Professor Rieder is a sweet, funny, laid-back dude who knows more about sociology and politics than just about anyone. The structure of each class goes something like this:
1. He gives a mini-lecture (about 10 min), which is, unfortunately, VERY confusing. He sometimes writes on the board, but that doesn't help much... and often makes things even hazier. Rieder knows a TON about the subject matter and is clearly very passionate about it, but he does not do a very good job of breaking down concepts or explaining things in general.
2. Class discussion building off of his mini-lecture, centered on the readings for that day
Rieder constructed the course so that we'd do all of the readings in the first ~2/3 of the semester, so the last ~1/3 of the semester would be dedicated to paper-writing and discussing the papers.
--If you know a good amount about politics, you'll succeed in this class. If you don't, you will struggle. The seminar students have differing amounts of background knowledge, and Rieder knows this, but it's still rough if you don't have a strong grasp of current political events and political party movements/shifts.
--It feels much more like a PoliSci class than Sociology.
--Go to him for advice on your paper if you have questions about the readings/class discussions/whatever. He's very accommodating and likes talking outside of class. The frustrating part is that he won't really end up being much clearer outside of class than he is during his mini-lectures, but it's always worth a shot. Plus, he's a really nice guy and wants to hel you out.