Beau Weston                                                                           Crounse 447 (x8789)

Centre College Macrosociological Theory           Hours:  After class (Hub)

Spring 2008                            (A&S 303)                           Phone:  238-7580 (before 10)

 

 

Our aim is to join the Great Conversation about the richest cultures and the deepest structures that shape the direction of the world. Our goal in this class is to understand the world, more than it is to learn the details of the discipline of sociological theory. Theory is a tool for understanding the world in which we live.

 

We will read some helpful foundational works to give us a vocabulary to discuss the world.  Then we will join in one of several important conversations about what is happening now and in the next few centuries – the “clash of civilizations” debate.

 

We will set aside each Friday for a lightly structured conversation that applies what we have been reading to what is going on in the world.

 

Books

 

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto” (1848) [google it]

Clifford Geertz, "The Impact on the Idea of Culture on the Idea of Man" (1965) [reserve]

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (1991)

James Scott, Seeing Like a State (1998)

Immanuel Wallerstein World Systems Theory: An Introduction  (2004)

Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1998)

Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (1992)

Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (2000)

Robert Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy (2000)

Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence (2007)

 

Work

 

Our main project is to join the Great Conversation about how the world works.

 

Our main conversation will be in class.  There are many other good places to keep talking, though.  I will hold “coffee office hours” at the Hub Coffee House from the rise of our class (10:30) to 12:30 each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

 

In addition, I will try to go to every convo, lecture, workshop, whatever that looks to be a good place to learn and think about society, both at Centre and elsewhere, as practical.  I will let you know about every talk I am going to, and hope you can join me for at least some. Any of these additional events would be good fodder for your second brief paper.

 

I would like everyone to go to two Centre convocations that are particularly apt.  On Monday, February 25 Darius Rejali will be speaking on “Torture and Democracy.”  On Tuesday, April 29 Richard Norton will be speaking on “Islamic Politics.”  Both speakers will be coming to our class.  Please arrange your calendars now so that you can go to both convocations.

 

To make sure that we have time each week for sustained discussion, we will set aside each Friday to talk about how what we have been reading helps us understand the world.

 

If you converse better by talking, speak up in class and in these other venues.

If you converse better in writing, send your (brief) thoughts to the class by email. 

 

We don’t have to agree; we just have to keep talking.  Disagreement is essential to intellectual progress, so please don’t suppress it.  Just be civil in expressing yourself.

 

I would like you to write a substantial essay by the end of the term, and a few shorter pieces to focus your thoughts during the term.  Your essays will be our class readings for the last two class meetings. You may turn these in at any time in the term until May 2nd.

 

At the end of the term I will ask each of you to evaluate everyone’s participation in our discussions.  This will be the basis of my evaluation, though I will add my own judgment if necessary.  I find that students are usually pretty good judges of the quantity and quality of one another’s participation, both oral and written.

 

Grades are a duty in any class, but also a distraction.  To help us stay focused on the main task, I will apportion the grades this way:

 

10%     Brief paper 1: How does this book help me understand the world? (2 – 4 pp.)

10%     Brief paper 2: How does this convo help me understand the world? (2 – 4 pp.)

10%     Another worthwhile thing of your choosing, discussed with me.

20%     Essay: explaining something important about the world to my mom (8ish pp.)

20%     Midterm participation grade

30%     Final participation grade

 

Schedule

 

2/1       Introduction:  The Macrosociology of Culture and Structure

 

2/4       Marx and Engels, “The Communist Manifesto” (1848)

2/6       Geertz, "The Impact on the Idea of Culture on the Idea of Man" (1965)

2/8       Discussion

 

2/11     Anderson, Imagined Communities (1991), chs. 1 – 5 [about 80 pages]

2/13     Anderson, Imagined Communities, chs. 6 – 8 [70]

2/15     Discussion

 

2/18     Scott, Seeing Like a State (1998), chs. 1 & 2 [75]

2/20     Scott, Seeing Like a State, chs. 3 – 5, 10 [115]

2/22     Discussion

 

2/25     Wallerstein World Systems Theory: An Introduction  (2004) chs. 1 – 4 [60]

[2/25    Convocation: Darius Rejali, “Torture and Democracy”]

2/27     Wallerstein World Systems Theory, chs. 4 & 5 [30]

            Guest: Darius Rejali

2/29     Discussion

 

3/3       Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations … (1998) chs. 1 - 5 [105]

3/5       Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, chs. 6 & 7 [60]

3/7       Discussion

 

3/10     Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, chs. 8 – 11 [120]

3/12     Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, ch. 12 [20]

3/14     Discussion

 

BREAK

 

3/24     Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (1992), chs. 1 – 4 [50]

3/26     Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, chs. 5 – 12 [90]

3/28     Discussion

 

3/31     Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, chs. 13 – 26 [140]

4/2       Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, chs. 27 – 31 [55]

4/4       Discussion

 

4/7       Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (2000), chs. 1 – 7 [140]

4/9       Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, chs. 8 – 11 [100]

4/11     Discussion

 

4/14     Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, chs. 12 – 16 [120]

4/16     Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, chs. 17 – 20 [90]

4/18     Discussion

 

4/21     Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy (2000), chs. 1 – 3 [100]

4/23     Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy, chs. 4 – 6, 9 [40]

4/25     Discussion

 

4/28     Sen, Identity and Violence (2007), chs. 1 – 5 [100]

[4/29    Convocation: Richard Norton, “Islamic Democracy”]

4/30     Sen, Identity and Violence, chs. 6 – 9 [80]

            Guest: Richard Norton

5/2       Discussion

            All written work due by 10 p.m.

 

5/5       Student Papers

5/7       Student Papers