Advanced Knowledge, organization and politics - NB! Closed for further registration

Course content

This is the core mandatory course for the MA specialization in Knowledge, organization and politics. The course reviews a range of central theoretical-analytical perspectives and empirical studies, each contributing to the sociological analysis of the ways in which society is organized and governed as well as the role(s) played by the production and use of knowledge in different organizational and political fields. For this purpose, analytical tools from three branches of sociology will be introduced and discussed: organizational sociology, sociology of knowledge, and political sociology. The mutual relations, overlaps, and tensions between  these subject areas and fields serve as the object of both theoretical and empirical analysis, as well as being put to use by students in their independent project work, i.e. inquiries into a chosen topic or problematic within the thematic field.

The course is structured along two main analytical axes. First, we read and analyze core sociological texts dealing with politically central forms of societal organization, at and across micro-, meso- and macro-sociological levels of analysis (municipalities, state bureaucracies, social movements, professional elites, multinational companies, international organizations etc.). Second, we introduce and discuss a range of theoretical-analytical perspectives relevant for the thematic field (neo-institutional organizational theory, neo-Weberian sociology of professions, Bourdieu-inspired field analyses, pragmatic-sociological convention theory etc.).

In this context, one central question running throughout the course is how knowledge and power come to relate in specific organizational contexts, and how we might understand and analyze such contexts in terms of concepts such as validity, legitimacy, conflict, and democracy. Here, we link our analyses to contemporary and central sociological discussions on such themes as the knowledge- and risk society, neo-liberalism, and globalization. These and related theoretical-analytical concepts will be used as tools for contextualizing the project-based inquiries within the thematic field which students will carry out and discuss in-between themselves throughout the entirety of the course. At certain points during the course, experts in possession of practical experiences from relevant organizational fields will be invited as guest lecturers.


MA Sociology 2015 - Compulsory course package subject.

Sociology students must be enrolled under MSc Curriculum 2015 to take this exam.

BA-Undergraduates from foreign countries (exchange students) can sign up for this course.

Learning outcome

The overall aim of the course is for students to acquire and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competencies forming the basics of the MA specialization in Knowledge, organization and politics. The demonstration of these abilities is all done through project work.


Via the project work, students should be able to show that they have

- gained a broadly based understanding of and overview over the core sociological research literature within the thematic field of knowledge, organization and politics

- acquired the ability to thoroughly compare and contrast key analytical perspectives.



More specifically, the student acquires and demonstrates the ability to

- apply central concepts from the literature within independently chosen, empirically and methodologically informed inquiries into the way knowledge and power are related in specific organizational contexts.

This involves to

- generate adequate empirical data,

- perform a structured analysis of these data through the lens of relevant analytical perspectives as well as

- to reflect methodologically on their own knowledge production during the project work.

Finally, students should also be able to

- assess and discuss practical (i.e. action-relevant) consequences of their analysis for key actors, issues, and problems within and across organizational fields where relations between knowledge and politics is important.


In carrying out the project work, students demonstrate that they have acquired competencies that allow them to independently

- identify, design studies of, and analyze cases and settings where knowledge and politics shape or influence the functioning of organizations.         



The course combines class-based teaching and project work (either individually or in groups). Project work consists in on-going writing of draft text, based on readings and independent research, which eventually becomes the written exam assignment (based on which an oral defence is held as the final part of the exam). Students are expected to give and receive feedback on draft texts from fellow students during some classes throughout the course. Apart from this, class-based teaching will consist in combinations of lectures (incl. guest lectures) and student-driven disucssion, including student presentations. Students are expected to contribute actively to discussion of core theoretical-analytical tools as well as more specific analytical examples and tasks. As part of the project work, aspects of conducting literature reviews within the relevant field of research will be taught and trained.

A compendium consisting of central texts within the thematic field will be put together and made available prior to course start. The total curriculum is app. 1000 pages. In addition, students are required to choose supplementary reading materials for their project work (app. 200 pages).


No specific and non-standard competences are required for attending this course. Knowledge of sociological theory and method at (or equivalent to) the BA level is expected.

Type of assessment
Portfolio with oral defence. Individual or group. A portfolio assignment is defined as a series of short assignments during the course that address one or more set questions and feedback is offered during the course. All of the assignments are submitted together for assessment at the end of the course.
The portfolio assignments must be no longer than 30 pages. For group assignments, an extra 15 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 120
  • Exercises
  • 30
  • Preparation
  • 137
  • Exam Preparation
  • 60
  • Exam
  • 10
  • English
  • 413