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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2006

SOC 394k • 3-Background of Sociology (Pre-20th Century)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47680 TH
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
bur 214

Course Description

In this course we review classic works in sociological theory. Focusing on the work of nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century theorists, we take a critical look at the historical and theoretical context of sociology's founding ideas. Sociological theory and the modern era are, for better or worse, wedded. Sociology is a historical product. It emerged as part of the massive transformations of the nineteenth century. It sought to explain that which shaped it. This course explores the promises and problems of this relationship. The first part of this course is apportioned to an overview of the theories of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. Over these 10 weeks, we will discuss theories of capitalism, modernization, rationalization and differentiation. We will debate the centrality of these social processes to sociological thinking and to the modern world. Have Marx, Durkheim and Weber accurately seized upon the life-character of the modern world? Have they identified the central structures and developments? Do their accounts of these structures and processes pass the test of time? Is modernity a salient and defensible periodization? Does it hang together as a historical epoch? Is it a sound sociological construct?

The last part of the course introduces perspectives that depart and dissent from the concerns of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. In the works of Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, and George Herbert Mead we open lines of critical inquiry that can be followed into the present. Lines of theory that complement but also undermine classical theories with relational, psychological, and interactionist perspectives.


  • Hegel's Philosophy of Right, trans. T.M. Knox (Oxford).
  • The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert Tucker, (Norton).
  • Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society.
  • Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
  • Emile Durkheim, Moral Education.
  • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
  • From Max Weber, eds. Gerth and Mills (Oxford).
  • The Sociology of Georg Simmel, trans. Kurt Wolff (The Free Press).
  • Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo.
  • Sigmund Freud, Future of an Illusion.
  • Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism.
  • Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontent.
  • George Herbert Mead, On Social Psychology, ed. Anselm Strauss (Chicago).
  • back

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