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Sociology/Anthropology

Critical Perspectives and Skills for
Understanding Contemporary Life

Overview   |   Meet An Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  

 

It is not unusual to find Earlham's Sociology/Anthropology majors spending nights in a homeless shelter to better understand the economic recession or working with city officials and storeowners on an urban redevelopment project.

Our faculty keep up with current issues and explore them by creating new courses. The “Sensory Experience & Embodiment” class challenges the notion that the “five senses” of Western cultures are universal to human experience.

Collaboration between students and faculty takes place indivdiually and in groups. A senior assisted in gathering and analyzing data for a study on the racial screening practices of college admissions counselors. A number of students analyzed the film Mary Poppins as a story that emphasizes different forms of love and attachment related to the power of nation and empire.

Our department offers courses that pack a semester’s worth of credits into a month, incorporating travel and other kinds of experiential learning. In May 2016 “Race, Class and Gender in Florida” studied social inequality in context by among things exploring how Disney "does gender" at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

More from the Sociology/Anthropology Department:

Highlights

The SoAn Book Salon, a voluntary reading group, gives students an opportunity to explore topics of interest that fall outside the regular curriculum.

For our majors, the journey culminates in a thesis based on a senior project of the your choice. Current seniors’ topics include: talk of hope within a homeless shelter; food deserts in our city of Richmond; and the world of high stakes, competitive gambling.

Earlham alumni have pursued various graduate degrees in programs throughout North America. Examples of master's degrees completed by recent alumni are one in International Human Rights at University of Denver, and another in International Affairs at Columbia University.

Through the Peace Corps, Teach for America, City Year, and Americorps, Sociology/Anthropology alumni find successful and rewarding careers in schools, social service and community development organizations, public health initiatives, business and nonprofit settings, government agencies and human rights organizations.

Meet An Earlhamite
Deborah Jackson
Taking Teaching Outside

Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Deborah Jackson takes her teaching way outside the traditional classroom to environmental "hot spots."

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Kamau 'TiQi' Brown
SOAN Perfect Choice for Busy Student

Kamau “TiQi” Brown ’16 likes to keep a busy schedule.

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Ana Rabut
A Love for Learning About People

Ana Rabut ’16 has been told that she is the glue that holds friendships together.

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Our Faculty

Jennifer Cardinal
Teaching Fellow

Callie Maidhof
Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

JoAnn Martin
Professor of Sociology/Anthropology; Convener of Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies Program

Daniel Rosenberg
Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

Kelly Szott
Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology

Patty Collins
Administrative Assistant

Cheri Gaddis
Administrative Assistant
Plan of Study

General Education Requirements

The Department offers seven courses that fulfill the Domestic component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, SOAN 118, 215, 323, 325, 330, 335, 355 and 371; and five courses that fulfill the International component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, SOAN 115, 320, 321, 327 and 368 and two courses that meet the Wellness Requirement, SOAN 335 and 355. The Department also offers frequent Earlham Seminars.

The Major

Students majoring in Sociology/Anthropology complete at least 40 credits in the Department, of which up to four credits may be at the 100 level.

The following classes are normally required of all majors:

  • Core Requirement
    • SOAN 216: Theory through Ethnography
  • Methods
    • SOAN 345: Social Research Methods
      OR
    • SOAN 346 & 347: Ethnographic Practicum I & II
  • Theory
    • SOAN 341 Contemporary Social Thought
  • Capstone Experience
    • SOAN 488: Senior Capstone Experience

AND

  • 21 credits of SOAN courses
    • Including no more than three courses below the 300-level

Note: SOAN 487 Senior Thesis is an optional course may not be counted towards the major.

Note: In cases where a different configuration would strengthen a student's course of study in the major, the Department will work with the student to develop an appropriate alternative.

Students are strongly encouraged to include an internship and/or foreign study as part of their studies. Students majoring in Sociology/Anthropology may take up to four credits in other departments or on off-campus programs at the discretion of their departmental adviser (and according to departmental criteria established for off-campus programs).

Students are normally expected to complete a research methods course by the end of the Junior year. In addition, in the Spring Semester of the Junior year, students meet with departmental faculty to discuss the Senior Capstone Experience requirement.

The Minor

Students minoring in Sociology/Anthropology are required to complete a minimum of 20 credits. These must include:

  • An introductory course
  • A course in Social Thought

AND

  • 12 credits of upper-level SOAN courses

Note: No more than one course that counts toward the student's major or another minor may count toward the minor in Sociology/Anthropology. Also, at the discretion of the Department, one sociology or anthropology course from an off-campus study program may be applied toward the minor. Students may file a written petition with the Department if requesting a reasonable exception.

Courses

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
  • (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IE) = Immersive Experience
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*SOAN 115 ANTHROPOLOGY IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT (4 credits)
Introduces and critically examines selected approaches to understanding human diversity. Drawing on ethnographic studies, develops perspectives on how people cohere as groups, construct meaning, assert and resist influence and power, and orient themselves to a shifting terrain of images and relationships both global and local. Weekly film session required. (D-I)

*SOAN 118 INEQUALITIES, POWER AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Introduces students to the sociological perspective and focuses on the connections between major social institutions and social inequality. (D-D)

*SOAN 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)

*SOAN 215 IDENTITY AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS (4 credits)
Explores contemporary social movements organized around gender, sexuality, ethnicity and place. Examines the pivotal role of culture in shaping identities and structuring relations of inequality. Explores empirical case studies of social movements and theories that have emerged to grapple with the place of these movements in creating social change. Particular attention to tensions between class-based analyses of social movements. (D-D)

*SOAN 216 THEORY THROUGH ETHNOGRAPHY (4 credits)
Considers the time-honored practice of Ethnography, both as fieldwork and as textual form, that has traditionally defined cultural anthropology and qualitative sociology. Examines the politics, poetics and ethics of ethnographic research and writing, pushing beyond modernist assumptions about ethnographic fieldwork as objective scientific research. Reading and discussion of ethnographic texts — classical and contemporary, conventional and experimental — as well as critiques of ethnographic research and writing. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, or prior SOAN class and permission of the instructor. (WI)

*SOAN 217 FOUNDATIONS IN SOCIAL THOUGHT: SECOND YEAR SEMINAR (4 credits)
The disciplines of sociology and anthropology as we know them today came into being during an exceptionally generative period between about 1870 and 1930. During this seminal time, theoretical constructs regarding the nature of the mind/self, social interaction and organization, power dynamics and inequalities, and cultural forms and functions were developed. Consequently, key ideas and insights from this earlier period continue to inform anthropological and sociological research and writing in the 21st century. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. (WI)

*SOAN 240 SOPHOMORE SEMINAR (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for sophomore study.

*SOAN 244 TOURISM IN JAPAN AND THE PACIFIC (3 credits)
This course looks at Japan within the context of global processes and practices of tourism. Students will learn to employ social science perspectives to consider the political-economic, socio-cultural and environmental implications of tourist practices both in Japan and in the wider Pacific region, particularly Hawaii. Also listed as JPNS 244. (D-I)

SOAN 310 SURVEILLANCE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Examining the intersection of recent digital technologies and an intensifying social gaze on individuals, populations, spaces and activities, this seminar focuses on behavior as monitored. The course considers how surveillance practices serve as insturments of social political discipline, market competition, knowledge circulation, risk reduction, social sorting and resource management, as well as fostering new forms of social participation and individual expression. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing and one SOAN course, or consent of the instructor. Also listed as PAGS 310.

*SOAN 320 PEOPLES AND CULTURES OF A SELECTED AREA (4 credits)
Explores patterns of social life in a selected region, including historical circumstances, social formations and case studies of cultural beliefs and practices. Seeks to understand the gaze through which the region has been viewed by observers over time, and how various groups have understood, defined and responded to their own experience. (D-I)

*SOAN 321 LATIN AMERICAN CULTURE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Examines selected ethnographies of Latin America. Based on the assumption that to understand Latin America we must understand not only the concrete situations of populations living in Latin America but also how those populations have been represented historically through the lens of ethnography. Each ethnographer writes about a people to a wider community of anthropologists whose concerns are theoretical as well as empirical. Dialogue invites students to see Latin America as a region whose study has contributed to the development of anthropological theory. (D-I)

SOAN 322 JAPANESE CULTURE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Introduces the anthropological study of Japan. Readings focus on cultural analysis, village organizations, the ethnography of modern business organizations and the residential community.

*SOAN 323 NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN CULTURES AND SOCIETIES (4 credits)
Includes a number of culture area/tribal groups, focusing mainly on Native peoples of the Great Lakes region. Texts include ethnographies, scholarly articles, literary essays and videos, representing the works of Native and non-Native scholars, writers and film-makers. Highlights the process by which Native Americans are represented in scholarly, literary and popular media. (D-D)

*SOAN 325 JACKIE ROBINSON: RACE, SPORTS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM (4 credits)
Approaches Robinson's breaking of professional baseball's color barrier within the context of America's political, social and cultural history and examines Robinson's impact as a national symbol on American cultural life and social institutions. Focuses on creative synthesis of readings and media presentations. (D-D)

*SOAN 327 INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THE ENVIRONMENT (4 credits)
Small-scale societies traditionally studied by anthropologists have become the "indigenous peoples" of the world. Under the jurisdiction of nation-states that consider them alien and inferior, they are among the world's most underprivileged minorities. Focuses on indigenous peoples in the British diaspora: Australia, Canada and the United States. Analyzes the following topics through an environmental lens: traditional subsistence practices; historical forces of colonization;  and contemporary issues and struggles. Also listed as ENST 327. (D-I) (AY)

*SOAN 333 MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND GLOBAL HEALTH (3 credits)
This course critically explores the intersection of medical anthropology, public health, clinical medicine, and local beliefs and practices in emerging regimes of global health. Drawing primarily on ethnographic case studies, the class considers how practices, technologies, and institutions of biomedicine engage established and emerging local ones. In particular, students will examine how inequalities of social power influence the circulation of biomedicine, the practice of humanitarian care, and the experience of health, illness and healing. A core focus is to evaluate the complex impacts and outcomes of medical and public health interventions. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Also listed as PAGS 333. (D-I)

*SOAN 335 HEALTH, MEDICINE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Examines health, illness and medical care with a focus on both the social organization of health and health care institutions, and on the experience of illness and healing. Explores discourses of health and illness drawn on by professionals and patients, and the impact of social position on health and treatment. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. (D-D, W)

SOAN 339 TOPICS IN SOCIOLOGY/ANTHROPOLOGY (4 credits)
Seminars on selected topics. (IE)

SOAN 340 CLASSICAL SOCIAL THOUGHT (4 credits)
Intended for majors in Sociology/Anthropology and related disciplines. Provides an overview of the foundations of Western social thought as they developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Assigned readings include excerpts from the works of such major theorists as: Hegel, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, William James, George Herbert Mead and Fredrich Nietzsche. Students explore the life, thought and work of a theorist in a social category marginalized from the mainstream of Western thought (e.g., people of color, women, non-Westerners) as term project.

SOAN 341 CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL THOUGHT (4 credits)
Explores emerging trends in social theory and their relation to classical theory. Each year emphasizes a different problem such as power and culture, structure and agency, or determinism and anti-essentialism. Readings and discussion focus on developing the students' ability to recognize subtle differences that define theoretical perspective. Also listed as PAGS 341.

SOAN 343 SENSORY EXPERIENCE AND EMBODIMENT (3 credits)
This course challenges what has been called the “visualist bias” in ethnographic writing and related texts — that is, the privileging of the sense of sight when studying and writing about socio-cultural phenomena. Readings are drawn from an innovative body of work in which ethnographers explore and appreciate the significance of sounds, odors, tastes and tactile sensations for specific communities, and how these sensory modalities vary cross-culturally. This emphasis on senses other than sight – especially the “contact” senses of smell, taste and touch – brings attention to physical bodies, the visceral and the material aspects of human experience. (D-I)

SOAN 345 SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS (4 credits)
Primarily for Sociology/Anthropology majors. Introduces micro-social qualitative and focus group approaches in social research, preparing students to carry out original research projects in other Sociology/Anthropology courses. (RCH)

SOAN 346 ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PRACTICUM I (2 credits)
This course takes an experiential approach to learning about ethnography. Participants carry out brief ethnographic research projects of their own design with the class providing advice and critical responses for work-in-progress and completed projects. Discussions and readings will focus on the formulation of research questions, on methodological and theoretical approaches in qualitative research, and on issues of validity, ethics and research design. Much of this discussion will be carried out in relation to participants’ research projects. Prerequisite: primarily for Sociology/Anthropology majors; requires sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. (RCH)

SOAN 347 ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PRACTICUM II (2 credits)
A self-designed ethnographic research project is carried out during the semester, with the members of the Practicum consulting with the group about their projects. Completes one of the options for the departmental methods requirement. Prerequisite: SOAN 346. (RCH)

*SOAN 349 JAPANIMALS (3 credits)
This course focuses on human-animal interactions in Japanese contexts. Emphases will be on the social, cultural and ecological dimensions of these interactions. Through examinations of specific topics, including wildlife conflicts, zoos and pet keeping, students will learn to analyze the multiple contexts that inform inter-species interactions in Japan. Also listed as ENSU 349 and JPNS 349. (D-I)

SOAN 353 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF ADOLESCENCE AND YOUTH (4 credits)
Explores the emergence of adolescence as distinctive cultural styles reflecting both the changing needs and moral preoccupations of industrial societies. Special attention to key sites of adolescent social practice and ritual and to how young people interpret and perform culturally amid conflicting aspirations, opportunities, meanings and expectations.

*SOAN 355 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF AGING (4 credits)
An anthropological/sociological approach to issues of aging and the elderly, focusing on North America. Through reading ethnographic accounts and personal narratives of older people from a wide variety of backgrounds, students experience three broad perspectives: 1) how the elderly function as social actors in diverse communities (e.g., Native American, homeless, gay and lesbian), 2) how the sociocultural context in which people grow old creates a varied reality of what aging means, 3) how social policy shapes the circumstances and experiences of the elderly. Includes a service-learning component. (D-D, W) (AY)

SOAN 356 SOCIAL DEVIANCE (4 credits)
In seeking to understand significant departures from social norms, explores how deviance has been understood through a variety of perspectives, and the implications of these views for society and for those identified as "deviant." Significant attention to issues of social power and resistance, and changing forms of social control. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and one SOAN course. (AY)

SOAN 361 LANGUAGE AND CULTURE (4 credits)
An upper-level introduction to linguistic anthropology. Topics include classical linguistic theory; the relationship between language, thought and reality; the role of language in accomplishing social tasks; and the ways in which power relations are created and reinforced through communicative interaction. No specific prerequisites: Students should have a working understanding of a body of social theory. (AY)

SOAN 364 GENDER: ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES (4 credits)
Examines topics of importance in feminism including queer identities, transgender and transexuality, empire, colonialism and compulsory heterosexuality. Theme varies to enable a different configuration of approaches to explore the relationship between sex, gender and desire. Draws on theoretical works, films and ethnography.

SOAN 366 WORLD ETHNOGRAPHY (4 credits)
Ethnographic texts — such as books, films, articles, life histories — represent the human experience in diverse ways. Explores anthropological representation and illuminates patterns of human experience. Themes vary.

*SOAN 368 THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DEVELOPMENT: LATIN AMERICA (4 credits)
Using an anthropological lens, examines "development" as a type of discourse that formed under specific historical and sociological conditions. Examines the way relations between nations are imagined, the kinds of institutions that are born in the context of development, and the roles of those institutions in structuring power relations. (D-I)

SOAN 371 SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION (4 credits)
Starting with a critical perspective, this micro-social and macro-social examination of schools addresses the question, "Why are things the way they are?" The course takes the view that schools serve multiple interest groups that exercise a consistent and pervasive impact on what happens in our nation's schools. (D-D) (AY)

SOAN 381 COMMUNITY SERVICE INTERNSHIP (2 credits)
Students arrange to participate as an intern with a non-profit community group or agency. Bi-monthly consultation with faculty and an approved plan of involvement required. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing and consent of the instructor.

SOAN 382 SOCIAL ORGANIZATION INTERNSHIP (2 credits)
Students arrange weekly participation as an intern with an organization providing professional consultation. Bi-monthly meeting with faculty and departmental approval of a plan of placement required. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing and consent of the instructor.

SOAN 450 ADVANCED SEMINARS (4 credits)
Occasional seminars reflecting faculty interests. Recent topics have included women in cross-cultural perspective, ethnicity and nationalism, surveillance and society, Andean ethnography and the Asian-American experience. May be repeated for credit.

SOAN 480 ADVANCED READINGS IN SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY (1-4 credits)
Designed for individuals who wish to develop a reading project in an area of interest with periodic meetings with a sponsoring faculty member. Prerequisite: Senior standing and strong record of departmental work and consent of the instructor.

SOAN 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)

SOAN 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study.

SOAN 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)
Students serving as teaching assistants may elect to earn academic credit by registering for this course.

SOAN 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.

SOAN 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
An investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty adviser. Intended for the advanced student.

SOAN 486 STUDENT RESEARCH (1-3 credits)
Collaborative research carried out by students and faculty.

SOAN 487 SENIOR THESIS (1-4 credits)
Working closely with an assigned member of the department, Seniors complete work begun in the Capstone course. Note: Credits for this course do not count toward requirements for the Major.

SOAN 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE (4 credits)
Designed to enable seniors to make significant progress toward completing a senior paper or project or preparing for a comprehensive examination. Also addresses the transition to the worlds of work, graduate school, family and community.