This is a class about social theory. The majority of the course will focus on classical works in social theory originating in the 19th century and continuing to impact theory and empirical studies today. Contemporary theories will also be engaged in the class.
What is social theory? Kivisto (2013, p. xxi), among others, describes it as: “tools of analysis,” “lenses into aspects of social reality,” “interpretive,” about social structures and/or about the agency of social actors in cultural milieus. Many contemporary social theorists refer to social theory pluralistically, as having knowledge that is contested in attempts to make sense of social reality through multiple paradigms with non-singular visions and traditions (e.g. Seidman 2013; Levine 1995; Ritzer 1975). Some (e.g. Goffman 1982) think that social theory should have practical value in being applied to solve social puzzles. Others do not necessarily. All this and more will be discussed in reading the works of original social theorists as compiled by Kivisto (2013).