Fall 2023

Foundations of Sociological Theory

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-315


Jerome L. Himmelstein (Section 01)


Sociology emerged as part of the intellectual response to the French and Industrial Revolutions. In various ways, the classic sociological thinkers sought to make sense of these changes and the kind of society that resulted from them. We shall begin by examining the social and intellectual context in which sociology developed and then turn to a close reading of the works of five important social thinkers: Marx, Tocqueville, Weber, Durkheim, and DuBois. We shall attempt to identify the theoretical perspective of each thinker by posing several basic questions: According to each social thinker, what is the general nature of society, the individual, and the relationship between the two? What holds societies together? What pulls them apart? How does social change occur? What are the distinguishing features of modern Western society in particular? What distinctive dilemmas do individuals face in modern society? What are the prospects for human freedom and happiness? Although the five thinkers differ strikingly from each other, we shall also determine the extent to which they share a common “sociological consciousness.” Required of sociology majors.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Himmelstein.

How to handle overenrollment: Sociology and anthropology majors have preference

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work and reading.

SOCI 315 - LEC

Section 01
M 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM MORG 110
W 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM MORG 110

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
From Max Weber Oxford Gerth and Mills, ed Amherst Books TBD
The Souls of Black Folks St. Martin's/Bedford Press, with intro by Blight and Gooding-Williams Dubois Amherst Books TBD
Democracy in America Harper Perennial Modern Classics Tocqueville (ed. Mayer) Comment: Amherst Books TBD
Marx-Engels Reader W. W. Norton Marx, Karl Comment: Amherst Books TBD
On Morality and Society Selected Writings University of Chicago Press Durkheim, Emile Comment: Amherst Books TBD
The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism Dover Publications Weber, Max Comment: Amherst Books TBD
Suicide: A Study in Sociology Free Press Durkheim, Emile Comment: Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Spring 2025