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The University of Southampton

SOCI2031 Social Theory

Module Overview

This module will look at some of the key terms, issues and debates within social theory. Key terms and concepts will be introduced via selected theories, theoretical issues and the ideas of specific writers who have attempted to explain social phenomena, and in so doing have contributed to the development of languages of inquiry and analysis of social worlds.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and outline the principal theoretical approaches and key theoretical concepts used in the social theoretical examination of social life.
  • Analyse the contributions made by these approaches to debates concerning the nature of social worlds and the social and cultural phenomena that occur in them.
  • Critically evaluate the contributions made by selected social theories to our understanding of social life
  • Develop understanding of the theoretical frameworks that inform work in the social science disciplines (Sociology and Anthropology, but also Criminology)
  • Write and develop theoretical arguments and positions.
  • Deal more effectively with abstract concepts and theoretical debates.
  • Analyse arguments and make judgements about their theoretical consistency.
  • Evaluate the relationship between argument and evidence in theoretical work.


Block 1 Introduction and Macro Social Theories (functionalism, Parsons, Malinowski). Block 2: Micro- social analysis and its problems Symbolic Interactionism; Phenonmenology; Social constructionism –the work of e.g. Mead; Becker; Faulkner; Schutz, Berger, Luckmann, Parsons. Block 3: Applied Social Theory. We will examine in detail a series of theories to explain current social phenomena and how theoretical arguments inform research within the sub-fields of criminology, anthropology, psychological studies, and sociology. Topics: Body, Power, Communication, Gender, Speciesism, Consumption.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

- Lectures - Seminar work (short quiz, discussion group, peer formative assessment).

Independent Study124
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Crow, G (2005). The Art of Sociological Argument. 

May, Y & Powell, J (2008). Situating Social Theory. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 55%
Essay  ( words) 35%
Seminar Participation 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: SOCI1014

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