Course: Sociological Methods for Psychology Students

University of Warsaw: Social Research Specialization

Syllabus: Current Topics in Sociology – Methods

Current Topics in Sociology Assignment 1

Current Topics in Sociology Assignment 2

Course titleCurrent Topics in Sociology – A Methodological Approach
InstructorDr hab. Joshua K. Dubrow
Contact detailsjdubrow2000[at]
AffiliationInstitute of Philosophy and Sociology, and the Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR), of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Course formatSeminar
Number of hours15
Number of ECTS credits2
Brief course descriptionThis course is an introduction to methodological approaches to the study of current topics in sociology. Sociologists ask research questions, apply theories, and use various methods – quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method, and so on — to test theories and answer questions. This course will take an investigative approach: we will move from asking a question, to defining a concept, to identifying methods of observation, measurement, and analysis. 
Full course descriptionIn the first class, we will discuss basic sociological questions, concepts, theories, and methods, and the investigative approach of this class. Each subsequent class will ask research questions. In Class 2, we ask, “How can we identify the economic and occupational situation of individuals?” In Class 3, we examine the relative structural positions of social groups in an intersectional way to ask, “How can we approach intersectionality with sociological methods?” Classes 4, 5, and 6 ask core questions in political sociology: “Who, and under what conditions, has political power in society?” (Class 4); “How do we know if social movements change society?” (Class 5); “Is there an elite? And if so, who are they and what power do they wield?” (Class 6). In Class 7, we return to social groups, but from the angle of society’s attitudes towards the disadvantaged: “How can we identify racism and sexism in society?”

Classes 2 to 7 will have a similar structure. In the first hour, we will discuss empirical articles and their methods. In the second hour, we will imagine using extant data, or collecting our own, to measure the key concepts of that class. 
Course readings and the syllabus will be available on the course website, (open access).
Learning outcomesBy the end of the course, the student should be able to:
Understand investigative approaches to move from concept definition to observation, measurement, and analysis
Demonstrate competence in working independently on these approaches and communicate work verbally and in writing.
Demonstrate competence in working as a group on these approaches and communicate work verbally and in writing.
Learning activities and teaching methodsThe course will mix lecture with discussion. The course is taught in English. This course promotes critical thinking and communication skills. By the end of the semester, you should be able to present your written work in a clear and logical fashion.

Class 1. Introduction: Concepts and methods in sociology

Mills, C. Wright. “The Promise.” The Sociological Imagination pp. 3 – 24 Oxford University Press.

Gerring, John. 1999. “What Makes a Concept Good? A Criterial Framework for Understanding Concept Formation in the Social Sciences.” Polity 31(3): 357-393.

Lecture notes from this class can be found here:

Class 2. Socio-economic Status and Social Class

Conway, David I., Alex D. McMahon, Denise Brown, and Alastair H. Leyland. “Measuring socioeconomic status and inequalities.” Reducing social inequalities in cancer: evidence and priorities for research (2019).

Tomescu-Dubrow et al. 2018. “Class Structure and Social Stratification in Poland from the 1970s to the 2010s” in Dynamics of Class and Stratification in Poland (CEU Press).

Lecture notes

Class 3. Intersectionality

Collins, Patricia Hill. “Intersectionality’s definitional dilemmas.” Annual review of sociology 41, no. 1 (2015): 1-20.

Hancock, Ange-Marie. “Empirical intersectionality: A tale of two approaches.” In The Palgrave handbook of intersectionality in public policy, pp. 95-132. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019.

Lecture notes

Class 4. Power, Voice, and Protest

Bachrach, Peter, and Baratz, Morton. (1962). “Two faces of power.” American Political Science Review 56: 947–52.

Dubrow, Joshua K., Tomescu-Dubrow, Irina, and Lavrinenko, Olga. 2022. “Contacting a public official: Concept and measurement in cross-national surveys, 1960s–2010s.” Social Science Quarterly 1– 10.

Lecture Notes

Class 5. Social Movement Outcomes

Bosi, Lorenzo, and Katrin Uba. “Introduction: the outcomes of social movement.” Mobilization 14 (2009): 409-415.

Useem, Bert, and Jack A. Goldstone. “The paradox of victory: social movement fields, adverse outcomes, and social movement success.” Theory and Society 51, no. 1 (2022): 31-60.

Lecture Notes

Class 6. The Elite

Rahman Khan, Shamus. “The sociology of elites.” Annual Review of Sociology 38 (2012): 361-377.

Hoffmann‐Lange, Ursula. “Methods of Elite Identification.” In The Oxford handbook of political behavior. 2007.

Lecture Notes

Class 7. Racism and Sexism

Feagin, Joe R. 1991. “The continuing significance of race: Antiblack Discrimination in Public Places.” American Sociological Review 56:101-16.

Scarborough, William J., Joanna R. Pepin, Danny L. Lambouths III, Ronald Kwon, and Ronaldo Monasterio. 2021. “The Intersection of Racial and Gender Attitudes, 1977 through 2018.” American Sociological Review 86, no. 5: 823–855.

Leave a Reply