SOC 190.7 Introduction to Political Economy: Society, Space, and Transformation in the San Francisco Bay Area (Spring 2019, UC Berkeley Department of Sociology)

How does the organization of economic production and exchange affect other areas of social life? And how is the economy itself a socially embedded institution? As residents of the Bay Area, we are experiencing the ongoing, global transformation of capitalism from a particularly privileged vantage point. From urban restructuring to precarious work to neoliberal self- governance, reverberations of the emerging knowledge economy are visible throughout our everyday lives. This course has two main goals: (1) to give students an introduction to a sociological perspective on political economy; and (2) to challenge students to critically interrogate their own lived experience in the Bay Area as a reflexive entry-point into larger political economic questions. To these ends, after using Marx, Polanyi, and Weber to lay a groundwork in classical political economy, this course will be organized around two themes— the production of space and the production of economic agents — as focused lenses into the literature and for student reflection.

Download the full syllabus here.

SOC 190 American State Formation in Critical Perspective

The standard narrative of American state formation taught in elementary and high school classrooms is that the United States was a revolutionary experiment in liberal democracy that served as a beacon on a hill for people worldwide. While scholarly and public awareness of the limitations of this narrative have grown, no robust alternative framework has emerged for understanding American state formation. This course has two main goals: (1) to introduce students to the sociological study of the state via a detailed examination of the United States; and (2) to stimulate students to critically consider the politics of knowledge production and become more critical interpreters of history. To these ends, this course will be structured in three main parts. In the first, students will be introduced to classical sociological approaches to state formation and the dominant “idealist” interpretation of American state formation; in the second, students will place these classical approaches in critical and comparative perspective; and in the third, students will be introduced to four alternative frameworks for interpreting American history. Throughout, students will be asked a series of questions that will stimulate them to critically reflect on the assumptions, biases, and blindspots of each perspective. 

Course under development to be taught Spring 2022 in the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology.