Spring 2023 - SA 304 E100

Social Control (S) (4)

Class Number: 6659

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1315, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



This course examines how the organization of control (formal and informal) affects both individuals and society. It will investigate how control takes form, how it functions, the ideologies supporting it, and the resistance it produces. We will ask the following questions: who are the agents of social control; who or what do they control; and how do they control?


Have you ever thought about how the work that frontline workers do is coordinated to be accountable to managerial mandates in ways that appear to serve the mandates more so than the workers and the public they serve? In this course we will explore the stories of health and education workers about how their work practices have been transformed by standardizing technologies that impinge on their professional autonomy in the workplace. We will examine various methods and technologies that enable ‘textualized’ representations of what people (both workers and their clients) are doing, and the outcomes of their doing, such that they can be standardized and made accountable across various settings.  Beginning with an examination of how words themselves can be conceptualized as ‘practices’, we will explore how New Public Management (NPM) processes have transformed work practices performed at the front line, and how new accountability routines systematize front line workers’ relationships with their clients. The goal is to develop an understanding of how the ‘managerial state’ functions to control relations across various settings in the world around you. You will get the most out of this course by attending class and taking part in group work and discussions.  Creativity and innovation is encouraged in all course work.




  1. Acquire an understanding of how social control functions.
  2. Explore methods and technologies used to enact social control.
  3. Develop analytical skills for understanding how standardizing processes and technologies operate to produce ‘accountability’ across various settings
  4. Practice active reading and group presentation skills.


  • Midterm exam 30%
  • Presentation/Facilitation 20%
  • Participation 15%
  • Critical thinking piece 35%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



A.I. Griffith & D.E. Smith, Eds. (2014). Under New Public Management: Institutional Ethnographies of Changing Front-Line Work. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

A.I. Griffith & D.E. Smith, Eds. (2022). Simply Institutional Ethnography: Creating a Sociology for People. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Additional readings on Reserve in Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html