SO3201 Social Theory (10 ECTS credits)
Lecturer(s): Dr David Landy and Dr Andrew Finlay
The module examines key debates in sociology. The first part examines how classical social theorists addressed core themes in sociological inquiry. The class will look at the works of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel, relating their theories to contemporary issues. We will critically examine their ideas about capitalism and modernity, the individual and society, social conflict, and the nature of sociology.
The second part focusses on contemporary social theory.One of the defining features of contemporary social theory is a proliferation of voices speaking from different standpoints defined in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and challenging the universal truth-claims of classical social theory. We will not attempt to explore each of these different standpoints; rather we will focus on the impact on social theory of the assertion of difference as such. It is this assertion of difference that provided the energy behind two of the key intellectual movements that underpin contemporary social theory and its reflexive turn; ie post-structuralism and postcolonial theory. Post-structuralism and postcolonial theory force us to look anew at the relationship between power and knowledge, including the knowledge produced by the social sciences. So the module will consider theories of power, knowledge and the state, particularly in the work of Foucault and Bourdieu. The course will end by looking at some recent attempts to re-think notions of freedom/resistance and power/ oppression.
On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
- outline the main theories of Marx, Durkheim, Simmel and Weber;
- conduct comparative analysis of their main ideas with reference to contemporary sociological concerns;
- critically read theoretical sociological arguments;
- understand post-structural and postcolonial theory and their critique of ideographic social science; (ie social science as the attempt to deduce universal laws on the natural science model)
- understand the relationship between knowledge and power
- understand the reflexive turn in sociological work on governance, the state and knowledge production
- understand the implications of the foregoing for scholarly writing
Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:
Lectures: 22 hrs; Tutorials: 22 hrs; Exams/assignments: 80 hrs; Self-study: 126 hrs. Total: 250 hours.
Recommended Texts/ Key Reading:
Craib, I. (1997) Classical Social Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Holloway J. (2002) Change The World Without Taking Power, Pluto Press.
Craig Calhoun et al (eds.) (2012) Contemporary Sociological Theory, 3rd Edition Wiley.McIntosh, I. (1997) Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Part One of the Module will be assessed by course work (50%)
Part Two of the Module will be assessed by exam (50%)
Date for submission: TBA
Penalties for late submission: Without an authorised extension, the mark given will be lowered by one grade