Selected topics of contemporary interest taught by a sociologist active in the field. Topics vary and may be substantive, theoretical, or methodological.
This course provides an introduction to the classical and current debates in Economic Sociology. It engages the student in a broad discussion about social action and interests as well as value and values?. In examining how actors make decisions and attribute value to social items and activities, it will be necessary to explore various orders of worth and systems of social valuing? in a multitude of social interactions.
Scholars in the field of economic sociology aim to clarify how the economy informs social life and, reciprocally, how social life informs the economy. Fitting with this agenda, we will address how social structures, institutions and culture influence the occurrence of economic activities. I hope the student will become more familiar with the social trappings of economic behavior after surveying sociological theories of economic social action, money and consumption, and firms in markets.
Student learning goals
To be able to discern the limits of purely economic approaches to the study of markets, and understand that the stability of markets and exchanges depend strongly on both economic and non-economic factors.
To grasp the concepts and methods necessary to interpret the subtleties of economic action as occurrences that are embedded in webs of social relations
To understand the crucial connection between social structures and economic behavior
To explore the major theoretical camps that fuel debates in the field: institutional, network, power, and cultural/cognitive approaches... This will also help the student understand how sociologists and economists complement each other's work in their study of the economy
General method of instruction
The course will be run primarily as a lecture. We will also have discussions and in-class exercises as a way of reinforcing the ideas presented in lecture. Students are encouraged (but not obligated) to bring hot topics, current news stories and headlines to class as a part of the discussions and relate them to the theories we will explore.
No prerequisites. Students from all disciplines are welcome!
Class assignments and grading
A midterm exam, a final exam,1-page reaction papers and a major paper.
• Reaction papers: 20% • Midterm exam: 20% • Final exam: 20% • Major paper: 30% • Class participation: 10%