been instructed by the University
during your orientation that you are required to stay for the entire exam period. Please
do not book your flights home before the Final Exam or schedule other trips during the
mid term examinations. There will be no make up exams should you choose to do this.

A special note to students taking, or who have taken sosc166 with Prof. Groves: As
introductory sociology classes, it is unavoidable that there will be some overlap between
these two classes. I do not encourage you to take both classes. It is better that you get a
broader perspective in the social sciences by taking classes from other professors. If,
however, you do decide to take both classes, please allow other students in class to
answer questions that you may already know the answer to from Sosc166. Thank you
for your cooperation.


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