Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

SOCI302 Theories of Social Power

Examines the interconnections between an individual’s knowledge and social power, critically analysing the complex interrelationships between individual freedom and structural determinism in the expression of social power. Case studies include anti-war demonstrations, Greenpeace, and New Zealand’s drink-driving legislation and advertising campaigns.

Canvasses a range of social theory as a way of coming to understand what social theory is, what it does, and why it is useful.

In this course we will set about the somewhat experimental task of constructing our own social theory, one that is both more adequate to our context here and more expressive of marginal people and positions. The social theory we are interested in developing in this course is intimately entangled with the empirical experience of our everyday lives, which is the ground for creative and imaginative conceptual invention. We will endeavour to submit ourselves and the world around us – the social structures and processes which we inhabit – to vigorous questioning. Crucially, we ask whether things could be different and how they might be different with a commitment to social justice and liberation from oppression.

Paper title Theories of Social Power
Paper code SOCI302
Subject Sociology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

18 200-level ANTH, CRIM, GEND or SOCI points or 54 200-level Arts points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
This paper is designed particularly for students in Sociology, Gender and Social Work, but is appropriate for any students interested in social theory and power.

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Dr Simon Barber

Paper Structure

To shed light on our lives and our present we draw from an array of social theory. The course will likely include reference to: tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori research and theory, Pasifika theory, indigenous theory, postcolonial theory, Black Studies, feminist theory, queer theory, Marx, Marxism, Marxist theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.

Teaching Arrangements
Students are required to attend a lecture and tutorial once a week.
Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Readings will be available on Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who complete this paper will:

  • Gain an understanding of what social theory is and does
  • Develop skills in close reading
  • Learn to read, engage with, and make use of social theory
  • Gain experience theorising for themselves
  • Gain an understanding of crucial issues of our present and the ways in which they are being understood  

^ Top of page


Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 14:00-15:50 29-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Friday 11:00-11:50 29-34, 36-41
A2 Friday 12:00-12:50 29-34, 36-41