Sociological Theory


NOT OPEN TO PRE-COLLEGE STUDENTS Sociological Theory Are you concerned about our current ‘post-truth’ moment? Or wondering what remains when everything is said to be ‘socially constructed’? Sociological theory provides means of answering these questions and will help you understand and dissect the discrete interpretive frameworks people use to make sense of their life worlds. This course begins by asking what theory is and is not; delves into the problem of social construction; explores the possibilities and limits of social explanation; surveys the problems of structure and agency (what structures how we make our own choices?) and ends with the problem of moral relativism. In the first part of the course, we will read representative selections of the established canon of sociological theory (Weber, Durkheim, Mannheim) as well as important thinkers who have been pushed to the margins of the field (DuBois). In the second part of the course, we will apply the theoretical frameworks these scholars have developed to engage with contemporary problems, like abortion, global warming, and environmental destruction. Using sociological theory, we will scrutinize different groups’ modes and models of argumentation: What assumptions and conceptions underlie their reasoning? Are these assumptions and conceptions convincing? And what exactly constitutes a good argument or explanation of our social processes anyway?

Prerequisite: one previous course in sociology, junior standing, or permission of the instructor. Brenner, Corradi, Ertman, Goodwin, Lukes. Offered every semester. 4 points. Examines the nature of sociological theory and the value of and problems in theorizing. Provides a detailed analysis of the writings of major social theorists since the 19th century in both Europe and America: Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Freud, Mead, Parsons, Merton, Goffman, Habermas, Giddens, Alexander, and Bourdieu.

Course Information

SOC-UA 111


4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Summer 2018

Michael A Gould-Wartofsky
MTR: 1:30 PM - 3:35 PM; MTR: 1:30 PM - 3:35 PM 60FA 265

Fall 2018

Deirdre Royster
TR: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM 19W4 102
Erin C Siodmak
F: 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM 25W4 C-9
Erin C Siodmak
F: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM SILV 515