You are on page 1of 9

Summer 2011 Course Syllabus for SOC101 - Development of Sociological Theory

Instructor Information
Lutz Kaelber, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont

Communication and Announcement Policy

I always try to be available for help. To contact me, send me a message in Blackboard any time, using the Messages link at the left of your screen. During the week, I'll usually respond within 24 hours, but probably not on weekends. I can be contacted through my UVM email (, but all assignments and discussion postings have to go through Blackboard because other paths cannot be traced (sorry, no exceptions). I will make announcements either through "Announcements" or "Messages" in Blackboard.

Course Overview and Goals

Course Description
Emphasizing the development of students' analytical skills through writing, this course offers a survey of the origins, content, use, and current relevance of classical sociological theories (until about 1930). Theories in the social sciences describe and explain human behavior in social settings. Such theories are more than foggy ideas about societies; they are systematic, often wellcrafted statements about the relations between social actors, groups, or institutions. For the most part, their descriptive elements are derived from empirical observations, their explanations supported by evidence. Many such theories exist, but we will concentrate on a select few, as students tend to learn more by exploring a few core theories, theoretical perspectives, and paradigms in depth than by a reading little bit about many of them. It has been my experience that students learn more and attain a deeper understanding when they read core theoretical statements in the original and do not rely solely on secondary accounts. The choice of theories and theoretical perspectives for this course is guided by two considerations. First, we will examine, discuss, and compare theories that constitute the core of classical theory. Among the most important contributors to classical sociological theory are Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber; we will study their writings. Second, we will explore the thought of other classical theorists who were once considered, or have more recently become recognized as, major sociological scholars. Student will have the opportunity to study female scholars such as Harriet Martineau, and others, including Herbert Spencer and W. E. B. Du Bois.

I will expect active participation throughout the duration of the course, on-time preparation and posting of reading and writing assignments, and a willingness to consider new ideas.


preparing students majoring (and minoring) in sociology for upper-level sociology classes that require a knowledge of the established principles of academic scholarship; giving students an in-depth look at theoretical perspectives central to social science disciplines; encouraging students to examine and compare theories critically; and developing analytical skills and having the theoretical tools to address a wide range of social phenomena.

This course is intended for sociology majors and minors. I do not recommend that students take it in order to fulfill a general education requirement. Contact me about SOC14 as an alternative (typically offered online during the same summer session as SOC101). Prerequisites: Six hours of sociology or equivalent preparation in another social science with instructor's permission. The Sociology Department recommends that students take SOC101 and SOC100 before enrolling in a SOC 200-level course and, for sociology majors, before the start of the junior year. Furthermore, as posted on UVM's Sociology Dept.'s homepage, SOC "001 and 100, or 001 and 101, or instructors permission is a prerequisite for enrollment in any 200-level course."

Course Format
Class format consists of a sequence of lectures and assignments (modules) that encourage you to analyze, write about, discuss, and apply classical sociological theorists. Because this is an online course, you have the flexibility of writing and posting your assignments at any time, from anywhere, as long as you complete and post them on or before the scheduled deadlines.

Hardware/Software Requirements and Plug-Ins

Please make sure to use a reasonable recent computer with MS Word as well as a PDF reader (such as Adobe Acrobat of Foxit Reader). In order to be able to access materials and view/download/upload them, you should have either a broadband connection, or at the very least, access to a broadband connection, such as in a public library.

Make sure you use an up-to-date browser as well as a flash player ( and Apple Quicktime.

Required Reading
Required Readings for Purchase
Du Bois, W. E. B. 1999. The souls of black folk. Edited by Henri Louis Gates, Jr. and Terri Hume Oliver. New York: Norton. (ISBN: 039397393X) link Durkheim, Emile. 1997. Suicide. Translated by J. A. Spaulding and G. Simpson. New York: Free Press. (ISBN: 0684836327) Amazon link Marx, Karl. 1978. The Marx-Engels reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker 2d ed. New York: Norton. (ISBN: 039309040X) Amazon link Weber, Max. 2010. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Translated by Stephen Kalberg. Revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (ISBN: 0199747253). Amazon link - The cover looks like this:

Note: Unfortunately, earlier/other editions of these books are based on different translations and have different page numbers and therefore cannot be used. Pretending to use these translations/editions but in fact using a different translation/edition is a case of academic dishonesty that will not be tolerated. Make sure to purchase these books early. Note that the subject matter of the papers gets much more difficult, and the scores for the Weber paper in particular can be very low without adequate preparation (i.e., a thorough reading of the texts). Hence, you will need to develop your writing

and analytical skills throughout the semester and apply them to all the papers. Start reading these materials early, and read them carefully and thoroughly. All books are available for purchase at popular vendors such as Amazon (see links above--I provide these links only for the sake of convenience) and the UVM bookstore (tel.: 800-3317305 or 802-656-3290).

Online Readings
Besides these books, there will be readings available online in the "Lectures." Sometimes the readings are regular websites, but they are mostly "electronic reserve" readings, that is, articles that you can download in "pdf" format from the online course reserves at the UVM library Web site. When you click on the link to these readings, you will be prompted to enter your UVM net ID and password to access them. (Most of these will be much easier to read if you print them out; that's why you should make sure you have access to a functioning printer.)

Grading Components
1. Papers
You will be required to turn in three papers. All papers must conform to the Technical Guidelines included with the Paper Assignments and Guidelines (see Course Menu). There will be significant deductions in cases of insufficient documentation or mechanical shortcomings described in Most Common Mistakes in that document. All papers are due before the end of the designated day. IN MY EXPERIENCE, STUDENTS WHO TURN IN LATE PAPERS TEND TO DO VERY POORLY. The criteria to assess each paper are listed in the Paper Assignments and Guidelines for each paper. A separate feedback form is listed there that is used to assess papers. It includes deductions due to lateness (25% per day) and the policy that a paper more than three days late is not accepted unless there are mitigating circumstances such as illness.

2. Exams
There will be two on-line exams on the readings and lectures. The first exam contains 100 questions and has a time limit of 150 minutes. The second exam contains 50 questions and has a time limit of 75 minutes. Both exams have to be taken and completed on the designated day given in the Course Schedule. There is no makeup for a missed exam unless there are mitigating circumstances such as illness that must be documented.

3. Discussion Postings and Participation

The discussions are a significant part of this course. The course is divided into 5 modules: Beginnings, Durkheim, Marx, Weber, and DuBois. There are discussions on all of these modules. Components Max. Points Grade Schedule Grade 1000-966 points A+ 965-933 points A 932-900 points A899-866 points B+ 865-833 points B 832-800 points B799-766 points C+ 765-733 points C 732-700 points C699-666 points D+ 665-633 points D 632-600 points D599-000 points F

Papers - 150 points each 450 Exams - 200 points each 400 Discussion Postings Total 150 1000

Policies and Procedures

Special Needs
If you have special needs (due to personal circumstances, emergencies, disability, illness, etc.), I will do my best to make the necessary accommodations. Please let me know as soon as possible, but I need at least a week's notice. For documentation of a disability, please see the UVM Disability Services to help you become eligible under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. See the UVM Student Handbook for details.

Academic Honesty
Offenses against academic honesty are any acts that would have the effect of unfairly promoting or enhancing one's academic standing within the entire community of learners which includes, but is not limited to, the faculty and students of the University of Vermont. Academic dishonesty includes knowingly permitting or assisting any person in the committing an act of academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty, especially plagiarism (submitting material as one's own work that is someone else's) and cheating (getting unauthorized help on an exam or assignment), cannot be tolerated in learning communities. Some may not understand that plagiarism involves more than copying an entire paper from another source. Plagiarism also occurs when phrases and sentences are copied without acknowledgment. Of course, you will be using a few words or concepts in your writing(s) that come from the assigned reading. That is legitimate. What is not legitimate is copying phrases and sentences from the assigned reading or other sources and using them as if they represented your own writing. A rough rule of thumb is that plagiarism occurs if the writing in question could not have been constructed without copying directly (however sporadically) from the assigned reading. In any case, you are responsible for knowing and following all University policies regarding Academic Honesty. The Paper Assignments and Guidelines (see Course Menu) include Technical Guidelines for Papers, which spell out in great detail what I expect and what does and does not constitute plagiarism. Study this sheet very carefully, as well as UVM's Code of Academic Integrity. Offenses against academic honesty will be handled in accordance with applicable University policies. If I find evidence of a major academic offense, including materials being lifted off a web page, I will file formal charges with the designated judicial authorities. Sanctions for major offenses include dismissal from the University.

Paper Instructions
You should compose your paper offline, using your own word processing software. Most of us will be using Microsoft Word, but to ensure that I can read your work, save and send me your essay according to the following guidelines: 1. Name your file with your last name and the assignment name. Note: do not punctuate or leave a space between your name and the number. Save it as a MS Word or RTF ("rich text format") file, and check that it has a .doc or .rtf extension after the file name (example: millerpaper1.doc). 2. Click on the Messages link on the left in the course menu. Click on "Messages." Click on "New Message." Under 1, Recipients, click on "To." Choose Lutz Kaelber (Instructor) from the menu and click on the top triangle button to move it to the Recipients field. In 2. Compose Message, fill in the subject line, with your name and title of the assignment (for example, "Sean Miller, Paper 2"). In 3. Attachments, click on the Browse button. A separate window will open up in which you can browse your computer (hard drive, usb stick, etc.). Click on the correct file that contains your document, give the file the correct name (see above), and then click on the "Open" button. This should close the separate window. In 4. Submit, click on the Submit button. Give it some time to upload. Now go to the "Sent" folder and check that your file was indeed sent. You should see a paper clip symbol to the left of the name of the recipient. Only paper submissions in Blackboard are accepted. You cannot use regular email to submit assignments.

A CAUTIONARY WORD TO PROCRASTINATORS: Expect computer problemsDO NOT wait until the last minute to post your work. Late work affects class dynamics and your grade. If you anticipate a problem meeting a deadline, be sure to contact me before the work is due. Simply put, in order to get full value from this class (and to do well), you need to be consistently prepared, and to actively participate.

An "A" or "A-"will be given to assignments that are clearly superior in form as well as content. In terms of form, such assignments will: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Contain virtually no typographical errors; Exhibit succinct as well as clear prose; Include virtually no mistakes of grammar or punctuation; Furnish adequate citations for all quotations; Be well organized; Use an appropriate citation style appropriate for sociology.

In terms of content, such assignments will: 1. Indicate a thorough and careful reading of the assigned texts by making appropriate references; 2. Prove sophisticated in their grasp of the subtleties of the assigned text(s); 3. Exhibit a capacity to draw connections between non-obvious points. Some form of "B" will given to assignments that: Indicate a good grasp of the text in question, a competent ability to develop a coherent argument and a capacity to write decent prose. Such assignments are average in the sense that they represent what I think most UVM students are capable of producing. As such, these assignments do not stand out from the crowd in the way "A" assignments do. Some form of "B" will also be given to assignments that are either unusually strong in content, but somewhat weaker in form, or vice versa. Obviously, a "B+" will go to assignments that are better than the majority and that demonstrate at least the potential to be truly excellent. A "B-" will go to assignments, which, although coherently argued and decently composed, do not go much beyond a solid understanding of the text under consideration. Grades in the "B+" to "B-"" range should be read as expressions of my sense that you are doing an acceptable job of assimilating the assigned material. Some form of "C" or below will go to assignments that I find flawed for one reason or another: 1. If the quality of your writing is impeding your ability to express your thoughts clearly; 2. If when I read your assignment, I cannot identify your central point or argument;

3. If your assignment fails to go beyond a simple summary of the assigned reading; 4. If your assignment fails to provide the evidence and argumentation necessary to articulate and defend your basic claims; 5. And/or if your assignment is poorly organized, i.e., if it appears to jump from topic to topic without rhyme or reason.

Discussion Instructions
All contributions are due before the end of the designated day. Remember: once a discussion is closed (which happens automatically after the deadline), it cannot be reopened. You are required to participate in the online discussions by posting one complete answer to the discussion assignment in each module and by responding to at least two other students' posts for each discussion. All discussion postings have to be made within the allocated time frame.

1. Find the correct topic folder in the Discussion Board (see Course Menu). 2. Read others' comments closely and post your best work. 3. Keep postings thoughtful and to the point. Personal experience is sometimes useful, but make sure that you explain why it's relevant to the reading or issue under discussion. 4. Remember that intelligent thoughtful disagreement is good. Do not be afraid to disagree, respectfully. The poet William Blake once said something like "Without disagreements, there will be no progress."

Here are the criteria I will use to grade your discussion: Excellent (A): always posts discussion assignments and responses on time; fully meets required number; comments based on detailed and insightful understanding of material; refers to specific parts of the texts or other materials to support ideas; regularly suggests other perspectives/directions; posts are always clear, organized, and well-written. Good (B): always present in discussion without missing any deadlines; comments show a good understanding of material, usually making reference to specific parts of the texts or other materials to support ideas; sometimes suggests other perspectives/directions; posts are usually well-written. Fair (C): misses some deadlines, but comments show a basic understanding of the material; occasionally refers to specific parts of the texts or other materials to support ideas; posts are understandable but may lose focus and show some consistent mechanical errors.

Poor (D): chronically misses deadlines; comments show limited understanding of the material with few references to texts for support; posts are difficult to understand, frequently wander offtopic, use an inappropriate tone, and/or show significant writing problems. Failing (F): doesn't participate or misses two or more weeks completely (no contribution)