Sociology 15 and 16 both satisfy the theory requirement for sociology majors at Dartmouth. Each course offers a window into some of the major themes and thinkers in the history of social thought, touching on diverse topics from the roots of social and political order, to conflict and inequality, to social networks and processes of human interaction. 

Through the critical analysis of original works students will learn:

-how social scientific arguments are constructed and how to evaluate them,

-how theoretical perspectives shape our understanding of contemporary social problems, and

-how the discipline of sociology has developed over time as scholars have examined these issues. 

Sociology 15 or 16?

Sociology 15 (Classics) concerns the rise of modern societies and institutions through the lens of seminal nineteenth and twentieth-century thinkers including Weber, Marx, Durkheim and Simmel.

Sociology 16 (Constructing Social Theory) examines theoretical developments since World War II, including the work of Habermas, Goffman, Collins and Giddens, and how these theories help us understand current controversies and shape empirical research today.

Both courses are well-suited for majors in their second or third year or for any student interested in engaging explanations of how the social world works.

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ORC Description

15. Sociological Classics

course syllabus

This course introduces and criticizes the work of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber, three seminal writers whose ideas are still of enormous significance in shaping perspective and framing terms of argument among many major contemporary social and political thinkers. Among specific subjects to be covered are the following: class and class conflict; culture and ideology; forms and symbols of social solidarity; and questions of how shared ideals or divisive interests affect not just the study of human society, but the course of history itself. Prerequisite:  Sociology 1 or 2, or permission of the instructor. Dist: TMV. Dixon.

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ORC Description

16. Constructing Social Theory

Course Syllabus

This course offers an introduction to the sociological theories developed in the late twentieth century. Focusing on the works of Erving Goffman, Pierre Bourdieu, and Michele Foucault, as well critical race theory, postcolonial theory, and intersectionality, this course traces how sociology as a discipline produced concepts and frameworks to account for crucial issues of our time. Through these theories, we will examine micro-interaction and impression management; culture and reproduction of inequality; discipline and power over bodies; and the question of voice and positionality. Rather than treating social theory as a set of abstractions removed from reality, this course presents them as products of social construction, and situates them firmly within their contexts of development as well as the biographies of theorists. By taking this course, students will learn a) what contemporary social theory entails; b) how to read and critically engage with theoretical texts; and c) how to apply abstract concepts across different contexts. Prerequisite: Sociology 1 or 2, or permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC.


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