Introduction to Sociology I (Syllabus)

Introduction to Sociology I (SOC 201)
M 9:00am - 11:45am

Northern Virginia Community College
Spring, 2008

Instructor:  Rebecca Dolinsky                                    
NVCC- Loudoun (Reston Center)
Classroom:  Wiehle Ave/RES2-0350
Office Hours:  11:45am-1:00pm in Suite 336 or by appt.
Course Description

In this course, we will explore the basic tenets of sociology as a discipline.  Once we lay the groundwork for the discipline, we will use a sociological lens to understand how people in the United States socially construct and interact with various social institutions in our society (macro sociology).  We will additionally use this lens to understand a) how individuals interact in group situations across multiple identities and b) how these interactions shape our everyday lives (micro sociology).  Please respect your peers as we move through the course material, since some of the topics listed below will feel familiar and personal.

Course Readings

- Andersen, Margaret L. & Taylor, Howard F.  2007.  Sociology:  The Essentials.  4th edition.  Belmont:  Thompson Wadsworth.

- 13 supplemental readings to be provided during the first day of class.

Course Requirements

  1. Participation and Attendance (10% of your final grade)
  2. Reading Responses:  5 reading responses, assigned at random (20% of your final grade)
  3. Content Analysis Paper:  Due March 3rd (20% of your final grade)
  4. Nightly News Assignment:  Due March 31st  (20% of your final grade)
  5. Final Exam:  May 8th (30% of your final grade)

January 14th                   Introduction to the Course

January 21st                    Martin Luther King Jr. Day (no class)

January 28th               Introduction to the Discipline

- Chapter 1:  “Sociological Perspectives and Sociological Research” (pg. 1-33)
- “The Sociological Imagination” – C. Wright Mills (supplemental reading)
- “Climate Change and Human Health” * – Population and Development Review (supplemental reading)
- “World Warned on Water Refugees” * – BBC News Online (supplemental reading)
* We will also honor the call for a national teach-in that is occurring later in the week on January 31st (for more information, go to the following URL:  The teach-in will focus on global warming.

February 4th                   Introduction to the Discipline

- Chapter 1:  “Sociological Perspectives and Sociological Research” (pg. 1-33)
- “Poverty as We Know It:  Media Portrayals of the Poor” – Rosalee A. Clawson & Rakuya Trice (supplemental reading)
February 11th                 Culture

- Chapter 2:  Culture (pg. 35-62)
- “Media Magic:  Making Class Invisible” – Gregory Mantsios (supplemental reading)
- “Can I Get a Witness?  Testimony from a Hip Hop Feminist” – Shani Jamila (supplemental reading)

February 18th             Culture; Mass Media

- Chapter 2:  Culture (pg. 35-62)
- “Alt.Everything:  The Youth Market and the Marketing of Cool” – Naomi Klein (supplemental reading)

Video:  “The Merchants of Cool”

February 25th             Socialization

Required Readings:
- Chapter 3:  “Socialization and the Life Course” (pg. 65-94)
- “Missing in Interaction” – Myra and David Sadker (supplemental reading)

March 3rd                         Social Interaction; Group Dynamics

***Content Analysis Paper Due Today

- Chapter 4:  “Social Interaction and Social Structure” (pg. 97-114 only)
March 10th                       Spring Break (no class)

March 17th                 Communities; Collective Behavior

- Chapter 5:  Groups and Organizations (pg. 125-137 only)
- “Wielding Masculinity Inside Abu Ghraib:  Making Feminist Sense of an American Military Scandal” – Cynthia Enloe.  (supplemental reading)

March 24th                       Deviant Behavior; Prisons

- Chapter 6:  Deviance and Crime (pg. 149-179)
- “The Prison-Industrial Complex” – Eric Lotke (supplemental reading)

March 31st                        Social Class    

***Nightly News Assignment Due Today

- Chapter 7:  “Social Class and Social Stratification” (pg. 181-210)
- “The Enemy Within” – Ruth Sidel (supplemental reading)

April 7th                             Social Class

- Chapter 7:  “Social Class and Social Stratification” (pg. 181-210)

Video:  “Maxed Out:  Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders”

April 14th                          Race

- Chapter 9:  Race and Ethnicity (pg. 237-265)
- “Race Matters” – Cornel West (supplemental reading)

April 21st                    Ethnicity

- Chapter 9:  Race and Ethnicity (pg. 237-265)
April 28th                    Families

- Chapter 12:  Families and Religion (pg. 317-349)
- “Gay and Lesbian Families are Here” – Judith Stacey (supplemental reading)

May 5th                       Religion; Study Session for Final Exam

- Chapter 12:  Families and Religion (pg. 317-349)

May 8th

***Final Exam:         8:30am - 10:20am

Wiehle Ave/RES2-0350

Assignments for Soc 201 (Spring 2008)

Reading Responses
Hand-written; in class

You will be required to write five reading responses (each worth 4% of your total grade) over the course of this class.  I will pick the five days you are to write a reading response at random.  I will assign a question or two for you to respond in class.  These are not a pop quizzes, since you will be allowed to use your course material.  However, reading ahead of time is crucial since you will be given a limited amount of time to answer the question(s)… therefore you will only have so much time to refer to your course material.

Content analysis assignment
3-4 pages; double-spaced; 11-12-pt font; Margins:  1” (top & bottom); 1/25” (left & right)

For this assignment, you will perform a content analysis on one episode of a television show or the lyrics to three songs (preferably, there will be a tie that will bind these three songs together such as musical genre or artist).  This assignment will require you to don the hat of a researcher undertaking a study using this particular sociological method.  Use your sociological imagination to analyze the TV episode or songs- what messages are being presented along race, class, and gender lines?  What are the social and/or political implications to the episode/songs?  You will receive a handout describing the expectations of this assignment in greater detail by February 4th.

Nightly News Assignment
2-3 pages; double-spaced; 11-12-pt font; Margins:  1” (top & bottom); 1/25” (left & right)

Using the theories, ideas, and concepts from Chapter 6, you will analyze at least the first ten minutes of the local nightly news for three nights in a row.  You will receive a handout describing the expectations of this assignment in greater detail by February 25th.

Final Exam
Hand-written; in class

The final exam to this course will consist of fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and short essay questions.  We will use at least half of our last class as a study session for the final exam.  You will receive a study guide for the final exam on April 28th.

Class Policies for Soc 201 (Spring 2008)

Attendance and Participation

You are required to attend this course, therefore I will be taking attendance every day that we are scheduled to meet.  I also expect you to participate in this course.  With participation in the course comes a reasonable amount of obvious engagement on your part.  By “obvious engagement,” I mean it will be obvious to me if you are not engaging with the course material. 


I will be using the following grading scale:

A = 90-100%
B = 80-89%
C = 70-79%
D = 60-69%
F = 59% and below

When you are handed back your graded assignments, I will thoroughly explain the way I graded each assignment so that we can communicate across my point system if necessary.


Please respect your fellow peers and be on time.  Not only are you interrupting your education if you are late to class, but you are interrupting theirs as well.

Missing a Class

If you do miss a class, it is your responsibility to contact one of your peers for the notes.  On the first day of class, I will make sure that we take a moment for each of you to exchange contact information with at least one of your peers so that you have someone to check in with throughout the course.

Late Assignments

Late assignments will be accepted, but there will be a reduction in points with each passing day.


If you have a disability that requires particular attention in class or during an in-class exam or writing assignment, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me so that we may set up appropriate arrangements.  You will need to provide me with an official form from Counseling Services relaying your particular ability needs.

Inclement Weather

Please check and click “Weather and Closings” or watch your local news for any announcements pertaining to inclement weather.  If you live in an area that is hit harder than our campus due to the weather, I will certainly understand if you cannot make it to class.

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course.  If you are unclear what plagiarism is, please do not hesitate to contact me.  See NVCC’s policy on academic dishonesty below:

Academic Dishonesty
When College officials award credit, degrees, and certificates, they must assume the absolute integrity of the work you have done; therefore, it is important that you maintain the highest standard of honor in your scholastic work.
The College does not tolerate academic dishonesty.  Students who are not honest in their academic work will face disciplinary action along with any grade penalty the instructor imposes. Procedures for disciplinary measures and appeals are outlined in the Student Handbook.  In extreme cases, academic dishonesty may result in dismissal from the College. Academic dishonesty, as a general rule, involves one of the following acts:
  1. Cheating on an examination or quiz, including the giving, receiving, or soliciting of information and the unauthorized use of notes or other materials during the examination or quiz.
  2. Buying, selling, stealing, or soliciting any material purported to be the unreleased contents of a forthcoming examination, or the use of such material.
  3. Substituting for another person during an examination or allowing another person to take your place.
  4. Plagiarizing means taking credit for another person’s work or ideas. This includes copying another persons’ work either word for word or in substance without acknowledging the source.
  5. Accepting help from or giving help to another person to complete an assignment, unless the instructor has approved such collaboration in advance.
  6. Knowingly furnishing false information to the College; forgery and alteration or use of College documents or instruments of identification with the intent to defraud.