SOC07016 2022 Contemporary Sociological Theory 1

General Details

Full Title
Contemporary Sociological Theory 1
Transcript Title
Contemp Sociological Theory 1
80 %
Subject Area
SOC - Sociology
SOCS - Social Sciences
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2022 - Full Academic Year 2022-23
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Susan McDonnell, Breda McTaggart, Karin White, Brenda Feeney, Ailise McDowell, Gwen Scarbrough
Programme Membership
SG_HJOIN_H08 202200 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Sociology and Politics

Part one of this two part module sets out to trace the development of the main theoretical approaches within the sociological tradition. During the semester, students will analyse the context in which these theories have developed, how the theories have been used, the key debates surrounding the theories, and the influences they have had on the development of later theories. Over the course of the module students will have the opportunity to examine cultural and structural explanations of empirical phenomena and understand how sociological theory is employed in empirical research.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Outline the development of contemporary sociological theory


Discuss how contemporary sociological theories have been used within the field of sociology


Examine the key debates surrounding the theories


Identify the influences they have had on the development of later theories


Describe how sociological theory is employed in empirical research

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Students will be supported to learn though the development of a dedicated Moodle page, lectures and peer and lecturer-led discussions in tutorials. There will be a strong emphasis on group work, interaction with the lecturer, research and sharing of insights with fellow students. Students will engage in discussion and debate centered around key themes. Seminars and guest speakers will provide additional learning opportunities.

Module Assessment Strategies

The module will be assessed using Continuous Assessment (100%)

Assessment 1/Reading Circle: Students will present, lead and participate in discussions on reading material introduced in the module. Each student will be assigned one week to lead a discussion during the semester beginning in week 4 (20%)

Assessment 2/Project: Students will be asked to develop a project that explores key issues in Sociological theory. The project will include research and development, participation in classroom based activities, a written component and a presentation at the end of the semester (80%).

Repeat Assessments

Should a student fail the module they will be required to resubmit on the failed component(s) as per guidelines and recommendations set out by the exam board.

Indicative Syllabus

1. The development of contemporary sociological theory

  • The social/cultural context and the emergence of sociological thought
  • What is sociological theory? Understanding 'big ideas'
  • The major schools of sociological theory, part 1
    • The foundations of sociological theory and their influence on the discipline of sociology/contemporary applications:
      • Structural-functionalism: macro-sociology, social structure and anomie (Durkheim, Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown, etc.) & neo-functionalism
      • Conflict theory: power and inequality/conflict and order (Marx, Weber, Dahrendorf, C. Wright Mills, etc.)
    • Symbolic Interactionism: Goffman's "The Presentation of the Self in the Everyday" (Goffman, the Chicago School, George Herbert Mead, etc.)
    • Phenomenology: Meaning, materiality and lebenswelt ("Life-world") (Alfred Schütz, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, etc.)

2. How contemporary sociological theories have been used within the field of sociology

  • Analysis of sociological themes and theory building: exploitation and oppression, alienation, stratification/mobility, social change, the individual in society, etc.
  • Sociological theory and social action

3. The key debates surrounding the theories

  • Macro/micro; institutions and networks; power and inequality, etc.
  • Current controversies in theoretical sociology

4. The influences of sociological theory on the development of later theories

  • Mapping sociological theories
  • Emerging themes in sociology: race, gender, difference and inequality; micro/macro integration; theoretical synthesis 

5. How sociological theory is employed in empirical research

  • Theoretical developments and empirical research
  • The impact of theories on methodological foundations in analytical sociology (Merton)

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Student led discussion/presentation Coursework Assessment Assessment 20 % OnGoing 1,3,4
2 Theory and practice Project Individual Project 80 % End of Semester 2,3,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Flat Classroom Lecture 2 Weekly 2.00
Workshop / Seminar Flat Classroom Seminar/Tutorial 1 Weekly 1.00
Independent Learning Not Specified Self-directed learning 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2013-03-01 Sociological Theory McGraw-Hill Education
ISBN 0078027012 ISBN-13 9780078027017

The ninth edition of Sociological Theory by George Ritzer gives readers a comprehensive overview of the major theorists and schools of sociological thought. Key theories are integrated with biographical sketches of theorists, and are placed in their historical and intellectual context. Written by one of the foremost authorities on sociological theory, this text helps students better understand the original works of classical and modern theorists, and enables them to compare and contrast the latest substantive concepts.

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Appelrouth, S. Desfor Edles, L. (2008) Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory: Text and Readings. New York: Pine Forge Press.

Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903) The Souls of Black Folks (pp. 1-45, 55-67, 83-89, 115-131). Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

Giddens, Anthony (1972) Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Goffman, Irving (1959/1990) Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. NY: Penguin.

Marx, Karl and T. B. Bottomore (ed) (1964) Selected Writings In Sociology and Social Philosophy. NY: McGraw-Hill Book.

Mead, G. H. (1967) "The Point of View of Social Behaviorism" and "The Self" In C. W. Morris (Ed.), Mind, Self, & Society . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Merton, Robert K. (1957) "Social Structure and Anomie," Ch. 6 in Social Theory and Social Structure, p. 131-160.

Mills, C. W. (2000). The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

L. H. Mayhew (Ed.) (1985) Talcott Parsons on institutions and social evolution: selected writings. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Schutz, A. (1967). The Phenomenology of the Social World. Evanston Northwestern University Press.

Simmel, G. (1972). “How is Society Possible”, “The Problem of Sociology”, “Conflict”, “Sociability”, “Group Expansion and the Development of Individuality”, “The Stranger” and “The Metropolis and Mental Life. In D. N. Levine (Ed.), On Individuality and Social Forms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Journal Resources
URL Resources
Other Resources
Additional Information