Course description

What is society? How can we understand it? What is the role of the individual in society and how does society affect individual lives? This course introduces students to the field of sociology. By surveying social theory as well as empirical studies, students acquire what C. Wright Mills calls the "sociological imagination:" the ability to think beyond our personal lives and to connect the experiences of individuals with large social structures. The course introduces students to classical theoretical traditions of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and George Simmel, as well as their contemporary theoretical heirs. Readings include prominent empirical investigations into family dynamics, class inequalities, organizations, the nation state, capitalism, democracy, and globalization. We examine common-sense assumptions about culture, politics, history, and psychology, and empower students to replace them with evidence-based reasoning. By emphasizing reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, this course helps students build the foundation for a deeper understanding of theory and methods in the social sciences.


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This introduction to moral and political philosophy is one of the most popular courses taught at Harvard College.

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