Spring 2016 - SA 304 D100

Social Control (S) (4)

Class Number: 1918

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 5 – Apr 11, 2016: Mon, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • 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?


In this course students will explore the relationship between social control, freedom and the self.  Drawing on the work of Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, and Ian Hacking among others, you will examine how practices of observation, normalization, classification and confession affect the self.    

This course is also a problem-based course, a course where you learn directly from experience. To this effect, students will have access to the professor’s ethnographic and interview data.  These data sets cover two different research projects on social control: the treatment of incarcerated sex offenders and the life story of Mac, a lifer.  As part of their learning experience, students will actively participate in the process of academic research by discovering how to interpret and analyze primary data.  If possible, students will also interview one of my research subjects.  Central to the investigation is the making-up of individuals into rehabilitated self.  How free are these individuals trying to improve themselves?  How socially controlled is their confession?     

For this course to be successful, students must be highly motivated to work individually and with others on the development of a research project.  You must be willing to actively engage with the data, the professor and other students as a significant portion of your grade is based on a group project and oral communication. Please note: a large part of your work is done in the classroom. If you do not like working with others in a classroom setting, this course is not for you.


  • Tests (2 x 30% each): 60%
  • Public speaking about weekly readings: 10%
  • Group written report on research subject 1: 20%
  • Class Participation: 10%


Late assignments will receive deductions of 10% per day. No extensions will be granted unless students have legitimate reasons (eg. illness) and can provide supporting documentation.


Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy  
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐ S10.04).  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: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.    



Erving Goffman, Asylum: Essays on the social situations of mental patients and other inmates. Chicago: Aldine.  1961

Other texts will be available through SFU library

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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