Classical Social Theory
Full course description
Classical Social Theory sets some of the key questions, concepts, and theoretical traditions of sociology and other social sciences. Almost any contemporary theoretical perspective can be traced back somehow to the classics. Moreover, classical theory also frames the ways in which western society has thought of itself and its relation to “others”. So, if you were wondering why in an academic environment where we aim to de-colonize the curriculum and call for non-Eurocentric perspectives, we still read a bunch of men from past centuries, this course will give you perspective about the relevance of learning and critically/constructively evaluating the “classics”.
In this course, we will study the backgrounds, worldviews, and historical context of classical authors such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud and Georg Simmel. Moreover, we will read some classic authors that influence social thinking today but are less known in more traditional accounts of the history of sociology and other social sciences, such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Gabriel Tarde, and female pioneers in sociology, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Jane Addams, among others. We will read original materials and contemporary interpretations, use real-life studies and examples, and evaluate how classical theories are still relevant today (or not). This course is highly pertinent to students interested in pursuing masters programs in social sciences, such as sociology and anthropology, and more generally for all students interested in the foundations of the social sciences.
At the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Identify the main theoretical traditions in sociology and situate them in the historical context in which they emerged and were applied.
- (understand) and evaluate the work of early social scientists in a critical and constructive manner
- Compare and contrast the theoretical perspectives and methods they propose for constructing social theory.
- Explain and reflect on how the classics are still relevant to the study of contemporary societies
Research Methods (SKI1004 + SKI1005) as this course requires a basic working knowledge of social science methodology. In addition, it is recommended to have taken either SSC1029 Classical Social Theory or SSC2065 Theories of Social Order.
- E-reader: selected articles and book chapters