olivier godechot

Major inquiries in Sociology

Olivier Godechot


Year: 2018/2019. Fall semester

Thursday 10:10-12:10. Room G202

Reims Campus


Like many disciplines, sociology is hard to define. There is no single canon and no dominant paradigm. However, we still find within sociology a sense of continuity and community. One basis of this feeling may be the importance of empirical inquiries on which sociological knowledge relies. Compared to other social science disciplines, sociology has the particularity of conducting –and sometimes combining– very diverse types of inquiry. It observes social milieu in situ. It constructs questionnaires. It uses administrative databases. It relies on in depth interviews. It digs in dusty archives. It set up experiments. It collects internet data.

This course will present a variety of important sociological inquiries, ranging from different periods and using different methods. These inquiries are not necessary “big” by their time-length, the size of the team or the amount of data collected. But they had, or they could potentially have, a “major” impact on the construction of sociological knowledge.

The aim of this course is to enable students to discover a variety of major inquiries, and, beyond them, sociology itself, its logic, its knowledge, its reflexivity and its imagination. They will also discover the logic, the methods, and the pleasures of inquiries. Beyond academia, in public administrations, in private organizations, in the media, in the police, inquiries are the tools through which people get to know things. They are at the heart of the knowledge society.

During this course, students are asked to 1) present orally one of the following articles or chapters (30%), 2) to write a one-page essay (500 words maximum) devoted to criticize (negatively or positively) one the following articles or chapters (15%), 3) to participate actively to the class discussion surrounding students’ presentations (15%). A 2-hours final exam will follow the course. Students will be asked to propose a research design in order to understand a given social phenomenon.

This course comes with a method conference supervised by Andreas Chiriboga. Under his guidance, students will conduct their own survey in order to understand an intriguing phenomenon: scissions in political parties.

1. Thursday 6 September 2018. The logic of inquiry


2. Thursday 13 September 2018. Accessing and observing a milieu difficult to approach

Goffman, Alice. On the run: Fugitive life in an American city. Picador, 2015. Chapter 5 and Appendices

3. Thursday 20 September 2018. Standardizing observations through questionnaires

Kinsey, Alfred C., Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, 1948. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Indiana University Press.

Chapter 2 and Chapter 21.


4. Thursday 27 September 2018. The administrative tools of the social sciences

Durkheim, Emile. Suicide: A study in sociology. Routledge, 2005. Introduction and Book 2. Chapters 1 and 2.

In French:

Durkheim, Émile. Le suicide: étude de sociologie. Alcan, 1897.

5. Thursday 4 October 2018. Exploring the past

Erikson, Emily, and Mark Hamilton. 2018 “Companies and the Rise of Economic Thought: The Institutional Foundations of Early Economics in England, 1550–1720.” American Journal of Sociology 124(1): 111-149.


6. Thursday 11 October 2018. Experimenting

Mize, Trenton D., and Bianca Manago. 2018. “Precarious sexuality: How men and women are differentially categorized for similar sexual behavior.” American Sociological Review 83(2): 305-330.


7. Thursday 18 October 2018. Making people talk

Lamont, Michèle. 1992. Money, morals, and manners: The culture of the French and the American upper-middle class. University of Chicago Press.

Chapters 1, 2 and Appendices.

 In French:

Lamont, Michèle. 1995. La morale et l'argent: les valeurs des cadres en France et aux Etats-Unis. Editions Métailié, 1995.

 8. Thursday 25 October 2018.Follow the network

Travers, Jeffrey, and Stanley Milgram. 1969. “An experimental study of the small world problem.” Sociometry. 32(4), 425-443.


9. Thursday 8 November 2018. A major mix method survey  I (ex. Distinction)

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press.

Chapter I. + Appendix

In French:

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. La Distinction. Une critique sociale du jugement. Minuit.

10. Thursday 15 November 2018. A major mix-method survey II 

Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press.

Chapter III.

In French:

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. La Distinction. Une critique sociale du jugement. Minuit.

11. Thursday 22 November 2018. The survey 2.0

Lin, Ken-Hou, and Jennifer Lundquist. 2013. “Mate selection in cyberspace: The intersection of race, gender, and education.” American Journal of Sociology 119(1): 183-215.


12. Thursday 29 November 2018. Revisiting, replicating

Freeman, Derek. Margaret Mead and Samoa: The making and unmaking of an anthropological myth. Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1983.


Chapters 5, 6 and 19.

Français | English


OgO: plus ici|more here

[Encadrement] Chamboredon, Audrey. 2020. Rôle et stratégies des parents des classes moyennes au moment du choix des études supérieures. Le ...: plus ici|more here

[Encadrement] Besançon, Faustine. 2019. Travailler le couple. La répartition du travail domestique chez les couples LGBTQ+, Mémoire de Master 2 ...: plus ici|more here

[Publications] Godechot, Olivier et al., , The Great Separation: Top Earner Segregation at Work in High-Income Countries: plus ici|more here

Tweets (rarely/rarement): @OlivierGodechot


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