Course Learning Outcomes


Our goals include enhancing your

  1. Ability to effectively read theory texts and make sense of them, parsing difficult rhetoric to extract concepts, claims, and arguments;
  2. Grasp of the genealogy of sociological thinking — both the family relations and the family feuds;
  3. "Ownership" of concepts that constitute the core toolkit of the discipline;
  4. Familiarity with the work of certain key thinkers;
  5. Desire that theory you read makes sense, is useful, and can be connected to research;
  6. Standards of logic, coherence, and empirical support for arguments and claims;
  7. Appreciation of "old" ideas and how much of the recent is not new and what we mean by "on the shoulders of giants";
  8. Recognition that there is much to read;
  9. Sense of what is on that list and where to start.

To earn a passing grade in this course you must, at its conclusion, demonstrate that you can

  1. trace the general trajectory of social theory from its 16th century "origins" in the ideas of Thomas Hobbes to the present
  2. describe general genealogy of sociological theory from Comte to the present
  3. characterize main ideas and legacy of the "big three" classical theorists: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
  4. explicate an original piece of theory
  5. apply two or more theoretical perspectives to a contemporary social phenomenon
  6. write a coherent essay about social theory

Along the way you will be asked to write practice explications of passages read, and you will be tested on your comprehension of the ideas in the work of many different thinkers. Exams and written assignments will be used as practice.

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