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Social Theory in Everyday Life




Admission requirements


Course description

What has social theory got to do with your daily life? Do you think social theory can help in decoding the differences between having an IPhone or a Galaxy or none? What do they have to say about carbon emissions, and other contentious environmental and technological debates? In other words, why to bother about social theory?

In this course you are invited to the exercise of thinking about your daily life –the ways in which you understand yourself, others and the nature of our interactions– in theoretical terms. Social theory is one of the means that makes this exercise possible. The purpose of social theory is to make sense of the myriad types of social relations that underpin the economic, scientific, political, and cultural spheres of our lives. ST serves us to think about the societies we live in, to understand their transformations and to imagine paths to change. This introductory course to social theory will address the following topics:

WEEK 1 What is Social Theory? Grand theories and theories of everyday life
WEEK 2 This is a modern world (is it?): mapping social theory and its developments
WEEK 3 Karl Marx: : Ideology & alienation – Capitalism, crisis & revolution
WEEK 4 Max Weber: Social action, rationalization & the disenchantment of the world
WEEK 5 Emile Durkheim: Solidarity, strangers and sociology
WEEK 6 Georg Simmel: Fashion matters
WEEK 7 Contemporary social theory: Conscientious thinking as a global challenge

Learning objectives

The objective of this course is to acquaint students with the roots of sociological thinking in Europe, how it has informed (and still does) the ways in which we understand our societies. Students are expected to understand the value of classical thought and learn to develop relevant and informed ways of using it in their thinking about today’s social problems. By the end of the course students should develop:

  • a broad understanding of how and why classical social theories emerged, and the ways in which classic figures of sociological thinking theorized their respective societies.

  • the capacity to think transversally about our current world in light of classical concepts and questions that have remained problematic for the ways in which we organize and understand social life.

  • the ability to develop a sociologically informed and critically alert way of thinking about their daily life.