SOC3053 Social Systems & Problems


Unit 1: Foundations

Unit 2: Sociocultural Systems

Unit 3: Infrastructure

Unit 4: Ecology

Unit 5: Governments

Unit 6: Corporations

Unit 7: Primary Groups

Unit 8: Work & Education

Unit 9: Health & Welfare

Unit 10: Crime & Inequality

Unit 11: War & Terrorism

Unit 12: Conclusions


This course is now on Rogers State University e-campus. The syllabus is presented here for potential students to get a feel for what the course entails.

Contact Information:
Dr. Frank Elwell 
Office Hours: Daily 8:00 to 11:00 
Office: 202-B Prep Hall 
Phone: 918.343.7851

Required Texts:

Elwell, Frank. 1999.  Industrializing America. Connecticut: Praeger Press.

Bulletin Description: An inquiry into the origin and development of current social problems with specific reference to social action taken to address these problems. Students will investigate one major problem using the resources from more than one social science discipline. 

Course Prerequisites: Junior Standing.

Purpose: The goal of this course is to expose the student to a systematic-critical view of hyper-industrial societies. It is intended that this exposure will stimulate the student in developing and refining her own unique (but empirically based) world view.

RSU Writing Center is in Baird Hall 206. There, you may access free writing help with any paper at any point of time while you are a student at RSU. Call 918.343.7838 to set up an appointment. The Writing Consultants are friendly and professional and can help you with any writing issue.

The SLA Tutoring Center is in Prep Hall 105. There you may arrange for free tutoring help with any class offered by the School of Liberal Arts (other schools have their own centers). Call 918.343.7572 to set up an appointment.

Americans with Disabilities Act: Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services. Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended. Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs. Students needing more information about Student Disability Services should contact Kendra Cagle, Coordinator of Student Disability Services at Rogers State University, 1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017 or 918-343-6828.

Course Objectives Goals

Program Goals Supported in B.S. in Social Science

How Evaluated

Ability to relate the various parts of the sociocultural system to one another and to the whole.

To develop a level of competence in the core disciplines of the social sciences to allow for further inquiry and study.

Take home essays, quizzes and class discussions.

Understanding of theoretical and methodological approaches for examining social problems and issues.

To prepare students to function successfully in a society that is heading toward globalization and becoming more culturally diverse

Take home essays and class discussions.

Acquisition of informed knowledge about selected problems and issues. Application of reasoning and knowledge to controversial issues.

To equip students with the academic skills necessary to successfully address increasingly complex, multidisciplinary problems in the social sciences.

Take home essays and class discussions.

Generalization of reasoning abilities from specific problems to general perspectives.

To equip students with the academic skills necessary to successfully address increasingly complex, multidisciplinary problems in the social sciences.

Take home essays and class discussions.

Work Required & Grading

Students should have the indicated units completed by the examination dates. Completion of the unit means all required reading and fully answering the essay questions. When completed fully, these study questions will provide you with excellent mastery of the material in this course.

Weekly Quizzes: Consistent with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, I believe that in order to truly master a discipline you must first master its vocabulary. Accordingly, you will learn the vocabulary of the social sciences in this class. Each week you will have a vocabulary quiz consisting of 10 fill-in-the-blanks giving you a definition as it appears in the Glossary of the unit we are covering. You are to supply the term. I expect to have 12 such quizzes over the course of the semester, I will drop the two lowest grades. These quizzes will be equal to one exam grade! Do well and it will go a long way toward passing this class.

Elwell, Frank W., 1996/2011, Glossary of Social Sciences, Web Version.

This course is quite demanding and requires higher order skills of synthesis, critical thinking, and integration. The vocabulary words are measuring the far more basic skill of memorization. While most undergraduates are good at it (and thus it boosts many grades), there are a few in every class who struggle with it (I was never very good at it either). For students like us it takes discipline, repetition, and actual use to finally sink in. I suggest handwritten flash cards to people who are in our predicament. I should add that in addition to boosting grades mastering the vocabulary is really the first step in mastering a subject area—it can only help you in the rest of the course (and in life itself).

Study Guides: You are to keep up on the required reading and take-home exams before they are discussed in class. All writing assignments are to be submitted by Tuesday morning through The Study Guides also contain links to required readings, vocabulary to master for the week, links to websites, and other material useful in mastering the course.

You are responsible for learning how to submit your essay questions in to me through  It is only through turnitin that you can get credit for your work. Here is a link to training videos for students: Student Training Videos

You will lose points for incomplete essays, shoddy thinking and writing, and failure to adequately address the issues. It is very important that you use your own words and voice in answering these questions. It is through thoughtfully addressing these questions that higher order thinking skills--integration, synthesis, and evaluation--are learned and integrated. Writing is not simply telling me what you know, it is a reflection of the process of learning itself; through your interaction with the written word you sharpen and refine your thinking, you discover truths that were obscure through mere reading. Here is a link to how to format your study guides: Example Student Study Guide.

The essay questions in the Study Guides are questions that are designed to do the following:

1.     Solicit the main points of the readings and presentations, thereby helping you master the course material;

2.     Draw comparisons to other readings;

3.     Elicit your evaluations of the material;

4.     Give you opportunity to improve your course grade.

You will do well to answer the questions fully and completely. To do well students must prepare their answers to all the essay questions and be prepared to discuss their reading in class. The better grades will go to those who fully prepare.

Exams: Take home essays will be due each week. For the essays, you must do more than simply answer the questions, you must demonstrate to me that you have actively read and mastered the material. It is expected that you will answer these questions in considerably more detail. You are to turn in your completed essays before class each Tuesday; at 50 points each week these essays are worth a total of 700 point. In addition, you will have 10 vocabulary quizzes worth a total of 100 total points:

10 Take-home Essay Exams


Ten Vocabulary Quizzes


Total Possible Points


 Take-home exams: You are to keep up on the required reading and take-home exams before they are discussed in class. There are take-home essay questions associated with each week of the course. Your answers are to be submitted by class time Tuesday morning through The units also contain links to required and recommended readings, vocabulary to master for the week, links to websites, and other material useful in mastering the course.

The essay questions in each unit are questions that are designed to do the following: 1) Solicit the main points of the readings and presentations, thereby helping you master the course material; 2) Focus your attention on what is valuable and relevant in each of the units; 3) Draw comparisons to other readings; 4) Elicit your evaluations of the material; and 5) Give you opportunity to improve your course grade. 

All exams and written assignments are graded in accordance with the standards explained on the attached Grading Rubric.

Here is the point spread on how they will be graded:

·        Quality (10 points) Is the answer accurate and evidenced based?

·        Development (10 points) Is the answer fully developed, with all implications fully drawn?

·        Complete (10 points) Are all questions answered fully and completely?

·        Originality (10 points) Are the answers in your own words and voice?

·        On Time (10 points) Is the test turned in by 9:30 on Tuesday morning?

Your score on each weekly take-home exam will be the total number of points from above divided by 90.

Final grades will be based on the percentage of points earned:

o    90 -   100% =A

o    80 -    89% = B

o    70 -    79% = C

o    60 -    69% = D

o    below 60% = F

Student Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): I know that this seems like a significant amount of work. This is not an easy class. But if you are of average intelligence, have some interest in sociology, and have a good work ethic ("Life is easier when you work hard") you will do fine. So that this is clearly understood I ask each of your to print, sign, and turn in the Student MOU.

Other Useful Information

Attendance: Both physical and mental attendance should be regular. Traditional lecture material is presented off of this web site. Class time will be spent in discussion, occasional presentations, and perhaps the viewing of films. To take full advantage of this class (and to get a passing grade) you should attend all scheduled class meetings. Inappropriate classroom behavior (sleeping, talking, and other disruptive behavior) will be cause for dismissal from the classroom. This is a blended course. It is important that you attend both physically and mentally. Studying the texts and the lecture/ presentations are key. Inappropriate classroom behavior will cause you to be dismissed from the class. 

Academic Integrity: By signing your name to a test or paper you are indicating that the work is yours and yours alone. Any academic cheating will result in failure of the course. "Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own, including: direct quotation without both attribution and indication that the material is being directly quoted, e.g. quotation marks; paraphrase without attribution; paraphrase with or without attribution where the wording of the original remains substantially intact and is represented as the author’s own; expression in one’s own words, but without attribution, of ideas, arguments, lines of reasoning, facts, processes, or other products of the intellect where such material is learned from the work of another and is not part of the general fund of common knowledge" (Office of Academic Affairs, Rogers State University). One of the social problems that appears to be on the rise in American society is academic dishonesty. Don't do it!

Classroom Organization: Much of the class will be given over to informed discussion. You should begin your reading immediately, in the order stated below. In addition, you should go through the "Introduction" and the "World Problems" class presentations by the second meeting. I will keep you informed in class (or more likely through e-mail) of the specific due dates of your reading assignments. While the occasional articles I will send through e-mail are usually optional, reading them will help you master class material. Class discussion will often center on the required readings and the instructor presentations. It is therefore imperative that all assigned reading be done in a timely fashion. 

ADA Statement: If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities please let me know immediately so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Office of Student Affairs, Meyer Hall.

A Final Point: You are encouraged to ask questions on the readings either in class or through e-mail. It is not expected that you will always agree with the perspectives of the instructor or the authors of other texts. As have all human beings we have been influenced by the values of our society as well as our roles in various social structures. However, it is the duty of the social scientist to acknowledge these influences and attempt to minimize their effects upon social analysis. Should the resulting analyses be counter to your perceptions, challenge them on the basis of empirical fact, logic, and reason--not ideology, prejudice, wishful thinking, or "politically correct" assertions. The goal of this course is for you to develop your own critical thought processes and world view, not for you to blindly accept any one perspective. 

Updated Continuously 
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