Schedule of assignments
All lectures by date
In putting together lectures for this course I attempt to build on the material in the textbook by introducing you to some examples of sociology's most interesting research and by connecting the course material to contemporary issues. This page is intended to help you examine these topics further by (1) sharing with you my sources for lecture material and (2) suggesting some additional readings.
I am on a constant look-out for materials to add to the class so if you run across some interesting information connected to anything in the textbook, feel free to give me a heads-up. Likewise, if you think something should be added to this page, let me know. Also, please contact me if you want some additional reading suggestions on these or other topics.
Chapter 1: Taking a New Look at a Familiar World
The theme of the class is drawn largely from the perspective of Peter Berger, whose book Invitation to Sociology (1963, 191 pp.) was a text in the intro class I took as an undergraduate. The idea of the social construction of reality was first developed in The Social Construction of Reality (1966, 219 pp.) by Berger and Thomas Luckmann.
The concept of the sociological imagination is explained in C. Wright Mills' book The Sociological Imagination (1959).
Chapter one includes a description of Emile Durkheim's suicide study. The study is found in Durkheim's Suicide (1897, 405 pp.), which is quite difficult reading. However, a more recent sociological study of suicide, Donna Gaines' Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead-end Kids (1991), is a very readable book about teenage suicides that draws upon Durkheim's insights.
Chapter 2: Seeing and Thinking Sociologically
Stanley Milgram's electro-shock experiments described in the book and shown during lecture are described in his book Obedience to Authority (1974). It is a fascinating book and contains more variations than we had time for in class.
There are a number of books that overview the different sociological perspectives. Randall Collins' Four Sociological Traditions (1994, 321 pp.) is one of the most popular. (You can tell from the title that he divides the traditions up differently than Newman does.)
Talcott Parsons, one of the main developers of structural-functionalism, is very difficult to read, but his student Robert Merton has many interesting papers collected in Social Theory and Social Structure (1957, 702 pp.), including his article on manifest and latent functions and his article on the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy, which is discussed in chapter 3. One of the most popular studies in the functionalist tradition is Habits of the Heart (1985, 255 pp.), a study of individualism and community involvement by Robert Bellah and his colleagues.
The study of CPR I used in class to illustrate latent functions is Stefan Timmermans' Sudden Death and the Myth of CPR (1999, 256 pp.). Timmermans, who went to graduate school with me, is actually a symbolic interactionist. His latest book, Postmortem (2006), is about how medical examiners explain suspicious deaths.
The conflict perspective has its roots in the work of Karl Marx, whose most accessible book (with Friedrich Engels) is probably The Communist Manifesto (1848). One of the most compelling contemporary conflict theorists is Immanuel Wallerstein, the developer of world-systems theory. I assign his book Historical Capitalism (1995, pp. 163) in my theory course (Soc 401).
Herbert Blumer coined the term symbolic interactionism and gave a good description of his perspective in the first chapter of his book Symbolic Interactionism (1969). A number of great studies have been conducted from the symbolic interactionist perspective. One of my favorites is Howard Becker's Art Worlds (1982, 392 pp.), which I have assigned in my theory class (Soc 401).
Chapter 3: Building Reality
As mentioned above, the idea of the social construction of reality is from Berger & Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality (1966). Merton's original essay on the self-fulfilling prophesy can be found in Social Theory and Social Structure (1957).
Howard Becker's work on moral entrepreneurs can be found in The Outsiders (1963), a collection of essays on the social construction of crime. A recent book in this tradition I like a lot is Joel Best's Random Crime (1999), which explores how "new crimes" get created and why we are often afraid of crimes that rarely happen. It is one of the books I assign in my theory class (Soc 401).
Arlie Hochschild's research on balancing work and home, which Newman uses to illustrate participant observation, is described in her book The Time Bind (1997, 316 pp.). Laud Humphreys' controversial study of anonymous gay sex, which is described in your text, is from his book The Tearoom Trade (1970).