Topic Name Description
Course Information Page Course Syllabus
Page Course Terms of Use
File Course Textbook
This course makes use of OpenStax College's Introduction to Sociology textbook. You may download the textbook as a PDF here. Each section of the course using this text will also provide a link to the book that you can read online.
1.1: Theoretical Perspectives URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 1: An Introduction to Sociology"

Read this chapter for an introduction to sociology.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Write down the definition of sociology. Also, focus on Mill's concept of the sociological imagination.
  • Take note of important sociological figures, such as Karl Marx and Auguste Comte, as well as the bold terms.
  • Take notes on the three major sociological theoretical perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.
  • Take note of the societal, as well as personal, benefits of studying sociology. How will studying sociology help you in your life?

URL SOPHIA: Paul Hannan's "Structural Functional Theory"

Watch this lecture, which covers the theoretical perspective known as structural functionalism.

URL SOPHIA: Paul Hannan's "Symbolic Interaction Theory"

Watch this lecture, which covers the theoretical perspective known as symbolic interaction.

URL SOPHIA: Paul Hannan's "Social Conflict Theory"

Watch this lecture, which covers the theoretical perspective known as conflict theory.

1.2: Sociological Research URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 2: Sociological Research"

Read this chapter for a review of sociological research.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Take note of the bold terms throughout the chapter.
  • Take some time to study Figure 1 and the accompanying text, which outline the scientific process of studying sociology.
  • Take note of the differences in scientific approaches to studying sociology, including surveys, field research, participant observation, ethnographies, case studies, experiments, and secondary data analysis.
  • Take note of the code of ethics and think about how these ethical standards are vital to conducting research about human subjects.

URL SOPHIA: Jonathan Davis' "What are Empirical Questions?"

Watch this lecture, which covers the scientific process of formulating and answering scientific questions.

Unit 1 Discussion and Assessment URL Unit 1 Discussion

After reviewing the unit materials and completing the assessments, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts and respond to other students' postings as well. If you haven't done so already, you will need to create a free account at the link above to participate in the discussions.

  1. Explain how each of the three major theoretical paradigms discussed in this section (structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory) might be used in looking at the issue of inequality and share some examples.
  2. Using the sociological imagination, how might one explain the personal trouble of experiencing an eating disorder?
  3. How can sociological theories be beneficial when studying various groups or institutions within a society? Provide some examples which support your claims.
  4. Why is it so vital to follow ethical standards and guidelines when conducting sociological research? Can you think of a time when ethical guidelines were violated during scientific research? Please share some examples.

2.1: Culture URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 3: Culture"

Read this chapter for a review of culture.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Write down the differences between culture and society.
  • Focus on the bold terms, paying close attention to the differences between ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. Then, write down some ideas as to why these two concepts would be central to studying societies.
  • Take note of the bold terms in this section, focusing on the different kinds of norms as well as the significance of symbols.
  • Take note of the different types of cultures as well as the effect of globalization on those cultures.
  • Read this section while making connections to the three theoretical perspectives you studied in subunit 1.1.

2.2: Society and Social Interaction URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 4: Society and Social Interaction"

Read this chapter for a review of society and social interaction.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Take note of the Maasai village in Tanzania. How does this village differ from a rural American town?
  • Take note of the different types of societies, making connections to the society in which you currently live.
  • Take notes on Durkheim's functionalist approach, Marx's conflict approach, and Weber's symbolic interactionist approach to studying societies.
  • Take note of the bold terms and how they contribute to your own construction of reality as well as how they affect larger social phenomena.

2.3: Socialization URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 5: Socialization"

Read this chapter for a review of socialization.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Take note of the definition of socialization. Can you think of factors (or people) that have influenced your socialized self?
  • Take note of the main differences between the psychological and sociological theories of development.
  • Focus on the nature vs. nurture section, taking note of the different skills that are innate and those that are learned. Pay close attention to the section about Chris Langan.
  • Take note of the various agents for socialization, including family, peers, institutions, schools, work, religion, government, and media.
  • Take note of resocialization and how it differs from socialization.

2.4: Groups and Organization URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 6: Groups and Organization"

Read this chapter for a review of groups and organizations.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Focus on the three major theoretical perspectives in relation to groups and organizations.
  • Take note of the bold terms outlining the different types of groups.
  • Take note of the bold terms, focusing on the sections titled "Dyads, Triads, and Large Groups" and "Group Leadership."
  • Take note of the bold terms and Table 1: Table of Formal Organizations. Also, pay close attention to the section "The McDonaldization of Society."

2.5: Deviance, Crime, and Social Control URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 7: Deviance, Crime, and Social Control"

Read this chapter for a review of deviance, crime, and social control.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Read this section for an introduction to deviance and social control. What do you think about the experiences of the two students discussed in the reading? Do you agree with the school's ruling about the dress code? Why or why not?
  • Take note of the definition of deviance and how social control is enforced through types of sanctions (Table 1). Can you think of times when you have been affected by sanctions?
  • Take note of the various theoretical perspectives typically used in sociology to describe or explain deviant behavior. Focusing on labeling theory and secondary deviance, can you think of a time in your life when a label assigned to you may have affected your behavior?
  • Take note of the various theoretical perspectives explaining deviance in society. Take note of the examples accompanying each theoretical model.

2.6: Media and Technology URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 8: Media and Technology"

Read this chapter for a review of media and technology.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Take note of how a functionalist might explain the social purposes of media and technology.
  • Focus on the bold terms throughout the reading. Have you ever experienced technological inequality? Can you think of ways to overcome technological inequality?
  • Take note of the different types of media and their social impacts. What are some types of media common in your life? How might these mediums affect your everyday interactions?
  • Take note of the differences between media globalization and technological globalization. After reading about the impact of cell phones in Sub-Saharan Africa, what are your initial thoughts on shared phone programs?
  • Take note of the various theoretical perspectives pertaining to media and technology. In addition, Take note of the new theoretical perspective introduced in this chapter: the feminist perspective. Lastly, focus on how the social construction of reality will be affected by mass media.

Unit 2 Discussion and Assessment URL Unit 2 Discussion

After reviewing the unit materials and completing the assessments, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts and respond to other students' postings as well. If you haven't done so already, you will need to create a free account at the link above to participate in the discussions.

  1. What is the difference between culture and society? Please provide some examples.
  2. Discuss the roles nature and nurture play in the formation of the individual.
  3. Discuss how each of the following influence the socialization process in children: family, peers, and media.
  4. Define and discuss resocialization.
  5. Define primary and secondary groups. Then, provide some examples of primary and secondary groups in your social experience.
  6. Explain technological inequality and issues related to unequal access to technology. Please provide some examples.
  7. Provide examples of acts that are deviant but NOT criminal; and criminal but NOT deviant.
3.1: Social Stratification in the United States URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 9: Social Stratification in the United States"

Read this chapter for a review of social stratification in the United States.

As you read each section, consider the following points:

  • Read the introduction to social stratification, paying attention to Robert and Joan's story. Make guesses or connections between the example provided and why you think this example might be an introduction to stratification.
  • Take notes on the bold terms as well as on the three systems of stratification. What stratification system is found in the U.S.? How might this affect one's life chances?
  • Take note of the different classes found in the United States and the types of mobility. Other than homes or luxury items, what are some things money can buy that are not readily available to people living in the lower class? How might being in the lower class affect one's chances at upward social mobility?
  • Read the two sections found in this chapter. In addition, you should spend a few minutes comparing the two photos in Figure 1, jotting down some thoughts on the photos and the accompanying text.
  • Take note of the three different theoretical approaches to studying social stratification. How do you think Marx would view the Davis-Moore thesis?

3.2: Global Inequality URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 10: Global Inequality"

Read this chapter for a review of global inequality.

As you read through each section, consider the following points:

  • Read about the UN member nations' goals to eradicate global inequality. While reading about these goals, be sure to consider "extreme poverty” in a global context as well as how we might be able to address the needs of the world's population.
  • Take note of the terms global inequality and global classification. Also take note of high-, middle-, and low-income nations as well as factors contributing to a nation's classification.
  • Focus on the differences between relative, absolute, and subjective poverty. Write down some ideas on the cyclical impact of the consequences of poverty.
  • Read about the differences between modernization and dependency theory pertaining to global stratification. On a separate piece of paper, create a compare/contrast list of each of the theories. Then, look at the list you've made and draw conclusions as to how each of these theories attempts to explain global stratification.

3.3: Race and Ethnicity URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 11: Race and Ethnicity"

Read this chapter for a review of race and ethnicity.

As you read through each section, consider the following points:

  • Can you identify areas in your life where race and ethnicity have an effect?
  • Take note of the differences between race and ethnicity. Explore the idea behind race being a social construction, rather than a biological identifier. Take note of the definitions of majority and minority groups.
  • Take note of the differences between stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and racism. Challenge yourself to think about some common stereotypes you might be familiar with.
  • Read about how the major theoretical perspectives view race and ethnicity. On a separate piece of paper, make a list of examples of culture of prejudice. For example, when you see an actor of (presumably) Middle Eastern descent in a film, how often are they either the hero or the villain? When you're watching television and commercials come on, what are some common themes you notice in the racial categories of the actors? How about images in high fashion magazines? Often times, when women of color appear in these ads, they are eroticized in some way, creating a visual of someone who is less than human.
  • Take note of the definitions of genocide, expulsion, segregation, pluralism, and assimilation. Also, pay attention to amalgamation and how it is somewhat similar to the classic melting pot theory.
  • Focus on the different experiences of various ethnic groups in the United States. Due to the current racial stratification in the U.S., how might race or ethnicity affect access to valuable resources like education or health care?

3.4: Gender, Sex, and Sexuality URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 12: Gender, Sex, and Sexuality"

Read this chapter for a review of gender, sex, and sexuality.

As you read through each section, consider the following points:

  • In the "Introduction to Sex and Gender," read about Harry's journey to becoming Hailey. Write a personal reaction to your thoughts on Hailey's parents allowing her to make this transition. Also, write a sociological reaction to Hailey's parents allowing her to make the transition. Remember: A sociological reaction will be one without bias or judgment.
  • Take thorough notes on the differences between sex and gender. Which one is ascribed? Which one is achieved? Also, take note of gender identity and what populations of people fall under the transgender umbrella.
  • Take note of how socialization plays a role in gender identity and gendered behaviors. Focus on the stratification of gender within the United States. In addition, explore the various theoretical perspectives on gender, taking note of feminist theory as it relates to gender-related issues.
  • Take note of varying attitudes associated with sex and sexuality. Define sexual inequality. What has been the greatest influence on sexual behavior in most societies? How have those influences recently shifted? Also, take note of Queer Theory as it pertains to sex and sexuality.

3.5: Aging and the Elderly URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 13: Aging and the Elderly"

Read this chapter for a review of aging and the elderly.

As you read through each section, consider the following points:

  • Focus on various social factors affecting the aging experience. What does age represent other than just a number? How might this affect life chances?
  • Take note of the phases of aging (young-old, middle-old, and old-old). Also, make sure you're able to explain the "graying" of the United States.
  • Read about and take note of the biological, social, and psychological changes associated with the aging process. Read about aging and sexuality, comparing this phase of sexuality with those discussed in the chapter on sex and gender. How does the social construction of sexuality change when considering age as a variable? Examine the attitudes associated with death and dying.
  • Read about the historic and current trends of poverty among elderly populations. Focus on ageist attitudes within individuals and institutions. Consider the question: How and why are the elderly so vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse?
  • Read about various theoretical perspectives on aging. Make a list comparing and contrasting the theoretical perspectives to demonstrate the differences between the viewpoints on aging.

Unit 3 Discussion and Assessment URL Unit 3 Discussion

After reviewing the unit materials and completing the assessments, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts and respond to other students' postings as well. If you haven't done so already, you will need to create a free account at the link above to participate in the discussions.

  1. Apply functionalist, conflict theory, and interactionist perspectives to social stratification. How are they different? Which one do YOU think is most beneficial when studying social stratification? Why?
  2. Explain the differences between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Provide examples for each.
  3. Due to the current racial stratification in the U.S., how might race or ethnicity affect access to valuable resources like education or health care?
  4. What is the difference between sex and gender? How, as sociologists, might we explain the social construction of gender?
  5. Discuss various attitudes associated with sex and sexuality. How have these attitudes changed over the past several decades? Have we reached a point of equality? Provide some examples to support your argument.
  6. Regarding the elderly population in America, what are some special concerns this population is facing?
  7. What are the differences between the biological, social, and psychological changes associated with the aging process?

4.1: Marriage and Family URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 14: Marriage and Family"

Read this chapter for a review of marriage and family.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Read about Christina and James as an introduction to the topic of marriage and family. When reading about Christina and James, consider their mothers' reactions to living together or getting married. How are their reactions different, and how might these attitudinal responses indicate social ideas about living together or being married?
  • Take note of society's current understanding of the family. Recognize changes in marriage and family patterns, paying close attention to cohabitation.
  • Read about variations in family structure, acknowledging and understanding the prevalence of single parents, cohabitation, same-sex couples, and unmarried individuals. Think critically about how the politicization of sexuality has affected the family structure as well as our social construction of the family.
  • Take note of the social and interpersonal impacts of divorce, focusing also on children of divorce and remarriage. Also take notes on the problems of violence and abuse in the family.

4.2: Religion URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 15: Religion"

Read this chapter for a review of religion.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Read the "Introduction to Religion" section, paying close attention to the sociological definition of religion.
  • Take note of the sociological view of religion and attempt to understand how each of the major sociological perspectives consider religion.
  • List the differences between various types of religious organizations. Take note of classifications of religion, such as animism, polytheism, monotheism, and atheism.
  • Take note of how religion can be used as an agent of social change. In addition, focus on trends in secularization and the significance of secularization on a fundamental social institution.

4.3: Education URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 16: Education"

Read this chapter for a review of education.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Take note of the expectations and norms taught in American schools outside of the mandated curriculum. Can you identify any norms you've been taught through your schooling and education? How do they affect your actions and world view?
  • Identify the differences in educational resources around the world. On a separate piece of paper, take note of the concept of universal access to education.
  • Take note of manifest and latent functions of education. Focus on how functionalism, conflict theory, feminism, and interactionism view issues of education.
  • Take note of historical and contemporary issues in education. How do sociologists typically view "No Child Left Behind,” and why?

4.4: Government and Politics URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 17: Government and Politics"

Read this chapter for a review of government and politics.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • After reading about Prince William and Kate, make a list of how their political power differs from that of the President of the United States.
  • Take note of the differences between power and authority. Identify and describe, on a separate piece of paper, the three types of authority.
  • Take note of the common forms of government, including monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, and democracy. Cite examples of each.
  • Take note of the significance of "one person, one vote” in determining American policy. How does voter participation affect politics in the United States? Explore the influence of race, gender, and class issues on the voting process.
  • Focus on how functionalists, conflict theorists, and interactionists view government and politics.

4.5: Work and the Economy URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 18: Work and the Economy"

Read this chapter for a review of work and the economy.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Take note of the bold terms found in this section. What kinds of goods and services do you rely on to function in life?
  • Take note of the types of economic systems and their historical development. Explore how functionalists, conflict theorists, and symbolic interactionists view the economy and work.
  • Focus on globalization and its manifestation in modern society. Take note of the pros and cons of globalization from an economic standpoint.
  • Take note of the current United States' workforce and the trend of polarization. Concentrate on how women and immigrants have impacted the modern American workforce. Lastly, focus on the basic elements of poverty in the U.S. today.

Unit 4 Discussion and Assessment URL Unit 4 Discussion

After reviewing the unit materials and completing the assessments, post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts and respond to other students' postings as well. If you haven't done so already, you will need to create a free account at the link above to participate in the discussions.

  1. Describe the differences between single parents, cohabitation, same-sex couples, and unmarried individuals. Who are some famous (or infamous) people that can be used as examples for each of these categories?
  2. What are some conclusions one can draw from the fact that there is a growing single population?
  3. Explain how Karl Marx and Émile Durkheim view religion. How are their views similar? How are they different?
  4. What are some manifest and latent functions of education? Provide examples.
  5. How would a conflict theorist evaluate education in American public schools? How might this affect factors contributing to the dropout rate for high school students?
  6. Define and differentiate between power, authority, and different types of authority. Provide examples.
  7. Describe the current United States' workforce and the trend of polarization. What are some examples in which we are seeing these trends occur?

5.1: Health and Medicine URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 19: Health and Medicine"

Read this chapter for a review of health and medicine.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Should parents be forced to immunize their children?
  • What might sociologists make of the fact that most of the families who chose not to vaccinate were of a higher socioeconomic group?
  • How does this story of vaccines in a high-income region compare to that in a low-income region, like sub-Saharan Africa, where populations are often eagerly seeking vaccines rather than refusing them?
  • Take note of the term medical sociology as well as the difference between the cultural meaning of illness, the social construction of illness, and the social construction of medical knowledge
  • Take notes of social epidemiology and various theories of social epidemiology used to understand global health issues. What are some of the differences between high-income and low-income nations?
  • Take note of the application of social epidemiology to health in the United States. Also focus on the disparities of health based on gender, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. Lastly, be able to define the terms stigma and medicalization.
  • Take note of the different types of health care in the United States. How do these health care systems compare with those of other countries?
  • Explore health care issues through conflict, interactionist, and functionalist perspectives.

5.2: Population, Urbanization, and the Environment URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 20: Population, Urbanization, and the Environment"

Read this chapter for a review of population, urbanization, and the environment.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • What are your initial reactions to 12-year-old Todd Domboski? What might your reaction be if this was your son or brother?
  • Focus on demographic measures such as fertility and mortality rates. Then, familiarize yourself with current population trends and patterns.
  • Take note of the process of urbanization in the United States. Also focus on the function of suburbs, exurbs, and concentric zones and urbanization from various sociological perspectives.
  • Take note of the bold terms in this section. On a separate piece of paper, be sure to make a list of challenges presented by pollution, garbage, e-waste, and toxic hazards. Also focus on real-world instances of environmental racism.

5.3: Social Movements and Change URL OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: "Chapter 21: Social Movements and Social Change"

Read this chapter for a review of social movements and change.

As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • The text asks: "What do Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the anti-globalization movement, and the Tea Party have in common?" Answer this question for yourself.
  • Take note of the different forms of collective behaviors. Also take note of the different types of crowds.
  • Take note of social movements on a state, national, and global level. Be able to distinguish between different types of social movements, and explore the theoretical perspectives on social movements, such as resource mobilization, framing, and new social movement theory.
  • Take note on how technology, social institutions, population, and the environment can bring about social change. Also note the importance of modernization in relation to social change.

Unit 5 Discussion and Assessment URL Unit 5 Discussion

After reviewing the unit materials and completing the assessments, post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts and respond to other students' postings as well. If you haven't done so already, you will need to create a free account at the link above to participate in the discussions.

  1. Compare and contrast the cultural meaning of illness, the social construction of illness, and the social construction of medical knowledge.
  2. What are some disparities of health based on gender, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity?
  3. What are some real-world examples of environmental racism? Provide examples to support your answer.
  4. Where do you think one would expect to find the greatest urban growth rate in the world?
  5. What are some effects of migration from rural areas to urban centers in the United States?
  6. Describe different forms of collective behavior. Provide some contemporary examples of these forms.
  7. Explain how technology, social institutions, population, and the environment can bring about social change. Provide some examples.

Course Feedback Survey URL Course Feedback Survey