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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael J. Mulcahy
SOC 366
Seattle Campus

Sociology of Organizations

Introduction to the sociological study of organizations including what organizations are, where they come from, and how they relate to individuals, other organizations, and other institutions of society.

Class description

In modern societies, we are born into, live out our lives, and die in spaces and times shaped by powerful organizations. Organizations are a primary means of creating, harnessing, directing social power. This course will ask how organizations generate and channel power, to what ends, and with what consequences, intended and unintended. More specifically, we will survey classical and contemporary sociological research on organizations, to explore the range of organizational forms and functions, and ask how they shape, and are shaped by, social relations of their members, and social actors and social relations in their environments. The course introduces organizations not as a set of new topics, but rather as a specific sociological perspective - an organizational perspective - that is brought to bear on issues and questions of contemporary and enduring sociological and public interest. We will take up questions about power and dominance, resistance, rebellion and revolution, solidarity and competition, hot passions and cold contracts, and examine them under an organizational lens. This perspective gives us a specific sociological approach to issues ranging from prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib to the collapse of Enron, from sweatshops to The Bodyshop. We will explore organizational questions at the intersections of race, class, gender, education, political economy, deviance, culture and the family. International organizations and organizational aspects of globalization are areas of particular interest. Course requirements may include an analytic book review, several short (3-5 page) analytic writing assignments, and a mid-term and final exam.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Michael J. Mulcahy
Date: 02/02/2009