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Plan II Honors

S S 302C • Hon Soc Sci:methods/Theory

42679 • Schooler, Lawrence
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM PAR 101
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Drawing on primary sources, this seminar introduces social theory as the systematic investigation of social life: how society is organized, continually transforms itself, is sometimes beset by conflict, and is also affected by the behavior of its individual members.

Topics in classical theory include how individuals are tied to groups (Adam Smith), social equality in democratic societies (Tocqueville), how social structure influences knowledge (Marx), individuals as influenced by the social collective (Durkheim), society as influenced by individual actors (Weber), how social structure influences even intimate relationships (Simmel), mass deception and manipulation through modern culture (Horkheimer and Adorno), the integration of diverse spheres of any individual’s life as a project for society (Parsons), and the relationship between the individual’s purposes and the needs of society (Merton).

Topics in contemporary theory include how rituals bind us together (Collins), the nature of social cooperation and trust (Cook, Hardin, Levi), power and inequality (Tilly), the social consequences of economic structure (Granovetter), the phenomenon of racial difference (Patterson), the politics of sexual difference (Smith), the peculiar quality of our Western modernity (Elias; Giddens), the transformation of the nation state (Sassen), the modern scholar (with implications for the modern student, i.e., you) (Bourdieu), and the dangers of economic and bureaucratic imperatives (Habermas). Each session combines lecture as well as student-centered, student-initiated discussion.


Classical Sociological Theory, 3rd ed. 2012, and Contemporary Sociological Theory, both 3rd ed. 2012. Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, Virk, eds. Wiley-Blackwell ● “Value Package” for both volumes combined: ISBN 9781118438725


  • Attendance: Required. A student's course grade decreases by one-half letter grade for each unexcused absence beyond four absences that need no excuse (students remain responsible for everything said in all lectures). Attendance is taken only once each class period. A student is present if he or she responds when I call his or her name during roll call. The relevant category is present/absent not on-time/late.

Evaluation: The final grade is the average of the grades of four essays (adjusted for class participation, as warranted), each 4 to 5 pages in length. No late essays accepted. Grades: A = 4.00, A- = 3.67, B+ = 3.33, B = 3.00, B- = 2.67, C+ = 2.33, C = 2.00, C- = 1.67, D+ = 1.33, D = 1.00, D- = 0.67, F = 0.00. Pluses or minuses, as warranted.

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  • Plan II Honors Program

    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    RLP 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250