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?
WEEK 2 Karl Marx and the Frankfurt School
WEEK 3 Max Weber and Georg Simmel
WEEK 4 Emile Durkheim and Gabriel Tarde
WEEK 5 Theorizing Everyday Life
WEEK 6 Performing the classics today
WEEK 7 Globalization: Alternative visions in theorizing the social
WEEK 8 READING WEEK
The objective of this course is to acquaint students with the roots of thinking about society: how it has informed (and still does) the ways in which we understand our societies from sociological and anthropological perspectives. The learning aims of this course are to develop in students:
A broad understanding of why classical social theories emerged, how they understood and explained social change, and their respective legacies for the development of the anthropological and sociological traditions.
The capacity to think transversally about our current world in light of classical concepts and questions that have remained problematic in the process of modernization of societies (so: why classic works still matter today).
The ability to use classical ST to identify, understand, analyse and try to address current social problems and global challenges.
The ability to develop a sociologically and anthropologically informed and critically alert way of thinking about their daily life.
Once available, timetables will be published here.
Mode of instruction
Two weekly meetings give structure to the course. Roughly, the structure of the seminars is based on lectures that will present and address the weekly authors, their key ideas and legacies. You are expected to prepare for each class in a twofold manner: (i) studying the material required for each session and (ii) thinking about their applicability today. This will grant the introduction of knowledge as well as your ability to apply what you have read and learned to concrete and ordinary situations.
In-class participation – 10% – Ongoing
Performing the classics (in groups) – 30% – Week 6
Final Exam – 30% Week 8 (Monday)
Individual final essay – 30% – Week 8 (Sunday)
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, make available the readings, guidelines and the submission of your work (final essay).
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)
Dr. Ajay Gandhi ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Prepare for the first session:
Mills, C.W. (2000 (1959)) Excerpt from Chapter 1: “The Promise” in The Sociological Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press (pages: 1-13).
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