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Social Theory


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: Dr Margarita Palacios
  • Assessment: a 500-word presentation/overview (20%) and 2500-word essay (80%)

Module description

In this module we explore how social theory and the discipline of sociology help us understand inequality and difference as central aspects of the organisation of social life.

We will use readings from a range of authors to introduce some of the central debates around ideas of modernity and colonialism; knowledge and rationality; subjectivity and identity; social divisions and inequalities, globalisation and decolonisation, and normativities and the making of social majorities and minorities (class, gender and ethnicity), as they have emerged in social theory since the nineteenth century. We will take a socio-historical approach to the study of modernity, the modern subject, and inequality and difference, tracing historical changes, and paying attention to the importance of time, space, place and nation.

Indicative syllabus

  • Social theories from the global south
  • Exploring core concepts in and decolonising the ‘canon’ of Marx, Weber and Durkheim
  • Conceptions of the social or 'society' and their inclusive/exclusionary connotations
  • Processes of colonisation, racialisation and capitalism
  • Contemporary processes of migration and diaspora
  • Nationalisms, anti-nationalisms and counter movements

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand and differentiate between key traditions of social theory
  • demonstrate an understanding of core concepts in the field of study
  • show a deepened capacity for thinking critically about knowledge production and 'theory'.