Sociology (SOCI) 300

How Humans Organize: From Primary Groups to the World Wide Web (Revision 3)

SOCI 300 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. SOCI 287 or SOCI 288 is strongly recommended.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Sociology Studies home page

SOCI 300 has a Challenge for Credit option

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SOCI 300 has been designed for students who have already taken introductory courses in Sociology and who are, therefore, familiar with the basic concepts, theories, and methods of the discipline. This course introduces the representative concepts, definitions, typologies, and theories associated with the study of organizations, and shows how these conceptual tools may be used to analyze particular social organizations. This course also provides students with the opportunity to examine case studies in a number of areas, including public and private sector bureaucracies, total institutions, such as prisons, mental hospitals, the military, detention centres, and even residential schools for indigenous children. This course will also examine the rise of post-bureaucratic organizations and virtual organizations, all made possible through the revolutions in information technology, micro-electronics, and mobile telecommunications.


  • Unit 1: Why Study Organizations?
  • Unit 2: The Many Faces of Social Organization
  • Unit 3: Inside the Iron Cage: Bureaucracy and Modern Life
  • Unit 4: Managing the Organization: The View from Above
  • Unit 5: Coping in the Organization: The View from Below
  • Unit 6: Total Institutions: Remaking People in Organizations
  • Unit 7: Women within the Iron Cage: Sex, Gender, and Organizations
  • Unit 8: Virtual Organizations
  • Unit 9: Corporations and Globalization
  • Unit 10: Beyond Bureaucracy: In Search of Organizational Democracy


To receive credit for Sociology 300, you must achieve a grade of 60 percent or better on the final examination and an overall course composite grade of at least C- (60 percent). Should you obtain less than the required grade on the final examination, or if you wish to attempt to increase your overall grade, you may write a supplemental final examination. A passing grade of 60 percent is also required for the supplemental examination.

There are four written assignments in SOCI 300; however, only the grades for three (3) of them will be applied toward your final composite grade for the course. You may, therefore, choose to complete only three written assignments. Alternatively, you may decide to complete all four, in which case only the three highest grades will be used to determine your final composite grade. The three written assignments each count for twenty per cent of the final course grade.

Please refer to your Assignment and Examination Manual on your course home page.

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 After Unit 3 20%
Assignment 2 After Unit 5 20%
Assignment 3 After Unit 8 20%
Assignment 4 After Unit 10  
Online Quiz After Unit 10 10%
Final Exam After Unit 10 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Ritzer, George. 2018. The McDonaldization of Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.


Bakan, Joel. 2004. The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. Penguin

Goffman, Erving. 1961. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York: Random House.

Mills, Albert J., Tony Simmons, and Jean Helms Mills. 2005. Reading Organization Theory: A Critical Approach to the Study of Organizational Behaviour and Structure. 3rd ed. Aurora, ON: Garamond.

Shirky, Clay 2008. Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Online materials

Athabasca University Materials

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the SOCI 300 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least C- (60 percent) on the challenge examination. The two parts of the exam must be written on the same day.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, June 16, 2015.

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