<> Sociology 710: Intermediate Social Theory
Fall 2004 W 2:00-4:30
17 Newcomb Hall

Professor Kevin Fox Gotham, Ph.D.
Sociology: 220 Newcomb Hall
Office Hours: M and F, 4-5:00 and by appointment.
Phone: 862-3004
Email: kgotham@tulane.edu

 

Course Description     

Sociology 710 is an advanced social theory course for graduate students in sociology.  The course will focus on five theorists who constitute part of the “classical” tradition of modern social theory: Karl Marx (1818-1883), Max Weber (1864-1920), Georg Simmel (1858-1918), Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), and George Herbert Mead (1863-1931). We focus on these five theorists because they represent different approaches to understanding the transition from traditional to modern society, the nature of urbanization and industrialization, capitalism and social organization, democracy and individuality, and the dynamics of culture and social change.  More important, their ideas and theories continue to have a major impact on sociologists’ understandings of the world.  In short, this course is about the “big ideas” in sociology that have stood the test of time, that deal with major social issues that are far reaching in scope.   <>There are at least two important issues to be aware of in a classical theory course.  The first is the distinction (or lack of) between social theory and sociological theory.  Generally, social theory is distinguished by its normative or critical stance, while sociological theory is primarily scientific and empirical.  Despite this difference, the two concepts are often blurred in practice and tend to be used synonymously by sociologists.  Second, there are many people included in the classical tradition.  Broadly, classical theorists produced their work between 1789 and 1920; developed broad, general theories that included a theory of society, a theory of the relationship between the individual and social structure, a statement of epistemological and methodological assumptions, and an image of future social development.  Classical theorists also wrote books and articles that were widely read and influential to a public audience.  Finally, classical theorists helped institutionalize sociology as a distinct discipline.  These criteria constitute our definition of classical social theory.
 

Course Objectives     

The objectives of this course are to explain the contributions of the major theorists, explore the strengths and limitations of their theories, acquire an understanding of how social theory has developed historically, and develop the ability to critically evaluate theories.  We will also seek to understand how theories are shaped by the historical context in which they are produced.  More broadly, this course is about cultivating the intellectual skills to think theoretically. We will examine questions such as: What is society? What are individuals? What is theory and what good is it? How should we evaluate theory? How can we build on available theories to create new ones?  A further objective is to provide the bases needed for achieving a high level of intellectual literacy within the field of sociology.  Social theory is the backbone of the sociology discipline and all major substantive questions of sociological interest are directly related to theory.  Without knowledge of theory, we have no possibility of making sense of what is going on around us.

 
Required Readings

Articles:

Chapter 1. “A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Early Years.” pp. 3-46 in Modern Sociological Theory by George Ritzer.  (On file in Prof. Gotham’s office in the sociology department).

Chapter 2. “A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Later Years.” pp. 47-92 in Modern Sociological Theory by George Ritzer.  (On file in Prof. Gotham’s office in the sociology department). 

Chapter 4. “Karl Marx.” By Robert J. Antonio. Pp.103-43 in Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists. Edited by George Ritzer. 2000. Blackwell Publishers. (On file in Prof. Gotham’s office in the sociology department). 

 

Books:

Marx, Karl. 1977. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume One. Introduction by Ernest Mandel. Translated by Ben Fowlkes. New York: Vintage Books. 

Weber, Max. 2002. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Translated by Stephen Kalberg. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury Publishing Company.

Gerth, H. H., and C. Wright Mills (editors and translators). 1972. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Oxford University Press.

Giddens, Anthony (editor). 1972.  Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings. Cambridge University Press. 

Frisby, David and Mike Featherstone (editors). 1997. Simmel on Culture: Selected WritingsSage Publications

Mead, George Herbert. ([1962] 1934). Mind, Self, and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. Edited by Charles W. Morris. Chicago University Press.

 

Recommended Secondary Books that Provide Context

Aron, Raymond. Main Currents in Sociological Theory.

Hall, Stuart, David Held, Don Hubert, and Kenneth Thompson. Modernity: An Introduction to  Modern Societies.

Hughes, H. Stuart. Consciousness and Society: The Reorientation of Social Thought 1890 - 1930.

Kivisto, Peter. Key Ideas in Sociology.

Ritzer, George. Sociological Theory (sixth edition).

 

Course Expectations and Requirements

This course will generally follow a lecture format.  The purpose of lectures is to provide necessary background material (e.g., historical, biographical, and conceptual), exegesis of the original texts, as well as commentary and critique.  You are expected to attend each class and be prepared to discuss the assigned texts.  You should have the material read on the date listed on the syllabus, but you should also be attentive to the pace of the class.  Sometimes the class discussion may lag a bit behind the pace of the syllabus.  In this case, you ought to review previously assigned material before class so that you are ready to follow and participate in the discussion.

Your grade for this course will be determined by your performance on five papers and class participation.

1.         You have five 8-12 page papers to write. The format and questions that you write on will be different for each paper.  One purpose of the papers is for you to address the thinkers’ core problem and most important issue(s). You may be asked to compare and contrast the ideas of the different theorists. You may also be asked to connect the work of one or more classical theorist to some current event(s). You will receive the paper topic with question(s) about 2 weeks before the paper is due.  The topic and questions presume familiarity with the theorists’ core ideas, problems, and arguments. The paper will require you to formulate your own arguments, supported by copious textual references with page citations.  Papers will be in the 8-12 page range but you may go over (but not too much).  Detailed instructions will accompany the paper topic and question(s). The due dates are listed on the syllabus, and late papers will be penalized.

2.         Everyone is expected to participate through open discussion and questions, including sharing thoughts and ideas, observations, and assessments during class time.  Regular, very high-quality participation can raise grade while poor participation can lower your grade. Unexcused absences will be seen as a lack of participation.

 

 TENTATIVE COURSE SCHEDULE


Week 1:
Introduction and Background

8/25.

Chapter 1. “A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Early Years.” pp. 3-46 in Modern Sociological Theory by George Ritzer.  (On file in Prof. Gotham’s office in the sociology department).

Chapter 2. “A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Later Years.” pp. 47-92 in Modern Sociological Theory by George Ritzer.  (On file in Prof. Gotham’s office in the sociology department).

Chapter 4. “Karl Marx.” By Robert J. Antonio. Pp.103-43 in Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists. Edited by George Ritzer. 2000. Blackwell Publishers.

 

Weeks 2-4: Karl Marx

9/1. Marx’s Conception of Capitalism and Modernity.

Mark, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume One. 

Chapter 1. The Commodity.

Chapter 4. The General Formula for Capital.

Chapter 6. The Sale and Purchase of Labour-Power.

Chapter 7. The Labour Process and the Valorization Process.

Chapter 8. Constant Capital and Variable Capital.

Chapter 9. The Rate of Surplus-Value.

Chapter 10. The Working Day.

 

9/8. From Manufacture to Modern Industry: The First and Second Industrial Revolutions.

Mark, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume One.

Chapter 12. The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value.

Chapter 13. Cooperation.

Chapter 14. The Division of Labour and Manufacture.

Chapter 15 (sections 1-7). Machinery and Large-Scale Industry.

 

9/15. The Downside of Capitalist Growth: Overpopulation, Poverty, Speculative Crisis, and Environmental Devastation.

Mark, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume One.

Chapter 15 (sections 8-10). Machinery and Large-Scale Industry.

Chapter 25 (sections 1-4). General Law of Capitalist Accumulation.

Chapter 26. Secret of Primitive Accumulation.

Chapter 31. Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist.

Chapter 32. Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation.

Chapter 33. Modern Theory of Colonization.

 

 

Weeks 5-8: Max Weber

9/22. Introduction.

“Introduction: The Man and his Work.” Pp. 1-76 in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Edited and translated by Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills.

Read everything up to p. lxxxi in the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber. Edited and translated by Stephen Kalberg.

9/29. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism

first paper due. 

Chapters I-V. Pp. 1-126 in the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber.

“Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism” (pp. 127-48). 

“Prefatory Remarks to Collected Essays in the Sociology of Religion (1920).” (Pp. 145-64).

 

10/6. Power/Authority, Science, and Stratification.

Gerth, H.H., and C. Wright Mills (Editors and Translators). 1972. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Oxford University Press.

Chapter IV. “Politics as a Vocation.” Pp. 77-128.

Chapter V. “Science as a Vocation.” Pp. 129-56 in From Max Weber.

Chapter VII. “Class, Status, and Party.” Pp. 180-195.

Chapter XVI, Section 3. “Caste and Status Group.” Pp. 405-409.

 

10/13. Rationalization and Bureaucracy

Gerth, H.H., and C. Wright Mills (Editors and Translators). 1972. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Oxford University Press.

Chapter VI. “Structures of Power.” Pp. 159-179.

Chapter IX. “Sociology of Charismatic Authority.” Pp. 245-252.

Chapter VIII. “Bureaucracy.” Pp. 196-244.

Hand out second paper topic. Papers due 10/27.


 

Weeks 9-10: Georg Simmel

10/20. Simmel’s Conception of Sociology and Culture

Frisby, David and Mike Featherstone (editors). 1997. Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings.  Sage Publications.

“Introduction” Part I. Defining Culture. Pp. 33-54.

Part II. Culture and Crisis. Pp. 55-108.

Part III. Sociology of Interaction. Pp. 109-136.

Part VI. Spatial and Urban Culture. Pp. 137-86.

 

10/27. Modernity, the Metropolis, and Money.   

Frisby, David and Mike Featherstone (editors). 1997. Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings.  Sage Publications.

Part V. Fashion, Adornment and Style. Pp. 187-218.

Part VI. Leisure Culture. Pp. 219-232.

Part VII. Money and Commodity Culture. Pp. 233-58.

Part VIII. Policies of Culture. Pp. 259-74.

Part IX. Beliefs and Culture. Pp. 275-96.

Hand out third paper topic. Third Paper due on November 10. 

 

 

Weeks 11-12. Emile Durkheim

11/3. Durkheim’s Conception of Sociology, Modernity, and the Division of Labor.  Guest Lecturer: Joel Devine.

Anthony Giddens (editor). Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings.

“Introduction” pp. 1-50 in Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings by Anthony Giddens.

Chapter 1. “The Field of Sociology.” pp. 51-68.

Chapter 2. “Methods of Explanation and Analysis.” pp. 69-88.

Chapter 3. “The Science of Morality.” pp. 89-107

Chapter 5. “Forms of Solidarity.” pp. 123-40.

 

11/10. Social Solidarity and the Sociology of Religion.

Second paper due. 

Chapter 6. “Division of Labor and Social Differentiation.” pp. 141-54.

Chapter 8. “Anomie and the Moral Structure of Industry.” pp. 173-88. 

Chapter 11. “Religion and Ritual.” pp. 219-38.

Chapter 12. “Secularization and Rationality.” pp. 239-49.

Chapter 13. “Sociology of Knowledge.” pp. 250-68. 

Hand out fourth paper topic.  Papers due Dec. 1.

 

 

Weeks 13-15: George Herbert Mead

11/17. Part I and Part II in  Mind, Self, and Society.   Guest Lecturer: Michele Adams. 

11/24 (Wednesday)  - 11/26 (Friday). THANKSGIVING BREAK.

12/1. Part III and Part IV in Mind, Self, and Society. 

12/1. Hand out fifth paper topic.  Papers due 12/15 (Wednesday).