Department of Sociology

Course List

SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology

The fundamental concepts, principles, and methods of sociology; analyzes the influence of social and cultural factors upon human behavior; evaluates effect of group processes, social classes, stratification, and basic institutions on contemporary society. Offered each semester.  Cr 3.

SOC 210 Critical Thinking about Social Issues

Designed to follow Introduction to Sociology, this course further develops students’ skills of critical analysis through the application of sociological principles to current social issues. The course uses popular media as well as sociological materials. Examples of issues which may be examined are: poverty, health care, homelessness, aging, drugs, violence, bureaucracy, white collar crime, and changing gender roles. Prerequisite: Successful completion of SOC 100 with a grade of C or better or permission of the instructor.  Offered each semester.  Cr 3.

SOC 300 Sociological Theory

Critical evaluation of selected classical models of the social world. Includes consideration of the foundations of sociological thought, the content of major classical theories and theory groups, and the socio-cultural settings within which they developed. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 301 Qualitative Research Methods

This course provides an overview of the process of social research utilizing qualitative methods. Topics include the logic and principles of the research process, as well as specific techniques in qualitative research (e.g., writing field notes, conducting interviews, analyzing qualitative data). A fieldwork/lab component allows students to apply research skills in settings outside the classroom. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with a grade of C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 4.

SOC 307 Quantitative Research Methods

This course provides an overview of the social scientific research process, utilizing quantitative methods. Students generate research questions and testable hypotheses and analyze a variety of secondary data sources. Specific statistical topics include: measures of central tendency, measures of dispersion, t-testing, analysis of variance, cross-tabulation, measures of association, linear regression, and multiple regression. The course includes a computer lab component. Prerequisites: SOC 210 with a grade of C or better and completion of mathematics proficiency, or permission of instructor.  Cr 4.

SOC 315 Self and Society

This course explores the social construction of self as the result of both face-to-face and societal-level social processes such as language acquisition, identity development, and the effects of culture and social structure on individual and collective conceptions of self-hood. Readings and discussions focus on the relative contributions of individual self-determination and societal constraints on self-hood. Specific topics include childhood identity development, social stigma and societal definitions of normality, social structure and self-esteem, and cross-cultural differences in the concept of self-hood. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 316 Sociology of Gender

This course examines gender as a social, cultural, and historical construction which occurs within and reinforces sex/gender stratification. With particular attention paid to education, the family, and work, we will explore sex/gender stratification–its sources and dynamics; historical and contemporary forms; and implications for human lives, history, and society. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 323 Sociology of Death and Dying

This course focuses on some of the central issues in the sociology of death and dying: the social construction of grief and loss, the experience and meaning of death and dying in the late modern world, the politics of meaning making in the face of collective trauma, and the relation of pain and death and their representation to the making and unmaking of social order. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 327 Social Movements

This course is divided into two sections: social movement theory and social movement cases. First, students will explore the three dominant theoretical approaches covering the micro, meso, and macro context of social movements. These include framing and interpretive processes, mobilizing structures, and political opportunities. The “classic” U.S. social movement of the 1960s (civil rights, women’s liberation, anti-war, and free speech) and 1970s-80s (environmental and peace) will be utilized as historical cases to comprehend social movement theory. The second section of the course will address contemporary movements including (but not limited to) labor, anti-globalization, local alternatives, and the new peace movements. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 330 Sociology of the Family

A sociological approach to the study of the family, including the structure of social relationships, the modern American family as a social institution, the cultural background of the family, and the impact of social change. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 331 School and Society

This course examines the social organization of schooling and its social and political context in contemporary American society. Topics include the emergence of public education, role of state and community in shaping its nature, problems of access and equality, the organizational nature of schools, teaching as a profession, and alternatives to public education. Attention is given to public debates concerning the conditions, limits, and possibilities of schooling. Comparisons with educational systems of other countries are included when appropriate. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.   Cr 3.

SOC 333 Medical Sociology

Analysis of socio-cultural influences on health and illness, with an emphasis on health, illness, and sickness as social identities. Particular attention is given to the organization of health-related occupations and health services in cross-cultural perspective, and to the ethical and policy-related issues raised by different models of organization. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 334 Sociology of Religion

Review and critique of classical and contemporary sociological interpretations of religion, with emphasis on the changing character of religious expression in the twentieth century. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 343 Social Psychology

This course provides an overview of sociological theory and research in social psychology on the central topics of social perception, social communication, and social interaction. The course focuses on the impact of sociological factors such as gender, race, and class on face-to-face behavior and on how face-to-face interaction contributes to the creation and maintenance of social structure. Specific topics include social psychological methods; causes and consequences of stereotyping; gender, power, and conversation; status structures in small groups; distributive justice; and social dilemmas. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 348 Sociology of Work

This course surveys three strands of the literature: the nature of work under capitalism, the consequences emerging from such labor, and alternatives to capitalist relations in production. Specific topics include work in the global economy, Fordism and flexible capitalism, the division of labor, labor markets, control in the workplace, corporate dominance, jobs and the class structure, alienation, and workplace democracy. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 355 Politics and Society

This course will focus on power relationships in U.S. society, with some cross-national comparisons. Specific topics to be covered include the nature and distribution of power among social groups and organizations, theories of the state, social class and political participation, policy formation, and the interactions between democracy as a political system and capitalism as an economic system. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 357 Organizations: Individuals and Society

This course examines the nature of modern organizations and their impact on individuals and society. Several theoretical perspectives on organization will be examined to gain an understanding of organizational life and organizations’ role in modern society. In addition, we will consider dilemmas faced by individuals interacting with organizations as functionaries (for example, workers, government employees, teachers, police) and as clients. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 358 Sociology of Women’s Work

This course will introduce students to theoretical and empirical literature on women’s work in the paid labor force, on their unpaid labor in the home, and on the relationship between these two kinds of “women’s work.” The course emphasizes the diversity of women’s work and the interconnections among race-ethnicity, class, and gender through a detailed examination of professional women, blue-collar women, and “pink-collar” employees. Additional topics include occupational segregation, earnings differentials, poverty, law and public policy, and labor militancy. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 359 Leisure and Consumption under Global Capitalism

This course will use sociological concepts, paradigms, and research methods to engage students in a critical examination of leisure and consumption preferences and practices among the working, middle, and upper classes in the developed nations, especially the United States. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 363 Food, Culture and Society

This course views food production, processing, distribution, and consumption as social and cultural phenomena.  The course develops a sociological framework for understanding and connecting the diverse food stories in the headlines; GMOs, obesity, agricultural subsidies, food safety, organics.  Students will also gain a better understanding of their own food choices and opportunities for changing our food system.  Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr. 3.

 SOC 365 Sociology of the Body

This course examines the body as a text marked by, and rendered meaningful through, social categories of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and disease. This writing- and reading-intensive course discusses both social constructionist and biological determinist perspectives on embodied difference. Prerequisites: SOC 210 with C or better and one or more of SOC 300, SOC 316, WST 380, WST 390.  Cr 3.

SOC 370 Sociology of the Environment

Sociology of the Environment is the study of the complex relations between the social world and the natural environment. The sociologist is particularly interested in the role played by popular culture, economic systems, urbanization, rationalization, globalization, race and gender relations (environmental justice) in the creation and continuation of various environmental problems. Thus the course refers to efforts to understand and illuminate the societal dynamics in terms of social practices engaged in by citizens as they go about their lives.  Cumulatively these social practices produce particular consumption and use patterns that have significantly altered the natural world. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 374 Mental Health and Mental Illness

An examination of theories of the “causes” of “madness” and the treatment of the mentally ill. Particular attention on the influence of culture on the definition of illnesses, the relationship between social factors and illness, and the social context of treatment. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 380 Topics in Sociology

Specially developed occasional courses exploring a variety of theoretical and substantive areas within the field. Offered as resources permit. These courses may be counted as electives toward completion of the major. Prerequisite: SOC 210 with C or better or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 390 Individualized Instruction I

Independent reading and/or research for juniors and seniors. Apply to Department chair. Prerequisite: 15 hours in sociology.   Cr var.

SOC 391 Individualized Instruction II

Continuation of independent reading and/or research for juniors and seniors. Apply to Department chair. Prerequisite: SOC 390.  Cr var.

SOC 392 Poverty: Policy and Perspectives

This course will analyze the causes of and responses to poverty in the United States. Relying on multidisciplinary literature, this course examines measures and theories of poverty; public, political, and policy debates; and the role of government in income distribution/redistribution. Particular attention will focus on issues of power, wealth, gender, and race, as well as education, health, housing, and place as factors inextricably linked to poverty. Prerequisites: SOC 210 with a C or better, SOC 301 and SOC 307 recommended, or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 393 Women, Welfare, and the State

The course explores the gender bias of social welfare policy in the U.S., revealing a welfare state whose adherence to central elements such as the Protestant work ethic, “family values,” and a laissez-faire economy excludes over half the population. From both historical and theoretical perspectives, the course examines the development of the American welfare state, compares it to Western and Eastern European states, and assesses its impact on women’s lives. Prerequisites: SOC 210 with a grade of C or better and junior/senior standing, or permission of instructor.  Cr 3.

SOC 395 Internship

The course is designed to provide work/action experience and insight into professional roles in a variety of community agencies and organizations. The primary objective of the internship is the application of the perspectives, substantive knowledge, and methods of social science to a particular organizational setting. Thus, the internship can be understood as a participant observation experience within the context of social science research. It is primarily designed as a field experience/reflection opportunity for upper-level social science majors with substantive background/coursework in the area of internship placement. In addition to field placement, students are expected to meet for a series of internship seminars, for which readings and reports will be required. Offered every other spring semester. Contact Department for details.  Cr 4 to 6.

SOC 450 Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship

In working closely with faculty, undergraduate teaching assistants will gain insight into course materials and into all aspects of college teaching. This experience will be especially valuable for students who plan to do graduate work in sociology and for students exploring a career in teaching. Teaching assistants also provide an additional resource for assistance, advice, and modeling. Undergraduate teaching assistants generally assist faculty in course preparation and delivery including locating and reviewing materials for course use; assisting with the design of course schedule, exercises, assignments, and class presentations; lecturing and supervision of student groups; and providing feedback to students on their work. In addition, teaching assistants hold regular office hours. Enrollment in SOC 450 will depend on Departmental needs and course offerings. Selection is made by the faculty. Students should contact the Department chair for details. Prerequisite: SOC majors by permission only.  Cr 3.

Opening for Fixed-Length Lecturer in Sociology

Lecturer in Sociology

Department of Criminology, Economics and Sociology


The University of Southern Maine invites applications for a one-year, fixed-length Lecturer position in Sociology to begin September 2016.  Applicants must document successful teaching and a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education.  The length of the initial appointment will be for one academic year with possibility of an extension for up to two additional years.


The successful candidate will teach four courses per semester, including Introduction to Sociology and upper-division elective courses in the candidate’s area(s) of expertise.  Preference will be given to candidates whose courses contribute to Criminology and/or Economics and who have experience teaching Quantitative Research Methods. The successful candidate will be expected to teach on both our Portland and Gorham campuses and online, and to engage in departmental service. The Department of Criminology, Economics and Sociology offers four majors; more information about the Sociology program can be found at


The University of Southern Maine (USM) is Maine’s Metropolitan University, dedicated to providing students with a high-quality, accessible, affordable education.  USM’s strategic focus is in alignment with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and we are seeking to become a Carnegie Engaged University by the year 2020.  USM offers Baccalaureate, Master's, and Doctoral programs, providing students with rich learning and community engagement opportunities in the arts, humanities, politics, health sciences, business, mass communications, science, engineering, and technology.  Further information on USM can be found at     


USM’s three environmentally friendly campuses are unique, yet all share the extensive resources of the university — and all are energized through strong community partnerships.  Offering easy access to Boston, plus the ocean, mountains and forests of coastal, inland and northern Maine, USM is at the heart of Maine's most exciting metropolitan region:

  • Our Portland campus is located in "one of America’s most livable cities," according to Forbes magazine, which also ranks Portland among the top 10 for job prospects.  A creative and diverse community on Maine’s scenic coast, Portland is nationally known as a "foodie" hot spot!
  • USM’s beautiful residential Gorham campus  supports and celebrates excellence in academics, athletics, music and the arts and is home to ten Living Learning Communities and six Residential Communities.
  • Our Lewiston campus is home to USM’s innovative and richly diverse Lewiston-Auburn College. This Central Maine campus integrates classroom, community and workplace, and provides a small college experience with the resources of a large university.




  • ABD in Sociology or closely related field



  • PhD in Sociology


Apply online at: You will need to create an applicant profile and complete an application (which includes contact information for three professional references).  You will need to upload a cover letter, a resume/curriculum vitae which fully describes your qualifications and experiences with specific reference to the required and preferred qualifications. You will also need to complete the affirmative action survey, the self-identification of disability form, and the self-identification of veteran status form.  


Review of applications will begin immediately.  To ensure full consideration, materials should be submitted by May 1, 2016.  Materials received on or after that date will be considered at the discretion of the university.  We are not able to consider applicants who require Visa sponsorship support.


USM is an EEO/AA employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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