BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Contemporary Social Thought

Unit code SOCY10432
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course aims to introduce you to a selection of important social thinkers from the 20th and 21st centuries. It uses their work to highlight the contested nature of what contemporary social thought is and should be.

 

The first part of the course considers critical developments of Marx, Weber and Durkheim’s theories of modernity, and the problems they have raised. We explore questions like: can social change happen and how? How is social order achieved? How can individual behaviour be understood? Can social theory account for the experiences of everyone or are its explanations of the world partial and incomplete, based on a male, white, and western perspective?

 

The course then moves on to explore ways in which social theorists have responded to the challenges present in social theory. Firstly, we look at those who see the problems as so fundamental that they abandon social theories of modernity and develop ‘postmodern’ ways of thinking and other alternatives. Secondly, we look at contemporary thinkers who argue that theories of modernity are not redundant but an ‘unfinished project’ and who provide new perspectives on key themes like freedom and democracy.

Aims

This course aims to introduce you to a selection of important social thinkers from the 20th and 21st centuries. It uses their work to highlight the contested nature of what contemporary social thought is and should be.

 

The first part of the course considers critical developments of Marx, Weber and Durkheim’s theories of modernity, and the problems they have raised. We explore questions like: can social change happen and how? How is social order achieved? How can individual behaviour be understood? Can social theory account for the experiences of everyone or are its explanations of the world partial and incomplete, based on a male, white, and western perspective?

 

The course then moves on to explore ways in which social theorists have responded to the challenges present in social theory. Firstly, we look at those who see the problems as so fundamental that they abandon social theories of modernity and develop ‘postmodern’ ways of thinking and other alternatives. Secondly, we look at contemporary thinkers who argue that theories of modernity are not redundant but an ‘unfinished project’ and who provide new perspectives on key themes like freedom and democracy.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will:

  • be able to write competently about a number of the key theorists/issues of contemporary social theory;
  • understand how theories discussed in sociological thought have been extended, critiqued, and developed;
  • have a solid grasp of some of the key debates that structure contemporary social thought;
  • be adequately prepared for engaging with the substantive theoretical content of whatever sociology courses you pursue later in your degree.

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture-style material will be delivered weekly through a mix of up to one hour pre-recorded (i.e. asynchronous) content and one hour live (i.e. synchronous) lecturer-led classes. Additionally, weekly one hour small-group tutorials will be delivered on-campus as long as government guidelines allow, otherwise they will be delivered online.

Assessment methods

  • 1 non-assessed assignment (essay plan) - 5 mark deduction for non-submission
  • 1 assessed coursework essay, 1500 words; 50% of mark
  • 1 traditional format or online open book exam (1 hr / 1 answer, 1500 words as guidance if online); 50% of mark. 

Feedback methods

This course includes both formative feedback - which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading

Allan, K. (2012). Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elisa Pieri Unit coordinator

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