SOC 310. Sociological Theory

Foundational people and theories in sociology. Social, economic, political, intellectual, biographical contexts of theory development. Appraise theoretical relevance to contemporary society. Writing intensive course. [Prereq: SOC 201S; junior standing or greater.]

This course is an in depth study of classical sociological theory focusing on the shapers, intellectual visionaries, and seminal scholars who forged the backbone upon which the discipline and profession of sociology is based.  We will explore the life and writings of a number of these theorists, paying special attention to the social and historical situation in which they lived and worked.  We will focus most of our time on three of the most notable, if not controversial, social theorists: Marx, Weber and Durkheim.  We will also examine some lesser-known scholars – contemporaries of the “big three” – who were just as prolific and equally path-breaking in their sociological analyses, such as Harriett Martineau, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and W.E.B. Du Bois, to get a perspective on important theorists that are often left out.  We will become very familiar with how each of these individuals influenced the development of sociology and how their ideas maintain, even today, their power.


Explorations in Classical Sociological Theory. (3rd Edition)  Kenneth Allan. Pine Forge Press, 2013.

The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory 1830–1930, A Text/Reader. (2nd Edition) Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Gillian Niebrugge. Waveland Press, 2007.

Capitalism and Classical Sociological Theory. (2nd Edition) John Bratton & David Denham. University of Toronto Press, 2014.

The Community Manifesto. Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels. Penguin, 2002.

The Souls of Black Folk. W.E.B. Du Bois. Penguin, 1996.