Special Topics & Advanced Seminars

 

 

WINTER 2020

SOCD11H3 S, Program and Policy Evaluation
Instructor: N. Spence

This course provides an introduction to the field of program and policy evaluation. Evaluation plays an important role in evidence based decision making in all aspects of society. Students will gain insight into the theoretical, methodological, practical, and ethical aspects of evaluation across different settings. The relative strengths and weaknesses of various designs used in applied social research to examine programs and policies will be covered.

SOCD25H3 S, Advanced Seminar in Economy, Politics, and Society.
This seminar course provides students with the tools to apply a sociological interpretation to economic phenomena with a focus on firms, labor markets, consumption, underground economies, and globalization, among others.  Throughout the course, we examine these phenomena through three competing perspectives: economic, structural, and cultural.

SOCD51H3 S, Capstone Seminar in Culture, Creativity, and Cities
Instructor: C. Childress
This course provides a hands-on learning experience with data collection, analysis, and dissemination on topics discussed in the Minor in Culture, Creativity, and Cities. It involves substantial group and individual-based learning, and may cover topics as diverse as the role of cultural fairs and festivals in the city of Toronto, the efficacy of arts organizations, current trends in local cultural labour markets, artistic markets inside and outside of the downtown core, food culture, and analysis of governmental datasets on arts participation in the city.

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FALL 2019

SOCD01H3 F, Advanced Seminar in Culture and Cities:  The Sociology of the Neighbourhood.
Instructor: Professor Daniel Silver
From the ancient town to the modern megalopolis, the neighbourhood is one of the oldest forms of human association. Despite dramatic transformations in cities, politics, economies, and culture, neighbourhoods remain central and consequential foci of social life.  Neighbors socialize frequently with one another, and neighborhoods often provide the physical basis for face-to-face interactions in cities where much of life proceeds anonymously in crowds or virtually online.  Neighborhoods are frequently the units of governmental administration, the targets of urban policy, the basis of civic activism, and the arenas of heated political conflict. The neighbourhood in which one grows up and lives has tremendous consequences for one’s life chances and outlook, from health to income to political attitudes and beyond. 

This course will closely examine from a number of perspectives the nature, functions, consequences, and causes of neighbourhoods, paying special attention to the ways in which neighbourhoods are changing and enduring in contemporary post-industrial societies. 

Toronto has often been called a “city of neighbourhoods,” and we will use Toronto as our living laboratory.  In addition to close reading of key texts, students will engage in ongoing field assignments in neighbourhoods across Toronto and its suburbs.  Students will work in teams to examine a neighbourhood via multiple techniques―they will be required to triangulate quantitative, qualitative and spatial data analysis.  They will learn to collate government statistics from the census with online business data to produce statistical mappings of the neighbourhood, and compare it to others.  They will compile media stories, histories, and literary documents to analyze the cultural representation of a neighbourhood.  They will engage in multiple structured personal field observations to observe the street life and activity patterns that characterize the neighbourhood.  Interviews with community leaders and ‘old-timers’ will reveal neighbourhood history and changing perceptions of its character.  Digital photos will provide material both for mapping patterns (e.g. in color or signage) and for visual comparisons across neighborhoods (in e.g. architectural style).  

Combining all of this together across teams will produce a deep and rich understanding of various neighbourhood forms and experiences, providing students with living material to test and extend the ideas of the authors we will read in class.

SOCD15H3 F, Advanced Seminar in Critical Migration Studies
Instructor: J. Harold

This course examines the causes and consequences of migration in global historical context. The course engages students with theoretical and empirical work on questions around belonging, citizenship, integration, multiculturalism, and others. Underlying the examination of migration flows, the course focuses on how forms of inequality take shape in immigration policy and everyday practice. Students will engage critically with scholarly and media discourse on migration, which will be situated in contemporary political debates in Canada and beyond. 

SOCD44H3 F,  Advanced Seminar on Issues in Contemporary Sociology -- The Sociology of Career Decision-Making
Instructor: L. Williams

The Sociology of Career Decision-Making will explore some of the main theoretical and research-based themes that relate to the individual and social experiences of careers and work. We will focus on core questions around the characteristics and conditions of work and occupations that shape the experience of the self-concept and identity – including classic themes about job control, autonomy, challenge, complexity, and authority. Other features of the course will include the ways that interpersonal dynamics and organizational structures shape individual psychological and social experiences both at work and beyond the boundaries of the workplace. The latter will be particularly emphasized, as careers often span well beyond the bounds of the workplace. We will also address important questions about the aspects of health, well-being, and quality of life as they relate to how people make career decisions.

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SUMMER 2019

SOCD05H3Advanced Seminar in Criminology and Sociology of Law
Why are some careers viewed as legitimate while others are not? Why do individuals opt into work which may be seen as illegitimate by many? How do these individuals think about their work and what it means for their broader identities and lives? To address these questions, this course examines a series of occupations which vary from being non-normative to widely stigmatized. From professional gamblers to more traditional “career criminals” such as persistent thieves, students will learn how different career paths become feasible for individuals due to a complex intersection of factors such as socio-economic status, race, gender, and ongoing life experiences.

SOCD25H3 - Advanced Seminar in Economy, Politics and Society
Topic: Sociology of Markets
Markets pervade many aspects of our lives, but we rarely consider the social forces that organize markets.  Economists assume that markets are efficient, apolitical mechanisms for allocating resources.  But sociologists theorize markets as social arenas in which transactions are embedded in social networks and cultural or institutional logics; in other words, markets are constructed through social relations rather than existing independently of them. This course examines markets from a sociological perspective, focusing on debates over the social forces that create and transform markets, how "rational" market action is constructed and understood, and the consequences of living in a market society.  

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SPRING 2019

SOCD10H3S Advanced Seminar in Gender and Family
Course Description:
This course offers an in-depth examination of selected topics in Gender and Family. This course sets out from the notion that we live in a time of change in family life. Throughout this course, we will explore marriage patterns, cohabitation, divorce rates, couples, blended and single-parent families, lesbian and gay couples (and parents), living alone, juggling employment and family life, children living at home, gendered work in the home, as well as love and monogamy. In this course, we will challenge and problematize some of what is considered “natural” in terms of family life.

SOCD21H3, Immigrant Scarborough
Course Description:
This course examines Scarborough as an immigrant gateway.  Students will have the opportunity to conduct in-depth empirical research of their own and link the data they have collected to theoretical debates about migration, transnationalism and multicultural communities. This discussion-centered seminar course will pay particular attention to the themes of social change, social exclusion and social inequality.  

SOCC40H3S Contemporary Sociological Theory
Course Description: This course covers key topics and theorists in contemporary sociological theory. It provides an introduction to major contemporary social theorists, focusing on their sociology and theories in historical context. It will introduce you to key perspectives of Functionalism; Symbolic Interactionism, Ethnomethodology; Social Constructionism, Structuralism, Postmoderism, Postcolonial Theory, and Intersectionality. We will address key themes, such as the tensions between political/public engagement and scholarship, the micro-meso-macro level of analysis issue, and the question of excluded/marginalized/optimal marginal creative thinkers. While the span of contemporary theory is vast, and continues to grow, this course provides an in-depth snap shot of many of the main theorists and schools of thought.

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FALL 2018

SOCD05H3F: Advanced Seminar in Criminology and Sociology of Law - L. Williams
Why are some careers viewed as legitimate while others are not? Why do individuals opt into work which may be seen as illegitimate by many? How do these individuals think about their work and what it means for their broader identities and lives? To address these questions, this course examines a series of occupations which vary from being non-normative to widely stigmatized. From professional gamblers to more traditional “career criminals” such as persistent thieves, students will learn how different career paths become feasible for individuals due to a complex intersection of factors such as socio-economic status, race, gender, and ongoing life experiences.

SOCD15F:  Advanced Seminar in Critical Migration Studies - J. Harold
This course examines critical policies, processes and practices as they relate to migration, belonging, identity, inequality, work & labor, and citizenship. The course examines these in relation to race, class, and gender to better understand the interlocking systems of power, privilege, and inequality embedded in migration policy and practice. Key questions addressed in this course are: How does the patchwork of immigration policies affect migration flows and the daily realities of immigrants in Canada? How do contexts of entry and exit shape the identity, citizenship, and experiences of immigrants? How is inequality associated with the social, political, and economic integration of immigrants? The course engages students with theoretical and empirical work around these questions and others. It also aims to develop students’ ability to engage critically with scholarly work and media discourse, and to participate in action-oriented research.

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SUMMER 2018

SOCD44H3 Y – Advanced Seminar on Issues in Contemporary Sociology
The Sociology of Contemporary Visual Art.  This course focuses on all forms of visual art (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.) and examines the social arrangements and individuals that produce art, the dealers, museums, and economic arrangements responsible for distributing and selling art, and the people that look at, engage with, and buy art.

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WINTER 2018

SOCC59H3 Special Topics in Social Inequality: The Sociology of Food and Diets
When we grab a snack, prepare a dish, or visit a restaurant, we tend to think that our selections reflect our preferences.  In this course, we will challenge preference-based assumptions by examining how our food environments are structured and how social inequalities manifest in diets.  We will examine how global and national political and economic workings shape local food systems, how people resist these workings and actively re-define their food environments, how taste preferences are constructed, and how people use food to express their social relationships.

SOCD10H3 ~ Advanced Seminar in Gender and Family
In this course, we will read and evaluate recent research related to the sociology of families and gender with a focus on North America. We will explore the diversity of family forms and processes, highlighting specific topics that demonstrate how social forces shape gender and family relations.  Topics covered include marriage, cohabitation, parenting, childhood, work-family conflict, divorce, religion, foster care, residential schools, and family violence. Students are encouraged to suggest topics of interest not currently covered by the course schedule.

SOCD25H3 ~ Advanced Seminar in Economy, Politics and Society
This seminar course provides students with the tools to apply a sociological interpretation to economic phenomena with a focus on firms, labor markets, consumption, underground economies, and globalization, among others.  Throughout the course, we examine these phenomena through three competing perspectives: economic, structural, and cultural

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FALL 2017

SOCC54 ~ Special Topics in Sociology of Culture
Although shopping is described as a pastime, a closer look reveals that it involves more than leisurely checking out deals or grudgingly buying one's needs.  In fact, our habits of buying goods and services - our practices of consumption - are heavily influenced by our social world. In this course, we will examine how people reproduce social divisions through consumption, and how people use consumption to challenge the status quo. We will draw on sociological theories to make sense of how consumption is structured, how social desires are transformed, and how shopping involves identity politics.

SOCC46H3 ~ Special Topics in Sociology of Law
This course draws on sociological theory as well as Canadian and international research to explore the purchase, use, sale, production and trafficking of illicit substances including, but not limited to, heroin, cocaine, cannabis, psychedelic drugs and methamphetamines. Topics that will be covered include: addiction; the incidence and prevalence of illicit drug use in Canada and around the world; the relationship between drugs and crime; and both domestic and international drug policies.

SOCD05H3 ~ Advanced Seminar in Criminology and Sociology of Law
This seminar explores the topic of drug policy (both domestic and international) drawing on an historical-comparative sociological framework. Topics that will be covered include the historical development of drug prohibition in Canada, the War on Drugs in the US, international drug treaties, and alternatives to drug prohibition such as harm reduction and cannabis legalisation. Critical evaluation of the effectiveness of drug policies will be a major focus of this seminar.  

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SUMMER 2017

SOCD44H3, Advanced Seminar on Issues in Contemporary Sociology
“This changes everything”: Debates in sociology of mass media

Why do mass media systems all over the world differ from each other? Does this matter for the quality of life of their respective audiences? Are the “new media” really as new as marketing tells us they are? Do they empower us to turn from consumers to creators, or wrap us into cozy cocoons of information that protect our chosen identities? The course will address these and other questions through a review of current issues and debates in Canadian and international sociology of mass media.