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Module details

SC164-4-SP: Introduction to United States Sociology

Year: 2015/16
Department: Sociology
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No

Supervisor: Professor Colin Samson  
Teaching Staff: Dr Carlos Gigoux  
Contact details: Jane Harper, Undergraduate Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail: socugrad (Non essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create the full email address) 

Module is taught during the following terms

Module Description

This module explores some important and exciting interpretations of American society. We will focus on several key sociologists, particularly those who have focused on specific places in the US and who used travel and participant observation as methods of research. Our appreciation of American society will balance the 'big picture' with studies of small social worlds. It will look at the wide geographical expanses of the country as well as cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles. The module examines how issues and concepts such as democracy, individualism, inequality, gender roles, poverty, cities, gangs and guns became sources of enchantment and disenchantment. We will cover one key sociologist each week. By the end of the term, the student will have a broad appreciation of a variety of understandings of American society and the relevance of sociological thinking to them.

Learning and Teaching Methods

1 hour lecture + 1 hour class per week


50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark

Exam Duration and Period

2:00 hour exam during Summer Examination period.

Other information

Compulsory for:

BA American Studies, BA American Studies with Film, BA Criminology and American Studies


  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 2000, [1830], Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • W.E.B DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 2007, [1903], Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Nels Anderson, On Hobos and Homelessness, 1998, [1922], Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • C. Wright Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Classes, (1953), New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 1963, London: Penguin.
  • Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, 1990, New York: Vintage.
  • Sudhir Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, 2008, New York: Penguin.
  • Kenneth Clark, The Dark Ghetto; Dilemmas of Social Power, (1965), New York: and Row
  • Dan Baum, 2012, Gun Guys: A Road Trip, 2012, New York: Knopf.
  • Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, 2012, Nation Books.

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Dr Lydia Martens
  • Academic Role: Senior Lecturer

Should you have any queries about the Module Directory pages, please contact the Course Record Team, Systems Administration Office, Academic Section; email: crt (non Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk)