Political Sociology

Freedom and democracy are only possible where the resolute will of a nation to not allow itself to be ruled like sheep is permanently alive – Max Weber, 1906

Politics - Wooden Tile ImagesWhen people hear the word “politics” they generally think it relates only to voting, election campaigns, and political parties. But politics is really just about the dynamics of power— where it comes from, who has it and how it is used.  And when we understand it in this way, we can see that power (and politics) is everywhere in our daily lives – at work, in classrooms,  even in our families.

Modern political sociology seeks to expand our understanding of what “counts” as politics so that we can recognize the ways relationships of power impact every aspect of society.  When we think of politics in this way, it enables us to recognize the various forms power takes, highlights connections between social problems and systems of power, and exposes patterns of inequity and abuse of power.

Ultimately, a better understanding the social dimensions of power will help those with little of it to develop more effective strategies to change society.  A central goal of the course is to provide students with the tools necessary for critical analysis of, and active engagement in, political life — in all its forms.

Below you can find links relevant to the course:

Required books for Fall 2019

Syllabus – Political Sociology – Fall 2019

Required Books for Fall 2019

(and some suggestions for students):

Here the five books we will be reading this semester.   I know how expensive books can be so I’m offering some tips to not only save some money, but also to improve what you take away from the class.  Each of the books is available in paperback form, which will help keep the cost down.  I priced out each title on Amazon and came to a total of $86.00 for all five books, new.  That’s pretty reasonable and about what one big boring textbook for some other class would cost.  But wait, there’s more.  All these books are easy to find used through various online bookstores.  The place I usually buy used books is Abebooks.com (there are many others) and not only are all the titles available there, but all of them can be purchased for about $30 total (including shipping!).    You can’t expect to do better than that!

Some important notes:

  • The Gaventa book will be needed first, so if you will not be buying them all at once, be sure to order that one so you have it the first week of class.
  • The Lakoff book, is now in the third edition, but you will be fine if you find a previous edition.  The argument is the same and you’ll probably save some money buying a used 2nd edition copy.
  • I strongly advise against purchasing digital copies or “eBooks”.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, research shows that reading printed hard copy is easier for people and better for retaining what we’ve read.  Second, we will be using the texts in class and digital copies will not be useful to you as electronic devices and laptops are not allowed in class.

The books:

Alexander, Michelle. 2010. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-643-8

Gaventa, John. 1980. Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley. Urbana,Ill.: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-25-200985-3

Hacker, Jacob S. and Paul Pierson. 2017. American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Proper. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Hochschild, Arlie Russell. 2016. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. Hochschild, Arlie. Strangers in Their Own Land. New York. New Press.

Lakoff, George. 2016. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 3rd ed.   ISBN 978-0226411293