Introduction to Sociology

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Faculteit University College Groningen
Jaar 2019/20
Vakcode UCG1SS07
Vaknaam Introduction to Sociology
Niveau(s) bachelor
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester II b

Uitgebreide vaknaam Introduction to Sociology
Leerdoelen Students….

describe what a macro-micro-macro explanation of social phenomena is like and why such an explanation is scientifically fruitful
describes the elements of social embeddedness of an individual agent in society
sum up three of the problems that sociologists seek to solve
give a number of examples of social problems that might require solution
recognises the causes of these social problems in terms of the functioning of the four respective coordination mechanisms

describes how some specific theories may serve to analyse the causal mechanism of the respective problems

applies at least one of these theories in order to analyse a given or self-picked problem
shows an informed critical attitude towards the solutions to social problems as proposed by sociologists by posing deep questions, with a notable sensitivity for theoretical tensions and possible contradictions

integrates the acquired knowledge of some of the sociological theories and skills to apply these into her developing wisdom as a student of UCG
Omschrijving Sociology studies how social phenomena come about as a consequence of individual actions that, as individual actions, are (largely) intended by the actors, but that have never been guided by the intention to generate any particular social phenomenon. In other words, intentional behaviour is directed at the individual level but has unintended and often unforeseen consequences (especially social problems), also for the group to which the respective individual agents belong. Where psychologists study the causes and effects of individual intended and non-intended behaviour at the level of the individual agent, sociology researches the mechanism that translates a mass of individual actions into a group phenomenon and how such a group consequence determines, in turn, the degrees of freedom to act for these individual agents.
In order to conceptualise such translation mechanisms, sociologists think in terms of coordination of individual actions. We distinguish four different coordination mechanisms, the study of which also comprises respective specializations in sociology. One is called pro-social behaviour, another important coordination mechanism is the market. Yet another one is called organizations (or private governance), and one is public governance (or national and local government).
Central in this course is, therefore, the relationship between micro- and macro aggregation levels of human action in general. Specific topics of the course will concern theories of micro-macro explanation, the problem of the production of public goods, the (im)possibility of social optima under strictly dominant and non-dominant strategies, and the logic of cooperation. Also we will try and get to grips with issues of segregation as “public bads” and study social network analysis in order to understand the social logic of peer networks.
The seminars and tutorials will invite the students to actively participate, sometimes individually and sometimes in pairs or groups of three. They will discuss the study materials in class, peer review each other’s answers and produce a video. The students also will hand in three regular assignments in order to help processing the study materials. These assignments comprise, among others, Quote-Argument-Question-Link assignments (QAQL’s) and a written exam with essay questions that require brief answers. Students freely choose six questions out of ten to answer.
Uren per week variabel
Onderwijsvorm Practical, Seminar
Toetsvorm Participation
Vaksoort bachelor
Coördinator PhD. L. Zijlstra, MA.
Docent(en) PhD. L. Zijlstra, MA.
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
Articles. For literature subject to copyrights links will be provided.
Literature that is free of copyrights will be distributed in pdf form via nestor.
Opmerkingen Required literature (digitally available)
Nan Dirk de Graaf, book chapters free-of-copyrights, scientific articles (DOI numbers)
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
Liberal Arts and Sciences  (Year 1) - semester II b keuzegroep