The Program

The Sociology/Anthropology Department challenges students to explore the diversity of human experience. Through courses and research, we develop perspectives and skills for understanding social life, drawing on both these closely interrelated fields to analyze the relationship of individual lives to the local and global circulation of beliefs, ideas, practices, opportunities and things.

Studies in sociology and anthropology probe the social arrangements that people naturalize in a particular society. Courses investigate configurations of power, the organization of institutions and professions, the performance of gender, the interpretation of race, the distribution of status and wealth, conformity and deviance, and the relationship of people with their environments, to better understand how particular patterns are configured in diverse circumstances.

The Sociology/Anthropology major at Earlham emphasizes student engagement with the theories and concepts of the disciplines as well as the methods and practices of research. We encourage students to use the conceptual tools of the discipline as a kaleidoscope of possible interpretations of the social worlds they encounter. We teach students the arts of anthropological and sociological research: creating rapport, participant observations, asking questions, interviewing and listening carefully. In classes, students are challenged with the ethical quandaries posed by competing views of the world, social inequalities, and questions of social justice. We maintain an Ethnographic Research Laboratory with facilities for data analysis and support for developing digital projects including video and photographic research.

In addition, the Department participates in Earlham's interdisciplinary majors, including Human Development and Social Relations, Peace and Global Studies, African and African American Studies, Latin American Studies, Women's Studies, Environmental Studies and International Studies as well as pre-medical and pre-law programs.

We strive to prepare our students to live, work and interact across the many different boundaries they will cross in a global world. We attract students who are curious about social life, whether it is about the use of language among a group of friends, or the world they encounter in study abroad. A Sociology/Anthropology major might be found “hanging out” on the streets of Chicago with the homeless, working with a dance troupe in Mexico City, studying a religious practice in an Indonesian village, or evaluating the impact of environmental degradation in a Canadian town.

Our graduates can be found working in schools, social service and community development organizations, public health initiatives, government agencies, human rights organizations, or computer firms. Of course, many go on to pursue advanced degrees in Sociology or Anthropology. According to information from Higher Education Data Sharing, Earlham is ranked 29th (in the 98th percentile) among 1,469 institutions of higher learning in the U.S. in the percentage of graduates who go on to receive Ph.D.s in the social sciences (sociology is ranked 18th and anthropology 51st).

Many of our majors choose to pursue professional degrees, and recent graduates have entered graduate programs in law, public health, human services, public policy, museum studies, education, health professions, criminal justice, information sciences, archeology and landscape architecture. Regardless of the path they follow, our graduates use the skills they have learned to become effective agents of change.

General Education Requirements

The Department offers seven courses that fulfill the Domestic component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, SOAN 118, 215, 323, 325, 330, 335, 355 and 371; and five courses that fulfill the International component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, SOAN 115, 320, 321, 327 and 368 and two courses that meet the Wellness Requirement, SOAN 335 and 355. The Department also offers frequent Earlham Seminars.

The Major

Students majoring in Sociology/Anthropology complete at least 40 credits in the Department, of which up to four credits may be at the 100 level.

The following classes are normally required of all majors:

  • Core Requirement
    • SOAN 216: Theory through Ethnography
  • Methods
    • SOAN 345: Social Research Methods

      OR
    • SOAN 346 & 347: Ethnographic Practicum I & II
  • Theory
    • SOAN 340: Classical Social Thought

      OR
    • SOAN 341 Contemporary Social Thought
  • Capstone Experience
    • SOAN 488: Senior Capstone Experience

AND

  • 21 credits of SOAN courses
    • 20 credits must be in upper-level courses
    • SOAN 487 Senior Thesis — this optional course may not be counted towards the major

Note: In cases where a different configuration would strengthen a student's course of study in the major, the Department will work with the student to develop an appropriate alternative.

Students are strongly encouraged to include an internship and/or foreign study as part of their studies. Students majoring in Sociology/Anthropology may take up to four credits in other departments or on off-campus programs at the discretion of their departmental adviser (and according to departmental criteria established for off-campus programs).

Students are normally expected to complete a research methods course by the end of the Junior year. In addition, in the Spring Semester of the Junior year, students meet with departmental faculty to discuss the Senior Capstone Experience requirement.

The Minor

Students minoring in Sociology/Anthropology are required to complete a minimum of 20 credits. These must include:

  • An introductory course
  • A course in Social Thought

AND

  • 12 credits of upper-level SOAN courses

Note: No more than one course that counts toward the student's major or another minor may count toward the minor in Sociology/Anthropology. Also, at the discretion of the Department, one sociology or anthropology course from an off-campus study program may be applied toward the minor. Students may file a written petition with the Department if requesting a reasonable exception.

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
  • (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IP) = Interpretive Practices
  • (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*SOAN 115 CULTURE AND CONFLICT (4 credits)
Introduces and critically examines selected approaches to understanding human diversity. Drawing on ethnographic studies, develops perspectives on how people cohere as groups, construct meaning, assert and resist influence and power, and orient themselves to a shifting terrain of images and relationships both global and local. Weekly film session required. (D-I)

*SOAN 118 INSTITUTIONS AND INEQUALITY (4 credits)
Introduces students to the sociological perspective and focuses on the connections between major social institutions and social inequality. (D-D)

*SOAN 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)

*SOAN 215 IDENTITY AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS (4 credits)
Explores contemporary social movements organized around gender, sexuality, ethnicity and place. Examines the pivotal role of culture in shaping identities and structuring relations of inequality. Explores empirical case studies of social movements and theories that have emerged to grapple with the place of these movements in creating social change. Particular attention to tensions between class-based analyses of social movements. (D-D)

SOAN 216 THEORY THROUGH ETHNOGRAPHY (4 credits)
Considers the time-honored practice of Ethnography, both as fieldwork and as textual form, that has traditionally defined cultural anthropology and qualitative sociology. Examines the politics, poetics and ethics of ethnographic research and writing, pushing beyond modernist assumptions about ethnographic fieldwork as objective scientific research. Reading and discussion of ethnographic texts — classical and contemporary, conventional and experimental — as well as critiques of ethnographic research and writing. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, or prior SOAN class and permission of the instructor.

*SOAN 240 SOPHOMORE SEMINAR (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for sophomore study.

*SOAN 320 PEOPLES AND CULTURES OF A SELECTED AREA (4 credits)
Explores patterns of social life in a selected region, including historical circumstances, social formations and case studies of cultural beliefs and practices. Seeks to understand the gaze through which the region has been viewed by observers over time, and how various groups have understood, defined and responded to their own experience. (D-I)

*SOAN 321 LATIN AMERICAN CULTURE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Examines selected ethnographies of Latin America. Based on the assumption that to understand Latin America we must understand not only the concrete situations of populations living in Latin America but also how those populations have been represented historically through the lens of ethnography. Each ethnographer writes about a people to a wider community of anthropologists whose concerns are theoretical as well as empirical. Dialogue invites students to see Latin America as a region whose study has contributed to the development of anthropological theory. (D-I)

SOAN 322 JAPANESE CULTURE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Introduces the anthropological study of Japan. Readings focus on cultural analysis, village organizations, the ethnography of modern business organizations and the residential community.

*SOAN 323 NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN CULTURES AND SOCIETIES (4 credits)
Includes a number of culture area/tribal groups, focusing mainly on Native peoples of the Great Lakes region. Texts include ethnographies, scholarly articles, literary essays and videos, representing the works of Native and non-Native scholars, writers and film-makers. Highlights the process by which Native Americans are represented in scholarly, literary and popular media. (D-D)

*SOAN 325 JACKIE ROBINSON: RACE, SPORTS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM (4 credits)
Approaches Robinson's breaking of professional baseball's color barrier within the context of America's political, social and cultural history and examines Robinson's impact as a national symbol on American cultural life and social institutions. Focuses on creative synthesis of readings and media presentations. (D-D)

*SOAN 327 INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THE ENVIRONMENT (4 credits)
Small-scale societies traditionally studied by anthropologists have become the "indigenous peoples" of the world. Under the jurisdiction of nation-states that consider them alien and inferior, they are among the world's most underprivileged minorities. Focuses on indigenous peoples in the British diaspora: Australia, Canada and the United States. Analyzes the following topics through an environmental lens: traditional subsistence practices; historical forces of colonization;  and contemporary issues and struggles. Also listed as ENPR 327. (D-I) (AY)

*SOAN 330 URBAN STUDIES (4 credits)
The sociological and anthropological study of urbanization, city life and urban problems. Topics include the city in comparative perspective, relations between rural and urban areas, the city and the nation, education, family life, housing, crime, race relations, poverty and power. (D-D) (AY)

*SOAN 335 HEALTH, MEDICINE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)
Examines health, illness and medical care with a focus on both the social organization of health and health care institutions, and on the experience of illness and healing. Explores discourses of health and illness drawn on by professionals and patients, and the impact of social position on health and treatment. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. (D-D, W)

SOAN 339 TOPICS IN SOCIOLOGY/ANTHROPOLOGY (4 credits)
Seminars on selected topics.

SOAN 340 CLASSICAL SOCIAL THOUGHT (4 credits)
Intended for majors in Sociology/Anthropology and related disciplines. Provides an overview of the foundations of Western social thought as they developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Assigned readings include excerpts from the works of such major theorists as: Hegel, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, William James, George Herbert Mead and Fredrich Nietzsche. Students explore the life, thought and work of a theorist in a social category marginalized from the mainstream of Western thought (e.g., people of color, women, non-Westerners) as term project.

SOAN 341 CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL THOUGHT (4 credits)
Explores emerging trends in social theory and their relation to classical theory. Each year emphasizes a different problem such as power and culture, structure and agency, or determinism and anti-essentialism. Readings and discussion focus on developing the students' ability to recognize subtle differences that define theoretical perspective. Also listed as PAGS 341.

SOAN 345 SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS (4 credits)
Primarily for Sociology/Anthropology majors. Introduces micro-social qualitative and focus group approaches in social research, preparing students to carry out original research projects in other Sociology/Anthropology courses.

SOAN 346 ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PRACTICUM I (2 credits)
This course takes an experiential approach to learning about ethnography. Participants carry out brief ethnographic research projects of their own design with the class providing advice and critical responses for work-in-progress and completed projects. Discussions and readings will focus on the formulation of research questions, on methodological and theoretical approaches in qualitative research, and on issues of validity, ethics and research design. Much of this discussion will be carried out in relation to participants’ research projects. Prequisite: primarily for Sociology/Anthropology majors; requires sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.

SOAN 347 ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PRACTICUM II (2 credits)
A self-designed ethnographic research project is carried out during the semester, with the members of the Practicum consulting with the group about their projects. Completes one of the options for the departmental methods requirement. Prerequisite: SOAN 346.

SOAN 353 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF ADOLESCENCE AND YOUTH (4 credits)
Explores the emergence of adolescence as distinctive cultural styles reflecting both the changing needs and moral preoccupations of industrial societies. Special attention to key sites of adolescent social practice and ritual and to how young people interpret and perform culturally amid conflicting aspirations, opportunities, meanings and expectations.

*SOAN 355 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF AGING (4 credits)
An anthropological/sociological approach to issues of aging and the elderly, focusing on North America. Through reading ethnographic accounts and personal narratives of older people from a wide variety of backgrounds, students experience three broad perspectives: 1) how the elderly function as social actors in diverse communities (e.g., Native American, homeless, gay and lesbian), 2) how the sociocultural context in which people grow old creates a varied reality of what aging means, 3) how social policy shapes the circumstances and experiences of the elderly. Includes a service-learning component. (D-D, W) (AY)

SOAN 356 SOCIAL DEVIANCE (4 credits)
In seeking to understand significant departures from social norms, explores how deviance has been understood through a variety of perspectives, and the implications of these views for society and for those identified as "deviant." Significant attention to issues of social power and resistance, and changing forms of social control. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and one SOAN course. (AY)

SOAN 361 LANGUAGE AND CULTURE (4 credits)
An upper-level introduction to linguistic anthropology. Topics include classical linguistic theory; the relationship between language, thought and reality; the role of language in accomplishing social tasks; and the ways in which power relations are created and reinforced through communicative interaction. No specific prerequisites: Students should have a working understanding of a body of social theory. (AY)

ENPR 362 CULTURAL POLITICS OF ENVIRONMENT: GREAT LAKES REGION (4 credits)
Introduces the general field of environmental anthropology through in-depth examination of specific case studies in environmental issues. Focuses on the Great Lakes region; U.S. and Canadian social and political institutions and relations between the two nations provide crucial context for analyzing these environmental issues. Features a virtual ethnography project through which student groups research pollution hot spots around the Great Lakes.  Also listed as ENPR 362.  Prerequite: Sophomore standing.  (AY)

SOAN 364 GENDER: ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES (4 credits)
Examines topics of importance in feminism including queer identities, transgender and transexuality, empire, colonialism and compulsory heterosexuality. Theme varies to enable a different configuration of approaches to explore the relationship between sex, gender and desire. Draws on theoretical works, films and ethnography.

SOAN 366 WORLD ETHNOGRAPHY (4 credits)
Ethnographic texts — such as books, films, articles, life histories — represent the human experience in diverse ways. Explores anthropological representation and illuminates patterns of human experience. Themes vary.

*SOAN 368 THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DEVELOPMENT: LATIN AMERICA (4 credits)
Using an anthropological lens, examines "development" as a type of discourse that formed under specific historical and sociological conditions. Examines the way relations between nations are imagined, the kinds of institutions that are born in the context of development, and the roles of those institutions in structuring power relations. Also listed as LTST 368. (D-I)

SOAN 371 SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION (4 credits)
Starting with a critical perspective, this micro-social and macro-social examination of schools addresses the question, "Why are things the way they are?" The course takes the view that schools serve multiple interest groups that exercise a consistent and pervasive impact on what happens in our nation's schools. (D-D) (AY)

SOAN 381 COMMUNITY SERVICE INTERNSHIP (2 credits)
Students arrange to participate as an intern with a non-profit community group or agency. Bi-monthly consultation with faculty and an approved plan of involvement required. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing and consent of the instructor.

SOAN 382 SOCIAL ORGANIZATION INTERNSHIP (2 credits)
Students arrange weekly participation as an intern with an organization providing professional consultation. Bi-monthly meeting with faculty and departmental approval of a plan of placement required. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing and consent of the instructor.

SOAN 450 ADVANCED SEMINARS (4 credits)
Occasional seminars reflecting faculty interests. Recent topics have included women in cross-cultural perspective, ethnicity and nationalism, surveillance and society, Andean ethnography and the Asian-American experience. May be repeated for credit.

SOAN 480 ADVANCED READINGS IN SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY (1-4 credits)
Designed for individuals who wish to develop a reading project in an area of interest with periodic meetings with a sponsoring faculty member. Prerequisite: Senior standing and strong record of departmental work and consent of the instructor.

SOAN 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)

SOAN 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study.

SOAN 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)
Students serving as teaching assistants may elect to earn academic credit by registering for this course.

SOAN 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.

SOAN 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
An investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty adviser. Intended for the advanced student.

SOAN 486 STUDENT RESEARCH (1-3 credits)
Collaborative research carried out by students and faculty.

SOAN 487 SENIOR THESIS (1-4 credits)
Working closely with an assigned member of the department, Seniors complete work begun in the Capstone course. Note: Credits for this course do not count toward requirements for the Major.

SOAN 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE (4 credits)
Designed to enable seniors to make significant progress toward completing a senior paper or project or preparing for a comprehensive examination. Also addresses the transition to the worlds of work, graduate school, family and community.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
47374-4095
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admissions