Sociological Theory I: Classical Theory


Year 2 standing and SOCI1005 Invitation to Sociology OR CHSS1005 Understanding Society: An Introduction to Sociology

This course provides an introduction to the classical sociological tradition. The classical tradition is commonly understood to refer to a body of work produced in the period from the latter half of the 19th century to the early decades of the 20th century. It principally comprises the writings of Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim, although other thinkers have been added by various commentators. The writings of Georg Simmel are typically included today in the classical tradition. Together these writers are widely seen as responsible for the establishment of sociology as an integrated discourse of social analysis and theory-building. Each of these are thinkers of immense intellectual power and scope, drawing upon earlier traditions of thought and reformulating them into novel and distinctive forms. More importantly, they were able to crystalize fundamental social processes in providing remarkably insightful and compelling accounts of key historical developments and transformations. Their separate and in many ways alternative explanations of the rise and course of modern capitalist society and economy continue to be invaluable resources for sociological analysis. Their works help us answer questions concerning the relationship between the individual and society, the basis of social order and social change, the nature of social constraint and structure, and the bases and possibilities of individual and collective action. On completion of this course students will understand the major concepts and arguments in classical sociological theories and be able to apply the various theoretical perspectives in analyses of social conflict, solidarity, and social change.