2020 Fall SOCIOL 201A 001 LEC 001
Classical Social Theory
Social Theory began as an attempt to come to grips with the massive social transformations in Europe beginning around 1500. Modernity was understood in three ways. It concerned the development of a capitalist economy based on the use of science to develop new technology, the emergence of states with bureaucracies allied with military organizations, and the decline of religious authority as the main arbiter of moral values accompanied by the rise of the model of the self-interested purposive actor. Social theory was produced not just to create an understanding of these changes and the problems they caused, but also to be used to propose how society ought to be structured. In this class, we examine how classical thinkers, like Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim among others, proposed how to analyze those changes and in doing so created theories of society.