SOCI 210: Sociological Perspectives

Term Winter 2023
Location McConnell Engineering Building 204
Time Tue and Thu 2:35pm to 3:55pm
Instructor Peter McMahan
Office hours Thursdays, 4pm–5pm (Leacock 727)
Teaching Assistants TBA


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:

Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams is the main access point for the course. It will be used for live-streamed and prerecorded lectures, small-group discussions, assignments, Q&A, and all course communication. While Microsoft Teams is far from perfect, it has a wide range of functionality; rather than using a host of different tools (Zoom, email, MyCourses, etc.) you will have one primary ‘home’ for virtually all of the course material. Moreover, 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 with McGill. If you are registered for the course but do not have access to the course using the link above, please contact the instructor.


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.

Scheduled class periods

The class will principally use a “flipped” design. Most lectures will be pre-recorded and made available online. Students will be expected to have watched any recorded lectures (and completed assigned readings) before the scheduled start of class.

After the university’s add–drop period ends, class periods will be devoted to facilitating small-group discussions around assigned worksheets. 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 and view the recorded lectures, (2) participate in weekly group discussions and worksheets, (3) evaluate their group members participation, and (4) complete a final take-home examination. Each of these expectations is detailed below.


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 on Microsoft Teams. 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 and slide presentations will be pre-recorded and linked from Microsoft Teams and from the course syllabus. 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 format ) and recordings (streamed online ) will be available at least 48 hours before each class.

Group discussions

Starting on January 19, scheduled class time 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 at 5pm (17h00) the day 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 clariify concepts.

The discussion groups will be set for the semester, and groups responses be evaluated as a whole. Each response worksheet will be evaluated 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%.

Group discussions will contribute 50% to the final grade for the course.

Completing peer evaluation of group members will contribute 5% to the final grade for the course.

Final exam

At the end of the semester, students will be required to complete a take-home exam, due at the time scheduled by the exams office. The exam will be distributed 72 hours before it is due.

You should use formal academic citations in your exam. See the course page on references and citation styles for more info.

The final exam will contribute 35% 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 See schedule for dates 10% of final grade
Group discussion worksheets See schedule for dates 50% of final grade
Discussion group peer evaluation Tue, April 11 5% of final grade
Final exam TBA by Exams Office 35% 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 circumstances—including religious, medical, or other personal circumstances.

Students with disabilities in need of formal accommodation are encouraged to contact the 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 circonstances personnelles.

Les étudiants handicapés ayant besoin d’un accommodation formel sont encouragés à contacter le Bureau de soutien aux étudiants en situation de handicap (, 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 5

Administrative, syllabus review, motivation

  • Chelsea Vowel (2016), Beyond territorial acknowledgments

Tue, Jan 10

Making sense of the social world

  • Thinking sociologically (live – no pre-recorded lectures today)
    (slides )

Discussion: (In-class)

  • Erikson (2017), The View from the Fourteenth Floor

Thu, Jan 12

Class cancelled

Discussion: (In-class)

  • Erikson (2017), Coming to Terms with Social Life

  • Ellis (2018), Marxism! (video)

Tue, Jan 17

Modern Society

  • Sociological methods and theory; Nation states and societies; European colonialism; Theoretical perspectives part 1: structural functionalism
    (slides )

Discussion: (In-class)

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 2

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 1 and section 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 19

Race, ethnicity, and nationality


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 1 (due Wed, Jan 25)

  • 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 24

Multiculturalism and immigration


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 1 (due Wed, Jan 25)

  • Little (2016), sections 11.4–11.5

  • Mahtani (2002), Interrogating the hyphen-nation

  • Leroux (2010)

Thu, Jan 26

Social construction of disability


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 2 (due Fri, Feb 3)

  • Wendell (1996), Chapter 2: The social construction of disability

Tue, Jan 31

Gender and Socialization


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 2 (due Fri, Feb 3)

  • 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 2

Gender and intersectionality


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 2 (due Fri, Feb 3)

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

  • Gilchrist (2010), ‘Newsworthy’ Victims?

Class and inequality

Tue, Feb 7

Cultivating difference: class and culture


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 3 (due Wed, Feb 15)

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), sections 3.3 and 3.4

  • Lamont (1992), prologue and chap. 1

Thu, Feb 9

Inequality and stratification in Canada


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 3 (due Wed, Feb 15)

  • Little (2016), section 9.2

  • Erikson (2017), Creating Divisions

Tue, Feb 14

Global inequality and mobility


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 3 (due Wed, Feb 15)

  • 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 16

Population: theories of demographic dynamics


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 4 (due Wed, Feb 22)

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 20

Tue, Feb 21

Demography and family


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 4 (due Wed, Feb 22)

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), sections 14.1 and 14.2

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

Thu, Feb 23

States and authority


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 5 (due Wed, Mar 8)

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

Tue, Mar 7

Democracy and political participation


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 5 (due Wed, Mar 8)

  • Haney (1996), Homeboys, Babies, Men in Suits

Social change

Thu, Mar 9

Social change and collective behavior


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 6 (due Sun, Mar 19)

  • 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 14

Stigma, social control, and deviance


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 6 (due Sun, Mar 19)

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

Thu, Mar 16

Social movements


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 6 (due Sun, Mar 19)

  • Mische (2003), Cross-talk in Movements

Groups and institutions

Tue, Mar 21

Studying relations


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 7 (due Fri, Mar 24)

  • Crossley (2013), Interactions, Juxtapositions, and Tastes

Thu, Mar 23

Networks and collective mobilization


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 7 (due Fri, Mar 24)

  • Gould (1991)

Tue, Mar 28

The structure of organizations and groups


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 8 (due Fri, Mar 31)

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 6

Thu, Mar 30

Institutional analysis


Discussion: Discussion worksheet 8 (due Fri, Mar 31)

  • DiMaggio and Powell (1983), The Iron Cage Revisited

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

Technology and the Internet

Tue, Apr 4

Technology and media in social life

  • Science, technology, and society
  • The Internet as equalizer / divider

Discussion: Discussion worksheet 9 (due Fri, Apr 7)

  • Conerly, Holmes, and Tamang (2021), chapter 8

Thu, Apr 6

Identity and interaction online

  • Identity and interaction online

Discussion: Discussion worksheet 9 (due Fri, Apr 7)

  • Tolentino (2019), The I in the Internet

  • Marwick and boyd (2011)


Tue, Apr 11

Review and final exam info

  • Course review and exam info


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Beck, Ulrich. 2010. “Remapping Social Inequalities in an Age of Climate Change: For a Cosmopolitan Renewal of Sociology*.” Global Networks 10 (2): 165–81.
Bolnick, Deborah A., Duana Fullwiley, Troy Duster, Richard S. Cooper, Joan H. Fujimura, Jonathan Kahn, Jay S. Kaufman, et al. 2007. “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing.” Science 318 (5849): 399–400.
Chelsea Vowel. 2016. “Beyond Territorial Acknowledgments.” Âpihtawikosisân (blog). September 23, 2016.
Conerly, Tonja R., Kathleen Holmes, and Asha Lal Tamang. 2021. Introduction to Sociology 3e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax.
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.
Curtis, Christopher. 2020. “Anishinaabe Block Roads to Stop Moose Trophy Hunting in Wildlife Reserve.” Ricochet, September 16, 2020.
DiMaggio, Paul J., and Walter W. Powell. 1983. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” American Sociological Review 48 (2): 147–60.
Ellis, Lindsay, dir. 2018. Marxism! | The Whole Plate Episode 9.
Erikson, Kai. 2017. The Sociologist’s Eye: Reflections on Social Life. Yale University Press.
Ferber, Alona. n.d. “Judith Butler on the Culture Wars, JK Rowling and Living in ‘Anti-Intellectual Times’.” New Statesman. Accessed September 23, 2020.
Gilchrist, Kristen. 2010. ‘Newsworthy’ Victims?” Feminist Media Studies 10 (4): 373–90.
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Leroux, Darryl. 2010. “Québec Nationalism and the Production of Difference: The Bouchard-Taylor Commission, the Hérouxville Code of Conduct, and Québec’s Immigrant Integration Policy.” Quebec Studies 49 (April): 107–26.
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Mahtani, Minelle. 2002. “Interrogating the Hyphen-Nation: Canadian Multicultural Policy and ‘Mixed Race’ Identities.” Social Identities 8 (1): 67–90.
Marwick, Alice E., and danah boyd. 2011. “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience.” New Media & Society 13 (1): 114–33.
Mische, Ann. 2003. “Cross-Talk in Movements: Reconceiving the Culture-Network Link.” In Social Movements and Networks: Relational Approaches to Collective Action, edited by Mario Diani and Doug McAdam, 258–80.
Osterweil, Vicky. 2020. In Defense of Looting.
Panofsky, Aaron, and Joan Donovan. 2017. “Genetic Ancestry Testing Among White Nationalists,” August.
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TallBear, Kim. 2013. “Genomic Articulations of Indigeneity.” Social Studies of Science 43 (4): 509–33.
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Westbrook, Laurel, and Kristen Schilt. 2014. “Doing Gender, Determining Gender: Transgender People, Gender Panics, and the Maintenance of the Sex/Gender/Sexuality System.” Gender & Society 28 (1): 32–57.
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