Anchorage School District
Social Studies Curriculum


Kindergarten through Grade 6

Middle School

Grade 6
U.S. History
(20th Century)
Grade 7
World Geography
Grade 8
U.S. History

High School

Grade 9
Alaska Studies & Elective
Grade 10
U.S. History
Grades 11 & 12
Alaska Studies
U.S. Government


Social Studies Curriculum

History/Social Sciences Electives

« Return to History/Social Studies Electives Framework home page

Adopted January 1999


Course Description:

Sociology is the study of how human behavior is shaped by the groups to which we belong. Students will examine patterns of social life, make predictions about behavior and investigate other cultures. Have you ever thought how your peer group shapes your behavior?

Sample questions in Sociology include:

  • What roles do families play?
  • What role does money play in creating groups in society?
  • How do schools and other social institutions shape human behavior?
  • Why do people join gangs?

The course title and description have been approved by the Anchorage School Board. This course outline is meant to serve as an example of one possibility for organizing this class. It does not represent the only way the course may be organized. Each course outline has been written by a different teacher so there will be differences in the approach used from one course to another.

Course Goals:

Through this course students will:

  • Understand the premises of fundamental sociological perspectives.
  • Interpret the distinguishing principles of culture and society.
  • Interpret and analyze social structures.
  • Recognize socialization processes and how the sense of self emerges.
  • Distinguish and be able to identify the key social institutions in society.
  • Comprehend the sociological theories that have been developed to explain crime and social deviance, as well as social control.
  • Examine social stratification in the American, and other, class systems.
  • Investigate racial and ethnic relations within society.
  • Analyze gender and age inequality change.
  • Access the strategies of demography in understanding urbanization in society.
  • Experience the basic sociological methods of inquiry.

Course Objectives:

The student will:

  • Define Sociology
  • Explain why a particular way of knowing (empiricism) is the defining characteristic of any science
  • Explain why Sociology is a social science
  • Illustrate the “sociological imagination”
  • Recognize how Sociology’s focus differs from and is similar to the focus of the other social sciences
  • Identify the factors that led to the emergence of Sociology as a distinct discipline
  • Explain the basic principles of the functional perspective
  • Explain the basic principles of the conflict perspective
  • Explain the basic principles of the symbolic interaction perspective
  • Define “theory” and explain its role in science
  • Compare and contrast the perspectives and contributions of Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, W.E. B. DuBois, and George Herbert Mead
  • Define culture and differentiate between material and non-material culture
  • Recognize how a sociologist distinguishes between the terms culture and society
  • Give examples of ideal culture and real culture
  • Identify the characteristics and functions of symbols in society
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay on the elements of cultural unity
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay on cultural diversity or multiculturalism
  • Define and illustrate ethnocentrism
  • Differentiate between and recognize examples of “subculture,” “microculture,” and “counterculture”
  • Define values and norms and explain why they exist
  • Contrast and illustrate the concepts of folkways, mores, and laws
  • Define cultural universals and explain why they exist
  • List at least eight core values of American society
  • Recognize the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to the study of culture
  1. SOCIAL STRUCTURE (Groups and Organizations)
  • Define social structure
  • Define social institutions
  • Distinguish, illustrate the difference, and explain the relationship between a status and a role
  • Illustrate the difference between a role conflict and a role strain
  • Define and distinguish a primary group, a secondary group, a peer group, and a reference group
  • Define formal organization and bureaucracies and identify their characteristics (Max Weber)
  • Distinguish between a formal and informal structure in an organization
  • Explain common functions and dysfunctions of complex organizations
  • Explain why the “rationalization” of society was important in transforming the modern world
  • Write a coherent and well developed essay to illustrate rationalization of society in his/her everyday life
  • Recognize the difference between a closed society and an open society
  • Explain alienation in organizations
  • Recognize the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to the study of social structure
  • Define personality and explain the controversy regarding its development
  • Evaluate the influences of heredity and environment on the development of personality
  • Define socialization
  • Describe how our sense of self emerges
  • Describe the importance and function of role-taking in the development of "self"
  • Describe the various stages of cognitive and moral development
  • Identify the most important agents of socialization in the United States
  • Explain and illustrate the social construction of reality
  • Identify how technology influences the socialization process
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay on how the socialization process changes throughout the life course
  • Explain the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to socialization
  • Define social institutions
  • Identify the key institutions in a society
  • Identify secondary institutions which are essential for complex industrial and post-industrial societies
  • Identify which basic societal needs are satisfied by the family institution
  • Analyze ways in which family life can be disrupted
  • Identify the major changes that have taken place in the American family in this century
  • Explain how preindustrial and industrial societies viewed the individual and groups
  • Analyze the functions of at least one major institution
  • Explain the relationship of institutions to stability; clarify the change-resistant characteristic of institutions
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay on the relationship of at least one institution to reproduction of social inequality (racial, sexual, or socioeconomic.)
  • Compare and contrast the conflict, functionalist, and symbolic interaction perspectives on institutions.
  • Define deviance
  • Explain in detail the theories that have been developed to explain crime
  • Identify five general categories of crime
  • Define social control
  • Describe the characteristics of the American criminal justice system
  • Explain the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to the study of deviance
  • Define social stratification and social inequality
  • Identify the characteristics of the American class system
  • Define socioeconomic status
  • Identify the major causes of poverty
  • Distinguish wealth, prestige, and power and recognize the relationship between them
  • Explain types of social mobility
  • Explain variables which facilitate or restrain social mobility
  • Explain the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to stratification
  • Distinguish between prejudice and discrimination
  • Distinguish between racism and ethnocentrism
  • Identify an example of symbolic racism
  • Explain the difference between assimilation and multiculturalism
  • Explain the social construction of race
  • Explain the sources of prejudice and discrimination, and especially the resource-conflict theory
  • Describe the five most common patterns of minority group treatment (assimilation, pluralism, subjugation, population transfer, genocide)
  • Explain how institutional racism works in American society
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay comparing and contrasting the experiences of at least two ethnic groups in American society.
  • Distinguish between sex, gender, and gender role
  • Illustrate the invisible ceiling
  • Define and illustrate homophobia
  • Define and illustrate ageism
  • Explain how the life experiences of age cohorts may differ within society
  • Explain how institutional sexism and ageism work in American society
  • Explain the differences between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to racism, sexism, and ageism
  • Discuss the theories that have developed to explain collective behavior
  • Distinguish between the various social movements
  • Identify the preconditions that guide the outcomes of collective behavior
  • Discuss the theories that have developed to explain social movements
  • Explain how population shifts can cause change
  • Evaluate the positive and negative consequences of modernization on social life
  • Identify the major population shifts that have taken place in the United States
  • Define nationalism, colonialism, and “globalization” or “world system”
  • Explain how globalization influences change
  • Explain how modernization theory and world systems theory differ in their analysis of globalization
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay applying the theories of social change and social movements to a social movement in the United States
  • Explain the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to social change
  • Describe the study of demography and define the basic demographic concepts of fertility, mortality, and migration, and explain their effects on population change
  • Differentiate between population growth and population density
  • Analyze population composition using age-sex population pyramids
  • Delineate the push-pull factors that affect immigration and emigration
  • Explain why people in poor nations have so many children and note the implications of rapid population growth
  • Define and illustrate zero population growth
  • Critique the Malthusian perspective on population growth
  • Evaluate the merits of the Demographic Transition Theory and explain why this theory may not apply to population growth in all societies
  • Define urbanization, metropolis, and megalopolis and list their characteristics
  • Differentiate between Gemeinshaft and Gesellschaft
  • Explain and illustrate the urban ecology theories as they evolved over time
  • Identify the factors that affect the size and structure of populations and explain how sociologists measure these factors
  • Compare the theories that have been developed to explain population change
  • Describe the programs that have been instituted to control population growth
  • Discuss the historical evolution of cities, and explain why urbanization is such a recent phenomenon
  • Write a coherent and intelligible essay on the causes and consequences of population growth
  • Describe the types of urban dwellers and discuss whether they are likely to experience alienation or community
  • Discuss the major reasons for the decline of the city, the impact of this decline, and suggestions for how to slow or reverse this process
  • Explain the difference between conflict, functional, and symbolic interaction approaches to the structure of cities as well as to city life
  • Distinguish subjective and objective ways of knowing
  • Explain why a particular way of knowing (empiricism) is the defining characteristic of any science
  • Identify and explain the steps of the scientific method
  • Identify and explain norms of scientific inquiry (impartiality, sharing of findings, altruism, and organized skepticism)
  • Explain and apply basic concepts in social science research: the classical experiment, independent, dependent, and intervening variables, hypothesis construction, and the descriptive survey vs. the explanatory survey
  • Prepare, organize, interpret, and evaluate data and simple descriptive statistics in table form (cross tabulation)
  • Design and conduct original research, followed by an analysis of the results
  • Describe and compare the following research methods in Sociology: the classical experiment, the survey, naturalistic observation, content analysis, and historical analysis
  • Explain and describe ethical issues and conduct in research

Course Outline: Sociology (18-week Semester)

  1. Present an overview of Sociology’s subject matter, early history, and current theoretical approaches; outline the components of culture; discuss cultural diversity, including subcultures and countercultures. Begin incorporation of research methods into each unit plan.
  2. Discuss internalization of norms, sanctions, components of social structure, types of groups and societies, and bureaucracies.
  3. . Examine the theories and agents of socialization, characteristics and problems of adolescence, and the world of work.
  4. Examine the theories of social deviance, crime, and social control.
  5. Discuss types of stratification systems, social classes in the United States, social mobility, race and ethnicity, discrimination and prejudice, and the social inequality faced by certain target groups.
  6. Discuss the nature of social institutions. Discuss types of social movements, measures of population change, the evolution of the city, theories of city life, and the effects of modernization.


Next: Sample Course Outlines - Twentieth Century American Eras »



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