Spring 2015

Mondays, 14:30-17:15, CAS-B30A

Instructor: Mark Baker, Ph.D.
: SOS-136; phone: 0212-338-1399
email: mbaker@ku.edu.tr
(I am most easily accessible via email, but phone is fine too.)
Office hours: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 14:00-15:00 (or by appointment), in SOS-136

Course description: In this course, we will read deeply some of the most important thinkers on social theory. We will examine in depth the classical foundations of sociological theory, beginning with the works of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. We will then focus on some of the important early and late twentieth-century thinkers, including Gramsci, Bourdieu, and Foucault, and discuss the feminist and postcolonial challenges to classical theory.

Course Learning Objectives: By the end of this course, students will (hopefully) be able:

  • To understand the main ideas of the most important thinkers on social theory.
  • To write a clear, brief, and critical summary of a theoretical position, and present it at class.
  • To be able to explain and discuss social theory at a sophisticated level.
  • To research and write a graduate-level research paper on a topic of their own choosing.

Reading Requirements: Readings for this course will appear in the course outline below. Students need to do the readings listed for a particular date in advance of that date.



Critical Summaries: (three in total; worth ten points each). Students will prepare three 2-3 page critical summaries of readings for three different classes; the summary should clearly explain: (1) the reading's thesis, (2) its contribution to social theory (relating it to other readings and discussions), and (3) provide critical commentary on the reading. DUE at the start of the class, at which they will present. Please bring two copies to class and submit to www.turnitin.com (Class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault).


Book Critique: One 4-5 page, critical, clearly argued critique of a book of your choosing, but related to the class discussion and with prior approval from the instructor. Critiques will be due on 20 May 2015 by 14:00. Please submit them to www.turnitin.com (Class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault).


Research Paper: 10-20 pages (Times 12, double-spaced), excluding title page and bibliography; students must use at least 10 sources. The wide page requirement is a result of my belief that length does not necessarily improve one's argument. Concision is as important. You should write as much as necessary to prove your argument. Students must consult early in the semester with me about their topics and begin research early. Papers will be due on 10 June 2015 by 23:59. Please submit them to www.turnitin.com (Class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault).


Participation: Our classes will be mostly discussion, involving a great deal of student participation. Therefore, it is crucial that students do the readings in advance, come prepared to discuss them, and to answer the discussion questions. I will take attendance at each class, but this will not translate directly into a participation grade. Attendance is a minimum requirement; students will be graded on the quality as well as the quantity of their participation.


Discussion Questions: Each student must submit one or two discussion questions for each class discussion. DUE by 14:00 on each day of class.


Class format: Classes will involve presentations by two students on the readings followed by the use of the discussion questions to encourage a lively discussion on the readings. All students are expected to be courteous and respectful of each other. No rudeness will be tolerated.

Submitting written work: Students must submit the critical summaries, the research paper and book critique directly to the www.turnitin.com website (Class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault).

Very important rules:

  • Late assignments will be accepted, but one-third of a grade per day will be deducted (for example, a "B-" paper that is one day late will become a C+ paper).
  • Each student should read Koc University's Student Code of Conduct, especially concerning Academic Dishonesty. Using words from any source without placing them in quotation marks and citing the source is plagiarism. Submitting a paper (in whole or part) that was submitted for any other course is also plagiarism. Looking at another student's exam or using any outside sources during an examination is cheating. A course grade of 'F' will be applied in all proven instances of cheating and plagiarism.
  • Turnitin.com: Students and the instructor will be using www.turnitin.com to learn about and check for plagiarism on the film critique. All students will need to register with www.turnitin.com in the first week of class. (Class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault).
  • You MUST check your email account on a regular basis in order to do well in this course. I frequently send email messages about upcoming events concerning the course, as well as handouts and other course materials. If you are not in the habit of checking your Koc email regularly, you will need to start, or else have your email forwarded to whatever email address you do use regularly.
  • Be on time for class; if you need to leave class early, please let me know in advance.
  • The classroom is a public forum for dialogue. Hence, all electronic communication devices (especially cell phones and pagers) must be turned off during class.
  • Students unable to comply with any of these guidelines should see me personally and immediately to discuss their reasons.

Course Outline: Readings are to be completed before class on the day on which they are listed below. Students should plan to spend several hours each week outside of class time reading, taking notes, reviewing notes, and posing questions. Please bring all relevant materials to class, especially at least one copy of the book/article that you reviewed in your critical summary, as well as a copy of your summary.


Topics and readings


Introduction to syllabus and course

Introductory Readings: Immanuel Wallerstein, "The Heritage of Sociology, the Promise of Social Science" in The End of the World as We Know it. Social Science for the Twenty-First Century (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), pp. 220-251 [link]


Chamsy el-Ojeili, "Reflections on Wallerstein: The Modern World-System, Four Decades on," Critical Sociology (2014): 1-22 [link].


Early Marxism: Feuerbach, the Manifesto, and Bonaparte:


  • Karl Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845) [link]. [Ceren]
  • Friedrich Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, "Foreword" (1888) [link][Ceren].
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (first published February 1848) [link]. [Elif]
  • Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852). Read both prefaces, chapters I and VII [link]. [Elif]

Students' discussion questions are due by 14:00.


Marx's Capital


  • Karl Marx, Capital. A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 1. chapters 1-9, 11-12, (New York: Vintage, 1977), pp. 125-339, 417-438 [link]. [Fulya, Cain, Ceren]

An attempt to look at real wages over time: USA data

Interesting book review suggesting the relevance of Marx's labor theory of value [link].

This is good global data, but only for the last decade (thanks to Irene Sun) [link].

Here is an update one world-wide wages from the ILO.

Google Ngram scan for "Karl Marx," 1800-1900:

Google N-gram scan for "Karl Marx," 1800-2008:

Google N-gram scan of a number of leading thinkers, 1800-2008:

See (and play with) the scan at Ngram Viewer: [link]

Try your own scans: [link to Ngram Viewer]


More recent approaches to social theory: Marxist and non-Marxist


  • Michael Burawoy, "For a Sociological Marxism: The Complementary Convergence of Antonio Gramsci and Karl Polanyi," Politics and Society 31 (2) 2003, 193-261 [link]. [Fulya]
  • Thomas Pikketty, Capital [link]. [Bala]


Max Weber: Domination, status groups, classes, state, bureaucratization, rationality

Readings: [the book as pdf]

  • Weber, "Social Action," "Types of Social Action," "Communal and Associative Relationships" in Economy and Society. An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, vol. 1. Ed. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 22-26, 40-43. [All]
  • Weber, "The Types of Legitimate Domination," in Economy and Society, vol. 1, pp. 212-254. [Kerem]
  • Weber, "Domination and Legitimacy," in Economy and Society, vol. 2, pp. 941-955. [Tugce]
  • Weber, "Bureaucracy," Economy and Society, vol. 2, pp. 956-994. [Cem]


Max Weber and Georg Simmel: sociology, modern life, the stranger, metropolis


  • Weber, "Nature and Legitimacy of Territorial Political Organizations," "The Nation," "The Distribution of Power within the Political Community: Class, Status, Party," in Economy and Society, vol. 2, pp. 901-912, 921-940. [Cem] [pdf]
  • Simmel, Part I, Chap.1 "Fundamental Problems of Sociology", Part V, chaps. 3 and 4 "The Stranger" "The Metropolis and Mental Life" in The Sociology of Georg Simmel (New York: Free Press, 1964), pp. 3-25 and 402-424. [Izem] [pdf]

Video showing Berlin, where Simmel lived, around 1900


Emile Durkheim: Religion, rites, totemism, and conservatism


  • Emile Durkheim, "Introduction", Chapter One [Elif], Chapter Two [Kerem], "Conclusion" in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, a new translation by Karen E. Fields (New York: Free Press, 1995) . [link]


E. P. Thompson, History, and the Problem of Theory


  • E. P. Thompson, "Eighteenth-Century English Society: Class Struggle without Class?" Social History, Vol. 3, No. 2 (May, 1978), pp. 133-165. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4284798 [Kerem]
  • E. P. Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," Past & Present, No. 50 (Feb., 1971), pp. 76-136. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/650244
  • E. P. Thompson, "Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism," Past & Present, No. 38 (Dec., 1967), pp. 56-97 Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/649749 [Elif]
  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Robert A. Nesbit, "Conservatism and Sociology," American Journal of Sociology 58, no. 2 (September 1952): 167-175 [link]. [Izem]


Feminist theory: Standpoint feminism, intersectionality


  • Dorothy Smith, "Women's Perspective as a Radical Critique of Sociology," Sociological Inquiry, 44(1), 1974, pp. 7-13 [link]. [All]
  • Patricia Hill Collins, "Learning from the Outsider within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought," Social Problems, 33(6), 1986, pp. s14-s32 [link]. [Bala]
  • Susan Hekman, "Truth and Method. Feminist Standpoint Theory Revisited," Signs, 22(2), 1997, pp. 341-365 [link]. [Fulya]
  • Dorothy E. Smith, "Comment on Hekman's 'Truth and Method. Feminist Standpoint Theory Revisited'," Signs (22)2, 1997, pp. 392-398 [link]. [Fulya]
  • Patricia Hill Collins, "Comment on Hekman's 'Truth and Method. Feminist Standpoint Theory Revisited'. Where's the Power?" Signs (22)2, 1997, pp. 375-381 [link]. [Bala]

Google Ngram scan for related terms:

[link to full scan]

Supplementary reading: Patricia Hill Collins: "Toward a Politics of Empowerment" in Black Feminist Thought. Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (Revised 10th Anniversary Edition (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 273-290 (available as e-book in SKL)


The Psychological Turn: Zizek and Lacan


  • Slavoj Zizek, How to Read Lacan (New York: Norton, 2007) [link]. [Cain] [Ceren]
  • Slavoj Zizek, "You May!" London Review of Books Vol. 21, No. 6 (18 March 1999): 3-6 [link].


Frantz Fanon: Decolonization, working class, lumpenproletariat, liberation, violence, nationalism


  • Frantz Fanon, "On Violence," "Colonial War and Mental Disorders," "Conclusion," in The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 2004 edition), pp. 1-62 [Cem] and 181-239 [Bala] [link].
  • Immanuel Wallerstein, "Fanon and the Revolutionary Class," in The Capitalist World-Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 250-268 [link]. [Betul]


Pierre Bourdieu: Habitus, fields, practice, symbolic capital, social classes[Izem]


  • Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), pp. 1-63. [link]. [Izem]
  • Rogers Brubaker, "Rethinking Classical Theory: The Sociological Vision of Pierre Bourdieu," Theory and Society, vol. 14, no. 6 (1985): 745-775 [link]. [Betul]
  • Michael Burawoy, "Colonialism and Revolution: Fanon meets Bourdieu" [link]

Google N-gram scan of recent French theorists:


Michel Foucault: Power, discipline, biopolitics


  • M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), pp. 1-49; 133-159 [link]. [Tugce]
  • M. Foucault, "The Means of Correct Training", "Panopticism," in Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison (Westminster: Vintage, 1995), pp. 170-228 [link]. [Cain]


Other approaches to the problems of Social Theory


  • Bruno Latour, Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), chapter 1 and chapter 4 [link]. [Tugce]
  • Loic Wacquant, "Deadly Symbiosis: When Ghetto and Prison Meet and Mesh," Punishment & Society, vol. 3, (January 2001): 95-133 [link]. [Betul]

DUE on 20 May 2015: Book critique. Please submit to www.turnitin.com (class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault) by 12:00


Research Paper Due on 10 June 2015 by 23:59

Please submit to www.turnitin.com (class ID: 9417959; password: Foucault) by 12:00