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Sociology 331:

Political Sociology
Spring 2016
Class location: 117 Berkey Hall
Class time: MW 2:40 4:00 PM
Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Carrera
Phone: 517-353-8124
Office: 417A Berkey Hall, 509 E. Circle Drive
Office hours: Wednesdays 1:30 2:30 pm and Thursdays 9:00 10:00 am
Course Description
This course discusses theories of power and governance and their relationship with
social structure. This course will look critically at how political structures are
formed, how they are maintained, and the relationship of the public to those
political systems. In particular, the class will give attention to the differential
experience of different populations in their access and influence upon political
systems. This course will emphasize critical perspectives in media representations
of politics and it will challenge students to think about how the information they
receive is framed, both in terms of information provided as well as that which is left
Required Materials
There is one required book for this class:
Power, Politics, and Society: An Introduction to Political Sociology. 2011. Betty
Dobratz, Lisa K Waldner, and Timothy Buzzell. Routledge. 400 pages.
Additional readings will be posted on the D2L page for this course
( Readings should be completed prior to class meetings.
Class Readings
This course is aimed to assist you in developing and applying critical thinking skills.
In order to do so, you must complete all assigned readings. Participation will be
evaluated by your comprehension of the reading materials prior to coming to class.
You must have completed the readings in order to fully engage in lectures and
discussions. Coming prepared to class will not only help you to learn the course
material but it will allow class discussions to be productive, lively, and engaging.
Reading Quizzes
To assess participation and preparation, regular reading quizzes will be given. Over
the course of the semester, roughly ten quizzes will be given and the two lowest
quiz grades will be dropped. Students can expect reading quizzes to be given at the
beginning of a reading unit. For instance, if the schedule says that the class will be
discussing Chapter 5 on Monday and Wednesday, you should anticipate a quiz at
the beginning of class on Monday. Quizzes will take place at the beginning of class

in the first ten minutes. No makeup quizzes will be given for students who are late
or absent from class. Because two quizzes can be dropped over the semester, even
with an excused absence there are no makeup quizzes.
Course Expectations

While the text for this class is very accessible, if you find certain topics
challenging, do not be afraid to say you do not understand something. It is
likely that some of your peers have struggled with the same issue.
Participate to the fullest of your ability. Ask questions, pose challenges,
suggest applications.
If you feel discomfort, express it. We have all learned to think while wearing
specific lenses and recognizing that we are wearing them is a challenge in
itself. Learning to take them off and put them on when you wish to wear
them is a skill that takes practice.
Your background may not be in the social sciences and many students in the
class will be outside of sociology. This is a resource to be taken advantage of.
Each discipline has its own lens that it has equipped you with which both
limits your gaze as well as gives you particular insight. Offer your insights
from your personal as well as disciplinary perspectives and the class
experience will only be richer.
Listen actively to other participants in class. Understand that your knowledge
does come from a particular location and others have different experiences
and skills. Their insights may be different and even directly challenge yours
but contradictions do not always mean one perspective is right and the other
wrong. Remember the fable of the blind men and the elephant.
Question ideas, concepts, and theories to come to deeper understandings of
social issues. In particular, reflect on where your own knowledge comes
Everyone in class is expected to be respectful and to enter discussions with
the intention only of learning and stimulating conversations. Verbal attacks,
belittling, or bullying will not be tolerated.
Students are expected to come to class each meeting, arrive on time and
stay for the duration of the class meeting.

You should expect me, as the instructor, to come prepared to class, share
information in a clear manner, ensure the classroom is an open setting for all of us
to be free to respectfully acknowledge and express our experiences, provide you
with opportunities to meet outside of class, stimulate creative thought, facilitate
discussions, evaluate your progress, provide useful feedback, and return your work
in a timely manner.
As a student in this course, you have the responsibility to come prepared to class,
ask questions, participate in discussions, think critically, be respectful of others in
the classroom, complete your assignments on time, and to contact me if you have
any concerns about class meetings or materials. If you encounter difficulties during
the semester, please be proactive in contacting me. It is easier to handle issues
earlier rather than later.
Email Communication

You may email with questions about class material or to set up an appointment to
meet to discuss any issues you may be having. Emails should be addressed to
Professor Carrera or Dr. Carrera and not to hey. Professional communication
conveys respect for the person you are speaking with, the subject you are
discussing, and for yourself. Write emails using standard punctuation,
capitalization, spelling and grammar and not text speak. Due to FERPA regulations,
no information will be provided to anyone other than the student (e.g. parents)
about course enrollment or progress.
Assignments and Grading
Your final grade in this class is based on a number of activities you will complete
throughout the semester. They include:
1. Reading Quizzes (15%)
Reading quizzes will be at the beginning of class in the first ten
There will be no extra time given for quizzes for students that arrive
No makeup quizzes will be allowed.
The lowest two quiz grades will be dropped.
The first reading quiz will be on January 20 th.
2. Research Paper (20%)
Students will complete a semester long research paper on emergency
management in the state of Michigan.
The research paper will be due by 2:40 pm on the final day of class,
April 27th.
Papers submitted after 2:40 pm on the 27th will lose 10% per day and
papers submitted after the 30th will receive zero credit.
Papers will be submitted via D2L and will be checked by the TurnItIn
Software for plagiarism.
Final papers should be a minimum of 10 full pages, meaning it spills
over onto an 11th page. Papers are expected to be between 10-15
Less than 10 full pages will have a deduction of 10% per missing page.
A final paper that is 9 pages will automatically lose 10% for not
meeting the minimum page requirement.
All papers should be in 11pt Calibri font with 1 inch margins, double
spaced. Do NOT adjust text spacing, margin spacing, or line spacing.
While you think these changes are subtle and not noticeable, they are
GLARING when held up side by side with the other papers from your
peers that did not make changes. Adjustments to the formatting
requirement will lose 2.5% for each modification.
3. In-Class Exams (40%)
February 22nd
March 30th
4. Final Exam (25%)
The final exam will be on May 4 from 3:00-5:00 in 117 Berkey Hall

The final exam will be cumulative but will focus most heavily on the
final third section of readings after the second in-class exam.
Grade Distribution
The final grade calculation will be translated into the 4.0 grade point scale:

90.0% and higher

59.9% and lower

Submitting Assignments
Unless otherwise specified, assignments should be typed, stapled and submitted in
class on the day they are due. Assignments handed in without a staple will be
deducted 2%. For every day a written assignment is late, there will be a 10%
deduction from the grade of that assignment (i.e., 1 day late = -10%; 2 days late =
-20%; 3 days late = -30%). Assignments more than three days late will not be
accepted and will be recorded as a grade of 0.
Academic Integrity
Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that [t]he student shares with
the faculty the responsibility of maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and
professional standards. In addition, the Department of Sociology adheres to the
policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0,
Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of
Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. Therefore, unless
authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments
without assistance from any source and without plagiarism from any source. You
are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit
course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this
course. You are not authorized to use the website to complete any
work in this course. Students who violate MSU academic integrity rules may receive
a penalty to their grade, including a failing grade on the assignment or in the
course. Contact the instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your
work. Additionally, commercialization of lecture notes and university-provided
course materials is not permitted in this course.
No technology (cell phones, head phone, tablets, laptops, etc.) will be allowed
during quizzes, discussion, or lectures without special permission. Students with
disabilities may request an exception by contacting the Resource Center for Persons
with Disabilities and providing a Verified Individual Services Accommodation
(VISA) form. Cell phones and head phones may never be used in class.
Students with Disabilities
Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for
participation in all programs, services, and activities. Requests for accommodations

by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for
Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at Once
your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a
Verified Individual Services Accommodation (VISA) form. Please present this form
to the professor at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the
accommodation date.

Course Schedule
Note: Readings are tentative and subject to change by the instructor, with
appropriate notice.


Week 1

Jan 11 Syllabus & Start CWA Film

Week 2

Jan 18 MLK Day No Class

Week 3
Dobratz (State)

Jan 25 Chapter 1 continued

Jan 13 Film: Clean Water

Jan 20 Chapter 1 in Dobratz

Jan 27 Chapter 2 in

Week 4
Feb 1 Chapter 2 continued
Dobratz (Ideology)

Feb 3 Chapter 3 in

Week 5
Feb 8 Chapter 3 continued
Dobratz (Political Economy)

Feb 10 Chapter 4 in

Week 6

Feb 17 Review

Feb 15 Chapter 4 continued

Week 7
Feb 22
in Dobratz (Globalization)

Exam 1

Feb 24 Chapter 10

Week 8
Feb 29 Chapter 10 continued
Dobratz (Terrorism)

Mar 2 Chapter 9 in

Week 9

Mar 7 Spring Break No Class

Mar 9 Spring Break No Class

Week 10

Mar 14 Chapter 9 continued

Mar 16 Film: Why We Fight

Week 11
Mar 21 Chapter 8 (Social Movements) Mar 23 Preface of Protest
Psychosis on D2L
Week 12

Mar 28 Film: Nina Simone

Week 13
the Arts

Apr 4 Pedagogy of Oppressed

Mar 30

Exam 2

Apr 6 Film: Detroit School for

by Friere on D2L (Education)

Week 14

Apr 11 Chapter 5 in Dobratz

(Social Institutions)

Apr 13 Chapter 5 continued

Week 15

Apr 18 Chapter 6 in Dobratz


April 20 Chapter 6 continued

Week 16

Apr 25 Chapter 7 in Dobratz

Apr 27 Chapter 7 continued


Research Paper due by 2:40 pm

on D2L
Final Exam on Wednesday May 4 from 3:00-5:00 in 117 Berkey Hall