SOCY 729: Comparative and Historical Sociology

Professor Mathieu Deflem, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina
Department of Sociology
Office: Sloan 217
Email: deflem@mailbox.sc.edu


COURSE OBJECTIVES

This course is a graduate-level seminar on methodological, theoretical, as well as selected substantive aspects in the specialty area of comparative and historical sociology. This is a combined lecture and discussion/student-presentation course that is designed to introduce graduate students to some of the key methodological contributions, theoretical perspectives, and, along the way, a selection of substantive themes in comparative and historical sociology. The course is aimed at stimulating students to contribute in meaningful ways to this sociological field at the highest level of academic rigor. Students who are not sociology majors need the instructor's express consent to sign up for this course.

The foundations of the course are both methodological and theoretical, based on the works of the sociological classics and relevant chapters in modern and contemporary sociology. First, we review the role of comparative and historical analysis in the classics. Second, separate attention will be paid to issues of research design and research technique, both in general as well as applied to historical research. And, third, to show the value of these theoretical and methodological issues, we subsequently review a useful selection of issues in various substantive application areas of comparative and historical sociology, including analyses of the state, the family, law, economy, and other societal institutions.

The following paper explains some of the method in having taught this course:
Useless Tilly (et al.): Teaching Comparative-Historical Sociology Wisely, by Mathieu Deflem. Trajectories, Newsletter of the ASA Comparative & Historical Sociology section, 19(1):14-17, 2007.
The notes to this course are online: Comparative and Historical Sociology: Lecture Notes.



TOPICS

PART I - THE CENTRALITY OF THE CLASSICS
1) Pre-Sociological Social Science (Marx)
2) Max Weber
3) Emile Durkheim
PART II - PRINCIPLES OF RESEARCH DESIGN
A. Science, Theory, and Research
B. Research Design, Measurement, and Operationalization
C. Causal Modeling
D. Sampling Procedures
E. Observation Methods
PART III - THE METHODOLOGY OF COMPARATIVE-HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGY
A. On the History of Historical Sociology
B. Historical Research
C. Comparative Analysis (The Case)
Note: Research Proposals (NSF)
PART IV – RESEARCH EXAMPLE: POLICING WORLD SOCIETY
(And other examples from student book presentations.)
PART IV – SPECIAL PROBLEMS OF COMPARATIVE AND HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGY
1) Comparisons, Explanation, and Theory
2) Path Dependence and Explanation
3) Sociology and History



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