This course is intended to provide key elements of the development of sociology as a discipline to students with previous introductory knowledge. More specifically, students will explore the contributions of major classical theorists, such as Marx, Weber and Durkheim. They will use their sociological imagination to dive more in-depth into core sociological concepts such as critical thinking, structure/agency, social contracts, social classes, power, race/ethnicity, etc. They will also learn to question the epistemological construction of the discipline and how the production of knowledge is also socially constructed. The integrative framework of this course makes a coherent whole to give students a solid knowledge and experience of the development of sociological thought.
The “Making-of” a discipline:
What is sociology? This fundamental question often remains complex to answer. You may have experienced it while trying to explain your major and its use to family and friends. Often, sociology is depicted as the art of using “sociological imagination” to see the world from a critical lens. Sometimes, it is narrowed down to an aggregate of theories, updated as more or less relevant to the “social world” by classical and contemporary authors and often dismissed by students as a very soporific approach to the discipline!
For others, sociology is the empirical study of social facts, using quantitative or qualitative methodology. Last but not least, some choose sociology as their major because at some point in their student life, the project carried by sociology resonated in their ears and they thought: “Yes, it speaks to me, my reality and the way I see the world and I feel I can learn from it; to be a better professional or just a better person.” These people are in the right spot! “Sociology” truly is about human beings and how they frame social reality through time.
Undertaking the journey to understand the development of sociological thoughts is undertaking a journey through time, not as a chronological recall of facts, but to better “feel” the conditions that led such or such author to be concerned with such and such question. Why is Marx remembered as a revolutionary and not for his theory of human nature and creative labor? Why was Durkheim so concerned about social cohesion? Is August Comte really the “founder” of sociology? Why are all these authors mostly White men? These cannot simply be answered by looking at their contributions but through understanding the context in which these authors lived. Yes, sociology can be understood as a juxtaposition of facts, theories and methods, but that would be narrowing down our discipline to an instrumentalist toolbox. Sociology is about understanding our Species Being in inter/action. It was created as a particular framework to see the world from the observation of social historical conditions. But it should be questioned and ceaselessly reinvented to maintain its core ideal around critical thinking and social change! Hence, what I am going to ask from you in this class is to “de-center” yourself. Try to forget what you think you know and board the train to understand these people and their thoughts from a deeper level so YOU can become a better thinker.
SOC 100 (General Sociology) or SOC 105 (Social Problems).
Textbook and Materials
Readings will be indicated on Canvas prior to the semester.
I am Dr. Aude Chesnais. I have been teaching for the sociology department since 2014 and was awarded an Outstanding Instructor Award in 2015. My classrooms are a place of interactive learning where critical thinking is required. I encourage students to communicate and help them strengthen their arguments so they can be their stronger thinking selves. I believe in a very personalized approach to learning and strive to be available for my students. I am good at building a safe space where everyone feels free to express themselves respectfully. I recently graduated with my PhD in sociology. Besides teaching, my research focuses on Indigenous resurgence, decoloniality and sustainability. I enjoy the mountains, drinking chai and sword-fighting. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the course. I am looking forward to being your instructor.