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Магистратура 2018/2019

Модели объяснения в социологии и лингвистическая антропология

Статус: Курс обязательный (Лингвистическая теория и описание языка)
Направление: 45.04.03. Фундаментальная и прикладная лингвистика
Когда читается: 1-й курс, 4 модуль
Формат изучения: без онлайн-курса
Прогр. обучения: Лингвистическая теория и описание языка
Язык: английский
Кредиты: 4

Course Syllabus

Abstract

The course is designed for MA program Linguistic theory and language description (NRU HSE) as one of compulsory courses and covers two interrelated questions: - what are the main types of theoretical explanation in sociology? - what kind of empirical evidence is used by supporters of different explanations? Methodology and the philosophy of science believe that the ongoing debate for decades about the logic and methods of the social sciences is related to differences of strategies and models of theoretical explanation. The course systematically examines the main model of sociological explanation - especially positivist, behavioral, interpretive, ethnomethodological, functionalist and structuralist explanations. It also analyzes the impact that the differences between the models described in the methods of research, the conceptualization of the empirical material, as well as the criteria for evaluation of different theories. Field material for the analysis of the described differences are major debates about the methodology of the social sciences - from the classic controversy explanation-understanding to the relatively recent controversy about the extent of how applicable the principles of rationality and uncertainty are to the analysis of human action. The course uses numerous examples of actual research practice, illustrating the various research methods and models of explanation.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • learn the basic classification of sociological theories and methods of study; learn the basic approaches in the field of philosophy of the social sciences, the key concepts and categories such as "explanation", "interpretation", "paradigm", "model", "relativism", etc.
  • be able to apply various sociological theories (programs) to interpret empirical case studies and construct programs of sociological research, including general questions of methodological choice, research language, and quality criteria of the proposed research
  • have skills (to gain experience) of recognition and assessment of methods of sociological theorizing and "cognitive styles" representing various schools, trends and relationships to different historical stages of development of sociological thought
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • reproduces and recognizes the key concepts and categories of sociology
  • classifies and evaluates sociological theories and methods of study
  • applies sociological theories and methods of study to interpret empirical research
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction: research programs, models of explanation and logic of sociological inquiry
    The ratio of epistemology, methodology and methods of sociological research. Historical context: Methodenstreit ("The Debate on Method"). Intellectual context: "reconstructed logic" and "logic actually used". The crisis of the positivist conception of science and the emergence of the doctrine of "scientific revolutions" (Kuhn). Post-positivism in the philosophy of the social sciences. Paradigms and research programs (I.Lakatos) and models of explanation. Leading sociological "paradigm" and the real logic of the study. Are there any “rules of sociological method?” Explanation, semantic explanation and interpretation. Specificity of scientific explanations. The adequacy and justification of the explanations in non-experimental science. The problem of uncertainty of interpretation.
  • Social Behaviorism. Naturalistic paradigm. Positivism and the deductive-nomological model of explanations of the social sciences. Naturalist model of rational action
    Sociological version of "positivism." The doctrine of logical positivism and deductive-nomological model of explanation. The model of rational action by C. Hempel ("R scheme") and its criticism. Intentional behavior and paradoxes of practical rationality. The use of naturalistic model of rational action to macrosociological agents: the dilemmas of collective action and public choice, instrumentalism in theories of economic behavior. Behaviorism and an alternative program of naturalistic explanation of action. The methodological principles of radical behaviorism. B. Skinner and the criticism of the concept of "an autonomous rational actor". Behaviorist model of action and its opponents. From micro-social to macro-social: behaviorist exchange theory in sociology.
  • Functionalism
    Motives, purposes and functions. Types of functional explanations. Classic functionalism and "illegal" teleology. An example: the functionalist theory of social stratification. Structural functionalism: the theory or methodology? Examples of functionalist explanations: analysis of functions of "political machine" (R. Merton) and "democratic leadership" in the men's military alliances (M. Douglas). Logical functionalism: T. Parsons on the structure of social action. Can a "normative voluntarism" to solve the problem of interpretation of rational action?
  • Interpretation
    The core of the interpretive program in social sciences (anti-naturalism, "semantic" explanation of intelligible action, understanding). P. Winch about the explanatory power of the "rules" in the social sciences. "The concept of social": public following of the rules in "language games." Winch on the impossibility of causal explanation of intelligible action. Criticism of Winch: the principle of uncertainty of rules and the problem of adequacy of an explanation. "Hermeneutic circle," the uncertainty of interpretation and revision of the classical doctrine of hermeneutics. Formation of the radical "theory of interpretation" (Ch. Taylor, P. Ricoeur, H.-G.Gadamer). The concept of cultural context and cultural studies’ model of interpretation of a text as an interdisciplinary paradigm for the social sciences. Criticism of the theory of radical interpretation. Example: constructionist "ethnography of science." Model of "double hermeneutic" (A. Giddens) in cultural anthropology and sociology. Strategy of "multiple triangulation" (N. Denzin). "Thick" and "thin" descriptions in cultural anthropology (C. Geertz) Ethnomethodological critique of the interpretive program. Specifics of ethnomethodological model of explanation (reflexive use of the "body of knowledge", norms as "achievements", the problematic possibility of understanding situational character of the social order, the principle of "and so on"). Criticism of ethnomethodology: how possible is a "general theory of context?" Analysis of the research practice: to maintain of gender identity ("Agnes case," G. Garfinkel), procedures of conversational analysis (H. Saks).
  • Structuralism
    On the other side of an action: the structuralist model in social sciences. Structural determinants and macro-social context of action. Formation of the structuralist program: structuralism in linguistics and cultural anthropology. Features of the "strong" structuralist explanations (latency of universal structures, semiotic nature of structuralist explanations, equivalence and mutual transformation of communication systems). C. Levi-Strauss and the analysis of the communicative sign systems in structural anthropology (myths, primitive classification systems, marriage rules, kinship systems). Binary oppositions as universal unconscious thinking. An example of structuralist explanations in cultural anthropology: the social organization of memory in Nuer (E. Evans-Pritchard). The structuralist perspective of Marxism and psychoanalysis: "blind forces" of material and sexual reproduction. Sociological version of structuralism. Example: three concepts of power (Marx, Parsons, Foucault). Structural theory of P. M. Blau: the emergence of social organization and inequality in exchange networks. Criticism of structuralist explanations.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking essay
  • non-blocking exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.4 * essay + 0.6 * exam
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Macionis, J. J. (2012). Sociology : a global introduction. Turkey, Europe: Pearson Prentice Hall. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.5C1FB862
  • Manicas, P. T. (2006). A Realist Philosophy of Social Science : Explanation and Understanding. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=304506
  • Ritzer, G., & Smart, B. (2001). Handbook of Social Theory. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=251719

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. (2002). Elsevier. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsnar&AN=edsnar.oai.pure.rug.nl.publications.84e6be92.b75c.44d9.b60b.ac32f2040445