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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.

How do people get what they want? How does an individual have the ability to influence others and control their future? Some of this may be zeal and know-how, but much of an individual's power is derived from society. This paper focuses on theories that explain the relationship between broad social structures and individual agency. From these perspectives power is exercised by people or groups of people, but relies on social rules, resources and norms. We begin the paper by looking at philosophy on the relationship between the self and society and expand to consider how social rules are legitimised and how unequal power relations are produced and reproduced. Throughout the paper examples from everyday life will be used to illustrate theories. Students are required to apply and communicate theories using examples from their own experiences and from media sources. 

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) $929.55
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Prerequisite
18 200-level ANTH, CRIM, GEND or SOCI points or 54 200-level Arts points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Eligibility
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.
Contact

sgsc@otago.ac.nz

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Dr Simon Barber

Paper Structure
Key topics will include:
  • Early philosophies of power
  • The state and governance
  • Institutions and norms
  • Post-colonialism
  • Neoliberalism
  • Arenas of institutional power (education, law, health)
  • Interaction and performances of power
  • Class, race and gender as systems of power
Teaching Arrangements
Students are required to attend a lecture and tutorial once a week.
Textbooks
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 successfully complete the paper will
  • Learn how power operates in society
  • Become familiar with foundational thinkers in contemporary sociology, as well as some of the micro-theories and core areas of interest
  • Learn how to use those theories to identify and explain how power is operating in everyday life

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Timetable

Semester 2

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
A1 Thursday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41

Tutorial

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

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 Tuition Fees for 2023 have not yet been set
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

Prerequisite
18 200-level ANTH, CRIM, GEND or SOCI points or 54 200-level Arts points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Eligibility
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.
Contact

sgsc@otago.ac.nz

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
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

Timetable

Semester 2

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

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

Tutorial

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