Soci 101: MTWThF 8:00-8:50am in Room CC3452

North Seattle Community College, autumn 2013
Contact Information
Julie McNalley – Please call me Julie.
[email protected]
Soci 101: MTWThF 8:00-8:50am in Room CC3452
I will arrive a few minutes early to class every day; I am also available by appointment. Email is
the best way to reach me.
Course Description
This course is designed as a general introduction to the concepts, theories, and methods of
sociology. Sociologists study how social forces (such as the economy, the education system,
racial and ethnic relations, etc.) shape people's lives and experiences and how individuals, in
turn, affect and shape the societies in which they live. We will cover a variety of topics, among
them education, culture, social inequality, gender, social class, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation,
and global stratification. Our focus will be on conditions in the U.S., taking into account this
nation's cultural and economic diversity. This will involve comparisons of the experiences of
social groups within the U.S., particularly on the basis of race and ethnicity, social class, and
gender. To place U.S. conditions into a broader global context, we will also make comparisons to
other nations. I hope that this course will provide you with a greater understanding of the world
in which we live and of your own location within it.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, you should be able to
 explain the basic concepts and theories of sociology
 distinguish between the sociological and the individualistic perspective
 discuss the impact of a variety of social forces, and explain how your own life and the
lives of others are influenced by them
 explore the ways in which people influence social structures and processes
 question understandings of people and society based on personal experience, media
portrayals, or "common sense"
 find and evaluate information to critically analyze controversies about society
 identify ways in which race/ethnicity, social class, and gender affect your daily life and
are basic components of social institutions
 articulate the usefulness of taking a global perspective when analyzing social issues
 evaluate your own place in this society and in the world
Required: all articles are available through the NSCC library online or freely accessible online
How this course works
This course follows an active learning and peer instruction approach. That means you get to read,
think, talk and write on your own and with your classmates, rather than sitting and listening to
me lecture. If you’re not used to learning like this it may feel very different at first – you do the
learning up front rather than cramming for a test or exam. But it’s worth it - in today’s work
world for professional jobs you will be expected to know how to work in a team, have strong
interpersonal skills, and communicate well orally and in writing. Besides being more fun and
allowing you to learn more deeply, this approach to your course will help you hone those
excellent workplace skills.
The rule of thumb for college-level courses is to devote at least three hours per week for each
academic credit associated with the course. For a five-credit course, this means 15 hours per
week is the average amount of time that you should spend on readings, discussions, and other
class activities. In this course you will be expected to do a lot more work up front than you
normally do, and come to class prepared to think, talk, and write. But the bonus will be that you
will probably not have to take any notes, and your grade will be based on many types of
assessments that allow you to show what you have learned and what you can do with your new
knowledge. If you do the work and keep up, you’ll do well and enjoy the process.
Get your money’s worth: come to class. Attendance is a part of your grade – and you can’t
participate if you’re not here! Even on tests and assignments, there is a strong link between
showing up, participating and doing well.
Participation in Discussions
For a productive discussion, participants must:
Make explicit connections to the material to demonstrate that you have read, understood, and
thought deeply about these issues. Try to avoid being guided simply by your personal experience
or "common sense." You can use experiences or common sense to illustrate a point related to
sociology, but it should not be a substitute for social science data nor for critical thinking.
1. Respond to other students.
2. Use the sociological rather than an individualistic perspective.
3. Pose questions/observations that will initiate discussions related to the topic.
4. Be respectful and supportive of other participants in the discussion, yet intellectually
challenging (i.e., questioning, stimulating). It is fine to disagree with each other (I'm sure
we will do so at times), but we should clearly state the basis for that disagreement by
discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the position we are criticizing (not of the
Course Readings
The assigned readings typically vary between 25 and 60 pages per week. You cannot get a good
grade for the course if you do not do the readings. Even if we don’t specifically discuss each
reading in class, they are part of the preparation you need in order to participate fully. Readings
should be completed BEFORE the date indicated on the course schedule.
Assignments and Grading – THIS IS TENTATIVE!
1pt each day
50 points
Section quizzes
5pts each
Norm violation experience and write-up (4-5 pages)
Low income management exercise write-up (1-2 pages)
Total possible score
50 points
50 points
50 points
50 points
50 points
300 points
Final Grades
Seattle Community Colleges use numerical grading on a 4.0 scale. Your final grade will be
calculated as a proportion of the highest score in the class. I will calculate percentages of the
highest score and locate each student's score on a grid as a proportion of highest score. For
example, if the highest score in the class is a 285, then 95% of 285 is 271. All students with
scores between 271 and 284 will earn a 3.9. In contrast, 60% of 285 is 171. 171 will be the
lowest passing score for the class.
3.9-4.0= 97-100% = A
3.5-3.8 = 93- 96% = A3.2-3.4 = 89- 92% = B+
2.9-3.1 = 85- 88% = B
2.5-2.8 = 81- 84% = B2.2-2.4 = 77- 80% = C+
1.9-2.1 = 73-76% = C
1.5-1.8 = 69-72% = C1.2-1.4 = 65-68% = D+
1.0-1.1 = 61-64% = D
0.0 = <60% = E
Regarding Assigned Work
The two big assignments are due at the beginning of the class period of the due
Use normal margins, Times New Roman 12 pt or Arial 10 pt.
I will look at rough drafts and provide feedback. Just ask!
If you do not understand any element of any assignment, please ask me for
clarification before the assignment is due.
No late work will be accepted without prior approval. “Prior approval” means
letting me know ahead of time the circumstances that will cause your work to come
in late. It also means suggesting ahead of time an alternate schedule to complete the
work. However, please see the next item.
Beyond an enormous family or health emergency, there is no good reason for a
late assignment.
Asking for Assistance
Please feel free to ask me for assistance with assignments, readings, or other course materials at
any time during the quarter. Should you fall behind in your performance, contact me early on so
we can try to determine the problem(s) and make adjustments before it is too late. I check email
regularly and should be able to get back to you within 24 hours. I’d also be happy to meet you in
person. If you require an accommodation for a disability, contact the Disability Services office
by phone at (206) 934-3697, TTY at (206) 934-0079 modem, or email at [email protected]
I also encourage you to contact me if I can be of additional help and/or if you would like to
inform me of any disabilities, concerns, or accommodation-needs. You can also visit The Loft
Writing Center located on the top floor of the library building, (206) 934-0164.
Do Your OWN Work
Plagiarism: Plagiarism occurs when someone uses another person’s words or ideas without
giving appropriate credit. Plagiarism is grounds for denial of credit for the assignment. If you are
not sure, give credit. It is perfectly okay to use other people’s ideas to support your own
arguments in many cases – BUT YOU MUST GIVE CREDIT.
Ownership: The work that you turn in under your name is expected to be your original work,
written for this course and to the specification of the assignment. Although you are encouraged
to seek feedback on your writing from others, it must be demonstrably and essentially your own.
Save drafts, outlines, and other preliminary steps toward your finished work, just in case a
question of ownership arises.
College Records Reminder: It is in your best interest to keep ALL of your college work, the work
from this class included. At the very least, keep the syllabus and major course assignments. It is
not unheard of to be asked to show coursework when you transfer to a 4-year institution.
Quizzes, Paragraphs, the Midterm and the Final Exam
There are two assignments to complete and turn in.
a. Norm Violation Exercise – Can you bear to be different?
The object of this exercise is to practice seeing “normal” behaviors from a sociological
perspective and to write a paper describing and analyzing the experience.
TO DO: With a partner, experience observing and violating a norm.
TO TURN IN: A four-page paper describing and analyzing your norm-violation experience.
With a partner, choose a norm to violate. For example, the way people stand in elevators, the
distance two people maintain when they are talking or sitting, which utensils you use to eat
certain foods, etc. Make sure that you choose a true norm, not just a silly or absurd behavior
(there is a difference).
Here are the steps you should take to do the exercise:
1. Go together to observe the norm, but without disrupting the normal processes. Try to
identify the ways people behave when the norm is followed. This is your control group.
2. Choose who will be a violator and an observer. The observer pretends not to know the
violator and watches for the reactions of the other people, while the partner is violating
the norm. Watch carefully so you can compare reactions to the first observation.
3. Switch places and try it again. You may need to take some time to find three separate
opportunities to observe your norm in action.
4. Now, write a description of this experience. Both partners should write their own paper
about each role (you were both an observer and a violator). Your paper should be
about four pages and have two main sections.
a. Tell the story of the norm violation: set the scene and fill in all important details
(did the time of day matter, the weather?).
i. What were the reactions of the people around you?
ii. What can you tell us about the people that might make a difference in the
way they reacted (age, social class, race, sex) - think sociologically?
iii. What other factors might have played into the situation (general mood,
iv. Explain how you went about breaking the norm.
v. How were the reactions different each time?
vi. Did your age, social class, race, sex play into the reactions?
vii. How did you feel as both the observer and the violator?
b. Discuss the power of social norms as reflected in the personal difficulty you may
have experienced in purposefully violating one.
i. If you had little or no trouble, consider why some norms may be easy to
violate and others difficult.
ii. Does this difference depend on social sanctions?
iii. What made you select the norm you selected?
iv. What if you had selected a different norm?
Examples of norm violations:
1. Violating someone’s personal space by standing too near or sitting too near.
2. Facing other riders while standing in an elevator.
3. Dressing very formally for a casual event, or vice-versa.
4. Eating with inappropriate utensils.
NOTE: Do not select norm violations that will cause you to break laws or put yourself or others
in danger! If you are not sure, please run your ideas by me first.
b. Low Income Management Exercise – What does it take to survive?
The object of this exercise is to help you understand the effects of social class on opportunity in
our society. You may work individually or in pairs, but you must each turn in your own detailed
TO DO: Research the requirements to live for one month on a low income in our area.
a. A list of necessary items for a household
b. A detailed budget with complete information about how it will work (address,
transportation plan, nutritious meal plan for one week, where you will shop, etc); you
may include maps, hot links, etc to provide context for your choices and justify your
budget decisions
c. A conclusion that provides a reflection on what you discovered about living with a low
income and how well you personally would manage under these conditions
NOTE: This assignment may be in outline form, PowerPoint, Excel or Word – your choice. Only
the conclusion must be in paragraph form.
Generally speaking, many people think of the US as a more or less equal society, especially since
we have never had a titled aristocracy and, with the exception of our racial history, this nation
has never known a caste system that rigidly ranks categories of people. Quite often, in fact, we
often see ourselves as a middle class society. Despite this, inequalities do exist. Inequality,
however, does not necessarily mean that class is all that important. In fact, for many Americans,
class is not seen as very important because most people believe that regardless of social class,
everyone has about the same chance to get ahead in society. What really justifies the US
stratification system is the idea of “equality of opportunity.” But what exactly do “stratification”
and “equality of opportunity” look like in our society? What are the impacts of social inequality
on the lives of contemporary Americans? We cannot begin to answer these questions without
taking some initial steps. Let’s first take a look at the most basic collective within society: the
household. This unit can be made up of as few as one person and as many as ten.
1. Make a list of important household budget items that a family needs in order to survive.
Your list must include rent/mortgage, food, utilities, transportation, insurance, clothing,
education and savings. Other things you might want to include are childcare,
entertainment, pets, the list goes on. If you don’t know how much each of these items
costs per week or month, find out! You may ask your parents or friends if you need help
with this.
2. Do the research. For this exercise you are the head of household for a family of four. You
have an adult partner and two young children, ages 3 and 7 (preschool and 1st or 2nd
grade). You and your family have just moved to Seattle. You and your partner each have
full time minimum wage jobs ($9.04/hr in Washington – more than in most states), but
neither of you has a college degree. Using craigslist and other local resources put together
a budget based on your income and the list you made of the important household budget
items a family like yours would require. You may assume that you already have the
basics of furniture and clothing for your family.
3. Come to class prepared to share your budget and explain how you have worked out your
family’s needs in real-life examples (How much do you bring in each month? Where will
you live? Where will you shop? Will you have a car? How will you plan nutritious meals
on your food budget?).
4. Write it up. Create a detailed budget including complete information about how it will
work plus a conclusion reflecting on what you discovered and how well you would
survive. The conclusion must be at least one paragraph, but the rest may be in any format
(outline, Excel, PowerPoint, Word). Are you able to survive on this income? If you find
you could survive, is this sustainable? Can you get ahead? Can you move up to a higher
socioeconomic status? If so, how? If you find you couldn’t survive, what does that mean
for our society and our sense of American opportunity?