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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Psychology and Sociology
Course Prefix and Number: SOCI 470
Course Title: Contemporary Social Theory
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog 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. Includes the study of C. Wright Mills, Jurgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu, Immanual Wallerstein, Anthony Giddens, Michel Foucault, Theda Skocpol, Dorothy Smith, Adrienne Rich and Patricia Hill Collins. Prerequisite: Junior standing.
Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered even Spring.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Sociological Theory
By Adams, Bert N. and R.A. Sydie (Pine Forge Press)
Contemporary Sociological Theory
By Adams, Bert N. and R.A. Sydie (Pine Forge Press)
Critical Social Theories: An Introduction
By Agger, Ben (Paradigm Publishers)
Contemporary Sociological Theory: Visualizing Social Worlds
By Allan, Kenneth (Pine Forge Press)
Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: Text and Readings
By Appelrouth, Scott and Laura Desfor Edles (Sage)
The Discovery of Society
By Collins, Randall and Michael Makowsky (Random House)
Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory
By Edles, Laura Desfor and Scott Appelrouth (Sage)
Discourses on Liberation: An Anatomy of Critical Theory
By Kim, Kyung-Man (Paradigm Publishers)
Postmodernism is Not What You Think: Why Globalization Threatens Modernity
By Lemert, Charles (Paradigm Publishers)
Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics
By Ritzer, George (McGraw Hill)
Contested Knowledge: Social Theory in the Postmodern Era
By Seidman, Steven (Blackwell)
A Short History of Sociological Thought
By Singewood, Alan (Palgrave)
Social Theory, Power and Practice
By Tew, Jerry (Palgrave)
Key Thinkers From Critical Theory to Post-Marxism
By Torney, Simon and Jules Townshend (Sage Publications)
Frankfurt School: Revised Edition
By Bottomore, Tom (Routledge)
Structure, Culture, and History: Recent Issues in Social Theory
By Chew, Sing C. and J. David Knotterus (Rowman Littlefield)
Taking It Big: Developing Sociological Consciousness in Postmodern Times
By Dandaneau, Steven (Pine Forge Press)
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 New School Theory Reader
By Seidman, Steven and Jeffrey Alexander (Routledge)
Michael Foucault: Revised Edition
By Smart, Barry (Routledge)
Southern Theory
By Raewyn Connell (Polity Press)
Course Objectives

  • To grasp an understanding of modern social thought, from the post-World War II era to the current era.
  • To investigate the social and cultural conditions that forced theorists to critique the applicability of Marxism and develop new theories, such as critical theorist Jurgen Habermas, world systems theorist Immanual Wallerstein, and the work of C. Wright Mills, as a response to new conditions.
  • To study the move from objective, universalistic theories to an embrace of subjectivity and localized explanations for human behavior.
  • To study the emergence of poststructuralist thought, primarily the work of Foucault and Baudrillard.
  • To explore the current theories of Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, and Theda Skocpol.
  • To study the postmodernist turn in the social sciences and the emergence of identity politics such as feminist sociology, queer theory and critical race theory through the works of Dorothy Smith, Patricia Hill-Collins, and Adrienne Rich.
  • To encourage theoretical application.

    Measurable Learning

  • Describe and explain the major contemporary theoretical traditions in sociology and the emergence of each of their particular socio-historical contexts.
  • Identify and describe the theoretical perspectives of the following contemporary social theorists: Foucault, Giddens, Skocpol.
  • Explain the development of post-Marxist thought through an analysis of the work of C. Wright Mills, Jurgen Habermas, and Immanual Wallerstein.
  • Describe and explain the major developments in contemporary sociological theory: critical theory, post-structuralism, feminist sociology, and queer theory.
  • Describe and explain theoretical application and the current relevance of sociological theory.

    Topical Outline:
  • Post-World War II sociology and the critique of Marxism: Mills, Wallerstein, and Bermas
  • Giddens, Bourdieu, and Skocpol
  • Post-modernism and the social sciences
  • Post-structuralism: Foucault
  • Feminist sociology: Dorothy Smith, Patricia Hill-Collins
  • Queer theory: Jeffrey Weeks, Adrienne Rich
    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: 15

    Library Resources:

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

    Prepared by: Ahoo Tabatabai Date: January 17, 2012
    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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