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The University of Southampton

SOCI6043 Understanding Social Change

Module Overview

The module will address technological and demographic changes and related risks, the actors and structures that contribute and respond to social change and how it is theorised in contemporary sociology. Processes as well as impact of social change at the individual, organisational, national and transnational levels will be addressed. In each section, ‘micro’ as well as ‘macro’ sociological issues will be taken up, as well as attention paid to methodological issues in preparation for the dissertation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • A knowledge of forms of diversity and division within society;
  • An understanding of a range of concepts within contemporary sociology
  • An ability to demonstrate how these concepts may be utilised in specific research contexts, identifying the benefits and problems which may arise from doing so
  • An ability to analyse and evaluate research critically
  • An ability to apply these considerations to students’ own research plans and objectives. This will involve exploring and developing key concepts, demonstrating their linkage to methodological considerations and evaluating their utility in the proposed research context


1. Introduction: Causes and types of social change and how these are addressed in contemporary sociology 2. Progress and Risk: scientific and technological progress, environmental risks, and how these are theorized (e.g. risk society). 3. Power and empowerment : actors, spheres, structures and processes of exercising and resisting power (e.g. state, social movements, civil society) 4. Production, Reproduction and Consumption: the nexus of paid and un-paid labour, private and public spheres and changing structures of work (e.g. manufacturing, service and care work) and the impact of new technologies (e.g. tele-commuting) 5. Intersecting inequalities –how various aspects of domination and subordination (e.g. race, class, gender, sexuality, age, disability) are interrelated 6. Mobilities –political, economic and cultural dimensions of globalisation, transnational migration and identities.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods


Independent Study130
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Ritzer, G and Smart, B (2001). Handbook of Social Theory. 

Steven Seidman (2004). Contested Knowledge. Social Theory Today. 

Craig Calhoun, Joseph Gerteis, James Moody, Steven Pfaff and Indermohan Virk (eds.) (2002). Contemporary Sociological Theory. 

Reading List. The unit will draw on contemporary journal articles and books, research publications, web sites, and other sources of related information

Connell, Raewyn (2006). Southern Theory. The global dynamics of knowledge in Social Science.. 

Elliott, Anthony (ed.) (1999). The Blackwell Reader in Contemporary Social Theory. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 40%
Essay  ( words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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