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Sociology Course Highlights

Fall 2014

Sociology of Childhood and Adolescence – SOCY 4640 (001) 

This course explores the social meanings of childhood and adolescence.  Although everyone has been a child, the construct of “childhood” as a unique status has changed over time, with adolescence representing a newer category of development.  Using the notion that childhood and adolescence are social constructs that have meant different things in different historical contexts as a foundation, we will examine aspects of the symbolic meanings of childhood and adolescence as well as the experiences of being a young person. Core to this, we will examine how these meanings and experiences are situated in larger structures of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and how childhood and adolescence are layered with complex and sometimes contradictory expectations. The commercialization of childhood through marketing to young people, contradictory messages about them as innocent or problematic, the experience of gender socialization, and the expectations of creating perfect children and competitive teens will be explored in detail.

SOCY 4770/5770: Law & Politics of Reproduction 
Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Reich

Reproduction is not simply a biological process but is laden with symbolic, political, philosophical, and ideological meanings that are ideal for exploration in an interdisciplinary course. Drawing on biology, history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and law, we will examine the contested meanings of reproduction, including how people plan for and experience reproduction, how social meanings influence biological understandings of reproduction, social understandings of who should and should not reproduce (and under what circumstances), and how public policy mediates and reinforces these conflicts of meaning and ideology.