Sociology 208: Contemporary Theory and Research




This seminar examines contemporary theoretical approaches in sociology and, crucially, the connection of theory to research. In addition to purely theoretical concerns, we shall thus analyze how contemporary sociologists employ theory in empirical research, with the aim to give you insights into the process of formulating empirical research in a theoretically appropriate and cogent way. After a discussion of meta-theoretical issues and modes of explanation in sociology, we will focus on ten ideas or topics that have motivated considerable sociological inquiry in the post-World War II era. No one course can be exhaustive, of course, but the material will include theoretical contributions and empirical assessments in leading journals and influential books— often rooted in classic theories or long-standing debates—that address currently salient issues. Reflecting the rich diversity of sociology, the selected readings will also expose you to a wide variety of theoretical positions and methodological approaches. By the end of the course, the hope is that you are well on your way to developing theoretically guided research.