Theories Of Social Change


Aims:

The course aims to:

  • Equip students with an understanding of the major theoretical approaches to socio-economic, political and cultural change developed since the mid-20th century in various disciplinary frameworks.
  • Enable students to develop a good grasp of key concepts and analytical perspectives in respect to globalization and its effects on the national and local level.
  • Familiarize students with main analytic tools for developing an understanding of the current economic crisis along with the dynamics of “civil society”.

Learning outcomes:

On completion of this course, the students should have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  • Be able to develop an informed commentary on the principal approaches to socio-economic, political and cultural change and have a coherent understanding of their theoretical foundations.
  • Be familiar with the dynamics of change in particular areas of social and economic life (family, education, labour market etc.), and show an awareness of the interlinkages between macro- and micro-level changes.
  • Develop essay writing and presentation skills.

Content:

The course consists of three thematic units. The first thematic unit (see Detailed Syllabus, lectures 1-5) focuses on issues of socio-economic, political and cultural change in the post world war II period. A wide range of theories and approaches are critically discussed with reference to social change trends in “developing” and “developed” countries, and the role of long-lasting global transformations is assessed. The theoretical foundations, methodological perspectives and core “problematics” characterizing the following major theories/approaches are extensively examined: (a) various versions of “modernization” theory, “dependency” theory and “world-systems theory”; (b) the debate, in social science literature, on “postindustrialzation”, “postfordism” and “postmodernity”; and (c) current perspectives on “globalization”.

The second thematic unit (see Detailed Syllabus, lectures 6-9) examines the main parameters of neoliberal policy in the last decades, with an emphasis on deepening inequality and the eruption of the credit crunch. The issue of a trade-off between equality and economic efficiency is at the centre of the analysis. In the light of the approaches developed by J. Stiglitz and P. Krugman, the main parameters of the current economic crisis are discussed along with the issues of increasing socio-economic inequality, the dramatic rise of unemployment (particularly youth unemployment, in the crisis-hit countries of the EU periphery), and the prospects for a “new social contract”.

The third thematic unit (see Detailed Syllabus, lectures 10-13) focuses on the concept of “civil society” and the way it is defined and applied empirically by a range of approaches. How different approaches define the role of “civil society” in development at the national and supranational level is a central issue examined vis-à-vis the crisis in the EU periphery.

The course consists of 13 weeks three-hour lectures/seminars during the winter term.

Recommended reading available through the Electronic Service for the Management of Academic Books and Readings (“Eudoxus” – Ministry of Education):

Hall, S., Held, D. και McGrew, A. eds, 1992:Modernity and its futures (Greek translation, Athens: Savvalas, 2003).

Krugman, P., 2012. End this depression now (Greek translation, Athens: Polis).

Stiglitz, J., 2012. The price of inequality (Greek translation, Athens: Papadopoulos).

Petmesidou, M. ed., 1996.Modernsociologicaltheory.Vol. I. Heraklion: CreteUniversity Press (in Greek).

Examinable materialand assessment

(1) Petmesidou, M., 2005. The conception of social change by the classical thinkers – Modern theories of social change and development. Course notes electronically available (1st to 3rd week teaching) (see TEXTS). [It is recommended that you also take notes from lectures].

(2) Hall, S., Held, D. και McGrew, A. eds, 1992: Modernity and its futures (Greek translation, Athens: Savvalas, 2003).

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 2 (A. McGrew, “A global society?”)
  • Chapter 4 (J. Allen, “Post-industrialism and post-fordism”)
  • Chapter 5 (K. Thompson, “Social pluralism and post-modernity”)

(3) Krugman, P., 2012. End this depression now (Greek translation, Athens: Polis), chapters 1, 2 & 5).

Stiglitz, J., 2012. The price of inequality (Greek translation, Athens: Papadopoulos), chapters 1, 2 & 3.

(4) Petmesidou, M. ed., 1996.Modern sociological theory. Vol. I. Heraklion: CreteUniversity Press (pp. 345-370) (in Greek).

(5) Course overheads and notes taken from lectures

It is also required that students consult other works included in the reading list (particularly these marked as recommended reading).

Assessment is based on: class participation (an essay of about 1500 words is optional); and a 2-hour written examination in the end of the semester. Class participation assessment (up to 2 points, on a 0 to 10 scale) will be added to the written examination grade, provided the latter is a “Pass” grade.

The course syllabus, reading list, essay topics, course overheads and guidelines on how to write references and bibliographies are available on the following website:

http://utopia.duth.gr/~mpetmes