Theory is the activity of relating specific facts together into an overall pattern. In sociology, theory and empirical research are closely connected: sociological theorizing is based on the results of past research, and works to explain those results while framing new research questions. Theory also helps connect sociological knowledge to the practical demands of personal troubles and public issues.
In sociology, basic theoretical questions include:
One of the exciting things about sociology as a discipline is that it suggests more than one possible answer to each of these questions. Within the discipline, several quite different theoretical orientations are engaged in a debate over the most basic questions of social life. Students are invited to join in that debate!
Sociological Theoretical Foundations (SOC 2220), a required course for the Sociology major and honours programs, has two main objectives. First, it introduces students to the debates over basic questions at the core of the discipline. Students learn to see how differing claims about society presuppose differing theoretical choices. Second, it offers students the chance to develop skills in reading and critically analyzing the original writings of important theorists.
Building on the basic skills laid down in SOC 2220, the third-year courses offer students a chance to explore sociological theory in some depth through the examination of specific topics or issues. These courses especially allow instructors to engage students with their own areas of theoretical interest, and to help students develop their own budding research agendas.
Sociology majors choose one; honours students take two of these courses:
The two Honours theory seminars hone students’ ability to engage closely with challenging theoretical texts, and orient them to the range of theoretical projects that inform contemporary sociological research. Students who go on to graduate study will have been given a road map and a set of tools that equip them to make and defend their own theoretical choices. Students who go on to other pursuits will have been given the means to think deeply about the social world, and to sense the other possibilities that lie beyond the social world as it currently is.
SOC 4460 Advanced Sociological Theory I
SOC 4560 Advanced Sociological Theory II
While theorizing is a key component of all of our graduate course offerings, the department offers a number of specialized courses in which students can hone and advance their knowledge of sociological theory.
SOC 7190 Seminar in Selected Topics in Sociological Theory
SOC 7320 Seminar in Political Sociology
SOC 7430 Seminar in Classical Sociological Theory
SOC 7440 Seminar in Contemporary Sociological Theory
|Classical Theory||Charles Axelrod, Mara Fridell|
|Criminological Theory||Elizabeth Comack, Russell Smandych, Andrew Woolford|
|Critical Cultural Theory||Sonia Bookman, Mara Fridell, Christopher Fries, Andrew Woolford|
|Feminist Theory||Elizabeth Comack, Mara Fridell, Susan Prentice|
|Political Economy/State Theory||Mara Fridell, Mark Hudson, Gregg Olsen, Susan Prentice|
|Social Psychology||Daniel Albas|