Global Challenges: Diversity
What has social theory got to do with our daily life? Can social theory help us decoding the differences between having an IPhone or a Galaxy or none? Does it give us any inside to discuss carbon emissions and other contentious environmental and technological debates today? 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 (ST) is one of the means that makes this exercise possible. The purpose of ST 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. In order to introduce students to foundational debates in sociology, this ST course will address the following weekly themes:
WEEK 1 What is Social Theory? Modern societies in everyday life
WEEK 2 Karl Marx: Ideology, capitalism & revolution
WEEK 3 Max Weber: Social action, rationalization & the disenchantment of the world
WEEK 4 Emile Durkheim: Solidarity, social facts & sociology as science
WEEK 5 The alternative forbearers of ST: Simmel on fashion and Tarde on associations
WEEK 6 Performing the classics today: Legacies and current challenges
WEEK 7 Social theory in everyday life: The challenge of imagining and thinking about society
WEEK 8 READING WEEK
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. The course aim is not only to introduce students to foundational works in social theories, but to train them in using them when “doing sociology”. Therefore, the learning aims of this course are to develop in students:
A broad understanding of how and why classical social theories emerged, and the ways in which classic figures of sociological thinking theorized (and understood) 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 (i.e. why classic works matter today).
To develop the ability to use classical ST to identify, understand, analyze and try to address current social problems while “doing sociology”.
Once available, timetables will be published here.
Mode of instruction
Biweekly seminars form the main body of this course. Roughly, the structure of the seminars is based on lectures that will present and address the key ideas to be discuss in the session (45/60 minutes); students' presentations based on the applicability of the examined theories to the understanding of current problems (30 minutes); and general debriefing/presentations of the conclusions and debates (30 minutes). This will grant the introduction of knowledge as well as your ability to apply what you have read and learned to concrete daily life situations
In-class participation – 10% – Ongoing
In-class presentations and response essay (individual) – 30% (15% each) – Weeks 2 to 5 (once)
Performing classic ST concepts (in groups) – 30% – Week 6
Individual final essay – 30% – Week 8
There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.
The Blackboard site of the course serves as support for updates on the course, availability of readings, student notes and lectures presentations. The readings are compiled and electronically available, organized by weeks. You are expected to refer to the readings when participating in our classes discussions and writing your notes.
This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Daniela Vicherat Mattar (email@example.com)
Readings for the first session:
Bauman, Z. and May, T. (2001) “Introduction: The discipline of sociology” in Z. Bauman and T. May Thinking Sociologically, Blackwell Publishing: Oxford (pages 1-13).
Watch C. Chaplin (1936) Modern Times