BAEcon Economics and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Power and Value: Perspectives from Social Sciences

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCS15001
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit aims to:

  • Offer a more comprehensive view on the topic of power and value
  • Introduce students to various social science disciplines and how different disciplines approach a topic
  • Review the advantages and limitations on different social science approaches


Brief overview of the syllabus/topics:

Economists often define value as economic benefits provided by goods or services and assume who would act upon those actions – but such a narrow view of value and power may undermine our understanding of many social issues. This module shows how different social science disciplines may offer different perspectives on the notion of “power and value”. Through introductory lectures from Philosophy, Sociology, Social Statistics, Social Anthropology, Politics, and Criminology, students will learn how each social science discipline can contribute to this topic differently and offer a more comprehensive view of social issues that economics may have overlooked.

Lecture 0 (online). Introduction: Why should we care about power and value?

Lecture 1. Moral Economies of Wealth and Poverty (TBC)

Lecture 2. Welfare, Dependency and Everyday Lives (TBC)

Lecture 3. Topic in Value and Social Stats (Carter)

Lecture 4. Social Movements: Pursuing Alternative Values (Gillian)

Lecture 5. Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond the Profit Motive? (Gillian)

Lecture 6. Pornography, Power, and Speech Acts: An Introduction to Feminist Philosophy of Language (Stevens)

Lecture 7. Power and Agency in Precarious Employment: Trafficking and Exploitation (Broad)

Lecture 8. Power, Politics, and Influence at Work (Dundon)

Lecture 9. Power in Global Political Economy (Bhagat)

Lecture 10. Economics and Power, and a Return to Political Economy? (Ozanne)

Recap (online): How to Incorporate the different perspectives in our decision making?<

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered by a weekly 1-hour lecture, and a fortnightly 1-hour tutorial over 10 weeks. It will be supported by online learning and guided self-study.

Lectures will involve introductions to the discipline area and how it is being applied to the broad topic of power and value, alongside discussions of cutting-edge social science research on the topic. In addition to key academic texts, media, social policy sources, and short video-clips will be drawn upon in lectures to engage students with the topic. Lectures will also use real-world data, evidence and case studies to illuminate the value of the approach in question.

During tutorials, students will have the opportunity to discuss and debate issues introduced in the lectures and this will provide opportunities for students to engage critically with the material and perspective presented, as well as develop a further understanding on the lecture materials. Some tutorials will also give students opportunities to work with real-world data using Excel.

The course will utilise Blackboard to deliver the course content, core readings, lecture slides, and any supplementary materials such as video materials, and communication.

Tutorial 1: Anthropological Approaches to Moral Economy (lectures 1 and 2)

Tutorial 2: Demonstrating social value (lecture 3)

Tutorial 3: Corporate Social Responsibility as a Response to Corporate (mis)behaviour (lectures 4 and 5)

Tutorial 4: Power in sex industry: contrasting approaches (lectures 6 and 7)

Tutorial 5: Power and politics: political economy and workplace (lectures 8 and 9)

Knowledge and understanding

  • Gain an awareness of various social science approaches
  • Offer a more comprehensive view on issues by accompanying economic knowledge with different social scientific perspectives

Intellectual skills

  • Apply and evaluate social scientific perspectives, and develop a critical view on these different perspectives
  • Employ material available from academic, media and policy sources to make effective arguments about the topic

Practical skills

  • Use library and electronic sources and resources, and work with real-world data
  • Conduct critical reading and literature reviews and produce a written portfolio

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Present ideas, ask questions, and develop team working skills in group discussions during tutorials
  • Develop a critical approach to analyse issues during the portfolio preparation

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Portfolio 80%

Short online quizzes on each of the 10 lecture materials (5 questions each) - 20%

Portfolio, where students critically evaluate how different approaches study either power or value 80%

Feedback methods

Portfolio - written feedback

Tutorial tasks - formative feedback

Recommended reading

Bhambra, G.K. (2020) ‘Colonial global economy: towards a theoretical reorientation of political economy’, Review of International Political Economy.

Chandler, A.D. and Mazlish, B. (2005) Leviathans: Multinational Corporations and the New Global History. Cambridge University Press.

Davies, J., 2019. ‘From severe to routine labour exploitation: The case of migrant workers in the UK food industry’, Criminology & Criminal Justice, 19(3), pp.294-310.

Dundon, T., Martinez Lucio, M., Hughes, E., Howcroft, D., Keizer, A., and Walden, R. (2020) Power, Politics and Influence at Work. Manchester University Press.

Maitra, I. (2017) ‘Speech and Silencing’, in the Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy, London: Routledge, pp. 279-291.

Ozanne, A. (2016) Power and Neoclassical Economics: A Return to Political Economy in the Teaching of Economics. Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Price. D. and Livesy, L. (2015) ‘Money and Later Life’, in Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology. Taylor & Francis.

Smith, K. (2017) ‘You don’t own money, you’re just the one who’s holding it’: Borrowing, lending and the fair person in North Manchester’, The Sociological Review, 65(1): 121-136.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Tutorials 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 85

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Hei Sing Chan Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Independent study hours:

Private study: 55 hours

Directed reading: 30 hours

Return to course details