This module focuses on how social theorists have tried to address particular questions and problems in the social world. What conceptual tools have they developed to help us understand various dimensions of our world from the 19th century through to the present day? On this module we take a journey through 10 of the problems or questions that have tested the thinking of theorists and philosophers for over a century - problems such as the nature of the self, the structure /agency debate, the meaning of the body and physical embodiment, the operation of institutions - material and virtual, questions about the nature and role of culture, the divisions of labour, and the operation of the digital world. We pick out and explore particular theorists and focus in on the conceptual tools they developed and the solutions they propose. The aim is not to provide a comprehensive account of any one topic or any one theorist– quite the opposite. The aim is to show the diversity of approaches and conceptual frameworks that social theorists have developed to address a specific question – and the underlying ontologies and epistemologies that underpin them. We draw on theories from across the theoretical landscape from classical, to modern and post Modern, and capture a range of broad debates and paradigms from critical theory to feminist theory to post-colonial theory. In the process we use comparison and contrast and the application of conceptual tools to provide a critical understanding of theoretical ideas and tools
Each lecture explores a specific problem or question and draws on the work of a small number of key theorists and their concept tools and approaches to illustrate the different debates. By comparing different approaches to a particular question, we can begin to critique theoretical ideas. Weekly interactive seminars provide a space to explore these ideas and their application and look at the development of theory.