SOCY 302: Sociological Theory

Professor Mathieu Deflem, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina
Department of Sociology
Office: Sloan 217


This course presents an undergraduate-level introduction to selected developments in sociological theory. The approach to the issues explored in sociological theory is both chronological and perspective oriented, so that classical as well as modern and some contemporary theories will be reviewed and a useful variety of perspectives will be explored. While the specific selection of theories in this course is partly motivated by the instructor's expertise, the selection is nonetheless broad.

Because this is a sociological theory course for sociology students with a variety of interests, special attention will be paid to exploring the fruitfulness of the introduced theoretical ideas for the analysis of various substantive matters of society, such as law, crime, family, religion, culture, and other empirical issues.

The final grade for the course is based on three tests and a (cumulative) final exam. Consult the university calendar for important dates. Useful information on classroom issues is provided by the Office of Academic Integrity, such as its integrity policies (including the Honor Code and the Student Code of Conduct).

The syllabus is available to all registered students via Blackboard

        Introduction: What is Theory?
        1. The Classical Tradition 
            - From Social Philosophy to Social Science
            - Emile Durkheim
            - Max Weber
        2. Variations in Modern Sociological Theory
            - Systems Theory: Talcott Parsons
            - Structural Functionalism: Robert K. Merton
            - Conflict Theory: Lewis Coser
            - Radical Sociology: C. Wright Mills
            - Dramaturgy: Erving Goffman
            - Behaviorism: George C. Homans 
        3. Some Aspects of Sociological Theory Today 
            - Feminist Perspectives
            - Public Sociology? 


Students are expected to do the readings in advance of the class and to study all relevant points of those readings, especially inasmuch as they are also discussed in the lectures. The required readings for this course consist of both primary texts, written by the theorists discussed, as well as selected secondary texts that provide overviews and summaries of relevant theories.

All readings are available as pdf files in the course documents section on Blackboard.

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