Wade M. Cole portrait
  • Chair, Sociology Department
  • Professor, Sociology Department
(801) 581-4601

Current Courses

Fall 2023

  • SOC 3877-006
    Senior Thesis 1
  • SOC 6050-001
    Classical Soc Theory
    Location: BEH S 315 (BEH S 315)
  • SOC 6930-002
    Comprehensive Area Exam

Summer 2023

Courses I Teach

  • SOC 1010 - Introduction to Sociology
    Sociology is the systematic study of human societies. Sociology gives people a new way of seeing the world, albeit a world that cannot really be “seen” at all. Powerful microscopes and telescopes enable physical scientists to unlock the secrets of atoms and peer deep into the universe, but sociologists seek to explain no less than what people do and why they do it. Although the social forces that shape our thoughts, our behaviors, and our interactions with others cannot always be observed directly, they nevertheless become acutely visible to the trained eye. Sociologists study small-scale social phenomena such as face-to-face interactions, large-scale processes such as globalization, and virtually everything in between. Using a sociological perspective, we will survey an array of topics: culture and the media, crime and deviance, the family, education, religion, the economy, politics, race, gender, inequality, and poverty, among others. As a result of this course, students will be able to: (1) Identify and distinguish the primary theories, concepts, and methods used in sociological research and analysis; (2) Use these theoretical and conceptual tools to develop a basic understanding of social phenomenon and human behavior; (3) Apply sociological perspectives to the understanding of real-world situations; and, more generally, (4) Develop and hone your “sociological imagination” by linking your personal biographies to broader social structures and forces.
  • SOC 3334 / BUS 3870 - Class, Race, and the American Dream
    This course explores how economic and racial inequality is produced and reproduced in the United States. We will examine the institutional patterns, structural arrangements, and cultural ideologies that generate and legitimate disparities in the distribution of income, wealth, social status, and economic opportunities across racial and class lines. Our primary focus will be on the complex ways that class and race intersect to inhibit access to the “American Dream” for large groups of people. Main themes for the course include inter-ethnic competition for jobs; barriers to minority entrepreneurship; efforts to diversify the modern workplace; the outcomes, both positive and negative, of workplace diversification; and the successes and failures of government efforts to ameliorate race-based inequalities. Throughout the course we will critically examine the ideology of meritocracy—the notion that success depends exclusively on hard work, intelligence, and talent—that pervades American culture. As a result of this course, you will gain an understanding of (1) the ways that class and race combine to produce inequality in the United States throughout its history; (2) the changing nature of class- and race-based inequalities over time; (3) classical and contemporary theories of inequality, and how they apply to concrete empirical contexts; (4) the outcomes of efforts to level the playing field for disadvantaged groups; and, more generally, (5) the ways in which personal biographies and social structures are linked.
  • SOC 3422 - Social Movements
    Social movements are organized efforts by a significant number of people to change some major aspect of society. Movements can mobilize around any number of issues, and they employ a wide variety of tactics that range from lobbying and picketing to armed insurrection and revolution. Under what conditions do social movements emerge, succeed or fail, and decline? We will address these questions through a selective survey of the theoretical and empirical literature on social movements. The first part of the course provides an overview of major theoretical perspectives in the sociology of social movements: political opportunities, cultural framing, and resource mobilization. We will then use these theories to analyze four “poor people’s movements”—the unemployed workers’ movement, the industrial workers’ movement, the civil rights movement, and the welfare rights movement—in an effort to explain the structural conditions and tactical strategies that render collective action more or less effective. Although these movements are by no means comprehensive, they provide a useful illustration of dominant sociological perspectives on social movements and collective action.
  • SOC 6050 - Classical Sociological Theory
    This graduate-level seminar addresses major themes, arguments, and debates in what has come to be called “classical sociological theory,” with emphasis on the writings of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, George Herbert Mead, and Erving Goffman. In addition, we will study a seminal book by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality, which incorporates key insights from each aforementioned theorist. To illustrate the continued relevance of classical theory for contemporary “middle-range” theories, we will also study the sociological institutionalist perspective of John W. Meyer and his collaborators. I encourage you to approach these theories critically and creatively, in order to facilitate your own distinctive syntheses. Your time in graduate school is a socializing experience, during which you will acquire the knowledge, skills, and norms for becoming a professional academic. It is also a time for you to discover what kind of sociologist (or social scientist) you wish to become. As this seminar should make abundantly clear, there is no one way to do sociology or to be a sociologist. Are you drawn to macro- or micro-level questions? Are you a methodological individualist or holist? A positivist or interpretivist? A realist or constructivist? In addition to acquainting you with sociology’s lingua franca, this seminar will put you on the path to answering these questions for yourself, and in so doing shape your identity as a sociologist.
  • SOC 6846 - Political Sociology
    This graduate-level seminar provides an overview of macro-sociological research on the national state, with an emphasis on key theoretical developments and empirical applications. The state is a (and perhaps the) central actor in global and comparative sociology, even though most people—including social scientists—routinely take this peculiar institution for granted. Indeed, states have become a highly institutionalized feature of modern societies: their existence seems natural, as does their authority to collect taxes, raise armies, wage wars, regulate economies, build infrastructures, and provide services. States, however, are anything but natural, having been established in their current form only 200 or so years ago. This seminar seeks to “de-naturalize” the state. Our approach is macro, comparative, and historical; our objective is to trace the emergence, diffusion, functions, and possible demise of modern states and the state system. Among other things, we will explore the long-term processes of state formation and expansion; variation in state forms and structures; the worldwide diffusion of the state; the nature and practice of sovereignty; the development and transformation of citizenship; and the future of the state in a globalizing world.