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212C: Symbolic Interactionism and Post-Structural Social Theory
M 9:00-12:00
Prof. Catherine Bliss
Email: [email protected]
LAUREL HEIGHTS
Office: SBS 455
Office Hours: by appointment
Course Description:
This class introduces students to essential theories from the sociology of knowledge,
symbolic interactionist theory, and post-structural theory. Students will cover the origins
and development of interpretive sociology, including American pragmatist philosophy
and its conceptual infrastructure, symbolic interactionism and aspects of the social
construction of knowledge and selves, and foundational methods for studying discourse
and practice sociologically, such as those detailed by Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu,
and Bruno Latour. A comparative analysis of these theories will empower students to
apprehend the fundamentals of theory conceptualization and development.
Topics we will focus on include: the relationship between individual identities and social
arenas and worlds; knowledge production and consumption, and its relation to inequality;
structure and agency; internalization and externalization of social beliefs, and
embodiment; contemporary incarnations of power.
Course Requirements:
Requirements for this class include attending all course meetings, having done the
assigned reading. There will be several presentations each class session to move the
discussions forward.
The major piece of required work will be a final paper, 20-25 pages in length, which
compares three of the course’s theorists treatment of a topic agreed upon by each student
and the instructor. You will be expected in your writings to show that you know how to
use theory and philosophical analysis of the assumptions, premises, language, logic, and
structure of theory.
See the course website for updates, discussions, and materials. Students are responsible
for purchasing all books. Individual articles will be posted on Moodle.
Required Readings:
Week 1. Pragmatic Selves
James, William. 1999. "The Self and Its Selves." Pp.161-66 in Social Theory: The
Multicultural and Classic Readings. Boulder: Westview.
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Cooley, Charles Horton. 1999. “The Looking-Glass Self.” Pp. 188-189 in Social
Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. Boulder: Westview.
Dewey, John. 1995. “Mind, Experience, and Behavior.” Pp. 153-156 in Symbolic
Interaction: An Introduction to Social Psychology. New York: General Hall.
Thomas, WI and Thomas, Dorothy. 1970. “Situations Defined as Real are Real in
Their Consequences.” Pp. 383-386 in Social Psychology Through Symbolic
Interaction. Waltham: Xeros.
Thomas, WI and Thomas, Dorothy. “Definition of a Situation.” Pp. 54-57 in Social
Deviance. Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Mead, George Herbert. 1970. “Self as Social Object.” Pp. 383-386 in Social
Psychology Through Symbolic Interaction. Waltham: Xeros.
Blumer, Herbert. 1993. “Sociological Implications of the Thought of George Herbert
Mead.” Pp. 61-77 and “What is Wrong with Social Theory?” Pp. 140-152 in
Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Berkeley: University of
California Press.
Week 2. Symbolic Interactionism
Blumer, Herbert. 1993. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Week 3. The Self in the World
Goffman, Erving. 1999. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Peter Smith.
Week 4. Power/Knowledge
Foucault, Michel. 1972. Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.
Week 5. Subjectivity
Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1. New York: Random House.
Week 6. Practice
Bourdieu, Pierre, and Richard Nice. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Week 7. Habitus, Fields, Capital
Bourdieu, Pierre. 2000. Pascalian Meditations. Translated by Richard Nice. Stanford
University Press.
Week 8. Actor-Network Theory
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Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social : An Introduction to Actor-NetworkTheory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Week 9. Social Worlds
Clarke, Adele E. 2005. Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory After the Postmodern
Turn. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
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