Fall 2019 - SA 327 D100

Sociology of Knowledge (S) (4)

Class Number: 5873

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



An examination of sociological theories concerning the interaction of social structures, and meaning and belief systems.


The Sociology of Knowledge explores the relationship between thought and society, focusing on historical and contemporary analysis of ‘knowledge,’ its creation and use. We will ask ourselves what claims we make about ‘knowing’ objects, including our ‘selves,’ and we will explore how claims to ‘have knowledge’ affect methods for describing and analyzing social life.

In the context of Canadian Universities’’ commitment to “decolonize,” we will challenge the very foundation of the sub-discipline of “sociology of knowledge.” Recently, many courses like this one present the canonical (classic texts deemed central to a discipline) and then “add on” works that challenge the assumptions of “the tradition.” Instead, we will start with some of the forms of knowing that were pushed aside in order for the modern state to emerge, and for those states to conduct the business of global colonization. Thus, instead of proceeding with the idea that there is “a West” and “the Rest” we will consider what, as Eve Sedwick argued, it took to “unknow” or refuse to know.

As we work through the content of the course, we will ask:

Given that sociology as a discipline arose in the context of emergent modern states (France, Germany, the US) – indeed, was (along with its cousin, anthropology) a foundation for producing the “knowledge about society” that was necessary to global colonization, what does it mean to – or how should we – study “knowledge” in the contemporary context in which Canada is attempting to “decolonize” itself? How did sociology refuse particular kinds of knowledge, and where did those knowledges go?


  1. Learn how to identify and access theoretical texts
  2. Identify and describe the major themes in sociology of knowledge
  3. Master and employ key vocabulary and concepts used analysis of knowledge
  4. Apply theories to contemporary social problems
  5. Develop theory-reading skills
  6. Develop analytical writing skills


  • Class participation activities 25%
  • Short papers (5 x 10%) 50%
  • Final project 25%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology and 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: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



The bulk of readings will be in primary texts. Students will learn how and where to find ‘theoretical’ texts in our library’s eBook/eJournals section and beyond.

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