Contemporary Sociological Theory

New School for Social Research: Sociology

Liberal Arts

Graduate Course

Majors Only


Spring 2020

Taught By: Julia Sonnevend

Section: A

CRN: 2576

Credits: 3

The general theme for the course will be the crisis of contemporary democracy, and the contribution of social theory in understanding the causes and possible alternative solutions.Since the crisis of structural functionalism, serious social theory has been renewed by only very few authors. The course will begin with an extended reconstruction of The Structure of Social Action by Talcott Parsons, paying particular attention to his incorporation of the classical perspectives of Weber and Durkheim. Comparisons will be made to similar efforts by Juergen Habermas. In each case of each interpretation we will examine the treatment of democracy: representative, plebiscitary and populist in both the original authors and the two interpreters. As to new departures in theory, the rest of the course will focus on the problems of democracy and civil society, by presenting the relevant works of Polanyi, Germani, Arendt, Luhmann, Habermas, Claus Offe, Arato/Cohen, Fraser and Roderick on one side, Foucault, Rancière and Laclau /Mouffe on the other. Students will be expected to read roughly 2-300 pages a week, and to produce one 25 page research paper comparing two authors from the readings, or one author from the list and another the student’s own choice.

College: New School for Social Research (GF)

Department: Sociology (GSOC)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Lecture (L)

Max Enrollment: 20

Enrollment Status: Open*

*Enrollment status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 9:11pm 9/22/2019

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday

Times: 4:00pm - 5:50pm



Date Range: 1/27/2020 - 5/11/2020