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York University

Department of Sociology

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

GS/SOCI 6190 3.0 (W) - M

Selected Topics in

Classical and Contemporary Theory

Winter 2016

Course Syllabus

Course Director: Marcello Musto

Class Time: Thursday 11:30 - 14:30

Class Location: Itinerant

Office Location: Ross Bldg. N833A

Office Hours: Tuesday 17:00 - 18:00 (or by appointment)

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Unit Description

This course deals with the development of sociological theory in the major foundational thinkers of the 19th and early 20th century. Much of classical sociological theory was focussed upon growing awareness of society, as such, being the subject of profound change. Central questions addressed by its main authors were “What is the nature of the society emerging in 19th century Europe?” and “What is its significance with respect to the development of humanity?” Differences of opinion and profound debate have been characteristic of sociological theory, and have widely been recognized as contributing to its development.

Course Requirements

Class Participation:

This course is taught in weekly seminars. Attendance is strongly recommended and students are expected to participate actively in class discussion.


Classes will begin with a student presentation of 30 to 40 minutes. If possible, avoid just reading a paper aloud and try get your colleagues involved.

Each student has to meet with the course director the week before her/his presentation (or two weeks before, if necessary). During the conversation with the course director you will agree upon the main points of the presentation, therefore please come prepared to the meeting, with at least a list of main topics you would like to cover.

Presentations will be an essential part of our seminar. You will orientate the discussion toward them and will provide to your colleagues more extended insights concerning the author(s) and the theories of the week. That will be possible on the basis of the additional readings already indicated in the syllabus and/or of further texts that will be suggested by the course director.

In your presentation, you should avoid devoting too much time to the assigned readings. You will only highlight their main points (in 5 to 10 min.) and pose some open questions (at least 3/4) for the debate - to which you will respond in the end, expressing your own point of view.

The most important part of the presentation (10 to 15 min.) should be dedicated to an exposition of the vision of society conceived by the author you are presenting, and in particular her/his conception of its economic, political and social organization.

The other main issues on which to concentrate on are: the socio-historical context in which the author(s) developed her/his ideas (5 min.), her/his intellectual biography (5 min.), philological information about the writings we have been reading (2 min), and, finally, the subsequent reception and dissemination of her/his ideas (5 min.).

In the second part of each class there will also be a 10 minutes contribution from a discussant. She/he should call the attention of other students to a few particular aspects of the work of the author in question, e.g., a particular concept, the reception of her/his work in a specific country, period or school of thought, etc.

The presenter and the discussant should cooperate before class, in order to avoid overlapping with the questions they will pose and with the problematics through which they will stimulate discussion.

Final Paper Proposal:

Students are free to propose their own final paper topic, but it must be related to one or more authors, as well as key issues, discussed during the seminar. The final paper proposal should be 3-4 pages (1.500 to 2.000 words) and include the following information:

- indication of the tentative title and of the sections in which the writing will be divided;

- preliminary outline of the text;

- 5 keywords concerning the themes and the concepts to be addressed;

- a bibliography of at least 10 sources consulted;

Final paper proposals will be due, in hard copy and by email, on March 3.

Please note that you cannot write the final paper on the same author(s) you have done your presentation. Exceptions are possible, but must be discussed in advance.

Final Paper:

The Final Paper, approved through the Final Paper Proposal, will be due in hard copy and by email no later than May 9. It should:

- be a maximum of 6.000 words, including notes and final references;

- be clearly structured and divided into at least 3 or 4 sections;

- have references from hard copy books, with the indication of page numbers (no references from the internet).

Course Evaluation

Class Participation




Final Paper Proposal


Final Paper


Schedule of Classes and Readings

Week 1 – 7 January: Industrialism, Positivism and the Birth of Sociology

Required Readings:

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution 1789-1848, Chapters 1, 2 and maps, pp. 7-52 and 363-374.

George D. H. Cole's, A History of Socialist Thought, Vol. I (The Forerunners 1789-1850) , London: Macmillan & Co. 1953, Chapter IV: "Saint-Simon", pp. 37-50.

Claude de Saint-Simon, The Organizer [1819]; Industrial System [1821]; and On Social Organization [1825] (excerpts)

Michel Bourdeau, "Auguste Comte", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Auguste Comte, System of Positive Polity [1851-4], vol. I, chap. III: "Action of Positivism upon Working Classes", pp. 101-163 (in particular 101-135); vol. II, chap. V: " The Positive theory of the Social Organism", pp. 221-275 (in particular 221-227 and 242-253); and vol. I: "Letter on Social Commemoration, Philosophically Considered, Composed for Madame Clotilde de Vaux on the Occasion of her Birthday", pp. 613-618.

Additional Readings:

Pierre Ansart, Saint-Simon , Paris: Presses Universitaires de France 1969.

Pierre Ansart, Sociologie de Saint-Simon , Paris: Presses Universitaires de France 1970.

George Iggers, "Elements of a Sociology of Ideas in the Saint-Simonian Philosophy of History", in Sociological Quarterly, vol. 1 (1960).

Mary Pickering, Auguste Comte: An Intellectual Biography, 3 voll., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993-2009.

Week 2 – 14 January: Utopian Sociology

Required Readings:

Gregory Claeys, “Non-Marxian Socialism 1815-1914", in Gareth Stedman Jones - Gregory Claeys, The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1979, Chapter 16, sections 1-5, pp. 521-542.

Gregory Claeys, “Socialism and Utopia”, in Roland Schaer, Gregory Claeys, and Lyman Tower Sargent (eds), Utopia : The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World, New York: The New York Public Library - Oxford University Press 2000, pp. 206–40.

George D. H. Cole's, A History of Socialist Thought, Vol. I (The Forerunners 1789-1850) , Chapter VI: 'Fourier and Fourierism', pp. 62-74.

Charles Fourier, Theory of the Four Movements [1808];The New Industrial Wolrd [1830]; and The Phalanx [posthumous 1841-45]; and other minor writings (excerpts).

Leslie Goldstein, "Early Feminist Themes in French Utopian Socialism: The Saint-Simonian and Fourier", in Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 35 (1974).

Additional Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, Chapter I: "The Three Anticapitalistic Movement", (sections 1-5), Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1959, pp. 21-59.

Barbara Goodwin, Social Science and Utopia: Nineteenth-Century Models of Social Harmony , Hassockes: Harvester Press 1978.

Jonathan Beecher, Charles Fourier: the Visionary and His World, Berkeley: University of California Press 1986.

N. V. Riasanovsky, The Teaching of Charles Fourier, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists before Marx: Workers, Women, and the Social Question in France . Teddington: Acumen 2000.

Week 3 – 21 January: Liberalism

Required Readings:

Selection of texts from the writings of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and others (TBA).

Additional Readings:


Week 4 – 28 January: Anti-capitalism (Politics)

Required Readings:

Eric Hobsbawm, How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism, Chapter 2: "Marx, Engels and Pre-Marxian Socialism", London/New York: Little, Brown 2010.

Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 [1844], Manifesto of the Commust Party [1848] (section III), "Wage Labour and Capital" [1849], and other minor writings, pp. 83-121, 262-70, 273-96, 362-69.

Karl Marx, Resolutions of the International Working Men's Association (Nr. 2, 7, 12, 34, 44, 46, 65, 68, 71, 72, 74 and 75) [1864-72]; and other writings (excerpts).

Additional Readings:

Maximilien Rubel – Margaret Manale, Marx Without Myth: A Chronological Study of his Life and Work, New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Joseph O'Malley and Keith Algozin (eds), Rubel on Karl Marx: Five Essays, Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Marcello Musto, “Introduction”, in Id. (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), London–New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 1-68.

John Bellamy Foster, Marx's Ecology, New York: Monthly Review Press 2000.

Week 5 – 4 February: Anti-capitalism (Political Economy)

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, Grundrisse [1857-58]; Capital, vol. I [1867] (sections 3, 6, 10-13); "Results of the Immediate Process of Production"; "On Bakunin's Sattism and Anarchy", Critique of the Gotha Programme, and other writings (excerpts), pp. 373-430, 452-525 (but only the sections indicated above), 547-561, 606-28.

Additional Readings:

Paresh Chattopadhyay, 'The Failure of Twentieth-Century Socialism and Marx’s Continuing Relevance', Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 24, n. 3 (2010), pp. 23-45.

Paresh Chattopadhyay, 'Passage to Socialism: The Dialectic of Progress in Marx', Historical Materialism, Vol. 14, n.3 (2006), pp. 45-84.

Roman Rosdolsky, The Making of Marx’s Capital, London: Pluto 1977 (Chapters XXVIII and XXIX).

Michael Lebowitz, Beyond Capital, Basingstoke: Palgrave 2003, pp. 27-50

Kevin Anderson, Marx at the Margins, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2010.

Bertell Ollman (et al.), Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialist, London: Routledge 1998.

Week 6 – 11 February: Structural functionalism

Required Readings:

Emile Durkheim, Socialism and Saint-Simon [posthumous 1928], Chapters 1, 2, 7-9, 10 and 12; Lectures on Sociology, and the "Preface" to the second edition of The Division of Labour in Society.,%20Emile%20-%20Socialism%20and%20Saint%20Simon.pdf,%20Emile%20-%20The%20Division%20of%20Labour%20in%20Society.pdf

Additional Readings:

Steven Lukes, Émile Durkheim: His Life and Works. Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1973.

Marcel Fournier, Emile Durkheim 1858-1917. Paris: Fayard, 2007.

Stephen Turner (ed.), Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Moralist, New York: Rutledge, 1993.

Susan Stedman-Jones, Durkheim Reconsidered, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001.

Kenneth Thompson, Emile Durkheim. London: Routledge, 1982.

Anthony Giddens, Durkheim, ‪London: Harvester, 1978.

Warren Schmaus, Rethinking Durkheim and his Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Week 7 – 3 March: Anarchism

Required Readings:

Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism [1910]; and The Conquest of Bread [1892].

Additional Readings:

George Woodcock - Ivan Avakumovic, The Anarchist Prince: A Biographical Study of Peter Kropotkin, London/New York: Boardman & Co 1950.

Caroline Cahm, Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism 1872–1886, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1989.

Brian Morris, Kropotkin: The Politics of Community, Amherst: Humanity Books 2004.

Week 8 – 10 March: On the Other Side of the Atlantic: Critical Sociology in the USA

Required Readings:

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America [1835 - 1840] (excerpts).

Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class [1899] (excerpts).

Charles Wright Mills, White Collar [1951] (excerpts).

Additional Readings:

Cheryl Welch, De Tocqueville, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Stephen Edgell, Veblen in Perspective: His Life and Thought, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.

John Eldridge, C. Wright Mills, London: Horwood, 1983.

Week 9 – 17 March: Rational Capitalism

Required Readings:

Max Weber, Economy and Society [posthumous 1922] (excerpts) and "Socialism" [1918], in Peter Lassman - Ronald Speirs (eds), Max Weber: Political Writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Additional Readings:

Joachim Radkau, Max Weber: a Biography, London: Polity, 2009.

Charles Camic, Philip Gorski and David Trubek (eds.), Max Weber’s Economy and Society: A Critical Companion, Stanford University Press 2005.

Collins, Randall, “Weber and the Sociology of Revolution”, Journal of Classical Sociology, vol. 1 (2001), No. 2, pp. 171-194.

Bryan S. Turner, Max Weber: From History to Modernity, London: Routledge 1993.

Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait, Berkeley: University of California Press 1978.

Week 10 – 24 March: Heterodox Communisms

Required Readings:

Marcel van der Linden, "On Council Communism", in Historical Materialism, vol. 12 (2004), n. 4.

Rosa Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution [1900] (sections 3-5 and 7-9); The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions [1906] (sections 4 and 6-8); "The Socialisation of Society" [1918].

Karl Korsch, "What is Socialization?" [1919].

Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks [1929-35] and other minor writings (excerpts).

Anton Pannekoek, Workers' Councils [1946], Chapters I and 2.

Additional Readings:

Lelio Basso, Rosa Luxemburg: A Reappraisal, London: Deutsch 1975.

Paul Mattick, Anti-Bolshevik Communism, London: Merlin 1978.

[and also by the same author on Karl Korsch: and]

Marcel van der Linden, Western Marxism and the Soviet Union, Leiden: Brill 2007.

Antonio Santucci, Antonio Gramsci, New York: Monthly Review Press 2010.

Week 11 – 31 March: The Frankfurt School

Required Readings:

Selections from the writings of Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno and other authors (TBA).

Additional Readings

Jay Bernstein (Ed.), The Frankfurt School: Critical Assessments, 6 voll., London: Routledge, 1994.

Week 12 – 7 April: Feminism

Required Readings:

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex [1949] (excerpts).

Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman [1974] (excerpts); and This Sex Which Is Not One [1977] (Chapter 8 "Women on the Market" and excerpts).

Additional Readings:

Nancy Holmstrom, The Socialist Feminist Project: A Contemporary Reader in Theory and Politics, New York: Monthly Review Press 2002.

Rosemary Hennessy - Chris Ingraham, Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women's Lives, New York: Routledge 1997.

D. Bair, Introduction to Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Vintage, 1989.

Z. Eisenstein (ed.), Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, New York: Monthly Review Press 1979.