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   Course Title    General Sociology
Lecturer    Lilia Nizamova
Institution    Kazan State University
Country    Russia

The conception of the course and its content is defined by the fact that it occupies an intermediate position in the curriculum: it is in continuity with the courses on the History of Western Sociology, History of Russian Sociology and, at the same time, it is a starting point for a great variety of specialized sociological courses. General Sociology is to a great extent introductory and thematically wide. It includes exploration of Sociological theory (classical tradition and the latest developments in Social Theory), tends to combine analytical and empirical information as well as comparative analysis of Russian and Western social practices, studies experience of post-communist transformations.

The main goal of the course is to present sociology as a dynamic scientific discipline and particular discourse, to provide students with the basic concepts of society, communication, social order, stratification, power, social change, science, religion, gender, ethnicity, elite etc. General Sociology is the introduction of sociological thinking and ways of interpretation of society, culture, social behavior, as well as familiarization with the key disputes and problems of present-day sociology. It pays special attention to the issues that are not covered by specialized courses, namely media and mass communication, religion, nationalism, gender, cultural diversity etc.

The General Sociology course combines lectures and seminars - joint discussions in groups. Lectures are the way to present social problems in their historical and social context, to introduce the key concepts of the theme and variety of interpretations of the subject.

Seminars are in continuity with lectures. Students have an opportunity to deliver their vision of the issue, to focus on advantages and disadvantages of different theoretical approaches, contrasting lines of argument. Reflexivity and well-argumented way of thinking is encouraged.

Unfortunately, though students are advised to refer to foreign-language books and articles, their usage is quite limited. Readings are usually Russian-language. It is more likely that some students use foreign-language literature to write their annual research essays. The normal way of incorporating and presenting advanced knowledge and the latest research information by now are lectures.

Seminar reading lists usually contain 6 - 8 titles: chapters of books and particular articles. The main texts are the classical ones (for example, of M.Weber, T.Veblen, C.W.Mills, etc.) or the writings of well-known present-day academicians (E.Gellner, A.Giddens, P.Bourdieu, etc.). Worth referring textbooks, compendia and critical texts published in the last 8 years are advised. The articles from newly published issues of journals are also included ('Sociological Studies', 'Sociological Journal', 'Political Studies', 'The World of Russia', 'Social Studies and Contemporaneity', etc. - all of them are published in Moscow).

Reading list of English-language version of the syllabi contains only classical works and the texts by the world-known scholars (mainly) published in Russian.

The whole number of themes is 20.


Historical and cultural origins of sociology. Classical sociology (E.Durkheim, G.Simmel, F.Toennies, K.Marx, M.Weber). Disputes on the subject of sociology. Macro- and microsociology. Plurality of sociological paradigms. 'Society' and 'social': variety of interpretations. The problem of theory and research. R.Mills on 'sociological imagination'. Sociological methods: quantitative and qualitative approaches. Practical ways of application of sociological thinking.

  • Giddens, A. Sociology. Selected Translations from Giddens, A. Sociology, 2nd ed., Polity Press, 1993, in Sociological Studies, 1994, X 2.

  • Bourdiu, P. Foundations, Moscow, 1994.

  • Smelser, N. Sociology, Moscow, 1994.

  • Bauman, Z. Thinking Sociologically, Moscow, 1996.

  • Mills, C.W. The Sociological Imagination, Moscow, 1997.


Psychoanalysis, symbolic interactionism, E.Goffman on personality,

self, identity. Social status and roles. Socialization. Non-conformity and counter-culture in the context of socialization. Changing identities in the period of transformations.

  • Berger, P., Luckmann, T. The Social Construction of Reality, Moscow, 1995.

  • Mead, G.H., Blumer, G., in American Sociological Thought. Texts, Moscow, 1994.

  • Freud, Z. Introduction to Psycho-Analysis, Moscow, 1991

  • Hall, S. Who Needs Identity?, in Hass, S. and Du Gay, P. (eds)Questions of Cultural Identity, Sage Publications, 1996.


Social inequality and stratification. Historical types of stratification systems. K.Marx and M.Weber on stratification and social class. Functionalist interpretation of inequality and stratification (T.Parsons, K.Davis, W.Moore). Counter-functionalist arguments (M.Tumin and others). Social mobility (P.Sorokin).

  • Marx, K. and Engels, F. Manifesto of the Communist Party, in Collection of Works, Moscow, 1964, vol. 4.

  • Weber, M. Basic conceptions of stratification, in Sociological Studies, 1994, X 5.

  • Giddens, A. Stratification and class structure, in Sociological Studies, 1992, X 9, 11.

  • Sorokin, P. Social stratification and mobility, in Sorokin, P. Man. Civilization. Society, Moscow, 1992.

  • Bourdieu, P. Social space and genesis of 'classes', in Bourdieu, P. Sociology of Politics, Moscow, 1993.


Sociology of culture: one of sociological branches or a 'doubled sociology'? Culture: diversity of meanings and contexts. Cultural analysis in the works of E.Durkheim, K.Marx, M.Weber. Functionalist understanding of culture as the common system of values (T.Parsons, R.Merton). P.Bourdieu on distribution of cultural capital, production and reproduction of culture. Post-structuralism (M.Foucault, J.Derrida): 'power' discourse, common and dominant cultures, cultural fragmentation. Cultural transformation in contemporary Russia.

  • Ionin, L. Sociology of Culture, Moscow, 1996.

  • Contexts of Modernity. Current Problems of Society and Culture in

  • Western Social Theory. A Course Compendium, Kazan, 1995.

  • Bourdieu, P. Sociology of Politics, Moscow, 1993.


Ideology, morality, common sense knowledge, religious believes, scientific ideas, myths and their social content. Classical sociology of knowledge and philosophy.

Subject and problems of sociology of science. R.Merton and 'Merton school' on the system of rewards in scientific community, social stratification and deviance in science. T.Kuhn 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'. Alternative ('constructivist', 'cognitive', 'interpretative') conceptions of 70-80s.

  • Contemporary Western Sociology of Science. Critical Analysis, Moscow, 1988.

  • Storer, N. Sociology of Science, in American Sociology, Moscow, 1972.

  • Kuhn, T.S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Moscow, 1977.


Education as a social institution, its functions. The subject area of sociology of education. Education and social mobility. 'The crisis of education' in the era of new technologies. Controversies of reforms in education in present-day Russia.

  • Bourdieu, P. Sociology of Politics, Moscow, 1993.

  • Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., Turner, B.S. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, Kazan, 1997.

  • Smelser, N. Sociology, Moscow, 1994.

  • Banks,O. The Sociology of Education, B.T.Batsford LTD, 1976.


Sociological and aesthetic approaches to artistic live. W.Benjamin on modern arts. Mass culture and popular culture. Some pages of the history of sociology of arts in Soviet Russia. Empirical study of music, literature, film, theatre in the Soviet period. New orientations of post-soviet cultural studies.

  • Weber,M. Rational and sociological foundations of music, in Weber, M. Selected Writings. The Image of Society, Moscow, 1994.

  • Sorokin, P. Socio-cultural dynamics. The crisis of fine arts, in Sorokin, P. Man. Civilization. Society, Moscow, 1992.

  • Benjamin, W. The Product of Arts in the Era of Its Technical Reproduction, Moscow, 1996.

  • Contexts of Modernity. Current Problems of Society and Culture in Western Social Theory. A Course Compendium, Kazan, 1995.


The main schools of thought in Western sociology of religion. M.Weber on the role of Protestant ethic in establishment of Western rationality and formation of the spirit of capitalism. Typology of religious communities. E.Durkheim and functionalist 'reading'of religion and its functions. Phenomenological school (P.Berger, T.Luckmann) on secularization and 'invisible religion'. Religious life of Post-Soviet Russia: discussions on desecularization and religious pluralism.

  • Weber, M. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, in Weber, M. Selected Writings, Moscow, 1990.

  • Sociology of Religion: Classical Approaches. Compendium, Moscow, 1994.

  • Contemporary American Sociology, Moscow, 1994.

  • Aron, R. The Stages of the Development of Sociological Thought, Moscow, 1993.

  • Hinnels, J.R. (Ed.) Dictionary of Religions, Penguin Books, 1984.


Sociological interpretation of social time. E.Durkheim on social time as a collective phenomena. Qualitative nature of social time. The philosophy of the present of G.H.Mead. S.Strumilin and the practice of time-budget studies. Socio-cultural time of P.Sorokin. G.Gurvitch on heterogeneity of social time. Modernity and Post-Modernity. Distribution of social time: the case of Russia.

  • Sztompka, P. The Sociology of Social Change, Moscow, 1996.

  • Contexts of Modernity. Current Problems of Society and Culture in Western Social Theory. A Course Compendium, Kazan, 1995.


Leisure in the context of social time. Work and leisure. T.Veblen 'The Theory of Leisure Class'. Post-industrial consumer society and leisure. Opportunities and limitations of leisure time in present-day Russia.

  • Veblen, T. The Theory of Leisure Class, Moscow, 1986.

  • Smith,M., Parker,S., Smith,C. Leisure and Society in Britain, Allen Lane, 1973.



Family as a social institution and a small group. Historical types and forms of marriage and family relations. Economic and cultural factors of institutional evolution. Traditional and modern family. Discussions on the crisis of contemporary family and its future.

  • Smelser, N. Sociology, Moscow, 1994.

  • Dallos, R., McLaughlin,E. (Eds)Social Problems and Family, Sage Publications, 1995.

  • Strong, B., Vault, de C. The Marriage and Family Experience, West Publishing Company, 1995.


Gender studies and feminist science in 70-90s. Sexism and feminine culture. Oppression of women and feminist critique of society. Exclusion of women and feminist critique of science, philosophy, arts. D.Smith on feminist sociology. Sex and gender. Education and gender stereotypes. Sexism in contemporary Russia. Feminism in Russia: stereotypes of perception and perspectives of development.

  • Feminism: Prose, Memoirs, Letters, Moscow, 1992.

  • Giddens, A. Sex, Patriarchy and Development of Capitalism, in Sociological Studies, 1992, X 7.

  • Wolff, J. The Invisible Flaneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity, in Contexts of Modernity.Part 2. A Course Compendium, Kazan, 1998.

  • Feminism: East. West. Russia, Moscow, 1993.


The city: definition of M.Weber. Chicago school on the city environment and way of life. R.Park on social ecology of the city. Competition and diversity of its forms. Natural zones. Theory of concentric zones (E. Burgess). 'Urbanism as a way of life' L.Wirth. Urbanization as social and cultural process. Comparative dynamics of urbanization in the West and in Russia. Disputes on 'counter-urbanization', 'rural renaissance'.

  • Weber, M. The City, in Weber, M. Selected Writings. The Image of Society, Moscow, 1994.

  • Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., Turner, B.S. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, Kazan, 1997.

  • Tilly, Ch. Forms of Urbanization, in American Sociology, Moscow, 1972.


The subject area of rural sociology. Rural way of live. Rural population in the system of social stratification. Sociological analysis of the live stories of different generations of Russian peasants (T.Shanin). History of Russian village in the XX century from sociological point of view: periods and remarkable events. Social classes and groups in the village. System of power relationships. Migration. Transformation of social relations in the Post-Soviet period.

  • Williams,R. The Country and the City, The Hogarth Press, 1993.


Revival of ethnicity and the crisis of nation-state. Nature of ethnicity and nationalism: 'Primordialism' (E.Shils) and 'boundary approach' (F.Barth, E.Leach). Role of ethnicity in modernity: 'Expressivism' (J.M.Yinger) and 'instrumentalism' (Glazer and Moynihan, A. Cohen). Historical roots of ethnic/national phenomenon: 'Historicism' (Ch.Tilly, A.D.Smith) and 'modernism' (E.Gellner, B.Anderson, E.J.Hobsbawm). Ethnic policy: colonization, ghettoization, assimilation and multiculturalist strategies. The rise of multiculturalist paradigm and the 'paradox of multiculturalism' (T.Eriksen). Nationalism in the late XX century. Break up of the USSR and the case of Russia: ethnic Renaissance and rebirth of ethnic minority nationalism. Problematic issues of the establishment of Russian Federation.

  • Gellner,E. Nations and Nationalism. Definitions, in Problems of Philosophy, 1989, X 7.

  • Gellner,E. Culture, Identity and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

  • Hobsbawm,E.J. Nations and Nationalism since 1780. Program, Myth, Reality, Second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

  • Anderson,B. Imagined Communities, Verso, 1995.

  • Brown,D. Why is the nation-state so vulnerable to ethnic nationalism?, in Nations and Nationalism, 1998, vol. 4 (1).


Social communication: variety of forms. Historical, cultural, economic, political factors of the rise of mass communication. Mass communication: definition, main features, functions. 'Mass society' tradition. Models of communication process (G.Lasswell, P.Lazarsfeld, T.Newcomb). The role of 'new media'. Media studies versus mass communication theory. Multiplication and fragmentation of the audience. Advertising in the context of mass communication theory. Mass media content as the text and linguistic paradigm. Narrative. Methods of text analysis. Ethnicity, nationalism and minority media.

  • McQuail,D. , Bennett,T., Featherstone,M. Selected translations, in Contexts of Modernity. Part 2. A Course Compendium, Kazan, 1998.

  • Thompson,J. The Media and Modernity, Polity Press, 1995.

  • Curran,J., Morley, D. and Walkerdine (Eds) Cultural Studies and Communications, Arnold, 1996.


Public opinion: social nature, main characteristics, functions. The object and subject of public opinion. Mechanisms of formation, construction and functioning of public opinion. The role of the 'leaders of opinion'. Institutionalazation of public opinion and mass media. P.Bourdieu: critique of the practices of public opinion research. Public opinion in political life of contemporary Russia. Political non-participation.

  • Bourdieu, P. Public opinion do not exist, in Bourdieu, P. Sociology of Politics, Moscow, 1993.

  • Bourdieu, P. Foundations, Moscow, 1994.


Political theory of M.Weber. Political parties and democracy (R.Michels, M.Ostrogorsky). Sociology of political behavior. Problems of democracy. Elite theories (G.Mosca, V.Pareto) and post-communist elites. Political sociology of transition societies. Russian modernization. Search for paradigm of transition. Dynamics of transformation: 'articulation of interests' ana 'reassessment of values' approaches. Relationship between state, market and civil society.

Discussions on federalism and de-centralization in multicultural Russia.

  • Weber,M. Politics as vocation and profession, in Weber, M. Selected Writings, Moscow, 1990.

  • Ostrogorsky, M. Democracy and Political Parties, Moscow, 1927.

  • Michels,R. From Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the

  • oligarchical tendencies of modern democracy, in Dialogue, 1990, X 7, 11, 13, 15.- Bourdieu, P. Sociology of Politics, Moscow, 1993.

  • Mosca, G. The elements of political science, in Sociological Studies, 1995, X 4, 5, 8.

  • Lasch,Ch. The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, New York - London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1995.

  • Gierus J. Russia's Road to Modernity, Instytut Studiow Politycznych Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 1998.

  • Szklarski B. Semi-Public Democracy. Articulation of Interests and Systemic Transformation, Warsaw: Institute of Political Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences, 1997.

  • Wnuk-Lipinski E. (Ed.) After Communism. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Radical Social Change, Warsaw: Institute of Political Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences, 1995.


Social norms and deviance. Deviant behavior, its forms. Biological, psychological, sociological explanations of deviance. Deviance and anomie (E.Durkheim, G.Simmel, M.Weber, R.Merton). Deviance and innovation. Cultural explanations of deviance. The strategy of social control, its formal and informal expressions. Law as sociological phenomenon. Law, state and civil society. Legal reforms in Russia.

  • Durkheim,E. Suicide, Saint Petersburg, 1912.

  • Merton,R. Social structure and anomie, in Sociological Studies, 1992, X 2-4.

  • Aggleton,P. Deviance, Routledge, 1991.

  • Fitzpatrick,P. Sociology of Law and Crime: Mythology of Modern Law, Routedge, 1992.


Sociological tradition of health and illness study (T.Parsons, M. Foucault). Sociology of medicine and sociology in medicine. Critical perspectives: marxism, feminism. Medicine as the institution of social control. Disabled in stratification system. Health care system and medical profession in contemporary society.

  • Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., Turner, B.S. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, Kazan, 1997.

  • Cunningham-Burley,S., McKeganey,N.P. (Eds) Readings in Medical Sociology, Tavistok/Routledge, 1990.

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