Courses in Sociology: Course Description

SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides a concise introduction to sociology which enables students to acquire a better understanding to the essence of sociological inquiry. The course content covers key paradigms in sociology, the importance of culture and socialization, the dynamics of social interactions in everyday life, and various essential institutions of modern society.

SOC 103 Introduction to Anthropology

1 Term; 3 Credits

This course aims to provide a general introduction to the discipline of anthropology. This course offers students living in a globalized world a good opportunity to learn more about their own culture as well as other cultures and to examine cultural differences in an anthropological way (in particular, using cultural relativism perspective). As such, some key concepts, the main theoretical perspectives and the unique research methods that anthropologists use are explored. Major topics to be covered include the brief history of anthropology, studying culture, research methods and theories in anthropology, language and communication, religion, marriage, family, kinship, economic anthropology, ethnicity, cultural change, and applications of anthropology. In so doing, students will learn how to appreciate cultural diversity, evaluate culture in its own terms and reduce biases and prejudices associated with ethnocentrism.

SOC 106 The Art of Reasoning

1 Term; 3 Credits

This course introduces students to fundamental principles of reasoning. It cultivates students’ intellectual ability to develop and evaluate arguments in ordinary language. To achieve this goal, this course includes a basic understanding of the skills of linguistic analysis, the nature and techniques of reasoning, as well as the essential methods in scientific and ethical reasoning. Attention is also drawn to the core part of elementary symbolic logic. Upon completing this course, students will strengthen their skills of critical thinking which is necessary to excel in various academic fields and career paths. 

 

SOC 108 Introduction to Statistics

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides sociology students with training in the principles and application of statistics to the social sciences. Topics covered include: basic concepts of statistics; the measures of central tendency and dispersion; probability and sampling theories; bivariate measures of association; and hypothesis testing. The meanings of statistics and statistical conclusions are stressed.

SOC 204 Cultures in the Contemporary World

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course investigates social life from a perspective that is based on comparison, enabling you to gain an understanding of the world around you.  It illustrates cultural variations within Hong Kong, within the great Chinese areas and Asia, and around the world in the context of rapid globalization today. It covers an analysis of a variety of topics, such as the cultures of beauty and body, love and marriage, religion and power, food and globalization, etc.

SOC 205 Sociological Theory I

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides students with an overview of the classical sociological theory. The foundations of sociological theory as laid out by the classic writers at the end of the nineteenth century are examined in the light of current sociological perspectives. Special emphasis is given to the works of Durkheim, Marx and Weber. Through studying the classics in sociological theory, this course equips student with an understanding of the conceptual and historical foundations of the discipline.

SOC 206 Social Stratification
1 Term; 3 Credits
The course introduces students to the key sociological concepts and theories concerning social stratification. It aims to assist students in developing specific knowledge and analytic skills necessary to evaluate the sources, patterns, and consequences of social stratification systems in contemporary society.
SOC 207 Sociological Theory II

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to enhance students’ theoretical knowledge of the major sociological trends, debates and issues from the mid 20th century onwards. Special attention is paid to the critical theories and post-modern turn in the study of the contemporary social world. The overall purpose of this course is to develop students’ intellectual capacity in applying the contemporary social theories as well as evaluating their analytical utility creatively and critically.

SOC 208 Hong Kong Society and Culture

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to key sociological concepts and theories concerning Hong Kong society and culture. The first half introduces the core discussions over the historical trajectory and recent developments in the political, economic and social context of Hong Kong society. The second half discusses the making of Hong Kong culture, which is interrelated to the social changes. It covers key cultural issues, including consumption, youth culture, and the making of local identity in response to national, regional and global influences. By acquiring these knowledges, students are able to analyse the changes and problems in today’s Hong Kong with a critical eye.

SOC 221 Social Research Methods

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course introduces students to the basic steps in conducting social research, including problem formulation, problem conceptualization, measurement, sampling, data analysis, and data interpretation. It also examines both principles and techniques of research designs commonly used in sociology, such as survey research, field research, and experimental/quasi-experimental designs.

SOC 221A Applied Quantitative Social Research Methods

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course focuses on the concepts, techniques and application of quantitative social research methods, and will provide students with basic and advanced knowledge and skills of quantitative social research methods necessary for their development as sociologists. It is also designed to help prepare students to use quantitative research methods in their final year project if they so wish. Students will be exposed to a variety of quantitative methodologies including path analysis and multivariate regression models with latent variables. This course adopts an experiential teaching and learning approach. Students will develop a critical awareness of the application of quantitative social research through discussion and application of topics including measurement, survey design, and computer-based data analysis.

 

SOC 221B Applied Qualitative Social Research Methods

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to the essential qualitative research methods and skills including unobtrusive measures, documentary analysis, content analysis, online research, ethnographic investigation, in-depth interview, focus group interview, photovoice, and action research. This course provides students with the basic epistemological theories, practical strategies as well as computer skills to use the software NVivo 11 for conducting qualitative research. Students are given opportunities to conduct qualitative research in real settings.

SOC 231 Social Problems

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to the sociological approach to understanding social problems. It consists of two components: theoretical perspectives and field work. The theoretical component is a lecture presentation of a variety of sociological perspectives on social problems, the purpose of which is to show that social problems are complex and multi-causal in nature. For the field work component, students will gain first-hand experience of certain aspects of social problems and apply one or more perspectives to the local context by conducting field observation in the community.

SOC 255 Philosophy through Film and Literature

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides students with an introduction to seven areas of social life that have traditionally interested philosophers, namely, epistemology, ethics, religious experience, meaning of life, identity, free will, and love. Selected examples from film and literature are used to present these areas of interest in a vivid and compelling manner while enriching the student’s sociological imagination. This course is founded on the idea that images and themes found in film and novels provide an effective springboard for discussion and clarification of otherwise complex and abstract philosophical concepts. The course enables students to apply philosophical concepts both to their everyday lives and to substantive areas of sociology.

SOC 257 Art and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to draw a general picture of the relationship between art and society. We will find, on the one hand, ways in which social conditions shape our understanding of art as well as the self-understanding of artists. On the other hand, we will see how artists strive to engage the society with a view to changing it through their works.

SOC 259 Race and Ethnicity

1 Term; 3 Credits
With colonization, globalization and migration, societies have become much more heterogeneous than before. Even countries that are not migrant societies now have to deal with ethnic minorities and the challenge of multiculturalism. This course examines social differentiation based on notions of race and ethnicity. Such notions will be explored in both colonial and postcolonial contexts, as well as societies that claim to be relatively homogeneous. This course will introduce major theories, issues, controversies and policy implications related to the governance of multi-ethnic societies. At the same time, students will be encouraged to reflect on the existence of ethnic minorities in the contexts of China and Hong Kong, and the challenges this poses for both state and society.

SOC260 Food and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to explore food issues and foodways in various societies from the perspectives of sociology and anthropology. The course will enable students to look at food beyond food science as well as nutrition factors and to situate food and eating in meaningful social and cultural processes. Also, this course will showcase how to apply various theoretical and conceptual approaches, such as cultural interpretations, symbolism, identity, gender analysis, social exchange, religious taboo and ritual, commercialization, community engagement, and globalization, to analyze food and eating critically.

SOC 301 Hong Kong in a Global World

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course enables students to reflect upon the formation of Hong Kong in relation to colonial encounter, Cold War and the contemporary global politics. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted in order to articulate the varying social, cultural and political impacts upon Hong Kong’s Chinese identity from the changing global order. The overall objective is not to give more facts but instead provide analytical concepts and skills for students to make sense of the interplay between the global world and the society in which they live.

SOC 302 Environmental Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
Environmental Sociology provides a framework for understanding the relationship between human societies and the physical environment. The main objectives of this course are to introduce students to research in environmental sociology and to reveal how sociological perspectives can inform our understanding of how human activity has contributed to the current ecological crisis. This course will present a broad spectrum of theoretical perspectives and research methods employed by environmental sociologists to analyse and evaluate existing efforts in mitigating global and local environmental problems.

SOC 305 Class, Status and Power in Chinese Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course introduces students to one of the most important arenas of social inequality, namely, social class. It will cover topics such as key concepts and major theoretical perspectives in class analysis, the role or power in constructing and maintaining such inequality, and consequences of social inequalities on life chances and life styles. This course aims to promote a scholarly understanding of class that will help students think critically as they try to make sense of inequality in the world around them. A comparative approach will be adopted.

SOC 307 Entrepreneurship and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course will introduce a rigorous sociological approach to study both social and commercial entrepreneurship and the role of entrepreneurship in enhancing balanced development of the community. This course will first introduce the principles of entrepreneurship including the economics of entrepreneurship and innovation, how to attract talents and how to develop creativity. Second, it will examine what social enterprises are and how they relate to social economy. It explores responsible management in relation to the sustainability of social enterprises, including how social entrepreneurs generate income, how to secure social and ethical capital, and how to measure social impact assessment. Third, it will discuss the challenges faced by entrepreneurship in enhancing sustainable development in the community.

SOC 309 Community Economy

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to examine the theory and practice of community economy. Compared with market-oriented economy, community economy represents some new efforts to promote more inclusive, sustainable, and people-based economies. This course explores the new ideas of community economy with the examples of turning such ideas into reality. The focus is put on the key features of the conventional and new community-based economic forms. Major topics to be covered include defining community economy, co-operatives, community-supported agriculture, local time-honoured businesses, local independent and small businesses, street entrepreneurs and informal economy, and corporate community involvement. The advantages and disadvantages of different types of community economy are examined in this course.

SOC 310 Social Enterprise in Asia
1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to explore a variety of ideas and practices of social enterprise in some Asian countries and regions. Alongside the fast growth of social enterprise in Western societies, many Asian countries and regions also manage to incorporate social enterprise into their own socioeconomic development strategies. This course uses a comparative perspective to demonstrate different national and regional versions of social enterprise. Also, particular focus in put on the localization and integration processes of social enterprise under certain social, cultural, economic and political situations. To this end, some representative countries or regions in terms of developing social enterprise are selected as the subject of case studies, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Students will learn how to analyse social enterprises from trans-national, trans-regional and comparative perspectives.
SOC 312 Popular Culture in Asia
1 Term; 3 Credits
This course explores the making of popular culture in the Asian contexts. In particular, this course examines the divergence and interconnectedness of popular culture in Asia through discussing issues and concepts like cultural imperialism, postcolonialism, soft power, cultural supermarket, glocalization, power dynamics of regional flows, orientalism, and cross-cultural reception and appropriation. Students will be equipped with a critical sociological reflection upon the Asian popular culture they are already enjoying from this course.
SOC 321 Economic Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to provide students with valuable understandings of economic life from sociological perspectives and approaches. Firstly, the brief history of economic sociology as a fast-growing subfield within contemporary sociology is introduced, including its history, developments and new directions. Secondly, distinctive principles, theoretical debates and research paradigms of economic sociology are elaborated. Thirdly, a variety of economic sociology topics and empirical studies are addressed, including impacts of social capital on economic action, the role of state in economy, exchange in human goods, ethnicity and the economy, connections of culture and economy, sociological studies of consumption, dynamic relations between family and business, sociological implications of informal economy, social meaning of money and so on. Here the central issue is to demonstrate how social forces constrain or facilitate economic activities. Economic sociologists believe that economic action is embedded in or integrated into given social, political, cultural and institutional process. Such a viewpoint will lead students to seeking for alternative explanations of economic activities beyond narrowly defined assumptions of neoclassical economics.

SOC 331 Western Classical Social Thought

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course enables student to master the philosophical basis and development of western classical social thought. After completing this course, students will be familiar with the main philosophical sources of western classical social thought and the relevant issues and proposed answers that are considered as significant and influential in the field of western social philosophy.

SOC 332 Sport and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
Sport plays a pervasive role in our social life. As a microcosm of society, it is an arena in which sociological processes can be investigated. Thus, by studying sport we can have better understanding of ourselves and our society. This course is organized in three modules. It will begin with the focus on the development of sport as a modern social phenomenon, and followed by a systematic exposition and appraisal of the various theories in the field. The second module will focus on the relationship of sport to social institutions, class, gender, deviance and fan culture. The role of sports in contemporary society and its interaction with economy, media, politics, technology and globalization will be covered in the final module. By the end of the course, students would have a comprehensive understanding of how sociologists examine and explain sport as a social phenomenon.

SOC 333 Urban Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to a range of topics in urban sociology. The first half introduces the origin and rise of city, the development of urban life in the modern world, and basic theories in urban sociology, including urban ecology, critical theory, and urbanism. The second half discusses current issues around the making of modern cities, including globalization, urban growth, city marketing, gentrification and financialization. By comparing the similarities and differences between Hong Kong and other global cities, students can make use of local and global cases to evaluate cities, communities, and their consequences.

SOC 334 Sociology of Deviance

1 Term; 3 Credits
Deviance is a central topic in sociology. What is normal or deviant is relative to existing social and cultural norms in the society.  Deviant behaviour becomes a crime when it violates legal codes.  Deviance and crime are controversial because social rules and the law are products of social construction partly based on the values and power relations of different groups in society.  This course aims to use a variety of sociological theories to examine the nature of deviance and crime, and explain how they are affected by a variety of social, demographic and cultural factors. In order to understand more about deviance and crime in Hong Kong, students are encouraged to select a topic of deviance or crime in the local society as their group projects.

SOC 336 Love, Family and Kinship

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course adopts a comparative approach to examine how love is invented as an important element of marriage, and how various kinds of family and kinship systems are developed. This course examines what romantic love is and how the meaning of love has changed over time. It addresses how passion, intimacy, and commitment have become important components in romantic love and marriage. The challenges implicated in modern love and marriage are also explored. The course provides students with different theoretical perspectives in analysing love, family, kinship structures, and related practices. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate these ideas and apply them to their own lives and experiences.

SOC 337 Criminology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to introduce the study of crime, criminal behaviour, and criminalization. It will offer a general overview of the history and development of criminology and identify the multi-disciplinary perspectives on crime and criminal behaviour. It will also examine various research methods that are used to collect crime data, as well as their strengths and limitations. Towards the end of this course, we will assess the criminal justice system in Hong Kong, as compared to other countries, and will discuss effective methods for the prevention of crime.

SOC 339 Sociology of Religion

1 Term; 3 Credits
Religious resurgence around the world in recent decades has prompted reconsideration of the proposition that religion declines as modernization progresses. What are the controversies over secularization? What are the implications and consequences of the shift towards rational scientific paradigm for the sociology of religion? This course explores the distinctive features of religion and examines the different ways in which religion continues to impact society. The first part of the course will introduce key theoretical perspectives that help us understand the role of religion in society and the different religious traditions we are familiar with in the contexts of Hong Kong and Asia. The second part of the course will examine the structure of religious experiences, practices and movements, and the social and political implications of religion.

SOC 341 Sociology of Development