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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

Module Aims

- 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, Anthropology, Criminology, Psychological Studies) - Develop skills in theoretical discussion, analysis, critique and language

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Knowledge and understanding of how selected social theories are developed, debated and deployed.
  • Evaluate the relationship between argument and evidence in theoretical work.
  • How selected social theories contribute to debates in the social sciences and how they inform other theoretical and empirical work
  • How theoretical frameworks relate to research questions.
  • How to read and critique the work of selected major social theorists.
  • Make coherent theoretical arguments.
  • Analyse and compare theoretical concepts and logic.
  • 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.


Block 1 Introduction and Classics A review of the classical canon e.g. Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel; feminist critiques; the role of theory in social analysis. Block 2: Social Change and the Problem of Units of Macro -Social Analysis Topics/ Concepts: Community and Society e.g. Tonnies, Parsons, Bauman, Beck; the question of society and the concepts of flow, mobility and liquidity; the problems of ‘macro-analysis’ in social theory. Block 3 Micro- social analysis and its problems Symbolic Interactionism; Phenonmenology; Social constructionism –the work of e.g. Mead; Becker; Faulkner; Schutz, Berger, Luckmann, Parsons. Block 4: Topics We will examine in detail two topics from the list below and look at their theoretical arguments and how these arguments inform research within the sub-fields of criminology, anthropology, psychological studies, and sociology. Topics: Body, Subject, Power, Language, Culture. Block 5: Relation of Theory to Researching Social Worlds.

Learning and Teaching

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) 38%
Exam  (2 hours) 58%
Seminar Participation 4%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: SOCI1014

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