Current offerings (Academic timetable)

Course descriptions (Undergraduate calendar)



2024 Summer Term Course Offerings:

SOSA 1002-People & Culture: Introduction to Anthropology-J. Music
June 3-June 25, In-Person
This course is an introduction to Social Anthropology. Social anthropologists study cultural diversity in western and non-western societies. Often living among the people they study, anthropologists attempt to understand the structures that shape and constrain peoples’ lives, and the ways in which people make sense of their changing circumstances. Classic studies focused on rural people in the developing world (hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, peasants). Contemporary studies are just as likely to focus on development, migration, artists, boardroom rituals or street gangs. Theories and methods from anthropology can be applied to a wide range of academic and practical settings including development, politics, economics, health, law, art, and human rights.

SOSA 2270-Introduction to Popular Culture-A. Gerhardt
May 6-May 28, In-Person
This course examines popular culture from a sociological perspective. The course covers theoretical perspectives and debates about the role of popular culture in our society, and how the content of popular culture is shaped by broader socio-historical events. Some topics covered in this course include representations of class, gender, sexuality, race, and (dis)ability in popular culture; pop culture and consumerism; and the commodification, co-option, and depoliticization of subcultures for mass consumption. 

SOSA 3005-Knowledge, Work & Culture in the Contemporary World-E. Cruley
June 3-June 25, Online-ASYNCHRONOUS
Whether we call it post-industrialismpost-materialism, or post-modernism, there is something unique about our time that distinguishes it from the world our grandparents grew up in. Capitalism is deindustrializing, there is now a large and highly educated “knowledge class,” prospects for stable work are waning, local cultural heritage is being transformed by global influences, we’re attempting to decolonize systems with European imperialism at their core. How do we start making sense of all this? In this course, we begin with everyday life – common experiences and observable things. From the seemingly ordinary details we’ll turn the floodlights toward the important patterns and qualities that shape the contemporary world.

SOSA 3168-Issues in Latin American Society-Z. Castell Roldan
July 29-Aug 20, Online-ASYNCHRONOUS
This course introduces Latin America by examining the region's historical and contemporary connections between agriculture, land ownership, and labour relations. Through the analysis of case studies, the students will explore how different forms of agricultural labour have impacted political structures, economic development, and cultural identity. By the end of the course, the students will have gained a concise yet comprehensive understanding of the social dynamics of Latin American societies.

SOSA 3181-Special Topics:  Visual Culture -E. Galindo Paredes
May 6-May 28, Online-ASYNCHRONOUS
The course explores key concepts and debates on visual representations and their impact on social relations. We will analyze the use of visual technologies to legitimize relations of domination --specifically to normalize racial, class and gender ideologies-- for example, in the construction of national projects or in the production of scientific knowledge. We will focus on power relations that circumscribe the production, circulation and consumption of images in different cultural and political spheres. In addition, the course will explore the growing experimentation with visual devices in the fields of popular, artistic, scholar, and social movements.

SOSA 3206-Ethnicity, Nation & Race-I. Chowdhury
July 2-July 24, Online-ASYNCHRONOUS
Race, ethnicity, and nation are integral parts of our socioeconomic, cultural, and political lives. These identities not only shape and reshape group relationships but also significantly impact the context of the socioeconomic and political affairs of a country. This course examines conceptual, theoretical, and practical debates around race, ethnicity, and nation and the interconnection between them. The key questions it explores are: What is a social identity and how is it constructed? What are the basic characteristics of race, ethnicity, and nation? Are race, ethnicity, and nation similar or different? What is the status of racial and ethnic groups in the context of education and the healthcare system in Canada? And how does multiculturalism treat racial, ethnic, and national groups?

2024-25 Special Topics and Issues Course Offerings:

SOSA 3184-Special Topics:  Worldmaking and the Social Life of Possibility-M. Gagne
Winter term Mondays & Wednesdays 16:05-17:25
Possibility is intrinsic to life. Although our daily lives often feel pre-determined through routine obligations and activities, they are also inflected with the sense that things could be different, that we could build and share other ways for being in the world. This course will look at the how possibility as a concept and embodied activity becomes part of our everyday lives, through the things that we can do, our decision making, to how we reflect on, critique, and envision social life. How is possibility constructed via our social activities, deployed within political contestations, intimate relations, and collective envisioning of novel ways for being together? How can our daily activities manifest novel ways of being in the world? This course looks at how groups of people harness this sense of possibility into collective projects for critiquing, questioning, and inventing new ways of being, thinking, and living life. We will explore how social systems determine the range of possibility in which we can act, while also accounting for how groups have questioned those parameters and collectively worked to invent and bring about new ones through processes of world making. 

SOSA 3186-Special Topics:  Comprehending Cults:  A sociological Examination of New and Alternative Religions-C. Helland
Winter term  Mondays & Wednesdays 11:35-12:55
This course will investigate New Religious Movements (NRMs) and alternative religions largely within the contemporary North American context.  This area of study is fraught with complexity, ambiguity, and controversy.  As such the course is designed to engage a variety of theoretical perspectives of and approaches to the phenomena of NRMs; address the popular understandings of these groups commonly known as “Cults” in an attempt to critically deconstruct inflammatory and biasing misconceptions; and to discuss the beliefs, practices, organization, and histories of a number of contemporary NRMs. We will seek to understand why “cults” emerge and how they proliferate, as we explore processes of recruitment, conversion, and charisma. We will also examine conflicts of these movements with established churches, anti-cult organizations, and the state and communities in which they function.

SOSA 3188-Special Topics:  Social Network Analysis-D. Abul-Fottouh
Fall term  Tuesdays  8:35-11:25
The social world is intricately woven with networks, encompassing our connections with people. By focusing on the relationships between individuals, we gain valuable insights into the dynamics that shape our interconnected world. This course delves into the theory and practical applications of social network analysis, exploring how it is used across various domains, including social media, diffusion of ideas, and kinship relations. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of social network analysis, enabling them to identify influential actors within networks and to examine community structures. Social network analysis is an interdisciplinary approach that fosters a lifelong skill set, and the course provides hands-on, practical experience in collecting and analyzing network data. Engaging with real-world case studies and online social media data, students will learn firsthand how social network analysis illuminates the hidden connections that shape our societies.

SOSA 4015-Special Topics: Between Social Policy and Social Change
Fall term  Tuesdays  14:5-17:25
What is social policy? Why and how institutions, from schoolboards, universities to all levels of government, make policies to promote various ideas and achieve their goals? Why do these policies take different forms? How does the broader social context shape policy success and failure? And, how we achieve social change (or stop it) while facing various uncertainties?  In this course, we will try to answer these questions (and others) by examining social policy making process through a sociological realistic lens. In the first part of the course, we examine the social factors that shape the process through which social policies are made. We consider effects of social change and development; politics, and social movements; institutions and state structures, culture, values, and ideology in our global world.  

SOSA 4016-Special Topics:  Masculinities-M. Halpin
Fall term  Tuesdays 14:35-17:25
This class examines men and masculinities. This class will have four aims. First, we will examine claims about current and repeating “crises” of masculinity. Second, we will review the major theories of masculinity – including hegemonic masculinity, hybrid masculinity, and intersectionality. Third, we will consider masculinity as something people preform, as a social structure that influences how people act, and masculinity in broader gender relations. Lastly, we will discuss emerging issues in masculinity, including the rise of misogynistic communities, positive models for masculinity, and how masculinity might be changing.  

SOSA 4017-Special Topics:  Health and Uncertainty-E. Whelan
Winter term  Fridays  11:35-14:25
Health is considered so crucial to wellbeing that uncertainties about health pose serious challenges for individuals, social groups, and whole societies. As laypeople and patients, we all must manage the unpredictability of aging, illness, or disability, and uncertainties about our current and future health; often we must do this based on conflicting, incomplete, or inaccessible information, and we may be labelled ignorant, irresponsible or difficult based on how we respond to these uncertainties. Health care researchers, and practitioners, too, struggle with uncertainty, trying to fit atypical patients and variable, ill-defined symptoms into standardized diagnoses and treatments that may or may not work, cope with proliferating medical research and calls for risk minimization, and quell patient fear, resistance and uncertainty while maintaining expert authority. Societies and their governments must try to manage, predict and prevent possible pandemics, superbugs and environmental catastrophes that may threaten our health in a hazy and uncertain future. In this course, we examine the problems and politics of uncertainty, ignorance, and the unknown in health, along with some approaches (hope, prognostication, denial, avoidance, nudging, activism, consensus-building, rationalization) to mitigating them--with varying degrees of success.

2024-25 4/5000 Level Course Offerings:

SOSA 4/5001-Quantitative Analysis/Social Sciences I-J. Amoyaw
Fall term  Fridays  11:35-14:25
SOSA 4/5001 will introduce students to elementary quantitative data analysis techniques. We will cover some of the most common statistical techniques employed in quantitative research, including tabular and graphical presentation of data, descriptive statistics, bivariate association, the logic of statistical inference, and simple linear regression. Students will learn how to apply these statistical techniques using secondary datasets and Stata. Stata is an integrated data analysis software used for data manipulation, visualization, and statistical analysis. Students will also learn how to evaluate and write quantitative research papers.

SOSA 4/5002-Quantitative Analysis/Social Sciences II-J. Amoyaw
Winter term  Fridays  11:35-14:25
SOSA 4/5002 will cover intermediate statistical methods. We will briefly review the basic statistics discussed in SOSA 5001 and will focus on multiple linear regression, regression diagnostics, and methods that can be used when “normal” assumptions are violated. Attention will also be given to methods for analyzing binary and non-binary categorical variables using Stata. This course is intended to help students engage contemporary social issues with these methods, teach them how to select appropriate methods to answer their own research questions, and prepare them to learn even more specialized techniques.

SOSA 4/5003-Contemporary Perspectives in Ethnography-L. DuBois
Fall term  Tuesdays  8:35-11:25
This course is not about “what” so much as “how.”  We ask how ethnographers come to know their objects; which strategies they employ to learn about particular, often foreign, social realities; how they marry theory and method to illuminate specific social situations and processes; and, because ethnography refers not only to a methodology, but also to a way of writing, we ask how ethnographers communicate their knowledge.

Although one of many methodologies employed by contemporary socio-cultural anthropologists, ethnography remains at the center of the discipline.  (It also has a long and illustrious history in sociology.)  Taking ethnography as our object allows us to examine the interplay of theory, method and description in anthropological work.  The way in which these three aspects are intertwined is one of the great strengths of ethnography, but it also makes ethnographies complex.  The course, then, examines a varied selection of ethnographies, with contrasting theoretical approaches, geographical locations, and substantive problems.  We consider how, in each, problems are constructed, investigated, analysed and explained.  How do the authors define the object of study?  How do they collect information about it?  How do they use the work of others to help them understand the problems they consider?  How are ethnographers personally positioned in these processes? 

SOSA 4/5004-Issues in Economy, Work & Development-K. Foster
Winter term  Tuesdays  8:35-11:25
It’s hard to go a single day without hearing something about “the economy.” The messages vary: it's “in a slump” or it’s “booming”; it’s full of opportunity but it’s rife with growing inequalities. The economy's so bad you’ll have student loan debt until you’re 85, but if you "market yourself" right and "build your personal brand,” it’ll reward you with riches you never imagined! This course might not have all the answers, but it aims to help you engage with, critique and apply sociological perspectives on economic matters—from the very definition of ‘the economy’, to the social meanings attached to consumption, production, finance, work, unions, taxation and money. In seminars and course assignments, you will use sociological theories to make sense of timely and timeless economic issues. Readings will range from works of classical political economists to current, cutting-edge writing from diverse scholars. You will be urged to question some of your basic assumptions about what the economy is, how it works, how it varies across time and place, and what it might look like in the future.

SOSA 4/5005-Issues in Social Justice and Inequality:  Justice, Fairness and Legitimacy-C. Giacomantonio
Winter term  Wednesdays  13:35-16:25
Social theory offers a wide range of perspectives on justice and, by extension, injustice. For some, justice is an objective property of a state of affairs, measured against universal norms; for others, it is subjective and measured against socially-contingent expectations and perceptions of what is fair and appropriate. Often, though not exclusively, established through relationships between individuals, groups, and ‘the state’, the experience of (in)justice is a core element in determining whether people grant legitimacy to social and societal institutions. This experience of justice differs along cultural, geographical, class, race, and gender lines, which in turn has implications for imagining both universal and contingent forms of justice. In this course, we will review several key theories of justice, examine sociological and anthropological evidence that help us understand the practical implications of these theories, and consider different claims about how the concepts of justice, fairness, and legitimacy act to shape social relations.

SOSA 4/5006-Issues in Critical Health Studies: Health, Ritual and Belief-R. Oakley
Fall term  Fridays  8:35-11:25
In this course we explore health as a ritual process with attention to how beliefs and practices are negotiated across meaning and power spectrums through time and space. We consider health as interwoven within a cosmos of human, non-human, ancestral, animate, and inanimate entities/concepts/material cultural artifacts that are understood to preserve, challenge or break health. As aetiologies, practices, and objects are generated in situ and pass through social and geographic boundaries, health involves considerations of both ‘life’ and ‘death’ whether as a binary or gradations. At its roots, health involves considerations of how we care for others and ourselves, how we collectively manage when illness pervades and what is believed about the efficacy of these practices.