Introduction to Social Theory

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
SOCI 2235
Introduction to Social Theory
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following: formal lectures, class discussions. Audio-visual aids will be introduced when appropriate.

Course Description
An examination of the development of various sociological theories and their relevance to the present, within the sociological discipline, in social institutions and processes, and in everyday life. The evolution of conflict, functionalist, interactionist, structural and emerging theoretical approaches will be examined and compared.
Course Content

  1. Introduction:  the aims of sociology, the role of theory.
  2. The emergence of sociology as a discipline, concerns about social order and conflict, and the ideas of Social Darwinism will be examined in light of historic conditions.
  3. The social integration model will be examined in light of historic conditions.  Emile Durkheim - social facts, the division of labour, sociology of religion, anomie, suicide.
  4. The conflict model:  Karl Marx - dialectical and historical materialism, analysis of social class.
  5. Max Weber:  the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, concepts of charisma, power and bureaucracy value-free sociology.
  6. The Structural Functionalists:  the integration or consensus model of society.      
  7. Conflict theorists:  conflict models of society as an alternative to functionalism.
  8. Systems and structuration theories.
  9. The Symbolic-Interactionist approach.
  10. Emerging theory:  Feminism, State, Dependency, and World Systems Theories.
  11. Application of theories to contemporary issues and social changes.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Provide a clear understanding of the role of theorizing in the overall work of the sociologist.
  2. Demonstrate a broad familiarity with the main lines of theoretical development in the history of sociology, as preparation for further study in social science.
  3. Discuss an understanding of the ways in which theoretical approaches may be applied to present day social issues and social changes.
  4. Identify the characteristics of different theoretical approaches.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of comparisons and contrasts among different theoretical approaches.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

Three Exams  60%
Research Outline   5%
Term Paper Assignment  25%
Class Participation  10%
Total 100%
Textbook Materials

Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:

  • Allan, K. (2010). The Social Lens: An Invitation to Social and Sociological Theory (2nd Ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.
  • Applerouth, S. and L. Desfor Edles (2008).  Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory. London: Sage Publications.