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Бакалавриат 2019/2020

Введение в социологию

Статус: Курс обязательный (Российские исследования/Russian Studies)
Направление: 41.03.02. Регионоведение России
Когда читается: 1-й курс, 1, 2 модуль
Формат изучения: без онлайн-курса
Язык: английский
Кредиты: 3

Course Syllabus

Abstract

Sociology – A New Perspective at a Familiar World • What is sociology? Alone among living creatures, human beings are fully self-aware — capable of inquiring and reflecting about themselves. Throughout history, our ancestors pondered human nature as it seemed to reveal itself in the social life of our species. Until recently the answers to basic questions about human society and behavior of men came from intuition, from diverse speculations, and from dead weight of myth, superstition, and folk wisdom handed down from the past. It is only in the course of New Time and Modernity or so has a new method been applied to the study of human society and social behavior — the method of science, which provided answers drawn from facts collected by systematic research. This new mode of inquiry has produced the lively discipline of sociology. • Sociology and Russian society. The modern world is amazingly diverse. It encompasses hundreds of the most diverse countries, cultures, languages, national histories, traditions, etc. On the other hand, the world of today is sufficiently united and interdependent in the framework of the planetary process of globalization. The task of sociology is to uncover the unity of the global world and explore, as well as preserve the specifics of all its national components. To achieve this goal, we will study sociology as a science for the whole world and at the same time use it to study Russian society - one of the most important centers of world globalization. Each topic of the proposed course will be projected on Russian society of today.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The goal of this course is to create a systematic understanding of modern society by using the means of sociology and to reveal its complexity on the example of Russia. Thus, our point of reference at all times will be the lived experience of human beings inhabiting the world in general and Russian society in particular. As a result, students should learn to “read” the score of the modern world and Russia, be able to understand complex events and facts worldwide, and also come to their own conclusions about what is happening around them. • Immersion in sociology and the discovery of a new world. We will be reading into selected aspects of sociology — classical as well as contemporary. In lectures and seminars, in discussions and teamwork, we will learn the fundamental principles of sociology and practice the art of applying them to the reality surrounding us. We will use the most diverse sources of sociological knowledge. Students are expected to have personal initiative, curiosity, lack of restraint and focus on finding answers to the difficult questions of our time.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • ability to apply sociological concepts and theories to analyse social phenomena of contemporary society
  • to demonstrate ability to apply sociological concepts and theories to analyse social phenomena of contemporary society
  • to demonstrate ability to interpret the main issues of contemporary society from the sociological point of view
  • to demonstrate ability to read and understand sociological literature
  • to demonstrate ability to participate in sociological discussions
  • to demonstrate ability to write argumentative essays
  • to be creative and able to link ideas from this unit and the other disciplines they are studying to create new ways of thinking about social phenomena
  • Know: - seminal texts in modern sociology - basic concepts and principles of sociology and main areas of research on which this discipline focuses
  • Be able to: - construct productive research questions using approaches of sociology - apply the concepts of sociology mainstreaming to their research designs in comparative social research - distinguish, collect and apply various social data to social issues - critically analyze diverse opinions of the society.
  • Have: - the skill to criticize and evaluate the quality of outcome of different forms of sociological studies - the skill to meaningfully construct sociological questions - the skill to model research in the field of social problems and issues of today
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • THEME ONE: Sociology in the Global Age (Prof. Nikita Pokrovsky)
    Our task is to study and understand the society in which we live and to make it our allies in the implementation of life plans and self-realization. Sociology is a unique and universal way of knowing the surrounding social world. Sociology not only studies and explains everything that happens around us, but also suggests the most rational ways to improve the world. Studying the world by applying the scientific method. Sociology as a science vs. non-science, common sense, ideology, and myth in the society today. Value freedom as a key scientific principle. Sociology is the central and principal member of the family of other consanguine social sciences. Basic insights and sociological imagination. What does is mean “doing sociology” – social theory and applied research. Early sociologists and modern classics Auguste Comte, Herbert Spenser, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, George Herbert Mead, Pitirim Sorokin, Talcott Parsons, C. Wright Mills, Robert K. Merton. Three great perspectives in sociology: Functionalism, Conflict theory, Interactionism. Contemporary and postmodern schools of sociology. Scholarship as the main mission of sociology. Diverse disciplines and brunches of sociological knowledge and applied research. Sociology in today’s world of globalization, migration, infocommunications, and virtuality. Where to go to see sociology in action? Sociological communities and networks: university sociology departments in Russia and the world. Sociological research centers and public opinion polls firms. Sociology, marketing, and business. International, national, and regional sociological organizations – what do they go? What is the future of sociology in the world of tomorrow: prospects, labyrinths, and high-risks? Sociological culture of the masses - is it possible and achievable? Sociology and power structures, the state. What does business expect from sociologists? “All sciences are better than sociology, but not one is more beautiful.” –Aristotle (?).
  • THEME TWO: Culture and Socialization (Ass. Prof. Olga Simonova)
    Culture encompasses the ideas, values, norms, practices, and objects that allow society and different groups of people to carry out collective life. We will focus mainly on values that are general standards defining what people (groups, societies) consider good/bad, right/wrong and important/ inessential, etc.; and norms that are the rules that guide what and how people do. Culture also includes symbolic and material elements and objects. Language is the most important part of culture, which represents all elements of culture and society. In modern society we witness the overwhelming diversity of cultures. In addition, within the dominant culture we belong to various subcultures and probably counter-cultures. Therewith there are low and high cultures, mass and elite cultures. The diversity between and within cultures and that the cultures tend to be ethnocentric may create the potentials for social conflicts, cultural war, social tensions, social vulnerabilities and so on. Culture is constantly changing, influencing and influenced by also changing social reality. For instance, globalization in modern world led to so-called global culture. Another example of changing culture is the dominance of consumer culture, in which the ideas and material objects relate to consumption. The last cultural trend to which we will pay attention is digitalization of social world and cyberculture. Along with the cultural processes sociologists usually consider the socialization process as the other side of culture and society reproduction. Socialization is the process through which a person learns the social world patterns or the ways groups and society live. Primary socialization begins in childhood and then evolves to secondary socialization; adults continue to be socialized throughout their lives. Social interactions at the microlevel of social world is the crucial base of socialization and development the personal self, that in turn help the individuals to take part in society. Socialization theories, the main agents of socialization in modern society and the changes in socialization processes in the global world.
  • THEME THREE: Social Structure and Social Stratification. Inequalities (Ass. Prof. Vasily Anikin)
    Social structure and stratification is the key topic in sociology. The successful study of this topic can help in understanding social inequality. Social inequality can be better understood in terms of different models of social stratification proposed by David Grusky. The stratification systems will differ for a) hunting and gathering society, b) Horticultural and agrarian society, and c) industrial society. The key difference relates to principal assets. For example, hunting and gathering society is described by the basic form of human assets revealed in hunting and magic skills. The major strata are, therefore – chiefs, shamans, and other tribe members. On the other hand, societies of ‘advanced’ industrialism are stratified by 'advanced' human assets such as education, skills, expertise (T. Schultz; G. Becker; P. Bourdieu). The major strata in such a society are presented by skill-based occupational groupings. Are these assets principal in Russia too? This question is debatable. Some authors argue that the stratification system of Russian society is described by ‘state socialism’ legacy; that is, the major strata are managers and managed. Others argue that Russia is an estate society as it is based on the distribution of privileges rather than merits. Finally, the lecture refers to studies arguing that the stratification system of Russia is described by the class system. The recent studies provide strong evidence that Russian society is formed of five classes. The lower social classes are composed of pensioners and disposable labour (totally, 39% of Russians). The middle class members (13%), by contrast, mainly represented by entrepreneurs, managers and highly skilled professionals retains their privileged positions in ‘inequality of opportunities’.
  • THEME FOUR: Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism (Ass. Prof. Mahama Tawat)
    In the post WWII period, race and ethnicity got a bad name for the destruction wrought by the two World Wars, the Holocaust and other conflicts in the 18th century. Ethnonationalism became anathema while a good nationalism, civic nationalism was promoted and extreme forces relinquished to the margins. In recent years, this consensus seems to have dissolved as far-right and populist parties campaigning against immigration and globalization gain ground in elections in majors countries and in some cases, acceed to power. Although we are still far from the potency ethnonationalism assumed before, new questions have arisen. Should we fear a repeat of history or are we witnessing a different phenomenon? As some authors claim, shouldn't governments pay attention to the natives' concerns? How different thus is patriotism from nationalism of the bad kind? The lecture and seminar will seek to explicate these questions by exploring concepts such as race, nation, ethnicity, identity and patriotism and their impact on some major world events before and after the Second World War. They will also review the various theories that have been applied to them. Finally, through discussions, students will be called to reflect on the Russian context through such questions as: Is there a Slav race? Who is Russian? Which theory of the origins of nationalism applies better to the story of Kievan Rus? What kind of nationalism is currently prevalent in Russia?
  • THEME FIVE: The Family in Modern Society. Sex and Gender (Ass. Prof. Maria Davidenko)
    Sociologists consider family one of the key social institutions. We can briefly define it as a group of individuals who “recognize a relationship with each other based on common parentage, marriage and/or adoption” (Bryan Turner’s “Classical sociology” 1999, p. 232). As an institution, family performs various functions that serve to stabilize society. Its functions include the organization of sexual relations and reproduction; the socialization of children; the organization of relations of production; the social division of labor; and the (re)distribution of property. In this seminar, we will focus in particular on the following themes: socialization; the sexual division of labor; and the organization of sexual relations (the transformation of intimacy). Sociologist consider family as one of the main agents of socialization. It is where individuals begin to learn and reproduce values and norms of their society (primary socialization). For instance, from an early age, children learn the differences between being a boy and a girl, a man and a woman (gender socialization). Incidentally, the family is also a site where the division of labor largely depends on whether a person is a man or a woman (the sexual division of labor). This division of tasks has been one of the central themes in the sociology of family. This is because it relates to broader themes of access to socially valuable resources in society, such as money, status and power. For instance, while under Soviet socialism women became involved in economic production, they remained largely responsible for childcare and housework (a gender contract of a working mother). In other words, despite formal equality, women often missed opportunities for additional education and promotion due to the lack of time. Comparison of the family under Soviet socialism and in post-Soviet Russia also offers great insights into the changes and continuities in the organization of intimate relationships, which includes attitudes and practices concerning marriage, divorce, childbirth, cohabitation, and so on.
  • THEME SIX: Money and markets (Prof. Olga Kuzina)
    How does sociology explain the economy? The central focus is to understand how economic activities are shaped, produced, reproduced, changed and impeded by social relations and social institutions. Main theoretical ideas which help to provide the sociological view on economy include the social embeddedness of economic actions (Polanyi, Granovetter). performative approach (Callon, MacKenzie), financialization of the economy (Epstein), social meaning of money (Zelizer).
  • THEME EIGHT: Population, Urbanization, and the Environment (Ass. Prof. Arnab Roy Choudhuri)
    Urbanization is the process of growth of new cities, mostly through modernization of infrastructure in rural areas and the creation of new industrial cities. Attracted by the promise of jobs and better lives, people migrate to cities. Rural-to-urban migration led the world to become mostly urban in the year 2008. Almost the entire population, 7.7 billion, live on less than 3 per cent of the land surface – mostly in cities. Urbanization and this extreme growth of the population in the world – the Malthusian nightmare – have destroyed the environment. Especially in urban centers, environmental common resources like air, water, and land are scarce and polluted. For Marx, urbanization has serious socio-political and ecological implications. Urban life generates huge amounts of waste, which Marx terms ‘metabolic rift’. The urban poor bear the brunt of the scarcity of resources and wastage. Marxian ideas is opposed to Malthus, and the two important traditions that these theorists gave rise to are distinct. In its Soviet and post-Soviet periods Russia has experienced many ecological problems, including but not limited to waste management (nuclear and otherwise), deforestation, and pollution. This course analyses these problems using the concepts of classical and contemporary sociological theorists.
  • THEME NINE: Religion, Science, and Education (Ass. Prof. Lili Di Puppo)
    The lecture will introduce students to key texts in the sociology of religion and invite them to reflect on the relationship of sociology to religion. In a first part of the lecture, we will discuss founding texts in the sociology of religion by Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. In a second part of the lecture, we will analyze the question of secularization as a central aspect of the relationship of modern science, in particular sociology, to religion. We will ask whether science can be considered as a driver of secularization (Harrison 2017) and what secularism means, looking at different historical experiences (Western and Soviet). We will discuss Russia as a case study of secularization and de-secularization. The secularization thesis that foresaw a gradual decline of the relevance of religion in modern societies has been challenged in various academic works (Taylor 2007, Casanova 1994). Casanova (1994) distinguishes between three manifestations of secularization: institutional differentiation, decline in religious beliefs and practices and the privatization of religion. He argues that recent developments in modern societies towards a de-privatization of religion and the endurance of religious beliefs and practices contradict these last two dimensions of secularization. In a final part of the lecture, we will discuss critiques of Euro-centrism in the sociology of religion and recent attempts to question the concepts and categories used to study religion, for example the concept of the secular. We will discuss the adequacy of concepts originating from a Christian tradition for the study of religions such as Islam and Buddhism.
  • THEME TEN: Social Change and the Future World(s) (Prof. Nikita Pokrovsky)
    “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,” – unlike what this French proverb says, the social world is in the process of slow and sometimes radical change, the world is on the move. Sociology studies ways and means of changing society at all levels of its structure and in all institutions. This creates a dynamic picture of the world, filled with contradictions, conflicts, and moving forward. It is necessary to review the role of the external physical environment and its impact on society (climate, relief, fossils, etc.). Cultural innovation, scientific discoveries and the spread of knowledge in the process of changing society. Population growth (or reduction), dynamics of population structure and human capital. Technological progress in its most diverse aspects: great achievements and inevitable limitations on development. Individual and collective actions as well as social movements in their effects on changes in society. The evolutionary path of development and social revolutions. The current state and development prospects of society. Modernization, catch-up growth, de-modernization, path-dependency, archaization in modern society. Theory and models of globalization as a dominant state of the modern world. The totality of changes and their penetration into all "cells" of society. Plasticity of social structures and willingness to change. World economy and multinational corporations. The concept of "liquid modernity" (Zigmund Bauman) and its applicability to all spheres of society. The role of infocommunication and the strengthening of global communication networks. The digital revolution and virtualization. Fundamental personality changes in a consumer society. Limits of growth and environmental regulation. Scientifically based foresight of the future and the role of sociology in shaping the society of tomorrow. Russian society in the context of globalization.
  • THEME SEVEN: Politics, State, and Social Movements (Prof. Valeri Ledyaev)
    Basic political concepts. Politics. Policy. Polity. Political actors. Political institutions. Political system. Political process. Government. Political values. Ambivalent nature of politics. Approaches to defining politics. Politics as an arena. Politics as a process. Politics as the art of government. Politics as public affairs. Politics as compromise and consensus. Politics as power. Politics as a constrained use of social power. Power as an attempt to establish order and justice. Politics as a struggle for power and domination. Conceptual disagreements and politics. ‘Politics’ and politics in Russia. Concept of state. Defining features of the state. Sovereignty. State authority. Territory of the state. Compulsory and universal jurisdiction of the state. Theories on the origin of the state. Rule of law. State and government. Stateless societies. Theories of the state. Pluralist state. Capitalist state. Leviathan state. Patriarchal state. Role and functions of the state. Minimal state. Developmental state. Social-democratic state. Collectivized state. Globalization and state. Totalitarian state. Types of states. Monarchy. Republic. Presidential, parliamentary and mixed systems of government. Unitary states and federations. Political regimes. Democracy. The global spread of democracy. Global governance. Political and social change. Political actors. Parties. Pressure groups. Social movements. Traditional and new social movements. Domination and new social movements. New social movements in Russia.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking paper
  • non-blocking сlass presentation
  • non-blocking activity and participation in class
  • non-blocking oral exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.2 * activity and participation in class + 0.4 * oral exam + 0.3 * paper + 0.1 * сlass presentation
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Sociology : a global introduction, Macionis J. J., Plummer K., 2005

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Introductory sociology, Bilton T., Bonnett K., 2002