This course examines the law, legal profession, and legal institutions from a variety of traditional social-science perspectives. The primary frame of reference will be sociological and social psychological. The objective of the course is to expose students to a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives on law and to encourage the examination of law-related phenomena through the literature of multiple disciplines. Topics to be covered include law as a social institution; law as a social-control mechanism; a history of law in the United States; the U.S. criminal justice system; philosophies of law; law and psychology; comparative legal cultures; and law and social change. This survey course is intended to encourage and facilitate a critical study of law in society and serve as a foundation from which to pursue the study of law and legal issues in other curricular offerings. This course is required for the Law and Society Concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course examines moral issues we encounter in our private as well as public lives from a philosophical point of view. We discuss various ethical approaches such as Kantianism, utilitarianism, and value pluralism through analyzing issues such as abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, the moral status of nonhuman animals, the environment, climate change, war, world poverty, inequality, and the ecology of rural life. There is a strong emphasis on discussion, and we use diverse methods such as Brandeis Brief and moral heuristics. This course is suitable for first-year students. Offered every year.
In this course we will study the history of political philosophy (with a focus on the period from about 1600 to about 1850). The course will address the following questions: What is the origin of civil society and government? What role does consent play in establishing government? Are there any natural rights, or do rights depend on the conventions of civil society? Does the civil law depend on the natural law? What is the relation between the constraints of law and liberty? Are there economic preconditions for liberty? Our readings will be mostly from Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel and Marx. Offered every other year.
This mid-level course will examine the development of theories of ethics and social justice from the ancient Hebrew tradition of Torah and the prophets, New Testament writers Luke and Matthew, and medieval natural law, to modern discussions about social, political, and economic justice. We will explore how critical social theory has been applied within the political and economic context of modern industrial societies and how biblical and later religious teachings have been used as the basis for social ethics. Questions of justice, freedom, development, individualism, and alienation will be major themes in this study of capitalism, Christianity, and Marxism. Special emphasis will be on contemporary debates about the ethics of democratic capitalism from within conservative theology and philosophy and radical liberation theology. Readings will be from the Bible, Papal encyclicals, the American Catholic bishops' letter on economics and social justice, Friedman, Wallis, Farmer, Novak, Baum, Miranda, Fromm, Pirsig, Schumacher, and N. Wolf. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or 100-level religious studies course or permission of instructor. This course is the same as SOCY 243.
This mid-level course will examine the various theories of ethics and social justice from the ancient Hebrew tradition of Torah and the prophets, New Testament writers Luke and Matthew, and medieval natural law, to modern discussions about social, political and economic justice. We will explore how critical social theory has been applied within the political and economic context of modern industrial societies and how biblical and later religious teachings have been used as the basis for social ethics. Questions of justice, freedom, development, individualism and alienation will be major themes in this study of capitalism, Christianity and Marxism. Special emphasis will be on contemporary debates about the ethics of democratic capitalism from within both conservative theology and philosophy and radical liberation theology. Readings will be from the Bible, papal encyclicals, the American Catholic bishops' letter on economics and social justice, Friedman, Wallis, Farmer, Novak, Baum, Miranda, Fromm, Pirsig, Schumacher and N. Wolf. This course counts toward the "culture and identity" or "institutions and change" requirement for the major. This course is the same as RLST 380. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or 100-level religious studies course or permission of instructor.
This course, a mid-level seminar and directed research course, focuses upon the role and status of women within the U.S. criminal justice system. Students will examine the evolution of roles, responsibilities, and treatment of women who occupy various statuses within the system, including that of criminals, victims/survivors of crime, and criminal justice professionals. We will examine contemporary theories of women and crime, especially a growing body of literature in the field of feminist criminology. Using a wide range of texts, monographs, and articles to stimulate critical thinking and discussion about crime and gender, a primary overarching inquiry will be: Does one’s sex or gender affect one’s treatment within, access to, and response from the American criminal justice system? Through exposure to the legislative process, legal policymaking, and the tools of socio-legal research, students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and far-reaching impact that sex and gender have upon the social, political and economic conditions of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This course counts towards the law and society concentration. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite.
Currently, there is in American society much discussion surrounding issues of mental illness and how to deal with those identified as having a mental illness. These discussions are usually framed within psychological and medical discourses. This means that sociological paradigms are left out of most conversations about the causes of mental illness, treatment practices, and the means by which our society can improve the psychological well-being of its individual citizens and the population as a whole. The goal of this course, then, is to provide students with sociological insights into several issues surrounding mental illness, those identified as mentally ill, and the treatment of mental illness by the field of psychiatry. To that end, we will trace the history of the perception of, and treatment practices applied to, the psychologically “deviant;” we will investigate the medicalization (by psychiatry) of psychological deviance and the social construction of mental illness; and we will explore the various treatment practices of psychiatry in the post-war years and the subsequent anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, we will discuss many of the social determinants of mental illness, the disparity in the rates of mental illness across the population, and we will seek to understand the lived experience of those with mental illness and the social stigma that is attached to mental illness. This course, then, has been developed in order for students to be able to present a sociological contribution to current cultural debates surrounding mental illness and rationales for psychiatric treatment. This course counts toward the "institutions and change" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
Environmental sociology embodies a broad, thoughtful application of sociological insights to investigating the ways we shape and are shaped by our surroundings. This course explores through sociological lenses how western society and more specifically contemporary American society interacts with nature. It frames central questions with regard to differentiating between humans and nature and explaining how interactions between the two vary across space and time. In so doing, the course engages with current debates over conservation, sustainability, development and justice. This course counts toward the "institutions and change" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.
This seminar examines the meaning and significance of connection to place through an intensive investigation of Knox County. We will spend much of our time in the surrounding locale, exploring the landscape and interacting with individuals knowledgeable about community life. Complementing these field experiences, scholarship in the arts, humanities, and sciences will address how natural, economic, social, and cultural conditions inform rural character and personal identity. We will conclude our studies by creating a public project designed to share what we have learned. Taken together, these activities will illustrate the distinctive perspective and power of a liberal education. This course counts towards the "institutions and change" or "identity and culture" requirement for the major. It also counts as elective credit in American Studies and Environmental Studies. Prerequisite: open only to first-year and sophomore
What is the relationship between society and production, consumption and exchange? How might a sociological approach to the market reveal insights into its function, successes and failures? This course probes those questions by bringing to bear a sociological lens on economic behavior. We will explore the sociological foundations of value and exchange, the logic of social networks and social capital, and the institutional architecture of markets. To do so, we will draw from tools in sociological theory and comparative-historical analysis. Along the way, we'll investigate why some ethnic enclaves have seen economic success, the meaning of consumption for social class, and the causes of the 2007-2008 global economic crisis. This course counts toward the "institutions and change" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.