• Current Courses

  • Courses in the Department of Sociology explore how societies work, why societies change, and where societies will go next. These courses cover the theory behind societal transformation through rigorous research, critical thinking, and spirited debate.

  • Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2023 courses include: 

    Ethnographic Field Methods, GSOC 5006
    Terry Williams
    , Professor of Sociology

    This course will outline the conceptual questions and debates associated with ethnographic methods and address the technical, ethical, and representational issues that arise in practicing these methods. During the semester, students will choose and gain access to a field site, conduct observations, write field notes, and code and analyze these data in order to write a final paper. As students progress through each stage of their project, we will discuss theory and study design, as well as strategies for gaining access, addressing the researcher’s social position, taking effective field notes, accurately representing subjects’ words and actions, and writing compelling accounts. We will consider a range of ethnographic forms, including, among others, institutional, organizational, and historicized ethnographies, and we will read examples of these works; however, the emphasis of the course will be on students gaining experience in field work and data analysis.

    Logic of Inquiry, GSOC 5069
    Virag Molnar
    , Associate Professor of Sociology

    This course is an introduction to principles of social science research, research design, and specific methods commonly used in Sociology. It is required for first-year MA students in Sociology.

    Classical Sociological Theory, GSOC 5101
    Carlos Forment
    , Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Study

    This is a course in the foundations of modern social theory. It aims to help students master some of the most fundamental approaches to understanding society (including social structure, economics, politics, culture, and the interplay between them) that emerged during the ‘long’ 19th century as part of the effort to make sense of, and cope with, the emergence of modernity in the west—and that continue to shape scholarship and debates in sociology, politics, political economy, cultural inquiry, historiography, and everyday moral and political controversies. This will involve systematic, probing, and critical examination of five major theorists: Adam Smith, Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. In the process, we will explore contrasting approaches to issues including capitalism, socialism, bureaucracy, citizenship, sovereignty, domination, authority, freedom, community, individualism, democracy, revolution, the logic of history, the ethical dilemmas of social and political action, and the nature and dynamics of “modern society” itself. 

    Cycles of Democracy & Authoritarianism, GSOC 6202
    Andrew Arato
    , Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory

    Current Trends in Media Research, GSOC 6211
    Julia Sonnevend, Associate Professor of Sociology and Communications

    This course will cover some of the most pressing issues in media research in the early twenty-first century. Discussed topics include the role of Facebook in shaping international politics and culture, the power of algorithms, the digital transformation of journalism, the increasingly online presence of children, and the challenges journalists face in illiberal contexts. We will read literature from multiple disciplines including sociology, communication studies, political science and psychology, while also discussing case studies in depth. 

    Sociology of Max Weber, GSOC 6255
    Andrew Arato
    , Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory

    The course will attempt a comprehensive survey of the sociology of Weber with a primary focus on his comparative and historical political sociology. We will discuss his writings on method first, followed by a study of major themes of his magnum opus, Economy and Society. The bulk of our readings and discussions however will concentrate on the reconstruction of Weber’s large scale civilizational studies each concentrating on a world religion (Confucianism, Hinduism, Ancient Judaism, Protestantism and the fragments on Islam). In each case comparisons with other major authors will be made. We will analyze in detail major Weberian concepts such as domination, rationalization, secularization, and legitimation. Here, we will be interested in his debate with Marx, his dialogues with Toennies, and Simmel as well as his influence on thinkers such as Lukacs, W.E.B. Dubois, Marcuse, and Habermas Students will be encouraged to produce a sustained study and reconstruction of one major Weberian text, possibly drawing out in light of contemporary scholarship its deficiencies, potential contributions or both.

    Comparative Apartheids, GSOC 6262
    Sean Jacobs
    , Associate Professor of International Affairs

    The course explores applications of the term as an analytical and scholarly framework (its historical and legal origins), its application (its development as a system of colonialism, racism and segregation) and its undoing in, especially, South Africa, the United States and Israel-Palestine. The course will not only explore the parallels, but also the distinctions between them.

    Law, Race and Empire, GSOC 6265
    Jack Jin Gary Lee
    , Assistant Professor of Sociology

    The long shadow of colonialism and empire draws our attention to the need to re-think the foundational concepts and institutions of the contemporary world. Rather than viewing the post-WWII international order of independent, postcolonial nation-states with distinct legal systems as a given in inquiry, scholars have turned to question how modern empires and colonialism developed, identifying the consequences of these forms of domination for (post)colonial states and societies. This recent turn in sociological and legal-historical scholarship has recast foundational concepts like traditional/modern society, modernity, sovereignty, the rule of law, citizenship, etc. In these intellectual projects, scholars have also trodden new grounds, tracing historical connections and journeys that allow us to see our present (post)colonial world anew. This graduate seminar is designed to cultivate and develop understandings of the ways that the U.S., British, and other empires have shaped the forms and uses of modern constitutions, criminal punishment, race, religion, gender, sexuality, and, more broadly, the “social” and the state. Beginning with classic theoretical statements on empire and colonialism and rethinking paradigmatic events like the U.S. revolution, the course will proceed to unpack the processes and events that established the social contours and dynamics of the U.S., British, and other empires over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will pay attention to the significance of law and race in the political economy of empire and colonialism, and also seek to theorize their workings.

    Reading Ethnography, GSOC 6270
    Jessica Pisano
    , Associate Professor of Politics

    What is ethnography, and how is it different from other approaches to research? What is its relationship to other forms of analysis that transcend boundaries within and beyond the social sciences? What are the epistemological foundations of contemporary ethnography and the debates and histories that have been associated with this method? What does it mean to read historical ethnography, and how do readers negotiate and engage with authorial authority amid ethnographic works' emphasis on the accrual of deeply contextual knowledge? How can thinking with ethnography help illuminate and clarify ethical concerns that accompany all social research? Finally, how can scholars using other research methodologies use insights generated through ethnographic research in their work? Open to graduate students across disciplines and research methods, this seminar will address these and other questions.

    Cities and Human Mobility, GSOC 6272
    Achilles Kallergis
    , Assistant Professor and Director of the Project on Cities and Migration

    More than ever, cities represent the locus of human mobility. The majority of the world’s migrants and forcibly displaced live in urban areas. Migration continues to be a fundamental process to the development and growth of cities. The role of cities in shaping mobility and that of migrants in shaping cities has been increasingly recognized in policy, academic, and media circles. However, understanding this dialectic relationship requires us to look beyond disciplinary silos, challenge past assumptions, revisit theoretical concepts, and provide new evidence from cities the world over. The purpose of the course is to offer an interdisciplinary lens on the topic of cities, migration, and mobility. By closely examining city and migrant experiences across the world, students will focus on different forms aspects of migration, urban governance, contentious politics, and migrant city-making. Throughout the course, students will gain theoretical insights, and analytical skills to be applied in different urban and mobility contexts. The course will bring together scholars, practitioners, and activists from across disciplines to share insights, advance conceptual and empirical findings, and discuss actions that can provide a holistic view of human mobility in cities.

    Politics and Inequality in Advanced Market Countries, GSOC 6320
    David Plotke
    , Professor of Politics

    Why have inequalities become so politically contentious in the United States and other OECD countries? Economic inequality has long been present. In many countries, racial inequality has been durably important. Have these (and other) inequalities become sites of sharp political contention because they have not diminished or even grown? Are other factors at work? Why has economic inequality increased so much? Some accounts emphasize economic factors (the power of corporations, or returns to skills and education). Others center on social relations, such as changing family structures and immigration. Yet others claim that political institutions and policies play the crucial role. Competing accounts also address racial and ethnic inequality, in terms of economic dynamics, efforts to retain power by racial and ethnic majorities, and social and cultural hierarchies. We examine the sources and dynamics of inequalities. We also assess the sharp political and social conflicts about them. When is inequality unfair? When does it violate norms about justice, opportunity, and inclusion?  


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