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

Fall 2009

SOC 379M • Sociological Theory-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46635 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
GRG 424

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to some of the more important theoretical foundations of the discipline of sociology and to current debates in modern social theory. The first part of the course covers select classical theorists. The second part provides an introduction to twentieth-century social theory and critical perspectives on the classical foundations of sociology. The third and final part presents a highly influential response to these challenges by a leading sociological theorist of our day. Throughout the course, the main topics of interest are the rise and transformation of modern society, the changing relationship between the individual and social institutions, the role of social structures and agency in social theory, the role of moral and instrumental action in agency theory, the challenge of critical theory to the social sciences, and contemporary attempts at a critical and multidimensional theory of society.

This course challenges students to think theoretically and critically about society and its material and cultural construction. The readings for the course are difficult but not inaccessible. This course will be fruitful if, and only if, students make a serious commitment to do the reading and to attend class. If this commitment is made, the social world might never look and feel quite the same. At least this is my goal and I aim to deliver.

Grading Policy

Three short papers 75%
Three one to two page memos on reading 15%
Class participation 10%

Short papers: Students must write three papers, each approximately five pages in length. One paper is due for each of the three parts of the course.

Memos: For the first part of the course, I will ask you to write three memos, each approximately one page in length. One memo will be on Karl Marx. The second memo will be on Emile Durkeim. And the final memo is on Max Weber.


All texts have been ordered through MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop, Austin, TX 78751; tel. (512) 407-6925)

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert Tucker, Norton
Emile Durkheim, On Morality and Society, ed. Robert N. Bellah, Chicago
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Roxbury
Georg Simmel, On Individuality and Social Forms, ed. Donald Levine, Chicago
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, Norton
Michel Foucault, The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow, Pantheon
Jurgen Habermas, Jurgen Habermas on Society and Politics: A Reader, ed. Seidman, Beacon


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