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The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and its promise.
Because sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time, it is a rapidly expanding field whose potential is increasingly tapped by those who craft policies and create programs. Sociologists understand social inequality, patterns of behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and how social systems work.
Sociology is the study of human groups, organizations and societies and the patterns of similarity and difference among them. In this course, we will examine the major questions that guide sociological analysis. We will also practice “doing” sociology by exploring our everyday social worlds and the oftentimes invisible or taken-for-granted social forces that shape it. Sociologists are concerned with a vast array of topics and they approach the investigation of these topics in numerous ways.
Influential sociological studies have focused on everything from how people try to look their best in face-to-face interactions, to how race, gender and class shape identities and social conditions, to how the system of industrial capitalism came to dominate the world. They have sought answers to the puzzles of social life through inventive and sometimes controversial methods - living on the streets, simulating prison conditions on a college campus, collecting questionnaires from thousands of random people in the phonebook, or conducting interviews with their most intimate personal acquaintances.
In short, sociologists are an eclectic, eccentric, and energetic bunch and I hope this course will introduce and draw you into our ways of seeing the world, provide you with tools for understanding your own social position and the conditions in which you live, and fuel your passion and vision for a just, equal, peaceful and diverse society.
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