The Department of Sociology and Criminology offers a major in Sociology, a major in Sociology with Criminology concentration, and a minor in Sociology. The field of Sociology ranges from the analysis of individual social behaviors such as family relationships, intergroup relationships, or shopping and consumption patterns—to the study of global social processes—like mass media, colonialization, war, or immigration patterns. The subfield of Criminology examines criminal behavior, the impact of crime, and the criminal justice system.
Sociologists are interested in people’s behaviors as social beings. Sociology provides students with a solid background for understanding human behavior, particularly as it is shaped by social factors such as socioeconomic class, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual identity and/or age or institutions like the family, the education system, or the health care system. Those enrolled in the Criminology concentration will apply the sociological perspective to the phenomenon of crime and the criminal justice system to gain an understanding of the impact of crime and the institution of criminal justice on individuals, the family, the community and larger society.
The Sociology curriculum prepares students for careers in which knowledge about social behavior is essential such as business, human services, non-profit organizations, education, or law. The Criminology concentration will prepare students for careers in the criminal justice system, criminal law, and related areas. Additionally, students interested in continuing their education in a graduate program in Sociology, Criminology, or a professional program are prepared for post-baccalaureate study.
Saint Mary’s has a long history of providing quality international programs as an essential part of our educational mission—forming women leaders who will make a difference in the world. As this world becomes increasingly interdependent, the College offers an expanding range of semester, year, semester break, and summer study and service programs in a wide variety of countries, and encourages students to take advantage of them. Learn more about the various Study Abroad opportunities.
The Sociology Department in conjunction with the Education Department offers courses leading to state licensing for History/Social Studies.
Mary Ann Kanieski
260 Spes Unica Hall
S. Alexander, K. Faust, M. Kanieski, L. Wang
A general survey of the basic concepts and processes necessary for an understanding of society, culture, groups, institutions, and social behavior. The applications of the discipline are emphasized to encourage the student to appreciate the utility of the sociological approach.
This course focuses on some of the phenomena which have been identified as social problems in the United States. Among the issues discussed are poverty, gender and racial stratification, hyper-consumerism, changing family structures, inequality in the educational system, health care issues, the work environment, drug abuse, and crime. Particular attention will be given to the role of the social structure in the creation and perpetuation of social problems, and how social problems are interrelated.
This course will provide an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) studies. The course will investigate the academic foundations of LGBTQ studies and the emergence and transformation of LGBTQ identities, cultural practices, political movements, and the ways in which gender, race, ethnicity, and class have shaped same-sex sexuality in different historical periods, with an emphasis on the United States. (Cross-listed with GWS 220)
This course is an introduction to various forms of masculinity, how masculinities are constructed and performed by individuals, and how individual performativities create larger social and cultural understandings of masculinity in specific historical, social, and cultural settings.
The course examines the life experiences and perspectives of various racial and ethnic subcultures in the U.S. Both structural and cultural barriers that lead to unequal access and opportunities for racial and ethnic groups of color will be explored. Race relations as socially constructed by both historical and current cultural and political forces will be analyzed and critiqued. Topics ranging from affirmative active to immigration and assimilation to "white privilege" are an integral part of the course.
This course will examine family life through the lens of the sociological perspective. Students will study topics such as family roles, mate selection, marriage, and divorce. Contemporary issues facing families such as balancing work and family, parenting, aging, and abuse will be explored. Additionally, students will examine how families are shaped by economics, politics, and culture. Finally, students will consider how families reflect inequalities of gender, sexuality, race, and class.
As an introduction to the topic of criminology, this course examines crime as a social problem within American society. Particular attention is given to the nature and function of law in society, theoretical perspectives on crime, victimology, sources of crime data, the social meaning of criminological data, and the various societal responses to crime. These topics are addressed through specialized readings, discussion, and analysis.
This course covers readings by both classic and contemporary sociologists and other social critics who have analyzed consumer society. The goal is to deepen the students’ critical analyses of the reasons for and impacts of consumerism on a personal, societal, cultural, and global level. Additionally, students will learn about the strategies to resist consumerism and how social activists are working to reconceptualize the ways in which Americans shop, produce and buy food, use energy and transportation, and view mass media. Prerequisites: SOC 153, and a 200 level SOC course.
This course focuses on various theoretical perspectives offered by classical and contemporary social theorists. Covering the period from classical European social thought of the late 1800s to contemporary theory, students will acquire a fundamental understanding of social theory. By focusing on how differences in socioeconomic background, race, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality, shape the types of theories one develops about society, students will have a greater appreciation of the diversity of social theory in conceptualizing society(ies) and culture(s). Prerequisites: SOC 153 and a 200 level SOC course.
The social processes of education and schooling as an agent of socialization will be examined and critiqued. Both the structural and cultural barriers that lead to unequal access and opportunities for various subcultures in schools will be explored and analyzed. Additionally, the course will focus on the social forces and cultural context of higher education, and colleges and universities as social institutions. Pre-requisites: SOC 153 or 200 level SOC course.
The goal of this course is to explore the intersection of gender and the construction, application, and outcomes of laws and policies (both civil and criminal) in our society, including a historical and prospective application of the sociological perspective on gendered legal systems. Prerequisites: SOC 153 and either a 200 level SOC course or GWS 207.
This course provides an examination of the changing definitions of deviance and then applies those definitions to children and adolescents. Different models of dealing with juvenile delinquency are also examined in the context of differing definition and culturally variant power distributions. Prerequisites: SOC 153, and a 200 level SOC course.
Poverty is a significant social problem in our world today. Students will be introduced to the leading debates within the sociology of poverty. In this course, we will consider the measurement of poverty, competing explanations for poverty, and possible solutions to poverty. Prerequisites: SOC 153 or SW 202.
This course explores the sociology of childhood with an emphasis on globalization. The social construction of children and childhood will be examined. Topics considered include the globalization of childhood, historical constructions of childhood, sociological approaches to childhood, class, race and gender diversity, and contemporary issues such as child poverty, child labor, and children’s rights. Prerequisites: a 100 or 200 level Sociology course or Permission of the Instructor.
This course will identify and investigate the following topics: general principles of stratification, theoretical explanations by which inequality emerges and is maintained, the relationship between class and other forms of inequality in the United States especially gender, race, and social hierarchy changes over time. Particular attention is given to the role of women in various socioeconomic locations. Prerequisites: SOC 153 and either a 200 level SOC course or GWS 207.
Students will learn to create a dataset, work with secondary data, and use a computerized statistical package such as SPSS to analyze data. Pre- or corequisite: SOC 372.
Statistics deals with the quantitative methods used for measurement and description of social variables, building up to the analysis of associations between variables. The place of statistics in research and theory testing is emphasized. Prerequisite: Completion of Sophia LO1: Mathematical Arts or permission of the instructor.
Police, Courts, and Corrections are the three major components of the criminal legal system. This course will focus on the criminal justice process and how the various components of criminal justice interact with one another, and specifically examine their inter-dependent relationship. We will look at historic and current institutional practices, policies, and legal issues as they pertain to policing, courts, and corrections. As a sociology course, special attention will be paid to relationships between race, gender, class, age, gender identity, ability (and more) within the criminal justice system and the unique challenges that present when these social categories interact. Prerequisites: SOC 153 or a 200 level SOC
This course takes a topical-approach to the comparison of the United States criminal justice system and a number of selected criminal justice systems from around the world. Questions regarding the underlying approach to justice in various countries are considered. Special attention is paid to crime as both a social and individual phenomenon and to both the social and legal reactions to crime in selected parts of the world. Prerequisite: SOC 273.
This course examines contemporary theories about popular culture. Particular attention is given to the symbiotic relationship between popular culture and political economy, and to the impact of American popular culture on both American society and on the emerging global culture. Prerequisites: SOC 153, and a 200 level SOC course.
The course is designed as an analysis of the process of social research, in terms of problem definition, research design, data sources, and methods of data analysis. Specifically, students are exposed to several types of research methods: survey, content analysis, field research, and historical comparative research. In addition, students will be developing their own research projects. Pre or corequisites: SOC 372 and 12 hours in SOC, or permission of the instructor.
A seminar focusing upon a topic of special interest in Sociology/Criminology not covered in the regular department offerings. May be repeated with different topic. Prerequisite: SOC 153 or another 200 level SOC course or permission of the instructor.
The research tutorial program is designed to permit students to learn various aspects of research by working with a faculty member on his/her current research. Projects will entail exposure to a variety of research forms and procedures. All participants must have a 3.0 average, a minimum of 12 hours completed in the department, and must have been selected by a faculty member. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of six credit hours, only three of which apply to the hours required for a major in the department. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: 12 hours in SOC, junior or senior status and permission of both the instructor and the department chair.
As the capstone course for Sociology majors, this seminar requires students to build upon previous work in sociology, especially its central themes, theoretical perspectives, research methods, and substantive findings by conducting an original project to fulfill the requirement for the senior comprehensive. The project can be an original research study, or a theoretical analysis. A major paper is completed and presentation/defense of the work occurs at the end of the term. Prerequisites: 12 hours in SOC, junior or senior status and permission of both the instructor and the department chair.
Independent readings and seminar discussions in selected areas of interest. Readings are generally intended as a supplement or complement to regular course offerings. This course is not intended as a substitute for an existing course. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of six credit hours. Only six credits of independent study (including 297) may be earned in the department. Prerequisite: 12 hours in SOC, junior or senior status, and permission of the instructor and the department chair.
A service learning experience in an approved sociological setting under professional supervision. Graded S/U. Prerequisite: 12 hours in SOC. May be repeated.