Sociological Theory Today
Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Marcel Stoetzler
Overall aims and purpose
- To develop the ability to use the vocabulary of contemporary sociological theory in appropriate ways.
- To cultivate comparative awareness of how a range of contemporary sociological theorists conceptualize 'structure' and 'agency'.
- To explain the influence of trends in social philosophy (including Critical Theory, feminism and postmodernism) on recent sociological theory.
- To demonstrate how social context influences sociological thinking.
This module explores the origins, nature and significance of sociological theories and concepts developed in the 20th century. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of such approaches as Critical Theory (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and others), post-structuralism (Foucault, Bourdieu, Bauman), and feminist standpoint and 'intersectionality' theory. It considers a range of theories which seek to address knowledge, power and subordination in terms of gender divisions and differences of class, race or sexuality. The module seeks to ask questions about the relationship between social theory, social action, sociological research and everyday life. This in turn encourages students to reflect on their own position as participants in social interaction.
To pass the module students must have achieved the expected outcomes at a basic level. They will be able to identify the main contributors to contemporary sociological theory and offer a basic description of their theories in context. They will show an adequate awareness of recent trends and the main similarities and contrasts between them. They will show some understanding of how theories may be applied to selected contemporary social issues.
Good students will be able to identify the main contributors to contemporary sociological theory, summarise their theories and explain their origins. They will show a good awareness of recent trends and the main similarities and contrasts between them. They will show a good understanding and reflexive awareness of how theories may be applied to contemporary social issues.
Excellent students will be able to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and a developed understanding of contemporary sociological theory, its social context and relationship to other social theories. They will display mature reflexive awareness and critical judgement in the application of recent theories to a range of contemporary issues.
To provide an account of key ideas and arguments in contemporary social thought.
To show a critical appreciation of the nature and antecedents of current approaches to sociological theories.
To compare, contrast and evaluate different perspectives and points of view.
To assess the viability of competing theories for explaining social questions.
|GROUP PRESENTATION||Grp Presentation||
10% come from a classroom presentation (individual or in a small group) that will introduce one of the key seminar readings to the class (supported by a substantial handout, outlining the argument of the source material, that could include a mind map; no power-point presentations). Classroom presentation and handout are each worth 5%. Presentation can be replaced alternatively by a fifteen minute oral examination (the student chooses one of several proposed texts from amongst those covered in the course, to be agreed in advance; student will give a five-minute presentation on this text and will then be asked questions about it in a relatively informal manner).
|ESSAY||Essay 4,000 words||80|
|FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT||Essay outline||
commentary on the nature of the question, outline of the planned essay, draft essay introduction (containing principal argument, research question, proposition, hypothesis) and core bibliography
Teaching and Learning Strategy
The module is delivered via weekly three-hour sessions consisting of a mixture of lectures and seminars. The lecture topics are based on presentations of key authors and themes grouped to reflect the main developments and controversies in contemporary sociological theory. The seminars are designed to cultivate skills in reading theory and communicating theoretical ideas. The formats include close textual interpretation, debate, and discussion of set topics related to the lectures. Seminars will include presentations by students and tasks designed to assist in the preparation of assignments. Regular independent reading of difficult texts and independent study supported by Blackboard is an important aspect of the learning experience. This will be complemented by individual tutorial support for assessment work.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- Capacity to identify and describe the causes and consequences of social order and change in specific contexts.
- Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
- the ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions
- competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in sociology, and their application to social life
- the capacity to analyse, assess and communicate empirical sociological information
- the ability to identify a range of qualitative and quantitative research strategies and methods
- the ability to undertake and present scholarly work
- the ability to understand the ethical implications of sociological enquiry
- the ability to recognise the relevance of sociological knowledge to social, public and civic policy.
Pre- and Co-requisite Modules
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- LXH3: BA Childhood Studies/Sociology year 3 (BA/CSS)
- LL13: BA Sociology/Economics year 3 (BA/ECS)
- LQ3J: BA English Lang. & Sociology year 3 (BA/ELSOC)
- LL53: BA Health & Social Care/Sociology year 3 (BA/HSCS)
- LP33: BA Media Studies and Sociology year 3 (BA/MSSOC)
- CL83: BA Sociology/Psychology year 3 (BA/PS)
- L300: BA Sociology year 3 (BA/S)
- LM40: BA Sociology & Criminology & Crim Just with International Ex year 4 (BA/SCJIE)
- LM39: BA Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice year 3 (BA/SCR)
- 3L3Q: BA Sociology and English Literature year 3 (BA/SEL)
- LV31: BA Sociology/History year 3 (BA/SH)
- 8Y70: BA Sociology (with International Experience) year 4 (BA/SIE)
- LQ31: BA Sociology/Linguistics year 3 (BA/SL)
- LL34: BA Sociology and Social Policy year 3 (BA/SOCSP)
- LVH2: BA Welsh History/Sociology year 3 (BA/WHS)
- LQ35: BA Cymraeg and Sociology year 3 (BA/WS)
- L302: MSocSci Sociology year 3 (MSOCSCI/S)