Sociology 319 – Contemporary Social Theories

Final Examination

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon, April 24, 2006, ED542


1.      Answer each of the three parts of the examination – within each part you have choices.  The examination has a total of 100 points.

2.      Answer Part A without consulting your notes or reference materials.  Hand in Part A once you have completed it.  For Parts B and C you may consult your notes or reference materials.


Part A.  Short Answer.  Select three of the following topics and briefly explain. 

(3 x 15 = 45 points).


1.      Explain what Giddens means by unification and fragmentation, one of the dilemmas of the self.

2.      Giddens considers structures be composed of rules and resources.  Explain

3.      State the three assumptions of rational choice theory and briefly outline their implications. 

4.      According to Coleman, in some circumstances it is rational to attempt to create norms in others. 

5.      Illustrate how Baudrillard argues that the real might be confused with spectacle.

6.      What is feminist standpoint theory?

7.      Explain what Smith means by “relations of ruling” and how these come to dominate people.

8.      Explain how gender can be considered an accomplishment and achievement.

9.      How is knowledge an important aspect of Patricia Hill Collins approach?



Part B.  Redistribution or Recognition?   Write a short essay on one of the following topics. 

1.      What does recognition mean and why is it so important?

2.      Institutionalized cultural patterns that prevent some people from being full partners in social interaction.

3.      Outline the three aspects of recognition in Honneth’s approach and discuss how they relate to overcoming injustice. 

4.      Compare and contrast how Fraser and Honneth consider it possible to achieve social justice.


Part C.  Essay.  Select one of the following topics and write an essay on this topic. 

(35 points).

1.      “There is no sociological theory but rather only a set of sociological methods that can be used to examine social action and interaction.”   Comment on and critique this statement, using references to approaches examined this semester.

2.      Feminist sociological approaches have pointed to gaps and problems in earlier sociological theories and approaches.  Illustrate with reference to feminist and other sociological approaches.

3.      Several sociological approaches (Giddens, critical theorists such as Fraser and Honneth, postmodern approaches) address issues related to current developments in a period of late modernity or postmodernity.  Compare and contrast some of these approaches.

4.      We discussed various feminist approaches – ethnomethodological/interactionst, Smith, Collins.  Compare and contrast their approaches to understanding social action and interaction.