Sociology 250 - Introduction to Social Theory

Fall 1999

Instructor: Paul Gingrich

CL 217

Telephone: 585-4196

Fax: 585-4815

Classes: Tuesday and Thursday, 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m., CL418.

Office Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon, or by appointment.


  1. Richard W. Hadden, Sociological Theory: An Introduction to the Classical Tradition.
  2. Ruth A. Wallace and Alison Wolf, Contemporary Sociological Theory: Expanding the Classical Tradition, fifth edition.
  3. Additional materials on reserve in the Library or on the web site.


Assigments and Grading:

October 5 First short paper due 10 points
October 14 First midterm examination 20 points
November 23 Second short paper due 10 points
November 18 Second midterm examination 20 points
December 14 Third short paper due 10 points
Discussion and participation 5 points
December 14 Final examination, 2 - 5 p.m. 25 points

Note: If there is any student in this course who, because of a disability, may have a need for accommodations, please come and discuss this with me, as well as contacting the Coordinator of Special Needs Services at 585-463l.

Calendar Description:

An introductory discussion of the emergence of sociological theory, the work of the "founding figures," as well as major developments in 20th-century thought.

Tentative Class Schedule and Readings

September 7 - 9 Introduction Hadden, Introduction and Ch. 1
WW, Ch. 1
September 14 - 23 Marx Hadden, Ch. 2
WW, pp. 68-71, 80-99, 158-167
September 28 - October 7 Weber Hadden, Ch. 4
October 14 - 21 Durkheim Hadden, Ch. 3
WW, pp. 17-25
October 26 - 28 Functionalism WW, Ch. 2
November 2 - 18 Micro approaches WW, Ch. 5-6
November 23 - 25 Conflict/Modernity WW, Ch. 3-4
November 30 - December 3 Postmodernism WW, Ch. 9
December 2 - 7 Canadian approaches Class handouts
December 14 Final examination

Class Description:

This class provides a survey of theoretical approaches to the study of sociology. The approaches of the founding figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century -- Marx, Weber, and Durkheim -- are examined first, using the text by Hadden. More recent approaches to the study of sociology are surveyed in the second part of the course, using the text by Wallace and Wolf. Following a short examination of the structural functional school, various microsociological approaches to the study of s ocial interaction at the individual and small group level are discussed. A variety of macrosociological approaches are examined next, with conflict and modernity comprising the two main themes. The class concludes with a short discussion of postmodern s ocial theory and Canadian contributions to the study of sociology.

Wallace and Wolf apply sociological theory to the role of women in contemporary society and to the working of the formal educational system. These applications will be discussed as much as time allows. In addition, feminist theories will be examined in connection with each of the theoretical approaches.

The short papers will be on very specific topics and are to be two to three typewritten pages in length. The five points for discussion and participation will be assessed by the instructor, based on classroom participation. The final examination will be a comprehensive examination on the whole course, although greater emphasis will be placed on the final portions of the material not covered on the two midterm examinations.

Paul Gingrich

Last revised on November 9, 1999

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