Courses Offered

photo of students talking on a walkway at York surrounded by Autumn colours

Summer 2021

Priority for this course will be given to sociology students.  Letters of permission from students in other programs will be accepted starting late March.

SOCI 6090 3.0A - Selected Topics in Empirical Methods: Critical Approaches in Qualitative Research

Instructor: Professor Norene Pupo
Term: S1 (May 10 - June 21)
Time: Mondays/Wednesdays 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format:  REMOTE

One of the primary purposes in conducting social research is a search for social justice. This course starts with the assumption that social research is political and adopts an activist approach by posing fundamental questions regarding power relations, equity and fairness. In employing qualitative methods, sociologists engage in political processes in order to make sense of and understand social experiences and their meaning as expressed through face-to-face exchanges, images, observations and other practices. In this course, we will study these processes critically, assessing their power orientations as they are applied to the study of social problems and political issues, and as they may be understood by the disenfranchised and powerless. Our main objective is to develop an understanding of issues of power used to conceptualize research problems as well as to determine appropriate methodologies. These critical perspectives include feminism, postcolonial studies, poststructuralism, cultural studies, and anti-racism. We will also consider discourses and practices that maintain power imbalances and forms of inequality.

While this course requires students to engage actively in interviewing and in observation as well as to participate in discussions on approaches and techniques, the main emphasis is on theoretical knowledge of those methods and on the critical assessment of strengths and limits of qualitative research practices and designs. Designing a research project in order to uncover the significance and understanding of social interactions is essential, requiring thoughtful decisions about the researcher’s approach to the field and ability to connect with willing participants. This course will focus on two main strategies to gather qualitative data, namely, observation and in-depth interviewing. In approaching these methodologies, we will discuss how to ask the right questions, how to probe respondents in interviews, and how to determine the importance of topics that may seem to steer away from the central research question at hand. In addition, we will work to understand how our own preconceptions of the field and the issues we are studying may alter our interpretations of our data. We will ask what may prevent us from recognizing important emergent phenomena and we will discuss how to listen carefully and how to centre ourselves in our analysis. We will examine the roles of qualitative interviewing and observation in knowledge production and reproduction, the benefits of qualitative interviewing and its inter-subjective nature, the practices of reflexivity, and the art of hearing data and interpreting silences.

The course combines ‘hands on’ experience and different qualitative research strategies and practices with study of the literature, current debates and new directions in the field. Class discussions will engage with questions of epistemology, theory, methodological alternatives, analytical strategies as well as practices, techniques or procedures.

Fall/Winter 2020-2021

Letters of permission from students in other disciplines will be considered as of July 1, 2020.

SOCI 5901 3.0A (F)—Key Debates in Sociological Theory (MA sociology students only)

Instructor: Radhika Mongia
Time: F 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

Course Description
*this course is open only to MA sociology students

SOCI 5995 3.0A (F)—M.A. Seminar (MA sociology students only)

Instructor: Kathy Bischoping
Time: M 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format: Remote

This seminar is designed to aid in your transition from undergraduate studies, in which you learn about our discipline, to graduate studies, where the goal is to contribute to the discipline in original ways. How will this be accomplished? You’ll each draft a proposal for a Research Review Paper (RRP) or thesis, and contribute to a collegial dialogue through which all of your proposals will develop. Along the way, you’ll develop skills at posing research questions, defining concepts, searching and synthesizing the literature, writing as a means of thinking, presenting work effectively in both written and oral forms, providing feedback, and nurturing collegiality.

SOCI 6001 3.0A (F) - Doctoral Seminar I: Professional Development Workshop

*this course is open only to PhD sociology students; MA students in sociology are welcome to attend the scholarship seminars as well as any public lectures

Instructor: Eric Mykhalovskiy
Time: M 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote
Course Outline: SOCI 6001 F20 E MYKHALOVSKIY (.pdf)

The overall objectives of this workshop-based course are:  (i) the development of professional skills for the academic and non-academic labour market; (ii) to facilitate timely progress through the program; and (iii) to contribute to the development of a research culture in the cohort and beyond.

SOCI 6002 3.0M (W) - Doctoral Seminar II: Professional Development Workshop

*this course is open only to PhD sociology students; MA students in sociology are welcome to attend the scholarship seminars as well as any public lectures

Instructor: Eric Mykhalovskiy
Time: M 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

The objectives of this workshop-based course are:  (i) the development of professional skills for the academic and non-academic labour markets; (ii) to facilitate academic progress after completion of the comprehensive exams; and (iii) to contribute to the development of a research culture in the cohort.

Pre-requisite:  Completion of SOCI 6001 3.0:  Doctoral Seminar 1, and registration in the second year of the Sociology PhD program.

SOCI 6060 3.0M (W)—Qualitative Methods

Instructor: Lorna Erwin
Time: F 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote
Course Outline: SOCI 6060 3 W21 L ERWIN

SOCI 6090 3.0A (F) - Selected Topics in Empirical Methods: Inequality and Politics in the 21st Century Global North

Instructor: Michael Ornstein
Time: R 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format: Remote
Course Outline: SOCI 6090 3 F20 ORNSTEIN (.pdf)

We begin by examining material inequality, comparing jobs, individuals and families, and considering both income and wealth. We focus on Canada, in the context of the extensive comparative research, roughly from the late 20th century. A key question is how well concepts of class help understand the findings. Second, we consider the changing relationship between inequality and politics, including modern welfare states, the nature of political parties, and mass politics as measured in election studies and surveys such as the European Social Survey and the Great British Class Survey.

SOCI 6090 3.0M (W) - Selected Topics in Empirical Methods: Emerging Perspectives in Epistemology and Method

Instructor: Glenn Stalker
Time: T 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

This course aims to extend the knowledge and sophistication of researchers by considering the implication of theoretical and epistemology assumptions and stances on the character of social science knowledge produced. As part of the ontological turn in the social sciences, critical realism, new materialism, and post-humanist perspectives will be studied with a particular focus on agential realism and the work of Karen Barad. These works will be complemented by revisiting Sociological, philosophical, and theoretical contributions that have resonance with aspects of these new directions.

Critical approaches to orthodox methods will be studied, including perspectives that are contributing to the development and wider adoption of practices that yield partial relational knowledge(s), including aboriginal, feminist, anti-colonial, and queer standpoint theories. Insights in these emerging areas inform an understanding of the use of power in social science knowledge and our relationship and responsibility to the communities we study. In addition, epistemological insights demonstrate the limits of deduction, falsification, and Newtonian conceptions of causality. Rather, focus is on relational and partial knowledge(s) that trouble often unacknowledged positivist assumptions and yield new approaches to the issue of representation in social science research. Critiques of standpoint theories will be addressed along with new approaches to address the ‘crisis of representation’ in research.

In this way, the course will draw upon post-structural and post-humanist insights and critiques to investigate how mainline social science research and findings may be imbricated with marginalization, the erasure of difference, and a regulatory view of ethics that may be inadequate when working with communities. These directions demonstrate the limits of Sociological debates that do not renew ontological understandings in theory and epistemology and are narrowly focused on distinctions between agency and structure, relativism and objectivity, micro and macro levels of analysis, and take a siloed disciplinary approach to method and knowledge.

It is expected that students will renew ontological assumptions in their areas of study and gain the epistemological knowledge needed to critically understand and assess the merits of any potential research practice that may be necessary in their future study and research. That is, the course is designed so that students avoid a technocratic repetition of method and, rather, seek to continually evaluate the extent to which claims and representations may be made, in addition to recognizing how emerging practices may lead to new knowledges. That is, as researchers we are conscious of the experiences and peoples that doing Sociology may obfuscate and the social standards and power disciplinary practices may reproduce

SOCI 6112 6.0A (Y) - Quantitative Analysis

Instructor: Cary Wu
Time: T 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format: Remote
Course Outline:  SOCI 6112 Y20 C WU (.pdf)

This course provides an examination of quantitative methods used in sociology and the social sciences, with a focus on linear modeling. A key objective is for students to learn how to apply appropriate statistical tests to data in response to a social research question for presentation and publication. The course emphasizes the analysis of survey data and the idea that models represent patterns in data, and statistical ideas are taught using examples from across the social sciences.

The first term of the course deals with basic descriptive and inferential statistics, significance tests, measures of association, and covers univariate and bivariate analyses. In the second term, we will begin with a review of descriptive and inferential statistics and then cover the basics of linear regression, including estimation, interpretation, hypothesis testing, model assumptions, and model fit. We will review several tools for diagnosing violations of statistical assumptions and what to do when things go wrong, including dealing with outliers, collinearity, and weights. Finally, we will explore extensions of the linear regression model, such as logistic regression and generalized linear models.

Good data analysis entails developing sound theory, locating appropriate data sources, operationalizing key concepts, and building models that address research questions. To practice these skills, students will be required to complete a research project. The project will involve identifying and analyzing social science data utilizing the techniques covered in class and presenting the findings in a presentation (fall) to be developed into a paper (winter). In the end, the goal should be to produce a publishable research paper.

SOCI 6181 3.0M (W) - Studies in Sexual Regulation

Instructor:  Sheila Cavanagh
Time:  R 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format:  Remote
Course Outline: SOCI 6181 3 W21 S CAVANAGH (.pdf)

For information on this course, please contact Professor Cavanagh at

SOCI 6195 3.0A (F) - Theorizing Modernity

Instructor: Christopher Kyriakides
Time: R 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

The course is organised across six core topics so as to equip students with a robust understanding of the centrality of Modernity to classical and contemporary sociological thought, while providing a benchmark for critical engagement with the discipline that focuses on modernities (plural). Topic One: Classical and Contemporary Theories of Modernity. Classical approaches, as represented by the respective works of Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, will provide an entry point to the concept, and will focus on “modernity’s discontents” so as to underline how their respective interests in anomie, alienation, the iron cage, alert us not just to a posited temporal demarcation between “pre-modernity’’ and “modernity”, but to a concern for the everyday conditions of existence of “moderns”. Contemporary approaches, for example those of Frankfurt school theorists, will be explored so as to demonstrate the disciplinary continuity of such concerns. A key goal of this course is to furnish students with awareness that the concept of Modernity has been criticized as quintessentially Western, particularly in relation to the problematic distinctions between pre-modernity, modernity, and post-modernity, where those of the “non-west” have been marginalised. A decolonial approach will be adopted so as to include a plurality of groups who have experienced modernity as marginalising and exclusive. Modernities and Marginalization will be organised across five core topics, as follows; Modernity and Race; Modernity and Gender; Modernity and Class; Modernity and Sexualities; Modernity and Indigeneity.

The course aims and objectives will be fulfilled through a weekly seminar meeting divided between introduction to the key texts, issues and theoretical problems, followed by class discussion in which students will be encouraged to bring their own experiences to the topic at hand. Class attendance and participation will count towards 15% of the final mark.

All students will be expected to present their thoughts on a key topic. Presentations can be either individual or group-based (according to student preference). Presentation will count towards 25% of the final mark.

The presentation will provide students with the basis for a final paper (on one of the six course topics) to be submitted at course-end. The final paper will count towards 60% of the final mark.

In addition, on completion of the course, students will be encouraged to work their final paper into a publishable piece. The instructor will continue to work with any student wishing to pursue this route, and will offer guidance on argument structure, narrative, substantive content and journal selection.

Some Key Texts (this is not an exhaustive list. These texts/scholars/theorists are in addition to those already cited in the current course outline)

Adkins, L. (2002). Revisions: gender and sexuality in late modernity. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Agger, B. (1992). The discourse of domination: From the Frankfurt School to postmodernism. Northwestern University Press.

Denis, C. (1997). We are not you: First Nations and Canadian modernity. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.

Goldberg, D. T. (1993). Racist culture. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Malik, K. (1996). The meaning of race: Race, history and culture in Western society. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Mendieta, E. (2005). The Frankfurt school on religion: Key writings by the major thinkers. Routledge.

Morris, A. (2017). The scholar denied: WEB Du Bois and the birth of modern sociology. University of California Press.

Ollman, B. (1976). Alienation: Marx's conception of man in a capitalist society. Cambridge University Press.

Pickering, W. S. F. (Ed.). (2002). Durkheim today. Berghahn Books.

Scaff, L. A. (1989). Fleeing the iron cage: Culture, politics, and modernity in the thought of Max Weber. Univ of California Press.

SOCI 6200 3.0A (F) - Contemporary Topics in Social Theory: The Sociology of Knowledge

Instructor: Philip Walsh
Time: T 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

This course explores three areas within the field of the sociology of knowledge from three corresponding perspectives. 1) Knowledge in everyday life: This perspective extends from Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s (1969) phenomenological account of knowledge, personhood and social construction. It includes theorizations of the relationship of knowledge to the individual capacities of consciousness, cognition and emotion. 2) Knowledge and risk: This perspective explores the sub-field of the sociology of risk and uncertainty, pioneered by the work of Ulrich Beck and Mary Douglas. It includes theories of risk-perception, as well as the role of risk in prediction and social causation. 3) Knowledge and institutions. This perspective explores how knowledge has been institutionalized, with particular reference to the role of the university as the traditional vehicle for knowledge production and dissemination.

SOCI 6200 3.0M (W) - Contemporary Topics in Social Theory: The Sociology of Human Rights and the Critique of Humanitarianism

Instructor: Michael Nijhawan
Time: R 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote
Course Outline: SOCI 6200 W21 M NIJHAWAN

The course invites students to examine human rights in terms of their conceptual, normative, substantive and practical dimensions. Considering the ubiquitous use of human rights in contemporary public, political and academic discourse across disciplines, it is pertinent to ask what exactly the “sociology of human rights” contributes as a field of study. How does sociology relate to the language and practice of human rights today, considering the skepticism that prevailed in the past regarding the limitations of a rights discourse? On the one hand, we notice a longstanding critique of human rights agendas, being charged for abandoning the broader objective of distributive equality and global social justice, potentially even coopting the neoliberal upsurge of the previous decades. On the other hand, there have been new attempts to decolonize human rights and embed those rights within a discourse on racial justice. What to make of the critique of humanitarianism that was formulated in recent years, suggesting that normative and empiricist approaches to human rights have major shortfalls? The debate here is not only about how to (re)envision a critical, substantive, ethical, political approach to human rights, but also about the limits of the language of the human and humanism. This is arguably a broad and complex debate well beyond the scope of a single course offering. And yet, we shall attempt to situate sociology within this debate, as we discuss what specific contributions social theorists have recently brought forward and what new practices of human rights have emerged.

This is an upper-level theory class in social theory; hence the course strives for comprehensiveness while also covering a range of theoretical approaches to human rights/humanitarianism with reference to key controversies such as social-constructivist vs. materialist approaches, ‘rights discourse’ vs. discourses on normativity and moral motivations, the abstraction of universalism contrasted with the local politicization and translation of ‘human rights’ in historical perspective, the question of individualism attributed to rights-bearers vs. limitations of such approaches etc. Its core section expands sociological horizons to trace alternative genealogies and critiques of human rights (discourses) that perhaps can open new avenues to examine institutional frameworks, political processes and socially produced ideas about personhood, self, and (historical) injury. These include contributions from indigenous and critical race theorists aiming at decolonizing human rights as well as the work of anthropologists, historians, and political scientists conceptualizing cultural difference and human rights. Drawing upon such works, we shall review the potential and limitation of the sociology of human rights respectively, with reference to contemporary events of violence as well as structural violence. Each student will have the opportunity to relate theoretical perspectives to a specific contemporary scenario or historical context of human rights concerns or critiques.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand theoretical interventions in the area of human rights and violence in sociology and neighbouring disciplines
  • Evaluate the merit of different theoretical frameworks in the context of historical and contemporary case studies and debates on human rights
  • Generate critical perspectives on the use of universal categories that inform the cultural politics of human rights
  • Be able to engage in cross-disciplinary conversations and evaluate the role of analysis and human rights advocacy in different contexts
  • Deepen your knowledge through empirical case studies, collaboration, presentations, and writing exercises

Course Evaluation

  • Oral Components 45%
    1. Course Participation (20%)
    2. Online commentaries (10%)
    3. Short Presentation (15%)
  • Writing Components  55%
    1. Final Essay (35%)
    2. Journals/Responses (20%)

This class builds on student interaction and collaboration in the classroom, hence oral components weigh higher than usual. Online commentaries consist of short weekly paragraphs in response to a guiding question. Student presentations (15min + facilitation) will focus on critical “interlocutor” texts rather than the weekly assigned core book (chapter selections), which is mandatory to read for all. For response papers, students can select between two options: submitting four shorter pieces, or two longer response papers. Final essays have an approximate length of 6,000 words.

Course Topics Include

  • Citizenship and Human Rights
  • Recognition Theory & Critique
  • Decolonizing Human Rights
  • Race, Racism, and the Human
  • Human Rights & Social Suffering
  • Human Rights & Borders
  • Humanitarian Violence
  • Implications for a Sociology of Human Rights

Course Texts Include

Allen, L. 2013. The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Arendt, H. “Perplexities of the Rights of Man” In The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Schocken Books, 1951.

Balibar, E. 2013. The Politics of Human Rights. Constellations 20(1): 18-26.

Benhabib, S., 2013. Moving beyond False Binarisms: On Samuel Moyn's The Last Utopia. Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences 22(1): 81-93.

Brown, W. 2004. “The Most We Can Hope For…”: Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism. South Atlantic Quarterly 103 (2-3): 451-63.

Coulthard, G. 2014. “Lessons from Idle-No-More. The Future of Indigenous Activism” in his Red Skin, White Masks. Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, pp. 151-179.

De Leon, J. The Land of Open Graves. Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. University of California Press, 2015.

Esmeir, S., 2012. Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Fassin, D. 2013. The Predicament of Humanitarianism. Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences 22(1) : 33-48.

Goodale, M. 2006. Ethical Theory as Social Practice. American Anthropologist 108(1): 25-37.

Kurasawa, F. 2007. The Work of Global Justice. Human Rights as Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Merry, S.E., 2006. Transnational Human Rights and Local Activism: Mapping the Middle. American Anthropologist 108(1): 38-51.

Mignolo, W.D., 2009. Who Speaks for the" Human" in Human Rights? Hispanic Issues On Line 5(1): 7–24.

Million, D. 2013. Therapeutic Nations. Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.

Moyn, S., 2010. The Last Utopia. Human Rights in History. Harvard University Press.

Somers, M.R. and Roberts, C.N., 2008. Toward a New sociology of Rights: A Genealogy of “Buried Bodies” of Citizenship and Human Rights. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 4: 385-425.

Somers, M. S. 2008. Genealogies of Citizenship. Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spivak, G.C., 2012. Righting Wrongs. In Wronging Rights? South Atlantic Quarterly 103(2-3):84-109.

Weheliye, A. G. 2014. Habeas Viscus. Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Weizman, E., 2011. The Least of all Possible Evils. Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza. London, UK: Hurst.

Wynter, S. 2003. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument.” CR: The New Centennial Review 3.3: 257–337. Web.

SOCI 6204 3.0A (F) - Indigenous Theory

Instructor: Bonita Lawrence
Time: T 7:00-10:00
Teaching Format: Remote
Course Outline: SOCI 6204 3 F20 LAWRENCE (.pdf)

This course addresses the complex range of social, political, historical and legal thought that contemporary Indigenous theorists are engaging with.  As Native communities wrestle with the multiple legacies of colonization—including land theft, identity legislation, attacks on traditional governments and forced cultural change, contemporary Indigenous theorists are engaging with ways to re-empower their communities and engaging in cultural resurgence. They seek to re-envision futures which restore communities to traditional values while rethinking and challenging both common-sense notions of “traditionalism” and Canadian liberal frameworks of “self-government” which confine and constrain Indigenous communities to a colonized future.  Through exploring contemporary Indigenous writing on land, cultural resurgence, and law, this course will provide students with an opportunity to engage with the politics of Indigenization, and the issues affecting the futures of Indigenous peoples, with a primary focus on Canada. All students are welcome.

Classes are seminar style. Each student will be expected to have read the material and contribute to the discussion, for each class. Occasionally, the instructor may deliver a short lecture related to the reading in question. Classes may be supplemented by films and videos.

Course Learning Objectives

  • Statement of purpose: To familiarize students with the contemporary worldviews, circumstances, dilemmas and dreams of North American Indigenous communities in their struggles for resurgence as expressed through Indigenous theorists.
  • Specific learning objectives: To enable students to distinguish between aspects of post-colonial theory and Indigenous theory, particular with respect to questions of land, identity and nationalism. To critique questions of state recognition and reconciliation.  To engage with literature addressing resurgence.

SOCI 6535 3.0A (F) - Critical Sexuality

Instructor:  Frances Latchford
Time:  T 10:30-1:30
Forma:  Remote

For information on this course, please contact Professor Latchford at

SOCI 6536 3.0A (F) - Transnational Sexualities

Instructor:  Anna Agathangelou
Time:  M 5:30-8:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

For information on this course, please contact Professor Agathangelou at

SOCI 6615 3.0A (F) - Diaspora, Hegemony and Cultural Identity

Instructor: Emily Laxer
Time:  W 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format: Remote

Scholars grappling with the political, economic, and cultural implications of 21st century globalization are continually looking for ways to understand the (inter-)connections between space and place, “here” and “there”, “host-nation” and “homeland”.  Among the fruitful avenues in this endeavour is the theoretical and empirical study of diaspora.  This course seeks a critical encounter with the sociological and anthropological literatures on diasporic social formations.  We will begin by ascertaining the multiple and contested meanings of diaspora.  How, for instance, does the phenomenon differ from transnationalism?  Next, we will draw on historical and contemporary case studies to examine the diasporic experience in its many modalities, from labour and trade diasporas, to religious diasporas, to diasporic tourism.  Throughout, we will pay close attention to the role of forced/voluntary migration, to the interplay between mobility and locality, and to the themes of boundary-drawing, inclusion/exclusion, long-distance nationalism, and the production of – as well as resistance to – state actions and policies with regard to diasporic communities.

SOCI 6667 3.0A (F) - Capitalism and Social Provisioning - CANCELLED

This course has been cancelled.

SOCI 6684 3.0M (W) - Critical Social Policy Analysis

Instructor:  Amber Gazso
Time:  R 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

In this course, students will be invited to apply a critical lens to the study of Canadian social policy, defined here as a course of government action, including programs and services, designed to change economic and social conditions.

We will begin with developing an understanding of the post-war inception of the welfare state and corresponding social policy and programs in Canada and how they have undergone transformations as a result of political, economic, and social forces. Social policy and its restructuring will be analyzed as an outcome of multiple and often competing discourses and tensions surrounding ideas about identities, rights, and responsibilities that materialize at local and community levels and all levels of government.

We will then turn to understanding some common critical approaches to the study of social policy. That is, we will learn about applications of critical social theory and qualitative methods (e.g. ideational analysis; discourse analysis) to a social policy problem or program. In this section of the course, we will especially spend time on developing analytical techniques to understand the social construction of social policy and achieve one major purpose of critical policy analysis: deconstruction.

We will conclude with a focus on select topics and examples that illustrate an application of a critical lens to the study of social policy change. Areas of focus include but are not limited to: caregiving; citizenship; poverty; paid and unpaid work. While our focus in course readings will be on primarily Canadian social policy, we will draw on non-Canadian scholarship where relevant. It is assumed that the knowledge gained and skills learned in this course will be adaptable to analysis of social policies in other geographic contexts.

Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to ask such questions as: Social policy for whom? How is entitlement conceptualized in a policy? Who is included and who is excluded by a policy? (re: settler colonialism; citizenship and immigration, etc.). Whether and how conditionality is attached to the social “rights” of citizenship implied in a social policy? What social problems or inequalities are made known by studying social policy through a critical lens?

Note: Since the year in which this course was first taught, 2008, it has undergone some necessary change. The title is now somewhat of a misnomer; a more accurate name for the course in Winter 2021 is “Critical Social Policy Analysis.” We will use an intersectional approach and other social theory to critically analyze and deconstruct social policy and its interaction with gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, class, and ability as identity, and corresponding systems of social stratification.

SOCI 6745 3.0M (W) - Asian Studies: Critical Perspectives

Instructor:  Abidin Kusno
Time:  R 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

For information on this course, please consult with the course director, at

SOCI 6760 3.0M (W) - Race and Ethnicity

Instructor:  Shirin Shahrokni
Time:  W 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

This seminar offers an in-depth examination of the ethno-racial dynamics shaping our contemporary times. It discusses the salience of a perpetually renewed ‘racial question’ from a global perspective and through the exploration of specific national case-studies.

The seminar is divided into 4 distinct yet interrelated sections. First, students will familiarize themselves with theories of ethnic and race relations. Next, they will engage in various course materials untangling the weight of contemporary racisms and ethno-racial discrimination. Next, we will examine how ethno-racial processes intersect with other contemporary forms of inequalities (socio-economic, gender, sexual, environmental). Various contemporary anti-racist mobilizations and ideological currents will be discussed.

SOCI 6794 3.0A (F) - Space, Place and Capitalism: Themes in Historical-Geographical Materialism

Instructor:  Raju Das
Time:  T 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

For information about this course, please consult with the course director at

SOCI 6805 3.0A (F) - Bodies and Biotechnologies in Anthropology

Instructor:  Alexandra Widmer
Time:  W 1:30-4:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

For information about this course, please consult with the course director at

SOCI 6810 3.0M (W) - Topics in Biopolitics: Biopolitics and Necropolitics Today

Instructor:  Lorna Weir
Time:  M 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

First conceptualized by Foucault during the 1970s, biopolitics has been one of the growth areas in social theory and the human sciences over the last 20 years.  Its meaning, however, remains essentially contested in social theory, particularly through the contributions of the Italian biopolitical tradition and its expansive readings of biopolitics. Separately, the work of Achille Mbembe has characterized the Foucauldian literature on biopolitics as a project with small stakes compared with the significance of necropolitics, that is,  the place of exposure, wounding and killing of humans in the history of Euro-American colonialism and postcolonialism.

This course compares three differing theorizations of biopolitics (Foucault, Agamben and Negri)  in relation to each other and to Mbembe’s counterconcept of necropolitics.  Structured to operate in both theoretical and empirical registers, our work will alternate between social theory sessions which build familiarity with some of the most important conceptualizations of biopolitics and empirical sessions which display the distinct research traditions associated with the biopolitical and necropolitical theory of Agamben, Foucault, Mbembe and Negri.

Our work begins with the first theorized formulation of biopolitics in the work of Michel Foucault.  We then turn to Achille Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics, seeking to understand his critique and displacement of Foucauldian biopolitics. Our focus then shifts to the contemporary and heterogeneous Italian biopolitical tradition, focusing on Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire.  At issue in our reading of  Homo Sacer and Empire is whether or not Agamben and/or Hardt-Negri provide an adequate biopolitical response to the political stakes of  Mbembe’s necropolitics.


SOCI 6831 3.0A (F) - Health and Illness

Instructor: C. Douglas
Time: T 8:30-11:30
Teaching Format: Remote

This course addresses key theoretical developments in the sociology of health and illness (SHI), and applies them to contemporary challenges in western biomedicine. The course critically explores the social construction of health and illness, and the impacts that they have on social organization and relations. The course is organized as a student-led seminar. Each week students will read core shared texts within the SHI, as well as texts of their own choosing. Students will prepare brief written summaries and critical questions to bring to discussion, which will also be chaired by students. Throughout the term other assignments will be introduced that build students towards their large final paper on a topic of their choosing. Topics covered in this course take seriously the role that the body, technology, markets, power and control in health and illness; while paying particular attention to the role of women and issues of (in)justice.  Some topics will be decided at the beginning of term (e.g. social determinants of health, intersectionality and health inequalities) and others remain open so that the class can collectively choose what is most important/interesting to them.  By the end of this course successful students will not only have a survey of key areas in the SHI, but also critical skills related to academic writing, research, teamwork, communication, and leadership.

SOCI 6885 3.0M (W) - Politics of Security and Regulation

Instructor:  Ozgun Topak
Time:  F 2:30-5:30
Teaching Format:  Remote

For information about this course, please contact the Professor Topak at

Independent Reading Courses

Independent reading courses are normally open to graduate sociology students only.  However, with permission, students from other programs may enrol in this course.

Graduate students in sociology must have their reading course supervised by a faculty member in the Graduate Program in Sociology.

All students who wish to enrol in a sociology reading course (5900/6900) must submit to the program office, a reading course form (.pdf) by the following deadlines:

April 1 for summer term reading courses

August 1 for fall term and fall/winter term reading courses

December 1 for winter term reading courses