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SOCY 151 - Foundations of Modern Social Theory

This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 cjj, April 21, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.:

The "historical background" in the lecture on Hobbs has many basic errors about English history. I would be very careful about accepting what he says without fact-checking it carefully.

Comment2 Dominick, July 30, 2014 at 1:08 a.m.:

Does anyone else find his saying "right?" after every third sentence to be terribly pedantic? It's bad style and unnecessary, presupposing and affirming that these students of an intro course already know what he's professing. I realize that it's likely unconscious, but it adds to other problems with his lecture style, such as the long, clumsy pauses to find his thoughts (as well as slides on his computer, some of which still hilariously appear to have default PowerPoint backgrounds), and bouts of going into irrelevant details about the lives of the thinkers; tangents he himself says early on have been discouraged by way of course feedback. He'll continuously say that he'll keep things brief but then spends half a lecture on biography instead of the ideas.

I'm only about 1/3 of the way through the entire course, so maybe his lectures get better, but if anyone finds any truth to what I've commented on, please see PLSC 114 Introduction to Political Philosophy, with Steven B. Smith; it is similar in content, but Professor Smith is a superb lecturer, both in tone, pace, relevance, and provocation of deep thought.

Comment3 Dominick, September 16, 2014 at 3:56 a.m.:

I have to say that, having finished viewing all the lectures in this course, I have a lot of respect for how much it improves about mid-way through. I especially like the time dedicated to Marx and Weber.

My gripes above (mostly trifling, I admit) are assuaged once the core of the course is reached. This will be evidenced by positive comments on some of those mid and later lectures, but just to say it here: Professor Szelényi can be a powerful, gripping lecturer when he really gets going. His interest in the personal lives of those whose ideas he lectures on comes across to enhance the material, to give it context, and even a bit of flare on occasion. His comparative analysis of the thinkers is occasionally given dedicated time, and other times expertly tossed in quickly to punctuate a point.

Comment4 sade, March 28, 2020 at 6:37 a.m.:

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