SO329 Sociology of the Life Course

for F1T 2012

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SO 329 Sociology of the Life Course


F1T 2012 DL


Slater, Amy M.


Adjunct Sociology Faculty


MA Sociology, University of Central Missouri
MA Counseling, University of Illinois

Office Location


Office Hours

By appointment

Daytime Phone


Other Phone

816-813-7298 cell


Semester Dates

F1T 2012  August 20-October 14, 2012

Class Days


Class Time


Credit Hours



Shanahan, M.J. and Macmillan, R. (2007). Biography and the sociological imagination, W.W. Norton &   
       Company (9780393976083) 


Allan, G. and Jones, J. (2003). Social relations and the life course, Palgrave (9780333984970) (SRLC)

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

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Course Description:
SO 329 Sociology of the Life Course: Examines the social aspects of aging from birth to death and the differences in our experiences due to age, historical periods, and the cohort or generation to which we belong. Substantive topics include social psychological outcomes (such as self-esteem and stress), adolescence and identity formation, dating and family dynamics, occupational trajectories and retirement. Also examines the large scale effects of population ageing trends and the effects of maturation of social relationships. 3:0:3

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. 1. Describe what is meant by the sociological imagination as it relates to understanding your own life course. 2. Explain the differences between cohort analysis of the life course and individual analysis of the life course. 3. Identify sociological methods for understanding lives and evaluate them in terms of application to different questions and issues. 4. Integrate levels of analysis with life course themes and stages in an analytical project. 5. Communicate sociological explanations for important personal and social events.
Class Assessment:

Points                     Assignment                                                                                                            

200                         Comprehensive Final Examination (20%)

200                         Core Assessment: Data Analysis Assignment (20%)

Interviews and Analyses: interview at least two appropriate individuals for each assignment, then analyze their issues and concerns with reference to specific concepts and findings discussed in this course.

100                         Gender-specific interview – one male and one female

100                         Children and parents interview – one child and one parent in the same family

100                         Mature adult interview – two adults, on the topic of your choice (same topic with both)

100                         Work interview – two adults who have experienced a work transition

200                         Participation and Discussion:

15 pts/week            personal reaction to the week’s reading, applied to your life

10 pts/week            discussion of others’ reactions (focused exclusively on their application of the material)


Core Assessment:

Essay: (max. 3000 words, plus tables and figures) Identify one life stage OR life stage transition, and then select one issue or theme as your focus. For example, you may select the transition from work to retirement, focusing on the change in personal identity or as your focus. Your essay must include the following components:

1.     Define and analyze the major applicable characteristics of the stage, or stages. Are those stages currently well defined in our culture or in flux? How and why? Are there differences as a function of gender?  Cite specific research and examples to illustrate your characterizations.

2.     What are the challenges faced by individuals, groups, and society as people attempt to navigate this transition?

3.     How does this stage or transition today compare with the same stage or transition a generation ago? How do you think it might look in another generation, given societal changes?

4.     Does existing research suggest optimal strategies for dealing with this stage or transition? What are they? Do people actually follow those strategies, and if so, who does and under what conditions? Evaluate that research and suggest how it might be applied.

Each essay should clearly define your stage or transition, and the personal and social consequences of the specific stage or transition. Ensure that each essay conforms to the applicable guidelines of APA format, and include all citations and references. Each paper should have a title page, an abstract, content pages, and a references page.  Each point should be carefully explained with sociological concepts, explicitly justified with reason and empirical scientific evidence, and illustrated through specific real-world examples. Your essay will be evaluated in terms of content and clarity of writing.


Point Range            Letter Grade

>= 900                    A

800 – 899                B

700 – 799                C

600 – 699                D

<= 599                    F

Class Discussions  (Weeks 1 through 8)           
      Post to each initial Discussion Question by Tuesday midnight (CST)                                   up to 9 points
      Respond to at least two classmates in each discussion thread by Sunday midnight (CST)    up to 12 points
      Quality of weekly comments and responses to include citations                                           up to 4 points

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 late participation. Students have until Sunday night at midnight (CST) to complete their discussion questions

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Students must be respectful to all points of view, especially to those which are different from their own.  Respect and courtesy must prevail in the classroom.  Please be aware of the words you use in your discussions.  It is sometimes difficult to understand intent and tone in the online classroom, because we lack the nonverbal queues.  It is important that we recognize the value in various points of views as we search for truth.  

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1: Sociological Imagination and the Life Course

Read BSI Chapter 1

Participation and discussion (25 points total)

Week 2. Life Course Paradigm

Read BSI Chapter 2 

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Week 3. Macro Views of the Life Course/ Children and parents

Read BSI Chapter 3

Children and parents interview must be submitted to the Dropbox by Sunday at midnight (CST) (100 points)

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Week 4. Micro Views of the Life Course/ Family and home

 Read BSI Chapter 4

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Week 5. From Macro to Micro/ Changes: Gender

Read BSI Chapter 5

Gender interview must be submitted to the Dropbox by Sunday night at midnight (CST) (100 points)

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Week 6. Sociological Imagination/ Work and relationships

Read BSI Chapter 6

Work interview must be submitted to the Dropbox by Sunday at midnight (CST) (100 points)

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Week 7. Putting it all together

A review of the course material and discussions and current research

Mature adult interview must be submitted to the Dropbox by Sunday at midnight (CST) (100 points)

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Week 8. Pratical Application of the Life Course Perspective

A Comprehensive approach to the life course

Participation and discussions (25 points total)

Core Analysis Paper Due and must be submitted to the Dropbox by Wednesday at midnight (CST) (200 points)

Proctored Comprehensive Final Exam (200 points)

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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

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.
ONLINE NOTE: Students must participate in an academically related activity on a weekly basis in order to be marked present in an online class. Examples of academically-related activities include but are not limited to: contributing to an online discussion, completing a quiz or exam, completing an assignment, initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course related question, or using any of the learning management system tools.

Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98

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:8/9/2012 11:48:57 AM