Fall 2021 - SA 250 D100

Introduction to Sociological Theory (S) (4)

Class Number: 6441

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SWH 10051, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 150.



An account of sociological theory, outlining the main ideas and concepts of the principal schools of thought.


Although many people consider “theory” to be developed by specialists removed from the real world, everyone uses implicit or practical theory in everyday life. When we argue about politics, or debate the merits of a movie, we are making claims and evaluations based on a set of presuppositions about how the world works – or ought to work. Each time we meet a new person, we make assumptions and judgments about their social status. When we dress, we exhibit or hide key aspects of who we believe ourselves to be – our social and individual identity.

“Doing theory” means examining these daily assumptions in a systematic way. We will ask: how humans organize themselves and what implications do various organizational schemes have for individual and collective life? By comparing social theories’ explanations of specific aspects of social life – coordination of activity, state legitimation, aesthetics – we can begin to define our individual values in a more systematic way. By (1) mastering key concepts of social theory and (2) understanding why particular issues were of interest to theorists at different historical moments, we will be able to appreciate the shifting concerns of the discipline of sociology.

Part I will examine classical works of Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber in order to understand the emergence of “sociology” as a distinct discipline with competing explanations for social phenomenon, and variable interest in affecting policy and practice. Part II will consider the subsequent trends, including functionalism, explanations for racial inequality, and interactionism. In Part III students can focus on any among a range of contemporary theorists – including feminist, neo-marxist, structuralist, poststructuralist, critical race, post-colonial, and post-modern theorists.

This course assumes no prior knowledge of sociological theory, but requires an eagerness to take intellectual risks. Class time will be divided into short lectures, followed by small group discussion, and collaborative activities designed to develop critical thinking, research and writing skills.


  • Identify and describe the major theoretical traditions in sociology, including major and minor theorists and the contributions to social theory;
  • Master and employ key vocabulary and concepts used is social theory;
  • Apply social theories to contemporary social problems;
  • Develop close reading skills;
  • Develop analytical writing skills.


  • Classics comparisons grid & skit script 15%
  • Skills modules (3 x 5%) 15%
  • Key terms from classics (2 x 5%) 10%
  • Key terms from mid-20th century (2 x 5%) 10%
  • Key terms from late-20th century (2 x 5%) 10%
  • Analysis of contemporary event using a social theory 10%
  • Key term comparison 15%
  • Small group activities (asynchronous) 5%
  • In-class participation 10%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



  • Whiteboard markers in multiple colours.


All readings will be available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or otherwise online as noted.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.