SOC 607  Homepage
Instructor Carl W. Roberts

Classes meet Monday 3:40-5:00 p.m.

Wednesday 12:30-1:50 p.m.

   113 East Hall
This is a graduate-level seminar on developments in sociological theory during the 20th and 21st centuries.  Each week we shall discuss three theorists with fundamental similarities in their understandings of social order.  During the seminar we shall make explicit both the common mechanisms that underlie their theories, and the ways that each builds on the ideas of others.  As the semester proceeds, we shall spend increasing time contrasting the week's theorists with those discussed during previous weeks.

All readings for the course (approximately 20-70 pages per theorist) will be available from the web page accessed via the above "Readingspage" link.  These readings will be posted at least one week prior to the seminar during which they are to form the basis of discussion.  (Please check the Readingspage frequently, and do not read too far ahead.  Readings may change during the course of the semester!)  Also, note that on the Readingspage there are links to pdf files with short introductions to each reading.

During the semester's last 3 weeks (i.e., during seminars on April 13-15, April 20-22, and April 27-29), readings will be ones selected by students.  Please be prepared to provide the instructor with an unmarked photocopy of a single article on or before one of the following corresponding dates: April 3, April 10, or April 17.  In choosing this article, please do NOT look for something you believe will be of interest to your classmates!  Instead, you should choose a theoretical piece that is central to the theoretical argument of your term paper, but one which you are struggling to comprehend.  The idea here is that insights gained during these seminars might be used to strengthen your term paper as the semester draws to a close.

Notes on Readings
At the beginning of seminars when a new set of readings are about to be discussed, responsibility will be divided among three students for preparing "synthetic notes" for the next set of readings.  These notes are to be e-mailed to the instructor ( before 5:00 p.m. on the day (generally, Sunday) immediately prior to the first seminar that covers the notes' readings.  (See the "Notespage" [via the above link] for more information on notes' contents.)  I shall ensure that these notes are posted on the Notespage prior to 6:00 p.m. on these days.  Everyone should come to class with a copy of all notes posted about the theorists to be discussed that day.  During the seminar each of the 3 students will be responsible for synthesizing and leading discussion on 1 of these readings.  These presentations should be developed around handouts to be distributed to everyone in class (preferably as part of the notes previously posted) and to be comprised of sketches (graphics are encouraged, but avoid clip-art or fotos) or tables in which the key ideas in the reading are integrated in a concise way.  Presentations should give your synthesis of the author's position (i.e., a depiction of the author's ideas as a system).  Do NOT summarize readings linearly (i.e., in the sequence provided by the author).  Since everyone has read (linearly) the author's words, such summaries would be repetitive and would waste precious time in class.  Moreover, please note that EVERYONE should have studied all three readings prior to their discussion.  Only if everyone comes to seminars prepared, shall we all enjoy (and learn from) an informed discussion, right?

A second type of notes consists of 1-2 pages of comparisons & contrasts among the theorists being discussed that week (plus other theorists whom we have discussed previously).  Everyone is involved in writing these comparisons & contrasts for every set of theorists we cover.  These comparison & contrast notes are to be written jointly by you and one other classmate, and e-mailed to the instructor before 5:00 p.m. on the day (generally, Tuesday) immediately prior to the second seminar that covers the notes' readings.  This second set of notes helps me ensure that any apparent misreadings of the theorists are discussed before we move on to the next set of theorists.  More information on class notes can be found via the above "Notespage" link.

During the first week of classes you should find a "partner" with whom you will write comparison and contrast notes throughout the semester.  The hope is that your collaboration will afford you both deeper insights into each week's readings, and will thereby help keep our class discussions from being superficial.  Please note: The point here is NOT that you and your partner alternate in authoring these notes.  The comparison & contrast notes should represent your joint understandings of the readings.

Half of your grade is based on your preparation for and participation during seminars, the former of which calls for your on-time preparation of notes on our readings plus your your on-time submission of readings for the last 3 weeks of classes.  The other half is based on a 15+ page term paper in which you compare and contrast at least three contemporary theorists.  Your objective in these course activities should be to develop and apply "the skill" of identifying and making explicity theorists' theoretical grammar.

An outline for your term paper will be due (by e-mail) on March 6th; a bibliograpy for the term paper will be due (by e-mail) on March 30th.  No class will be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 19th) nor on the Wednesday before Spring Break (i.e., March 11th).  Instead, during the week of March 9-13 we shall have individually scheduled student-instructor meetings, within which your outline will form the basis for jointly exploring your analytic strategy.  In writing up the final paper, please be sure to cite at least 10 of the course's (pre-April 13th) readings plus 10 readings that you select yourself.  Of course, these 20 readings (along with any others cited in your paper) should be listed alphabetically in a bibliography at the end of your term paper.  The paper is due by e-mail ( as a Microsoft Word document at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 1st.  Please plan ahead.  If you put off writing your term paper until the last minute, poor performance (and pressures for quick-fixes) may result.

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