Sociology 212W: Sociological Analysis

Queens College, CUNY, Spring 2011

T/TH 8:15 – 10:05AM, PH/118

Instructor: Nicole Akai Hala, PhD

Office Hours: Powdermaker Hall 252-GG, Tues. 11am-12:30pm and Thurs. 12-1pm, and by appointment


Course description:

This course equips students to think “globally,” to think critically about the world and their place in it.  Globalization, for the purposes of this course, means the set of processes by which more people become connected in more and different ways across ever greater distances.  Connections take many forms – images, ideas, experiences – and they increasingly transcend geography.  As the constraints of physical space lose their hold on social relations, we experience what some call “deterritorialization.”  These changes are particularly visible in the arena of information and communication, as the internet makes it possible for people in every corner of the world to overcome “the tyranny of place.”  But not everyone.  The “digital divide” is global, and overlaps with other kinds of social marginalization. While globalization promises a borderless world of opportunity for some, the less fortunate, in states and communities experiencing the “darker side” of globalization, may be more trapped than ever by the lottery of their birth.

This course introduces students to the key debates on economic, political and cultural globalization, presenting a range of critical perspectives on those debates.  We consider how globalization transforms both social relations and social identities, bringing people together but also driving them apart.  Fundamentalisms, of various kinds, are the other side of globalization and we examine them, along with transnational movements for economic and social justice, which are also enabled by globalization. To illuminate important concepts, we look closely at current events and issues shaped by globalization, such as the recent global financial crisis and its aftermath, trafficking (of drugs, guns, and people) at the US-Mexico border, immigration and anti-immigration/anti-illegal immigration movements, Islam/Islamophobia in the US and Europe, WikiLeaks and the broader role of social media in anti-government protest (e.g., the recent popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt). Our blog at is integral to the course, and will facilitate the sharing of relevant multimedia materials. It will also serve as a hub for discussion and debate outside the classroom.

Course objectives:

  • To examine processes of globalization in multiple spheres, from the economic to the political and cultural
  • To understand key concepts and gain familiarity with the key debates and major perspectives in the field
  • To appreciate the considerable variation in the effects of globalization, by country, region, citizenship/legal status, gender, race, social class, etc.
  • To recognize the dynamic quality of globalization, noticing how trends toward diversification often co-exist with processes of cultural homogenization
  • To describe the range of transnational social actors and organizations that shape globalization, including TNCs, NGOs, social movements, faith-based groups, international political and economic organizations, terrorist networks, online communities and global crime syndicates

Course requirements, grading policies, and classroom etiquette:

Course requirements include a midterm (35%) and final exam (35%), two short written assignments (10%), short written responses to the assigned readings (5 total), as well as preparation for and active participation in class discussion (20%).  Make-up tests will be offered only for students with justifiable emergencies.  If you know that you will be unavailable for an exam you must make arrangements to take it early. There will be no extra credit.  The Globalization Reader: Third Edition by Lechner, F. J. and J. Boli (2008, Malden, MA: Blackwell) is the required text. Links to or electronic files of additional course material (articles, book excerpts, audio/video clips) can be found on the course blog and are marked on the schedule below with an asterisk (*).  All other content is from the Lechner and Boli reader.

Once class begins, phones must be set to vibrate or turned off. Students are bound by The CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, which may be found at

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