SOC 23: Introduction to Political Sociology







Politics is about power and authority. But the production, conservation and distribution of power and authority occur far beyond Capitol Hill: in family dynamics, neighborhood residential patterns, racial discrimination, welfare policies, social movements, nation-states and the globalized economy. So how is power exerted? Where is it, and how is it gained and lost? How do power centers get challenged? In this course, we examine such questions using the conceptual framework and analytic tools of political sociology. Major themes will include the nation-state and its challengers, capitalism, democracy, and globalization. Abstract, theoretical works are explored with practical applications and illustrations in specific national/historical contexts. Students will also become aware of criticisms and debates in political sociology – as well as its limitations.The course is divided into six parts according to major themes: (1) Foundations; (2) the Nation-State and its Challengers; (3) Capitalism; (4) Democracy; (5) the Big Picture: Global Processes; and (6) a Conclusion. First, we survey sociological theorists who laid the foundation for political sociology, and consider alternative ways of conceptualizing power. Second, we explore the origins of the modern nation-state and processes of state-formation in different contexts. Competing approaches to nationalism will be considered, as well as major research into social movements. Third, we inquire about capitalism: its ideological underpinnings, its embeddedness in society and culture, and its relation to the state – especially as reflected in the evolution and variety of welfare state models in contemporary capitalist societies. Fourth, we consider political stratification and cases of institutionalized exclusion or discrimination in democratic societies. Fifth, we scrutinize what is known as “globalization,” weighing alternative ways to describe it and asking how regionalization differs. Finally, we conclude with some open-ended conclusions about the future potential and shortfalls of political sociology.

pol.soc_._syllabus.doc71 KB
danilo_mandic_sociology_harvard.mp4124.78 MB

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