Module Details

SC901-7-AU-CO: Topics In Contemporary Social Theory

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2017/18
Department: Sociology
Essex credit: 20
ECTS credit: 10
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Teaching Staff: New Media/Social Theory Lecturer
Contact details: Michele Hall, Graduate Administrator, Telephone 01206 873051, Email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module aims to give an overview of some of the most important and significant debates in contemporary social theory, while encouraging students to think analytically about theoretical questions and illustrating ways of doing so. Through looking at a range of writers such as Bourdieu, Butler, Foucault and others, the module analyses changing notions of subjectivity and the complex inter-relations between these and enduring social structures and conceptions of the world. The module will outline the important contribution of social theory in developing politically engaged ways of understanding conceptions of the social that have arisen from critical traditions such as poststructuralism, feminism, and actor network theory.
We will engage with a broad range of questions, including: To what extent can one develop systematic epistemological and methodological guidelines for research after the destabilisation of established conceptions of the social and the self? Do claims for objectivity now make any sense at all?
What problems does the materiality of the body pose for sociology?

Learning and Teaching Methods


100 per cent Coursework Mark


One book review of approximately 2,000 words and one essay of approximately 3,000 words


  • Suggested Reading:
  • Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Butler, J. (1993). Bodies That Matter, Routledge, New York and London
  • Foucault, M. (1987), 'Nietzsche, geneaology, history' in Rabinow, P. (ed). The Foucault Reader, Harmondsworth, Penguin
  • Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, London
  • Latour, B. (1993). We Have Never Been Modern, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hemel Hempstead
  • Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lopez, J. & Scott, J. (2000). Social Structure. Buckingham: Open University Press
  • Stones, R. (2005). Structuration Theory . Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sayer, A. (2000). Realism and Social Science. London: Sage.
  • Stones, R. (2008). (ed.) Key Sociological Thinkers. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Williams, J. (2005). Understanding Poststructuralism, Acumen Publishing Ltd., Chesham

Further information