Introduction to Sociology
Sociology is an intellectually exciting and diverse field. The aim of the course is to introduce you to that excitement and diversity, and try to persuade you, if you are up to the challenge, to join us in the sociology department on our adventures. Rather than trying to survey all aspects of sociology in a superficial manner, the course engages with six intellectually stimulating themes or topics, which hopefully will persuade you that sociology is one of the best ways of understanding and engaging with our modern world.
Prelude: the course and the university: an intellectual introduction
Module 1. The Development of Modern Society
Sociology came into existence in the nineteenth century in an attempt to understand the newly emerged modern industrialized societies of north western Europe. We briefly discuss the rise of sociology, and then examine various attempts to delineate the main features of so-called modern society.
a. The origins of sociology
E. J. Hobsbawm, "The World in the 1780s". Pp. 7-26 (Notes pp. 321) in The Age of Revolution. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1964.
Jonathan H. Turner, Leonard Beeghley, Charles H. Powers, "The Origins of Sociology" Pp. 1-12 in The Emergence of Sociological Theory. Wadsworth Publishing company, 1995.
b. The development of modern western society.
Krishan Kumar 1988 "The Rise of Modern Society." pp. 3-35 in The Rise of Modern Society: Aspects of the Social and Political Development of the West. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
David Kolb, "The Modern World". Pp. 1 - 19 (Notes pp. 272-273) in The Critique of Pure Modernity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.
c. Marxist explanations of the modern west.
Readings to be announced [tba].
d. Functionalist-liberal explanations of the modern west.
e. The underdeveloped ["third"] world/ the socialist [communist] world/ the information society.
Sylvia Hale 1995 "Development: Competing Theories of Economic Change." Pp. 247-275 in Controversies in Sociology. Toronto: Copp Clark.
Manuel Castells 1996 "The Net and the Self: working notes for a critical theory of the informational society." Critique of Anthropology 16.1: 9-38.
Interlude 1. Theoretical and explanatory traditions in sociology.
Sylvia Hale 1995 "An Overview of Theories." Pp.13-44 in Controversies in Sociology. Toronto: Copp Clark.
2. Is society a contract between individuals? Is modern liberal-democratic society based on a social contract between free individuals who have possession of their own persons, or are modern individuals a product of their particular type of society? Is liberal-individualism as congenial to women as it is to men?
a. Society as a contract between individuals
C. B. Macpherson, "Editor's Introduction". Pp. vii-xxi in John Locke, Second Treatise of Government. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1980.
John Locke, " Two Treatises on Government". Pp. 23-31 inMichael S. Kimmel, Charles Stephen, Social and Political Theory . Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon, 1998.
C. B. MacPherson, "Possessive Individualism and Liberal Democracy". Pp. 263-264 in The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1964.
b. Individuals as the product of society
Stephen Mennell, "Manners". Pp. 29 - 60 (Notes pp. 272-273) in Norbert Elias. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1989.
c. Is modern individualism biased in favour of men?
Virginia Held, "Non-contractual Society: A Feminist View". Pp. 111 - 137 in Marsha Hanen and Kai Nielsen, eds, Science, Morality & Feminist Theory. Calgary: The University of Calgary Press, 1987.
Carole Pateman, "Feminism and Democracy". Pp. 210 - 225 in The Disorder of Women. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.
Interlude 2. Research methodology
Sylvia Hale 1995 "A Critical Look at Methodologies." Pp. 45-60 in Controversies in Sociology. Toronto: Copp Clark.
3. Criticizing consumer culture [4 weeks]: Is a consumer culture, where it seems that everything can be bought and sold, good or bad? We will use advertising as a point of entry to this topic.
a. The marxist criticism of consumer culture
K. Marx and F. Engels, "Bourgeois and Proletarians". Pp. 44 - 46 in Manifesto of the Communist Party. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977.
K. Marx, "The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret." Pp. 163 - 166 in Capital, V. One Introduced by Ernest Mandel. New York: Vintage Books, 1977.
Stuart Ewen, "Preface". Pp. 3-19 (Notes pp. 221-224) in Captains of Consciousness. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1976.
b. Analyzing and criticizing popular culture.
Roland Barthes , "Steak and Chips" and "Operation Margarine." In Mythologies. Translated by Annete Lavers. London: Granada, 1973..
Robert Goldman, "Subjectivity in a Bottle". Pp. 15 - 36 in Reading Ads Socially. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.
c. Defending popular culture
John Fiske 1989 "Madonna." pp. 95-113 in Reading the Popular. Unwin Hyman.
Lisa Lewis 1990 "Consumer Girl Culture: How Music Video Appeals to Girls." pp. 89-101 in mary Ellen Brown, ed., Television and Women's Culture: The Politics of the Popular. London: Sage.
4. The nature of modern rationality What is the nature of modern rationality, in science and business, for example? Does it treat everything as a merely technical problem, ignoring questions about ultimate values?
a. Max Weber's undersanding of modern rationality
Rogers Brubaker, "The Specific and Peculiar Rationalism of Modern Western Civilization". Pp. 8-48 in The Limits of Rationality: an Essay on the Social and Moral Thought of Max Weber. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Max Weber, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism". Pp. 238 - 249 in Gordon Bailey Noga Gayle, eds., Sociology: An Introduction, From the Classics to Contemporary Feminists. Toronto Oxford New York: Oxford University Press.
b. Bauman's analysis of the "rationality" of the genocide of the jews
Jack R. Fischel 1998 "Introduction." pp. Xxix-xxxviii in The Holocaust. Westport, Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press.
Zygmunt Bauman, "The Uniqueness and Normality of the Holocaust". Pp. 83 - 116 (Notes pp. 217 - 218) in Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989
c. The Nazi genocide as an exception to modernity
Talcott Parsons, "Democracy and Social Structure in Pre-Nazi Germany". Pp. 65-81 in Politics and Social Structure. New York: Free Press, 1969 (1942).
Jonathan Fletcher 1997 "Genocide and Decivilizing Processes in Germany." Pp. 148-175 in Violence and Civilization: An Introduction to the Thought of Norbert Elias. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Interlude 3. Fields of research and specialization in sociology.
5. Modernity and post-modernity Have we moved in the last twenty years from a modern world based on the principle of reason [for example, in science and technology] to a post-modern world in which techno-scientific reason has lost some of its hold, and where doubt and skepticism have moved to the forefront? Can we find evidence for this change in sensibility in music, literature, art and architecture? Or is it simple-minded to try to break history into such tidy categories?
a. Is there a postmodern literature and music?
b. Is there a postmodern art and architecture?
Readings for a and b:
Ray Linn 1996 "From modern to postmodern art and architecture." pp.82-112 in A Teacher's Introduction to Postmodernism. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.
Charles Lemert, "Postmodernism Is Not What You Think". Pp. 19 - 53 (Notes pp. 166 - 167) in Postmodernism Is Not What You Think. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1997
Jean-Francois Lyotard, "Note on the Meaning of 'Post-'" Pp. 47 - 50 in Thomas Docherty, Postmodernism: A Reader. Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.
Zygmunt Bauman, "The Fall of the Legislator". Pp. 129 - 140 in Postmodernism: A Reader. Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.
See also Kolb, op. cit.
c. But has the social structure changed dramatically?
Anthony Giddens 1990 The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford: Stanford UP, pp. 1-54.
See also Castells, op. Cit.
6. Interpreting and describing social action
The actions of people have meanings which the sociologist must describe and interpret in order to make sense of society. We explore the rich ramifications of such a seemingly simple idea by unpacking the meanings in apparently simple or obvious activities.
a. What it means to be drunk
Excerpt from Mead.
MacAndrew and Edgerton
b. the appeal of cigarettes
Lorraine Greaves, "Costs - Women's Experiences with Tobacco". Pp. 81 - 100 in Women's Smoking and Social Control. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 1996.
Thomas Lacqueur 1995 "Smoking and Nothingness." The New Republic Sept. 18 and 25: 39-48.
Richard Klein 1993 "Preface." pp. Ix in Cigarettes are Sublime. Duke UP.
c. Jury verdicts and news interviews
E.C. Cuff, W.W. Sharrock and D.W. Francis 1998 "Ethnomethodology." pp. 149-179 in Perspectives in Sociology. 4th ed. London and New York: Routledge.
Douglas W. Maynard, John F. Manzo 1993 "On the Sociology of Justice: Theoretical Notes From an Actual Jury Deliberation." Sociological Theory 11.2: 171 - 193
Stephen Clayman, "Footing in the Achievement of Neutrality: the case of news interview discourse". Pp. 163 - 198 in Paul Drew and John Heritage, eds., Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
C. Kelly, ed., Introduction to Sociology, volumes 1 and 2. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 1999. [This is a 'reprotext' of photocopied readings.] Approximate cost: $35 per volume. But volume 1 for semester one and volume two for semester. Available at the bookstore next week.
Class hand-outs, including photocopied readings. Photocopy fee: $10. Pay the business office and give me the receipt. Grades will not be returned to you if I don't have your receipt.
Additional or background readings will be mentioned in class, and some of these will be on library reserve.
Structure of the Course:
This is a lecture and seminar course, with a reasonable amount of time set aside for questions and answers and discussion, and some 'tutoring' on the essentials of reading, writing, and so on. Most Friday's will be devoted to seminar discussions of assigned readings, with related written assignments.
This course emphasizes the ability to read, write and to develop a reasoned argument. It is writing intensive.:
short essays throughout the year: 40%
Christmas essay: 20%
Final essay: 20%
Countables [written work which is counted but not graded]: 20%
Sociology 1006 - Introduction to Sociology
Sociology 3013 - Classical Sociological Theory
Sociology 3023 - Modern Sociological Theory
Sociology 3533 - Special topics "Derrida and the Future of the Social."
Sociology 4013 - Senior Seminar: The Modern University
Sociology 4033 - Advanced Sociological Theory
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