Contemporary Social Theory (Aut) (L4046A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module provides a critical assessment of the some of the most prominent sociological theorists in the late twentieth century. This period can be described as post-classical in the sense that the various schools of classical sociological theory associated with Marx, Weber, Durkheim and their later followers gave way to a range of new approaches such as those linked to post-structuralism, such as Foucault - as well as to new interpretations of the classical approaches, such as social constructionism, western Marxism and critical theory. The central aim of the module is to show how contemporary thinkers have understood the major transformations in modern society (ie from industrial to post-industrial society, globalization, new social movements such as feminism, environmental movements, identity politics). This will involve a consideration of some of the most important debates in sociological theory, such as the debates about modernity versus postmodernity, structure versus agency as well as the influence of psychoanalytic social theory emanating from feminist theory and from post-structuralism.

The weekly topics include:

  • Social Constructionism
  • Foucault and Govermentality
  • Habermas and Critical Theory
  • Recognition Theory (Honneth)
  • Marxism after Postmodernism
  • Bourdieu and Recent French Sociology
  • Poststructuralism and Psychoanalysis: Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze
  • Bauman’s Postmodern Ethics
  • Network Theory: Latour and Castells
  • Theories of Modernity
  • Cosmopolitanism and Social Theory
  • Culture and Social Theory (performativity, Alexander).


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 37 hours of contact time and 263 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2017/18. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: