SOCI 210: Sociological Perspectives

Term Winter 2024
Location Rutherford Physics Building 112
Time Tue and Thu 11:35am to 12:55pm
Instructor Peter McMahan (he/him)
Office hours Wednesdays, 11am–12pm (Leacock 727)
Teaching Assistants Emma Brion (they/them)
Calla Brugmans (she/her)
(TA emails available on MyCourses)


This course provides an introduction to sociological analysis. Sociology is a remarkably diverse field of study, and materials covered will, by necessity, not provide a comprehensive view of the discipline as a whole. Rather, the course has three specific aims: (1) to introduce students to many of the substantive subjects commonly studied by sociologists, (2) to familiarize students with different perspectives of sociological theory, and (3) to help students read and think critically about social issues.

Tools and resources

We will use a number of online tools to facilitate an engaging and student-focused learning environment:


The online syllabus (this document) is another important resource for the course. It will be updated throughout the semester with direct links to relevant content and any changes to the schedule or assignments. You can access it through any browser at


To help students engage with the course readings and to prevent students from falling behind, we will use the online tool Perusall for all readings. Perusall is a reading platform in which students annotate texts collaboratively alongside one another. More information on how Perusall works and how it is integrated into the course is available here. Information for accessing Perusall will be posted in Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams will be used for live-streamed and recorded lectures. McGill students already have access to Teams—you can sign in with your McGill email and password.

You can access Teams through a web browser or using app on your computer or mobile device. You an use this direct link to access the course home. Students will be added to the course on Teams within 48 hours of registering for the course. If you are registered for the course but do not have access to the course using the link above, please contact the instructor.

Scheduled class periods

The course is structured as a hybrid of lectures and group work. Most of the classes will begin with a short lecture by the instructor, with the remainder of the class time spent in small-group discussions.

After the university’s add–drop period ends, class periods will be devoted to facilitating small-group discussions around assigned worksheets. Group work will consist of structured discussions of the course readings in the context of broad themes and theories introduced throughout the semester. The success of the course therefore relies on students’ engaged readings of the assigned texts. The instructor and TAs will be present to join in on group discussions, and will be available for support and to answer questions.

Note: During the add–drop period, the scheduled classes will consist of short lectures by the instructor, ad-hoc discussions among small groups of 4 or 5 students, and class-wide discussions.


Students will be expected to (1) closely read the assigned texts, (2) listen to lectures, (3) participate in group discussions and worksheets, and (4) evaluate their group members participation.


The assigned readings are the core of the course material, and students are expected to carefully and critically read each required text before class. To facilitate students’ engagement with the reading and to help prevent students from falling behind, we will use the online tool Perusall for all required readings. Perusall is a reading platform in which students annotate texts collaboratively alongside one another. More information on how Perusall works and how it is integrated into the course is available here. All readings will be freely available, either through Perusall or a link provided on the syllabus.

To access Perusall, you must register using the instructions that will be posted MyCourses. If you are having any trouble accessing the readings through Perusall contact the instructor right away.

Readings will be marked as either complete (1 point) or incomplete (0 points). Student responses must demonstrate a thoughtful and thorough reading of the entire assignment to receive credit. (Note: Perusall may indicate in some places that the maximum score for a reading is 3 points, but this is not the case. The maximum score on any reading is 1 point.) At the end of the semester, the four lowest reading grades will be dropped from the assessment. Reading assessments will contribute 10% to the final grade for the course.


Lectures will be held in-class and live-streamed over Microsoft Teams, with recordings available shortly afterwards (linked from the schedule below). Lectures will be about 10-15 minutes each, with multiple lectures for each class period. Although viewing lectures is not part of the course grade, the content of the lectures will be necessary to do well in the course.

Slides (PDF and HTML format) will be available before each class.

Group worksheets

Starting on January 18, the final portion of each scheduled class will be devoted to small-group discussions and collaborative composition of discussion responses. Each class period, groups will work together to discuss the readings and draft responses to a provided worksheet of discussion questions. These worksheets will be due on MyCourses at 5pm (17h00) the Friday after the last scheduled discussion on the worksheet (see schedule for details). It is strongly recommended that students meet during the scheduled class time to discuss the reading, as the instructor and teaching assistants will be available to answer questions and clarify concepts.

The discussion groups of three or four students will be set for the semester, and groups responses be evaluated as a whole. Worksheets will be evaluated using two methods: peer assessment and TA grading.

Worksheet peer assessment

For each worksheet, students will submit a brief peer assessment of a different group’s work, due before the following class period. Peer assessments will follow a straightforward rubric.

Peer assessments of worksheets contribute 15% to the final grade for the course.

Completing peer assessments will contribute 10% to the final grade for the course.

Worksheet TA assessment

Each week, approximately half of the response worksheet will be evaluated by the course TAs. These assessments will be out of 10 possible points according to the following rubric:

9.0 – 10.0

Responses demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the reading and link ideas from the text to themes, theories, and other topics from class.

6.0 – 8.9

Responses demonstrate a basic understanding of the reading but may miss certain key implications or connections.

2.0 – 5.9

Responses demonstrate a superficial understanding of or engagement with the reading or contain numerous fundamental misunderstandings of the concepts.

0.0 – 1.9

Responses are cursory, or not submitted at all.

Marks for worksheet responses will be given to all members of the group. At the end of the semester, groups will perform peer evaluation that will adjust each participant’s discussion grade up or down by as much as 15%.

TA assessments of worksheets will contribute 35% to the final grade for the course.

Final individual worksheet

At the end of the semester, students will be required to complete a final worksheet individually (not with their group). This worksheet will follow the same format as the weekly group worksheets, but it will cover content from the entire semester and be designed to take the entire class period. This worksheet will be evaluated by the TAs and the instructor according to the worksheet rubric above

The final worksheet will contribute 25% to the final grade for the course.

Contribution weights

The evaluation components for this course (described above), and the dates they are set for, are non-negotiable.

Reading 10% of final grade
TA assessment of discussion worksheets 35% of final grade
Peer assessment of discussion worksheets 15% of final grade
Completion of worksheet peer assessment 10% of final grade
Completion of group peer evaluation 5% of final grade
Individual worksheet (in-class) 25% of final grade

Other topics


Students who need accommodation or who are having trouble accessing any aspect of the course may contact me directly. I will make every effort to accommodate individual situations, including religious, medical, or other personal circumstances.

Students with disabilities or otherwise in need of formal accommodation are encouraged to contact the Office for Student Accessibility & Achievement (formerly Office for Students with Disabilities:, phone 514-398-6009).

Les étudiants qui ont besoin d’un accommodation ou qui ont des difficultés à accéder à un aspect du cours peuvent me contacter directement. Je ferai tout mon possible pour tenir compte des circonstances individuelles, y compris des circonstances religieuses, médicales ou autres.

Les étudiants handicapés ou ayant besoin d’un aménagement formel sont encouragés à contacter le Service étudiant d’accessibilité et d’aide à la réussite (, téléphone 514-398-6009).

Academic integrity

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).(approved by Senate on 29 January 2003)

L’université McGill attache une haute importance à l’honnêteté académique. Il incombe par conséquent à tous les étudiants de comprendre ce que l’on entend par tricherie, plagiat et autres infractions académiques, ainsi que les conséquences que peuvent avoir de telles actions, selon le Code de conduite de l’étudiant et des procédures disciplinaires (pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site

Lanugage of evaluation

In accord with McGill University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded. (approved by Senate on 21 January 2009)

Conformément à la Charte des droits de l’étudiant de l’Université McGill, chaque étudiant a le droit de soumettre en français ou en anglais tout travail écrit devant être noté (sauf dans le cas des cours dont l’un des objets est la maîtrise d’une langue).

Grade appeals

Instructors and teaching assistants take the marking of assignments very seriously, and we work diligently to be fair, consistent, and accurate. Nonetheless, mistakes and oversights occasionally happen. If you believe that to be the case, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • If it is a mathematical error simply alert the instructor of the error.
  • In the case of more substantive appeals, you must:
    1. Wait at least 24 hours after receiving your mark.
    2. Carefully re-read your assignment, all guidelines and marking schemes, and the grader’s comments.
    3. If you wish to appeal, you must submit to the instructor a written explanation of why you think your mark should be altered. Please note that upon re-grade your mark may go down, stay the same, or go up.


Introduction and foundations

Thu, Jan 4

Administrative, syllabus review, motivation

  • Introduction: Course mechanics and overview
    (html;  pdf;  vid)
  • Chelsea Vowel (2016), Beyond territorial acknowledgments

Tue, Jan 9

Making sense of the social world

  • Thinking sociologically
    (html;  pdf)
  • Erikson (2017), The View from the Fourteenth Floor

Thu, Jan 11

Theoretical anchors

  • Structuring social inquiry
  • Theoretical perspectives part 1: structural functionalism
    (html;  pdf)
  • Erikson (2017), Coming to Terms with Social Life

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 1

  • Ellis (2018), Marxism! (video)

Tue, Jan 16

Modern Society

  • Sociological methods and theory
  • Nation states and societies
  • European colonialism
    (html;  pdf)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 2 and sect 4.1

  • Barker and Lowman (n.d.)

  • Erikson (2017), Worlds Beyond

  • Curtis (2020), Anishinaabe block roads to stop moose trophy hunting in wildlife reserve

Race, ethnicity, disability, and gender

Thu, Jan 18

Race, ethnicity, and nationality

  • Origins of race
  • Prejudice, inequality, and racism
  • Theoretical perspectives part 2: conflict theory
    (html;  pdf)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), sections 11.1–11.3

  • Bolnick et al. (2007), The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing

  • TallBear (2013), Genomic articulations of indigeneity

  • Panofsky and Donovan (2017), Genetic Ancestry Testing among White Nationalists

Tue, Jan 23

Multiculturalism and immigration

  • Canadian multiculturalism
  • Theoretical perspectives part 3: symbolic interactionism
    (html;  pdf)
  • Little (2016), sections 11.4–11.5

  • Mahtani (2002), Interrogating the hyphen-nation

  • Leroux (2010)

Thu, Jan 25

Social construction of disability

  • Social constructionism
  • Social construction of disability
    (html;  pdf)
  • Wendell (1996), Chapter 2: The social construction of disability

Tue, Jan 30

Gender and Socialization

  • Socialization
  • Socialization of gender
    (html;  pdf)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), Sections 5.1 and 5.2

  • Westbrook and Schilt (2014), Doing gender, determining gender

  • Ferber (n.d.), Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”

Thu, Feb 1

Gender and intersectionality

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), Sections 5.3 and 5.4

  • Gilchrist (2010), ‘Newsworthy’ Victims?

Class and inequality

Tue, Feb 6

Cultivating difference: class and culture

  • Interaction
  • Status and Boundaries
    (html;  pdf)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), sections 3.3 and 3.4

  • Lamont (1992), prologue and chap. 1

Thu, Feb 8

Inequality and stratification in Canada

  • Inequality and mobility
  • Social divisions and class
    (html;  pdf)
  • Little (2016), section 9.2

  • Erikson (2017), Creating Divisions

Tue, Feb 13

Global inequality and mobility

  • Beck (2010), Remapping Social Inequalities in an Age of Climate Change

  • Piketty (2017), Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Introduction

  • Pemberton (2019) Capital in the Twenty-First Century (documentary film based on Piketty’s 2017 book)

Populations and states

Thu, Feb 15

Population: theories of demographic dynamics

  • Studying populations
  • Demographic theories
    (html;  pdf)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 20

Tue, Feb 20

Demography and family

  • Demography and the family
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Developmental idealism
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), sections 14.1 and 14.2

  • Thornton (2001), The developmental paradigm, reading history sideways, and family change

Thu, Feb 22

States and authority

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), sections 17.1, 17.2, and 17.4

Tue, Feb 27

Democracy and political participation

  • Political participation
    (html;  pdf)
  • Haney (1996), Homeboys, Babies, Men in Suits

Social change

Thu, Feb 29

Social change and collective behavior

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 21

  • Wilson and Sonenstein (2020): In Defense of Looting (Episode of Beyond Prisons podcast, featuring an interview with Vicky Osterweil (2020))

Tue, Mar 12

Stigma, social control, and deviance

  • Saguy and Ward (2011), Coming Out as Fat: Rethinking Stigma

Thu, Mar 14

Social movements

  • Social movements
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Mische (2003), Cross-talk in Movements

Groups and institutions

Tue, Mar 19

Studying relations

  • Relational sociology
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Crossley (2013), Interactions, Juxtapositions, and Tastes

Thu, Mar 21

Networks and collective mobilization

  • Networks and mobilization
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Gould (1991)

Tue, Mar 26

The structure of organizations and groups

  • Groups and group behavior
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Structure of organizations and groups
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 6

Thu, Mar 28

Institutional analysis

  • Institutional theory
    (pdf;  vid)
  • DiMaggio and Powell (1983), The Iron Cage Revisited

  • Star and Griesemer (1989), Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects

Technology and the Internet

Tue, Apr 2

Technology and media in social life

  • Science, technology, and society
    (pdf;  vid)
  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 8

  • Bender et al. (2021), On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? 🦜

Thu, Apr 4

Identity and interaction online

  • Identity and interaction online
  • Tolentino (2019), The I in the Internet

  • Marwick and Boyd (2011)

Wrapping up

Tue, Apr 9

Final individual worksheet (in-class)


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Crossley, Nick. 2013. “Interactions, Juxtapositions, and Tastes: Conceptualizing ‘Relations’ in Relational Sociology.” In Conceptualizing Relational Sociology: Ontological and Theoretical Issues, edited by Christopher John Powell, 123–43. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
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