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Sociologial Theory: Classical, South Asian Reflections & Contemporary 2014

Sociological Theory:

Classical, South Asian Reflections & Contemporary

First Semester 2014

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 the sociological imagination i.e., how sociologists think and write. It aims to familiarize the students with the major sociologists and orientations and perspectives within sociology. In doing so it aims to introduce the students to the texts produced by sociologists. As examples of sociological imagination, the course explores the writings of the sociologists and other social scientists in the South Asian context.  

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. These will account for 20% of the total score.

Long Essays: Students are expected to write one long essay, towards the second half of the course. This will make up 20% of the total score.

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 oral 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.

Week 1(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.

Week 2 (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.

Week 3 (ii) Examination of works in the Nepali context that use Marxian perspective to explain Nepal’s underdevelopment

Required Reading

Mishra, Chaitanya. 2007. “Development and Underdevelopment: A Preliminary Sociological Perspective” (p.47-80) Essays on the Sociology of Nepal, Kathmandu: FinePrint Inc.

Seddon, David; Blakie, Piers; Cameron, James. 2002. “The Underdevelopment of Nepal” (p. 24-58) Peasants and Workers in Nepal, Delhi: Adriot Publishers

Note: The class will be divided into two groups. The first group will present from the first reading, and second group will present from the second reading.

Week 4 (i): 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 (ii): 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.

Week 5(i): 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 (ii): 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.

Week 6 (i). Examination of texts in the South Asian and Nepali context

Required readings

Karve, Irawati. 1993. “The Kinship Map of India” (p.50-73) Family, Kinship and Marriage in India, Edited by Patricia Uberoi, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Bennet, Lynn. 1983. “Symbolic Mediation and Individual Choice “(p.309-318) Dangerous Wives and Sacred Sisters: Social and Symbolic Roles of High Caste Women in Nepal, New York: Columbia University Press.

Note: The class will be divided into two groups, with one group presenting from each of the readings.

Week 6 (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 7 (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.

Week 7(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 8 (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.

Week 8 (ii) Examination of works in the Nepali context that engage with Weberian perspective

Required Readings

Gellner, David N. 2001. “Max Weber, Capitalism and the Religion of India” (p.19-44) The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism: Weberian Themes, New Delhi: Oxford University Press

Liechy, Mark. 2003. “Modern Nepali History and the Rise of the Middle Class” (p.39-58) Suitably Modern: Making Middle-Class Culture in Kathmandu, Kathmandu: Martin Chautari

Note: The class will be divided into two groups, with each group presenting from one of the readings.

Week 9 (i) Examination of works in the South Asian context that discuss caste

Required Readings

Ghurye, G.S. 1991. “Feature of the Caste System” (p.35-48) Social Stratification, Edited by Dipankar Gupta, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Srinivas, M. N. 1991. “Varna and Caste” (p.28-34) Social Stratification, Edited by Dipankar Gupta, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Madan, T. N. 1991. “Dumont and the Nature of Caste in India” (p74-83) Social Stratification, Edited by Dipankar Gupta, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Gupta, Dipankar. 2006. “Continuous Hierarchies and Discrete Castes” (p.120-130) Caste, Hierarchy, and Individualism: Indian Critiques of Louis Dumont’s Contributions, Oxford in India Readings in Sociology and Social Anthropology, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Beteille, A. 1965. “Conclusion: Caste, Class and Power” (p.184-224) Caste, Class and Power: Changing Patterns of Stratification in a Tanjor Village, Berkeley: University of California Press

Note: The class will be divided into two groups and each of the groups will make presentations.

The students are expected to write a long essay, at around this point.

II. Expanding the Foundation

Week 9 (ii): 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.

Week 10 (i): 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 10 (ii): 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

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.

Week 11 (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.

Week 12 (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.  

 

  1. IV.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.  

Week 13 (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.  

Week 14 (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. 1.Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (2005) Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.
  2. 2.Scott, Appelrouth and Laura Desfore Edles (2007) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Texts and Readings, Pine Forge.
  3. 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. 4.Morrison, Ken (2006) Marx, Durkheim, Weber: Formations of Modern Social Thought, London: Sage Publications.

References:

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