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Consensus and conflict in American society

Academic Responsibility: Mr John Lea

Module Aims

The main aims of the module are to develop students' knowledge and understanding of key competing sociological perspectives and to examine sociological contributions to an understanding of the social structure of the United States. The course will also explore the nature of social institutions using sociological concepts and raise awareness of the cultural context in which aspects of personal identity are formed in the United States. Finally, the course aims to facilitate the development of cognitive, subject-specific and key skills.

Module Content

The module builds on the content of the Year One Sociology section which draws attention to the key aspects of personal identity: class, gender and race. The module develops the theoretical framework in which key sociological concepts have been formed and expands their application into other fields of inquiry to include: crime and deviance, power and the media.

In term one significant contributions from the `founding fathers' of sociological theory are used to analyse the social structure of the United States. Key concepts such as `organic solidarity' (Durkheim), `surplus value' (Marx) and `modes of social closure' will be utilised as contributions to an understanding of the nature of the social structure of the United States. Major sociological contributions to an understanding of the nature of crime and deviance, the distribution of power and the media are then examined.

In term two sociological contributions to an understanding of key axes of conflict and identity formation are explored. This includes discussions of the nature of racial, gender and sexual identities using sociological ideas and contrasting these with non-sociological ideas. Students are invited to explore the nature of key social institutions utilising concepts and theories introduced in term one. The course ends by assessing the contributions of social theorists who use the term `post-modern' to describe the United States.

Assessment

Assessment consists of three course work assignments.  There is no examination.