Undergraduate

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Course Descriptions

 
(Pre-requisite: Nil)
 

Our planet is undergoing radical environmental and social changes. Environmental sustainability has now been put into question by, for example, our consumption patterns, loss of biodiversity, depletion of resources, and exploitative power relations. With apparent ecological and social limits to globalization and development, the current levels of consumption are unsustainable, inequitable, and inaccessible to the majority of humans. Understanding the environmental sustainability is a crucial matter at a time when our planet is in peril - both environmentally and socially. This course will show possible pathways for a sustainable earth. 

 

Twenty years after the Rio summit in 1992, world leaders met in Rio once again in 2012 to discuss the environmental challenges facing the humanity. It was a time for them to reflect on how successful and effective the international community has been over the past two decades in managing the major identified environmental problems. Are we still facing the same environmental problems? Have there been improvements in the situation or are we worse off? Environmental and social vulnerabilities will continue to exist twenty years from now and beyond. The question is what kind of steps can and should be taken to manage these vulnerabilities? Have they been taken? Do countries across the globe experience the same type and degree of vulnerabilities? Or is the distribution of these vulnerabilities uneven? How is the distribution of these vulnerabilities decided and by whom? What are the prospects for a sustainable planet? This course will explore and examine environmental sustainability from both local and global contexts. Singapore being located in an environmentally vulnerable zone ardently needs courses like this.   

 


HS1001 Person and Society (3 AU)

(Pre-requisite: Nil)

 

This introductory course explores what it means to develop a "sociological imagination". Moving beyond the biological basis of behaviour, the course develops a perspective of the human person located in "society" within webs of informal and institutionalized social relationships. Social life is governed by norms and social constraints, but individuals as social actors also "make history" and exercise choice in their lives. In addition, the course develops a comparative understanding of the diversity of societal forms and cultural traditions in human history, especially the key features of modern life and its continued transformation in contemporary times.

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HS1002 Singapore Society in Transition (3 AU)

(Pre-requisite: Nil)

 

Beginning with a broad perspective on the historical formation of Singapore, from its premodern roots, through its evolution as a colonial society, and then its fast-paced development as a modern nation-state in Southeast Asia, this course develops a holistic analysis of fundamental features of Singapore as a "society". The course examines the making of "Singaporeans" and "Singapore culture". The patterns of social order and dynamics of social change are understood by focusing on the relationships between political rule, economic structure, and cultural life.

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HS2001 Classical Social Theory  (3 AU)

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)

 

This course examines the theoretical foundations of sociology as a discipline. It focuses on the key ideas and perspectives developed by "classical" social theorists in their analyses of basic features of social life, the making of modern society and the consequences of modernity. In particular, the contributions of major thinkers such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber are discussed against the backdrop of the social and intellectual contexts of their times. In understanding the pivotal influence of such contributions on the development of the discipline, the course also considers their continuing relevance for analysing social change in the contemporary world.

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(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
This course introduces the methodology - and methods - of social research. It offers a practical immersion into the process of studying human beings and social phenomena, from the formulation of research questions to the interpretation of research findings. Students are exposed to a range of research methods, including the experiment, ethnographic fieldwork, the interview, documentary research, and the social survey, taking a "hands-on" and "learning-by-doing" approach in carrying out and completing a research project. In addition to questions concerning the analysis and use of qualitative and quantitative data, students also consider ethical issues in social research
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 

In a broad sense, culture refers to the socially (as opposed to genetically) transmitted bases for the behaviors that characterize the human species. In a narrower sense, it refers to the ways of life that are cultivated by people in particular times and places and which provide frameworks within which human beings go about everyday life. This course will teach Year 1 and Year 2 Sociology majors about the sociological significance of culture in terms of its material, ideological, and practical aspects; its production, transmission and consumption; and its relation to people selves and identities. Such knowledge is important for anyone who wishes to be critically aware of how and why people think and act as they do, and to be able to act on that knowledge and informed and active citizen.

 
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
Large-scale and complex organisations are a central feature of modern society. This course examines theories and types of organisations, especially in terms of hierarchy, control, authority, decision-making and accountability. In particular, it considers the rise and impact of bureaucracy and bureaucratic rationality in modern society and the subsequent development of schools or systems of management. In understanding the formal features of bureaucratic and post-bureaucratic organizations, the course also considers the informal, cultural and small-group processes that influence the functioning of organisations. Organisational change - and the transformation of management in contemporary society - is analysed in terms of the relations between organisations and their     environments

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)

 

‘Globalization’ - now an everyday term and not just an academic concept - refers to the general process that intensifies the interaction and interdependence between people and places across the world, especially with the growth of capitalism. This course examines the complex phenomenon of globalization, which has accelerated over recent decades as a result of significant technological advances in transportation and communications.

As an ideology, globalization can be seen as a powerful system of ideas that legitimizes efforts to re-structure the global political economy and transnational relations. The economic, political and cultural processes that constitute globalization are discussed in light of their social impact on individuals, groups, cities and nation-states. By emphasizing both theory and empirical case studies, the course will enable you to critically examine globalization in its multifaceted complexity.

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HS2008 Social Class and Inequality (3 AU)

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 

The contemporary global context is one of rising wealth/income inequality and narrowing social mobility. Class privilege or disadvantage and their reproduction shape people’s wellbeing in profound ways. Addressing inequalities along class lines is a challenge many societies, including our own, face.

 

In this course, we aim to better understand how class formation and inequalities work, and how they might be ameliorated. 

 

The course is divided into four parts: first, we ask what social class is and how sociologists have approached its study. We also map out trends in inequality globally and locally. Second, we turn to asking how class matters in shaping people’s experiences in everyday life. Third, we investigate the various sites and means through which class privilege/disadvantage are reproduced. Finally, we consider recent movements against inequality and visions of a more equitable world.

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HS2009  Sociology of the Life Course  (3 AU) 

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)

 

The social experiences of individuals change as they develop through different stages of life from birth to death. Members of each age cohort and generation share certain formative or defining experiences such as schooling, work, family life, and retirement. This course examines the various stages of the life-course in tandem with the changing demographic profile of a society, paying attention to social factors related to marriage, parenthood, family structure, education, employment, health and medical care, living arrangements, lifestyles and social equity. The social, economic and political implications and consequences of demographic trends and the policies that address such trends are also discussed.

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HS2011 Ethnicity and Ethnic Relations (3 AU)  

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
This course develops an understanding of ethnicity as a social concept and phenomenon in which group boundaries are defined and maintained on the basis of inherited or acquired cultural characteristics (e.g., language and customs). In particular, it considers the relationship between ethnic identity and minority status in plural or multicultural societies, especially in relation to racism or other forms of discrimination. The course also examines patterns of ethnic integration, ethnic conflict and the politics of identity in different societies, especially in light of flows of new immigrants from global diasporas.
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
This course is designed to introduce contemporary forms of migration and their implications for living within diverse and multicultural societies through sociological concepts and key perspectives. This course will give students a broad understanding of the central issues associated with migration and settlement, with an attempt to focus on south-south migrations and generate conversation with more commonly studied South to North movements of people. The first half of the course will address various types of migration and key transnational framings of the movements of people across domestic and international boundaries. In the second half, the ways in which various states deal with the diversity of their temporary and more permanent immigrant populations will be explored. This is done using a case study approach that allows for a deeper understanding of each site. Finally, the course introduces some elements of everyday migrant life in order to provide a balance to highly state-centric readings of migration. The course seeks to link issues of migration with understandings of contemporary multiculturalism so that they can be examined as interrelated transnational phenomena. In these discussions, class and ethnicity emerge as key vectors of differentiation and analysis.
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
The family occupies a central place in the everyday lives of most people across societies and cultures. Yet changes in contemporary society have had a major impact on the family as a social institution. Beginning with the study of kinship patterns in human society, this course examines theoretical perspectives on the family and the diversity of family forms and households that have developed over time. It considers issues related to intimacy, marriage, divorce, parenthood (both motherhood and fatherhood), alternatives to conventional family practices, and social policies which affect family life and family planning. The "politics of the family" and issues such as gender inequality and domestic violence are also discussed.  

 

HS2015 Education and Society (3 AU) 

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)

 

Formal education is a defining social institution of modern society. Its influence on individuals and society extends far beyond its pedagogical function, especially in relation to social inequality, economic development, governance and cultural life. In examining theories of schooling, the development of educational systems and the expansion of schooling in various societies, this course also considers the social organisation and culture of the school, the role of the formal and informal curriculum, the educational experiences of various social groups, and the social factors that affect educational opportunity and individual educational attainment.

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HS2018 Media and Society (3 AU)

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)

 

Beginning with an understanding of the social character of communication, this course explores the interrelationship between media--oral, written, print, broadcast, and electronic media--and society. It considers the production and reception of media in relation to social inequality, political power, economic structure and cultural life. Topics include the role of media in the social construction of reality, the making of popular culture, cyber-culture, and the creation of new vehicles of self-expression. In addition to examining theories of media, the course explores issues such as the rise of the media industry and the formulation of media policies within national and transnational contexts. It also focuses on the social impact of 'new media' created by the digital technologies, especially the Internet and mobile telecommunications.​

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(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
Rapid advancement in science and technology presents individuals and societies with a unprecedented array of challenges. This course explores the social, ethical and policy issues associated with scientific and technological advancement by posing questions such as the following: What is science? How is scientific knowledge created, disseminated and adopted? How are discoveries and inventions made and accepted? What is the nature of scientific and technological progress? How is it influenced by social, political, economic and cultural factors? What are the roles of universities, research institutes and industrial or business partners? In examining the social implications and consequences of the new scientific ideas and technological applications, the course scrutinises developments in multiple fields, including the life sciences, medicine, engineering and digital media.
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)

The purpose of the course is to provide a comprehensive overview of the main topics in social demography. You will learn about the following topics: 1) understanding population change using demographic transition theories and policy concerns about population explosion and implosion. 2) Examining fertility and marital changes and reasons for these changes. 3) Learn about the population movements with a focus on migration and urbanization. 4) Learn about issues related to ageing. In this course you will be gradually introduced to many terms and concepts of demographic events like fertility, mortality and migration. The course will approach the topics from a historical, comparative and policy perspectives. The course is for students in their 2nd or 3rd year.  The course introduces you to theories, concepts and issues that serve as a foundation for understanding contemporary population issues and changes.

  

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
This course provides a critical survey of key theories and issues in environmental sociology. Beginning with an overview of environmental problems in the contemporary world, we examine the social construction of nature and the development of environmentalism as a concept and a social movement. In particular, it analyse the challenges of sustainable development and the roles of the state, market, and civil society in responding to environmental issues. Specific issues such as climate change, food security, and renewable energy are studied from a sociological perspective. The course will also consider issues related to environmental inequality and environmental justice.
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
This course addresses the fundamental question of how any type of behavior can be treated as "deviant", "delinquent" or "criminal" within the context of a particular society. In examining theories of deviance - especially the social construction or labelling of deviance - the course considers the mechanisms of formal and informal control in a society and the strategies of resistance on the part of "deviant" groups. It also discusses basic concepts in criminology, varieties of crime (including corporate crime, organized crime, international crime and cybercrime) and systems of law enforcement and public surveillance.
(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the field of social gerontology, with an emphasis on its interdisciplinary nature, links to such fields as sociology, psychology, public policy, health/medicine, and others. This course introduces social theories on aging and methodologies in aging research. The demographic, social, and economic trends in graying societies will be discussed. In addition, we will examine physical, psychological, and social processes of aging. Readings, lectures, discussions, and other class assignments and activities are designed to help you understand that aging is socially constructed and individual lives are influenced by social forces as they grow older. We will learn to appreciate how aging can be both meaningful and meaningless, and how a long life can be both desired and undesired. Considerations will be given to ethical issues and dilemmas and to social policy implications. 

(Pre-requisite: HS2001)

This course is designed to provide an overview of theoretical perspectives derived from sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies and political theory to help students interrogate the human and non-human condition in contemporary times. After taking this course, students should be able to reflect on—and ask better questions about—the workings of power, knowledge and resistance in the broader world and in their own lives.

The course is organized into two broad themes. Part I, “Producing Hegemony” interrogates how contemporary theorists have theorized the workings of power, knowledge and violence in the state and the how the status quo comes into being. As such, this module is also an exploration of the unevenness of modernity. Part II, “Contesting Deviance and Dualities” surveys how scholars have theorized power and society from the position of so-called deviant identities, being a woman, Black, queer, disabled, colonized or animal, and investigates how various groups have resisted processes and institutions of hegemony. In doing so, this thematic section also implicitly examines how binaries in classical social theory, black/white, man/woman, nature/culture, human/nonhuman, mind/body have been troubled and subverted by contemporary social theorists.

The pedagogical philosophy behind this course is refrain, “the personal is political” whereby one recognizes how problems that seem to be isolated and individual are actually systemic and social. Thus, while we will be trafficking in writings about the powers of the state, corporate entities, social movements, we will also be reflecting on our own “positionality” in society—that is, how we as citizens, subjects and consumers are hailed into being with particular privileges and disadvantages in society. Yet, far from being merely focused on the workings of systemic structures, we will also interrogate the construction of the personal, the self, and our own realities to show the fluid qualities of the structures and societal “givens” we take for granted. 


HS3002  Understanding Social Statistics (3 AU) 
(Pre-requisite: HS2002)
 
Social statistics appear routinely not just in articles in academic journals but also those in newspapers and popular magazines. Statistics are often cited and accepted as factual evidence or empirical support for a particular opinion or policy. But statistics can be used and abused. This course aims to develop a working understanding of social statistics, focusing on basic statistical concepts, the logic of statistical reasoning in social research, the foundations of statistical inference and hypothesis testing, and the generation and interpretation of statistical data. Students also learn to use a statistical software package for social research.

HS3004  Cities and Urban Life (3 AU) 
(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 
This course examines theories of urban development and features of urbanism as a way of life, focusing on processes of urbanisation and metropolitan development in both the developed world and in the developing world. It considers the urban transformation of predominantly rural societies, highlighting the implications of the rural-urban divide and issues related to urban poverty, housing and urban renewal. The course also discusses the rise of global cities and informational cities--and the rise of the creative city--with emphasis on the competition between cities in attracting trade, talent and tourists and the potential collaboration between them in addressing problems engendered by the global economy and international migration.

HS3007  Religion and Society (3 AU)
(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 
This course is concerned with the place of religion in personal and collective life, the varieties of religious phenomena, and the social organisation of religious belief and practice. In particular, the course draws a comparison of the types of religious worldviews embodied in animistic, polytheistic and monotheistic religions. In so doing, it examines the great religious traditions, including the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religion, as well as new religious movements. The course also discusses the relation between religion and modernity, especially science, capitalist rationality and the secular state 
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HS3011 Power, Politics, and the State (3 AU)
(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)

 

Power is a fundamental feature of social life, and it is manifested most obviously in the role of political institutions, especially in the modern nation-state. This course examines the nature and exercise of power and political control. In tracing the making of the modern state, it considers the ideological processes that legitimise political rule and government authority, especially in relation to nation-building and citizenship. In drawing contrasts between fascist and democratic states, it discusses the processes of democratisation, including the changing relations between state and civil society, the role of social movements, the protection of human rights, and the mechanisms of conflict resolution.

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(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 

This course is designed to help you obtain a comprehensive and critical understanding of health and society. Readings and lectures cover various topics, including the sociological determinants and consequences of health, health behaviour, and health care seeking. Students who are interested in the social and cultural influences on health may take this course. Alumni of this course will be able to use course ideas or perspectives in their professional roles such as medical professionals. Moreover, as this course will equip you with tools to analyze relationships between health and society, it will benefit those who plan to pursue graduate study in the field of medical sociology or other health-related disciplines. 

 


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​HS3015 Development and Social Change (3 AU)
(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 

This course will introduce you to key issues in development from comparative and historical perspectives, particularly in the context of present day globalization. For that, you will be exposed to the changing contours of international development and accompanying social changes across three historical periods: colonialism, the development era, and the current era of globalization. The course will provide a critical examination of some pressing questions: What are the historical roots of development and/or underdevelopment in the global North and South?  What are the key political and economic processes which characterize the problems currently facing the global South?  What are economic development and the globalization project? Why are debt, hunger, authoritarianism and political instability seemingly endemic to many parts of the world?  How do international decisions affect local politics, and vice-versa?  Who holds the power and makes decisions about the prospects of development, stability and democracy in the world? What are some of the competing visions of how the global South can be effectively transformed?  How do the ideas and practices of globalization project inform North-South relations. 

(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 

This course teaches students to understand societies through the comparative method, focusing particularly on the categories of race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, demography, post-colonial history, scientific development and globalization. Source material will draw heavily on Singapore, Israel, and Qatar, three multi-racial post-British protectorates with advanced development in science and technology and each with a unique history of national identity formation. Each week will focus on a particular theme of comparison, asking how we can understand each society through each specific lens of comparison. Through the course of the lectures students will understand the varied ways societies can be compared, yielding a rich analytic toolkit for deploying the comparative method. 


HS3017 Sociology of Tourism (3 AU) 
(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 

As an important aspect of globalization, tourism entails the global creation and consumption of ‘tourism spaces’ characterized by complex interactions between tourists, host communities, agencies of the state and businesses, cultural institutions and international organizations. This course aims to equip you with the key theoretical approaches and concepts in the sociological study of tourism and applying them to analyze important issues such as place making, tourist gaze and counter gaze, authenticity, cultural change, power relations, heritage tourism, ‘alternative’ tourism, and gender relations in tourism. The module is suitable for advanced students majoring in sociology and related disciplines. Having taken this course and developed a comprehensive sociological understanding of tourism, you will be in a good position to pursue further studies of tourism-related topics and possible careers in the tourism industry.  

 


HS3018 Sociology of Gender (3 AU)  
(Pre-requisite: Any two of the 2000-level cores)
 

This course challenges some common-sense understandings and stereotypes around gender.  Looking beyond individual, biological and psychological presumptions about male and female behavior, we use our sociological lenses to see how gender is constructed, regulated, and reproduced through everyday social mechanisms and institutions. We scrutinize the ways in which inequalities are produced and justified.

 

The course is organized around three sets of intertwined questions:

First, to what extent do gender differences reflect biological variations, and to what extent are they the product of societal constructs? How do gender differences and inequalities come about? We will explore important classical perspectives in the feminist literature that grapple with these questions. 

Second, what shapes our perspectives on and practices around gender? We discuss the mechanisms and the institutions through which gendered differences and inequalities are produced in contemporary societies. Here, we hone our analytical lenses for understanding how gender works in specific contexts—in schools, at the intersection of work and home, and through state actions. We also examine how gender as a principle of vision and division works in tandem with other principles of difference, focusing in particular on sexuality, ethnicity and class.

 

Finally, we ask directly: how do gender differentiation and inequalities matter? What costs do they exert and for whom? What can be done to reduce inequalities and injustices? We discuss the achievements and limitations of feminist movements and reflect on the way forward. 

(Pre-requisite: HS1001)
 
Language use, socialisation, interaction, cooperation and conflict, self-presentation and identity-formation, these are some basic processes in social life. Paying detailed attention to everyday social interaction and interpersonal relations, this course examines the inextricable relations between emotions, motives and thoughts, and the social worlds of individuals and groups. The course considers a wide array of empirical phenomena from multiple theoretical perspectives and equips students with tools for analysing the processes through which human beings construct their social realities, which in turn shape their notions of selfhood and collective identities vis-à-vis others.

 
HS4001- HS4901 Research Practicum I_ Qualitative Social Research (4 AU)
(Prerequisite: HS2002 Doing Social Research)
 

This course offers theoretical and practical training in qualitative social research. It covers issues of methodology and methods in sociological investigations of the world. Students will hone their skills for critiquing research and learn the basics of designing, conducting and reporting on their own sociological investigations. The course will prepare students for the Graduation Project.

 

The course is divided into four sections. In the first, we address certain basic questions in sociological research: how do we think about the connections between theory and empirical data? What do sociologists study and how? What are the differences between qualitative and quantitative research? We will also tackle the many ethical and practical issues that come about in sociologists’ generation and use of qualitative data.

 

In the second section of the semester, students learn more about two of the most important approaches in qualitative sociological research: participant observation (also known as ethnography) and in-depth interviews. You will read examples of these methods as well as learn the techniques for conducting such research.

 

Third, we will discuss how to organize and interpret data, and how to effectively use data in theory-building and in our writings. We will examine once again the connections between theory and evidence, and thereby further discuss what makes for good sociological questions and how to design good research to address issues that sociologists and the general public care about.

 

Finally, we will briefly discuss textual and content analyses. We will also learn how to craft effective research proposals. 


HS4002 - HS4902 Research Practicum II_ Quantitative Social Research (4 AU)
(Prerequisite: HS3002 Understanding Social Statistics)  
 

This course aims to introduce you to the quantitative methods of inquiry in social research, to prepare you to engage in your own research, and to help you become educated consumers of social research in the future. The course covers various quantitative research methods, focusing on designing, collecting, and analyzing quantitative data. In this course, you will learn how to clearly ask significant questions, develop a quantitative research methodology that fits your research questions, identify or develop measurements/instruments, and collect data that can inform debates on various issues in social sciences.


HS4008  Social Institutions of Contemporary China (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

How does contemporary Chinese society (both rural and urban) organise itself socially? The burgeoning literature on contemporary China emphasises economic and political rationalities.Yet Chinese society is a classic exemplar of how individuals are socially embedded in it. This course explores this powerful dimension of social organisation in the everyday lives of the Chinese.

By examining social institutions such as the family, work and grassroots organisations, neighbourhoods, social welfare, religion and ideology, we seek to better understand how Chinese lives are socially controlled and how their behaviour and beliefs can be understood by these social constraints. At the same time, by looking at how these social institutions restructure themselves as China moves from socialism to capitalism, we will see how the Chinese, as active agents, rewrite the social rules and reinvent new norms and institutions. Depending on the composition of the class, there may be an optional discussion session on one of the course topics in standard Mandarin.​

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HS4011 The Self in Southeast Asia (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002

 

The rapidity of social change in Southeast Asia has resulted in the transformation of many Southeast Asian societies in just a few decades. This seminar style course will examine how this rapid social change has affected the individual in terms of self and identity. The focus on Thailand and Malaysia will provide the opportunity to compare and contrast two different cultures in Southeast Asia. One issue that will be considered is the growth of individualism, what it means in Thailand and Malaysia, and the ways in which it is manifested in everyday life.

 

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HS4013  Youth cultures and subcultures (4 AU)
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
Youth as a social phenomenon arose largely as a cultural derivative of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States and is now global. In the twentieth century particularly, youth became an object of sociological, cultural, and psychological analyses. The concept “subculture” has been used with various degrees of success to analyse youths’ individual and collective behaviors. In this course students will survey some of the many strands of subcultural theory about youth during the 20th and 21st centuries. The course will begin with early sociological work from the University of Chicago, followed by an overview of the British cultural studies approach. Students will then move on to examples of contemporary subculture theory and research. A number of historical and contemporary subcultures will be discussed during the course.

HS4015 Sociology of Reproduction (4 AU)
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 

This is an advanced seminar on the topic of sociology of reproduction. We frequently think about reproduction as a natural/biological event.  However, like other aspects of human life, we will examine how reproduction is socially constructed, shaped and experienced in and through various social practices.  ​

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HS4016 Social Movements (4 AU)
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)


 

This course serves as an introduction to the vast and rich research in sociology on this important subject. We will explore social movements through a sociological lens, asking: what are the conditions for their emergence? What are social movement organisations’ and activists’ tactics and strategies, and how do these come about? How do social movements shape the worlds in which we live?


HS4019  Body, Self and Society (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

Academic interest in the cultural studies of the body emerged in the 1990s as a response to fundamental changes in the relationships between the self and society. Medical sciences, social media, popular culture, globalisation and many other forces have contributed to the increasingly ambiguous status of the human body in contemporary societies. Research framed with ‘the body’ and ‘embodiment’ as analytical units has thus increased exponentially over the past two decades. Through discussions of how sociologists and anthropologists make sense of the body caught within forces of modernity, this course aims to encourage students to go beyond treating the body as a mere biological product and see how it is also socially, culturally, and politically constituted. 


 HS4021  Postcolonial sexuality (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

This course explores the implications of colonialism in current understandings of sexual knowledge and behavior. The relationship between colonised and coloniser is explored through the notion of scientific approaches to sexuality in the 19th century to shed light on Orientalism, self-orientalism and nowadays sexual cultures. The course will highlight the relationship between theory and practice in understanding the context of colonialism and sexuality.

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
This module explores the effects of the modernization project upon the religious life of the Malays. By employing sociological insights, the course provides theoretical tools to critically examine the strategies various Muslim and non-Muslim social groups in the Malay World adopt to respond and adjust to these social processes. It will study themes such as popular youth cultures, religious ideologies, socio-economic development, social movements and state management to disentangle the ways in which global processes such as the increasing securitization besieging the September 11 generation and living in an age of migration are experienced within the context of pietization in the Malay World.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
The contemporary world faces unprecedented risks which extend beyond the periodic occurrence of natural disasters. Such risks - e.g., health risks and "cyber-risks" - are created by technological advancements (e.g., in fields such as biotechnology, genomics and information technology) and can have a global impact. This course examines the causes and consequences of new risk-related phenomena such as the threat of epidemics (e.g. SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and bird flu), which can spread across national boundaries. In addition to health and environmental risks, the early twenty-first century world is characterised by new and unpredictable forms of violence such as terrorist acts, whose causes and consequences are again not confined within the context of a single nation-state. This course also discusses the perception of insecurity and the negotiation of risk - and the management of potential and actual crises.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
Hungry ghosts, benevolent ancestors, and powerful gods jostle for human attention together with the “wind” and “water” of fengshui. Buddhist deities, Daoist immortals, Confucian saints, Jesus, Allah, and a multitude of spirits—interacting with powerful forces unleashed by processes of modernisation, secularisation and globalisation—continue to exert profound influence on the social, economic and political experiences in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere. Many Chinese people continue to experience the physical and social landscapes in which they live as enchanted and animated by non-human beings that form an integral part of their daily experiences. The religious revival witnessed in China in recent years is a poignant indication of the significant role religion continues to play in the lives of many Chinese, despite numerous attempts by the Communist party-state to stamp it out. As China globalises and persists in its modernization effort, the various religions exist in a tense and ambiguous relationship with an officially atheistic ruling party that seeks to maintain hegemonic control over society. Through the examination of various important methodological and substantive issues relating to religions in mainland China and other Chinese societies, this course aims to enable students to analyse the complex ways in which Chinese religions shape, and are shaped by, contemporary social, political, and cultural developments.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
The central question that guides this course is: what is the critical intersection between development and the environment, and what kind of cultural politics does it generate? Given that there are competing interpretations and often very high and multiple stakes in understanding/representing environmental loss, claims, and knowledge(s), the questions of identity, territory, and meanings have increasingly become central to the cultural politics of environment and development. Attentive to the historical, political economic, and cultural discourses and practices that constitute these environmental contestations, the emphasis in the course will be to look at the struggles over nature as struggles over place, identity, meanings, representations, and livelihoods.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
This course introduces a variety of theories and cutting-edge studies on the migration-development nexus. At the end of the course, students would gain better insights into the causes of migration and its effects on social and economic development in various parts of the world, including Singapore and other Asian countries. 
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HS4029 Magic, Witchcraft and Shamanism (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

This course introduces theoretical approaches to the study of magic, witchcraft and the spirit world in relation to the broader fields of sociology of knowledge, sociology of wellbeing, and sociology of conflict management. Empirical cases studies from different cultures and societies will allow students to understand the topic from a comparative angle.​


HS4030 Social Science Fiction (4 AU)
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002) 
 
Sociologists of everyday life study how people create, share, and use aspects of popular culture. Sociologists are often interested in the significance of popular culture in terms of themes such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, inequality/social problems, family/social relations/community, sustainability/environmentalism, self/identity, economy/production/consumption, religion, media, and so on. Likewise, science fiction as a genre often deals with the same themes, though through imaginative content, including futuristic or alternative settings, science and technology. It is simultaneously critical and innovative in its focus on lived reality. Its imaginative elements are largely plausible within current scientific paradigms, and genre writers often explore the potential consequences of social, scientific, and technological changes in society.

HS4031 Global Cities (4 AU)
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002) 
 
This course takes the concept of the Global City as its starting point to understand metropolitan life through this particular expression of contemporary urbanism. The limitations of such a conceptual framing will be explored, and applicability of the concept to cities outside the ‘West’ will be examined. In addition to exploring key issues in urban studies through the frame of the global city, the course also aims to introduce methodological perspectives for studying how global city processes manifest at the scale of the everyday. In doing so, this course takes the ‘urban’ as the primary unit of analysis, as opposed to the ‘national’ or ‘state’.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002) 
 
By considering the culture and politics of the discourse and practice of ‘innovation’ in state, industry, and academic spheres, this class gives you an opportunity to apply your cumulative social scientific training to contemporary questions of major, local, regional and global importance. By comparing and contrasting American, Chinese, Singaporean, and other models and approaches, you will gain competence in cross-cultural sociological, cultural, and geographical analysis. Overall, you will gain expertise by leading discussion sessions and deepen your knowledge through research on specific themes of innovation.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002) 
 
This course considers ageing in a broad sociological context with comparative perspectives. The course addresses the ways in which ageing is socially defined and experienced. It also applies a critical perspective to the ways in which ageing is framed by family, groups, and society. The course covers how ageing issues are constructed differently over time and in different cultures.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002) 
 
This course will teach you to critically understand the role of science and technology in contemporary societies and in particular the impacts of science and technology on social identity.
This course is aimed at senior sociology undergraduates interested in both science and technology and social identity.
 
You will learn how to employ advanced concepts in social theory to explain the complexities of science and technologies in their specific contexts.  You will thus develop both your theoretical thinking as well as your application of social theory to explain the roles of science and technologies in the contemporary world. The emphasis of the course is the relationships between science and technology and social identities, including but not limited to: nation, race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. The course will thus also develop your knowledge of the anthropology and sociology of identity.

  
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​HS4037 Terraformations Technology culture and nature in a globalizing world (4 AU)
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
Science and technology are the ubiquitous, yet often-invisible streams running through the variegated terrain of society. The ebbs and flows of science and technology have become one of the dominant mediating agents for human experience, and percolate through cultural and natural fault lines, reconfiguring channels between each, while themselves being altered through their passage. These dynamics, in short, are terraformations. Usually, only when we are confronted with catastrophes such as the terrorist attacks or massive oil spills or earthquakes, we recognize a fundamental paradox of modern times: As ‘socio technical’ systems grow increasingly complex, our ability to explain, discipline and organize our world becomes drastically limited and uncertain, even as the stakes in successfully navigating these straits become unthinkably high. Only when we are faced with these dramatic events are the mists briefly lifted that normally obscure particular confluences of science, technology, power and culture from ordinary view. In this course, we will look at the less dramatic but equally pervasive circulations (and disjunctures) of global capital, technology and knowledge and how they remake our natural and social worlds.
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)
 
This course is designed to help you obtain comprehensive and critical knowledge of the relationship between mental health and society. Readings and lectures deal with a variety of theories and empirical research of sociology of mental health. In particular, this course examines a range of topics related to sociology of mental health from a private area of family and gender to a public area of work and policies. While the course materials draw mostly from sociological theory and research, we will also draw from the richness of other disciplines—especially psychological research on stress and mental health. This course will underscore the ways that social inequality manifests itself in the area of mental health, focusing on social patterns, processes, and outcomes, as well as the relevance of social contexts for contributing to disparities in mental health.

 

HS4080 Honours Seminar in Applied Sociology (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

This course focuses on a particular topic in applied sociology, especially by bringing theoretical insights and empirical research to bear on sociological analysis and evaluation of an area of social policy.

 HS4090  Honours Seminar in Current Sociology (4 AU)

(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

This course offers a treatment of a new topic or a more specialised theoretical or empirical treatment of an existing topic, focusing on a case study or drawing from an ongoing research project.
 

i) Culture and Anthropology (4 AU)

 

 

This course is designed to provide a broad overview of socio-cultural anthropology for advanced undergraduate students. David Sloan Wilson recently described the social sciences  as “a vast archipelago of disciplines that only partially communicate with each other.” The goal of the course is to help students equip themselves with a map of most of the larger anthropological islands, and their situation vis-à-vis neighboring archipelagos such as sociology, philosophy, history and economics. We will identify the homelands of celebrated ideas, and trace the exchange networks by which they travel around the archipelago. We will not spend a lot of time on any single island, but we will fill our canoes with many valuables, and diligent students will learn how to find their way back to the sites that they find most appealing.

ii) Sociology and Global Health (4 AU)

 

Infectious disease pandemics such as HIV or bird flu; epidemics of cancer caused by industrial pollution of air and water; malnutrition amidst famine and poverty: today’s public health problems cross national borders and take shape at a global scale.  In this course, we will adopt a sociological perspective to critically examine the relationship between globalization processes and health, as well as the shift from international to ‘global’ institutions of health governance.  In the first part of the course, we explore how disease first came to be constituted as a “social” problem of collective, rather than individual life.  Public health and the social sciences share a common origin in the modern politics of governing collective life, and both became grounded in the institutions of the nation state.  In the second part of the course, we address a series of problems that have challenged this national scale of health governance (as well as the traditional form of international cooperation).  In each case, we also explore new social science concepts and methods developed to understand health and disease in post-national or ‘post-social’ settings.

HS4091 – Honours Seminar "Sociology of the Arts" (4 AU) 
(Pre-requisite: All Core Courses except HS4001 and HS4002)

 

This seminar course focuses on sociological perspectives on "the arts", with special attention paid to the visual arts (and, to a lesser extent, the performing arts). We examine basic questions such as "What is art and what is a  work of art?" and "What is involved in art-making?". We also analyse processes of artistic creation and the roles of key persons and institutions in the making of "art worlds" and  "arts ecosystems", including artists, audiences, consumers, curators, critics, collectors,dealers, arts bureaucrats and entrepreneurs, museums, galleries, government agencies, and commercial parties (e.g., auction houses). In so doing, we attempt to understand the interrelations between "art" (or "the arts") and politics (esp. the state), commerce (esp. the art market and the cultural or creative industries) and social divisions (esp. class and gender).


 
General Education Requirements-Prescribed Electives (GER -PEs)

 

HS8008  Understanding Culture and Globalization (3 AU)
Pre-requisite: Nil 

 

Today, we are living in an interconnected world. People from diverse backgrounds have to practice forms of cultural negotiation when they interact together. This course analyses how cultures are socially constructed and what happens when different cultures meet. Cultures are not monolithic constructs. People continuously negotiate their content in relation to a wide variety of factors and globalization has accelerated and broadened these forms of negotiations. The principal themes are: cultural capital, dominant cultures, sub-cultures, Asianization, Westernisation, consumption, hybridity, popular culture and transnationalism.

HS8009  Understanding China Today (3 AU)

Pre-requisite: Nil

 

This course examines the market transition process in China since 1978. Market transition here is understood as a process of not only economic transformation, but also sociopolitical and cultural change. Thus, In addition to introducing the facts and policy issues behind China's recent economic "miracle", the course also discusses the broad implications of economic reforms on the political, social, and cultural systems in China and the transformation of the political, social, and cultural systems.


HS8010  Food in Culture and Society (3 AU)
Pre-requisite: Nil
Food constitutes a profoundly important part of human life. It affects us physiologically, culturally and socially, and it is a major element in history, economy and politics. This course introduces the ways in which food-related questions have been researched by scientists, historians, sociologists, anthropologists and others. Why do we eat what we eat? How has the human diet changed over the centuries? How does our food get to our tables? What are the consequences of our eating patterns? What difference does it make whether we find and cook our own food, or have it prepared for us by others? What does fast food do to us and our society? Why are some people starving while others are eating too much? If these and other such questions interest you, then this is the course for you.
 

HS8017  Man or Machine: Science and Modern Society (3 AU)
Pre-requisite: Nil
Modern society has been characterised by the proliferation of science and technology in everyday life. The culture of the new millennium will be much more influenced by technoscientific advances particularly in biotechnological and informational fields. This course is designed to provide an introduction to sociological studies of science and technology. A wide range of issues is discussed including the Internet and cyberworld, nanotechnology and new material, bio-engineering, medical science, and military technology. All the cases will be observed using the sociological lenses that allow students to understand structural relations that underpin unprecedented development of science and technology. The role of science and technology in globalisation processes is also examined. From learning these cases using sociological frameworks, students will develop the ability to examine social and cultural implications of science and technology in contemporary society. 
 

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