Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

SOCI 470: Contemporary Social Theory

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  Course Description

Survey of contemporary social theory, beginning in post-World War II era through the current era of post-structuralism, feminist sociology, critical race theory and queer theory.

Prerequisite: Junior Standing

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final



  • Allan, Kenneth. (2013). Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory: Visualizing Social Worlds (3rd). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc..  
    • [ISBN-978-1-4129-9277-0]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course is a survey of contemporary social theory, beginning in post-World War II era through the current era of post-structuralism, feminist sociology, critical race theory, and queer theory. We will examine the development of contemporary sociological thought and its continued relevance today.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and explain the major contemporary theoretical traditions in sociology and the emergence of each of their particular socio-historical contexts.
  2. Identify and describe the theoretical perspectives of major contemporary social theorists.
  3. Describe and explain the major developments in contemporary sociological theory: critical theory, post-structuralism, feminist sociology, and queer theory.
  4. Describe and explain the theoretical application and the current relevance of sociological theory.
  5. Describe and explain the move from objective, universalistic theories to an embrace of subjectivity and localized explanations for human behavior.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 459-510 90-100%
B 408-458 80-89%
C 357-407 70-79%
D 306-356 60-69%
F 0-305 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 160 31%
Paper Assignments (3) 150 29%
Midterm Exam 100 20%
Final Exam 100 20%
Total 510 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion -- Sunday
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 10 Friday/Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4 10 Friday/Sunday
Paper Assignment 1 50 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6 10 Friday/Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 10 Friday/Sunday
Midterm Exam 100 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10 10 Friday/Sunday
Paper Assignment 2 50 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12 10 Friday/Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 10 Friday/Sunday
Paper Assignment 3 50 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16 10 Friday/Saturday
Final Exam 100 Saturday
Total Points: 510

  Assignment Overview


There will be two discussion topics every week.  In addition, there will be an introduction discussion in Week 1.  Initial Posts should be at least 10 sentences.  You need to make at least two substantive responses to other students’ postings.

Your initial post in the first topic each week is due no later than 11:59 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Your initial post in the second discussion topic is due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Friday. Responses to classmates for both discussions are due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday. For Week 8, both your responses to classmates must be completed by 11:59 p.m. CT on Saturday.  

Each discussion is set so that you post your original thoughts before reading the posts of your classmates. If you quote the text, be sure to properly cite your source.

Paper Assignments

You are required to write three (3) short (minimum of 1500 words, not including references) Paper Assignments (essays), due on the dates specified in the Schedule of Due Dates.  Each Paper Assignment is worth 50 points. Please cite your sources, both within the text and in your references.  You are required to use ASA formatting style. Your book should be cited both within the paper and in your references.


The Midterm Exam, worth 100 points, will consist of five (5) long-answer questions.  The Midterm exam will be open from Tuesday at 12:01 am CT to Sunday 11:59 pm CT of Week 4. You will have 2 hours to complete the exam and only one attempt is allowed.

The Final Exam, worth 100 points, will consist of five (5) long-answer questions and twenty (25) multiple-choice questions, covering all of the major topics/theorists covered throughout the course.  The Final Exam will be open from Tuesday to Saturday of Week 8. You will have 2 hours to complete the exam and only one attempt is allowed.

Both the Midterm and Final exams are proctored in this course.  You must submit the “Student Proctor Information Submission Form” to the Proctor Information Dropbox by the end of Week 2. This form and additional information about Proctoring is located in the Content area of the course.  In addition, be aware that both exams are not auto-graded, so you will not be able to see your grade immediately after submitting your exam.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Chapters 3  and 4
Introduction Discussion

Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic of the Discussions area of the course.  Please share more than just your name. Include your major, profession, hobbies, and any other information that can help us get to know you.

Discussion 1

Name and explain the ways in which Symbolic Interaction shifts away from Talcott Parsons’ and the Frankfurt School’s ideas about sociology.

Discussion 2

Name and explain the ways in which ethnomethodology departs from Symbolic Interaction and its concepts about sociology.

Chapters 5 and 6
Discussion 3

According to Goffman, can a person ever be said not to have a self?

Discussion 4

How is Collins’ notion of exchange different from Homans’?

Paper Assignment 1

How would a dramaturgical theory explaining class, race, gender, and sexuality be different from symbolic interactionist theory? How would they complement one another? (Allen 2015: Page 91).

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Chapter 7
Discussion 5

In what way is Wilson’s theory a Marxist theory and in what way does it depart from classic Marxist theory?

Discussion 6

How does dramaturgy contribute to our understanding of how gender inequality is reproduced?

Chapter 8
Discussion 7

How are symbolic fields produced?

Discussion 8

What is habitus, and how is it produced?

Midterm Exam

The Midterm Exam has 5 long answer questions that cover Chapters 3-8.  The exam will open at 12:01 am CT on Tuesday and must be completed by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.  You will have 2 hours and only one attempt to complete the exam.

Remember, the exam is not auto-graded, so you will not be able to see your grade immediately after submission.

Chapter 9
Discussion 9

What are Kondratieff Waves (K-waves) and how does Wallerstein use them in his theory?

Discussion 10

Explain Wallerstein’s globality and historicity.

Paper Assignment 2

Beginning with the events in 1968, explain Wallerstein’s crisis of modernity. What are the structural and cultural signs that the system is failing? (Allen 2015: 210).


Chapters 9 and 12

Discussion 11

How does power contribute to the production of knowledge, according to Foucault?

Discussion 12

In our current social arrangement, what would count as an example of Habermas' public spheres?

Chapter 15
Discussion 13

What is black nihilism?

Discussion 14

How can culture work as structure?

Paper Assignment 3

How do both Marxism and Christianity influence Cornel West’s work?

Chapters 16 and 17
Discussion 15

How are the relations of ruling expressed through the social sciences?

Discussion 16

What is the hegemonic norm of heterosexuality and how is it inscribed upon the body through psychodynamic processes?

Final Exam

The Final Exam has 5 long answer questions and 25 multiple-choice questions that cover Chapters 9-16.  The exam will open at 12:01 am CT on Tuesday and must be completed by Saturday at 11:59 pm CT.  You will have 2 hours and only one attempt to complete the exam.

Remember, the exam is not auto-graded, so you will not be able to see your grade immediately after submission.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. No late assignments will be accepted without documented extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student and with instructor notification prior to the due date.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.