Seminar: Modernity and the Self

Sociology as a discipline emerged in 19 th and early 20 th century Europe as a response to rapid social changes that dramatically transformed traditional societies and ways of life. Classical sociological theorists such as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, W.E.B. Dubois, and Georg Simmel sought to explain the nature of these changes, but also offered critiques of what has been called “modernity.” The seminar begins with an exploration of these classical theories of modernity and continues with an examination of contemporary works that seek to understand and critique the consequences of modernity in a variety of social and cultural spheres. The seminar focuses on theories relevant to a central sociological question: how do large scale, transformative social and cultural changes affect individual self-identity, self-consciousness, and ways of being in the world? Central topics include: the challenges to individuality posed by pressures for ideological and social conformity; the quest for authenticity of the self; capitalism and the commercialization of emotions; the uncontrollability of the social world and the difficulties of experiencing resonance and harmony in social life; empirically-based, non-Marxist critiques of the state and other bureaucratic processes that challenge the quest for the autonomy and dignity of the self; the relationship between modernity and anxiety and the rise of the neurobiological imaginary in the treatment of mental health disorders; and the transformation of love and intimate relationships in the modern world. Particular attention is paid to non-Western social thought that is relevant to understanding the nature of the self in the modern world. This course fulfills one of the theory requirements for the Sociology major but is open to all interested students.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: At least one of the following is recommended - SOC 150, SOC 200, SOC 201.

Instructor: Cushman

Distribution Requirements: SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring