The “social sciences” encompass a broad array of academic fields, from econometrics and political economy on one end, to personality psychology and behavioral science on the other. This course emphasizes detailed study of some formative works dealing with the organization of human societies, both simple (with respect to scale and technology) and complex; the patterning of cultures and culture as an instrument of continuous human creativity; and the adaptation of persons and personalities to life in ordered communities. The function of religion as a means of social integration and as an organizing principle for disparate cultural meanings and values forms one focus of work in the course. A second deals both with “materialist” and “idealist” approaches to the study of culture and society and with the issues of consciousness in human mental life and the motivation for action. Reading includes works by Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Sigmund Freud, and Claude Lévi-Strauss. In addition, there will be readings that represent the perspectives of women and of authors whose cultural traditions lie outside Western civilization. The aim of the course is to provide an integrated conception of the relationships between culture, society, and the person. In disciplinary terms, these concepts correspond to the academic fields of anthropology, sociology, and personality psychology; this course seeks a broadly integrative view of the human sciences.
MLAP 30600 Meaning and Motive in Social Thought Syllabus (Past syllabus for reference only)
This course fulfills the Social Science requirement.
Andreas Glaeser is a Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology. He is a sociologist of culture with a particular interest in the construction of identities and knowledges. His work interlaces substantive interests with efforts to build social theory. He is currently finishing a book aiming at the development of a political epistemology which asks how people come to understand the world of politics from within their particular biographical trajectories and social milieus. He also has begun work on a new project which studies the emergence of dominant understandings about Muslim immigrants in the interaction between contingent historical events, the cycles of electoral politics, everyday experiences and mass-mediated discourses in Germany, France and Britain.