Empirical Methods

This course is designed to introduce students to the principles of research design, data collection, and analysis. We will learn about qualitative and quantitative methods.

State & Society

Every aspect of our lives is shaped by the state. How do social theorists conceptualize the state? How did the modern state come to be? From where does it derive its legitimacy? In this course we search for the answers to these questions in the works of Marx, Weber, Tocqueville, Foucault, Bourdieu, James Scott,  feminist scholarship, as well as libertarian and anarchist scholarship. We talk about how the involvement of the state in social and economic life has varied cross-nationally, and seek to understand in what ways the American statecraft is considered “exceptional.” We learn about welfare states, penal states, racial states, straight states, submerged states, authoritarian states, strong and and weak states.

Economy & Politics

What is capitalism? How has capitalism evolved? What are its moral foundations? What are the arguments in favor and against capitalism? What types of capitalisms exist across the world? What is racial capitalism? Is an egalitarian capitalism possible? What are the unique aspects of American capitalism? How did the rise of finance in the last few decades affect state-economy relationship in the US?

Law, Justice, and Democracy in the US

In this research seminar, we explore law through a sociological lens. We talk about what it means to think of law as a social construct. We explore how these questions have been answered by social theorists like Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Foucault, and by legal scholars writing in the tradition of legal formalism, legal realism, and critical legal studies (critical race theory, feminist and queer legal theory). We discuss the relationship between law and justice. We talk about the place of law and courts in the American system of government.

Politics: Fundamental Concepts

This First Year Seminar introduces students to the concepts that remain central to political life: capitalism, class, race, gender, state, citizenship, power, civil society, democracy, anarchy, populism, and fascism, to name a few.