Modern Social Theory
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Department: Social Sciences
Course Number: NSOC 3102
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
What holds societies together? When do they break down into conflict? What drives social change? Are there rules that govern human interaction? This course examines some of the Big Ideas about society, how those ideas came about, and how we can use them to understand concrete social problems. In the first part of the course, we look at how the classical thinkers Adam Smith, Auguste Comte, and Herbert Spencer grappled with ideas about progress and social change. In the second part, we focus on efforts by four seminal writers--Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel--to understand the development of capitalism and its implications for modern societies. Throughout the course, different theoretical traditions are presented as tool kits with which to examine historical and contemporary social issues.