Soc 2 (Social theory)



ALL supervisions take place in Room 117, Mary Allan Building, Homerton College.


Access to Mary Allan building is from Hills Road, down the road from the Faculty of Education; Room 117 is up the stairs, through the corridor (past the vending machines), and on your left. There are porters at the entrance, so if you encounter any difficulties, ask and they can point you in the right direction.


It’s about 30 mins walking/15 minutes by bike to downtown, so bear this in mind re: planning. There is cycle parking in front of the Mary Allan building.


Please send essays in Word format, with file name F(irstname)Lastname_Soc2_Topic, e.g. JBacevic_Soc2_Foucault.


Supervision 1, 2 February


3-4: Abdul, Elizabeth, Livia

4-5: Jakob

5-6: Sam


Topic: Frankfurt school

Essay question: According to the Frankfurt School, what is problematic about the Enlightenment project?

Essay deadline: 1 February, 5PM

Reading: (from syllabus)

Arato, A. and E. Gebhardt (eds.) 1978 The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

Bronner, S.E. 1994. Of Critical Theory and its Theorists. Oxford: Blackwell. Calhoun, C. 1995. Critical Social Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.

Held, D. 1990. Introduction to Critical Theory. Cambridge: Polity.

Wiggershaus, R. 1994. The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance. Trans. Michael Robertson. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

* Jay, M. 1973. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923 – 1950. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Adorno, T. 1994. The Stars Down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture. Ed. Stephen Crook. London and New York: Routledge.

Adorno, T. 1991. The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. Ed. J.M. Bernstein. London: Routledge.

* Horkheimer, M. 2005. The Eclipse of Reason. London: Continuum.

* Horkheimer, M. and T. Adorno. 1973. The Dialectic of Enlightenment. London: Allen Lane.

Jay, M. Adorno. London: Fontana.

Rose, G. 1978. The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno. London: Macmillan.

Additional reading:

Jeffries, S. 2016. Grand Hotel Abyss. London: Verso

“The Frankfurt School Knew Trump was Coming”



Supervision 2, 16 February

3-4: Abdul, Elizabeth, Livia

4-5: Jakob, Sam


Topic: Foucault

Essay question [choose one]:


(1) Software for recording lectures across UK universities is called Panopto. What would Foucault say about that? Does this mean we live in a ‘society of surveillance’?

(2) What is the relationship between power and subjectivity in Foucault’s work?

Essay deadline: 14 February, 6 PM

Reading (from syllabus):

*M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish

*M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1 M. Foucault, The Use of Pleasure

  1. Foucault, Care of the Self

*M. Foucault, Knowledge/Power (ed. C. Gordon)

*M. Foucault, Politics, Philosophy, Culture (ed. L. Kritzman)

  1. Foucault et al., Technologies of the Self

*D. Hoy (ed), Foucault: A Critical Reader

  1. Dews, Logics of Disintegration, esp. chs. 5-7
  2. Fraser, Unruly Practices, esp. chs. 1-3
  3. Honneth, The Critique of Power, esp. chs. 4-6 L.

McNay, Foucault and Feminism

 Additional reading:

Brown, W. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Boston: MIT Press.

Supervision 3, 2 March


1-2: Elizabeth, Livia

2-3: Jakob, Sam, Abdul


Topic: Feminist science and technology studies

Essay question: Assess the claim that all knowledge claims are socially located.

Essay deadline: 28 February, 6 PM

Reading (from syllabus):

*Harding, Sandra ed. 2004 Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader. Routledge.

* Haraway, Donna J. 2003 The Haraway Reader. Routledge.

*Harding, S. 2008 Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities.

Fox Keller, Evelyn 1983 A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock. W H Freeman. Especially chapters 9 and 12.

Layne, L. 1996 “‘How’s the Baby Doing?’: Struggling with Narratives of Progress in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(4):624-656.

Additional reading:


Alcoff, L: The problem of speaking for others


Social theory, Michaelmas

Supervision 1: 20 October

Department of Sociology, Tea Room, 1:30-4:30 PM

Falsificationism and social sciences: are theories mutually commensurable? Do they need to be falsifiable?


Baert, P. 2005. Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Towards Pragmatism. Cambridge: Polity, chapter 3.

*Kuhn, T. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago:University of Chicago Press.

Lakatos, I. and A. Musgrave (eds.) 1970. Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Feyerabend, P. 1975. Against Method; Outline of Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge. London: Humanities Press.

* Popper, K. 1991. The Poverty of Historicism. London: Routledge.

* Popper, K. 1991. Conjectures and Refutations. London: Routledge, chapters 15-20.

Additional reading:

Joel Isaac (2012), “Working knowledge: making the human sciences from Parsons to Kuhn” (available online through Idiscover), Prologue (until: Embedded epistemologies).

Essay question: Do theories need to be falsifiable and how do we choose between competing theories if they are not?

Two options:

  • Position paper – 1000 to 2000 words. In the first part (250-500 words), you summarise the concept of falsifiability; in the second (500-1000) you lay out the answer to the main question; in the last (250-500), you answer the last bit (how to choose between theories if they are not falsifiable)
  • “Normal” essay – 2000 to 4000 words (please do not go over this). This allows you to engage in more depth with the readings, but keep an eye on the main question rather than the intricacies of the argument.

Deadline: Position paper – 18 October, 11:59 PM; essay: 17 October, 11:59.

Supervision 2: 3 November

Department of Sociology, Committee Room



*Baert, P. 2015. The Existentialist Moment; The Rise of Sartre as a Public Intellectual. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Davies, H. 1987. Sartre and Les Temps Modernes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*de Beauvoir, S. 1972. The Second Sex. London: Penguin.(originally: 1949)

Sartre, J-P. 1973. Existentialism and Humanism. London: Methuen. (originally: 1946) *Sartre, J-P. 1976. Anti-Semite and Jew. New York: Schocken. (originally: 1948) Sartre, J-P. 1963. The Problem of Method. London: Methuen. (originally: 1960) *Sartre, J-P. 1983. Between Existentialism and Marxism. London: Verso. (originally: 1962)

Judt, T. Past Imperfect; French Intellectuals, 1944-1956. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Boschetti, A. 1988. The Intellectual Enterprise: Sartre and ‘Les Temps Modernes’. Evanston: Nortwestern University Press.

Additional reading/watching:

Patricia Vieira, Is existentialism a posthumanism?

Blade runner: 2049 (the film) (or: Blade runner, the original film; or, reading “Do androids dream of electic sheep?”, Philip K. Dick).

Essay questions: (choose one)

  • Humans are not born, they are made: discuss (compare with de Beauvoir’s “One is not born a woman, one becomes one”, and Marx’s “men make history, but not under conditions of their own choosing”).
  • What is the relevance of existentialist thought today?

Deadline: 1 November, 11:59 PM

Supervision 3: 24 November

Department of Sociology, Tea room, 2-5PM

Pierre Bourdieu and poststructuralism

*Bourdieu, P. and L.J.D. Wacquant. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.

*Bourdieu, P. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: CUP. (originally, 1972)

Bourdieu, P. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity. (originally, 1980) *Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction; A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.

Bourdieu, P. 1999. The Weight of the World. Social suffering in contemporary society. Cambridge: Polity.

Calhoun, C., LiPuma, E. and M. Postone (Eds.) 1993. Bourdieu; Critical Perspectives. Cambridge: Polity.

Jenkins, R. 1992. Pierre Bourdieu. London: Routledge.

Harker, R., Mahar, C. and C. Wilkes (Eds.) 1990. An Introduction to the Work of Pierre Bourdieu. London: MacMillan. (esp. intro, chapters 1 and 2)

Additional reading:

Essay questions:

  • How does Bourdieu’s concept of class map onto present-day societies? (context of your choosing – you can work with modern Britain but also with any other society you are familiar with)
  • What is reflexive sociology?

Deadline: 22 November, 11:59 PM