COURSE TITLE: Contemporary Sociological Theory
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Randolph Haluza-DeLay
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: A survey of the contributions of modern sociological theorists, particularly those who contributed to the development of functionalist, symbolic, interactionist, and critical schools of thought. Contemporary contributions from feminist modernization, and other theorists will also be examined.

Prerequisites: SOCI 332
  • Black Hawk Hancock and Roberta Garner. Changing Theories: New Directions in Sociology. (Toronto, CA: University of Toronto Press, 2009.
  • Course Reader. 
Quiz 125%
Quiz 225%
Major paper40%
COURSE OBJECTIVES:This course is an introduction to contemporary sociological theory. However, as you can surmise, “contemporary” seems to imply that there was theory that isn’t so contemporary. In sociology, we typically refer to this body of theory as “classical sociological theory.” Virtually all contemporary theory is in some way a reaction to - or a debate with - issues that were raised or not handled completely by the classical sociological theorists. Because of this, it is almost impossible to understand what contemporary theorists are saying unless you understand who they’re arguing with, or what they’re reacting to. For this reason, the book and the course assume some understanding of the classical theorists, especially the Big Three (W,M,D – do you know who these people are?)
Sociological theory is quite different from other courses that you may have taken, or be taking right now. Even though it is written or translated into English, sociological theory has its own kind of language, and in some ways it is just like learning a foreign language. You are not expected to know this language, but it does take some getting used to, and most importantly, you have to use it to learn it and for it to make sense. For this reason you will have a few exercises, and I hope to set up an electronic discussion. The textbook can be quite clear, but will take some work to understand conceptually (as opposed to memorizing) and applying. It may take two or more readings before you begin to get what the theorist is saying. This is not about you or your intelligence - it is partly because the concepts and the terms that these theorists take for granted are completely new to you, and some are extremely subtle and difficult to grasp. In fact, if you’re completely confused the first time you read something by Talcott Parsons or Pierre Bourdieu, then you’re just like every other sociology student (and many professors) that ever read the works of these scholars! 
But don’t do it alone!! We professors don’t. Because I am known as something of an expert on Bourdieu, other researchers email me about his sociological theories. Sometimes I email other people about things they know about, even Bourdieu – I still don’t know it all. The point is, you have to talk about these things. As you start to talk – use the language – you understand it better. 
The good news is that after reading the material a few times, and participating in lectures, and applying the material in class - it will begin to fall together. If it doesn’t, then let us keep working at it. With a guide (that’s my role), and with some thinking, reading, and participation on your part, you will find that sociological theory is a powerful tool to help you understand the world around you.
In this course you will learn to analyze events and situations from different theoretical perspectives. You will probably come to see that there is no single sociological theory that can explain all of social life. Along the way you will hone your critical thinking skills, you will learn to explain current and historical events and trends theoretically, or conversely, you will apply sociological theory to increase your understanding of why things are the way they are in the world around you.
The course requires participation. For a start, the weekend before, do your reading, and download the lecture notes that will be placed on Moodle. Then, talk in class, ask questions, question others, try to piece it together, reference your sources (even when you talk about things in class).
  • Overview - What is contemporary Sociological theory?
  • The context of contemporary society, that needs explaining.
  • Theories changing (SF, CT, etc) 
  • Theories of social class
  • Symbolic Interactionism
  • Goffman 
  • Feminist Sociological Theory
  • Foucault 
  • Bourdieu 
  • Stuart Hall 
  • Conclusions, Applications....

Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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