Sociology 4111
Fall 2018
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

As of January 2011, administration pushed through campus governance the mandate concerning the content of each syllabus. What follows meets their requirements. One thing you will learn, I hope, in this course is that in advanced industrial (read capitalistic) societies the movement towards a more instrumentally rational society ultimately, and maybe inevitably, results in making all aspects of life in organizations more formally rational. All pretense of choice, autonomy, and yes even freedom, becomes tarnished and frayed (thanks Meatloaf). I should hope that the notion of disruptive power will take hold and that education will once again be seen as a human value and not just an instrumental means to an end.

Office: 208B Cina Hall Professor: John Hamlin
Time & Place: Section 8:00- 9:40 Monday and Wednesday 224 Cina

Phone: 726-6387
Office Hours:Wednesday 2:00 - 3:00
by Appointment and whenever you see my office door open.
I am on campus a good deal of the time, just in and out of my office.


Sociological theory is the backbone of our discipline. This ought not to be a surprising declaration. Every discipline that exists is defined by the nature and content of its theory and to a lessor extent, its methods. As sociology students you have been exposed already to sociological theory in your introduction to sociology course if not elsewhere. You will recall and be familiar with the ideas of Durkheim, Weber, Mead, Marx, and a few wild-cards depending on the book(s) you read and the inclinations of the instructor; perhaps names like C.W. Mills, Goffman, or Merton will leap out at you as folk you remember. This course will focus entirely on sociological theory. The intent here is to cover in a more complete fashion the classical traditions in sociology and go on a few excursions into contemporary theory where time permits. As you pursue your professional journey (whether you have thought about this or not, you are spending the majority of your work week seeking an academic degree in Sociology) you will be exposed to many other theorists who will either be building on the primary folks we are covering or developing their approach in reaction to the folks we are studying. Thus, this material is foundational. It is also foundational in as much as the key characteristic that defines a discipline and distinguishes it from all others, is its conceptual viewpoint. Is the glass half empty or half full? It is the same glass in a physical sense but completely different in every other way. Think about your conception of human nature for just a moment (and keep that conception in your head until the second class meeting). Are people by nature fundamentally aggressive, competitive, cooperative, passive, meek, modest, egotistical, altruistic, friendly, evil, cautious, outgoing, introvert, or what? Do institutions help you pursue the American dream or hinder it?

Sorry, I regress a bit. This course will look at what theorist have to tell us. I expect you to be able to tell me what Marx, or Durkheim, or Weber, or Mead, etc. had to say in the vocabulary of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Mead, etc. We do virtually nothing here to criticize the various theorists or theories. My concern is that you know what they had to say and I leave to other classes to tell you what short comings might exist and need to be reworked in those theories. In talking about Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill said, (and I would contend it applies to all theorists) (page. 8): "It would have been a mistake had such thinkers {those trying to explain Comte} busied themselves in the first instance with drawing attention to what they regarded as errors in his great work. Until it had taken the place in the world of thought which belonged to it, the important matter was not to criticize it, but to help in making it known." I take those words seriously as I hope you will. My goal ultimately is to instill in you the desire to look at the social world and human behavior from a sociological perspective.

The outline for this course requires the use of the internet. If this presents a problem, let the instructor know immediately. All of the material for the class can be found off my home page at, If for some reason you end up lost in cyber space, the easiest way to find the course page again is to go to and you will be routed to my home page. If you click on the topics you will go to the outlines of the material to be discussed and presented in class. The glossary of the terms you need to know for the exams can also be reached in the same manner.
This document is a guideline for progress through the course. We may get ahead or behind or need to change content around. If this happens I will inform you in class of the changes.
All of the readings are PDF, or HTML and come from JSTOR, Sage, and the various internet sources. Let me stress, this is for your use and your use only.

  1. Exams:
    There will be five essay exams during the semester. The review questions are on the course web page. The questions will be updated prior to the exam to account for variations in what we cover in class. The actual exam questions will be chosen from the review questions.

    The lowest score of the FIRST FOUR exams will be dropped. If you miss and exam, that will count as your lowest exam. Except for extraordinary circumstances, such as a death in the family, makeup exams will not be permitted.

    Examination books:
    Green or blue books for taking essay exams are your responsibility to bring to class. They can be purchased in the bookstore for mere pennies. Please remember to bring them with you, I will not have green books to hand out.

Grades are based on individualistic goal structuring. The material in class, in the readings and on the glossaries comprise the content for the exams. Your grades depend on how much of this material you learn. There are NO extra credit assignments.
Grades are determined on a straight scale:
92-100 = A 90-91 = A-
88-89 = B+ 82-87 = B 80-81 = B-
78-79 = C+ 72-77 = C 70-71 = C-
68-69 = D+ 60-61 = D 59 & BELOW = F

Individuals who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the start of the semester. Adaptations of methods, materials, or testing may be made as required to provide for equitable participation.

Cell Phones

All cellphones need to be turned off when coming into class. Ringing phones and text messaging are inconsiderate to all.


Student Conduct Code conduct and integrity

Learning outcomes as deemed important by the powers that be. Everyone applies a little and none a whole lot.

Glossary of Concepts
Sections of the glossary are colored coded to make it faster to find the concepts relevant for each exam. This will be discussed in class.


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The University of Minnesota is a equal opportunity educator and employer.

Copyright: � 2001, John Hamlin
Last Modified: January-2017
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