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SOCY 4117 Food and Society


Tracy Kirkland



Sociology is the systematic study of society, social institutions, and social relationships. We all have considerable experience living in society and interacting with other people. Sociology, however, is an unfamiliar way of looking at the familiar. The goal of this course is to create meaningful conversation about how social forces shape both our current system of food production and patterns of consumption and how these are being challenged to create a more just food system.

The primary objective of this course is to help you develop your sociological imagination—that is, to provide you with the conceptual and theoretical tools that will allow you to look at our systems of food production and consumption anew. Developing a sociological imagination can be a little uncomfortable at times, but it is also exciting – ideally throughout the semester, you will experience some of each. For many of us, the social systems that shape our current agriculture and food systems remain unseen, unrecognized, or unnamed. My goal in this class is for us to expose these systems and to provide you the tools to recognize, name, and understand them sociologically.

This online course will explore the similar topics that are covered in an on-campus SOCY 4117 course, but the content is delivered and discussed in a different format. Short power-point presentations will be available for each week’s topic and are meant to highlight some of the most important and/or difficult aspects of the unit; the power-point mini-lectures are NOT meant to mimic on-campus class lectures. In addition, since this is an upper-division course, you are expected to take responsibility for your learning.


Throughout this course you will learn to:

  • define and apply the sociological imagination to our agriculture and food systems;
  • describe and recognize how macro and micro-level social forces influence our individual food choices;
  • apply and evaluate course knowledge outside the classroom, and;
  • develop critical thinking skills regarding how our food is produced and consumed and subsequent social and environmental implications.


Guptill, Amy, Denis Copelton, & Betsy Lucal. 2013. Food and Society: Principles and Paradoxes. Madlden, MA: Polity Press.


There are several components to course evaluation, as outlined below.


  • 45% – Essays
  • 20% – Facebook Posts
  • 15% – VoiceThread Discussions
  • 15% – Fieldwork Projects Presentation
  • 5% – Reflection Paper

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