SOC 200: SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY, FALL 2005

Professor Christian Smith

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

151 Hamilton Hall, M&W 1:15-2:30, T 4:35-5:25

 

Course Purposes

This seminar is an introduction to the major issues, problems, positions, and thinkers defining and organizing sociological theory both historically and today. Having successfully completed this course, students should be able to:

  1. Locate any specific sociological argument or debate in the larger context of the key intellectual problems, issues, and positions of sociological theory.
  2. Identify the significant philosophical and meta-theoretical issues and commitments that underlay different theoretical approaches and positions in sociology.
  3. Think and talk clearly and critically about the characteristic intellectual strengths and weaknesses of various theoretical sociological traditions and approaches.
  4. Relate the central significance of sociological theory to the practice of empirical sociological research and scholarship in their own empirical analysis and writing.

 

Course Requirements

  1. Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions, including Tuesday discussion sessions.
  2. Daily 3-6 pages of notes (typed, 1.5-spaced, Times Roman, 1” margins) summarizing, engaging, and/or evaluating the day’s assigned readings. There is no formula for correctness in this; simply read well and think hard and let that show in your notes.
  3. A written final exam covering the material of the course. The final exam may be in-class or a take-home essay or set of essays.

Grad seminar grades are (H) high pass, (P) pass, and (L) low pass. Compared to the undergraduate level, grades are much less important in grad school than is truly learning the material in an engaged and stimulating way and using that as a springboard for doing creative, smart research. Focus on learning intellectually and performing professionally, not on your grades. The standard grade is a P. Rare is the H grade.

 

Required Readings

All assigned articles and chapters are available for download and printing from the Internet on our course in blackboard.unc.edu (type your onyen and password, choose Soc 200, and go to location in Course Readings). Note that some but not all of the recommended readings are on blackboard. All of the assigned books are worth purchasing if you do not already own them; they are available upstairs in Student Stores (across from the Pit). Assigned books to purchase are:

 

Suggested Background Reading

Sociological Theory

 

Introductions to Philosophy of Social Science

Course Meetings, Topics, and Reading Schedule

Class 1: Wed Aug 31 – WHAT IS SOCIOLOGY?

 

 

Class 2: Mon Sept 5 – WHAT IS SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY?

 

Class 3: Wed Sept 7 – WHAT IS AN “EXPLANATION?”

 

Class 4: Mon Sept 12 – DO SOCIAL LAWS EXIST?

Class 5: Wed Sept 14 – WHAT IS CAUSALITY/CAUSATION?

 

 

Class 6: Mon Sept 19 – CAUSAL MECHANISMS

 

Class 7: Wed Sept 21 – CRITICAL REALISM

 

Note: Class meeting times next week are compressed into Wednesday the 28th; no class meeting on Monday the 26th.

 

Class 8: Wed Sept 28, regular class time – METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM

Class 9: Wed Sept 28, 5:30-6:45PMWHAT IS A “SOCIAL STRUCTURE?” PART 1

Class 10: Mon Oct 3 – WHAT IS A “SOCIAL STRUCTURE?” PART 2

 

 

Class 11: Wed Oct 5 – MEANING AND INTERPRETATION

Class 12: Mon Oct 10 – EMILE DURKHEIM AND SOCIAL FACTS

 

Class 13: Wed Oct 12 – MAX WEBER ON ANALYSIS AND EXPLANATION

Classes14 & 15: Mon Oct 17 & Wed Oct 19 – NORMATIVE THEORY

FALL BREAK

Classes 16 & 17: Mon Oct 24 & Wed Oct 26 – FUNCTIONALISM

 

Classes 18 & 19: Mon Oct 31 & Wed Nov 2 – EMILE DURKHEIM, COLLECTIVE RITUAL, AND THE SOCIAL SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

Classes 20 & 21: Mon Nov 7 & Wed Nov 9 – MARXISM

 

Class 22: Mon Nov 14 – NEO-MARXISMS

Class 23: Wed Nov 16 – EVOLUTIONARY/ECOLOGICAL CONFLICT THEORY

 

Class 24: Mon Nov 21RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY

THANKSGIVING

Classes 25 & 26: Mon Nov 28 and Wed Nov 30 – MAX WEBER ON IDEAS AND SOCIAL CHANGE

Class 27: Mon Dec 5 – ROLES, INTERACTION, IDENTITY, AND SI:

Class 28: Wed Dec 7 – CONCLUSION, RETROSPECT, AND PROSPECTS

              - no reading

FINAL EXAMS

Significant Issues We Do Not Have Time to Address:

 

WHAT ARE “VARIABLES,” THEORETICALLY SPEAKING?

 

SOCIAL COGNITION

 

TEMPORALITY, HISTORY, AND SOCIOLOGY

 

HUMAN AGENCY

 

POWER

COOLEY, MEAD, THE SOCIAL SELF, AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY:

EXCHANGE THEORY

 

SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY

MODERNITY

 

RELATIONAL/STRUCTURAL SOCIOLOGY


FEMINIST THEORY

MICHEL FOUCAULT