ANSO 305(F) Social Theory

An introduction to social theory in anthropology and sociology, with strong emphasis on enduring works by major thinkers-Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Freud, among others-who have shaped views of society in the West and beyond. Several key questions inform exploration of these works: What are the historical roots and principal attributes of modernity? From the perspective of modernity, how do social theorists understand "the primitive"? Do society and culture have organizing rules? What role does human agency play in the unfolding of social life? What are the possibilities and limits of scientific approaches to the study of human social experience? In considering such questions, we will reconstruct the intellectual and social histories of both disciplines, examining in particular how they abandoned common ground and language, with sociologists gravitating toward paradigms of scientific predictability and anthropologists toward relativistic frameworks of interpretation. Finally, we will examine the migration of ideas from anthropology and sociology to other disciplines and back again. The course emphasizes major differences between interpretive frameworks as well as common elements that contribute to a deeper understanding of the social world.
Format: seminar. Requirements: three 5- to 7-page essays.
Prerequisites: Anthropology 101 or Sociology 101 and ANSO 205 or permission of instructor. Enrollment limit: 25 (expected: 15).