SO210 Social Institutions

for S1EE 2009

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SO 210 Social Institutions


S1EE 2009 MO


Patterson, Howard A.


Sr. Adjunct Instructor


MSW-Master of Social Work/GA. Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Office Hours

Prior to and immediately after class

Daytime Phone


Other Phone


Semester Dates

Jan 5---Mar 1, 2009

Class Days


Class Time

7:50 - 10:30 PM


SO 141

Credit Hours



Skolnick, J. H., & Currie, E. (2007). Crisis In American Institutions (13th ed.).  Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
 ISBN-10:          020547215X
 ISBN-13:          9780205472154

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Course Description:
SO 210 Social Institutions: An overview of major social institutions, such as education, family, religion, culture and media, science and health care, politics, and the economy. Discusses their historical development, modern forms, social functions, and the ways in which they relate to one another and shape individual lives. 3:0:3 Prerequisite: SO141

Educational Philosophy:

The instructor's educational philosophy is one of interactiveness based on lectures, readings, quizzes, dialogues, internet, videos, web sites and group class activities.  The instructor will engage each learner in what is referred to as disputations learning to encourage the lively exploration of ideas, issues and contradictions.

1)   Course activities and assigned coursework should focus on students learning to use their minds well.

2)   Course goals and curricular decisions should be directed toward student mastery of the tenets of the area of study where the emphasis is on student mastery of a few core ideas as opposed to the presentation of numerous disconnected facts.

3)   Course goals and objectives apply to all students and classroom practice is geared toward meeting the needs of all students.

4)   Teaching and learning should be personalized to the maximum feasible extent.

5)   The governing metaphor of the course should be ‘student as producer of knowledge’ as opposed to the more prevalent metaphor of ‘professor as deliverer of instructional services.’ The aim is to provoke students to learn how to learn.

6)   The tone of any course should stress unanxious expectation, trust until abused, decency, fairness, generosity, and tolerance.

Within this set of principles there are two inextricably linked conceptions, the first is that of learning, and the second is that of teaching. Learning does not occur in isolation, it is not passive, nor is it the same for each student. What can be said is that learning is an active social process involving both interaction and interpretation. Just as students learn from their course professor, they also learn from each other and from interaction with materials which exist outside the limited set of “required” readings. Additionally, students navigate this learning process by becoming sophisticated problem solvers, using multiple intelligences, and by drawing upon their experiences and existing stocks of knowledge. The courses I develop use a wide range of instructional techniques such as class discussion, small group and oral presentations and written assignments in the attempt to draw more students into participation and active engagement with the material, ideas, concepts, and people associated with the course. Doing so, I believe, also helps the students manage and take ownership of the learning process.


Class Assessment:

Class Assessment:

Class Discussion                                                                           200 points (20%)  
   Weeks 1 through 8         (25 points each week)
Each week, sudents are asked to participate in three discussion topics by offering quality responses to each of the three discussion topics (by the posted deadline) as well as to two classmates in each discussion thread (by the end of the week). 
Quizzes                                                                                          100 points (10%)
     Weeks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7       (20 points per quiz)
Short multiple-choice/true-false online quizzes involving 5 to 20 questions based on material from assigned readings.
 Institution in My Life” Essay                                                       100 points (10%)
       Week 1
 A 500-750 word essay that reflects on the ways in which our experiences are reflected in our relationship to social institutions and the roles and functions they play in human social life. 

Institution in My Community” Essay                                            100 points (10%) 
Week 3 
A 500-750 word essay that explains how social institutions impact the way life in our local communities are organized by drawing on student examples
 from their current hometowns.
Institution in the News” Essay                                                       100 points (10%) 
    Week 5 
A 500-750 word essay that explores a current news article and explains 
which social institutions are implicated in the issue and how they are involved.
Core Assessment: Data Analysis Assignment                            200 points (20%) 
    Week 7 
A 2500 word essay (maximum, plus tables, figures and references) in which students will choose one of the institutions discussed in this course as their essay focus. The essay must address the following issues:
1.      How has the American form of this institution developed since World War II? 
2.      Compare the American form of this institution to its expression in two other countries? 
3.      Discuss how this institution positively and negatively affects individuals. How might individuals work to change it for the better? 
4.      Apply one institutional theory in an extended critical analysis to more clearly understand the workings of this institution. 
5.      Evaluate how this institution is adapting to pressures from globalization or changes in other institutions. 
Each essay should incorporate the results of several sources of original sociological research, provide clear and well-developed examples for each of your major points, and critically evaluate the effects of this institution in the Information Age.

 Final Exam                                          200 points (20%)   
   Week 8 
Exam involving 40 multiple-choice/true-false questions
(4 points each) and 2 short-answer essays (20 points each).


Course grades will be assigned based on the total points earned during the term. The grading scale is as follows: 

Point Range            Grade 
700-799                     C 
000-599                     F   
 In addition, individual assignments will be assessed as follows: 
Class Discussion  (Weeks 1 through 8)           
      Response to each initial Discussion Question posted by established deadline         up to 9 points
Responses to at least two classmates in each discussion thread by end of week    up to 12 points
Quality of weekly comments and responses                                                          up to 4 points
Institutional Essays* (Weeks 1, 3, and 5) 
Clarity of Thought                                                                        5 – 20 points 
Organization                                                                                 5 – 20 points 
Attention to Issues and Ideas Raised in the Course                      5 – 20 points 
Attention to Grammar/Punctuation/Structure of Writing            5 – 20 points 
General Assessment                                                                      5 – 20 points 
* A detailed Essay Scoring Guide can be found in Course Documents  
Data Analysis Assignment* (Week 7)
Clarity of Thought                                                                                                                               3 – 15 points 
Organization                                                                                                                                        3 – 15 points 
Attention to Issues and Ideas Raised in the Course                                                                             3 – 15 points 
Attention to Grammar/Punctuation/Structure of Writing                                                                   3 – 15 points 
Synthesizes and Analyzes Multiple Sources of Sociological Research                                                 3 – 15 points 
Provides examples to highlight Major Points of the Analysis                                                             3 – 15 points 
Critically evaluates the effects of the Institution in the Information Age                                           3 – 15 points 
Explains how the American form of this institution developed since World War II                            9 – 15 points 
Compares the American form of this institution to its expression in two other countries                  9 – 15 points 
Discusses how the institution positively and negatively affects individuals                                        9 – 15 points 
Applies an institutional theory                                                                                                             9 – 15 points 
Evaluates institutional adaption to pressures from globalization or changes in other institutions    9 – 15 points 
General Assessment                                                                                                                             4 – 20 points 
* A detailed Data Analysis Assignment Scoring Guide can be found in Course Documents

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Late assignments will be accepted by the course instructor. However, ALL work that is submitted and/or received past the established deadline will be assessed a penalty of 50% of the value of the assignment. This policy does not extend to weekly discussion topics. Students who do not participate in the weekly discussions in a timely manner are encouraged to participate in past discussions as possible, but no points will be awarded for said late participation.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Each student is expected to conduct him/herself in a manner that is conducive to an effective virtual learning situation. Any student who unduly disrupts the class or who violates any behavior, rule, regulation, or policy of the University during this class shall be subject to the disciplinary procedures spelled out in the University Student Handbook
In addition, in the virtual world tone is very important. Please make sure you are always aware of your tone when participating in discussion threads, responding to student or instructor postings, and when sending e-mails. Your tone should always be friendly, polite, and professional. In other words, please be respectful of others.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1: Understanding Social Institutions – Theories, Concepts, and Analysis


Nee, “Sources of the New Institutionalism” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Henning, “Institution” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Ingram, “Institutionalism” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Carter & Clegg, “New Institutional Theory” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Discussion Topics

Social Theory and Institution(s)


Institution in My Life


Ask the Instructor/Poll the Class


Week 2: Institutional Change in Contemporary American History

Assignment Type


Due Date (if applicable)



6 – Generation Broke: Growth of Debt among Young Americans

7 – Retirement’s Unraveling Safety Net

10 – Doing Poorly

27 – Importing the Third World



Discussion Topics

Social Change and Institutional Change


Institutional Change and Lived Experience


Ask the Instructor/Poll the Class




Quiz #1


Week 3: Family, Education and Religion



21 – Families on the Fault Line

22 – More than Welcome: Families Come First in Sweden

37 – Reading, Writing, and…Buying?

Photiadis & Schnabel, “Religion: A Persistent Institution in Changing Appalachia”                   (.pdf file in Course Documents)                                                               Appalachia” (.pdf file in Course Documents)



Discussion Topics

The Family in International Perspective


Family, Education, and Religion and 'Functional Imperatives'


Institution in My Community





Quiz #2


“Institution in My Community” Essay

Week 4: Work/Economy, Politics and the Media

Assignment Type


Due Date (if applicable)



2 – Tax Cheats and their Enablers

3 – The Cost of Money

5 – Nickel and Dimed

 Silverblatt, “Media as Social Institution” (.pdf file in Course Documents)                                                                       Appalachia” (.pdf file in Course Documents)



Discussion Topics

Work and Economy


The Media


Politics, Policy, and Institutional Forms




Quiz #3

Week 5: Law, The Justice System and the Military

Assignment Type


Due Date (if applicable)



40 – Wild Pitch: “Three Strikes, You’re Out” and Other Bad Calls on Crime

42 – Unjust Rewards

Perry, “Organizations as Coercive Institutions” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Soeters, “Organizations as Total Institutions” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Dornbusch, “The Military Academy as Assimilating Institution” (.pdf file in Course Documents)



Discussion Topics

Laws and the Justice System


The Miltary and the Total Institution


Institution in the News




“Institution in the News” Essay

Week 6: Science, Technology, Medicine and Health Care

Assignment Type


Due Date (if applicable)



Merton, “Social and Cultural Contexts of Science” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Rees, “Science Across Cultures” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

Zola, “Medicine as an Institution of Social Control” (.pdf file in Course Documents)

32 – Universal Health Care…

33 – The Shame of Our Nursing Homes



Discussion Topics

Science as Institution?


Medicine and Health Care


Institutional Arrangements and Social Control




Quiz #4



Week 7: An International Perspective on American Social Institutions

Assignment Type


Due Date (if applicable)



43 – Five Wars We’re Losing

44 – Oil, Geography, and War

45 – Blowback

46 – A Global Strategy Against Terrorism



Discussion Topics

Culture and the Structure and Function of Institutions


Cross-Cultural Perspective on Social Institutions


Ask the Instructor/Poll the Class





Quiz #5


Core Assessment: Data Analysis Assignment

Week 8: Institutionalized Inequalities: Systems of Stratification – Race, Class, and Gender

Assignment Type


Due Date (if applicable)



9 – Top Heavy

14 – Schools and Prisons: Fifty Years after Brown v. Board of Education

17 – The Conundrum of the Glass Ceiling

18 – Selling Women Short



Discussion Topics

Social Inequality as Social Institution


Race, Class and Gender Inequality in the U.S.


Ask the Instructor/Poll the Class




Proctored Final Exam


Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:12/4/2008 5:07:50 PM