In his research, Ken Kolb seeks to understand how people manage their emotions and identity in the midst of difficult work—and analyze the broader consequences of their decisions (for themselves and others).

His current book, Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling, is an ethnographic study of what it is like to work inside ​an agency that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

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Academic Autobiography

Sociologists often grapple with the inherent tension between structure and agency. That is, how is our free will constrained by circumstances beyond our control? The purpose of this course is to systematically investigate your life story and communicate to others how your individual biography fits into a larger context. In this course, you will learn a variety of new skills. You will learn how to analyze your life from different angles, such as race, class, and gender. You will receive training on how to collect and analyze information regarding the events occurring around you as you grew up. To improve your skills as a writer, you will learn how to tailor your story to an academic audience. During draft workshops, you will practice giving and receiving feedback to make your writing better. These methods will help you write clear, concise, and well organized arguments based upon detailed empirical observations.


Introduction to Sociology

Introduction to the sociological perspective on human behavior, including an analysis of theory, research methods, culture, society, personality, the socialization process, social institutions and social change.


Sociology of Dance

An examination of dance through a sociological lens. Students will briefly study and practice a variety of forms of dance. Application of core sociological concepts to formal and informal dance styles and analyzation of how cultural practices are shaped by wider social forces will be the focus of the course. May Experience ONLY. 2 credits.


Public Sociology

Training in community based research methods. Students will learn how to collect and analyze data regarding a specific problem facing the local community. They also will assess the needs of community members and analyze them in relation to past and present social trends.


Race and Ethnic Relations

An exploration of racial, ethnic and religious minorities in United States and around the world. Topic covered include: race" and social identities; stigmatization and prejudice; inter-group cooperation


Self and Society

Examination of the self at the intersection of the individual and society with particular attention to the interdependent nature of micro-level interactions and macro-level structures and institutions. Exploration of how sociologists understand the relationship between the self and society, surveying the fields of symbolic interactionism, social structure and personality, ethnomethodology, role theory, social exchange theory, phenomenology, social constructionism, and the life course.


Sociological Theory

Philosophical and historical influences on and contemporary orientations in sociological theory. The sociological approach to knowledge is compared to that of the other sciences and the humanities.


Qualitative Research Seminar

Advanced reading, research and discussion course for majors covering a specific topic in sociology. Topics vary by professor and term and could include such topics as Subcultures and Alternative Lifestyles, The Built Environment or Ethnography of Everyday Life. Special emphasis on qualitative methodology. This course requires an independent or collaborative research project.


Advanced Qualitative Methods

Advanced training in qualitative methods such as participant-observation and in-depth interviews. Students will learn how to design and conduct an independent research project in order to make a substantive or theoretical contribution to previous academic literature.


Issues in Women & Gender Stds

Focus on both classical and contemporary issues in Women's and Gender Studies. Survey of feminist theory and historical developments in the women's movement, it provides a foundation for the understanding of contemporary women's issues, including education, family, health, religion, economics and politics.

  • Kolb, Kenneth H. 2007. “‘Supporting Our Black Men: Reproducing Male Privilege in a Black Student Political Organization.” Sociological Spectrum 27(3):257–74.
  • Kolb, Kenneth H. 2011. “Claiming Competence: Biographical Work Among Victim-advocates and Counselors.” Symbolic Interaction 34(1):86–107.
  • Kolb, Kenneth H. 2011. “Sympathy Work: Identity and Emotion Management Among Victim-Advocates and Counselors.” Qualitative Sociology 34(1):101–19.
  • Kolb, Kenneth H. 2011. “Victim Advocates’ Perceptions of Legal Work.” Violence Against Women 17(12):1559–75.
  • Kolb, Kenneth H., Kyle C. Longest, and Mollie J. Jensen. 2013. “Assessing the Writing Process Do Writing-Intensive First-Year Seminars Change How Students Write?” Teaching Sociology 41(1):20–31.
  • Kolb, Kenneth H., Amy H. Picklesimer, Sarah Covington-Kolb, and Lauren Hines. 2012. “Centering Pregnancy Electives: A Case Study in the Shift Toward Student-Centered Learning in Medical Education.” The Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association 108(4):103–5.
  • Kolb, Kenneth H.; Longest, Kyle C.; and Singer, Alexa J. (2015) "Choosing Not to Cheat: A Framework to Assess Students’ Rationales for Abiding by Academic Integrity Policies​," International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 9: No. 1, Article 9. Available at:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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