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ASOC 22A00 - Major Fields of Investigation in Sociology (urban sociology)

Type d'enseignement : Lecture and tutorials

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 48

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

The course focuses on the city that we can see when we walk around, the city of buildings and people; and also the city that we don't always see – the city of sentiments, conflict, traffic flows, bike messengers, sewage networks, asset prices and municipal taxation, of animals and nature. This course uses key academic readings, case studies, and in-the-news topics, to study the city as a complex space where buildings, people, animals, laws, policies, and international financial flows, intersect to produce our lived experience. The aim is for us to be able to see social science theory as we walk around in the city. A key learning objective is close reading of texts, understanding the key argument of each text, and applying concepts to the real urban world. The first four weeks explore foundational texts while the rest of the weeks address specific questions related to housing markets, social policy, violence, drugs, environmental change, segregation, urban infrastructure, urban regulations, and so on.


ISSAR, Sukriti (Assistant professor OSC, SciencesPo)

Pedagogical format

The class is focused on discussion of key sociological themes and debates from the readings, and student participation is central. The class comprises of lectures, discussions, and in-class exercises. OBJECTIVES : 1. To see the city from different angles, sociological, political, economic, spatial, historical, material. 2. Close reading of the texts, understanding the key argument of each text, and application of key concepts to real life cities.

Course validation

1. Weekly notes [8 weeks total out of the 12 weeks] [grade = 40% of total or 5% each]. Completed in class or the night before [short, informal, <150 words, to engage students in the reading]. 2. Three papers, 3-4 pages each [20% each, 60 % of total]. The first paper is an observation study; students will do a one-hour observation of a location of their choice in the city. The second paper is to be written in two drafts; students will pick a land use or urban conflict in a city of their choice. Using newspaper articles or other online sources of information, students will write an analytical research paper. The second draft of the paper will build on the instructor's comments on the first draft. Guidelines for these assignments will be circulated beforehand.


• Students are expected to read the assigned readings before each class. They are expected to participate actively in the class. The short notes that students will write before 8 of the 12 classes, are meant to prepare students for active engagement and discussion in class. • For each reading, students are encouraged to outline: (a) the main point of the reading (b) the main concepts, definitions, and factual information (c) how the reading links to real world urban questions and can be used in your papers

Required reading

Kidder, Jeffrey L. 2009. Appropriating the city: space, theory, and bike messengers. Theory and Society, 38: 307–328.

Additional required reading

  • Jacobs, Jane. The Uses of Sidewalks. Book chapter from The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 1961.
  • Logan, John R. 2012. Making a Place for Space: Spatial Thinking in Social Science. Annual Review of Sociology 38: 507-24.
  • Molotch, Harvey. 1976. The City as a Growth Machine: Toward a Political Economy of Place. American Journal of Sociology, 82 (2): 309-332.
  • Frug, Gerald E. 1980. The City as Legal Concept. Harvard Law Review, 93 (6):1059-1154