At the end of the course, the student has built up elementary expertise in:
- Using formal theoretical tools for generating tentative answers to explanatory problems in the form of explanatory theories and models;
- Deriving testable hypotheses from explanatory theories and models;
- Critically comparing and evaluating sociological theories;
- Using explanatory theories and results of empirical research for developing policy recommendations.
This is an intermediate undergraduate level course on theory formation and model building in Sociology. Thus the course focuses on the `Theory' , in the `Problems-Theory-Empirical research-Policy implications'-sequence that characterizes the various steps in analytical social science.|
The focus is on the common `logic' underlying different, sometimes competing but also often complementary sociological approaches.
We discuss the core steps involved in theory formation and model building: the formulation of problems (societal problems as well as sociological problems), (re)construction of theories, derivation of testable hypotheses from general theories, and generating policy recommendations using sociological theories as well as results of empirical research. A focus on carefully designed arguments is a characteristic feature of the course: what assumptions do we need in order to derive certain implications? What implications follow from a certain set of assumptions? This includes making assumptions explicit which often remain implicit in theoretical reasoning.
Another feature of the course is that we carefully reconstruct the links between propositions on the micro-level of individual behavior and propositions on the macro-level of social phenomena and processes. For this purpose, we introduce students to theoretical tools such as game theory and agent-based modeling. The course proceeds from examples of sociological analyses, each related to one of the main themes of sociology as a discipline: problems of order and cooperation (sometimes referred to as the problem of cohesion), problems of social inequality, and problems of social change.
NB: the course is taught in English.
- The course builds upon the earlier BA1-course 'Introduction to the Sociology'. Expertise on the level of this BA-1 course or an equivalent introduction to sociological theory is required
- Sound knowledge of the English language.
Knowledge can be gained
Students who did not follow 'Introduction to the Sociology' expected to have knowledge of sociological theory on the level of a textbook such as: - Ultee, W.C., W. Arts & H.D. Flap (2003) Sociologie - Vragen, Uitspraken, Bevindingen, 3 ed. Groningen: Martinus Nijhoff. - Meulemann, H. (2001) Soziologie von Anfang an. Eine Einfuhrung in Themen, Ergebnisse und Literatur, Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher. - Macionis (2008) Sociology, 12e ed. New York, NY Pearson Prentice Hall.