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Sociological Theory – From Classical to Contemporary Times 2013

First Semester 2013
Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences
Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Instructor:  Dr Sudhindra Sharma

Course Description

Sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies. Sociological theory tries to explain why human social life, groups and societies are the way they are and why they change. The scope of sociology and sociological theory is very wide: it ranges from the analysis of interaction between two individuals in the street to the examination of global social processes. While the early sociological theories sought to explain the emergence of industrialization in Europe in the nineteenth century, later sociological theories investigate the effects of global capitalist system and processes in the lives of the ordinary people.

There is not one but several competing theories that seek to explain why human social life, groups and societies are the way they are and why they change. Rival theoretical approaches and theories is an expression of the vitality of the sociological enterprise.   

Course Objectives
The objective of the course is to introduce students to various sociological theories. It aims to familiarize the students with the major sociologists and orientations and perspectives within sociology. In addition, it aims to introduce the students to the texts produced by sociologists.   

Course Requirements

The final grade for the course would be based on:

Short write-up: Students will be asked to prepare several short write-ups, which would be in the form of summaries, reviews and short essays.  This will account for 10% of the total score.

Long Essays: Students are expected to write two long essays, one towards the middle of the course and the other towards the end. Writing these essays is mandatory. Together these will make up 30% of the total score. Each of these essays should be around 1,500 words.

Mid-term exams: A mid-term exam will be administered towards the middle of the semester in a prior announced date. Open-ended questions will be asked during the examination. The exam will account for 15% of the final grade.

Final exams:  Final exams will be administered towards the end of the semester in a prior announced date. Open-ended questions will be asked during the examination. The exam will account for 15% of the final grade.

Class participation: Students will be graded based on their participation. That the students are coming to the class after having read the assigned texts well will be seen from the type of questions they ask and the comments they provide. It will also be assessed on the basis of the presentations they make. The teacher will be monitoring the students throughout the semester and will him/herself provide the score towards the end of the semester. This will account for 30% of the total score. 

Additional Remarks

Since some of the basic terms in sociology may the difficult for a student who is just beginning to be familiar with sociological theories, a glossary of sociological terms will be made avialable to students.

Outline of themes/topics

  1. Foundations of classical theory
  2. Expanding the foundation
  3. Twentieth century sociological tradition
  4. Broadening sociological theory

 


Detailed Course Outline

 

I. Foundations of Classical Theory

Week 1 (i): Introduction: What is sociology theory; Why is it important; Its foundations

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Introduction” (p.1-16) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.
Morrison, Ken (2006) “Introduction” (p.1-34) Marx, Durkheim, Weber: Formations of Modern Social Thought, London: Sage Publications. 

(ii):  Karl Marx – Background, Intellectual context

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Karl Marx” (p.17-29) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.  

Week 2 (i): Karl Marx: Early writings and Historical materialism

Required Readings
Giddens, Anthony (1971) “Marx” (p.1-34), Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkhiem and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(ii): Karl Marx: Relations of production, Class structure, Capitalism

Required Readings
Giddens, Anthony (1971) “Marx” (p.35-64), Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkhiem and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Week 3 (i): Examination of Marx’s writings: The German Ideology, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Capital, Communist Manifesto.

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Karl Marx” (p.29-77) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The class will be divided into four groups and each will be assigned the task of presenting one of Marx’ writings. Will proceed as a seminar.

Each student will prepare a 500 word summary of the text s/he has read.   

(ii): Emile Durkhiem – Background, Intellectual context

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Emile Durkhiem” (p.79-88) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.   

Week 4 (i): Emile Durkheim -  Early works, Sociological method

Required Readings
Giddens, Anthony (1971) “Durkhiem” (p.65-94), Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkhiem and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(ii): Emile Durkheim – Individualism, Religion and Moral discipline

Required Readings
Giddens, Anthony (1971) “Durkheim” (p.95-118), Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkhiem and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Week 5 (i): Example of Durkhiem’s writings: Suicide, Elementary Forms of Religious Life

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Emile Durkhiem” (p.88-134) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The class will be divided into four groups and each will be assigned the task of presenting one of Durkhiem’s writings. Will proceed as a seminar.

Each student will prepare a 500 word summary of the text s/he has read.

(ii): Max Weber – Background, Intellectual context

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Max Weber” (p.135-147) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Week 6 (i): Max Weber: Protestantism and capitalism, Methodological essays

Required Readings
Giddens, Anthony (1971) “Max Weber” (p.119-144), Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkhiem and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(ii): Max Weber: Fundamental concepts of sociology, world religions, rationalization

Required Readings
Giddens, Anthony (1971) “Max Weber” (p.145-184), Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkhiem and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Week 7 (i): Examples of Weber’s writings: Protestant Ethics; Class, Status, Party; Legitimacy

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “Max Weber” (p.147-191) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The class will be divided into four groups and each will be assigned the task of presenting one of Weber’s writings. Will proceed as a seminar.

Each student will prepare a 500 word summary of the text s/he has read.    

II. Expanding the Foundation

(ii): George Simmel – Ideas and writings

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “George Simmel” (p.241-251; 280-287)
Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The first half will be a lecture and second half will be a seminar with one group presenting the reading.

Week 8 (i): George Herbert Mead – Ideas and writings

Required Readings
Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) “George Herbert Mead” (p.347-381)
Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with two groups presenting the two readings.

(ii): Structural Functionalism – Ideas and writings of Talcott Parsons

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Structural Functionalism” (p.21-51)
Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with two groups presenting the two readings.

Week 9 (i): Structural Functionalism – Ideas and writings of Robert Merton

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Structural Functionalism” (p.56-68)
Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.  

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one group presenting the reading.

III. Twentieth Century Sociological Tradition

(ii): Critical Theory – Introduction

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Critical Theory” (p.71-93) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Week 10 (i): Critical Theory – Examining the writings of critical theorists

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Critical Theory” (p.95-116) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.

Note: The class will be divided into three groups and each will be assigned the task of presenting one reading. Will proceed as a seminar.

(ii): Exchange Theory – Introduction and examination of writings

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Exchange Theory” (p.119-127; 137-156)
Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.     

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading. 

Week 11 (i): Symbolic Interaction – Ideas and writings of Herbert Blumer

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy”
(p.157-177) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.      

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one group presenting the reading.

(ii):  Symbolic Interaction – Ideas and writings of Erving Goffman

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy”
(p.177-206) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.      

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading. 

Week 12 (i): PhenomenologyIdeas and writings of Alfred Schutz

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology”
(p.259-275) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.      

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading. 
(ii): Ethnomethodology – Ideas and writings of Harold Garfinkel.

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology”
(p.295-310) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine
Forge.      

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading.  

  • Broadening Sociological Theory

 Week 13 (i): Ideas and writings of Michel Foucault

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Poststructural and Postmodern Theories” (p.379-411) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.      

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading.  

(ii): Contemporary Synthesis – Ideas of writings of Pierre Bourdieu

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Contemporary Theoretical Synthesis”
(p.445-476) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.       

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading. 

Week 14 (i): Contemporary Synthesis – Ideas of writings of Jurgen Habermas

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Contemporary Theoretical Synthesis” (p.485-511) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.       

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with one  group presenting the reading.   

(ii): Contemporary Synthesis – Ideas and writings of Anthony Giddens

Required Readings
Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) “Contemporary Theoretical Synthesis”
(p.523-544) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.       

Note: The first half will be a lecture and the second half will be a seminar with a group presenting the reading. 

Week 15: Review

Required Reading:

  1. Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.
  2. Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.
  3. Giddens, Anthony (1992) Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Morrison, Ken (2006) Marx, Durkheim, Weber: Formations of Modern Social Thought, London: Sage Publications. 

References:

  1. Hans, Joas & Wolfgang, Knoble (2009) Social Theory: Twenty Introductory Lectures, Cambridge. 
  2. Baert, Patrick (2004) Social Theory in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge: Polity Press.