Required Reading
The required text for this course is:
Conley, Dalton. 2015. You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist, 4th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-93773-2.

I will almost certainly assign additional required readings here and there along the way. They will be articles, news stories, websites, etc., available on this class website. Do not print everything out on day one and then fail to check back later.

You are expected to read a daily newspaper. Current events are fair game for exams.


midterm exam 100
final exam 100
little assignments worth various points 160

Course grading follows the conventional brackets: 90’s are A’s, 80’s are B’s, etc. So for instance, to get an A, you need at least 90 percent of 360 points, or 324 points.

The exams will be essay tests covering the text, lectures, additional readings available on this class website, and classroom discussions. There may also be a few multiple choice questions on the exams, but the bulk of the points will come from essay questions.

The “little assignments” will be quizzes, response papers, maybe a point or two for attendance now and then, and other little projects that I may assign ahead of time or on the spot (as in pop quizzes). If you come to class after such a little assignment has been given, you will not be allowed to make it up.

Course Objectives
I have three broad goals for this course. The first is to provide students with a firm grasp of the basics of sociology – what it is, what it tries to do, what it takes as its subject matter, etc. The second is to hone students’ skills as scientists. Sociology is a social science, and it makes headway by application of scientific methods. The third goal is to help students cultivate their critical thinking skills and to broaden their worldviews. In other words, I’m a believer in the value of the traditional liberal arts education, and I see intro. soc. as one part of that aspect of your education.

By the end of the semester, you will be stronger in a number of areas.
With respect to multicultural knowledge, your understanding of the ways subcultures socialize their members within diverse cultural contexts will be much improved.
With respect to critical thinking skills, you will have practiced evaluating the assumptions of divergent explanations of social phenomena.
With respect to theoretical knowledge, your repertoire will be much expanded by the addition of theories such as functionalism, symbolic interactionism, conflict theory, and others.
With respect to applications of sociology, you will no doubt feel excited by the practical and policy implications of knowing more about what makes social institutions tick.

Extra Credit
There is no extra credit. There are 360 points of regular credit – earn those. Do not ask for extra credit.

Attendance and Make Ups
I do not formally take daily attendance. Students who do not attend regularly get the lowest grades, because they miss in class assignments. Also, the exams are based mostly on the lectures, so you cannot just read the book and show up on test day and hope to succeed. You really really need to come to class every single day. Conscientious attendance is part of being a serious student. Perhaps I can best express myself on this point in verse:

Don’t dare to swear you weren’t here
While you were mourning someone dear
You’ve lost four grandmas just this year
You still must come to class
Mislaid, you said, your syllabus?
And that your gerbil has a cyst?
And that you’re a Play Stationist?
That’s no excuse, alas
A truck that’s stuck with two flat tires?
A boss who cackles as he fires?
A printer lost for want of wires?
Tough luck, you still missed class
Endeavor ever not to be
Among those who claim leprosy
Just ‘cause you need a 3.3

That won’t fly, lad or lass                         
So like the tike at half pipe, lone
Make bold to skate tough, or go home
Don’t whine, or grouse, or nash, or moan
Get up and come to class

Undocumented tummy aches, diffuse anxiety, vehicular malfunctions, roommate freakouts and the like are not good excuses for missing class, let alone an exam. Any make up exam that is allowed will be given at the end of the semester, immediately after you finish the final exam. Barring extraordinary circumstances, any make up little assignment that is allowed must be completed within a week of the original due date. You will not be allowed to make up any little assignment without a note from a doctor or a funeral home showing that you had to miss class due to illness or a death in the family.

Students with Disabilities
Per the Office of Disability Services: “If you are a student with a disability who will require an accommodation(s) to participate in this course, please contact me as soon as possible. You will be asked to provide documentation from the Office of Disability Services. Failure to contact me in a timely manner may delay your accommodations.”

Electronic Devices
Keep your phone dark, silent, and stowed. If I ever have to ask you to put your phone away, you should never plan on asking me for a letter of recommendation. Departmental statement: “The Department of Sociology reserves the right to limit or deny the use of any and all electronic devices in the classroom.” Do not secretly video the lectures and post them on YouTube. Students using laptops in class must sit in the front half of the occupied rows.

Department Statement about Academic Dishonesty
(and I quote:)
As members of the university community, students are expected to be aware of and abide by university policies regarding academic honesty. By the same token, members of the faculty within the university community are expected to enforce those policies. Members of the Department of Sociology operate on the assumption that each student has thoroughly reviewed the university policies regarding academic honesty and that the policies will be followed. Accordingly, members of the Department of Sociology will enforce all policies related to academic honesty.

[For specifics, see, Academic Honesty, UPPS No. 07.10.01.]

The following is not a substitute for the statement of policies found in the above referenced material. Rather, it serves to call each student’s attention to the breadth and depth of academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty includes the following: Cheating, plagiarism, collusion and/or abuse of resource materials. Each term or phrase is defined in some detail in the above referenced material. Because the offense of plagiarism can be confusing to students, the following information is provided as essential reading by all students.

‘Plagiarism means the appropriation of another’s work and the unacknowledged incorporation of that work in one’s own written work offered for credit.’ (Texas State University Handbook, UPPS No. 07-10-01)
Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • downloading or buying a research paper
  • cutting and pasting information from several sources to create a paper
  • leaving out quotation marks around quoted material, placing quotation marks around some but not all copied information
  • leaving out quotation marks around copied information but adding a citation implying that the information is the student’s summary of the source
  • leaving out quotation marks for more than three consecutive words taken directly from a source
  • providing a reference/bibliography page but leaving out the reference citation in the body of the paper
  • faking a citation
  • unintentionally using words or ideas or quotes without citing them in the body of the paper and on the reference/bibliography page (

Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism or having plagiarized in the past without having been penalized does not excuse such acts in the Department of Sociology. Any student charged with plagiarism may appeal in writing in accordance with Texas State University policy.

The phrase, academic dishonesty, includes a variety of transgressions. It refers to acts such as cheating on a test to committing plagiarism when writing a paper. The Sociology Department assumes that it is the responsibility of each student to know what constitutes academic dishonesty. A lack of understanding of the phrase is no excuse when academic dishonesty is at issue. Similarly, a student may not be excused from a current transgression because he/she committed a similar act in the past and was not charged with a violation of university policy. Any student who is accused with academic dishonesty has the right to challenge the accusation, but the challenge must be submitted in writing and in accordance with university policy.

A complete statement on the policy of the Department of Sociology regarding academic dishonesty (including plagiarism) is available on the departmental website Remember: ignorance of what constitutes academic dishonesty or having participated in academic dishonesty in the past without being penalized does not excuse such acts in the Department of Sociology.