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Sociology 465

SOCY 465: Visual Sociology

Prerequisites: SOCY 110 or SOCY 121

Credit Hours: (3)

Will examine the impact of visual imagery on the social world and will. Study the various ways in which visual imagery may be employed to investigate the social world. Additionally, the history of photography and sociology will be reviewed, with consideration of the methodological issues arising from the use of visual research methods in social science. This course will provide firsthand experience merging photography and sociology.


Detailed Description of Course

Lectures, with slideshows, cover the historical development of photography and sociology and how the two have sometimes been connected but mostly have not. Lectures and readings along with examples – including emerging work on the Internet as well as established works – address methodological issues relating to the use of photography as a visual research method. Students’ own photographic projects are discussed in critique sessions. Also included are relevant sociological fundamentals, as well as instruction in photography and Photoshop software.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course is lecture based, with considerable interaction in the classroom. In addition to lecture, methods include multiple student presentations; critique and discussion sessions during which we evaluate both completed work and work-in-progress; computer lab instruction; and use of audio-visuals including PowerPoint presentations, slideshows and web browsing.


Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to show competence in the following areas:
1. Employ a wider variety of research methods to gather data and analyze the social environment by practicing this relatively unconventional kind of qualitative research.
2. Connect theory and research by explaining research topics in terms of sociological theory and concepts.
3. Demonstrate a broader appreciation for the development and practice of sociology and the scientific principles on which it is based, particularly regarding its potential for objectively studying human behavior.


Assessment Measures

A typical assessment plan might include one or two exams, a few short photographic assignments, a written book review, and progressive multiple-part term project.


Other Course Information

In addition to the above assessments, students may be expected to complete (perhaps 6-8) brief written responses to weekly readings. The following tentative reading list is an example of the kinds of readings that may be used:

1. Masur, Louis P. (2007) “How the Truth Gets Framed by the Camera.” The Chronicle Review 54: 13:B6-B8.
2. Harper, Douglas (1988) “Visual Sociology: Expanding Sociological Vision.” The American Sociologist, Spring 1988: pp. 54-70.
3. Becker, Howard S. (1986) Ch. 13 “Photography and Sociology,” pp. 223-71 in Doing Things Together. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
4. Becker, Howard S (2007) Ch. 3 “Who Does What?” pp. 30-53 in Telling About Society. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
5. Becker, Howard S. (1986) Ch. 14 “Do Photographs Tell the Truth?” pp. 273-92 in Doing Things Together. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
6. Becker, Howard S. (1986) Ch. 15 “Aesthetics and Truth, “pp.  293-301 in Doing Things Together. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
7. Becker, Howard S. (1986) Ch. 16 “Inside State Street: Photographs of Building Interiors by Kathleen Collins,” pp. 307-17 in Doing Things Together. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.


Review and Approval

December 11, 2012