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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2009

S S 301 • Honors Social Science: Social Science Theory

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42675 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 206

Course Description

Punk, goth, geek, jock, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, homosexual, heterosexual, transsexual, black, red, white, yellow, minister, cop, professor, drug dealer, philosopher, mother, whore, queen, gigolo, pimp, intellectual, sensualist, ascetic, racist, philanthropist, Italian, Chinese, Palestinian, African-American, Latino, Mexican-American, citizen, illegal alien, tourist, tax-evader, white-trash, high-brow, low-brow&

These words mark categories of identity, one of the various ways we humans define ourselves to ourselves and to each other. Identity is also one of the ways in which other peoplebut also the state, culture, politics, and the economydefine us as individuals, groups, and as communities.

When we construct our own "sense of self, we might think we are in control of ourselves. When other peopleand institutions and forces beyond themdefine us, we might think we are being controlled as individuals as well as members of various groups.

The European Enlightenment of the 18th century gave rise to master narratives of the subject as a sovereign figure capable of rational control of his or her worlds. We begin then with the modern self" (Kant and Marx), subsequently observe it as whole or in solidarity (Durkheim) and then in fragmentation (Weber and Simmel). We turn then to the discovery of the self's other (for example as sex, as in Beauvoir). We also examine the discovery of the selfs interiority (Freud). Next we observe the self conceived as structure (Foucault). Our path then leads to the critically engaged, insistently modern self (Habermas) and finally to the self as structure and agency (Bourdieu). In mini-lectures introducing each author, the instructor will offer a range of disciplinary perspectives from theories in social science.

Grading Policy

Four essays, 5-6 pages each. Students will submit initial thoughts on each session's assigned readings to our seminar's Blackboard site. Each session one student will be responsible for organizing these submissions into an "agenda" and using it to lead classroom discussion.


[1] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, [2] Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, [3] The Foucault Reader, edited by P. Rabinow, [4] Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, [5] Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, [6] Marx-Engels Reader, edited by R. Tucker, [7] Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

About the Professor
Professor Gregg is a social and political theorist with a B.A. from Yale, a Ph.D. in political science from Princeton, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Free University of Berlin. He is the author of two books: Thick Moralities, Thin Politics: Social Integration Across Communities of Belief and Coping in Politics With Indeterminate Norms: A Theory of Enlightened Localism. He is currently completing a book titled Political Solidarity without Nationalism. Much of his writing focuses on the promises and problems of political and social integration of citizens in multicultural societies. He has taught at universities in Beijing and Tokyo. He is partial to exotic travel, string quartets, and Plan II students, not necessarily in that order.


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