Sociology 200


Fall 2003
Mr. Imber
PNE 335
Phone: 283-2139
Office Hours: T: 9-9:45, F: 9-9:45 and by appointment

There are two, often competing, objectives to teaching and learning sociological theory:
(1) It is necessary to cover considerable ground, in terms of history, biography, and concepts; and (2) It is essential to pay close attention to primary texts, without which the history, biography and concepts would make no lasting impression. In order to achieve both objectives, this course will undertake an intensive review of the times, figures, and ideas that form the basis to theorizing sociologically. We will examine several texts intensively in order to see what each theorist was trying to grasp and understand. You will have the opportunity to write two kinds of papers during the course. One type will call for straightforward accounts of what you learn about these theorists, their theories, and the times in which they theorized. The other type will call for the unpacking of specific passages in a theorist's work, in order to link those passages and that work with present reality.

Coser, Lewis A. Masters of Sociological Thought (2nd ed.)
Coser, Lewis A., and Bernard Rosenberg, eds. Sociological Theory: A Book of Readings
Marx, Karl & F. Engels The Communist Manifesto
Simmel, Georg Conflict and the Web of Group Affiliations
Weber, Max The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Examinations: All examinations are open-book.
A. MIDTERM EXAM (one hour, short answer questions on lectures and readings): Distributed October 10, Due October 17.
B. FINAL PAPER (in form of a Take-Home Exam): Due at the end of exam period. (Distributed at the last class.)

Papers: (All written assignments must be typewritten, between 5 and 8 pages. Use bold, dark, clear ribbon or cartridge; no spelling errors - all late assignments will be penalized.
1. Focusing on Comte, Spencer, and Marx, compare their different assumptions about human nature and the nature of society. DUE: September 26.
2. Summary of theories of either Cooley and Mead, or Masaryk and Mannheim DUE: Before November 25.
3. Select either PAPER A, B or C
PAPER A: Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: An Analysis
PAPER B: Comparison of Four Special Readings on Spencer, Durkheim, Weber, and Mannheim
PAPER C: The African-American Perspective in Sociological Theory: Classical Roots
DUE: December 9.

These assignments will be discussed further in class. All assignments handed in late will be penalized.


September 2: Explanation of objectives of the course. What is sociological theory?

Part One: Classical Pursuits: Evolution, Revolution, and Progress

September 5: The Origins of Sociology
*In Coser, "Auguste Comte"
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "Population Increase and the Law of Three Stages," pp. 521-524.

September 9: Herbert Spencer's Evolution
*In Coser, "Herbert Spencer"
*In Coser and Rosenberg:
"Social Structure and Social Function," pp. 466-471.
"Progress: Its Law and Cause," pp. 526-533.
*Special Reading: T.S. Gray, "Herbert Spencer on Women: A Study in Personal and Political Disillusion".

September 12: Comte and Spencer: Why Do They Represent the Origins of Sociology?

September 16: Marx and the History of All Hitherto Existing Society
*Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto
*In Coser, "Karl Marx"

September 19: Alienation: Theology/Sociology/Psychology
*Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, concluded.
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "The Notion of Alienation," pp. 370-374.
*Isaiah Berlin, "Marxism and the International in the Nineteenth Century," section II, in The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History (London: Chatto and Windus, 1996), pp. 130-139.

September 23: The Moral Imperatives of Society: Durkheim
*In Coser, "Emile Durkheim"
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "The Internalization of Social Control I," pp. 88-97.

September 24: Suicide and Solidarity: Durkheim
*In Coser and Rosenberg:
"Suicide and Social Cohesion," pp. 164-172.
"The Normality of Crime," pp. 431-437. 

September 26: FIRST PAPER DUE

September 30: Social Disorganization: Alienation and Anomie
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "Anomie and Suicide," pp. 388-397.
*Special Reading: Guenther Roth, "Durkheim and the Principles of 1789: The Issue of Gender Equality."

October 3: General, Formal, and Philosophical Sociology: Georg Simmel
*In Coser, "Georg Simmel"
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "The Dyad and the Triad," pp. 45-53.
Ellen Tien, "Barefoot on Elizabeth Street." (NYT 5/28/00) ("The Jewel")

October 7: Group Affiliation and Stratification
*Georg Simmel, "The Web of Group Affiliations"

October 10: Simmel, concluded.
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "The Stranger," pp. 488-493.


Part Two: Modernity as the Central Subject of Social Theory

October 17: Max Weber on Interpreting Social Action
*In Coser, "Max Weber"
*In Coser and Rosenberg:
"Social Action and Social Interaction," pp. 53-58.
"Subjective Meaning in the Social Situation I," pp. 191-203.

October 21: Authority, Bureaucracy, and Rationalization
*In Coser and Rosenberg:
"Types of Authority," pp. 120-125.
"Class and Status," pp. 301-307.
"Characteristics of Bureaucracy," pp. 327-334.

October 24: Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
*Weber, Protestant Ethic, "Author's Introduction" and Part I.

October 28: Weber, concluded.
*Weber, Protestant Ethic, Part II.
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "Some Consequences of Bureaucratization," pp. 334-335.
*Special Reading: Guenther Roth, "Marianne Weber and Her Circle" 

Part Three: Theoretical Trends: Optimism, Pessimism, and Empirical Reality

October 31: Freud and the Limits of Human Nature
*In Ashley and Orenstein, Sigmund Freud, pp. 289-319. (hand-out)

November 7: The Problem of Psychology for Sociology: Is There a Human Nature?
*In Coser, "Charles Horton Cooley"
*In Coser and Rosenberg: Dennis Wrong, "The Oversocialized Conception of Man in Modern Sociology," pp. 104-113.

November 11: The Early Optimism of American Sociology: Progressivism and Pragmatism
*In Coser, "Charles Horton Cooley"
*In Coser, "George Herbert Mead"
*In Coser and Rosenberg:
"Play, the Game, and the Generalized Other," pp. 222-231.
"The Internalization of Social Control, II", pp. 93-97.

November 14: Ethnography and the Definition of the Situation
*In Coser, "W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki"
*In Coser and Rosenberg, "The Definition of the Situation," pp. 189-191.

November 18: Warnings from Abroad: Theoretical Origins of Critiques of Marxism
*Thomas Masaryk, "Sentences" (packet on Masaryk distributed in class)

November 21: The Reconstruction of Society
*In Coser, "Karl Mannheim"
*Special Reading: David Kettler and Volker Meja, "Their ‘Own Peculiar Way’: Karl Mannheim and the Rise of Women" 


Part Four: Defining the Canon: African-American Sociological Theory: W.E.B. Dubois and Kelly Miller

November 25: Double-Consciousness vs. Class Consciousness vs. Individual Consciousness, etc.
*W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, ch. 1, "Our Spiritual Strivings."

December 2: Du Bois on Sociological Theory: Imagining "Sociological Hesitant"
W.E.B. Du Bois, "Sociology Hesitant" (Distributed in class)
*W.E.B. Du Bois, "Mr. Sorokin’s Systems," in The Journal of Modern History (1942) 14:500-521. (Distributed in class)
*W.E.B. Du Bois, Review of Robert Austin Warner, New Haven Negroes: A Social History, in American Historical Review, 47:376- 77 (January, 1942).

December 5: The Dignity of Protest: Radicals and Conservatives
Kelly Miller, "Radicals and Conservatives."

December 9: Review

Papers A, B or C due

Take-Home Final Distributed in Class

Important Dates:
September 26: First Paper Due
October 10/17: Midterm Exam
November 26: Second Paper Due
December 9: Papers A, B or C Due

How to Write a Paper that Compares and Contrasts Comte, Spencer, and Marx

Comte Spencer Marx
Who rules?    
  What is progress?  
    When does history end?
How does change occur?    
  What is regressive social change?  
    What class is most revolutionary?
Knowledge is power Society as organism Materialist conception of history
How is Comte conservative?    
  How is Spencer libertarian?  
    How is Marx conservative?
statics/dynamics laissez faire/evolution revolutions means/mode of production
Religion of Humanity Industrial Society Communism/end of alienation

Sociology 200

Thoughts on the Third Written Assignment: DUE: December 9.

I would like to have the opportunity to talk to each one of you individually about what you plan to write about. Obviously it would help if you think NOW about which paper you would like to write. I urge you to plan to see me.

Select either PAPER A, B or C

PAPER A: Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: An Analysis

The main purpose of this assignment is to reiterate in your own words, with appropriate citations in Weber, the main arguments of the book. I am particularly interested in your addressing how Weber’s arguments fit or do not fit with the arguments and perspectives of the earlier theorists, including Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, and Simmel. Obviously, you are not obliged to refer to all these theorists, only those you believe are most relevant as collaborations of or counterpoints to Weber's thesis.

PAPER B: Comparison of Four Special Readings on Spencer, Durkheim, Simmel, Weber, and Mannheim

In this paper, you must first read the four readings and then, in conjunction with Coser's presentation of them, you should draw comparisons and contrasts between what the special readings say, and what Coser says. You will find that you may rely more on Coser's presentations of "The Man" section to each of his chapters - but you decide what is most interesting to do. The focus is not only on "gender" but also on women in and around sociology.

PAPER C: The African-American Perspective in Sociological Theory: Classical Roots

As in the case of PAPER B, you must focus on the readings by and about Du Bois and Miller. It is very important that you try to establish in your paper how these readings coincide with and diverge from the contributions of the other theorists, including all of those we will have read (or read about) in the class.