Sociology Courses

Fall 2015

Sociology 955 Ethnomethodology, Conversational Analysis, and Ethnography Seminar | Douglas Maynard | Mon. 4pm-7pm

Each student in the class will have his or her own recorded interactions to subject to analysis. I know that most of you already do. A few of you might want to collect some, or collect some more recorded interactions in whatever setting you are already investigating. We will devote a considerable part of each meeting to working jointly on the data that (probably) two people would bring. Each person would have about 45 minutes to an hour for this. If there were fewer than 12 or so enrolled, it could be that just one person would bring data to the week’s meeting. The work we will do will be something like the informal CA data sessions that many of you have attended—listening or viewing the recordings, using a transcript, writing down our observations, then going around the table with each person having a couple of minutes to share observations. After the round robin, it’s free-for-all analysis time—meaning there can be back and forth commentary/analysis/theorizing, done in a still supportive way.

In either case (whether one or two people bring data), the other portion of the week’s session would be on some didactic topic and associated reading, as that topic is driven by what comes up from the collectivity (i.e., you students!) as well as those issues that I think need addressing. (My plan is to begin things with a review of basic issues in CA and with some data that I will bring to analyze that would highlight such basic issues as turn-taking, preference structure, social actions as constituted through utterances, etc.). At the end of the semester, you will hand in a paper that analyzes your data according to things having been learned during the course. I would assume that such a paper would further the work you are doing on a master’s paper or PhD thesis but that is not a requirement. (By the way, for any of you who are ABD, you can enroll in a seminar for your 3 required credits, if your adviser gives permission.)

Last but not least, given the timing (Mondays 4-7), we will have dinner!

Spring 2015

Soc 731 Intermediate Social Psychology: Social Interaction | Alice Goffman | Mon. 4pm-7pm

This course is an introduction to social interaction. Over fifteen weeks we’ll read and discuss some of the core insights that students of social interaction have developed over the past century, including work on rituals, the sacred and the profane, time, perception, emotions, violence, occupations, institutions, conversations, race in everyday life, and public spaces. We’ll talk about situations and their individuals, sequences, and the body. We’ll talk about the relationship between micro-sociological processes and larger social phenomena like migration and stratification. In the last week we’ll discuss some new frontiers, like how technology is changing interaction, memory, and the self. The purpose of these readings is not merely to master what other people have written, but to develop a sensibility about social interaction that will enable you to embark on your own studies. The written assignments are: (1) a one-page memo describing a topic in microsociology that you’re interested in researching;(2) a file containing the materials you’ve gathered to investigate the topic, (3) a memo of at least fifteen pages that represents a first attempt to write-up your ideas.

Soc 915: The Sociology of Erving Goffman | Mustafa Emirbayer | Fri. 1:30-4:30pm | Syllabus

This course covers the sociology of Erving Goffman.

This Semester: Fall 2014

Soc 730 Intermediate Social Psychology: The Individual and SocietyDouglas Maynard | Wed. 9am-11:30am

Major social psychological theories and research that focus on the individual in social context. Topics include: perspectives on socialization, the self, social perception and attribution, attitudes, language and nonverbal communication, and attraction and relationships.

Soc 915 Ethnography and Theory, Ethnography as Theory | Mustafa Emirbayer | Thu. 9am-12pm | Syllabus

Last offered: Spring 2012.

Soc 955 Ethnography | Alice Goffman | Mon. 4pm-7pm (with dinner) | Syllabus

This is a nuts and bolts course taught in the fall where students learn to do ethnography by conducting a small fieldwork project for the semester. Students pick a field site before class begins. The field site can be any public or private place in which one can observe social life as it is lived: a moving bus, a restaurant kitchen, an ER waiting room, a convenience store, or even someone’s apartment. In deference to sociology’s long tradition of wrestling with the modern moment, students may also choose a field site in an online community.

Each week we’ll focus on one thing that great ethnography does. Some of the topics include: Describing the Scene, Eavesdropping, Us vs. Them, Depicting Variation, Cool Counting, The Micro/Macro Link, Reflexivity, and Naming Stuff. Students will be assigned roughly one book a week, and also come to class with one to two pages of polished field notes on the week’s topic. In the first half of each class we’ll discuss the reading, and in the second half students will go around the room reading their own field notes aloud, so that each student receives feedback from me and from other students every week. In the final 30 minutes, we’ll discuss problems or questions that are coming up in the field. A final paper based on the weekly memos will be due after the class ends.

This course is good for anybody who wants to do ethnography but also good for anybody who wants to understand how to think about and evaluate ethnographic work. Folks with no background in ethnography will do just fine.

Past Semesters

Soc 901 Grounded Theory Method | Joan Fujimura


Soc 915 The Chicago School of Sociology | Mustafa EmirbayerSyllabus

Last offered: Spring 2011. 

Soc 955 Ethnographic Writing | Alice Goffman | Mon. 4pm-7pm (with dinner) | Syllabus

Last offered: Spring 2014. This is a spring writing workshop where students come in with an ethnographic draft and we edit it together throughout the semester. Weekly topics include: Making the Paragraph The Unit of Composition, Quotations, How to Write a Lot, Writing People, Titles and Subtitles, Introductions, Conclusions, Significance, and Submitting Your Article for Review. We’ll read some of Becker’s Writing for Social Scientists and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. We’ll also read some of our favorite ethnographic articles and chapters and dissect what they’re doing in detail. Mostly we workshop student drafts, in small groups and all together. Students come out of the class with a stronger draft and with a stronger sense of their own writing style and goals.

See a full list of course syllabi here