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Бакалаврская программа «Социология и социальная информатика»

Sociological Theory

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс обязательный
Когда читается:
2-й курс, 1, 2 модуль


Course Syllabus


The course lasts for three years. The second year introduces students to two main aspects of sociological theory: theory as a special way of thinking, and social theory as a tool for solving certain sociological problems. Classes focus on two fundamental issues: How is the society possible (what is the nature of social)? How is the knowledge about the social possible? The logic of the course and its structure are defined by the variety of answers for the questions about the conditions of formation, maintaining and reconfiguration/ destruction of the samples of social organization, and about the possible ways to analyze these processes suggested by sociology. We start from the very basic elements of explanation of social action and then proceed to understanding the nature of causal explanations in social science.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • understand the complexity of social systems and gain ability of critical thinking on social issues in light of the key concepts underlying major sociological theories
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to use sociological theory for development of sociological research design, be able to differentiate social actions and social behavior, explain social actions through social mechanisms, understand the link between micro-actions and macro-outcomes, generate simple middle-range theories, develop academic skills in reading, writing, and presentation.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction. Social Facts.
    Objects of the sociological study: individuals, groups, communities. Examples: marriage and family, health and illness, suicide. Social fact by Durkheim.
  • Nature of social explanation. Theories of the middle range
    What is analytical sociology about? What means to give an explanation? Types of bad explanations. Types of good explanations. Theories of the middle range vs grand theories. Middle range theories and social explanations.
  • Process of instantiation. Concepts and nomological networks
    The Process of Instantiation. Shared Meaning, Surplus Meaning, and Nomological Networks. Practical Strategies for Specifying Conceptual Definitions. Multidimensional Constructs. Creating Constructs. An Example of Specifying Conceptual Definitions. Operationism.
  • Thought experiments in social science. The nature of relationships
    Thought Experiments for Relationships in Grounded and Emergent Theory. Describing Relationships with Different Types of Variables. Thought Experiments for Relationships between Categorical Variables. Thought Experiments for Relationships between Quantitative Variables. Thought Experiments for Relationships between Categorical and Quantitative Variables. Thought Experiments for Moderated Relationships. Broader Uses of Hypothetical Factorial Designs in Thought Experiments
  • Causal relations. Defining causality
    Two Types of Relationships: Predictive and Causal. Causality and Grounded/Emergent Theory Types of Causal Relationships. Constructing Theories with Causal Relationships. Identifying Outcome Variables. Identifying Direct Causes. Indirect Causal Relationships. Moderated Causal Relationships. Reciprocal or Bidirectional Causality. Spurious Relationships. Unanalyzed Relationships. Expanding the Theory Further. Perspectives on the Construction of Causal Theories
  • Developing causal diagrams from scratch
    A practical class on the application of all the knowledge gained in the previous classes. Students have to develop and present their own causal models and middle-range theories for a given case.
  • Role of emotions in (rational) choice
    Rational choice and emotional choice. Do emotions have direct impact on action? The impact of emotion on substantive preferences. The impact of emotion on formal preferences. The impact of emotion on belief formation and information-gathering.
  • Nature and role of beliefs
    The role of categorization in belief formation. The role of inductive reasoning in belief formation. Analogism. The role of social influence in belief formation. Dissonance and consistency-seeking.
  • Preferences (desires)
    What are preferences? Preference and personality. Who has preferences? Preference formation and change. Urgency and impatience.
  • Opportunity structure
    Opportunity in choices. Opportunity and inequality: preferences and talents. Career opportunities for employees: rigid opportunity structure. Opportunity hoarding: expansion and restriction of opportunities. Legal restrictions.
  • Social norms
    Norms and action. Social and moral norms, quasi-moral norms, legal norms, conventions. How do social norms operate? Work norms, tipping norms, queueing norms, fairness norms and political norms. Role of the emotions of contempt (or indignation) and shame. Social norms mediating the influence of emotion on behavior.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Activities in class
  • non-blocking Hometasks
  • non-blocking Tests
  • non-blocking Final exam 2nd year
  • non-blocking Midterm exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.1 * Activities in class + 0.3 * Hometasks + 0.3 * Midterm exam + 0.3 * Tests
  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.1 * Activities in class + 0.2 * Final exam 2nd year + 0.3 * Hometasks + 0.1 * Interim assessment (1 module) + 0.3 * Tests


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Manzo, G. (2014). Analytical Sociology : Actions and Networks. Hoboken: Wiley. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=714658

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Abrutyn, S. (2016). Handbook of Contemporary Sociological Theory. Switzerland: Springer. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1251393
  • Segre, S. (2014). Contemporary Sociological Thinkers and Theories. Farnham, Surrey: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=797017
  • Sloman, S. A. (2005). Causal Models : How People Think About the World and Its Alternatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=552942