Today we introduced sociology as a formal discipline of the social sciences. Sociology is the study of societies and social institutions and our social and behavioral response to them.

The sociological imagination involves our ability to understand the relationship between individual experiences/circumstances and larger social forces (including our own and imagining these relationships for other people and groups).

Class began with a “social experiment in doing nothing” and processing the students’ reactions to this experience

Each person completed “identity” name tags which were name tent cards that included their name, a brief story about their name or the meaning of their name and several things about themselves that are pretty obvious/easy for people to know about them. On the inside of the card, they were asked to share aspects of their identity that are “internal” or not so obvious. Each person introduced themselves with their name, the meaning or story about their name, and whichever external or internal aspects of their identity they chose to share. Then we applied a sociological lens to these things — is there anything about being in the time/place/generation we are currently in that has shaped the things that ended up on our name tags and the identities and choices we have made that make up “who we are.”

We also explored whether our names themselves can be located in a sociological time and place by looking at the Social Security Administration’s data on baby name trends and where our names have trended (or not) in the US historical record.