What is society? Does taste play a role in social hierarchies? How are seemingly individual actions such as choosing partners or universities are shaped by and embedded into social networks? To answer these questions among many others, this module is an invitation to sociology defined as a critical activity aimed at understanding, analysing and interpreting various aspects of social processes ranging from micro-level interactions to global historical tendencies.
Key to our endeavour into the systematic understanding of social processes is developing the capacity of discovering power structures behind taken for granted phenomena be they linked to gender-, class-, or race-based relations or inequalities. In other words, this module will show that “thinking sociologically” has to do a great deal with our ability to see the unique in the ordinary and vica versa.
This module invites students to think of social problems through a selection of “classic” and contemporary texts. The readings are meant to be illustrative of certain sociological paradigms, methods or “perspectives” such as positivism, structuralism, relational sociology, postcolonial thought or ethnographic research. The most important learning outcome of this course is developing the skill of what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination”, i.e. ability to see the structural motives behind individual actions.