Sarah L Quinn
Selected topics of contemporary interest taught by a sociologist active in the field. Topics vary and may be substantive, theoretical, or methodological.
This course will review some core components of economic sociology through the analysis of particularly risky, unusual, taboo, and intimate market exchanges. This will include the study of exchanges in blood and organs, eggs and sperm, prostitution, gangs, child labor, and Wall Street.
For the first part of the course we will focus on debates about morality in markets, and investigate how inequality, cultural categories, and relational ties structure what people are willing to buy and sell. In the second part of the course we will focus on markets as more-or-less stable social worlds, and investigate how people use laws, social structures, and their own emotions to manage economic uncertainty and instability. In the final stretch of the course we will consider lessons for markets that are typically taken-for-granted.
This is a designated writing class, so throughout the quarter we will also focus on the development of critical reading and writing skills.
Student learning goals
Define and explain the sociological significance of the following terms: Culture, morality, altruism and interest, gender, race, relational ties, instability and risk, power, the state, emotions, habitus, institutions.
Develop an original analysis of a market by applying relevant sociological concepts.
Summarize, analyze, synthesize, question and discuss complex texts.
Produce clear, well-organized, and well-supported written arguments and presentations.
General method of instruction
This will be run as a seminar, with a limited amount of lecturing and an emphasis on group work and discussion.
Class assignments and grading
Two papers, a group presentation, class participation, and quizzes.