What do we do after we have looked at Marx, Weber, and Durkheim (whether you characterize them as "the big three" or "necessary evils")?

WEEK of 8 NOVEMBER The Post-Classical Near Consensus

What was mid-century structural-functionalism?

  • Ritzer: Contemporary Grand Theories I. pp. 66-87 (HANDOUT)




  • Functionalism and Structuralism. ALEXANDRA MARYANSKI and JONATHAN H. TURNER. Encyclopedia of Sociology. Vol. 2. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. p1029-1037.
  1. Merton, Robert K. 1949. "Manifest and Latent Functions" (308-312)
  2. Merton, Robert K. 1938. "Social Structure and Anomie" (229-242)
  3. Parsons, Talcott. 1961-71. "Action Systems and Social Systems" (301-303)
  4. Parsons, Talcott. 1937. "The Unit Act of Action Systems" (213-215)

Social Structure in Encyclopedia of Social Theory

16 & 18 NOV Critical Responses

It is fair to say that Parsonian structural-functionalism was "hegemonic" in American sociology in the post-WWII era. Even if it is unwise to paint it with too broad a brush and call functionalism either "conservative" or pro-status quo, it is heuristically useful to see conflict theory as its antithesis in a dialectical evolution of social theory in the 20th century.

With roots in the American progressive movement, the legacy of post-WWI failed socialist revolutions, the wake-up call of the great depression, and the emergence of the anti-Stalinist left in the 1930s, a tradition of critical social science emerged to challenge the functionalist mainstream.

We will take note of two strands (Frankfurt school and Mills/Gouldner/etc.) and mention two others in passing (ideology, propaganda, etc. and actual revolutionaries).

First, read these for quick overview

  1. Lemert. Introduction to "Part Three: The Golden Moment" (pp. 275-286)
  2. Conflict Theory. RANDALL COLLINS. Encyclopedia of Sociology. Vol. 1. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. p414-417.
  3. Critical Theory. DWIGHT B. BILLINGS and PATRICIA JENNINGS. Encyclopedia of Sociology. Vol. 1.2nd ed. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. p539-546.
  4. "Frankfurt School" (Wikipedia)

Next, read these short selections from our secondary sources

  1. Baert (6): "The Spread of Reason: Habermas's Critical Theory"
  2. Ritzer: Contemporary Grand Theories I (SF, C, GSS)

Then a few original excerpts in Lemert

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. "The Sociological Imagination" (355-358)
Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. 1944. "The Culture Industry as Deception" (325-329)
Habermas, Jürgen. 1968. "Emancipatory Knowledge" (386-7)
Habermas, Jürgen. 1970. "Social Analysis and Communicative Competence" (387-9)
Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. "Repressive Desublimation" (436-439)
Horkheimer, Max. 1932. "Notes on Science and the Crisis" (208-212)
Benjamin, Walter. 1936. "Art, War, and Fascism" (259-261)
Gramsci Intellectuals and Hegemony Antonio Gramsci, Intellectuals and Hegemony (263-265)


  1. Giddens/Turner: Critical Theory

Other Readings in Lemert

  1. Lukács, Georg. 1922. "The Irrational Chasm Between Subject and Object" (206-208)
  2. Althusser, Louis. 1968-9. "Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses, Doubts and Reservations" (321-324)
  3. Fromm, Erich. 1929. "Psychoanalysis and Sociology" (222-223)
  4. Lorde, Audre. 1979. "The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House" (449-451)
  5. VIDEO: Paul Fry Lecture on "The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory" in Introduction to Literary Theory at Yale.


Before Tuesday's Class
Post an introductory paragraph that delineates what aspect of your broad sampler topic you would like to focus on. You can indicate this via the authors or the excerpts you want to discuss, the concepts you will focus on, the ideas you want to teach us about. It should be no more than 250 words. Be as concrete as you can so that you can actually benefit from substantive feedback.

There will be a link to a page for each person. You can create a user or you can login as SOC116 with password student. Instructions on how to put your paragraph in the editor to follow.

23 NOV New Social Movements

Although "Class, Status, and Party" was written in the first decade of the century, social theory only "discovered" race and gender and other dimensions of inequality around mid-century. Today we introduce the idea of social movements beyond class not qua social movements but as topics brought to the attention of the public as well as social scientists.

Beauvoir, Simone de. 1949. "Woman as Other" (345-347)
Césaire, Aimé. 1955. "Between Colonizer and Colonized" (348-350)
Friedan, Betty. 1963. "The Problem That Has No Name" (361-364)
Fanon, Frantz. 1961. "Decolonizing, National Culture, and the Negro Intellectual" (364-369)
Myrdal, Gunnar. (1944) "The Negro Problem as a Moral Issue" [L249-51]

30 NOV & 2 DEC Beyond Modernity

Giddens/Turner: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Production of Culture
Read lightly Wikipedia on Postmodernism

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1958. "The Structural Study of Myth" ((313-317)
Barthes,Roland. 1964. "Semiological Prospects" (318-320)
Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1906-11. "Arbitrary Social Values and the Linguistic Sign" (152-160)

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. 1944. "The Culture Industry as Deception" (325-329)
Foucault, Michel. 1976. "Power as Knowledge" (473-479)
Giddens, Anthony. 1990. "Post-Modernity or Radicalized Modernity?" (485-491)
Benjamin, Walter. 1936. "Art, War, and Fascism" (259-261)
Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. 1944. "The Culture Industry as Deception" (325-329)
Barthes,Roland. 1964. "Semiological Prospects" (318-320)
Derrida, Jacques. 1966. "The Decentering Event in Social Thought" (413-417)
Foucault, Michel. 1975. "Biopolitics and the Carceral Society" (417-421)
Lyotard, Jean-François. 1979. "The Postmodern Condition" (465-468)

DEC 7 Contemporary Theory : Something to Build On

DUE This week's assignment: log on, write paragraph describing focus of your sampler writeup.

Sampler Writeups

Final: Wikipedia-like page that is didactic in tone, addressed to classmates, focused makes use of quotes and explications and conveys context.

Judged by instructor and classmates.

Previous draft to be judged by classmates

You will be assigned to offer changes and criticisms to at least two.

You and the author will get credit for improvements between penultimate draft and final draft.

The intellectual generation that was active from about 1890 to 1920 arguably represents the founding of "sociology" as the field we know. There are some figures and directions in theory that predate this period and that we have neglected (most notably Herbert Spencer in England and William Graham Sumner in the US), but one can get away with skipping them; some of Spencer's ideas appear in Durkheim and later functionalists and so are not actually omitted, and several of Sumner's ideas (e.g.,diffusion, folkways, social mores, and ethnocentrism) are familiar, even if we don't read him directly.

There are also a few contemporaries of Weber and Durkheim that, by rights, one should not not read; I've termed these Neglected Classics. Foremost among these is Georg Simmel. Also included might be Veblen, Michels, Mannheim, Tönnies, and Pareto. From this group a few important concepts:

  • Simmel: quantitative aspects of groups, "the stranger," social forms, dyads and triads, "sociability as play form of sociation," the sociology of secrets
  • Veblen: conspicuous consumption
  • Michels: "the iron law of oligarchy"
  • Mannheim: ideology and utopia, sociology of knowledge, substantive/formal rationality
  • Pareto: "the circulation of elites"

But back to our story.

Recall that Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto in 1848 on the eve of the revolutions named for that year that swept across many parts of Europe. Most were put down rather quickly but the echoes of the unrest characterized the socio-political climate of the following decades.

Recall too that Marx's main project after 1848 was his decades long work on Das Kapital and that the second half of the 19th century saw industrialization and globalization on a massive scale. Modernity was in full swing, and critical perspectives — both intellectual and among "the masses" — were beginning to coalesce, in the years during which the founders of modern sociology were educated and began writing.

The so-called First International, perhaps the world's first "social movement" was founded in 1864 in London. It was what we would today call a coalition of left wing groups and it constituted "the communist movement" in Europe (and beyond). Recall that the Communist Manifesto (1848) had begun with the words "a spectre is haunting Europe." The International, at its height with 5-8 million members, was a real organization of that "spectre" but it contained all manner of different left wing groups. Around 1868 the movement began to evolve into two camps; one, associated with Marx focused on change through politics, and the other, associated with Bakunin, was oriented toward direct action against capitalist social institutions. In the aftermath of the Paris Commune (1871) these two camps became increasingly estranged and the first international broke up in 1876.

In 1875, William Graham Sumner taught the first course in "sociology" in the English speaking world.

1890s and start of 20th century — "progressive movement" in US. Emergence of "social work".1

After the end of WWI there was a resurgence of revolutionary fervor in Europe

  1. Frankfurt School Sampler
  1. Cultural Studies Sampler
  2. Socio-Psycho-Cultural Criticism
  3. Global Sociology
  4. Micro-Sociology Primer
  5. Recent Voices on Race
  6. POMO Sampler
  7. Disciplinary Self Critique
  8. Contra Hegemony
  9. Information Age and Technology
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