Created: Friday, 04 September 2020 17:18 | Rate this article
( 0 Votes ) 
| Category: Undergraduate Courses

York University
Department of Sociology
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

AP/SOCI 3640 6.0 A (Y) - Section B

Political Sociology

Fall 2019 - Winter 2020

Course Director: Marcello Musto
Class Time: Wednesday 19:00 - 22:00
Class Location: DB 1016
Office Location: Ross Building N833A
Office Hours: Monday 16:30 - 18:30 (and by appointment)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Course Syllabus

Although discussions on the negative effects and consequences of capitalism have recently spread, ideas about how to concretely promote a more just and democratic socio-economic system have remained deficient or lack public support. Today it seems that there is no alternative political-economic model that represents an effective challenge to capitalism.

The aim of this course is to critically survey the progressive theories and emancipatory experiments proposed in the time period between the French Revolution (1789) and Russian Revolution (1917), in order to understand how they sought to construct social, economic and political alternatives to the capitalist system. Using the lens of political sociology, we will examine some of the most relevant political changes of the “long 19th Century” in their social and historical contexts. The Industrial Revolution, the birth of labour movement, the rise of class politics and the spread of democracy will be among the main themes addressed by this course.  

The readings for this course were selected in order to enhance students’ understanding of concepts central to political sociology such as the nature of political power and theories of  social change. The main analytical focus of the course will concentrate on evaluating the adequacy of capitalism to address the challenges and opportunities of European societies in the 19th Century and identifying the main characteristics of the alternatives to capitalism proposed within the Socialist tradition. Finally, we will also assess the relevance of the alternatives proposed in the past for the fundamental and enduring social problems of our society today.

Course Requirements

Class Participation (20%):

This course is taught in weekly lectures lasting 2 hours and 50 minutes. Attendance and informed participation at all class meetings is always required. Students are expected to attend class regularly, complete the assigned readings on time (always the required readings and, when possible, the additional readings) and participate actively in class discussion. Participation will be marked for attendance and quality of contribution in class.
In the lectures the course director will:

  • give all the pertinent biographical information about the author and the historical context in which the assigned texts were written;
  • reconstruct the argument of the author and provide an overview of the assigned readings;
  • identify the key questions for discussion, and the controversies implied by the material;
  • critically analyze the texts (for example: what are the limitations of the position expressed in the readings?);
  • identify anything you found unclear or hard to understand;
  • conclude with discussion questions for the group to consider.

Please note that consumption of food and the use of cell phones in classroom will not be allowed.

Midterm Exams (2 exams each worth 20%= 40%):

Two midterm exams will be held on November 13, 2019 and on February 26, 2020, at the regular class time and place. The exam will last 90 minutes and will consist of answering 3 questions drawn from the assigned readings until that date. At the fall midterm exam, students will be required to respond to questions concerning the readings from week 1 to week 9, while at the winter midterm exam students will have to respond to questions related to the readings of the period lasting weeks 11 to week 18.  Midterm marks will be available within two weeks after the exam.
Medical or family emergencies are the only reasons for legitimate absences from tests. Students are required to submit documentation indicating the reason for their absence. Students who miss a test will be offered the opportunity to write an additional assignment worth the same amount as the test that was missed only one time.
All students who require extra accommodation for either tests or assignments are responsible for consulting with the York University office in charge of alternate exam/test.

Presentation and Discussant (20%):

During the course, each student will be required to give a 15 minutes presentation in each semester, one in the Fall and another in the Winter, for a cumulative total of two presentations. Each presentation is worth 10% of your final grade, totalling 20% in total.  Presentations will focus on the assigned readings of the week. Presenters should provide a 1-page or about 500-word summary (single spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman), in hard copy, to the course director. A good presentation is very important to stimulate critical thinking. Therefore, please avoid just reading from a paper, and try to present ideas and raise questions in order to engage other members of the class. Presentations should:

  • reconstruct all the main ideas of the author of the week and provide an overview of their theories;
  • critically discuss the main problems and controversies of the readings;
  • connect the ideas presented in the readings with contemporary issues and debates;
  • conclude with three discussion questions for the group to consider. They can also address whether or not the theories presented in the readings are applicable to our contemporary society.

Examples of possible presentations will be provided during the semester by the course director.
Please note that the presenters are responsible for coordinating their discussions with the course director before class, in order to ensure that their respective presentations and questions are adequately different.  

Final Exam (20%):

The Final exam will be held on April 1 at the regular class time and place. It will have the same format of the midterm exams, but it will be bigger. Students will be required to respond to 3 questions in a maximum of 2 hours. The first question will be related to the whole course and to the topic “Alternative to Capitalism” in general (main concepts and comparison among his most important thinkers), while the last 2 questions to which students will have to respond will be focused on the readings from week 20 to week 23.
Students who miss a test will be not offered the opportunity to write an additional assignment

Access to Course Readings:

Many of the required readings are classics of sociological thought and are, therefore, available on-line. More information will be given in class and on the course director website:

All required and additional readings indicated in the syllabus are available at Scott library. The volumes listed below have been placed on two hours reserve at Scott library.

Thomas Janoski - Robert Alford - Alexander Hicks and Mildred Schwartz (Eds.), The Handbook of Political Sociology: States, Civil Societies, and Globalization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, London: MacMillan 1962

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume II: Marxism and Anarchism 1850-1890, London: MacMillan 1961

Harry W. Laidler, History of Socialism, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell 1968

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press 1959

Course Evaluation

Class Participation                          20%    
First Midterm Exam (Fall)                         20%
First Presentation               10%
Second Midterm Exam (Winter)               20%
Second Presentation               10%
Final Exam               20%

Thirty-five (35%) of each student’s mark will be completed by February 3, 2020, the last day to drop a course without receiving a grade. This graded feedback will be made up of class participation for the Fall semester worth 10%, plus the first midterm exam worth 20%, and the first presentation/discussion worth 10%, totalling 40%. This information will be communicated to students who request it.  

Schedule of Classes and Readings


Week 1 – 4 Sept:         What is Political Sociology? Introduction and Overview

Recommended Readings:

Reinhard Bendix and Seymour Lipset, “Political Sociology: An essay with special reference to the development of research in the United States of America and Western Europe”, Current Sociology, vol. VI (1957), no. 2, 79-99.

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

Week 2 – 11 Sept:        Saint-Simon and the Sociology of Industrialism

Required Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, University of California, pp. 21-35 (Chap. I: “The Three Anticapitalistic Movement”, sections 1, 2 and 3).

Claude de Saint-Simon, Selection of The Organizer [1819], Industrial System [1821] and On Social Organization [1825].

Additional Readings:

Ghita Ionescu, Introduction, in Id. (ed.), The Political Thought of Saint-Simon, Cambridge University Press 1976.

Week 3 – 18 Sept:        Saint-Simonism: Tecnocraticism, Planning and the Role of Science

Required Readings:

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 37-61 (Chap. IV: “Saint-Simon” and Chap. V “The Saint-Simonians”).

Henri de Saint-Simon (ed. Markham), Henri Comte de Saint-Simon, 1760-1825: Selected Writings. Blackwell Oxford, 1952.

Additional Readings:

Henri de Saint-Simon, Henri Saint-Simon (1760-1825): Selected Writings on Science, Industry, and Social Organization. Croom Helm. 1975.

Week 4 – 25 Sept:        Fourier and the New Associative Order

Required Readings:

George D. H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 62-74 (Chap. VI: 'Fourier and Fourierism').

Charles Fourier, Design for Utopia, pp. 76-81, 120-30, 163-70, 203-4.

Jonathan Beecher, Charles Fourier: The Visionary and His World, pp. 454-71.

Additional Readings:

Charles Fourier, 'Attractive Labour'

Week 5 – 2 Oct:        Fourierism: Phalanstery, Gradualism and Gender Equality

Required Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, pp. 35-40 (Subsection: “Fourier”).

Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists Before Marx: Workers, Women and the Social Question in France, pp. 107-34 (Chap. 7: “Association: Dream Worlds”).

Jonathan Beecher, Victor Considerant and the Rise and Fall of French Romantic Socialism, pp. 58-78 and 446-52.

Additional Readings:

Charles Fourier, 'The Phalanstery' (Fragment I)

Charles Fourier, 'The Phalanstery' (Fragment II)

Week 6 – 9 Oct:        Cabet and the Icarians    

Required Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, pp. 41-46 (Subsection: “Cabet”).

Etienne Cabet, Voyage to Icaria, in Frank Manuel – Fritzie Manuel (Eds.), French Utopias: An Anthology of Ideal Societies, pp. 329-44.

Christopher Johnson, Utopian Communism in France: Cabet and the Icarians, 1839-1851, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 288-300.

Additional Readings:

George D. H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 75-79 (Chap. IV: ‘Cabet and the Icarian Communists’).

Week 7 – 23 Oct:        Owen and the Cooperative Movement

Required Readings:

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 86-101 (Chap. IX: 'Owen and Owenism - Earlier Phases')

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, pp. 46-59 (Chap. I: 'The Three Anticapitalistic Movement', subsection dedicated to “Robert Owen”)

Robert Owen, A New View of Society (Essay Four: 'The end of government is to make the governed and the governors happy')

Additional Readings:

Gregory Claeys, Searching for Utopia: The History of an Idea, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2011, pp. 113-140 (Chap. 8: “Ideal Cities” and Chap. 9: “Utopia as Community”).

Robert Owen, A New View of Society (Essay Two: 'The Principles of the Former Essay Continued, and Applied in Part to Practice').

Week 8 – 30 Oct:        The Owenites, Chartism and British Working Class

Required Readings:

Ralph Miliband, “The Politics of Robert Owen”, Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 15 (1954), n. 2, pp. 233-245.

John Harrison, Quest for the New Moral World, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, pp. 45-87.

A. L. Morton, The Life and Ideas of Robert Owen, London: Lawrence and Wishart, pp. 170-178.

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 120-131 (Chap. XI: 'Owen and the Trade Unions - The end of Owenism')

Additional Readings:

Chushichi Tsuzuki, “Robert Owen and Revolutionary Politics”, in Sidney Pollard – John Salt, Robert Owen: Prophet of the Poor, London: Macmillan, pp. 13-38.

Gregory Claeys, “Early Socialism as Intellectual History”, History of European Ideas, vol. 40 (2014), no. 7, pp. 893-904.

Week 9 – 6 Nov:        Proudhon’s Mutualism

Required Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, pp. 59-68 (Chap. I: 'The Three Anticapitalistic Movement', section 6)

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 201-218 (Chap. XIX: 'Proudhon').

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, “Bank of the People”, in Iain McKay (Ed.), Property is Theft!, Oakland, CA: AK Press, pp. 383-393.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, The Political Capacity of the Working Class (Chap. XIII: “On Association, Within Mutuality”), in Iain McKay (Ed.), Property is Theft!, Oakland, CA: AK Press, pp. 744-753.

Additional Readings:

Margaret Hall, The Sociology of Pierre Joseph Proudhon, 1809-1865, Philosophical Library, 1971.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (Chap. III: 'The Principle of Association', and Chap. VI: section 3: 'Division of Labour, Collective Forces, Machines, Workingmen’s Associations')

Week 10 – 13 Nov:        First Midterm Exam

Week 11 – 20 Nov:        Socialism and Woman’s Emancipation

Required Readings:

Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists Before Marx: Workers, Women and the Social Question in France, pp. 75-106 (Chap. 6: “The New Woman”).

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 183-188 (Chap. XVII: “Flora Tristan”).

Flora Tristan, The Workers’ Union, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007, pp. 75-89 (Chap. III “Why I Mention Women”).

Additional Readings:

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 168-176 (Chap. XV: “Louis Blanc and the Organisation of Labour”).

Ian Birchall, The Spectre of Babeuf, Chicago: Haymarket, 2016 (Second Edition).

Week 12 – 27 Nov:        Blanqui, the Revolution and the Power of Insurrection

Required Readings:

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, pp. 158-167 (Chap. XIV: “Blanqui and Blanquism”).

Louis Auguste Blanqui, The Blanqui Reader: Political Writings, 1830–1880, London: Verso, 2018.

Doug Enaa Greene, Communist Insurgent: Blanqui’s Politics of Revolution, Chicago: Haymarket, 2017, pp. 95-113 and 135-144 (Chap. VIII “The Duty of a Revolutionary”; Chap. X “Eternity by the Stars”; Chap. XI “Ni Dieu ni Maitre” “Conclusion”; “Epilogue”).

Additional Readings:

Louis Blanqui, Selected Works, Lexington, 2015 (extract).


Week 13 – 8 Jan:        Marx (Part 1): Bourgeoisie, Proletariat and Class Struggle

Required Readings:

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party. (No need to read the prefaces – pp. 1-13.)

Marcello Musto, “Revisiting Marx’s Concept of Alienation”, Socialism and Democracy, vol. 24 (2010), no. 3: 79-101.
(Available through Scott Library)

Additional Readings:

Eric Hobsbawm, How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (Chap. 2: “Marx, Engels and Pre-Marxian Socialism”).

Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (Chap. I: “The Development of Utopian Socialism”).

Week 14 – 15 Jan:        The International Working Men’s Association and Global Solidarity

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, “Introduction”, in Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), London–New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 1-30.

Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), London–New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, documents 1-4, 7, 11-3, 29, 34, 44, 53, 58-63, 65-80.

The book is available here:

Additional Readings:

Milorad M. Drachkovitch (Ed.), The Revolutionary Internationals, 1864-1943. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966.

Week 15 – 22 Jan:        The Paris Commune and Workers’ Self-Emancipation

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, “Introduction”, in Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), London–New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 30-57.

Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, documents 46, 32-42, 54-7.

(Same book used for January 15)

Louise Michel, (read the links below: biography and documents).

Additional Readings:

Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune, Verso.

Peter Watkins, La commune (Paris, 1871), France, 345 min.
Part 1:
Part 2:

Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, History of the Paris Commune of 1871 [1876], London: Verso.

Week 16 – 29 Jan:        Marx (Part 2): Communism

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, “Communism”, in Marcello Musto (Ed.), The Marx Revival: Key Concepts and New Critical Interpretations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, pp. 24-50.

(This chapter is attached)

Karl Marx, Capital (extracts).

Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme.

Additional Readings:

Paresh Chattopadhyay, 'The Failure of Twentieth-Century Socialism and Marx’s Continuing Relevance', Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 24 (2010), no. 3, pp. 23-45.

Week 17 – 5 Feb:        Bakunin, Anarchism and the Struggle Against the State

Required Readings:

Mikhail Bakunin, (a selection of Writings and Speeches).

(This is attached – See Bakunin No Gods)

Karl Marx, “On Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy”.

Additional Readings:

Daniel Guerin, No Gods, No Masters, AK Press, 2005.

Week 18 – 12 Feb:        The Narodniks and Populism in Russia

Required Readings:

Vera Zasulich - Karl Marx, "Letters on Social Relations in Russia"

Franco Venturi, Roots Of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960, in particular chapters 7: "The Peasant Movement", 8: "The Student Movement", 9: "The First Groups", pp. 204-252, Chapter 18: "The Movement 'Go to the People'", pp. 469-506, Chapter 19: "The Working Class Movement", pp. 507-558.

Andrzey Walichi, The Controversy over Capitalism, Oxford: OUP, 1969 (excerpt).

Additional Readings:

James H. Billington, Mikhailovsky and Russian populism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958.

Richard Wortman, The Crisis of Russian populism, London: CUP, 1967.

Arthur P. Mendel, Dilemmas of Progress in Tsarist Russia: Legal Marxism and Legal Populism, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.

Week 19 – 26 Feb:        Second Midterm Exam

Week 20 – 4 Mar:        Kropotkin: Expropriation and Decentralization

Required Readings:

Martin Buber, Pfade in Utopia, 1950 (Chap. 5).

Peter Kropotkin, “Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal”

Peter Kropotkin, excerpts on Anarchist theory of the state.

(This is attached – See Kropotkin 1)

Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of the Bread, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 31-40.

(This is attached – See Kropotkin 2)

Additional Readings:

Paresh Chattopadhyay, The Associate Mode of Production, Brill, 2017.

Week 21 – 11 Mar:        Social Democracy and Welfare State

Required Readings:

Karl Kautsky, The Road to Power, (Chap. I, III and IV).

Additional Readings:

Documents of the Second International (a selection).

Week 22 – 18 Mar:        Luxemburg and the General Strike
Required Readings:

Gabriel Kuhn (Ed.), All the Power to the Councils: A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918-1919, Oakland: PM Press, 2012, in particular: Ernst Daeumig, "The Council Idea and Its Realization", pp. 51-58.

Rosa Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906) (sections 4 and 6-8).

Rosa Luxemburg, "The Socialisation of Society" (1918).

Additional Readings:

Pierre Broué, The German Revolution, 1917-1923, London: Merlin Press, 2006, Chapter 1: 1-10, Chapter 7: pp. 89-110, Chapter 8: 129-155.

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

Week 23 – 25 Mar:        Gramsci and the Question of Cultural Hegemony

Required Readings:

Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks (extracts).

Additional Readings:

Joseph Buttigieg, Introduction, in Id. (ed.), Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, Columbia University Press, 1992.

Gwyn A. Williams, Proletarian Order: Antonio Gramsci, Factory Councils and the Origins of Communism in Italy, 1911-1921, London: Pluto Press, 1975.

Week 24 – 1 Apr:        Final Exam