SO403 Social Theory

for S2T 2011

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SO 403 Social Theory


S2T 2011 DL


Altendorf, Karen


Adjunct Faculty


Ph.D. Sociology
M.S. Sociology
B.S. Sociology

Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

3/14/2011 to 5/7/2011

Class Days


Class Time


Credit Hours



Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory

Appelrouth and Edles

Pine Forge Press ISBN 978-0-7619-2793-8


Additional Resources: Suggested but not required.


Guide to Reading Social Science: How to Work Through Long Reading Assignments


Writing for Social Scientists

Howard Becker

University of Chicago Press ISBN-10 0226041328 ISBN-13 978-0226041322


Sociology: Web-Linked Dictionary

David Jary and Julia Jary

Collins ISBN-10: 0060851821, ISBN-13: 978-0060851828

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
SO403 Social Theory: Surveys the historical development of sociological theory, examines the nature of social theory and theory construction and reviews the principal contemporary perspectives and debates in the field of social theory.3:0:3 Prerequisite: SO141

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the history and development of social theory.
  2. • Use you sociological imagination to understand the foundational theorists and the social world that influenced them.
  3. • Explain the relations among different theoretical paradigms, micro and macro schools of thought, the micro-macro link and research traditions in social theory.
  4. • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of social theories to explain real world phenomena.
  5. • Associate important concepts and research findings with their traditions and other theories
  6. • Integrate multiple levels of theoretical processes in analytical projects.
  7. • Communicate theoretical explanations for important personal and institutional events.
Class Assessment:

Class Assessment: Assignments and Points


Application and Critical Analysis Projects (Mini-Tests) Week 1-7                200 Points       25%

Comprehensive Final Examination Week 8                                                    100 Points       12.5%

Classical Theory paper                                                                                      50 Points       6.25%

Contemporary Theory paper                                                                             50 Points       6.25%

Core Assessment Paper                                                                                   200 Points       25%

Weekly Participation and Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment     200 Points       25%

TOTAL Points                                                                                                800 Points



Letter Grade and Point Range           

A 720-800 Points 90-100%

B 640-719 Points 80-89%

C 560-639 Points 70-79%

D 480-559 Points 60-70%

F <479 or <59%

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Late work will be accepted with a 5 Point Grade Reduction PER DAY.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Please show others the same courtesy and respect you would want from them.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

LESSON               TOPIC


Week 1.           Karl Marx Pgs. 22-85

                        Emile Durkheim Pgs. 85-139


                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test 1 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM           


Week 2.           Max Weber Pgs. 140-195

                        George Simmel Pgs. 233-273


                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test 2 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM           


Week 3.           George Herbert Mead Pgs. 311-347

                        Talcott Parsons Pgs. 350-381  


                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test 3 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM


Week 4            Exchange Theory Pgs. 437-473


                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test 4 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM           

                        Classical Theory Paper Due Sunday by 10:00 PM


Week 5.           Symbolic Interaction and Dramaturgy Pgs. 474-536


                        Mini-Test 5 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM



Week 6            Phenomonology Pgs. 537-579

                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test 6 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM

                        Contemporary Theory Paper Due Sunday by 10:00 PM 


Week 7.           Feminist Theories Pgs. 580-630

                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test 7 must be completed by Sunday by 10:00 PM  


Week 8.           Poststructural and Postmodern Theories Pgs. 631-682     

                        Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment

                        Mini-Test must be completed Saturday by 10:00 PM

                        Core Analysis Paper Due Saturday by 10:00

                        Comprehensive Final Exam

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.
ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

Additional Information:

and Critical Analysis Projects

8 Mini Tests will be given online
via eCollege and are worth 25 Points Each/200 Points Total.


Final Exam

Questions will be compiled from
the mini-tests and weekly discussion questions.


and Discussion: Discussion, Peer Review and Self Assessment 25 Points Each Week
/ 200Points Total

As a part of creating an Active
Online Learning Environment, you should plan to spend 4-6 hours per week
working on this class. 


are responsible for responding to one discussion question each week.  Choose any one discussion
question posted in the conference thread By Wednesday of each
class week develop a 'one paragraph' (6-8 sentences) answer to the question
you've chosen and submit it to the conference area


are required to do one peer review of another student’s response to a
discussion question By Friday of each class week. 


are required to perform one self-assessment each week detailing at least three
new things you learned By Sunday of
each week.  Develop a 'one paragraph’
(6-8 sentences) detailing at least 3 things you learned during the week. 
The paragraph may include topics you have found to be key points, areas you
have found particularly useful, or any other information you feel will be beneficial
to others in the class.


Classical Social Theory Paper 50 Points / Contemporary Theory Paper 50 Points

The purpose of the Classical Social Theory Paper and Contemporary
Theory Paper
is to begin laying the foundation for the core assessment
paper.  You will select two of the theories from the same tradition, one
classical for the classical paper and one for the contemporary paper.  Each paper should address the following:

Traditions: Structural Functionalism, Conflict or Symbolic
Interaction, Exchange, Impression Management or Feminism.

For Example, for you classical paper you could use Durkheim
and Merton for your contemporary paper, Marxism and Feminism, Mead and Goffman
or Exchange Theory and Emotional Labor.

1) Subject Matter: Does the theoretical tradition deal with
micro or macro levels of analyses?

2)  Assumptions: What assumptions does the theoretical
perspective make about human nature, determinism and behavior, motives for
behavior social forces that shape behavior,

3)  Methodologies:  What types of methods are well
suited to the theoretical paradigm?  Are they deductive or inductive,
quantitative or qualitative, do the seek to generalize behavior or to simply
understand behavior is a particular social context

4)  Objectives:  What are the objectives of the
theory?  How does the theory attempt to explain behavior?  What types
of behavior does the theory hope to explain?

Doe the theory focus on description or explanation as these objectives are
associated with different methodologies in sociology

5)  Criticisms and Limitations:  What are the
criticisms of the theory?  What are the limitations of the theory in
explaining behavior?

You will be graded according to the rubrics below:









Above Average



Meets Expectations






Interpretation and Critical Analysis



The paper skillfully interprets and analyzes topic in an
           insightful original manner.



The paper sufficiently interprets and analyzes topic in
           adequate ways, though may lack insight and originality.



The paper interprets and analyzes the topic in a
           predictable manner, summarizing ideas, rather than suggesting insights.



The paper neither interprets nor analyzes the topic or
           does so in vague, general terms.






The paper tightly focuses on a key textual idea or theme.



The paper sufficiently focuses on a key textual idea or



The paper sufficiently focuses on key textual ideas or
           themes but may wander from focus.



The paper fails to focus on key textual ideas or themes.



Development with use of adequate support (text examples)



The paper is extremely well developed, using clear,
           applicable examples closely linked to its interpretation.



The paper is sufficiently developed using examples
           adequately linked to interpretation, though it may lack sufficient



The paper is underdeveloped and contains insufficient
           examples that are not clearly linked to its interpretation.



The paper lacks development and examples. It contains no






Paper is clearly written with strong style and conforms to
           conventions of Standard Written English.



Paper is adequately written and conforms to conventions of
           Standard Written English.



Paper contains multiple errors not conforming to
           conventions of Standard Written English.



Paper does not conform to conventions of Standard Written



Core Assessment: The Progression of Social Theory

200 Points

Essay: 14-16 pages, (not including tables, figures,
bibliography and appendixes).  The essay
must include the following components:

Continuing the work you started with the Classical Social
Theory Paper
and Contemporary Theory Paper you will synthesize those
two papers around a sociological topic.  This does not mean that
you will cut and paste your paper together.  One way to begin this paper
is by taking a "Vertical" approach: examine a variety of perspectives
on the same sociological topic, such as, poverty, crime, family, relationships,
community, gender, sexual orientation, social class, to name a few.  In
any case, you need to search out the major works in the literature, analyze the
basic problem, discuss the different analytic tools and sources already
employed to pursue the subject, and evaluate the relative merit of different
approaches.   This site is also a great resource for sociological

  1. Identify
       and summarize the major central assumptions, principles, and ideas in the
       tradition that you have chosen.  Briefly describe them and their
       relations clearly and with detail.  Discuss why you feel these to be
       important and useful.

  3. Demonstrate
       your ability to analyze and critique those assumptions, principles, and
       any associated empirical findings.  Your analysis will break apart
       these ideas and discuss how they work together as well as discussing the
       implications of the position, as a whole.  Your critique will
       evaluate the worth or effectiveness of both the theory and methods
       developed and employed in the study or studies that develop the ideas.

  5. Since
       these theories have been around for a while, they have developed
       subsequent literatures.  You should find what recent work has been
       done using your theories, both pro and con, and add to their discussions
       of these theoretical principles and empirical findings.

  7. Assess
       how useful and accurate you feel these ideas to be today.  Has the
       world changed in ways that invalidate their findings?  If so, how and
       why?  How can you adapt these ideas to be continually relevant? 
       If not, why not?  Explain your reasoning.

  9. Generalize
       your new understanding of these events to the larger social context: to
       other people, other times, other locations, or other social
       positions.  Discuss how successful you feel this generalization to
       be.  What are its benefits and drawbacks?  Why?  Do these
       ideas allow you to put your specific event into some more general context
       or to relate it to other outcomes?  How?


Your essay should focus on well-selected aspects of your
chosen research tradition and clearly examine the links between theoretical
concepts and real world applications and topics.  It should be carefully
proofread and edited, conform to the applicable guidelines of APA, ASA or MLA
format, and include all citations and references.  Each point should be
carefully explained with sociological concepts, explicitly justified with reason
and empirical scientific evidence, and illustrated through specific real-world

I find that by identifying a theme for the paper, either
conceptual or applied, helps provide a framework for making an outline, staying
focused and maintaining relevance.  Start by identifying a “Research
Question” What is it that you want to know and how will you go about finding
the answers to your question?  Several conceptual themes that may apply to
this course and the assigned readings are: language, emotions, work, reality,
the media, deviance, identity and gender. 

I also find that by using an Outline it is easier to stay
focused and keep your writing organized.  An outline should be a guide or
a map for your work.

Good writing is good editing. One way to edit is to read
your paper out loud.  Another is to read it backwards.  Personally, I
have a very difficult time editing my own work so I have a friend edit for me,
a friend that will be honest about my mistakes and willing to make constructive

Outline For Project Report 14-16 Pages

(Not Including tables, Figures, Bibliography or Appendix)

Double Spaced

12-14 Font

I.  Introduction / The Research Issue 2-3 Pages

II.  Literature Review  Pages 9-10 Pages

IV.  Analysis 2-3 Pages

V.   Conclusions 1-2 pages

Project Overview / Review

Limitations / Contributions to Future Research

(If you were going to do this project again, how would you make it better?)

Bibliography (10 Sources)








Points Awarded



Description of Judging Criteria









  • The section is correct in all aspects. 

  • Covers all the criteria set forth in the

  • Has no glaring spelling or grammatical

  • Detailed and clearly written.










  • The section is correct in all major aspects.  Small
                   errors are present.

  • Covers all the criteria set forth in the
                   Introduction, though some detail may be lacking

  • Has few glaring spelling or grammatical

  • Fairly Detailed and clearly written.










  • The section has no more than one significant error

  • Covers most of the criteria set forth in paper.

  • Has glaring spelling or grammatical mistakes. 

  • Questionable, lacking detail and clarity.










  • The work questionable.

                   The paper is misleading or wrong.

                   Several criteria listed for section of the project report are

                   Spelling or grammatical mistakes affect readability of the project

                   Missing or inappropriate citations to other work.

                   Plagiarism.  Copying or rewriting the work of others without proper




Provides a concise overview of the project.  A person reading the summary
should get a sense of what you plan to accomplish on this project. 

Literature Review / History / Body

Be organized around your research question.  Stay focused.

Synthesize the results into a summary of what is and is not known.

Identify areas of controversy in the Literature.

Cited from:


What are the differences and similarities between the classical and
contemporary theory you selected?

Does it describe and identify information?

Is analysis appropriate to literature review?

Does it clarify what is meaningful as well as what is meaningless?

Is analysis complete?


Provide an overview of what you accomplished on the project. 

Clearly state what the goals of the project were and whether or not they were
accomplished.    What was your Research Question?  Did you
answer it?

List any changes in scope or direction of the project and why these changes
were necessary. 

State any work done over and above the original work proposed.  Did you
make any significant new discoveries? Describe your project in a positive way,
but absolutely do not provide any falsehoods.  Also state what you could
do to improve the project.  You must: identify specific and practical
suggested improvements and identify any specific weaknesses of project and how
you would fix them


Full List of all ideas and works cited or paraphrased in the text.




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Last Updated:2/14/2011 9:31:20 AM