intro again

OK, fast question. Are there key ideas or concepts that are absolutely essential that people be taught in an intro sociology class or you would think the proffie wasn’t doing her job? I’ve already reviewed syllabi and can tell that folks teach radically different courses in intro — we do not have a standardized course like, say, first year calculus. Does this mean I have a completely free rein to teach any of the parts of sociology that interest me? Or are there key ideas that people really should know when they leave. I’m thinking of this in an abstract level. My idea is to hit on the essential concepts/themes while delving in some depth into a subset of sociological research problems taken from a few different areas.

For sure, I think we’ve got to do “social structure constrains individual action.” And “a lot of what we think is just natural is really socially constructed.” And “Data can reflect on the truth or falsehood of a lot of claims about social life.” And some basic information patterns of social inequality and how they are maintained.

Other essentials that you’d nominate?