Sociology 319 Contemporary Social Theory

Winter, 2000

Instructor: Paul Gingrich

CL 217

Telephone: 585-4196 Fax: 585-4815

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

Office Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., or by appointment.

Text and Readings:

Bryan S. Turner, editor, The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory.

Additional readings on reserve in the Library, on the web site, or as class handouts.


Grading: The types of assignments and the weight to be attached to the various assignments has not yet been determined.

Calendar Description: An analysis of the development of sociological theory in the 20th century. The course will examine the various schools that emerged out of classical theory as well as recent critical responses to these developmen ts. The prerequisite for this class is Sociology 250 or permission of the department head.

Class Description: This course will examine a variety of themes and debates in contemporary sociological theory. The topics around which the course will be organized are the chapters in the text (listed below). In addition to the text, students will be expected to read some of the writings of the sociologists discussed. These will be made available on reserve in the University Library or as class handouts. Some of the classes will be primarily lectures, while others will be in seminar format, di scussing the readings.

Contents of The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory:

    1. Introduction: Professor Bryan S. Turner.

Part I: Foundations:

2. Classical Social Theory: Associate Professor Robert Holton.

3. Critical Theory: Professor Goran Therbon.

4. The Philosophy of Social Science: William Outhwaite.

Part II: Actions, Actors, Systems:

5. Theories of Action and Praxis: Professor Ira Cohen.

6. System Theory: Professor Peter Hamilton.

7. Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: Dr Antony Eliott.

8. Structuralism: Professor Roy Boyne.

Part III: The Micro-Macro Problem:

9. Symbolic Interactionism in the Twentieth Century: Dr Ken Plummer.

10. Sociological Theory and Rational Choice Theory: Professor Peter Abell.

Part IV: Historical and Comparative Sociology:

11. Historical Sociology: Professor Roland Robertson.

Part V: The Nature of the Social:

12. Feminist Social Theory: Professor Terry Lovell.

13. Cultural Sociology and Cultural Sciences: Professor Steven Connor.

14. Sociology of Time and Space: Professor John Urry.

15. Postmodern Social Theory: Professor Barry Smart.

16. Social Theory and the Public Realm: Professor Craig Calhoun.


Text Description from the Blackwell web site

The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory brings together leading scholars from around the world to provide the first truly international overview of the major developments in twentieth-century Western social thought.

Edited and introduced by Brian S. Turner, this volume aims not only to chart the many thinkers, schools, and movements within contemporary social theory, but also to identify points of convergence and possibly synthesis, particularly between North Amer ican and European traditions.

The principal focus is on post-classical modern social theory, but while major modern thinkers such as Habermas, Lyotard, Luhmann, Foucault, and Derrida are examined, they are situated within the context of a classical tradition which includes Parsons, Garfinkel, Berger, Elais and Mannheim. The 16 chapters of the volume are divided into logically organised sections on the classical foundations, action and system theory, interpretative sociology, post-structuralism and post-comparative sociology, and th e problem of the social. There are separate chapters on feminism, world systems theory, ethnomethodology, critical theory, classical sociology, hermenuetics, action theory and cultural sociology.

The author of the text, Bryan S. Turner, is the Chair of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books including Citzenship and Social Theory (1993) and with C. Rojek (eds.), Forget Baudrillard (1993).

Paul Gingrich

November 12, 1999