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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Psychology and Sociology
Course Prefix and Number: SOCI 401
Course Title: The American Community
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Theories of community change in nature, history, structure and function of American communities. Current trends and issues facing U.S. communities. Impact of demographic changes on communities. Roles of corporations, governments, voluntary organizations and individuals in shaping communities. Intentional communities, cybercommunities. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Occasional offering.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Urban Society
By Annual Editions (McGraw Hill)
Work on the West Side: Urban Neighborhoods and the Cultural Exclusion of Youth
By Bauder, Harald (Rowman Littlefield)
By Delanty, Gerard (Routledge)
Livable Cities? Urban Struggles for Livelihood and Sustainability
By Evans, Peter, ed. (Univ. of California Press)
Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy
By Ferrell, Jeff (Palgrave)
Islands in the City: West Indian Migration to New York
By Foner, Nancy (Univ. of California Press)
White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945
By Guglielmo, Thomas A. (Oxford University Press)
Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago
By Kamen, Blair (Univ. of California Press)
The Millennial City: A New Urban Paradigm for 21st Century America
By Magnet, Myron (Rowman Littlefield)
Of States and Cities: The Partitioning of Urban Space
By Marcuse, Peter and Ronald van Kempen (Oxford University Press)
Gendering the City: Women, Boundaries, and Visions of Urban Life
By Miranne, Kristine B. and Alma H. Young (Rowman Littlefield)
Japanese Auto Transplants in the Heartland: Corporatism and Community
By Perrucci, Robert (Aldine de Gryter)
Good With Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt
By Rotella, Carlo (Univ. of California Press)
The Grit Beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas
By Rothman, Hal and Mike Davis (Univ. of California Press)
Newcomers to Old Towns: Suburbanization of the Heartland
By Salamon, Sonya (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Unmasking L.A.: Third Worlds and the City
By Sawhney, Deepak Narang (Palgrave)
Civic Innovation in America: Community, Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal
By Sirianni, Carmen and Lewis Friedland (Univ. of California Press)
Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s
By Sitton, Tom and William Deverel, ed. (Univ. of California Press)
The Transformation of Cities: Urban Theory and Urban Life
By Thorns, David C. (Palgrave)
Strangers at the Gates: New Immigrants in Urban America
By Waldinger, Roger (Univ. of California Press)
The Community in Urban Society
By Larry Lyon (Waveland Press)
Bowling Alone
By Robert Putnam (Simon and Schuster)
Chaos or Community?
By Holly Sklar (South End Press)
In Search of Respect
By Phillipe Bourgois (Cambridge University Press)
Course Objectives

• To understand the community as a social system and the impact of community structures on individuals, groups, and organizations. • To understand how community problems impact the individual and vice versa. • To analyze common demographic characteristics of communities. • To analyze the social, economic, and political structures and stratification of the community and their influence on individuals, organizations, and groups within the community. • To understand the role and problems of minority populations in the community. • To understand social change and community resistance to change.

Measurable Learning

• Describe the community as a social system and the impact of community structures on individuals, groups, and organizations. • Describe the interaction between the community and the individual and vice versa. • Describe the common demographic characteristics of communities. • Describe various groups and organizations which exist in and influence the community structure. • Evaluate the role of social, economic and political structures and stratification of the community and their influence on individual organizations, and groups within the community. • Critically interrogate the role and problems of minority populations in the community structure. • Describe the phenomenon of social change and the response of communities to change. • Describe the development of new community models as a consequence of the emergence of cyber-communities.

Topical Outline:
  • The history of community
  • Definitions of community
  • Approaches to the study of community
  • The community as a social system: the open system perspective
  • Spatial patterns in cities
  • Patterns of segregation in cities: class, race and family type
  • Patterns of rural communities
  • The demographics of community
  • The role of minorities in the economic structure
  • Poverty in communities
  • Community power and social stratification and impact on the individual
  • The relationship of community to large-scale extra-local organizations
  • Power, technology, and community change
  • The future of community
    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 25

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Yngve Digernes Date: October 31, 2007
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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