In every social context and set of human relationships, rules govern and control human behavior. Some rules are explicit -- laws, legal requirements, institutional regulations. Other rules are unstated but often understood -- norms of appropriate conduct in familial relationships, social settings, and public gatherings. Rules create and reinforce expectations that individuals internalize and follow. But some individuals don't follow them. Who makes the rules? Who defines behaviors that are deviant and those that are not? Who violates rules? How, why, and when are rules broken? All of these questions will be studied through a sociological lens.
The program will review major theories of rulemaking, rule breaking, and social control. Students will read, discuss, and write on primary research and writing covering the role of social norms and norm violations in our society. The course has three learning outcomes. First, students will learn how rules govern our behavior, whose interests are protected and preserved by rules, how rules are internalized though socialization, current explanations of how and why people violate, and the conditions in which rules are broken and sanctions imposed. Second, students will learn to read, interpret, and write about original research on subjects like the formulation of social rules (including laws and legal regulations); how rule making and rule breaking varies by individuals, groups, and social areas; and how sanctioning some forms of deviance can have negative stigmatizing effects. Third, students will develop skills in applying knowledge about rule making and breaking to address major social problems in communities and the society.
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This course provides foundational knowledge preparatory to careers in social services, law, justice administration, education, and public policy.