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Social Theories


Admission requirements

This course is open to the following categories of students:

  • Bachelor’s CA-DS,

  • Pre-Master’s CA-DS admitted for this specific course during their application procedure,

  • Exchange students admitted for this specific course during their application procedure,

  • Contract students registered in accordance with the procedure set out on this page of the faculty website.

Language of Instruction

Lectures are taught in English.
Tutorials: First years bachelor students of CA-DS have chosen the preferred language of instruction for tutorials during their application. Pre-master, Minor and Exchange students follow the tutorials in English. Contract students may indicate the preferred language of instruction for tutorials during their application.
Exams are in the same language as tutorials.


In this course we take a global perspective on the relationships between individuals and society. With its emphasis on studying 'modern' society and increasing individualisation, sociology has traditionally been strongly Western-oriented. We discuss this Eurocentrism in relation to more inclusive and 'decentralized' approaches. In the first part of the course we do that by placing sociological approaches within the broader, colonial histories of Europe in the world. The focus here is on the question of how different forms of labor – wage labor and slavery – have influenced social inequality and characteristics of living together. We discuss how division of labor and the organization of work has been considered in our social theories. The students read original texts by classical authors – e.g. Karl Marx, W.E.B. Dubois and Max Weber - and compare the ideas of these sociologists concerning: 1) historical transformations, 2) contrasts between 'modern' and 'traditional' societies, 3) organization and division of labor, 4) colonialism and capitalism, 5) emancipation processes.

The second part of the course focuses explicitly on interpersonal relationships: how do individuals relate to others within social networks? We place sociology in a global perspective by comparing social theories based on local Western and Asian notions of sociality. This shows that 'universal' theory formation always has a localized, culture-specific origin. We systematically elaborate this cross-cultural perspective on the basis of the memoirs of Stuart Hall, a cultural theorist who analyzes his own multicultural life history – travelling between Jamaica and England – with a good eye for the relationship between social-historical context and personal development / characteristics. In his work, Stuart Hall shows connections between intersectionality and identity: he analyzes the combined influences of class, gender, race and belief on personal and social characteristics of individuals. Following this, we question how children socialize and learn in specific (school) contexts. We explore different approaches to nature / nurture, universalism / particularism, society / individual, inequality / emancipation and between context / individuals.

Course Objectives

  • Providing knowledge about global perspectives on social theories that focus on the areas of tension between individual and society, between intersectionality and identity and between inequality and emancipation.

  • Acquaintance with canonical texts, and conceptualization of processes of canonization.

  • Providing insight into the culture-specific characteristics of sociological analyzes of interpersonal relationships by discussing theories that originate from European but also from Asian notions of sociality.

  • Providing knowledge about sociological and anthropological approaches to socialization and learning processes in specific (school) contexts.


See our website.

Mode of Instruction

Total 10 ECTS = 280 study tax hours (sbu):

  • lecture 17 × 2 hours (51 sbu)

  • workgroups 4 x 2 hours (8 sbu)

  • literature 800 p. (144 sbu) 91 p first part, 90 p. classics, plus 380 part 2 = 560 plus S & B 2 240

  • paper part 1: 5 pages (40 sbu)

  • paper part 2: 4 pages (32 sbu)

Assessment Method

At the end of part 1, a multiple-choice examination takes place (Thursday 21st of November). Parallel to the start of part 2, there are workgroup meetings in which we read classical work by Karl Marx, W.E.B. Dubois, and Max Weber. These workgroups are concluded with an essay of at least 1200, maximum 1500 words. This essay gets a grade. The multiple-choice examination and the mark for the essay each determine for 50% the total score for part 1 of the course. This figure gives access to part 2 of the course.

Part 2 is rounded off with a final exam consisting of multiple-choice questions and a short essay assignment. The multiple-choice section determines 70% and the essay 30% of the final mark of part 2. An essay (4 credits) is written in advance of this exam. This essay is not assessed, but serves as the 'first version' of the essay to be written at the time of the exam.

Final grade
The rounded grade of part 1 and part 2 of the course each determine for 45% the total mark for the entire course. Active participation in the course and on the BrightSpace fora) makes up the additional 10% of the final mark. Only the final mark is registered in Usis. Only if the final mark is inadequate the final exam may be re-taken during the re-take test. A total of 7 hours will be spent on testing: examination and perusal.

Registering for examinations

First years students, Exchange students and Pre-Master students are not required to register.
Other students are required to register in uSis for every examination and may do so up to 11 calendar days before the examination. Read more

Registration in uSis

  • First-year CA-OS students, Exchange students and pre-Master students: registration for lectures, tutorials, exams is NOT necessary as students will be registered by the Student Services Centre (SSC).

  • Other students must register for all lectures and examinations (see above), but not for tutorials:

  • Division in mandatory tutorials will be made during the lectures and announced at the end of October.

Registration periods and further information about procedure is given on the website on course registration.


Brightspace will be the digital learning environment of Leiden University as of the 2020/2021 academic year. This means Brightspace will replace the current Blackboard system.

Students attending the first year of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology or resitting courses, will be the first working with Brightspace as their learning management system as of the academic year 2019-2020. Through Brightspace you can access news messages, retrieve study material and hand in assignments. You will need to visit Brightspace on a regular basis to be sure to have the latest information. Lecturers will assume that all students read the information provided in Brightspace.

How to login:
The homepage for Brightspace is:
Please log in with your ULCN-account and personal password. On the left you will see an overview of My Courses.

To get access to your courses in Brightspace you need to be registered in uSis for these courses.

Leiden University app
In this app, you can find most of your personal study information in one place. The Blackboard app will be replaced by the Brightspace app over time. Until then you have to use them both.

Study material

Part I (Lecture series)

  • Barnard, A., & Spencer, J. (1996). Encyclopedia of Cultural and Social Anthropology. (684 p.) Find PDF online, for example here.

  • Bhambra, G. K. (2013). ‘The Possibilities of, and for, Global Sociology: A Postcolonial Perspective.’ Postcolonial Sociology, 295-314. (20 p.) Or find PDF online, for example here.

  • Burawoy, M. (2009). ‘Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Sociology.’ ISA Conference of the Council of National Associations, 3-27. (25 p.) Find PDF online, for example here.

  • Hill, L. (2007). ‘Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson and Karl Marx on the Division of Labour’. Journal of Classical Sociology, 7 (3), 339-366. (27 p.)

  • Green, D. S., & Driver, E. D. (1976). W.E.B. DuBois: A Case in the Sociology of Sociological Negation. Phylon (1960-), 37(4), 308-333. (25 p.)

  • Nelson, B. (1976). ‘On Orient and Occident in Max Weber’. Social Research 43 (1), 114-129. (15 p.)

Part II (Workgroups)

Part II (Lecture Series)

  • Barnard, A., & Spencer, J. (1996). Encyclopedia of Cultural and Social Anthropology. (684 p.) Find PDF online, for example here.

  • Hall, S. (2017). Familiar stranger: A life Between Two Islands (Duke University Press) (320 p.) Or find PDF online, for example here.

  • Sato, Y. (2010). ‘Are Asian Sociologies Possible? Universalism versus Particularism’ (12 p.) Facing An Unequal World: Challenges for A Global Sociology vol. 2: Asia Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica and Council of National Associations of International Sociological Association. Find PDF online, for example here.

  • Van Der Pijl, Y., & Goulordava, K. (2014). ‘Black Pete,“Smug Ignorance,” and the Value of the Black Body in Postcolonial Netherlands’ New West Indian Guide 88(3-4), 262-291. (30 p.)

  • Adichie, Chimamanda (2009), The Danger of a Single Story, (21 August 2012). Ted Conferences Online.


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