Sociology 204: Sociological Theory



This seminar offers an introduction to classical sociological theory.  We will explore several topics, namely: 1) what are the major themes of the foundational texts of sociology; 2) how these texts were shaped by the social context in which they were produced; 3) how do these texts connect with broader development in social and economic thoughts in the nineteenth and early twentieth century; 4) how do the key authors compare with one another; and 5) how do they influence sociological theorizing today. The more general objective is to learn about and reflect on the role of theory in sociological research. 


We will begin with two introductory sessions that will discuss the usefulness of classical sociological theory today, outline some of the key ideas to be explored throughout the semester, compare various approaches to classical theory, and learn about the prehistory of sociology and disciplinary institutionalization.  The remaining sessions will be organized as follows: Each week will be dedicated to a particular author, or, in the case of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, to an important theme in their work (with at least two sessions consecrated to each of these sociologists).  Seminar participants will present and analyze readings and I will situate them within their broader theoretical and social context and discuss the legacies of the various authors.  Throughout the semester, we will compare authors along key analytical dimensions.