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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Psychology and Sociology
Course Prefix and Number: SOCI 460
Course Title: Classical Social Theory
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description: History and origins of major schools of thought in sociology from the Enlightenment through World War II. Emphasis on the underlying principles and major works of Comte, Marx, Spencer, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Mannheim, DuBois, Mead, Veblen, Lukacs, Adorno, Horkheimer, Parsons. Prerequisite: Junior standing.
Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): SOCI 111.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered odd Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Sociological Theory
By Adams, Bert N. and R.A. Sydie (Pine Forge Press)
Primer in Theory Construction
By Reynolds, Paul D. (Allyn & Bacon/Longman)
Explorations in Classical Sociological Theory
By Allan, Kenneth D. (Pine Forge)
Classical Sociological Theory: Rediscovering the Promise of Sociology
By Glen, Goodwin A. and Scimecca, Joseph A (Thomson)
The Discovery of Society
By Collins, Randall and Michael Makowsky (Random House)
The Emergence of Sociological Theory
By Turner, Jonathon H., Leonard Beeghley, and Charles H. Powers (Thomson)
Sociological Theory: Classical Statements
By Ashley, David and Orenstein, David M. (Allyn & Bacon/Longman)
Classical Social Theory
By Tucker, Kenneth and Kenneth Tucker, Jr. (Blackwell)
A Short History of Sociological Thought
By Swingewood, Alan (Palgrave)
Social Theory, Power and Practice
By Tew, Jerry (Palgrave)
Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory
By Zeitling, Irving M. (Prentice Hall)
Frankfurt School: Revised Edition
By Bottomore, Tom (Routledge)
Illuminating Social Life: Classic and Contemporary Theory Revisited
By Kivisto, Peter, ed. (Pine Forge Press)
Sociology and the Real World
By Lyng, Stephen and David Franks (Rowman Littlefield)
The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time
By Polanyi, Karl (Beacon Press)
Interactionism: Exposition and Critique
By Reynolds, Larry (General Hall Publishers)
Sociological Theory in the Classical Era
By Edles, Laura Desfore and Appelrouth, Scott (Pine Forge)
Weber: A Reader
By Whimster, Sam (Routledge)
Marx and Marxism: A Reader
By Worsley, Peter (Routledge)
Marx in Soho
By Zinn, Howard (South End Press)
Social Theory and W.E.B. Dubois
By Zuckerman, Phil, ed. (Pine Forge Press)
Course Objectives
  • To understand the underlying principles of various sociological theories from classical social thinkers to 1945.
  • To investigate the influence of Enlightenment thought on the development of social theory.
  • To understand the development of major schools of thought in classical social theory (conflict theory, functionalism, interactionism).
  • To define the contributions of major classical thinkers.
  • To understand the development of North American sociology.
    Measurable Learning
  • Describe the major theoretical traditions in sociology and the emergence of each out of their particular socio-historical contexts.
  • Identify the influence of Enlightenment thought on the development of classical sociological theory.
  • Identify and describe the theoretical perspectives of the classical social theorists (Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, W.E.B. Dubois, G.H. Mead, and Talcott Parsons).
  • Explain the development of American sociology, symbolic interactionism and identify the significant theorists working within this tradition.
  • Demonstrate theoretical application and an understanding of the current relevance of sociological theory.
    Topical Outline:
  • The historical development of sociology as an academic discipline.
    - The Enlightenment: philosophical foundations
    - Montesquieu, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft
    - Post-revolutionary thought
    - Saint-Simon, Comte, de Toqueville, Martineau
  • The structural-functionalist tradition
    - Comte, Spencer, Durkheim, Parsons
  • Marx and Marxism
  • Max Weber
  • Conflict theories
    - Simmel, Mannheim, Lukacs, Veblen
  • Frankfurt School and the development of critical theory
  • The Chicago School
    - Cooley, Thomas, Mead
    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 30

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Yngve Digernes Date: November 8, 2007
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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