Graduate Courses

Please Note 

Sociology Graduate Courses

[SOCY 502a, Contemporary Sociological Theory: Durkheimian Sociology]

SOCY 503a/PLSC 522a, Historical and Archival Methods

Provides an overview of the how-to, and the payoff, of a historical approach to the study of politics. Covers a wide range of topics, from the classics of political science and sociology up to recent comparative historical work.

SOCY 507/EAST 501, Social Science Workshop on Contemporary China 

A weekly workshop to encourage dialogue across disciplines among faculty, visiting professionals, and graduate students doing research in contemporary China. At each session, one Yale faculty, visitor, or advanced graduate student speaks briefly in regard to current work in progress. In most weeks, a paper or memo is circulated in advance, and each session allows for extensive discussion. One unit of course credit is available to students who attend 80 percent of the sessions in both terms and submit a thirty-page paper by April 25. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. F 11:45–12:45

SOCY 508b/PLSC 505b, Qualitative Field Research

In this seminar we discuss and practice qualitative field research methods. The course covers the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing ethnographic data, with an emphasis on the core ethnographic techniques of participant observation and in-depth interviewing. All participants carry out a local research project. Permission of the instructor required for undergraduates.

SOCY 509aU/LAW 20642, Guns in the United States

This course explores the multifaceted role guns play in the United States by surveying historical, sociological, psychological, legal, and political research. From a firm foundation of the historical and constitutional origins of the Second Amendment, the course focuses on a range of topics around guns in America, including the prevalence and distribution of guns; attitudes and opinions about gun ownership, possession, and use; illegal and legal gun markets; gun crime and injuries; and the varieties of responses to gun injuries and crime, including, importantly, the legislative and political processes that attend their development.MW 9–10:15

[SOCY 510aU, Religious Nationalism]

SOCY 511bU, Social Interaction: Modeling the Emergence of Social Structure 

Approaches to developing explanatory theories aimed at addressing specific empirical questions in contemporary sociology. Rational choice, game theory, and social (or endogenous) interaction models. The use of agent-based models and other simulation techniques in building models of social phenomena. Testing of explanatory models against empirical data. W 3:30–5:20

[SOCY 512bU, Sociology of Islam]

This course critically examines social scientific studies of Islam while pursuing a deeper interrogation of whether such a thing as “Islam” can be meaningfully analyzed.  The course begins by introducing students to the sociology of religion and the field’s evolution since the founding generation (Marx, Weber, Durkheim), highlighting where mainstream sociological literature has addressed Islam as a religious system. We then question the category of Islam itself, taking different perspectives from Islamic studies, history, and the social sciences, and then paying particularly attention to debates about the definitions of Islam and religion in anthropology and religious studies, focusing on the work of Clifford Geertz and Talal Asad.  The second half of the course looks at the empirical sites of Clifford Geertz’s Islam Observed, studying varieties of Islam in Morocco and Indonesia.  We end the course with a comparison to the United States.

[SOCY 515aU, Urban Poverty and Policy] 

[SOCY 520b, Revolutions in a Comparative Perspective]

[SOCY 523b/WGSS 623b, Sociology of Sex and Gender]

SOCY 534bU, Cultural Sociology

Cultural sociology is a new and vibrant area in social science. Collective meanings make a profound difference in modern societies. They are symbolic, but also sensual, emotional, and moral. They inspire ritual, but also creative performance and strategy. Examining codes, narratives, icons, and metaphors, this course analyzes how cultural structures energize capitalism, direct politics, create institutions, inspire social movements, and motivate war and peace. TTH 4–5:15, 1 HTBA

SOCY 542a, Sociological Theory

The course seeks to give graduate students the conceptual tools for a constructive engagement with sociological theory and theorizing. We trace the genealogies of dominant theoretical approaches and explore the ways in which theorists contend with these approaches when confronting the central questions of both modernity and the discipline. W 2:30–4:20

SOCY 543bU/WGSS 629b, Demography, Gender, and Health

Comparative survey of research in demography. The interplay of population processes and socioeconomic development; trends in fertility, mortality, aging, and health in both richer and poorer nations; the relationship between women’s status and health and demographic outcomes. Readings from a variety of fields, including demography/sociology, economics, epidemiology, and public health. TH 9:25–11:15

[SOCY 547aU, Gender, Race, and Genetic Testing]

[SOCY 550a, A Secular Age?]

[SOCY 551b, Comparative and Historical Methods]

SOCY 552aU/LAW 20583, Punishment and Inequality

Massive increases in the American imprisonment rate since the mid-1970s that have rendered contact with the criminal justice system a common event for marginalized Americans. Effects of these increases on inequality in the labor market, family life, politics, and health. TH 9:25–11:15

SOCY 553aU, Empires and Imperialism

Empire as a territorial organization of political power. Comparison of empires in historical periods from antiquity to European overseas expansion in the fifteenth through twentieth centuries, and in different geographic contexts in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Economic, political, and cultural theories of imperialism, colonialism, and decolonization. M 3:30–5:20

[SOCY 555bU, Social Dimensions of Medicine and Health]

[SOCY 557b, Political Sociology]

[SOCY 558b, Topics in Social Stratification]

SOCY 559aU/AFST 582aU, Nationalism in North Africa and the Middle East

This course will examine the rise of nationalism in the “Mashriq” (or Arab East) and “Maghrib” (or Arab West) in light of current theories about nationalism.  In the first half of the course, the major typologies and debates in general discussions about nationalism (ethnic vs. civic, state-centric vs. popular, modernist vs. primordialist) will be introduced, as well as specific themes regarding the development of nationalism in the Middle East and North Africa including the influence of transnational (pan-Islamic and pan-Arab) ideologies, ethnicity, gender, and religion.  In the second half, we will comparatively analyze case studies of state-sponsored and state-seeking (often highly contested) nationalisms including Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, and Berber and Kurdish movements, and in light of the analytical frameworks introduced earlier.. W 3:30–5:20

SOCY 560a,b/PLSC 734a,b, Comparative Research Workshop 

This weekly workshop is dedicated to group discussion of work-in-progress by visiting scholars, Yale graduate students, and in-house faculty from Sociology and affiliated disciplines. Papers are distributed a week ahead of time and also posted on the Web site of the Center for Comparative Research ( Students who take the course for a letter grade are expected to present a paper-in-progress the term that they are enrolled for credit. T 11:50–1:20

[SOCY 561bU, Civil Society in China]

[SOCY 562a, Topics in Cultural Sociology]

SOCY 563bU/AFST 573bU, Imperialism, Insurgency, and State Building in the Middle East and North Africa

The historical evolution of political order from Morocco to Central Asia in the past two centuries. Focus on relationships among imperialism, insurgency, and state building. Ottoman, European, and nationalist strategies for state building; modes of local resistance; recent transnational developments; American counterinsurgency and nation-building initiatives in the region.TH 9:25–11:15

[SOCY 564a, Relationalism and Formalism in Contemporary Social Theory]

[SOCY 565, Advanced Seminar in Cultural Sociology]

[SOCY 566b, Philosophy of the Social Sciences]

[SOCY 570a, Social Theory: Trauma and Memory]

[SOCY 573b, Social Capital and Small Group Processes]

[SOCY 576aU, Civil Society and Democracy]

SOCY 578a, Logic of Empirical Social Research 

The seminar is an intensive introduction into the methodology of the social sciences. It covers such topics as concepts and indicators, propositions and theory, explanation and understanding, observation and measurement, methods of data collection, types of data, units of analysis and levels of variables, research design inference, description and causal modeling, verification and falsification. The course involves both the study of selected texts and the analysis and evaluation of recent research papers. T 9:25–11:25

SOCY 580aU, Introduction to Methods in Quantitative Sociology

Introduction to probability and descriptive statistics. In-depth coverage of the linear model and its assumptions. TH 1:30–3:20, 1 HTBA

SOCY 581b, Intermediate Methods in Quantitative Sociology 

The course provides the second part of a two-term introduction to statistical analysis for quantitative social science research. The course covers advanced topics in linear regression and provides an introductory overview of models for categorical and count data, the analysis of time data, and longitudinal data. We also discuss data-related issues such as missing data and weighting, and data that are complicated by issues of non-random design. TTH 2:30–3:45, 2 HTBA

SOCY 582a, Statistics III: Advanced Quantitative Analysis for Social Scientists  

Covers more advanced statistical topics following on from Statistics II. Topics include probability; matrix algebra; properties of estimators; maximum likelihood estimation; identification; causal models; estimation of measurement and structural models; hierarchical linear models. T 3:30–5:20

[SOCY 583b, Ethnography of the African American Community]

[SOCY 585a, Sociology of the Life Course]

[SOCY 589bU, Classical Social Theory: The Marx-Weber Debate]

SOCY 591bU, Sociology of the Arts and Popular Culture

An advanced introduction to sociological perspectives on the arts and popular culture. Emphasis on the conceptualization of culture within social theory, with the aim of interpreting cultural expressions and artifacts: artworks, music, television, film, and literature. T 9:25–11:15

SOCY 595a,b, Inequality and Life Course Workshop

In this workshop we present and discuss ongoing research work, primarily but not exclusively quantitative analyses. In addition, we address theoretical and methodological issues in the areas of the life course (education, training, labor markets, aging, as well as family demography), social inequality (class structures, stratification, and social mobility), and related topics. F 2–4

SOCY 596aU/EAST 596aU, Wealth and Poverty in Modern China 

The underlying causes and consequences of the changing distribution of income, material assets, and political power in contemporary China. Substantive focus on inequality and stratification. Instruction in the use of online Chinese resources relevant to research. Optional weekly Chinese language discussions. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. W 1:30–3:20

SOCY 597a,b, Special Topics in Sociology

Students enroll in Special Topics if they wish to retake a course for credit when there is a new instructor and a substantially different syllabus from the first time they took the course. Only with the permission of the DGS.

SOCY 598a, 599b, Independent Study

By arrangement with faculty. When students register for the course online, the dropdown menu should be completed.

SOCY 602b, Poverty and Social Welfare Policy in the United States

In this course, we examine the creation and effectiveness of anti-poverty policies in the contemporary United States. Topics include the origins of the modern social safety net, the formation of the “deserving poor” and the “culture of dependency,” and evaluations of the effectiveness of major federal anti-poverty programs. Applied understanding of quantitative social science research methods is helpful, but not required.

[SOCY 608a, Urban Sociology]

[SOCY 610bU/WGSS 745bU, Race, Gender, and the African American Experience]

[SOCY 612b, Agency and Action] 

SOCY 614b, Sociology of the Family and Kinship

This course examines the function of the contemporary family in the United States from multiple sociological perspectives. Topics include social demography, poor families, public policies and family, feminist critique of family, representations in pop culture, normative and “deviant” families. Applied understanding of quantitative social science research methods is helpful, but not required. A willingness to discuss issues from empirical and sociocultural points of view is required.

[SOCY 616a, Urban Ethnography] 

SOCY 620aU, Material Culture and the Iconic Consciousness

Exploration of how and why modern and postmodern societies have continued to sustain material symbolism and iconic consciousness. Theoretical approaches to debates about icons and symbols in philosophy, sociology, linguistics, psychoanalysis, and semiotics. Iconography in advertisements and branding, food and bodies, nature, fashion, celebrities, popular culture, art, architecture, and politics. TH 9:25–11:15

SOCY 625a, Analysis of Social Structure

Emphasizing analytically integrated viewpoints, the course develops a variety of major contemporary approaches to the study of social structure and social organization. Building in part on research viewpoints articulated by Kenneth J. Arrow in The Limits of Organization (1974), by János Kornai in an address at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences published in 1984, and by Harrison C. White in Identity and Control (2nd ed., 2008), four major species of social organization are identified as focal: (1) social networks, (2) competitive markets, (3) hierarchies/bureaucracy, and (4) collective choice. This lecture course uses mathematical and computational models—and comparisons of their scientific styles and contributions—as analytical vehicles in coordinated development of the four species. M 9:25–11:15

SOCY 628a,b, Workshop in Cultural Sociology

This workshop is designed to be a continuous part of the graduate curriculum. Meeting weekly throughout both the fall and spring terms, it constitutes an ongoing, informal seminar to explore areas of mutual interest among students and faculty, both visiting and permanent. The core concern of the workshop is social meaning and its forms and processes of institutionalization. Meaning is approached as both structure and performance, drawing not only on the burgeoning area of cultural sociology but on the humanities, philosophy, and other social sciences. Discussions range widely among methodological, theoretical, empirical, and normative issues. Sessions alternate between presentations by students of their own work and by visitors. Contents of the workshop vary from term to term, and from year to year. Enrollment is open to auditors who fully participate and for credit to students who submit written work.F 11–1

SOCY 630a/AFAM 773a, Workshop in Urban Ethnography

The ethnographic interpretation of urban life and culture. Conceptual and methodological issues are discussed. Ongoing projects of participants are presented in a workshop format, thus providing participants with critical feedback as well as the opportunity to learn from and contribute to ethnographic work in progress. Selected ethnographic works are read and assessed.M 11:30–1:20

[SOCY 631a, Sociology of Work]

SOCY 632b, Social Network Analysis 

Social Network Analysis (SNA) refers to both a theoretical perspective and a set of methodological techniques. As a theoretical perspective, SNA stresses the interdependence among social actors. This approach views the social world as patterns or regularities in relationships among interacting units and focuses on how such patterns affect the behavior of network units or actors. A “structure” emerges as a persistent pattern of interaction that can influence a multitude of behaviors, such as getting a job, income attainment, political decision making, social revolutions, organizational merges, global finance and trade markets, delinquent youth behaviors, the spread of infectious diseases, and so on. As a methodological approach, SNA refers to a catalog of techniques steeped in mathematical graph theory and now extending to statistical simulation and algebraic models. This course surveys the growing field of SNA, emphasizing the merger of theory and method, while gaining hands-on experience with network data and software. M 2:30–4:20

[SOCY 647b, Social Processes]

SOCY 653, Workshop in Advanced Sociological Writing and Research  

This full-year class concerns the process of advanced writing and research that converts draft material into work ready for publication, preferably in refereed journals, or submission as a substantial grant proposal. It investigates problem definition, the craft of writing, the structure of argument and data presentation, and the nature of persuasion more generally. The aim is to teach a professional orientation that allows work that is promising to become truly polished and compelling within the full range of sociological genres. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor; participants must enter the class with suitable draft material for group analysis and discussion. W 1:30–3:20

SOCY 656a, Professional Seminar

This required seminar aims at introducing incoming sociology graduate students to the department and the profession. Yale Sociology faculty members are invited to discuss their research. There are minimum requirements, such as writing a book review. No grades are given; students should take for Audit. Held biweekly. F 8:50–10:40

SOCY 660b/AFAM 825b, Social Science of the Black Community

This course surveys existing research and theories in the social sciences on a variety of topics pertaining to the notion of a “black community,” including family, politics, urban change, and migration. Texts include a mix of empirical and theoretical insights from the social sciences (i.e., history, economics, sociology, anthropology, and political science). T 3:30–5:20