Spring 2021 Course Offerings
Prof. Marnia Lazreg -
Soc. 80000: Producing sociological theory: The Role of Gendered Colonialism, Culture and Revolution in Bourdieu’s theory
Mondays 4:15-6:15pm, 3 credits
In recent years scholars have called for a “decolonization” of knowledge or advocated a “decolonial” approach to academic disciplines. They argue for greater awareness of the imperial context within which the social sciences emerged, and attempt to identify the conscious and unconscious ways in which this context shaped theoretical concepts.
Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology provides an opportunity to assess these claims conceptually as well as empirically. Bourdieu formulated his key sociological concepts (such as symbolic violence, habitus, or masculine domination) and developed a “scientific” method during his fieldwork in villages in Eastern Algeria. His formative years as a sociologist were spent in colonial Algeria during the war of decolonization as a draftee as well as a researcher, and references to his fieldwork recur in many of his books until the end of his life. Besides, there were times when he perceived himself as a surrogate native.
This course examines Bourdieu’s struggles with colonialism as a political and cultural system of domination, and traces the process through which colonial fieldwork becomes productive of concepts applicable to a non-colonial (but colonizing) society. Relatedly, the course explores Bourdieu’s conceptualization of revolution in light of his misgivings about Frantz Fanon’s theory. Of special interest will be the differences between two empirical observers, a trained sociologist and a trained psychiatrist turned revolutionary. Finally, the course will probe Bourdieu’s construction of culture in a non-Western milieu in view of his attempt to bridge the gap between anthropology and sociology. Throughout, discussions will be guided by a concern for the complex relationship between Bourdieu’s interest in a scientific method, his recurring references to his biography, and his unresolved attitude toward the colonial situation.
The course will be run as a seminar open to the unfettered exploration of significant facets of Bourdieu’s work.
Readings will include, in addition to sections of Outline of a Theory of Practice, Pascalian Meditations, The Bachelors’ Ball, In Other Words, Sociology in Question, Sketch of Self-Analysis, and a selection of secondary literature.
Requirements: Active class participation and a substantive term paper.
Open to all students
Prof. John Torpey -
Soc. 81004: Sociology Meets History
Tuesdays 2-4pm, 3 credits
This course examines the historical roots of contemporary patterns of social inequality at a variety of spatial levels -- global, national, and regional. It seeks to make sense of the historical origins of patterns of inequality in state-building, slavery, colonialism, and capitalism. The course will explore diverse times and places in order to understand the background to contemporary patterns of inequality as well as efforts to overcome historical injustices.
Prof. Katherine Chen
Soc. 84700: Questioning Power and Reimagining Societies: Conducting Research on Organizations, Markets, and the State
Wednesday 11:45 - 1:45 pm, 3 credits
Various institutions, including universities, think tanks, corporations, and governments, collect data on certain kinds of phenomena and disseminate knowledge for particular ends. However, much of the produced knowledge – in part due to how data is collected and interpreted and what phenomena and sites are deemed worthy of study – homogenizes our sense of possibilities and reproduces the status quo. This is particularly evident in conventional research which focuses on individual persons as the unit of analysis. Even when research is conducted on organizations, markets, and the state, such research offers critique, but few recommendations of possible paths to take. How can researchers and intellectual communities increase substantive opportunities for reimagining societies?
With this overarching question in mind, this course tackles research phenomena that can be studied regarding organizations, markets, and the state. For example, what happens when we question taken-for-granted research practices and more closely examine institutions and their associated practices, such as tech firms that gather big data on individual persons? How can we reconceptualize how to conduct research, in ways that incorporate more interests, including underrepresented individuals? This course draws on multi-disciplinary perspectives, including critical race theory, feminist studies, and information science, to expand possibilities for conducting and disseminating research. Course readings and topics will incorporate students’ areas of interest.
Prof. Juan Battle -
Soc. 81005: Applied Qualitative Research
Thursdays 6:30-8:30, 3 credits
This course is part of a larger research project collecting and examining the life histories of mature (around 50 years old and older) Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ changemakers from throughout the United States. In addition to learning about a variety of interviewing techniques, students will actually conduct some interviews for the project as well as begin to ask questions of the data. Because students will be exposed to (and contribute from) a wide variety of perspectives on the subject, this course is appropriate for students in the traditional social sciences (e.g. sociology, anthropology, psychology, urban education, and history) as well as more contemporary ones (e.g. women’s studies, race studies, American studies, cultural studies, lesbian and gay studies).
Prof James M. Jasper
Soc. 86800: Culture and Politics: Subjects, Identities, and Characters
Thursdays 11:45-1:45, 3 credits
This course will examine meaning in the construction of political subjects, actions, and institutions, taking culture (including morality, emotions, and cognition) as an aspect of all social life. Its purpose is to encourage publishable research, and for that reason it focuses more narrowly on the construction of subjects, stigma, reputations, and public characters.
Prof. David Halle-
Soc. 82301: Sociology of New York City
Mondays, 6:30-8:30pm, 3 credits
We will explore key social, economic, political and cultural issues in the country’s largest city, including the inter-relationships between these issues. Topics include: the Corona crisis and its impact; urban economic development especially the new Hudson Yards Project; the development of a high tech corridor in Manhattan stretching from Google’s East Coast headquarters on 15-16st and 8th-9th Avenues to the new Cornell-Technion engineering school on Roosevelt Island; attempts to “Green” New York including how to protect against future Hurricane Sandys; suburbanization including the latest wave; education--the successes and failures of the gigantic N.Y. Public school system; immigration; housing, including affordable housing and the homeless crisis; urban politics including NYC’s "strong mayor" political structure; historic preservation and debates between a liberal wing that wishes to save only distinguished buildings and a fundamentalist wing that wants to freeze almost everything; crime, police departments and police misbehavior, urban terrorism and cyber security; urban protests and riots, including Black Lives Matter; culture; museums; private-public partnerships that support and promote the arts; the growth of Chelsea as the largest Contemporary Art gallery district in the world; the world of newspapers, television journalism, and publishing; the structure of the film industry in New York; Broadway and contemporary theater; food and restaurants; fashion; and the architectural industry.
Prof. Leslie McCall
Soc. 83100: Intersectionality in the Social Sciences
Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15, 3 credits
This course will begin with an overview of key original texts by intersectionality scholars in and connected to the social sciences in the United States, such as texts by Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Evelyn Nakano Glenn. This will be followed by readings of key later texts that introduced and amplified on the concept within different social science disciplines (e.g., Ange-Marie Hancock in political science; Elizabeth Cole in psychology), and also raised questions over the definition and scope of the term (e.g., Jennifer Nash). For the remainder of the course, we will examine intersectional research on a wide range of topics, including intersectional inequalities in political representation, income, education, family, health, and criminal justice. We will also consider different approaches to the topic across the globe, and I will welcome suggestions for readings on other aspects of intersectionality related to students’ areas of interest and expertise.
Prof. Barbara Katz Rothman- BKatzRothman@gc.cuny.edu
Soc.83300: Birth and Parenting
Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30, 3 credits
Birth marks the transitional moment in the universal human relationship: every person begins life embodied within the maternal body; and up until the last few decades, that relationship defined the placement, or the citizenship, of the new being. New technologies, but even more, new marketing, calls the obviousness of parenthood and specifically motherhood into question, as relationships are fragmented and commodified. This course will offer a sociological and feminist analysis of birth and parenting, with a focus will be on the United States and its particular racial, class and gender politics and eugenic history.
Prof. Philip Kasinitz- Pkasinitz@GC.CUNY.EDU
Sociology 85800: Race and Ethnicity
Mondays, 4:15-6:15, 3 credits
In 1903 Dubois predicted that the problem of the Twentieth Century would be “the problem of the color-line.” It now appears that race may be the problem of the 21st century as well. Race and ethnicity they remain among the most persistent and virulent forms of structured social inequality in the US and around the globe. Yet, ironically, race and ethnicity do not figure prominently in much of classical social theory. Focusing on the United States, but with reference to other multi-ethnic societies, we will examine the evolution of the concept of “race” and its relationship to racism; the heritage of slavery and segregation and their impacts contemporary life; the origins of modern racism and anti-Semitism, why and how the salience of ethnic identity increases and decreases at particular historical moments and the relationship of race and ethnicity to migration, nationalism, colonialism and class. We will look at how racial boundaries change and how “racialized” minorities are (or are not) incorporated into different societies. Readings will include works by W.E.B. Dubois, George Fredrickson, Michelle Alexander, Ibram V. Kendi, Patricia Hill Collins, Douglas Massey, William Julius Wilson, Franz Fanon, Jean Paul Sartre, Min Zhou, Eddie Telles, Isabel Wilkerson, Alejandro Portes and Richard Alba.
Prof. David Brotherton – email@example.com
Soc. 81500 – Deportation & Ethnographic Immigration
Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30pm, 3 credits
This course is an overview of the fields of sociology and criminology that link deportation to processes of migration, social control, state formation, global political economy and social processes of inclusion and exclusion. The deportation of non-citizens has become a major issue in the United States as well as internationally. Literally millions of legal and "illegal" non-citizens have been removed from the U.S. during the past two decades in what is the largest and most enduring process of human expulsion from a Western country since the holocaust. A dramatic hardening of the U.S. immigration laws was enacted in 1996 and since then policies governing citizenship and residency have become increasingly punitive, tied to the moral crusades on drugs, terrorism, gangs and the immigrant and the economic paradigms of neo-liberalism. The erection of borders, both internal and external, symbolic and substantive, has been a key characteristic of these processes. Paradoxically, the United States has been "traditionally" viewed as a nation of immigrants, albeit a colonial settler one in which the indigenous populations were violently and systematically expelled from their ancestral lands only to be subsequently reincorporated and 'assimilated" as "minority" subpopulations. In this course we take a critical-ethnographic lens to the dynamics, practices and sociological contexts of the deportation regimes in the U.S. and beyond, focusing on both epistemological and methodological issues that are highlighted in the research literature. Students are also encouraged to experience the terrain of deportation first-hand with guidance from the instructor.
Profs. Lynn Chancer/Van Tranfirstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Soc. 72100: Qualifying Paper Seminar II
Thursdays, 2:00-4:00pm, 3 credits
This year-long seminar is an opportunity to conduct original research that will result in a journal article (i.e. The Qualifying Paper) that is of publishable quality in a peer-reviewed academic journal. This seminar is required of all PhD students during the second year in the program. Over the course of two semesters, you will formulate a research question, develop a theoretical argument, design a research strategy, collect and analyze your data, interpret the results, and present your argument and findings in a precise and compelling narrative form. At the end of the Fall term, you will hand in a clearly developed research proposal with a research plan. At the end of Spring term, you will hand in a complete research paper that contributes to sociological knowledge and this draft will form the basis for your first single-authored peer-reviewed article for submission. The article can be based on either an empirically-oriented or a theoretically-oriented research project, as long as it is deemed to be of publishable quality. (For second year students only.)
Prof. Jeremy Porter
Soc. 81900: Applied Spatial Econometrics
Thursdays, 6:30-8:30pm, 3 credits
This course builds upon foundational GIS and spatial analysis concepts and skills built in introductory GIS courses through the application of advanced spatial statistical modeling procedures. Students in the course will learn how it integrate GIS with statistical programming tools as a way to extend the utility of the GIS beyond a tool for mapping. Topics covered include 1) Graphical and quantitative description of spatial data, 2) Kriging, block kriging and cokriging, 3) Common variogram models, 4) Spatial autoregressive models, estimation and testing, 5) Spatial non-stationarity and associated modeling procedures and 6) Spatial sampling procedures. Students will complete a series of in-class labs and develop a final research project from these labs or an independent project. Pre-requisite - "Introduction to GIS"
Prof. Lucia Trimbur
Soc. 70200: Contemporary Theory
Mondays, 2:00-4:00pm, 3 credits
This graduate seminar is the second course in a two-course series examining important social theorists and their contributions to the development of American sociology. We focus on the projects that most contribute to an analysis of the contemporary world, especially Marxism, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism, feminist theory, queer theory, and postcolonial theory. Our overarching goal is to understand how theoretical arguments are made: their logics, underlying assumptions, contradictions, and use of evidence. To do this, we will (1) look closely at contemporary theorists’ ideas, (2) historically situate the authors of these ideas, and (3) consider how their ideas relate to past and current social circumstances. We also spend time connecting contemporary theories to those we studied in Classical Social Theory.
Prof. Ruth Milkman-
Soc. 74100: Sociology of Work and Inequality
Mondays, 4:15-6:15, 3 credits
Designed as an introduction to sociological debates on work and inequality, this seminar engages recent sociological texts on that topic. The readings focus on the changing landscape of work, with an emphasis on the situation of non-college educated workers. They include studies of how workers are hired and paid; to case studies of the changing structure of particular industries — from trucking to health care to firefighting to home care; to the growth of the gig economy and the broader social consequences of economic restructuring. We will explore the causes and consequences of growing precarity and labor market polarization since the mid-1970s, and the accompanying widening of inequalities by class, race and gender.
This is a reading course with a seminar format. Requirements include: faithful class attendance and active participation in discussion; weekly written reactions to the assigned texts; an oral presentation; and a final research paper.
Prof. Janet Gornick-
Soc. 85700: Social Welfare Policy (Crosslist: PSC 73101 & WSCP 81000)
Tuesdays 4:15pm–6:15pm, 3 credits
This course will examine social welfare policy in the United States, in historical and cross‐national perspective. We will begin with an overview of the development of social welfare policy in the United States. We will focus on crucial historical periods – including the Civil War years, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and the “welfare reform” of the 1990s and early 2000s. Second, we will assess “the big picture” of the American welfare state, through the lens of its underlying institutional framework. Third, we will analyze a set of contemporary challenges that call for active policy responses, such as severe poverty, low‐wage work, homelessness, and the care deficit. Finally, we will survey selected social policy lessons from other high‐income countries, especially in Europe, where social provisions are typically more extensive than they are in the United States.
Prof. Branko Milanovic – firstname.lastname@example.org
Soc. 84600 – Within-National Inequalities: From Pareto to Piketty
Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30pm, 3 credits
The objective of the course is be to review, analyze, and allow students to develop a much better understanding of the theories and empirics of personal income distribution within a single policy-making unit (that is, normally within a nation-state). The first such theory was developed by Vilfredo Pareto more than 100 years ago. Pareto believes that income distribution does not change regardless of a social system and level of development. Simon Kuznets, in the 1950s, posited, on the contrary, a theory where income inequality evolves as societies get richer. Jan Tinbergen, in the 1970s, argued that the level of inequality is determined by the two opposing forces of education (increasing the supply of highly skilled workers) and technological change (increasing the demand for them). Most recently, Thomas Piketty argues that low growth combined with high returns to capital predisposes advanced economies to high levels of inequality. These theories will be considered on the real-world examples of movements of inequality in Brazil, China, “transition countries” and the United States and other advanced economies. We shall focus especially on the recent evolution of income and wealth inequality in the United States and Piketty’s analytical contributions. The class will be fairly empirical but does not require any prior specific knowledge of the issues nor techniques. It is recommended for students of economics, political science, and sociology.