American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Courses


Descriptions of core sociology courses  



SOC 108 and SOC 109: Introduction to Sociology I/II

Sociological knowledge helps students to reflect on social problems from different theoretical approaches. The course offers answers to the following questions: How do social structures and social objects inter-relate? What is the “social” and how does it relate to public attitudes and relations, social institutions, social behavior, and collective social actions? What are the spatial and time borders of the “social”? How does the past influence the present, and how does the present predetermine the future human activity? Is the comparative analysis of social processes in different cultures and societies possible? Students learn to think critically and creatively about social issues and problems.



SOC 210.1: Classical Social Theory

This course explores the continuing relevance of  the classical  sociologists by examining how we  can use their insights to understand the social  conditions that characterize our own era, such as globalization, post-modernity, consumerism, the  information revolution and resurgence of religion in public life. The main objective of the class is not to teach factual knowledge (though this is important too). Rather, it is to teach the sociological mode of reasoning, and to train students to apply such reasoning to their own life experience. The course focuses on learning how to identify the premises and assumptions of arguments. Students compare different frameworks for understanding the world and examine their relative strengths and weaknesses. Students learn how to extract sociological principles  and apply them to new situations.


SOC 211.1: Contemporary Social Theory

This course introduces students to some of the main theories and debates in 20th-century Anglo-American and European sociological thought. It devotes special attention to modern sociologists who have sought to expand the role of critical reason in describing, understanding and changing society. It sketches an overview of the literature on contemporary sociological theory, including functionalism, structuralism and interactionism. But the bulk of the course is dedicated to exploring critical and postmodern traditions in contemporary sociological theory. These include critical theory, neo-Marxism, post-structuralism, feminist sociological theory, post- colonialism, and postmodernism.



SOC 221.1: Qualitative Research Methods

A qualitative research strategy is a multi-method approach to the study of social interactions in natural settings. It involves the collection and analysis of empirical information from multiple sources such as semi-structured and unstructured interviews, informal and formal observations, documents, and visual records.  In this course, students will develop the skills needed to distinguish between qualitative and quantitative methodologies, as well as explain the relative value and utility of each, to determine the conditions and questions for which a qualitative study is most appropriate, to design and conduct a qualitative study, to develop ability to interpret research findings, and to coherently describe conclusions in written and oral forms.


SOC 222.1: Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative research involves the use of structured questions where the response options have been predetermined and a large number of respondents is involved.  By definition, measurement must be objective, quantitative and statistically valid. Simply put, it’s about numbers and objective hard data. This course covers all major components of quantitative research including construction of the instrument, administration of the process, and analysis of results. In addition, it explores the quantitative analysis of qualitative research techniques.



SOC 324.1: Applied Social Statistics and SPSS

This course covers the basic principles of statistics necessary to conduct social science research. These include basic descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics are used to summarize data, and present quantitative descriptions in a manageable form. Inferential statistics are used to estimate generalizability of findings based on a sample observation of a larger population. The special emphasis of the course will be on the use of the SPSS statistical software.




SOC 290.1: Internship for Sophomores

As one Chinese proverb says, “What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do, I understand.” Experienced researchers know that much of their learning happens when they do it in practice.  Students are expected to work on a research project taking part in any one stage of research supervised by two advisers within two weeks of time. The goal of the internship is to understand the research questions put forward by the researchers, which requires knowledge of research goals and objectives, rationale/justification, research questions, and hypotheses/ assumptions of the study.  Students review literature gathered by the research team or individually, describing in detail the experienced stage, prepare the written report, and present it in front of faculty.


SOC 390.1: Internship for Juniors

This practical course aims to immerse students in almost all stages of sociological research: design, literature review, data collection, data analysis, reporting and presentation.  Students are expected to spend four weeks with a research team during the design, data gathering and data analysis stages and devote additional time afterwards for writing up of the results.



SOC 480.1 and SOC 483.1: Senior Thesis Seminar I, II

This course over two semesters explores issues involved in undertaking a senior thesis. In the first semester, the course discusses how to design a suitable research project, undertake thorough data collection, competently analyze the data, and write a defensible thesis. In the second semester, students present a series of work in progress reports, building towards a mock defense. Each presentation is followed by critical questions and constructive comments from other students, the instructor, and the thesis adviser’s comments. Each student will give at least four progress presentations and a mock defense.



SOC 284: Social Stratification and Inequality

Dynamism of public life, economic reforms in the various countries, transition to the market makes changes that are expressed in the division of the population into various social, social-demographic and professional groups. Economic relations of production define not only the types, but also dynamics of the social structures in each society. The course also examines issues of inequality, élites, and social mobility that have a profound impact on modern society. Social divisions in society shape how people live, affecting their economic and social opportunities, their mental health and life expectancy, and much more.


SOC 381.1: Sociology of Deviance

From a sociological perspective, this course explores deviance by trying to explain causes of deviant behavior, the types of it and consequences for society.  Understanding the nature of deviant behavior and why people become deviant, and which social groups can define the sane and insane are the main questions that are raised during classes. The course is divided into two parts. The first is devoted to a theoretical overview of the nature and meaning of deviance.  The course also examines in detail a number of forms of behavior commonly regarded as deviant.


SOC 360: Sociology of Culture

This course covers important literature in the sociology of culture. Major questions explored include: What exactly is “culture”? How does it “work” in social life? How can culture be empirically accessed, measured or interpreted? Sociologists mean many things by culture. Sociology of culture is among the broadest of sub-fields, and cultural analysis is an important aspect of sociological knowledge.


SOC 363.2: Identity and Difference

This course investigates the theories that attempt to explain why race and ethnicity continue to be important determinants of the life chances of individuals in different countries. Students need to be sensitized to phenomena that transcend national boundaries, economics, and politics. One such phenomenon that is both common, in that it occurs everywhere, and global is the construction of identity. There are many social constructions such as gender, religion, class and ethnicity that are explored in this course. The course also considers other sociological concepts relevant to ethnic conflicts such as ethnocentrism, ethnic- group closure, and resource allocation.


SOC 354.2: Sociology of Gender

This course addresses issues related to sex and gender, such as gender roles in culture, the formation of gender identity and sexual orientation, and the significance of gender in major social institutions, and in personal and professional contexts. Readingsand lectures are based on a variety of disciplines and look at many different cultures in a global context.


SOC 343.2: Urban Sociology

The aim of this course is to examine main issues of urban settings. In particular, the course explores such issues as migration and poverty among cities of the developing countries in depth. However, the course tries not only to give traditional understanding to urban problems, but also to provide discussion of cutting edge studies on urbanization and globalization.


SOC 333.1: State and Society

This course explores the issues and perspectives on power distributions within and among societies, and the social and political conflicts that lead to changes in the allocation of power. The course examines a) three major schools of thought that theoretically represent the interrelationships among politics, social structures, ideologies and culture; b) political parties as social institutions and the relations between social members and party leaders, so addressing the issues of political regimes of power, rule and authority; c) political participation and the manifestation and regulation of conflict, including the causes of social protests and revolutions; and d) several case studies of national governments to explore political ideologies and government policy making.


SOC 331.2: Market Society

This course explores the nature of market embeddedness in advanced industrial societies. It involves the examination of the separate, and yet interdependent, operating logics of the market and the society. The course examines how market relations constitute but one way for human beings to interact with each other, and the ways that markets are influenced by social relationships; key ways in which markets have been conceived within modern social theory; and market forms in relation to different definitions of “culture” as a distinct realm of aesthetic or expressive practices; and as an increasingly commodified sphere.

SOC 367 Sociology of Religion

The purpose of this course is neither to prove nor to disprove the existence of the supernatural or any particular belief system.  The class is not meant to be a battle-ground between competing theologies, or between religion and science.  Rather than focus on the well-known differences that exist between religions, the course aims to analyze common elements that can be found to operate across many religious traditions.   The course will introduce students to a variety of theoretical approaches to understanding religion as an important social phenomenon, and will acquaint students with some often overlooked features of religious movements.


SOC 246: Sociology of Conflict

This is a core course intended to lay the foundations for studying inter-group conflicts of different levels from sociological perspective. The aim of the class is to provide students with a view of the theories and the main concepts needed to understand and analyze interpersonal, social, and political conflicts.

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