Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

SOCI 460: Classical Social Theory

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  Course Description

Reinforcement of major schools of thought in sociology from the Enlightenment through World War II.  Emphasis on theoretical thinking in sociology and analysis of the underlying principles and major works of Comte, Marx, Spencer, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Mannheim, Martineau, Perkins Gilman, DuBois, Mead, Veblen, Adorno, Horkheimer, Parsons.  

Prerequisite: Junior Standing

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Allan, K., & Daynes, S. . (2017). Explorations in Classical Sociological Theory: Seeing the Social World (4th). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications, Inc. .  eText

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Returns: Students who drop a course with physical course materials will be responsible for returning those items to Ed Map within 30 days of receipt of the order.  More specific information on how to do so will be included in the package received from Ed Map.  See here for Ed Map's return policy. Failure to return physical items from a dropped course will result in a charge to the student account for all unreturned items.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

This course provides you with an overview of the development of sociological theories from the 1700s until 1945.

The course revolves around the core terms used in social theory and emphasizes the importance of the basic assumptions that theorists make about human nature, as well as their assumptions about how society operates. An understanding of these assumptions enables us to gain an appreciation for the key contributions made by the most prominent contributors to classical social theory. We will cover approximately a dozen of different theorists, whose ideas we will compare and contrast.

The goal of this course is to provide you with the theoretical toolkit that will enable you to see society through the eyes of different theorists. The central task is to understand the different theorists’ basic outlook on society, not to memorize the minute details of their theories. By understanding how social theorists see society, you will also learn to think theoretically about society -- to interpret the same social phenomena from different theoretical perspectives. This is achieved by examining society from the viewpoints of the different theorists. Where one theorist sees order, another theorist sees disorder; where one theorist sees only individuals, another sees only social structures; where one theorist sees conflict, another sees a consensus, etc.

  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 the major theoretical traditions in sociology and the emergence of each out of their particular socio-historical contexts.
  2. Articulate the role of theory in sociology.
  3. Identify the influence of Enlightenment thought on the development of classical sociological theory.
  4. Identify and describe the theoretical perspectives of the classical social theorists.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 576-640 90-100%
B 512-575 80-89%
C 448-511 70-79%
D 384-447 60-69%
F 0-383 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 160 25%
Paper Assignments (3) 180 28%
Midterm Exam 100 16%
Final Exam 200 31%
Total 640 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion 10 Wednesday
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday/Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 2 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 3 10 Friday/Sunday
Proctor Information N/A Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 5 10 Friday/Sunday
Paper Assignment 1 60 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 7 10 Friday/Sunday
Midterm Exam 100 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 9 10 Friday/Sunday
Paper Assignment 2 60 Sunday

Week 6

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

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 13 10 Friday/Sunday
Paper Assignment 3 60 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 15 10 Friday/Saturday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points: 640

  Assignment Overview


There will be 16 (sixteen) discussion posts in the course worth 10 points each. Besides Discussion 1, Week 1 will also have an Introduction Discussion. Weeks 2 through 8 will have two discussion posts every week. Your initial posting should not be less than 10 sentences long. In addition to your own posting, you need to make a substantive response to two other students’ postings (in each topic, not per week). 

Your initial post in the first topic each week is due no later than 11:59 pm CT on Wednesday. Your responses to classmates are is due on 11:59 pm CT on Sunday. Your initial post in the second discussion topic is due no later than 11:59 pm CT on Friday. Your responses to classmates are due by 11:59 pm CT on Sunday. For Week 8, your First initial post on Wednesday and second initial post on Friday and responses to classmates for both the discussions must be completed by 11:59 pm CT on Saturday, so be sure not to wait until the last minute before you submit your discussion posting. Discussions will cover major concepts from the textbook and any online sources that are assigned. It is essential that you read each chapter completely rather than just look material up for the information. Be sure to address the question asked for and be sure to provide your own insights rather than repeating what is already in the textbooks. Discussions count for 25% of your final grade.

Paper Assignments

There are three (3) papers assigned for this course, worth 60 points each, due by Sunday 11:59 pm CT of Weeks 3, 5, and 7. Each paper should consist of a side-by-side comparison of the two theorists, not two separate papers merged into one document. The papers are to be no less than 1,500 words in length. Be sure to address the various elements that make up social theory, discussed in Chapter 1 of the textbook, such as levels of analysis. You should make sure that each paper provides an in-depth, original analysis rather than a superficial description of your topic and that it meets the length requirement.

Each paper will be graded according to the grading rubric posted in the Content Area of the course. Make sure you adhere to APA formatting rules. The papers will be graded on content as well as formatting.  Use only your textbook for these papers.  Cite it correctly and avoid plagiarism (i.e. all direct quotes must be in quotation marks). The three papers count for 28% of your final grade.


There are two exams, Midterm and Final in this course, and both are proctored. 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.

You have 2 (two) hours to finish the Midterm Exam and 2(two) hours to complete the Final Exam. Only one attempt is allowed per exam. The Midterm Exam, worth 100 points, will consist of five (5) long-answer questions over chapters 1-4, and count for 16% of your final grade. The Midterm Exam is due Sunday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 4.

The Final Exam, worth 200 points, will consist of five (4) long-answer questions over chapters 5-9, and twenty (20) multiple-choice questions, covering all of the major topics/theorists covered throughout the course, and will count for 31% of your final grade. The Final Exam is due Saturday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 8.

Thus, it is important that you read all the chapters completely and carefully because there might be questions on the final exam over material that is not covered in the discussions.

  Course Outline

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

Chapter 1
Introduction Discussion

Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic of our class Discussion, our "virtual classroom." Please give us more than your name. Include your profession, hobbies, interests, and any other information that can help us get to know you better.

Discussion 1

How was Comte’s approach to the study of society different from the philosophers who preceded him?

Why is positivism so central in producing knowledge about society?

Chapter 2
Discussion 2

What are system needs and how do they contribute to the proper functioning of society?

Discussion 3

What are the functions of social institutions? Why and how do social institutions emerge or disappear from society?

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 3
Discussion 4

In Marx’s theory, what is the relationship between commodification and industrialization?

What are the consequences for workers when they themselves become commodities?

Discussion 5

In Marx’s theory, how is life as a species-being different from life as an alienated industrial worker?

Paper Assignment 1

Compare and contrast Spencer's theory with Marx's theory of society. What are some similarities between Spencer and Marx's assumptions about society (e.g. in terms of ontology and levels of analysis)?

How are their views of human nature and society different (e.g. in terms of consensus vs. conflict)?

What are some differences in how they view capitalism?  How are their different views of society rooted in their different assumptions about society and social change?

Chapter 4
Discussion 6

Considering the information provided in chapter 4, how Durkheim see the relationship between religion and solidarity (i.e. how religion might be different under mechanical solidarity than under organic solidarity)?

Discussion 7

Considering the discussion of social facts, anomie, and the division of labor, how can it be said that anomie is a social fact?

How might one measure anomie?

Midterm Exam

This will have 5 long answer questions and covers Chapters 1-4. Only one attempt is allowed. This is for 100 points and allotted time is 2 hours. This should be completed by Sunday 11:59 pm CT.

Chapter 5
Discussion 8

According to Weber, how did the Protestant Reformation represent a process or rationalization?

Discussion 9

What type of authority is most prevalent in contemporary American society? Provide some examples.  To what extent are other types of authority present?

Paper Assignment 2

Compare and contrast Durkheim’s theory of religion with Weber’s theory of religion. What are some similarities in Durkheim and Weber’s observations about how religions evolve over time? How are their views of the role of religion in society different? How are their different views of religion rooted in their different assumptions about society and social change?

Chapter 6
Discussion 10

According to Mead, what is the relationship between language development and role taking?

Discussion 11

According to Simmel, how are people in cities different from people in rural areas?  What are the reasons for these differences?

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Chapter 7
Discussion 12

According to Martineau, how are women’s lives shaped by marriage? What might she think would happen if women had greater access to higher education (as they did, long after her death)?

Discussion 13

According to Gilman, what have been the impacts of women’s exclusion from the workforce? Why does she see this as detrimental to the evolution of society?

Paper Assignment 3

Compare and contrast Martineau’s theory of gender with Gilman’s theory of gender. What are some similarities in Martineau and Gilman’s observations about how gender shapes women’s lives? How are their views of the role of social institutions such as marriage, education, and religion different? How are their different views of gender rooted in their different assumptions about human nature and society?

Chapters 8 and 9 
Discussion 14

According to W. E. B. DuBois, why do African Americans have a double consciousness? How is this concept related to Douglass’ concept of race as other?

Discussion 15

According to Walter Benjamin, why is modern society characterized by a lack of authenticity? What are some examples of lack of authenticity in contemporary society (other than the ones mentioned in the textbook)?

Final Exam

This will have 4 long answer questions and 20 multiple choice questions. This covers Chapters 5-9. Only one attempt is allowed. This is for 200 points and allotted time is 2 hours. This should be completed by Saturday 11:59 pm CT.

  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.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, 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

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

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 Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. 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.