Undergraduate Course: Sociology 1B: The Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems (SCIL08005)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course is designed to explore sociological thinking with regard to a number of issues of contemporary concern. Topics will include risk, aspects of post modernity, intimate relations, sociology of the body, the rise of the image, and emerging forms of inequality.
a. Academic Description
Sociology is the study of the individual in society. It examines how personal life is shaped by the nation-state, culture, economics, institutions and so on, how we make choices, how we attach meanings to experiences, and how what we do changes what is around us. It covers almost every aspect of human experience and behaviour, so it is potentially an enormous field of study. This course introduces you to the sociological perspective by examining four aspects of social life: the sociology of the body, deviance, economics and digital culture. The theme of the course is the relationship between private troubles and public problems, i.e. how personal challenges many of us face in our lives are shaped and defined in ways that often appear to be beyond our direct control.
┐ The course builds on the knowledge gained in Sociology 1a on the Individual in Society. It also provides a basis for further study in Sociology 2a/b and Honours.
┐ It will allow you to develop your ability to interpret data and evidence sociologically.
┐ It will give you an understanding of four significant topics in the discipline of sociology, their definition, investigation and presentation.
b. Outline content
The course has four units which each cover an aspect of sociology.
UNIT 1: Sociology of the Body
Comparing different societies, different historical periods and different groups within societies is a crucial part of thinking sociologically. By thinking about a range of examples relating to bodies, we further our understanding of the sociological imagination.
UNIT 2: Deviance
┐Steal a little and they┐ll throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they┐ll make you king.┐ Bob Dylan
┐Without deviation from the norm progress is not possible.┐ Frank Zappa
Why do we break ┐ as well as follow - social norms, rules, and laws? How is ┐normality┐ defined, by whom and in whose interest? How is obedience enforced and how is deviance punished? How do definitions of deviance change? This unit explores these questions in sessions on rule-breaking, rule-following, rule-making, treatment and punishment, and rule-changing. We will consider issues of power, control, inequality, resistance and social change in the sociology of deviance.
UNIT 3: Economy and Society
This unit introduces you to how economic life can be examined through a sociological lens. While the economy is often represented as governed by timeless rational laws, we see that sociological approaches require an appreciation of how history and social norms shape the economy. We ask questions such as: What is a capitalist economy? How are markets embedded in society? What is money and what are its social effects? How do we value human lives and other supposedly priceless objects? In grappling with these subjects, the aim is to get you thinking about the place of rationality in economic life. The lectures also encourage you to see economic decision-making as a site of contestation for competing value systems.
UNIT 4: Digital Societies
This unit will argue that digital technologies have transformed the way we experience our social lives and have shaped the ways in which we connect (and disconnect) with each other and wider society. The unit will explore these debates by considering the ways in which our social spaces, relationships and activities are mediated by and through digital technologies.
The unit begins with ideas about space and place┐ asking questions about what it means to live in a networked society and what it means when boundaries of time, geography and culture are eroded by information and communication flows. We will explore the ways in which technology is changing how we communicate and manage personal relationships and ask questions about how technology has shaped the ways in which culture and knowledge is negotiated in digital environments.
c. Student Learning experience
The course is taught through lectures and tutorials. Tutorials are your chance to discuss the ideas you learn in the course with other students, test them out and have feedback on them from your tutor. We encourage you to participate fully in the tutorials so you get as much out of the course as possible. We give you research tasks to complete outside of class which forms part of the assessment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Mid-semester essay based on tutorial exercises to be written throughout course (50%)
End of course essay (50%).
||This course is assessed by a mid-semester essay and an end of course essay. Each are worth 50% of your final mark.
Formative assessment: you will receive feedback on your mid-semester essay.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Students will develop their understanding of the sociological perspective
- Students will be introduced to four areas of study which illustrate the relationship between private troubles and public problems
- Students will understand how sociological perspectives have to adapt to contemporary changes in national and global society and culture
- Students will have the ability to critically analyse and evaluate core sociological ideas
- Students will demonstrate the ability to understand, summarise and critically assess sociological work
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||One hour tutorials over ten weeks and starting in Week 2
|Course organiser||Dr Karen Gregory
Tel: (0131 6)51 1334
|Course secretary||Miss Joanne Blair
Tel: (0131 6)50 4457
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 5:15 am