Mass Media and Society

This course takes a global and transnational approach to the study of the production and consumption of mass media content in both developed and developing countries. It will examine theories on the relationship between mass media, the public sphere, and democracy; the economic and social organization of media industries; the framing and reception of media messages; and the growth of new media technologies. Case studies that the course will cover include: coverage of violent conflicts, portrayal of racial and ethnic groups, social media and protest, citizen journalism, and spread of fake news. Students will also learn methods and designs employed in media research such as content analysis and develop their own projects, which they will present publicly at the end of the semester. The materials for this course will include published scientific studies, documentaries, films and TV shows, podcasts, and print and online news.

Migrants, Refugees, and Diasporas (cross-listed with American Studies, Global Development Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies)

This course offers an introduction to the study of voluntary and forced migration from a global and transnational sociological perspective. In the last century, large-scale cross-border movement of people has transformed both receiving and sending societies, from patterns of majority and minority relations to national identity formation. Drawing from cases in Europe, North America, and Asia, students will examine the behaviors and interactions of actors and institutions as they grapple with changes in their societies due to global migration. They will also learn the construction of migrants, refugees, and diasporas as social problems and seek to understand the sociological underpinnings of power in issues such as assimilation, development, loyalty, racism, and security. The focus of the course is on exploring theoretical and methodological debates in order to develop critical and reflexive capacities in analyzing the global forces that shape increasingly interconnected societies. It includes a course-embedded fieldwork to Marshalltown, Iowa, where immigrants from Mexico and Central American and refugees from Southeast Asia and East Africa have settled.

Sociology of Asian America (cross-listed with American Studies and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies)

This course examines the experience of Asian immigrants and their children from a sociological perspective. Emphasis is on how the changing global capitalist and geopolitical landscapes have shaped the economic processes, political institutions, and social norms in U.S. society that, in turn, govern the interactions, roles, and expectations of Asian Americans. At the same time, the course foregrounds the agency and subjectivities of Asian Americans—as immigrants, refugees, minorities, citizens, exploited labor, colonized nationals etc.—and examines the ways by which they validate, subvert, and/or reproduce existing power structures. Students cover many key ideas in sociology, including the relationship between assimilation and transnationalism; intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and class; discursive construction of social groups; emergence and development of oppositional consciousness; and place as abstract and physical sites, as they answer the question: What accounts for the paradox of being both a model and invisible minority at the same time?