Sociology 4033
Advanced Sociological Theory

In this course we will introduce selected themes concerning both the state of society and the state of the social sciences at the present time. Instead of surveying contemporary social theory, we 'sample' central issues in more depth.

The course will be conducted mainly as a seminar, based on twice weekly assigned readings and once weekly written assignments. Readings will be distributed in class or placed on library reserve. There will be a photocopy fee.

The grade breakdown is as follows:

Participation: 30%
Weekly assignments: 40%
Final paper: 30%

A. Ordinary language and the limits of social science [4 weeks]

Can descriptions and explanations of social life be scientific, or are they ordinary, common-sense, non-scientific activities? If the study of society were not a science, would it be more concerned with ethics and politics? We examine these questions by looking at the sociological implications of one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, Ludwig Wittgenstein. These implications have been developed by the ordinary language philosophers and by ethnomethodology above all, and we discuss some of the more theoretical works in this field, and critically assess them. Readings from Wittgenstein, Winch, Louch, Pitkin, Coulter, Bogen and Lynch and others.

B. Post-industrialism and post-modern societies [4 weeks]

Some might argue that the skepticism of the ethnomethodologists about the possibility of a science of society is a symptom of a certain post-modern doubting of the heritage of the enlightenment. At any rate, in this section we change direction and attempt to analyse, from a macro-sociological perspective, recent major changes in western societies in order to assess whether or not they represent an epochal change, as the proponents of postmodernism argue. Readings from Baudrillard, Jameson, Harvey, Callinicos, Giddens, Castell and others.

C. Thinking through modernity [4 weeks]

in this section we attempt to understand what type of world we live in today, not through macro-sociological analysis as in the last section, but through reading the work of two of the great thinkers of modernity, Nietzsche and Heidegger, and one of the major thinkers of the present time, Derrida. Selections from Nietzche, Heidegger and Derrida, from social thinkers influenced by one or more of these, such as Weber and George Grant, and from secondary commentaries about the social and political implications of these three thinkers.

Dr. Colm Kelly
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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