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

Benjamin Gregg

Associate Professor Ph.D., Politics, Princeton University; Ph.D., Philosophy, Freie Universitaet Berlin

Benjamin Gregg

Contact

  • Phone: 512-232-7274
  • Office: MEZ 3.138
  • Office Hours: by appointment only
  • Campus Mail Code: A1800

Biography

Research Interests

Social integration in complex modern societies; problems and prospects of contemporary forms of justice, including human rights; restorative justice; coping with value pluralism within democratic societies but also in non-liberal polities around the world; deploying contemporary sociological theory to solve problems in political philosophy; the social, legal, and political consequences of the human species taking control of its genome

Current Book-Length Project Under Review at Cambridge University Press:

Second Nature: The Political, Legal, and Moral Consequences of the Human Species Taking Control of its Genome

Research supported by three-year grant for the Humanities Research Award, College of Liberal Arts, UT-Austin, 2014, 2015, 2016

Selected Publications

The Human-Rights State (University of Pennsylvania Press, under advance contract, forthcomng 2014)

“Die Bedeutung des Internets für die Bildung einer kritischen Öffentlichkeit” [Problems and Prospects for a Critical Public Sphere On-Line], in Kurt Imhof, Frank Welz, Christian Fleck and Georg Vobruba, eds. Neuer Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer VS Verlag, forthcoming 2014

“Im Strukturwandel der Weltöffentlichkeit: Auf dem Wege zu einem Pluralismus?” [A Pluralistic Conception of Human Rights for a Global Public Sphere?], in in Kurt Imhof, Frank Welz, Christian Fleck and Georg Vobruba, eds. Neuer Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer VS Verlag, forthcoming 2014

Paperback edition of Human Rights as Social Construction (Cambridge University Press), published July 2013 (hardcopy twice re-printed, 2012)

“Teaching Human Rights in the College Classroom as a Cognitive Style,” in J. Shefner, H. Dahms, R. Jones, and A. Jalata, eds., Social Justice and the University, Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave (2014): 253-279

“Might the Noble Savage have Joined the Earliest Cults of Rousseau?” in  Jesko Reiling and Daniel Tröhler, eds., Entre hétérogénéité et imagination. Pratiques de la réception de Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Genève: Éditions Slatkine (in the series Travaux sur la Suisse des Lumières (2013): 345-364

“Genetic Enhancement: A New Dialectic of Enlightenment?” in Perspektiven der Aufklärung: Zwischen Mythos und Realität, ed. Dietmar Wetzel. Paderborn, Germany: Verlag Wilhelm Fink (2012): 133-146

“Comparative Perspectives on Social Integration in Pluralistic Societies: Thick Norms versus Thin,” Comparative Sociology 11 (2012):629-648

“Politics Disembodied and Deterritorialized: The Internet as Human Rights Resource” in H. Dahms and L. Hazelrigg, eds., Theorizing Modern Society as a Dynamic Process (in Current Perspectives in Social Theory, vol. 30). Bingley, UK: Emerald (2012): 209–233

Human-Rights as Social Construction. Cambridge University Press, 2012

(+)  first printing sold out within seven months of publication; now in its second printing; ranks among CUP’s ten bestsellers in political theory (other authors on the list include Bernard Manin, Theda Skocpol, Jane Mansbridge, Mark Bevir, and Cass Sunstein): http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/bestsellers/bysubject/item2267667/?site_locale=en_US

(+) interviewed on PBS station KLRU regarding this book, August 2012

(+) paperback edition, May 2013

Joint review of Human Rights and Memory by Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider (Penn State University Press, 2010) and of Humanitarianism and Modern Culture by Keith Tester (Penn State University Press, 2010): Perspectives on Politics 10 (2) (June 2012): 456-458

“Individuals as Authors of Human Rights: Not only Addressees,” Theory and Society 39 (2010) 631-661

 “Deploying Cognitive Sociology to Advance Human Rights,” Comparative Sociology 9 (2010) 279-307 

 “Anti-Imperialism: Generating Universal Human Rights Out of Local Norms,” Ratio Juris 23 (2010) 289-310

 “Enlightened Localism in Comparative Perspective,” Comparative Sociology 9(2010) 563-593

 “Familiendämmerung in Amerika?” in S. Caspar und C. Gehrke, ed. Familien-Bande. Tübingen: Konkursbuch Verlag (2009) 321-329

 “Translating Human Rights into Muslim Vernaculars,” Comparative Sociology 7 (2008): 415–433

 Review: Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (Yale University Press, 2008): Law and Politics Book Review 18 (2008) 452-455

Review: In Defense of Human Rights: A Non-Religious Grounding in a Pluralistic World, by Ari Kohen (Routledge, 2007): Perspectives on Politics 6 (2008) 373-374

 “In Lieu of Writing a Life: Twenty-Six Views,” in R. Louis, ed., Orange Britannia. Austin: University of Texas Press (2006) 624-635

Review: Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire: by Wendy Brown (Princeton University Press, 2006): Law and Politics Book Review 17 (2007) 318-325

Review: Rousseau and Law by Thom Brooks, ed. Law and Politics Book Review 16 (2006) 372-383 (with David Williams)

Review: Legality and Legitimacy by Carl Schmitt (Duke University Press, 2005), Law and Politics Book Review 14 (2005) 619-623

Thick Moralities, Thin Politics: Social Integration across Communities of Belief (Duke University Press, 2003)

Coping In Politics with Indeterminate Norms: A Theory of Enlightened Localism (SUNY Press, simultaneously in two series: Political Theory: Contemporary Issues, edited by Philip Green, and Radical Social and Political Theory, edited by Roger Gottlieb, 2003)

“Proceduralism Reconceived: Political Conflict Resolution under Conditions of Moral Pluralism,” Theory and Society 31 (2002) 741-776

“The Law and Courts of Enlightened Localism,” Polity 35 (2002) 283-309

“Using Legal Rules in an Indeterminate World: Overcoming the Limitations of Jurisprudence,” Political Theory 27 (1999) 389-410

“Adjudicating Among Competing Systems of Belief,” International Review of Sociology 9 (1999) 7-17

“Jurisprudence in an Indeterminate World: Pragmatist not Postmodern,” Ratio Juris 11 (1998) 382-398

Review: “The Normative Poverty of Legal Formalism,” review essay on Between the Norm and the Exception. The Frankfurt School and the Rule of Law by William Scheuerman, Political Theory 26 (1998) 237-244

Translation: Portions of Herbert Marcuse, Technology, War and Fascism (Vol. 1 of the Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse), edited by Douglas Kellner (Routledge, 1998)

Review: “Democracy in Normatively Fragmented Societies,” review essay on Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms. Review of Politics 59 (1997) 927-930

Review: “How to Look for Autonomous Law, in China or Elsewhere,” review essay on China's Legal Awakening. Legal Theory and Criminal Justice in Deng's Era by Carlos Wing-hung Lo, in Review of Central and East European Law 23 (1997) 165-172

“Law in China: The Tug of Tradition, the Push of Capitalism,” Review of Central and East European Law 21 (1995) 65-86

“Possibility of Social Critique in an Indeterminate World,” in Theory and Society 23 (1994) 327-366; Japanese translation in Hokkudai Hogaku Ronshu 50 (1999), no. 3:235-256 and no. 4:335-365

“Regulating Commercial Speech: A Question Political Not Legal,” State Constitutional Commentaries and Notes 5 (1994) 18-29

“Puragumattiku na hogaku no kanosei” [Possibility of a Pragmatic Jurisprudence], Chiba Journal of Law and Politics 8 (3) (Jan. 1994) 97-119 and 8 (4) (Mar. 1994) 59-109

Review: “The Failed Quest for a Principled Jurisprudence,” review essay on Common Law and Liberal Theory by James Stoner, Legal Studies Forum 18 (1994) 113-123

“The Modernization of Contemporary Chinese Law,” The Review of Politics 55 (1993) 443-470

Translation: Karl-Otto Apel, "Can an Ultimate Foundation of Knowledge Be Non-Metaphysical?" (Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 1993)

“The Parameters of Possible Constitutional Interpretation” in Robert Wuthnow, ed., Vocabularies of Public Life: Empirical Essays in Symbolic Structure (London: Routledge, 1992) 207-233; Japanese translation in Kokugakuin Hogaku 32 (1995), no. 2 and no. 3

“The Fate of Liberalism in the New, Tripolar World-Order” in Yoshiyuki Ogasawara (ed.), Chiiki-Funso to Sogoizon. Tokyo: University of Foreign Studies Press (1993) 1-27

Review: From Marx to Kant by Dick Howard (SUNY Press, 1988), Theory and Society (1989) 417-423

Review: Kritik der Macht. Reflexionsstufen einer kritischen Gesellschaftstheorie by Axel Honneth (Suhrkamp Verlag, 1988), New German Critique 47 (1989) 183-188

“Falankefu xuepai dui lixin tongzhi de pipan” [The Frankfurt School’s Critique of Rational Authority] in Guowai Shehui Xue 4 (1988) 3-9

Translation: Jürgen Habermas, "Felicitation" (in An Unmastered Past, University of California Press, 1988)

Translation: Leo Lowenthal, "The Left in Germany Has Failed" (in An Unmastered Past, University of California Press, 1988)

Review: “Modernity in Frankfurt: Must a History of Philosophy be a Philosophy of History?”, review essay on Norm, Critique, and Utopia by Seyla Benhabib, Theory and Society 16 (1987) 139-151

Review: “In Defense of a Skeptical Rationalism” in Theory and Society 16 (1987) 159-163

Translation: Samuel Weber, "The Parable" (in Daniel Paul Schreber, Memories of My Nervous Illness, Harvard University Press, 1987)

Translation: Herbert Schnädelbach, "What is Neo-Aristotelianism?" (Praxis International, 1987)

Translation: Sigrid Meuschel, "The Search for Normality in the Relationship Between Jews and Germans" (New German Critique, 1986)

Translation: Helmut Dubiel, Theory and Politics (MIT Press, 1985)

Review: Theory and Politics by Helmut Dubiel (MIT Press, 1984), Telos (1985) 207-214

Recent Awards

Three-year grant for the Humanities Research Award, College of Liberal Arts, UT-Austin, 2014, 2015, 2016, for research for monograph, Second Nature: The Political, Legal, and Moral Consequences of the Human Species Taking Control of its Genome

Faculty research travel award from The Center for European Studies for archival research at the Federal Commission for Documents of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (die Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik), for a project on the distinctly, indeed vehemently petit-bourgeois quality of the normative presuppositions of post-fascist, ordinary totalitarian regime of the usual Soviet-bloc variety, as expressed by the self-understanding of East German spies (2010).

Research fellowship from the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung, Berlin-Babelsberg, Germany, undertaken at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (2008)

College of Liberal Arts 1999 Silver Spurs Fellowship for outstanding scholarship and teaching

Recent Guest Professorships

Leopold-Franzens Universität, Innsbruck, Austria (2013, 2016)
Europa Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Recent or Upcoming Conference Presentations

2014 Author-Meets-Critics Roundtable on Gregg, Human Rights as Social Construction,” American Sociological Association, Annual Meetings, San Francisco, August 10-13

2014 "The Body as Human Rights Boundary" American Sociological Association, Annual Meetings: San Franciscio, August 10-13

2014 "Do Human Rights Require Democracy and the Rule of Law?" International Political Science Association World Congress, Montréal, Québec, July 19-24

2014 “The Local Construction Of a Human Right To Democracy,” XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 13-19

2014 “What Cognitive Sociology Can Contribute To Human Rights Diffusion,” XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 13-19

2013 Keynote Speaker: "Advancing Human Rights by Bringing Them Down to Earth," Student World Assembly, Norwalk, Connecticut, November 19

2013 Invited Lecture: "The Pathology of the Surveillance State: On Reading My Stasi File," British Studies, University of Texas as Austin, October 25

2013 American Political Science Association, Annual Meetings, “Author-Meets-Critics Roundtable on Gregg, Human Rights as Social Construction,” Chicago, 29 August – 1 September, with panelists Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern University; Alison Brysk, UCSB; Michael Goodhart, University of Pittsburgh; Micheline Ishay, University of Denver

2013 American Political Science Association, Annual Meetings, “Human Rights Patriotism,” Chicago, 29 August – 1 September

2013 American Sociological Association, Conference on Re-Imagining Human Rights – The Challenge of Agency, Creativity, and Global Justice, “International Relations in a Community of Human Rights States,” August 13, The Westin New York at Times Square, New York City

2013 Russian Political Science Association and International Political Science Association Research Committee, “Developing Human Rights Commitment in Post Communist Societies through Education,” St. Petersburg, Russia, 13-14 June

2013 Midwest Political Science Association, Annual Meetings, “Author-Meets-Critics Roundtable on Gregg, Human Rights as Social Construction,” Chicago, April 11-14 with panelists Dana Villa, University of Notre Dame; Jonathan Allen, Northern Michigan University; Adam Seagrave, University of Notre Dame; and Kristen Johnson, Hope College

2013 Midwest Political Science Association, Annual Meetings, “The Human Rights State: Nongeographic ‘Borders’ Embedded in the Citizen,” April 11-14

2012 Europa-Universität Viadrina (Germany), “Unilateral Military Intervention to Stop Human Rights Violations: Defensible on What Human Rights Basis?” May 11

2012 Southern Sociological Society: “Genetic Manipulation and the Difference between Being a Body and Having a Body,” New Orleans, March 21-24

2011 Dritter gemeinsamer Kongress für Soziologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie, der Östereichischen Gesellschaft für Soziologie und der Sweizerischen Gesellschaft für Soziologie: "Gegen politische Alltagesentfremdung und –asymmetrie: Zur Bildung einer kritischen Internet-Öffentlichkeit,” Innsbruck, Austria, 29 September – 1 October

2011 Dritter gemeinsamer Kongress für Soziologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie, der Östereichischen Gesellschaft für Soziologie und der Sweizerischen Gesellschaft für Soziologie: “Menschenrechtsnormen als treibende Subjekte des Strukturwandels der Welt-Öffentlichkeit: Zum Pluralismus hin,” Innsbruck, Austria, 29 September – 1 October

2011 Political Studies Association (UK) Annual Conference: “The Genetic Self-Enhancement of the Human Species: Human Nature as Cultural Choice,” London, UK, 19-21 April

2011 Invited talk, University of Nebraska: “Self-Granted Human Rights,” 23 January

2010 Société suisse de Sociologie, international conference titled: “Perspektiven der Aufklärung − zwischen Mythos und Realität,” Bern, Switzerland, 16-17 September 2010: lecture titled “Aufgeklärte Eugenik oder Eugenik wider Gleichheit?"

Graduate and Undergraduate Courses Taught

Manipulation of the Human Genome: Legal and Moral Issues; Political Theory Field Core Seminar on Plato, Augustine, Spinoza; Empire and Early Modern Theory; Global Justice; Contemporary American Social Theory; Contemporary European Social Theory; Critical Social Theory; Political Community; Theories in Social Science; Social Theories of Law and Politics; Law and Morality in German Social Thought; Politics of Constitutional Meaning; Legal Modernization in China; State Sovereignty and Human Rights; Contemporary Political Theory; Kant and Hegel; Social Theory in Political Analysis; Early Cosmopolitan Political Thought: St. Paul, Badiou, Derrida

Collection of Essays, Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010), titled “Enlightened Localism in Comparative Perspective” (applying various aspects of the theory I develop in Coping in Politics with Indeterminate Norms: A Theory of Enlightened Localism) with contributions from

▪ Benjamin Gregg. “Enlightened Localism in Comparative Perspective,” Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010):594-610

▪ Lea Ypi (Oxford University, UK): “Basic Rights and Cosmopolitan Justice from an Enlightened Localist Perspective,” Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010):594-610

▪ Jonathan White (London School of Economics, UK): “Responding to Norm Indeterminacy beyond the Nation-State Frame,” Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010):611-630

▪ Junmin Wang (University of Memphis, USA): “Enlightened Localism in Contemporary China: Political Change in Property-Rights Institutions of Township and Village Enterprises,” Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010):631-662

▪ Ko Hasegawa (Hokkaido University, Japan): “Integrating a Racial and Ethnic Minority into Dominant Society from the Perspective of Enlightened Localism: The Case of the Japanese Ainu,” Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010):663-685

▪ Manu Ahedo Santisteban (University Rovira Virgili, Spain): “Enlightened Localism and Local Experimentalism in Public Policy: Schooling Policies of Children with Immigrant Backgrounds in Denmark and Spain,” Comparative Sociology 9(5) (2010):686-710

Collection of Essays, Comparative Sociology, forthcoming in issue 5 of 2012, titled “Comparative Perspectives on Social Integration in Pluralistic Societies: Thick Norms versus Thin” (applying various aspects of the theory I develop in Thick Moralities, Thin Politics: Social Integration across Communities of Belief (2003)), with contributions from

▪ Benjamin Gregg, “Comparative Perspectives on Social Integration in Pluralistic Societies: Thick Norms versus Thin”

▪ Kristen Johnson: “Towards a Vision of Thick Conversation: Explorations in Bioethics and Interfaith Deliberation”

▪ Patti Lenard: “Democratic Self-Determination and Non-Citizen Residents”

▪ Aaron Struvland: “Religion and the Prospects for Thin Politics”

▪ Peter Mohanty: “Thick and Thin Public Sentiments and the Politics of Immigration in Europe”

▪ William O’Neil: “Mediating Between Thick Invocations of the Common Good and Thin Appeals to Human Rights: The Case of South Africa”

▪ Harry Dahms: “Theorizing Europe as the Future of Modern Society: European Integration between Thick Norms and Thin Politics”

Interests

Political, social, legal, and sociological theory of complex modern societies

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Clas/Contemp Socl

43295 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 103
show description

INSTRUCTOR: Benjamin Gregg

 

 

 

COURSE: SS 301

 

 

 

SEMESTER: Fall 2014

 

 

 

MEETS: TTH 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

 

 

 

TITLE: Honors Social Science

 

 

 

FLAG: Writing

 

 

 

DESCRIPTION

 

 

 

Drawing on primary sources, this seminar introduces social theory as the systematic investigation of social life: how it is organized, continually transforms itself, is challenged by problems and conflicts, and is influenced by the behavior of groups and individuals. Topics in classical theory include social equality in democratic societies (Tocqueville), how social structure influences knowledge (Marx), individuals as influenced by the social collective (Durkheim), society as influenced by individual actors (Weber), how social structure influences even intimate relationships (Simmel), mass deception and manipulation through modern culture (Horkheimer and Adorno), and the relationship between the individual’s purposes and the needs of society (Merton). Contemporary topics include how rituals bind us together (Collins), the nature of social cooperation and trust (Cook, Hardin, Levi), the social consequences of economic structure (Granovetter), the phenomenon of racial difference (Patterson), power and inequality (Giddens), and the coming transformation of the nation state (Sassen).

 

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTS

 

 

 

Classical Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. (2012). Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell

 

 

 

Contemporary Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. (2012). Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell

 

 

 

EVALUATION

 

 

 

Average of four 5-page essays, adjusted for quality of class participation

 

 

 

ABOUT THE PROFESSOR

 

 

 

Professor Gregg, who grew up in Berkeley, California, is a social and political theorist with a BA from Yale, a PhD from Princeton (in political science), and a PhD from the Free University of Berlin (in Philosophy). He is the author of Human Rights as Social Construction; Thick Moralities, Thin Politics: Social Integration across Communities of Belief; and Coping in Politics with Indeterminate Norms: A Theory of Enlightened Localism. This year he published The Human Rights State and is now at work on his fifth book, Second Nature: The Genetic Self-Transformation of the Human Species, his second for Cambridge University Press. His research is supported by a three-year Humanities Research Award that will take him to Princeton, Harvard, and Case Western Reserve University; in Germany, to the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics and to the University of Göttingen; and in Singapore, to the Genome Institute (Biopolis Biomedical City) and National University. In his spare time he patiently pursues a long-term project that draws on files of East German dissidents monitored by the secret police (“Stasi”) until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. These books and current projects all deploy classical and contemporary sociological theory to solve problems that otherwise confound political philosophy. He has taught at universities in Germany, Austria, China and Japan. The College of Liberal Arts Committees on Research and Teaching awarded him the Silver Spurs Fellowship in recognition of outstanding scholarship and teaching. He is partial to theater and hopes someday to become a playwright.

 

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Clas/Contemp Socl

43335 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 206
show description

Honors Social Science: Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Drawing on primary sources, this seminar introduces social theory as the systematic investigation of social life: how it is organized, continually transforms itself, is challenged by problems and conflicts, and is influenced by the behavior of groups and individuals. Topics in classical theory include social equality in democratic societies (Tocqueville), how social structure influences knowledge (Marx), individuals as influenced by the social collective (Durkheim), society as influenced by individual actors (Weber), how social structure influences even intimate relationships (Simmel), mass deception and manipulation through modern culture (Horkheimer and Adorno), and the relationship between the individual’s purposes and the needs of society (Merton). Contemporary topics include how rituals bind us together (Randall Collins), the nature of social cooperation and trust (Karen Cook, Russell Hardin, Margaret Levi), the social consequences of economic structure (Mark Granovetter), the phenomenon of racial difference (Orlando Patterson), power and inequality (Anthony Giddens), and the coming transformation of the nation state (Saskia Sassen).

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Classical Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. (2012). Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell

Contemporary Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. (2012). Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell

EVALUATION:

Average of four 5-page essays, adjusted for quality of class participation

ABOUT THE PROFESSOR:

Benjamin Gregg teaches social and political theory in the Department of Government as well as at universities in Germany, China, Austria, Japan and Italy. He is the author of Thick Moralities, Thin Politics (public policy suffers when politics are laden with moral doctrines; public policy should work not toward political consensus but toward the more realistic goal of mutual accommodation); Coping In Politics with Indeterminate Norms (while moral validity is relative rather than absolute, and cultural meanings local rather than universal, social integration and democratic politics are still attainable goals); and Human-Rights as Social Construction (human rights can be authored by the average, ordinary people to whom they are addressed, and that they are valid only if embraced by those to whom they would apply). Next year he will publish The Human Rights State (a metaphorical alternative to the nation state, a polity without territory, standing alongside the nation state, as a political and moral commitment that, in the pursuit of human rights, would limit the nation state without undermining it). He is currently working on a book titled Second Nature: The Genetic Self-Transformation of the Human Species (on the moral, political, and legal challenges of the human species taking control of its own genome in the sense of genetic therapy and genetic “enhancement”). He has taught in Plan II for almost 15 years and hopes, in the proximate future, to receive the Chad Oliver Teaching Award and be appointed Director of Plan II.

 

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Thry Of Subject

42870 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GEA 127
show description

Drawing on primary sources, this seminar introduces social theory as the systematic investigation of social life: how it is organized, continually transforms itself, is challenged by problems and conflicts, and is influenced by the behavior of groups and individuals. Topics in classical theory include social equality in democratic societies (Tocqueville), how social structure influences knowledge (Marx), individuals as influenced by the social collective (Durkheim), society as influenced by individual actors (Weber), how social structure influences even intimate relationships (Simmel), mass deception and manipulation through modern culture (Horkheimer and Adorno), and the relationship between the individual’s purposes and the needs of society (Merton). Contemporary topics include how rituals bind us together (Randall Collins), the nature of social cooperation and trust (Karen Cook, Russell Hardin, Margaret Levi), the social consequences of economic structure (Mark Granovetter), the phenomenon of racial difference (Orlando Patterson), power and inequality (Anthony Giddens), and the coming transformation of the nation state (Saskia Sassen).

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Classical Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. (2012). Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell

Contemporary Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. (2012). Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell

EVALUATION:

Average of four 5-page essays, adjusted for quality of class participation

ABOUT THE PROFESSOR:

Professor Gregg, who grew up in Berkeley, California, is a social and political theorist with a BA from Yale, a PhD from Princeton (in political science), and a PhD from the Free University of Berlin (in Philosophy). He is the author of Human Rights as Social Construction; Thick Moralities, Thin Politics: Social Integration across Communities of Belief; and Coping in Politics with Indeterminate Norms: A Theory of Enlightened Localism. He is completing a book on The Human Rights State and another titled Second Nature: The Genetic Self-Transformation of the Human Species. He is also engaged in a long-term project that draws on files of East German dissidents monitored by the secret police (“Stasi”) until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. These projects all deploy classical and contemporary sociological theory to solve problems in political philosophy. He has taught at universities in China, Japan, and Germany. The College of Liberal Arts Committees on Research and Teaching awarded him the Silver Spurs Fellowship in recognition of outstanding scholarship and teaching. He is partial to theater and hopes someday to become a playwright.

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Soc Sci Theory

42705 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 303
show description

This course has a writing flag.

Social Science: Social Science Theories of the Subject

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. Since then we in the West have re-imagined and re-configured ourselves multiple times in multiple ways. The seminar traces out this “civilizational autobiography,” beginning with the “modern, enlightenment self” (Kant and Marx), taken as an individual. It then examines the “solidary self” (Tönnies, Durkheim, and Mauss), or the self as a communal member. Next we turn to the “modern self fragmented” (Simmel and Weber), with consequences positive and negative. Then we examine the “interior self” (Freud) and subsequently the “self as the other of the socially dominant one,” with one examples from sex (de Beauvoir) and one from race (Du Bois). Finally we discuss the “symbolically or strategically interacting self” (Mead and Goffman). The instructor will introduce the life of each author, and his or her contributions to some of the great humanistic theories in social science. In this student-centered seminar, class will be devoted in part to discussion with and among students.

Readings:

BOOKS: Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and Society; W.E.B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk; Max Weber, From Max Weber; Marcel Mauss, The Gift; Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents; George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self, and Society; Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex; Erving Goffman, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

PACKET: Émile Durkheim, “Forms of Social Solidarity,” “Anomie and Moral Structure,” “Religion and Ritual”; Immanuel Kant, “What Is Enlightenment?”; Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” “The Stranger,” The Philosophy of Money; Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor”

Requirements:

NOTE: THIS COURSE WILL FULFILL THE AREA B REQUIREMENT FOR THE PLAN II DEGREE, BUT WILL NOT COUNT TOWARD THE AREA B REQUIREMENT FOR OTHER DEGREES.

The final grade will be the average of four essays (length to be specified), adjusted for quality of class participation. Class participation includes each one or more students (on a rotating basis) submitting brief “theses” on the week’s readings, and one or more students responding to the theses.

About the professor: 

Professor Gregg is a social and political theorist with a BA from Yale, a PhD from Princeton (in political science), and a PhD from the Free University of Berlin (in Philosophy). He is the author of 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 The Human-Rights Project: Social Construction without Theology or Metaphysics, which develops a conception of human rights as social constructions whose validity can be developed locally and freely embraced as indigenous, in diverse cultures and political communities, rather than imposed from outside. His research focuses on social integration in complex modern societies; problems and prospects of contemporary forms of justice, including human rights; coping with value pluralism within democratic societies but also in non-liberal polities around the world; “enlightened localism” and “thin norms” as practical strategies for accomplishing social integration and legal justice in both liberal and hierarchical societies; deploying contemporary sociological theory to solve problems in political philosophy. He has taught at universities in Germany, China, and Japan. UT’s College of Liberal Arts Committees on Research and Teaching awarded him the Silver Spurs Fellowship in recognition of outstanding scholarship and teaching. He recently received a research fellowship from the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung, Berlin-Babelsberg, Germany, undertaken at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. He is partial to foreign travel, foreign films, foreign food, and to foreigners in general.

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Soc Sci Theory-W

43645 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CBA 4.344
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HONORS SOCIAL SCIENCE: THEORY OF THE SUBJECT

The problem of whether and to what extent we humans are in control, or can be in control, of ourselves – of our identities but also of our behavior and understanding, both public and private – is what in this course I refer to as the “problem of the subject.” The problem of the subject is the never completed social task of constructing intersubjectively valid understandings of fundamental human identity. For example, are human beings moved by social, emotional, and psychological forces beyond their control or can they control themselves and their environment through the power of their own reasoning? This seminar explores different answers to this question by analyzing seminal works of European thinkers of the late modern era, works that have powerfully influenced our notions of the subject today. We also read one of the instructor’s attempts to answer this question.

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 self’s “interiority” (Freud). Next we observe the self conceived as “structure” (Foucault) and the self not reducible to structure (Bourdieu). Our path then leads to the critically engaged, insistently modern self (Habermas) and, finally, the self as the collective author and addressee of fundamental political choices (Gregg). In lectures introducing each author, the instructor will offer a range of disciplinary perspectives from theories in social science. A significant amount of class time will be devoted to discussion with and among students, in this student-centered seminar.

REQUIRED BOOKS

[1] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, [2] Pierre Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, [3] The Foucault Reader, ed. P. Rabinow, [4] Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, [5] B. Gregg, Coping in Politics with Indeterminate Norms, [6] Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action (vol. 2), [7] Marx-Engels Reader, ed. R. Tucker, [8] Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

SELECTIONS IN REQUIRED PACKET

[1] Émile Durkheim, “Forms of Social Solidarity,” “Anomie and Moral Structure,” “Religion and Ritual,” [2] Immanuel Kant, “What Is Enlightenment?,” [3] Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” “The Stranger,” and selection from The Philosophy of Money, [4] William Shakespeare, King Lear

THE SELF IN SHAKESPEARE’S KING LEAR: REQUIRED ATTENDANCE

Students are required to attend one of the following performances by Actors from the London Stage of King Lear: September 30-October 2, 7:30 p.m., at the B. Iden Payne Theater, Winship Building (Q&A with actors after performance on the 30th); or October 3 at 7 pm at Winedale Theatre Barn in Round Top. Purchase student ticket in advance.

Most Recent Articles

“Teaching Human Rights in the College Classroom as a Cognitive Style,” in J. Shefner, H. Dahms, R. Jones, and A. Jalata, eds., Social Justice and the University, Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave (2014)


“Might the Noble Savage have Joined the Earliest Cults of Rousseau?” in Jesko Reiling and Daniel Tröhler, eds., Entre hétérogénéité et imagination. Pratiques de la réception de Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Genève: Éditions Slatkine (in the series Travaux sur la Suisse des Lumières). 2013.


“Politics Disembodied and Deterritorialized: The Internet as Human Rights Resource” in H. Dahms and L. Hazelrigg, eds., Theorizing Modern Society as a Dynamic Process (in the series Current Perspectives in Social Theory, vol. 30. Bingley, UK: Emerald (2012)

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“Genetic Enhancement: A New Dialectic of Enlightenment?” in Perspektiven der Aufklaerung, eds. Hartmut Rosa, Daniel Fulda and Olaf Breidbach. Paderborn, Germany: Fink Verlag (2011)

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“Individuals as Authors of Human Rights: Not only Addressees,” Theory and Society 39 (2010) 631-661

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“Anti-Imperialism: Generating Universal Human Rights Out of Local Norms,” Ratio Juris 23 (2010) 289-310

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 “Deploying Cognitive Sociology to Advance Human Rights” Comparative Sociology 9 (2010) 279-307 

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Human Rights as Social Construction

Human Rights as Social Construction

Cambridge University Press, 2012 (re-printed twice); paperback edition, 2013

http://www.upbo.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9781107015937

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