Classical Sociological Theory
Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Sociology
This course seeks to explore the relationship between the emergence of the concept of “modernity” and the invention of “social sciences” designed to study society and the myriad of constructions produced by complex social relations as unit of analyses. Our readings include selections from a range of modern thinkers who were responsible for creating some of social sciences’ most memorable and influential narratives; we continue to use them today to make sense of our own world and each other’s place in it. While the course will follow the Eurocentric formation of sociological theory, it will also rely on a subaltern critique of western modernity in order to provide the most diverse range of interpretations and perspectives of classical modern social theory. The course will be framed in an interdisciplinary way. Many of the authors that we will study have been considered the progenitors of sociology, anthropology, political sciences, psychology, and economics. We will survey the origins and the development of the social sciences and critical thought from the European Enlightenment up until the beginnings of the modern disciplines of sociology and anthropology in the United States. Following a brief critical discussion of the meaning of the notions of modernity and progress, we will take on the precursors of modern social sciences with the English and French Contractarians, in order to end with the forebears of Classical Liberalism both in Politics and Economics: Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville. Later, we will explore the main works of Karl Marx and Max Weber, whom as German thinkers were motivated to understand, and explain, the sudden social changes that their country was experiencing. Both of them will distinctly redefine the meaning of history in order to analyze the past, present and future. Subsequently, we study the emergence of a variety of schools of thought and disciplines in Europe, in the early 20th century, that will be engaged with examining the relationship between symbols, the mind, and community. Emile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud, and Georg Simmel will be some of the interlocutors here. Lastly, we will dive into the birth of sociology and anthropology in the United States with thinkers that questioned systems of power based on gender and race, or that challenged the rigidity of culture and sexuality. Du Bois, Gilman, Cooper, Boas, Benedict, and Mead will finish the course, by also looking at how they influenced late 20th century and early 21st century theoretical currents such as Feminism, Critical Race, Postcolonialism, Intersectionality, and Queer Theory.
College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)
Department: Sociology (LSOC)
Campus: New York City (GV)
Course Format: Seminar (R)
Max Enrollment: 18
Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)
Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)
Seats Available: Yes
* Seats available but reserved for a specific population.
* Status information is updated every few 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: 6:22pm EDT 6/2/2023