Critique of society: The Frankfurt School, Foucault and Boltanski (NB! - CLOSED FOR FURTHER REGISTRATION)

Course content

Sociology has seldom been restricted to the task of only describing and explaining what goes on in a society. Critique of society has also played a significant role and was already a crucial part of the writings of the “founding fathers” of the discipline; e.g. Marx (alienation), Simmel (anonymization), Weber (the iron cage of instrumental rationality), Durkheim (anomie). Sociology was in this sense institutionalized as a scientific analysis of the paradoxes (or pathologies) inherent in the epochal transition from “tradition to modernity”. The course will take such an understanding of sociology as its point of departure and apply it to contemporary societySociology has seldom been restricted to the task of only describing and explaining what goes on in a society. Critique of society has also played a significant role and was already a crucial part of the writings of the “founding fathers” of the discipline; e.g. Marx (alienation), Simmel (anonymization), Weber (the iron cage of instrumental rationality), Durkheim (anomie). Sociology was in this sense institutionalized as a scientific analysis of the paradoxes (or pathologies) inherent in the epochal transition from “tradition to modernity”. The course will take such an understanding of sociology as its point of departure and apply it to contemporary society.

A general aim of the course is to investigate how critique within a scientific context should be understood. The material of this investigation will be three of the most important versions of critique of society after the founding fathers: The Frankfurt School, Foucault (and some of his followers) and French pragmatism (Boltanski and his co-authors). Further, these three versions of critical theory will be related to the structural transformation of modern society. An important thesis that will be developed in the course is that also some of the most fundamental theoretical conditions of critique are affected by social change. By relating critique of society to the ongoing transformation of modernity, the course will provide theoretical tools for an analysis of the possibility of critique in and of contemporary society.

Education

MA course in sociological theory course (MSc Curriculum 2005)

MA Theory and Methodology course (MSc Curriculum 2015)

Course package (MSc 2015):

- Welfare, inequality and mobility
- Knowledge, organisation and politics
- Culture, lifestyle and everyday life

Learning outcome

KNOWLEDGE

By the end of the course the student must be able to

-                     understand what distinguishes the three schools of critique of society presented in the course (Frankfurt school, Foucault and French pragmatism)

-                     compare and critically discuss these different approaches.

This knowledge must involve;

 

- The role of critique in sociological research

- The distinction between critical theory, critical sociology and sociology of critique

- The role of practical reason in the practice of critique

- The role of critique in ordinary interaction and in society at large

- The historic transformation of critique in society

 

SKILLS

The course provides students with skills to

- conduct critique based on sociological knowledge and practical reason

 

COMPETENCES

By the end of the course students have achieved competences in

- planning and performing sociological studies which include critique of society     

There will be a mixture of ordinary teaching and discussions.

The main book will be Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello The New Spirit of Capitalism.

This is a MA level theory course - however foreign BA students with a solid knowledge of social or political theory can sign up for this course

INDICATIVE WORKLOAD
The number of lecture hours are the same for both 7,5 and 10 ECTS courses.

10 ECTS:
Lectures: 28
Course preparation: 130
Exercises: 50
Exam Preparation: 67
Total: 275

ECTS
See exam description
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual/group. Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 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.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

ECTS
See exam description
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual/group. Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 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.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 103
  • Exam
  • 75
  • English
  • 206