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    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.

    About this paper

    Paper title Theories of Social Power
    Subject Sociology
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    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  


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    L1 Monday 12:00-13:50 9-13, 15-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    T1 Friday 10:00-10:50 10-12, 15-22
    T2 Friday 11:00-11:50 10-12, 15-22
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