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        The New School for Social Research
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        Aria Vaghayenegar

        Department of Sociology
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        Rachel Sherman

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        Charles Whitcroft

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        Aura Angelica Hernandez Cardenas

        Sociology Student Handbook

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    • Courses in the Department of Sociology explore how societies work, why societies change, and where societies will go next. These courses cover the theory behind societal transformation through rigorous research, critical thinking, and spirited debate.

      Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Spring 2023 courses include:

      Interviewing Methods, GSOC 5055
      Rachel Sherman, Professor and Chair of Sociology

      Although we read a range of methodology texts and empirical studies, this workshop-style course is primarily a practicum in designing and conducting research based on in-depth interviews. Students carry out a project, to include at least ten interviews, in the course of the semester; the final paper is based on this research. A significant amount of class time is devoted to the discussion of student work. Students are encouraged to come to the first class with ideas about what kind of project they would like to pursue.

      Contemporary Sociological Theory, GSOC 5061
      Benoit Challand, Associate Professor of Sociology

      This course offers an introduction to influential ways of thinking sociologically that emerged in the 20th and 21st centuries and which develop, and transform, original themes of the foundational period of “classical sociology.” Departing from positivism and holism, interpretivist contemporary theories shed new light on the micro-foundations of “society” and of the self, with growing attention to gender, race, fluid identity, questions of social reproduction, and ecology. The course covers American and Continental sociological theory as well as critical race and postcolonial theory. Overall, the course equips students with the ability to critically analyze contemporary sociological texts, with a focus on how these texts apply theoretical frameworks to pressing issues of our time.  

      The Worlds Money Makes, GSOC 5090
      Emma Park, Assistant Professor of History

      Despite claims to the contrary, money has never functioned merely as a means of exchange, unit of account, or store of value. This course begins by exploring theories of money—we dive into various approaches to understanding not only what money is but why money exists and what money does. The second half of the course sets these theories in motion. We explore historical case studies across time that are global in scope, investigating the relationship between money and power by homing in on the role of money in consolidating and and contesting imperial formations and enacting and reproducing relations of inequality along the intersecting lines of class, gender, race, and ethnicity. 

      Historical Sociology, GSOC 5102
      Jack Jin Gary Lee, Assistant Professor of Sociology

      Studying history and thinking historically have been sources of inspiration for sociologists of theory building and theory elaboration since the days of Max Weber. Great thinkers in sociology have always combined their analysis of contemporary societies with that of history. This course introduces historical approaches in contemporary sociology. Students are encouraged to read the assigned readings, not simply to analyze them as completed works but to find inspiration for developing their own future research projects. In other words, this introductory seminar intends to help students not to become “consumers of theories” but to develop the ability to make their own theoretical elaboration through engaging original historically informed research projects. To this end, our reading materials reflect diverse approaches to history. 

      Sociology of Work and Labor, GSOC 6143
      Rachel Sherman, Professor and Chair of Sociology

      This course addresses the politics and organization of work during the 20th century and into the 21st. Topics covered include historical transformations in work, including industrialization, globalization, and the rise of service, finance, and information technology; labor market issues including migration and discrimination; forms of managerial control and worker consent and resistance; and the role of labor unions and the state in shaping employment and shop-floor relations. We look closely at manufacturing, service, and finance workplaces, primarily in the United States, but with a comparative emphasis on Europe. We also cover a number of important theoretical perspectives on work. This course counts toward the Gender Studies minor.

      Southern Feminisms, GSOC 6145
      Cresa Pugh, Assistant Professor of Sociology

      Historical Methods and Sources, GSOC 6209
      Natalia Mehlman-Petrzela, Associate Professor of History 

      Historical Methods and Sources offers theoretical perspectives on and practical training in historical research, writing, and representation. We begin by exploring debates surrounding what history is: as mode of narrative, form of textuality, and as a set of relationships to the past. The remainder of the course provides hands-on training in what historians do: identify archives; locate, choose, and interpret primary sources; place research in its relevant intellectual and scholarly contexts; assess the existing literature; review books; design research; and intervene in historiographic debates by crafting original arguments. Individual projects will be tailored toward students' research interests, building toward (or enhancing) work on their MA theses. This course is mandatory for all Historical Studies Masters students and for all PhD students doing joint programs in history, but it is open to all NSSR graduate students who are interested in historical research and methodology. 

      Nationalism Revisited, GSOC 6221
      Elzbieta Matynia, Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies

      Whether defined as political concept, ideology, identity, claim, sentiment, or group’s state of mind, nationalism has continued to be a major political imaginary during the last two centuries, advancing the idea of popular sovereignty and leading to successive reconfigurations of the world map. The emergence of new transnational institutions, global markets, movements, and publics, along with the rise of new overlapping identities, has not lessened the tenacity of nationalism and ethnic attachments. Instead, as John Dunne points out, nationalism—a common idiom of contemporary feeling—remains the air we breathe daily. In this course, we examine the plurality of concepts and forms of both nation and nationalism and try to understand the sources of the recent alarming upsurge of a new nationalism—a fusion of ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, ultra-populism, and new articulations of fascism that openly resort to violence. Informed historically and theoretically, our discussions incorporate material from a variety of sources and examine cases from different parts of the world.

      Colonialism, Modernity and Their Afterlives: Perspectives from the Central Core and Peripheral Fringe, GSOC 6239
      Carlos Forment, Associate Professor of Sociology; Director of Graduate Study 

      This seminar introduces students to some of the most influential interpretations of colonialism (broadly understood) that have been advanced by thinkers in different intellectual-political traditions from across the central core and peripheral fringe. Studying the writings of Anglo-European authors (uneven and combined development, imperialism, the Southern question, the global color line, the boomerang effect) alongside those of their Latin American, Indian, and pan-African counterparts (nationalism, dependency, the subaltern, postcolonialism, decolonial feminism) provides an opportunity to explore their many shared and divergent concerns as well as some of the subterranean continuities and discontinuities that have defined the boundaries of the age-old dispute on colonialism. In examining their writings, we focus on how each thinker analyzed the material and symbolic links between colonialism and modernity (capitalism, liberal democracy, rational and universal principles) and the way their interpretation of them conditioned their depiction of and the hierarchies they established among and between countries, peoples, institutions, and practices of the Global North and South. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to "provincialize," "universalize," or "particularize" any one aspect or region, as is commonly done by scholars today. Instead, it is to encourage us to reflect critically on the following two questions (and others closely related to them): 1) Does the anticolonial perspective provide a convincing counternarrative to the emergence and development of modernity (capitalism, liberal democracy, rational and universal principles), and is it capable of challenging the image it has of itself? and 2) What are the consequences of relying on a "concept-interpretation" developed to analyze a specific issue or problem that surfaced in a given "place-time" to make sense of a similar but somewhat different socio-political-cultural formation?

      Socioecological Crisis, Relational Narratives, and Transition Debates from the South, GSOC 6303
      Faculty TBA

      This seminar introduces students to some of the most influential interpretations of colonialism (broadly understood) that have been advanced by thinkers in different intellectual-political traditions from across the central core and peripheral fringe. Studying the writings of Anglo-European authors (uneven and combined development, imperialism, the Southern question, the global color line, the boomerang effect) alongside those of their Latin American, Indian, and pan-African counterparts (nationalism, dependency, the subaltern, postcolonialism, decolonial feminism) provides an opportunity to explore their many shared and divergent concerns as well as some of the subterranean continuities and discontinuities that have defined the boundaries of the age-old dispute on colonialism. In examining their writings, we focus on how each thinker analyzed the material and symbolic links between colonialism and modernity (capitalism, liberal democracy, rational and universal principles) and the way their interpretation of them conditioned their depiction of and the hierarchies they established among and between countries, peoples, institutions, and practices of the Global North and South. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to "provincialize," "universalize," or "particularize" any one aspect or region, as is commonly done by scholars today. Instead, it is to encourage us to reflect critically on the following two questions (and others closely related to them): 1) Does the anticolonial perspective provide a convincing counternarrative to the emergence and development of modernity (capitalism, liberal democracy, rational and universal principles), and is it capable of challenging the image it has of itself? and 2) What are the consequences of relying on a "concept-interpretation" developed to analyze a specific issue or problem that surfaced in a given "place-time" to make sense of a similar but somewhat different socio-political-cultural formation? 

      The Frankfurt School and Critical Sociology, GSOC 6305
      Andrew Arato, Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory 

      In this course, we examine the development of the Frankfurt School from its beginnings to today. After examining the work of a forerunner, György Lukács, we concentrate on texts by the main authors: Horkheimer, Adorno, Pollock, Neumann, Kirchheimer, Marcuse, Habermas, and Offe, focusing on one major text each week. Topics covered include the philosophy of history, the theory of developing capitalism, authoritarian states including fascism, sociology and psychoanalysis, the theory of art and mass culture, and crisis theories. Every student in the class will be asked to make an oral presentation of a text and base a paper on that presentation that considers the relationship of the text to the larger output of the chosen author.

      Social Trauma, GSOC 6310
      Julia Sonnevend, Associate Professor of Sociology and Communications

      In this graduate seminar, we consider how traumatic events shape contemporary societies worldwide. We carefully consider the similarities and differences between individual trauma, the traumatic experiences that shape our personal lives, and social and cultural trauma that affects entire communities and even societies. We start the semester with interdisciplinary theories and definitions of individual and social trauma and then move on to case studies, ranging from genocides to natural disasters to illiberal takeovers to the current climate emergency.  

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