Special Topics: The Sociological Imagination

Spring 2023
Kate Pride Brown
HTS 2831

“The Sociological Imagination” takes seriously the call by C. Wright Mills to combine history and biography as a means to better understand how social forces and structures impact individual lives by reading a biography and analyzing an individual life sociologically. For this class, students will be reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. Each week, students will be introduced to a particular social institution and sociological concepts and theories of that institution, as well as one chapter from the Autobiography that aligns with that particular institution (e.g. Race, Family, Education, Gender/Sexuality, Criminal Justice, Religion, Social Movements, The Media, Sports, etc.). They will work throughout the semester to analyze both the biography and their own lives through lenses provided by sociology. In weekly reflections, students will practice the sociological imagination by considering how that week’s social institution has impacted their own lives. Meanwhile, they will cumulatively work on a term paper that analyzes one social institution and its impact on Malcolm X as presented across the course of the entire biography. By examining the impact of one man trying to make a difference for his community and the lives of Black Americans, students will learn to think about how all of us collectively shape and are shaped by the world around us, including the very real possibility of making a difference.

Course type: 
Course Level: 
Partner Engagement: