Linus Owens

Associate Professor of Sociology

Phone: work802.443.5724
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:15-2:45
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Linus Owens thinks about movements, places, and the conflicts that bring them together and push them apart. In past work, he has brought these interests together in exploring how anarchists organize online and the place-making and storytelling practices of squatters in Amsterdam. He always seems to be teaching new classes, leaving a long list of former classes in his wake; these include courses on social theory, social movements, disasters, cities, globalization, the environment, tourism, and even a class on performance and the body.

His books include both academic – Cracking Under Pressure: Narrating Decline in the Amsterdam Squatters’ Movement (Amsterdam University Press & Penn State University Press, 2009) – and popular – Lost in the Supermarket: An Indie Rock Cookbook (Soft Skull Press, 2008). At the moment, he is working on several exciting new projects, including work on how cameras and masks interact to produce a visual language of political protest, a cultural history of Halloween, and, finally, the complicating ways that activists incorporate travel, movement, and space into their protest tactics. Still, he remains true to his academic and political roots, as a founding member of a European syndicate of researchers working on and with squatting movements, as well as an active participant in the North American Anarchist Studies Network.

Professor Owens hasn’t always taught at Middlebury. He used to teach at Wesleyan University.

Curriculum Vitae



Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1392 - Sociology & Utopia      

Perfect? Utopias, Dystopias, and the Sociological Imaginary
Don’t mess with perfection: the promise, as well as the trap, of utopian visions. Utopian literature criticizes existing worlds, offering plans for a better society, and better people to stock it. Since one person’s utopia can be another’s dystopia, this “good society” often intensifies tensions it promises to resolve. From Plato’s Republic to Marx’s Communist Manifesto, we will study utopias and dystopias as theories of society and as expressions of sociological perspectives. We will use sociology to explore the possibilities and limits of utopian thinking, and then turn the tables and use utopias to rethink the uses of sociology. 3 hrs. sem.


Spring 2013

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IGST 0705 - African Studies Senior Thesis      

African Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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INDE 0800 - Ind Scholar Thesis      
SOAN 0105 - Society and the Individual      

Society and the Individual
This course examines the ideas and enduring contributions of the giants of modern social theory, including Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Sigmund Freud. Readings will include selections from original works, as well as contemporary essays. Key issues will include the nature of modernity, the direction of social change, and the role of human agency in constructing the "good society." This course serves as a general introduction to sociology. (Not open to second semester juniors or seniors without approval) 3 hrs. lect. (Sociology)


Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

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SOAN 0235 - The City and Its People      

The City and Its People
We all live somewhere, and increasingly we find ourselves living in an urban environment. In this course we will explore current topics in urban sociology, with particular emphasis on the power of place, culture, and community in U.S. cities. We will study the historical, cultural, and political conditions that have shaped contemporary U.S. cities, such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We will examine how cities change and resist change through the lens of such subjects as migration, poverty, urban arts, crime, and education as it pertains to the city. Students will read a variety of ethnographic and sociological materials, in order to gain an understanding of the complexities of both urban life and processes of representation. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Sociology)


Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

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SOAN 0305 - Topics in Sociological Theory      

Topics in Sociological Theory
This course provides an overview of major lines of development in 20th century social theory relevant to the field of sociology, focusing on how various theorists have grappled with the basic issues that have dominated 20th century social thought. Particular attention will be given to the questions arising from the conceptual distinctions between structure and action, on the one hand, and identity and culture, on the other. How is social order possible? How autonomous are human agents? How do we explain the persistence of observed patterns of human interaction and social practice? How do we analyze relations between the world of everyday life and the large-scale development of social systems? How does social change take place? (SOAN 0103 or SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. lect. (Sociology)


Fall 2014

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SOAN 0307 - Soc Moves & Collective Actions      

Social Movements and Collective Action
An analysis of the range of factors which influence the emergence and development of social protest, social movements, rebellion, and revolution. Topics to be considered include: the generation and mobilization of discontent; recruitment and participation; member commitment; tactics and strategy; revolutionary situations and outcomes; collective violence; and the factors that influence the success and failure of movement organizations and collective action in general. Emphasis will be placed on critically analyzing alternative approaches and theories of social movements and collective action (i.e., self-interest/deprivation, participation gratification, traditional collective behavior and resource mobilization). Empirical studies will be used throughout the course. Limited places available for students to satisfy the College writing requirement. 3 hrs. lect. (Sociology)


Fall 2012, Fall 2014

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SOAN 0308 - Environmental Sociology      

Environmental Sociology
In this course we will explore the complex relations between society and the environment. We will look not at the science of nature, but rather its social construction, including environmental history, ethics, and politics. Our primary themes will be ideas and power. First, we will examine the dominant understanding of "nature" in the Modern era as well as alternatives that arose in opposition to this conception. Second, we will study how control over the non-human, material world originally developed in the United States, viewed through the lens of various social and political movements that have attempted to change that dynamic. (SOAN 0103 or SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Sociology)/


Spring 2011

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SOAN 0463 - Mobile Sociology      

On the Move: Mobile Lives, Mobile Technologies
Social life is increasingly on the move. Mobile phones, the Internet, and even "old-fashioned" technologies like cars and planes, produce lives in motion and interaction at a distance. How does this constant movement affect the organization of social worlds and the ways we understand them? Where are we going? How are we getting there? Through exploring mobilities, we will tackle questions of place, politics, belonging, work, leisure, borders, social control, and social change. We will use sociology to engage these new practices and technologies, and, in turn, use them to rethink the old assumptions of classical social science. (SOAN 0105) 3 hr. sem. (Sociology)


Fall 2013

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SOAN 0465 - Sociology of Tourism      

Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Change
Globalization is the growing interconnection of markets, people, and cultures across the world. One important link in this development is the rise of the global tourism. Tourists and tourist spaces abound, from weekends at Disneyland to safaris in Africa, and the tourist industry has become the world's largest. The rapid growth of tourism has been a mixed bag; while it has been an economic boon and encouraged certain types of cultural preservation, it promotes dependency, environmental degradation, and the commodification of cultures. Tourism offers an effective entry point for exploring where globalization is taking us. In this course we will explore tourism not only as an important human activity and industry, but also as a means to understanding the complex relationship between globalization and culture. 3 hrs. sem. (Sociology)


Fall 2010

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SOAN 0500 - Advanced Individual Study      

Prior to registering for SOAN 0500, a student must enlist the support of a faculty advisor from the Department of Sociology/Anthropology. (Open to Majors only) (Approval Required) (Sociology or Anthropology)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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SOAN 0700 - One-Semester Senior Project      

One-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a student will carry out an independent, one-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 25-40 pages, due the last day of classes. (Sociology or Anthropology)

Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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SOAN 0710 - Multi-Semester Senior Project      

Multi-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a senior will carry out an independent multi-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 60-100 pages, due either at the end of the Winter Term or the Friday after spring break. (Sociology or Anthropology)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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SOAN 1014 - Visual Sociology      

Visual Sociology
We live in a visual world. Thus, to understand society and culture, we must understand the images we produce and consume. This course provides a sociological lens to study the various ways we use and are used by images. We will study some key theories that analyze how visual contents (such as photographs, films, and videos) are shared with, viewed, and interpreted by various audiences. We will practice the two sides of visual sociology: picture making by researchers as data collection, and pictures social actors make in the context of everyday life. Students will learn to analyze the messages and imagery in videos and photographs to draw out their social meanings. Each student should have access to a camera to use during the course of the class. For those students who do not have their own, digital cameras are available for student check-out at the main library. (Sociology)


Winter 2011

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