Classical Social Theory
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Marcel Stoetzler
Overall aims and purpose
This course introduces students to a range of key perspectives in classical social theory. The basic ideas and the key questions that constitute the foundations of contemporary social theory were established during the 19th century and developed during the first half of the 20th century. The different meanings of 'theory' are explored, especially through the contrast between theory as (apparently disinterested or 'objective') 'explanation' and theory as 'interpretation' from the point of view of participants in human interaction. These differences are influential in the choices that social researchers make between different ways of thinking about what is being studied and the methods used to study social phenomena. Students are encouraged to reflect upon the connections between the subject matter of this module, the research methods module and other modules in Social Sciences.
The module introduces the classic contributions of theorists such as Comte, Marx, Tocqueville, Toennies, W.E.B du Bois, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel and the development of their thinking concerning modernity, capitalism, rationalisation and bureaucracy, and the question of moral and social order. The module then considers how the classic tradition has been transformed and new paths have been pursued in the contexts of Parsons' 'system theory', symbolic interactionism, critical theory and feminist social theory.
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 classical sociological theory and offer a basic description to their theories. They will show an adequate awareness of subsequent trends and the main similarities and contrasts between them. They will show some understanding of how theories may be applied to contemporary social issues.
Identify the main contributors to classical sociological theory, summarise their theories and explain their origins. They will show a good awareness of subsequent trends and the main similarities and contrasts between them. They will show a good understanding of how theories may be applied to contemporary social issues.
Identify the main contributors to classical sociological theory, expound their theories and explain their origins. They will display an excellent awareness of subsequent trends and the main similarities and contrasts between them. They will be able to exercise independent, critical judgement in the application of theories to contemporary social issues.
Recognise the meaning of sociological theory.
Understand and explain the social and intellectual origins of sociological perspectives and traditions
Identify and use key concepts in the domain of social theory.
Demonstrate knowledge of the plurality of sociological theories and the links between different approaches.
Use a variety of concepts from the classical and modern traditions in sociological theory to interpret social issues.
|3,000 word essay s1||80.00|
|Short Essay s1||5.00|
|Unannounced classroom test s1||5.00|
Teaching and Learning Strategy
The module is delivered via two weekly one-hour lectures for the whole class and a weekly seminar in a smaller group. The lecture topics are based on a roughly chronological sequence of key authors and themes.
The seminars are designed to encourage focused discussion and learning on set topics related to the lectures. Seminars are based on selected primary source materials. Each seminar will consist of: (a). a presentation by students and (b). class discussion
They 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
- Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in
Most readings will be made available online or can be found in the library. Students who want to do some reading in advance may wish to acquire the book Beginning Classical Social Theory (Manchester University Press 2018) by Marcel Stoetzler, but buying the book, or any other book, is not a requirement.
Pre- and Co-requisite Modules
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- X315: BA Childhood and Youth Studies and Sociology year 2 (BA/CYSS)
- LL13: BA Sociology/Economics year 2 (BA/ECS)
- LL2B: BA Sociology & Economics (4 yr with Incorporated Foundation) year 2 (BA/ECS1)
- LQ3J: BA English Lang. & Sociology year 2 (BA/ELSOC)
- LL53: BA Health & Social Care/Sociology year 2 (BA/HSCS)
- LP33: BA Media Studies and Sociology year 2 (BA/MSSOC)
- CL83: BA Sociology/Psychology year 2 (BA/PS)
- L300: BA Sociology year 2 (BA/S)
- L31B: BA Sociology (4 year with Incorporated Foundation) year 2 (BA/S1)
- LM40: BA Sociology & Criminology & Crim Just with International Ex year 2 (BA/SCJIE)
- LM39: BA Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice year 2 (BA/SCR)
- 3L3Q: BA Sociology and English Literature year 2 (BA/SEL)
- LV31: BA Sociology/History year 2 (BA/SH)
- 8Y70: BA Sociology (with International Experience) year 2 (BA/SIE)
- LQ31: BA Sociology/Linguistics year 2 (BA/SL)
- LL34: BA Sociology and Social Policy year 2 (BA/SOCSP)
- LVH2: BA Welsh History/Sociology year 2 (BA/WHS)
- LQ35: BA Cymraeg and Sociology year 2 (BA/WS)
- L302: MSocSci Sociology year 2 (MSOCSCI/S)
Optional in courses:
- M93B: BA Criminology & Criminal Just (4yr with Incorp Foundation) year 2 (BA/CCJ1)
- M931: BA Criminology & Criminal Justice with International Exp year 2 (BA/CJIE)
- M930: BA Criminology & Criminal Justice year 2 (BA/CRIM)
- MR95: BA Criminology&Criml Just/Italian year 2 (BA/CRIT)
- MC98: BA Criminology/Psychology year 2 (BA/CRP)
- MR94: BA Criminology/Spanish year 2 (BA/CRSP)
- M3Q9: BA English Literature and Criminology and Criminal Justice year 2 (BA/ENC)
- MR91: BA French/Criminology&Crim'l Just year 2 (BA/FRCR)
- MR92: BA Criminology&CrimJustice/German year 2 (BA/GCR)
- MVX1: BA History/Criminology year 2 (BA/HCR)
- LM52: BA Health & Social Care / Criminology & Criminal Justice year 2 (BA/HSCCCJ)
- VV56: BA Philosophy and Religion year 2 (BA/PHRE)
- 3VQV: BA Philosophy and Religion and English Literature year 2 (BA/PREN)
- VVR1: BA Philosophy and Religion and French year 2 (BA/PRF)
- VVR2: BA Philosophy and Religion and German year 2 (BA/PRG)
- VVV1: BA Philosophy and Religion and History year 2 (BA/PRH)
- VVR3: BA Philosophy and Religion and Italian year 2 (BA/PRI)
- VVW3: BA Philosophy and Religion and Music year 2 (BA/PRM)
- VVR4: BA Philosophy and Religion and Spanish year 2 (BA/PRS)
- VVQ5: BA Philosophy and Religion and Welsh year 2 (BA/PRW)
- VVV2: BA Philosophy and Religion and Welsh History year 2 (BA/PRWH)
- M932: MSocSci Criminology & Criminal Justice year 2 (MSOCSCI/CCJ)