Sociology 304

Winter 1998

Issues in Modern Sociological Theory

Instructor: Paul Gingrich, CL 217, 585-4196,

Classes: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m., CL431.

Office Hours: Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon, Thursday, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., or by appointment.


  1. Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights
  2. Nancy Folbre, Who Pays for the Kids: Gender and the Structures of Constraint
  3. Allucquère Rosanne Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age
  4. Arthur Kroker, various essays to be distributed as handouts or on the website.
  5. Additional materials on reserve in the Library or on the website.

Website Address:

Go to and click on Sociology 304 or click here.

Assigments and Grading:

Each of the three sections of the class will have one short paper and an examination. The schedule of due dates for assignments and grading is as follows:

February 19 Paper on Kymlicka 15 points
February 11 Midterm Examination on Kymlicka 15 points
March 19 Midterm Examination on Folbre 15 points
March 24 Paper on Folbre 15 points
April 28 Assignment on New Technologies 15 points
April 28 Final Examination on Stone and Kroker 15 points
Discussion and Participation 10 points
Total 100 points

Note: Students with special needs should identify themselves to the instructor as soon as possible.

Calendar Description:

An examination of selected controversial themes and issues concerning the main concepts of sociology, the major tendencies of contemporary sociological thought, and the historical antecedents of modern theory. Current issues of sociological analysis and theory construction will be stressed. Themes and issues to be dealt with will vary from time to time as individual faculty members alternate in teaching the course. The prerequisite is any 200-level course in sociology or permission of department head.

Class Description:

In the Winter 1998 semester, three different issues in contemporary society and social theory will be examined - (i) multiculturalism and minority group rights, (ii) the costs of social reproduction, and (iii) the virtual class and cyber-culture. These issues will be organized around the three textbooks for the class. While none of the three texts are by sociologists, each presents an analysis of issues that should be considered by those concerned with the future of Canadian society.

First, the ideas of the Canadian political philosopher Will Kymlicka will be examined. Minority group rights have often been overlooked within liberal and other political theories and are sometimes considered to be in opposition to individual rights. In Multicultural Citizenship, Kymlicka argues that certain minority rights are both consistent with and contribute to liberal democracy. The issues that Kymlicka examines are especially relevant in Canada today, where bilingualism and multiculturalism, as well as the rights of first nations, are important issues.

The second section of the class will examine issues related to the costs of social reproduction, as distinct from the costs of production. Folbre, the author of Who Pays for the Kids? is an economist who presents a feminist analysis of social reproduction, an approach that is to be distinguished from both neoclassical and Marxist political economic analysis. In the class we will discuss how individuals, groups and societies reproduce population, labour force, and social structure. These will be discussed in the context of Folbre's theories of family labour, patriarchal power, structures of constraint, individual and group choice, sources of collective action, and economic development.

In the concluding section of the class, we will discuss some of the social issues related to the new technologies, virtuality, and cyberspace. These will be approached at two levels: (i) through the theory of the virtual class, as laid out by the Canadian postmodern political and social theorist Arthur Kroker, and (ii) through the stories and theoretical approach of Allucquère Rosanne Stone. Kroker presents a broad overall view of the powerful virtual class that has emerged on the basis of new technologies, where the will to virtuality "becomes the primal impulse of pan-capitalism, the mediascape, and post-history." Through a series of stories and theoretical arguments, Stone examines how individuals create new forms of identities as they work and play with the new technologies.

This page was last edited on March 3, 1998.

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