Richard Williams, Notre Dame Sociology

Sociology 20033/10033

Introduction to Social Problems

Richard Williams, Instructor

Fall 2021 (In Progress)

Note: Students signed up for the class or thinking about doing so may want to know the following:


Course summary

Today's society is beset by many serious social problems, for example, conflicts over gay rights, sexual assault, battles over abortion and reproductive rights, poverty & inequality & the decline of the middle class, and racial/ethnic discrimination (which has helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter social movement). How do we think about these problems in ways that lead to helpful solutions? In what ways does one's own social background and role in society affect his/her views of these problems? In this course, students will learn to take a sociological perspective not only in examining the causes, consequences, and solutions to some of society's most troubling social problems, but also in taking a critical look at their own perceptions of the problem.

When possible, we will often try to provide a local angle to problems, e.g. from Notre Dame or South Bend. I encourage you to think of incidents from your own communities that are relevant.

Course Syllabus

Online Readings Packet & Discussion Questions (ND.Edu Netid is required for access)

These include questions we will be discussing in class.  Most of them are covered in the readings but we'll fill in gaps in class as necessary. Keeping these questions in mind as you go through the readings will help you to focus on some of the most critical points. This list will be updated regularly, at least a few days before we cover the material in class.  We will break down into small groups to go over many of these questions.  Similar questions will often appear on the exams, so being prepared to discuss these as we go along will be very beneficial to you. 

Notre Dame Cloud Storage. Almost every semester I seem to have a student whose computer crashes or who accidentally deletes the most current version of their paper or has some other problem. I've even had students who had to rewrite their papers from scratch. I therefore strongly encourage you to set up a Dropbox account (or something similar, e.g. Box, Google Drive) if you do not already have one. Dropbox gives you a minimum of 2GB of free online storage. I try to keep most of my current teaching and research work in Dropbox; that way it is backed up and I also have online access wherever I am. If you set up an account use your .edu email address because you can get more bonus storage that way.