SOC 114 – Contemporary U.S. Society

SOC 114 - Contemporary U.S. Society

Session 1: May 26 – July 1

Course Description

An introduction to contemporary social life in the United States through a survey of social structures, social interaction, and social change. Topics include the American family, sports, gender inequality, deviance and social control, electronic media, and the evolving concept of community.

In this course, you will be introduced to Sociology as a discipline. We will look at the major components of what makes sociological inquiry and thinking different from (and sometimes similar to) other disciplines. You will examine the terminology and jargon specific to Sociology, get an overview of the major theories and methods used by sociologists, and get an introduction to some of the major topics and issues addressed by sociologists.

We will focus on current American society because it is the culture in which most of us are immersed most of the time, so it is the one that is most familiar to all of us and the one that we all have in common. We will talk about other cultures in comparison whenever possible to show how reality and culture is SOCIALLY CREATED.

I want to help you “make the invisible visible”. I want you to start noticing things in your life that you take for granted because they “are what they are” or you see them all the time so don’t notice them. The process of starting to really SEE things is most transformative when using things that are most familiar to our personal experiences.

Course Objectives

  1. Learn, understand, and be able to apply key sociological concepts.
  2. Learn how to look at the world through a “sociological lens”, seeing how concepts, principles, theories, and methods are used in various ways and can be applied to our day-to-day lives.
  3. Understand the “relative” nature of the world in which we live and how using the “sociological imagination” can help us see our life and the world around us in new and more critical ways.
  4. Learn to think critically about information you are given, question the agenda or perspective of the source of your “knowledge”, and develop your own perspective. Knowledge is not “objective”, humans make it up and it is thus “socially created”.
  5. Understand how power and the various systems of inequality (race, class, gender, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc.) affect the organization of human interactions as well as what we study and how we study it in sociology. And how the people with power (financial, social, physical, military, etc.) organize society and social institutions to maintain their power.

Course Materials


Understanding Society: An Introductory Reader, 5th edition. (2015). Margaret L. Anderson, Kim A. Logio, and Howard F. Taylor, editors. Cengage Learning.

The Four Agreements. (2003). Don Miguel Ruiz

Supplemental Material: Articles provided by Professor Currier

Syllabus (PDF)

Dates: May 26 – July 1

Department: Sociology

Course: SOC 114

Credit Hours:  3




CI Culture and Identity requirement
SS Social Science requirement

The above requirements are from the Randolph College general education program.  Check with your home institution to see if this course fulfills your requirements.

Tuition & Fees:

$1,350 tuition

Textbooks and other course materials can be purchased separately from the source of your choosing.

Your Instructor

Danielle Currier

Danielle CurrierAssociate Professor of Sociology

B.A., Grinnell College; M.S., Virginia Commonwealth University; Ph.D., University of Connecticut

Register for Summer Session