Bryant University


Prof. Carter



(Read this document carefully during the 1st week of class, and refer to it often during the course!)


Office Hours

Held in the Koffler Center, #215: Thurs.: 12:30--4:30 p.m.; Mon.: 5:30--6:25 p.m.; or by appointment. It is best to make an appointment; see me after class to do so, or, if you prefer, contact me by e-mail ( or telephone (401.232.6186). There may be some occasions that you find it necessary to send me a fax; this number is 401.232.6435.



From time to time during the semester, it may be necessary for me to send you an e-mail (e.g., to cancel a class, or to change a lab assignment). I send all such communications to your Bryant e-mail account. If you do not regularly check this account, but use another one (e.g., your Facebook account), then be sure to set up your Bryant account so that it automatically forwards all e-mails to the account you normally use. When you get such an e-mail, please let your study partner (see below) know about it. Please note that we generally do not use Blackboard--and if we do use it, I will alert you beforehand.


Laptop Policy

Laptops for note-taking in class are okay; however, surfing the web, texting, and e-mailing are not.  I generally will give you one warning if you violate this policy, then you will no longer be allowed the use of your laptop, electronic notebook, or other mobile device during class.


Preliminary Remarks

Students entering college are typically imbued with the American philosophy of individualism: They see their successes and failures, as well as the successes and failures of others, as solely caused by individual decisions and personal effort. Although this is a good philosophy to encourage hard work and success, and no one would deny its truth, it is misleading. The directions we go in life, our successes, our failures, our actions, and our thoughts--all of these--are intimately connected with forces larger than the individual. Sociology introduces these larger forces to the student and attempts to show their relevancy to all aspects of his or her life. Among these “larger forces” are social structure, culture, the group, and institutions such as the family, education, the polity, and the economy.



Sociology is the systematic study of group structure, group behavior, and of the influences of the group and of other social arrangements upon individual behavior and thought. By the end of this course, you should have a better understanding of that which is implied by “systematic study,” “group structure,” and some of the “influences of the group upon the individual.” As the semester unfolds, you will be introduced to all four of the broad educational goals of the Sociology program at Bryant: (1) the use of sociological theory to understand the relationship between larger social forces and individual experiences; (2) an understanding of sociological methods, both quantitative and qualitative; (3) knowledge of the core content of sociology; and (4) the ability to apply sociological insights to the understanding or solution of complex problems.


More specific to this course, by the end of the semester you should be able to:


1. apply selected sociological concepts in describing and interpreting specific social settings or circumstances;


2. appreciate cultural differences that abound among human societies, along with being able to use “culture” as an explanation of human thought and behavior;


3. recognize the principles of social organization that are common to all societies--despite the enormous cultural diversities that can exist among them;


4. understand and conceivably be able to use the rudiments of basic social research; part and parcel of this will be the abilities to construct questionnaire items that can measure sociological variables and to construct and read cross-tabulation tables, line graphs, and data plots;


5. apply some of the universal principles of “causal analysis” in your interpretations of empirical facts and in your critiques of interpretations offered by others.


Sociological concepts tend to be quite abstract and difficult to appreciate at first wash. As such, they need to be approached from more than one angle. In this course, our approaches emphasize readings, lectures, discussions, and actually “doing” sociology.



Our primary text is Empirical Approaches to Sociology 5th edition (Allyn & Bacon, 2010; ISBN-10: 0-205-62809-5; ISBN-13: 978-0-205-62809-4). We will complement this book with readings and computer exercises from Doing Sociology with Student CHIP, Data Happy! 5th edition (Allyn & Bacon, 2010; ISBN-10: 0-205-78001-6; ISBN-13: 978-0-205-8001-3). Reading and computing assignments are given out on an interim basis (see last two pages of this syllabus). The number of pages assigned per week is much heavier toward the end of the semester compared to the beginning.  Please note that some of the readings are not discussed in class, but you will still be responsible for them at exam time.



The software for Doing Sociology with Student CHIP, Data Happy! (5th edition) was originally available on-line.  However, it has been replaced by a desktop version, which I will email to you during the first or second week of the semester.  (Please ignore the zetadata URL as given on the cover of the book and on page 1.) The desktop version is also available on selected public computers in the Bello Center and in the basement of Koffler Center.

Class Time

is divided between lectures, focused discussions, and participation in sociological exercises. You are expected to take notes (some lecture areas are not covered in the books) and to actively participate in discussions and exercises. Attendance is mandatory!


Study Partners

Very early in the semester you should find a “study partner.” Many of your workbook (“lab”) assignments will be turned in as two-person projects (you and your study partner). On rare occasions, I allow three individuals to form a study-partner team, but never more than three. Your study partner will serve as a valuable resource in preparing for tests and for better understanding the lectures and workbook assignments.



Your final grade is based on:


1. Two examinations (one mid-term and a final—but please note that the final is not cumulative). You can expect a variety of question types, e.g., essay, short-answer, and multiple-choice. The midterm exam is tentatively scheduled for the tenth week of the semester. You should bring two #2 pencils and two ink pens to all exams; calculators are allowed. One small footnote: By their very nature, “make-up” examinations are unfair to those students who take tests at their scheduled times; for this and other reasons, I don't like giving them (so don't miss an exam unless you have a true emergency or are extremely ill).


2. Lab Assignments. As the semester progresses, you will usually be given one computer exercise to complete each week. The exercises complement our readings and class discussions--allowing you to test the sociological concepts being introduced. As these exercises are intended to help you to better understand the topic at hand and to prepare you for tests, their greatest importance will be reflected at examination time. However, to keep everyone honest, I will grade at least 4 lab assignments at random. Graded assignments are temporarily returned and the answers are discussed in class in detail; non-graded assignments are discussed in class but not returned. Graded assignments constitute 30% of your final grade; thus, keeping up with the workbook (“lab”) assignments and turning them in on time are critical to your overall success in this course. Indeed, these assignments ideally represent the last line in the Confucian homily:


I hear -- and I forget

I see -- and I remember

I do -- and I understand


I keep all exams and graded lab assignments on file for 60 days after the end of the semester, after which they are discarded. (Otherwise my office would be deluged by paper.)


3. Class attendance and participation. As part of your participation in this class, you are responsible for reading your Bryant e-mail on a regular basis. As noted above, if you use another e-mail server (e.g., Facebook’s), please be sure that you set up your Bryant e-mail account to forward to the e-mail account that you prefer using. It is not uncommon for me to send the class general informational e-mails on upcoming examinations and on other matters as well. When you do receive an e-mail, please let your study partner know about it.


The above grading criteria are weighted as follows:


Exam #1:                    30% of your final course grade;

Exam #2:                    40%

Lab Assignments:      30%


(Criterion #3, class attendance and participation, will be invoked only if your grade falls on or very near the borderline between two grades, e.g., say a “B” versus a “B+”).


(Please let me know if you have a physical condition or learning disability that may impact your academic activities in this class.)

Reading and Computing Assignments for the Semester


Begin block number one (“I”) during the first week of the semester; when I say we will start “Block II” (or whichever block) the next class session, I expect you to begin--and finish in a timely manner--the appropriate block of assigned readings. Of greatest importance is to have your computer workbook (“lab”) assignments ready to turn in on the day I say they are due (doing both the Basic and the Advanced sections). Each computer workbook chapter ends with a set of “Exploratory” exercises, the completion of which is not required for this class (but feel free to try any or all of them!). Do not despair if early in the semester you struggle with the “Advanced” exercises--eventually you will not only be able to do them but to understand their importance in helping you to become a critical thinker.


Please note that Empirical Approaches to Sociology has 12 major “Parts” (e.g., Part I, The Problem of Social Order), with 39 numbered readings (e.g., reading #1 is “Social Order and Control via Close Social Ties: The Example of Suicide”); you are only responsible for selected readings in selected Parts; thus, for example, in Reading Block I, you are only responsible for the Introduction (“A Primer on Critical Reading”), the Introduction to Part I (pp. 11–12), and articles #1 (Durkheim) and #3 (Breault, Hampton, and Brown); note, however, that you are responsible for the short introductions to any Part for which an article is assigned (e.g., pp. 11–12 for Part I). Similarly, Data Happy has 12 major Chapters, with 29 numbered exercises; you are only responsible for selected exercises in selected Chapters; thus, for example, in Reading Block I you are only responsible for Exercises 1 (“Social Order and Control via Strong Social Ties: The Example of Suicide”) and 2 (“Social Characteristics of Happy Individuals”).



Reading                       Empirical       (“Lab”/ Workbook)

 Block                          Approaches     Data Happy               Topics


    I                               Introduction     Both Primers                Intro. Concepts / Methodology

(“A Primer        Chapter 1

on Critical        (Exercises 1 and 2)


Part 1

(#s1 & 3 only);

Note: the Anderson

“Intro.” on social problems is not required)


  II                                 Part 2               Chapter 2                     Doing Social Research

(#s5–7)          (Exercises 4 and 5)


Midterm Examination

Reading                       Empirical       (“Lab” / Workbook)

 Block                           Approaches       Data Happy                 Topics


  III                                Part 3               Chapter 3                     Culture

(#s8–10)      (Exercise 6)


 IV                                  Part 4               Chapter 4                     Society/Groups

(# 11 only)       (Exercise 7)

Part 6               Chapter 6

(#s 18–19 only)  (Exercises 10–11)


Note that the above readings are covered in class, while those below are not. Also note that sociological aspects of race and gender are discussed at several points during the semester…


Reading                       Empirical       (“Lab” - Workbook)

 Block                           Approaches       Data Happy                 Topics


    V                               Part 5                Chapter 5                     Socialization

( #15)              (Exercise 9)

  VI                                Part 7                Chapter 7                     Interaction

(Intro. only,     (Ex. 14: Extra Credit,

pp. 267-270)   as an individual assignment; 1 bonus pt. for the final
                                    exam; note on p. 180 that NetUse = Y, not X)

 VII                              Part 9                Chapter 9                     Inequality

(Intro. only,      (Exercises 17 & 19—

 i.e.: pp. 389–      due day of the final exam as an

394)       individual assignment; they represent

  the “take-home” part of this exam.)


Final Examination


(Note: Our “Final Examination” is not cumulative; it includes Reading Blocks III & IV, as well as V–VII, for the in-class part of the test; and the two noted-above exercises from Data Happy Chapter 9 for the "take-home" part.  Please note that the in-class part is weighted much heavier than the take-home part, so plan your study time accordingly.)