Sociology 337

SOCY 337

Catalog Entry

SOCY 337. Political Sociology
Three Hours Lecture (3).

Prerequisites: SOCY 110 or SOCY/ANTH 121

This course provides an overview of American political processes: individual political participation, political movements, influence groups, community power studies and theories of political power at the national level.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The primary concern of the course is the distribution of political influence (the power structure) at the national level and the consequences of that distribution. There is a brief overview of the three main theoretical traditions in political sociology: pluralism, elite theory, and Marxist theory. That is followed by an extensive examination of the political goals, resources, and methods of the major political groupings in the United States as a means of empirically evaluating the three theoretical traditions. The course concludes with an overview of the research on the individual's role in the political system in terms of: the nature and distribution of mass political beliefs, modes and extent of individual political participation, electoral politics and trends in partisan voting, and theories of the development and consequences of mass political movements.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Class time is devoted to a combination of lecture presentation and focused classroom discussions of particular topics. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate all the theoretical positions discussed in the course and assignments are designed to teach critical thinking and develop argumentation skills.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students will:

1. become knowledgeable in the field of political sociology;
2. develop observation techniques of political events;
3. develop critical thinking skills in evaluating theoretical arguments.


Assessment Measures

Graded assignments include three (including the final) in-class exams (multiple-choice/short-essay), take-home essays, summaries of reading assignments, and a critical review of a research article.


Other Course Information

This course is normally taught as a "writing intensive" course.



January, 2004 Reviewed Peggy A. Shifflett

March, 2009