SOC 504 - American Immigration: Sociological Perspectives
Winter 2022, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Sociology (SOC)
Department: LSA Sociology
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Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing; seniors with permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/5/22 - 4/19/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This seminar is part of the graduate specialization in race, ethnicity, and immigration of the Sociology Department as well as the American Culture Department. It serves to prepare graduate students for taking Prelims in Sociology and organizing their research in American Culture. However, graduate students from other Departments (such as History, Anthropology, Romance Languages, Education) are most welcome and have always been an important presence in the class, as they often find it quite valuable for organizing their graduate studies. Seniors are welcome with permission of the instructor.

Both the study of immigration and the questions that study raises are at the very root of social science and the humanities. In this course, we survey the literature that gives evidence of the major concepts and questions with which sociologists and historians have approached the study of immigration. While the materials we read together focus on the vast experience of immigration in the U.S., students are welcome to focus their study on other countries – such as Brazil or Cuba or Colombia or Spain or Malaysia or Mexico.

In studies of immigration, the major research questions are: Why do people move – are they labor migrants, refugees, professional immigrants? How do they move – the process, including the legal system? What happens to them afterwards – how should we think about it, as assimilation, adaptation, incorporation, transnationalism?

In this seminar, we will focus each session on a different topic. The topics are: immigrants in American history; the contrasting theoretical explanations of assimilation, internal colonialism, and transnationalism; the different levels of analysis, micro vs. macro approaches; causes and consequences of the differential incorporation of immigrants; immigrants as different social types (labor migrants, refugees, entrepreneurial immigrants, professional immigrants); gender and migration; and immigrants’ evolving cultural identities.

Although the focus of the class is on the vast experience of immigration in the United States, students are welcome to focus their research prospectus on the immigration into or emigration out of another nation -- in Europe, Asia, Latin America, or Africa. Such a research prospectus will benefit from the theoretical perspectives we discuss in the class that arose out of the American experience. In the past, graduate students have focused their research on Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, and Malaysia.

Course Requirements:

The goal of this seminar is for each student to work on a paper on a topic of their own choosing that relates to immigration, race, and ethnicity. If done well, such a paper could be used as the basis for a dissertation prospectus. The research paper might also be further developed into a publishable paper while in graduate school. To accomplish that, students will first turn in the paper in two drafts, with enough copies for another class member and myself, to comment on and make suggestions for improvement. The final, polished version of the research prospectus will be due at the end of the semester. As a seminar, the informed participation of class members is essential, and will be taken into account for the final grade. The last days of class students will present a brief Power Point presentation of their work. Each student will also be responsible for presenting three or four of the syllabus readings, bringing in a handout summarizing the work for everyone in the class.


SOC 504 - American Immigration: Sociological Perspectives
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
12Graduate Standing
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22

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