While acknowledging the impossibility of providing even a superficial overview of key sociological perspectives that also lack the teacher’s own disciplinary bias, this Introduction to sociology module intends to fulfil two principal goals. First, by drawing on classic pieces, it aims to provide a reflexive view on the specificities of the “sociological understanding” as distinct from neighbouring fields such as political science, social psychology or anthropology. Second, it sets forth to display through carefully selected articles sociological analysis “at its best” from different time periods representing different levels of analysis (from micro to global) and methodological tools applied. Rather than following a strictly chronological order, the selected works function as case studies and serve the purpose of illuminating key methodological, theoretical and epistemological aspects of these two overall objectives. The first three sessions approach sociological understanding from vocational (Berger) and historical (Elias) perspectives. This thematic unit closes by illuminating the issues that preoccupied the forerunners of modern sociology as exemplified by Simmel’s classic piece on the urban phenomenon of “fashion”. The next two sessions are dedicated to one of the most discussed sociological themes, namely “social capital” through the works of two leading Western sociologists, Bourdieu and Putnam. The module then discusses works from Wallerstein and Said to stress the importance of global, world-systemic frameworks in making sense of (seemingly) local social conflicts. The last session is about Central Eastern European social transformations through a study of Iván Szelényi, a widely acclaimed Hungarian sociologist. As an outcome of active participation in the reading-based discussions, students will acquire a reflexive approach towards global social trends, well beyond the module’s curriculum.
Module Leader:Ádám Kornél Havas